The world of online advertising is a complex and tricky one. Whether you are an advertiser, publisher or content creator, making sure that the right ads are placed alongside the right content and, more importantly, the wrong ads are not placed alongside the wrong content, is a point of frustration. So much of the business is automated today, but recently that automation has come a bit unglued, especially at Google.
As the world knows, Google's business model is entirely wrapped up in the idea of advertising. Starting with an odd Google Home ad for Disney, that business model has become a huge issue for the company. While the Disney issue concerned end users, the rest of the problems came about when concerns were raised by Google's customers, the advertisers. As it turns out, the company's content filters began to fail those advertisers.
It started with YouTube, where major advertisers' ads began running alongside beyond questionable content. That content included neo-Nazi and radical Muslim propaganda videos, featuring brands such as AT&T and Verizon right alongside. As word reached these brands that their ads were being associated with this type of content, companies began reconsidering their Google advertising.
Within a matter of days, AT&T, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, and more began pulling their ads from Google entirely. Verizon described the decision, saying,
Verizon is one of the largest advertisers in the world, and one of the most respected brands. We take careful measures to ensure our brand is not impacted negatively.
AT&T expressed a similar sentiment, saying,
We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate. Until Google can ensure this won't happen again, we are removing our ads from Google's non-Search platforms.
This meant that their ads disappeared from not just YouTube, but from Google AdSense, as well. That has affected websites with legitimate content negatively, causing a drop in advertising revenue. To add to Google's problems, Amazon is offering advertisers a lot of money to switch away from Google right now. Google is going to need to fix this problem if they want to maintain any revenue.