After an intense backlash and boycott from prominent brands over their ad placement, YouTube has today apologized for them going against the value and policies of the platform. With regards to it, YouTube has also announced significant changes to its policies which enable it to regulate advertising and hate speech. It will now be handing over more control over ad placement to these brand and more closely be policing content posted on their video streaming platform.

To better understand where the retaliation stems from, let us first backtrack and take a closer look at the situation. Last week, several brands and publishers in Europe expressed their concerns over the working on Google’s ad network. An investigation by The Times of London revealed that ads from the U.K government and several mainstream brands were appearing alongside YouTube videos which promoted terrorism, white nationalism and even homophobia.

This led the government to immediately pull advertising support from Google and call upon the local executive to quiz them on their ad placement policies. Other major brands, such as Audi, Guardian, and French advertising giant Havas among others also grew anxious and followed pursuit by pulling their ads from the network. More than 250+ brands have since pulled support and prevented their ads from appearing on YouTube and Google Display Network.

The placement of ads on websites using Google’s ad networks has become a long-standing issue and a growing headache for the search giant. The company has already apologized for the grave mistake on their part and is now ready to introduce a vast majority of changes in three areas: better ad policies, enhanced scrutiny of content, and more powerful tools for ad publishers. Thus, it is coming through on its last week’s promise and has today published a blog post detailing these improvements.

Talking about the same, Google’s Chief business officer Philipp Schindler says that the platform is constantly evolving and sometimes they don’t get everything right. He continues to add,

We have a responsibility to protect this (YouTube) vibrant, creative world—from emerging creators to established publishers—even when we don’t always agree with the views being expressed. We have strict policies that define where Google ads should appear, and in the vast majority of cases, our policies and tools work as intended. But at times we don’t get it right.

Thus, with the primary aim of fixing the same, the first step from Google involves taking a harsher stance against “hateful, offensive and derogatory content” on the platform accessing their ads network. This means the tech giant will effectively start removing ads from content (or YouTube videos) that are attacking or harass individuals based on their culture, gender, caste and ethnicity among other categories.

The company has tried propagating free speech across the interwebs but it has time and again been accused of spreading hate online. It has now decided to take control and will apply the same tactics to YouTube as well — where it will entirely remove content from the platform if it violates its updated policies. Schindler further adds,

We’ll also tighten safeguards to ensure that ads show up only against legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner Program—as opposed to those who impersonate other channels or violate our community guidelines. Finally, we won’t stop at taking down ads. The YouTube team is taking a hard look at our existing community guidelines to determine what content is allowed on the platform—not just what content can be monetized.

The next intuitive step involves pleasing the ad publishers, which have abandoned the Google Display Network and YouTube over the past week. Schindler, in the official blog post, mentions that every brand has some guidelines with respect to content and where they want the same to appear. The tech giant already offered advertisers some control but they are now introducing new tools to make the management of where the ads appear across YouTube and the web even simpler. The tools will be made available in the coming days, and provide advertisers with the following:

  • A safer default setting for advertisements so they show up against content which meets the content quality demands of publishers on its network. This will now exclude potentially objectionalble content that brands are wary of placing their ads against. But, they have the option of choosing broader types of content if that want.
  • It will introduce new account-level controls to simplify the exclusion of certain specific sites and channels from across their advertisement campaigns on AdWords for Video and Google Display Network. The publishers would be able to access brand safety settings at just the “push of a button.”
  • The tech giant will also provide them with additional tools to make it further simpler for brands to avoid high-risk content, such as hate or violence. They will have control over the ad placement on YouTube or the interwebs and can fine-tune the experience according to their needs.

Further, Google says that it’ll be doubling down on increasing transparency of their ad networks, bolstering the ressources (as well as staff personnel) and accelerating the review process. Publishers will have visibility and control over where their ads are running and it will even allow advertisers to report videos in the coming months.

A significant increase in the capacity of staff personnel at Google (or YouTube) will enable the company to fast-track the development of new tools. These, Schindler says, will be employing the “latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising.” It will also offer publishers new escalation paths to raise issues, which will be resolved by the ad teams in a minimal amount of time.

Finally, Schindler says that their renewed efforts towards the protection of the community and advertisers from offensive content will be carried out at scale, withhout any delays. He further adds,

We believe the combination of these new policies and controls will significantly strengthen our ability to help advertisers reach audiences at scale, while respecting their values. We will continue to act swiftly to put these new policies and processes in place across our ad network and YouTube.

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