Adverts from large brands including Adidas, Amazon, Cisco, Facebook and Hilton, to name a few, may have run on white nationalist and Nazi YouTube channels, according to a new investigation by CNN. The companies stated that they were not aware of this.
Additionally, ads by US government establishments may have also run across brand-unsafe channels.
Under Armour, the American fashion company, responded to the investigation by pausing its YouTube adverts. A spokesperson explained:
“We have strong values-led guidelines in place and are working with YouTube to understand how this could have slipped through the guardrails. We take these matters very seriously and are working to rectify this immediately.”
The case sparks renewed distrust in Google-owned YouTube ads, following previous issues over brand safety across the platform.
Although YouTube has repeatedly promised to ensure that ads would only be placed across channels that are in line with a brand’s integrity, it appears the latest revelations may highlight the necessity for even more stringent measures.
“YouTube’s bottom line hasn’t been hit,” Nicole Perrin, an analyst at eMarketer told CNN. “If brands want to make sure this stops, the only way for that to happen is for them to stop spending [on YouTube] until it’s fixed.”
YouTube admitted in a statement that occasionally ads would be run across channels that did not meet an advertiser’s or brand’s guidelines.
One of the main measures YouTube provides to ensure brand safety is to enable advertisers to blacklist certain channels.
However, it appears that there is still much room for improvement to safeguard brand ads from ending up on disturbing or offensive content channels.