What's happening?

Shropshire expert steps into YouTube extremist row
23 Mar 2017
by Simon Alton

A Shropshire digital marketing company says major brands have overreacted by pulling their online advertising in a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the news that adverts are appearing next to extremist content.

Helen Culshaw, of Ascendancy Internet Marketing in Shifnal

Helen Culshaw, of Ascendancy Internet Marketing in Shifnal

Recent reports show major advertisers fear they have unwittingly contributed to extremist causes by having their adverts appear next to items from supporters of extremist groups.

But Helen Culshaw, of Ascendancy Internet Marketing in Shifnal, feels that the move to pull advertising is a bad one – and that it opens up opportunities for smaller businesses using AdWords.

The concerns have already seen many big names pull their advertising from both YouTube and the Google search engine. They include M&S, McDonalds, HSBC, Lloyds, The BBC, Channel 4 and Audi.

Matthew Brittin, Google’s European Chief, has apologised to partners and advertisers who might have been affected, promised more control over where adverts are placed and said procedures on reviewing questionable content will be tightened up.

But Ms Culshaw said: “Google needs to do more to police extreme content that’s posted on YouTube and elsewhere, and to block any dubious content from being monetised. They have admitted this and have said they will be taking action.

“However, for people to have a knee-jerk reaction and pull all their advertising from Google is a massive overreaction and demonstrates a lack of understanding of how online advertising works.

“The reason that an advertiser like M&S or the Guardian could end up with one of their ads showing on an offensive video is that a lot of advertising online is targeted to the user rather than to the content.

“So, for example, if you are a regular visitor to the Guardian website and then you go to YouTube and seek out an extremist video, you’ll likely see an ad for the Guardian, because the ads are matched to you, not to the content.

“If you don’t seek out offensive content, you’re unlikely to stumble across any such incongruous advertising.

“In a well-managed AdWords campaign, the amount of advertising that would ever appear next to anything offensive would be negligible – so to pull your whole AdWords campaign is a rather extreme measure.

“If you’re running AdWords advertising, and it’s working profitably for you, then pulling it could have severe financial implications for your business.

“It’s not the case that you could just move the budget to somewhere else and find that that other source of advertising works well for you, in the normal run of things.

“The moves by the major brands actually open up new opportunities for smaller businesses to secure prime advertising space.”

Ascendancy works with numerous businesses to ensure their websites and digital marketing techniques are on target and effective.

The company specialises in Google Adwords, making sure they are being used correctly and effectively in today’s online market.

For more information about Ascendancy, visit www.ascendancyinternetmarketing.com/ or call 01952 462845.