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YouTube Loses Major Advertisers Over Offensive Videos (rollingstone.com) 265

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Rolling Stone: Verizon, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and other major companies have pulled advertisements from YouTube after learning they were paired with videos promoting extremism, terrorism and other offensive topics, The New York Times reports. Among the other companies involved are pharmaceutical giant GSK, HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland and L'Oreal, amounting to a potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Google-owned company. The boycott began last week after a Times of London investigation spurred many major European companies to pull their ads from YouTube. American companies swiftly followed, even after Google promised Tuesday to work harder to block ads on "hateful, offensive and derogatory" videos. Like AT&T, most companies are only pulling their ads from YouTube and will continue to place ads on Google's search platforms, which remain the biggest source of revenue for Google's parent company, Alphabet. Still, the tech giant offered up a slew of promises to assuage marketers and ensure them that they were fixing the problems on YouTube. Due to the massive number of videos on YouTube -- about 400 hours of video is posted each minute -- the site primarily uses an automated system to place ads. While there are some failsafes in place to keep advertisements from appearing alongside offensive content, Google's Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler wrote in a blog post that the company would hire "significant numbers" of employees to review YouTube videos and mark them as inappropriate for ads. He also said Google's latest advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning will help the company review and flag large swaths of videos.
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YouTube Loses Major Advertisers Over Offensive Videos

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:10PM (#54099483)

    They can either honor the ethos that brought all the eyes to the videos or they can die slowly trying to suck the cock of Wall Street while losing viewers to other video channels. That whole market forces thing is a bitch.

    • They can either honor the ethos that brought all the eyes to the videos or they can die slowly trying to suck the cock of Wall Street while losing viewers to other video channels. That whole market forces thing is a bitch.

      So it is. Just to clarify, the market in this case is the advertisers, not the people who come to YouTube; they are the livestock that they are trying to sell. So, the market is now deciding that they don't want this sort of cattle; they want people that would potentially be interested in becoming customers of the companies they are advertising for. And the thing is - idiots that keep posting extreme materials online constitute only a tiny minority, but they drive away the huge majority, who don't want to b

  • When your entire revenue is dependent on quantity with minimal quality investment you lose control. When you lose control things go down hill fast (just see what MySpace and Geocities eventually became). And there is currently no AI that can discriminate between poetry, let alone what certain markets find offensive.

    From the other end: Although I don't understand why a potential advertiser would not want to promote their product in front of any audience. These types of things are bound to happen when you dep

    • Re:Loss of control (Score:5, Informative)

      by namgge ( 777284 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:38PM (#54099647)

      I don't understand why a potential advertiser would not want to promote their product in front of any audience.

      It's not that the advertisers care who watches their adverts; the more the merrier no doubt. The issue here is that the producers of unsavoury content are being supported by income provided by the advertisers.

      • The issue here is that the producers of unsavoury content are being supported by income provided by the advertisers.

        They probably don't really care about that either. What they care about is not being associated in the public mind with such socially unacceptable content, and as a plus by pulling their advertising dollars they can gain free advertisement from the news stories about pulling their ads.

        • as a plus by pulling their advertising dollars they can gain free advertisement from the news stories about pulling their ads.

          This sounds like a risky strategy. I don't think a headline “MacDonalds pulls funding from ISIS” would be in their interest.

  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:20PM (#54099555) Homepage Journal

    American companies swiftly followed, even after Google promised Tuesday to work harder to block ads on "hateful, offensive and derogatory" videos.

    So let me get this straight -- racists, misogynists, and terrorists are going to benefit from an ad-free experience, and yet my 6 year old daughter has to put up with ads for mortgages and makeup and other adult stuff when she wants to watch kids videos? WTF did we ever do to you Google that dirtbags get an out from Youtube ads, but the rest of us have to suffer?

    Yaz

    • American companies swiftly followed, even after Google promised Tuesday to work harder to block ads on "hateful, offensive and derogatory" videos.

      So let me get this straight -- racists, misogynists, and terrorists are going to benefit from an ad-free experience, and yet my 6 year old daughter has to put up with ads for mortgages and makeup and other adult stuff when she wants to watch kids videos? WTF did we ever do to you Google that dirtbags get an out from Youtube ads, but the rest of us have to suffer?

      Yaz

      Daddy? What's erectile dysfunction and should we ask the perdiatrician if cialis is right for me?

      Pretty creepy crap for kids to be watching.

      • I can't be sure, but I'd bet it's similar to light to moderate plaque psoriasis. I don't know whether I should be thankful or not that google thinks I'm a menopausal woman.
        • I can't be sure, but I'd bet it's similar to light to moderate plaque psoriasis. I don't know whether I should be thankful or not that google thinks I'm a menopausal woman.

          Just remember, you may be eligible for substantial compensation.

      • Daddy? What's erectile dysfunction and should we ask the perdiatrician if cialis is right for me?

        Daddy has no idea what that is, or what it's for ;).

        If it were up to me, you'd be modded +5 Funny.

        Yaz

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's worse than that. Kids looking for videos about transgender issues or homosexuality will find that they are now restricted. We are talking about really benign stuff like make-up tips for trans girls and support for victims of transphobic bullying at school.

        Google has gone way too far.

        • It's worse than that. Kids looking for videos about transgender issues or homosexuality will find that they are now restricted. We are talking about really benign stuff like make-up tips for trans girls and support for victims of transphobic bullying at school.

          Google has gone way too far.

          Sounds like an algorithm coming up against an age restriction issue. Then again, I've never searched for makeup tips for any gender.

    • Those channels also stop getting revenue, which will cause many of them to leave YouTube.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Not really. What they will do is simply provide ad space within the video at the start or finish or part way between and for most, that is enough revenue. The only intelligent response from Google to advertisers, do want you ad dollars associated with certain videos, not a problem, review all google videos and decide which ones you will allow your ads to be associated with. The flip side of that is Google should also allow content producers to decide which advertisements they will allow to be associated wit

      • Most of them just go down the Patreon route. Even without monetisation, YouTube's free hosting is too good a deal to pass up. You also have the added bonus that you viewers are not being hassled with adverts.

        From YouTube's perspective, they'll still make their money with cat videos. The edgy or controversial stuff is a net loss to YouTube. This is why relying exclusively on YouTube monetisation is a very bad idea - your channel can be buggered up for any number of arbitrary reasons. Big YouTubers have enoug

    • You use bandwidth without paying for it.

      If you had google music or youtube red there wouldn't be ads.

      I do agree that it's messed up. Even the dumbest Americans should be capable of realizing that running ads during a youtube video doesn't equal approving of the content. But we didn't have so many idiots, we wouldn't have the problems we do today.
      • You use bandwidth without paying for it.

        I'm not complaining about the need for ads; it's that they're effectively going to be exempting you from seeing advertising if you're watching terrorist propaganda, or racist rants, or two girls one cup, or whatever else gets deemed "inappropriate", while at the same time happily showing my 6 year old daughter ads for erectile dysfunction medication when see wants to watch "Wheels on the Bus".

        If you had google music or youtube red there wouldn't be ads.

        Which would be fine if Youtube Red were available in my country. But it isn't. I'm not sure about Google Music --

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Didn't they make a YouTube for kids specifically for this purpose?

      Also, what in your 6-yr old's search-history has caused Google to think she needs a mortgage?
      (note: my now-7-yr uses my computer, but a separate browser profile, for her stuff incl school-work)

    • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

      Didn't you get the memo? Skipping ads or blocking them is incouraging terrorists. A good consumer likes the ads and can't wait to get more of them. He even skips the content in order to see the next ad. And he buys! Oh man, he buys all the crap, especially when he doesn't need it.
      Young people must be educated to like ads and grow up to be good consumes.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:25PM (#54099573) Journal

    There was a time when I really enjoyed browsing youtube videos. And I didn't really mind a little advertisement break here and there.

    But what killed youtube for me - was the now forced (unskippable) ads that often last well into 30 seconds or more, just for checking out a video. I like seeing if I want to watch this or not, now there's a forced ad on every second video I decide to check.

    Now, before my dear Slashdotters say "well, you can use adblocker" etc, please keep in mind that a lot of us watch youtube on our "smart-tv" devices, Nintendos, Xbox's Youtube app etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So then block the ads with your router. 1 change and it covers all your devices.

      • This is actually a good idea, thanks - I'll look into this.

      • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

        Or use a HOSTS file ad blocker.

        I have been smiling my way through this entire bitch fest of a thread wondering about all the wonderful ads I have missed and had know idea they existed.

        There's a file set maintained by some hobbyist (not our famous slashdot spammer) that provides a HOSTS file for you to drop into your operating system. Another option is running your own DNS and getting one of the "block by domain" tools. I see a few ads on facebook that are fed directly from their servers, but all google t

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          please keep in mind that a lot of us watch youtube on our "smart-tv" devices, Nintendos, Xbox's Youtube app etc.

          Or use a HOSTS file ad blocker.

          Editing the hosts file requires root access. Root access is difficult to come by other than on personal computers. You'd need to run your own DNS to cover devices where only the manufacturer, not the owner, has root.

    • Well, don't use a smart-tv. Buy a Roku or Raspberry Pi for all of $35 (either). Or don't buy either, and pay that in eyeball time.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Friday March 24, 2017 @04:41AM (#54100955) Homepage Journal

      Try adding the following to your router's domain block list:

      ssl.google-analytics.com
      www-google-analytics.l.google.com
      stats.g.doubleclick.net
      clients.l.google.com
      pagead.l.doubleclick.net
      www-googletagmanager.l.google.com
      googleadapis.l.google.com
      ads.youtube.com
      s0.2mdn.net
      s1.2mdn.net
      googleads.g.doubleclick.net
      pubads.g.doubleclick.net
      ad.doubleclick.net
      static.doubleclick.net
      files.adform.net
      secure-ds.serving-sys.com

      You can now enjoy an ad-free YouTube experience on your TV/games console/phone/tablet.

      • Try adding the following to your router's domain block list

        Or to your hosts file :)

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          DNS66 for Android is a good option too. You need root to edit the hosts file, but DNS66 creates a local VPN instead so no root required. It's open source too.

  • Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:25PM (#54099575)

    These companies have been putting so much effort into detecting "hate speech," but the number of times that my wife has had to hit the home button on the Roku to stop a horror movie trailer or something equally inappropriate on content appropriate for preschoolers is truly appalling. But we're not triggered, we just deal with it so we don't count.

  • HSBC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intertrode ( 1564753 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:28PM (#54099585)
    Wow, look at HSBC withe their moral superiority. The same bank that launders money for drug lords and the Russian mafia.
    • It's funny that Pewdiepie's viewership and HSBC's clientele have a large overlap. W
      Anyway, a company that gets millennials will take that slice of business away from them, so there's little problem here.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:28PM (#54099589)

    Because if "offensive" is defined as "anyone who supports Donald Trump or refuses to accept the new SJW definition of 'equality'" then I have a bit of a problem with that.

    • I'm probably flagged as a conspiracy theorist by google (ff/ddg incognito always). I have a whole section of google news of anti-trump stories and have been bombarded by them since 4 months before the election (they started over night). I've never clicked on a google news story (I simply don't care if it doesn't affect me and there's nothing I can do) other than the rare space related and only skim headlines. I get most of my news from wikipedia.
    • Trump (really Bannon, Trump's just the mouth piece) managed to make racism OK again. I'll Let that one sink in...
      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        Yes, if you don't want your country flooded with illegal immigrants or Muslims, you are racist. *facepalm*

      • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

        Trump (really Bannon, Trump's just the mouth piece) managed to make racism OK again. I'll Let that one sink in...

        Actually, it started long before those two hit the stage with any power.

        See, there is an old story about a boy, and a possibly fictitious wolf...

        The way to understand why this happened, is to go take your mirror off the wall, put it on the floor in a well lit room, take off your pants, and slowly sit on it while closely looking at the mirror. Nobody cares anymore about what you think is "racism" because you said it about everybody and everything. Which is probably the case with your opinion here too. Bu

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You can't really accuse YouTube of accepting the "SJW definition" of anything, because they have started restricting access to trans make-up advice videos and anything with the world "gay" in the title. They are getting a beating on Twitter for it but don't seem to be relenting.

      If anything, it seems like they have taken the alt-right definition of "offensive".

    • Oh grow up.

      Because if "offensive" is defined as...

      If you're ignorant then you've been trying to be and you're exceptionally foolish jumping right into the converstation, putting forth your deeply held opinions without the slightest connection to the story.

      If you're not ignorant then you know EXACTLY what is going on, you are just trying to stir up shit about people you hate (and by the way you're a fuckwit), namely SJWs

      You very well know that big money spending advertisers have pulled advertising because t

    • They don't support extremism. If you suggest extremism might be a thing in their presence, they will swiftly bar you from any and all contact with them, and call all their friends to ensure your cash flows stop and you die a slow death.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:29PM (#54099593)

    ... pair up all the ISIS promotional videos with ads for feminine products.

  • if you're logged in to google account and running an adblocker while watching Youtube videos; they will eventually mysteriously error out.

    But, if you're not logged in and run one, they play fine all day and ad free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 23, 2017 @08:30PM (#54099599)

    We are under a constant assault by a Snowflake jihad whose understanding of freedom of speech is limited to what they agree with. In America this is probably the darkest time in over 200 years with regards to the Bill of Rights. We are living in an age of the self-righteous perpetually offended punk, a punk without a hint of self-understanding or irony.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech. You're welcome to buy a server and host all the racist, hateful videos you care to upload. YouTube isn't required to host them for you, and their advertisers aren't required to pay for the privilege.

      • by ogdenk ( 712300 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @10:39PM (#54100201)

        It's funny, the same sort of people who rail against corporations and want free speech curtailed are exactly the same ones who decide they want to replace government tyranny with corporate tyranny when it fits their agenda.

        If a private business has a right to limit offensive speech on a social media platform in the name of moral righteousness, they have just as much right to deny service to people they find objectionable on the same grounds such as homosexuals or muslims. That's not a world I want. Everyone is offended by SOMETHING.

        Would you be OK with ISP's being pressured by moral crusaders to not provide connectivity to people who host "offensive" content because the moral crusaders decide to label everyone they don't agree with "neo-nazis"?

        If certain advertisers don't want their ads showing up on a certain channel's content, whatever, that's fine. But to demonetize a channel's videos entirely because some snowflake finds it offensive, that's bullshit.

        • If a private business has a right to limit offensive speech on a social media platform in the name of moral righteousness, they have just as much right to deny service to people they find objectionable on the same grounds such as homosexuals or muslims.

          Not if they want to do business in the the United States they don't. Religious groups are a federally protected class, and with very few exceptions, cannot be denied service on that basis. Sexual orientation is gaining traction as a protected class at the state level; any web-based service discriminating on that basis is likely to run afoul of some of these states' laws [aclu.org] (for clarity, "public accommodation" in the context of that map means a business that is open to the public).

          Would you be OK with ISP's being pressured by moral crusaders to not provide connectivity to people who host "offensive" content because the moral crusaders decide to label everyone they don't agree with "neo-nazis"?

          No, I wouldn't be OK with that

        • If a private business has a right to limit offensive speech on a social media platform in the name of moral righteousness

          They do, but why bring up that nonsequiteur? This story has nothing to do with that.

          This is about youtube making their only revenue source (advertisers) happy. The advertisers are very much not happy for perfectly good reasons. Alphabet Inc gave up its "don't be evil" mantra years ago. These days all they care about is the almighty dollar.

          Something just threatened their bottom line and th

        • You seem to think there's some assault on free speech here. There isn't. At all. YouTube isn't taking "offensive" videos down -- not any more than they always have, anyway -- they're just not showing ads on videos the advertisers don't want to be associated with. The free speech of the people uploading the videos is fully intact, and in fact YouTube continues giving them a free soapbox from which to reach the world. The free speech of the advertisers is also being honored, by allowing them to avoid appearin

  • I know (Score:2, Troll)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 )

    Channels like FeministFrequency are really offensive, sexist, and bigoted. But YouTube tries to live up to free speech ideals, so they try to tolerate people like Anita as much as humanly possible.

  • Lovely Google ad yesterday for hot women who are "guaranteed to contact you first". Was something vaguely adverstising as a "bride" site. I guess female prostitution is ok. Should women leave Slashdot?

  • Getting mad at Google when you've decided to use their automated tools to place your ads is kinda stupid. Place your ads intentionally instead of automatically and you won't have this problem.

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      Getting mad at Google when you've decided to use their automated tools to place your ads is kinda stupid. Place your ads intentionally instead of automatically and you won't have this problem.

      AFAIK Google doesn't allow this...

      YouTube's terms of service strictly prohibits burning visual ads into uploaded videos (other than title cards) and Advertisers cannot specify which videos where Ads are placed (other than by general demographics) except for high volume partnership relationships on sponsored channels.

      Apparently, the only way to win is not to play the game which is what these advertisers seem to be doing now.

    • I knew someone would say this and no, you're the silly one.

      The advertisers don't care if google uses automated algorithms or manual placement. They're paying for placement, and google can do it however they like as long as it's to the advertiser's spec. Google chooses to use algorithms becauese it's cheap and they like money.

      So google tried to save a buck, fucked up and pissed off some of their largest customers.

  • What if the truth is offensive to advertisers. Banned?
  • Do people actually associate advertisements with the videos that they play with? I mean, the content creators have no say in what advertisement plays, so there really shouldn't be any association between the ad and the video, but rather, with the ad and YouTube.
    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      That was my thought as well.

      It would certainly never occur to me to associate an ad, or the company whose product is being advertised, with the content of a video in anything more than a marketing sense. I don't think other users make that connection either. Most people realize that Google is targeting ads toward the individual based on all the data they have accumulated about the person.

      It was some social justice crusader working at a newspaper in the UK who started looking for videos containing "hate sp

  • I don't have an issue with Youtube showing ads for revenue but they do a piss-poor job of targeting ads to content. Mostly I watch classical music on youtube and get ads for something accompanied with awful jarring music. It annoys me an I does a disservice to the advertiser... clearly the ad would be better displayed elsewhere.

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