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Google responds to YouTube ad boycott: 'We can do a better job'

David Pemsel Guardian

Google says it will step up enforcement of advertising policies aimed at preventing ad placement next to inappropriate content after an uproar in the United Kingdom over government and branded ads appearing on video-sharing website YouTube.

He urged other brands to blacklist the Google-owned companies until "guarantees that advertising placed on YouTube will not sit next to extremist content in the future".

The Times found that these advertisements resulted in payouts for extremist YouTube creators, including American white nationalist David Duke and Holocaust-denying fundamentalist pastor Steven Anderson, who praised the killing of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub terror attack.

Adverts for big names including Mercedes-Benz, Waitrose and Marie Curie were featured before videos uploaded by ISIS supporters and other terrorist sympathisers, the investigation found.

In addition to the government, major United Kingdom media corporations have also followed suit, including The Guardian, Channel 4, and the BBC.

Analysis by The Times showed that blacklists which are created to prevent digital adverts from popping up next to extremist content, are not working. The U.K.'s Cabinet Office summoned Google "to explain how it will deliver the high quality of service government demands on behalf of the taxpayer", according to the Guardian.

The world's largest advertising agency has loaded pressure on Google by telling it to apologise to customers and advertisers who saw inappropriate content on YouTube, Sky News has learned. Google, meanwhile, said that it had "strict guidelines" about the ad placements but conceded "we don't always get it right".

Google's announcement came after the United Kingdom government and the Guardian newspaper stepped up pressure on YouTube to police content on its platform, Bloomberg reported. The UK government said it suspended advertising on YouTube until the site can ensure they're not placed next to content it doesn't approve of.

Havas Worldwide is pulling all spending from Google and YouTube in the United Kingdom, citing the desire to have more control of its inventory in hopes of keeping brands away from inappropriate or offensive content. After The Guardian, even channel 4 and BBC has reportedly removed their ads.

All government-funded YouTube advertising remains on hold until further notice. It said it was seeking "urgent assurances" from Google that the problems were being addressed.

Last night Chuka Umunna, another member of the committee, said that it was "staggering" to hear that both Google and extremists were making money out of adverts appearing alongside extreme and grotesque content.

Fearful of losing out on advertising revenue - the company's lifeblood - Google is undertaking a review of the policies it has in place and investigating ways that things can be improved.