Google has apologized repeatedly to outraged British brands and government groups that found their ads surfacing on hateful YouTube videos.
Now it’s finally delivering on its promise to do better.
The company announced a host of changes to its advertising systems on Tuesday meant to give brands more control over where their ads appear.
The move comes after the Times of London set off a firestorm with reports that major advertisers were being featured alongside terrorist sympathizers, Nazis and other extremists on YouTube.
Several big brands have pulled their ads from the platform in response over the past few days, and Google was called before UK authorities last Friday to explain itself.
“We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us,” Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler wrote in the blog post announcing the changes.
“Starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content.”
First off, Google will now exclude “potentially objectionable” content by default. Previously, advertisers had to specify if they wanted to play it safe, but now it’s the other way around.
“Starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content”
Google will also start allowing advertisers to blacklist individual YouTube channels and sites. The option was only available by “topic” or “category” before now.
Beyond that, Google said it would crack down harder on videos that involve harassment on the basis of “race, religion, gender or similar categories” — something it would seem should already be included in the site’s blanket ban on hate speech.
The company claims it’s beefing up the number of staff charged with reviewing advertisements and developing AI tools for detecting violations.
The whole ordeal comes amid growing tensions between big platforms like Google and Facebook and the advertisers that buy ad space with them.
Marketers are increasingly fed up with problems like rampant ad fraud, faulty measurements and sketchy placements. Many leading industry figures have recognized that collective action like the UK boycott is the only way to counterweight the duopoly power Google and Facebook have in the online market.
We’ve reached out to several of the brands and agencies that have pulled ads and will update the story with any responses.