Verizon, AT&T suspend ads from Google over offensive videos

Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:02am EDT
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By Anjali Athavaley, Jessica Toonkel and Julia Love

(Reuters) - U.S. wireless carriers Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N: Quote) and AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote) said on Wednesday they have suspended digital advertising on Google's YouTube and other advertising platforms not related to search over concerns that their ads may have run next to extremist videos.

Verizon and AT&T joined a list of well-known British brands such as retailer Marks and Spencer Group Plc (MKS.L: Quote) deserting Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google. Google is under fire in Europe from politicians and brands angered by ads appearing alongside videos on its YouTube platform carrying homophobic or anti-Semitic messages.

Google on Tuesday vowed an overhaul of its practices. The company must act swiftly to ensure that more advertisers do not pile on, analysts say.

As advertisers revolt, the search giant faces both a short-term loss of revenue and a long-term danger that companies will lose faith in the automated placement of ads upon which Google has built its empire, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

"The bigger risk is this seems to be a backlash against programmatic advertising in general," Dawson said. "There's this worry that you no longer have control over where ads appear."

AT&T is removing ads from the non-search inventory on Google because its "ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate," the company wrote in an email.

Verizon said it had suspended all digital advertising not related to search after saying earlier on Wednesday that it had only suspended advertising on Google's non-search platforms. It took the action after its ads were appearing on "non-sanctioned websites," a spokeswoman wrote in an email.

"We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future," the spokeswoman said.   Continued...

The Verizon logo is seen on the side of a truck in New York City, U.S., October 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid