Ads for more than 300 companies and organizations — including 20th Century Fox Film, Netflix, Amazon, Adidas, Facebook, and Under Armour — ran alongside extremist content on YouTube channels pushing white nationalist and neo-Nazi ideas or North Korean propaganda, according to a CNN exclusive.
The news is a grim continuation of YouTube’s past brand safety run-ins with advertisers over bad ad placements, which last year led to an advertiser boycott.
This latest snafu could further implicate YouTube in the eyes of advertisers, though it’s unlikely to deter spending altogether, or even permanently limit it. Only now, after roughly a year of boycotting the platform, is major advertiser Procter & Gamble (P&G) notifying brands — including Tide, Crest, and Gillette — that they can resume buying spots on YouTube, per Bloomberg.
However this time around, P&G says it will be much more selective, and plans to only advertise on videos that it reviews and approves, a move likely to limit its ad spend. The conglomerate previously advertised across 3 million YouTube channels. Many advertisers that had boycotted YouTube last year have resumed spending on the platform, hoping the fixes YouTube issued were effective.
As of Friday, companies including Under Armour and Nissan had issued statements saying they were pausing or freezing ads on YouTube, but most of the affected companies simply said they were working with Google to hopefully ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. Pausing ads was also the tactical recourse taken by many companies in the immediate aftermath of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, but few have actually left the platform, per The New York Times.
Alphabet’s Google doesn’t break out financials for YouTube’s performance, which primarily thrives on advertising, but YouTube is a key asset for the company. Recent analysis estimates that YouTube could bring in revenues of $11 billion to $20 billion this year, which would represent 10% to 18% of Alphabet’s overall projected revenues for 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence per The Wall Street Journal. If those figures are accurate, YouTube is likely bigger than Netflix, which had revenues of $11.7 billion in 2017.
To receive stories like this one directly to your inbox every morning, sign up for the Digital Media Briefing newsletter.Click here to learn more about how you can gain risk-free access today.