In a PR flurry at the end of last month, a slew of big brands like AT&T, Verizon, and Toyota pulled their ads from Google after it was discovered that some ads were appearing alongside extremist and prejudice content. Most of the occurrences were with ads on the Display Network and YouTube. While the move to pull ads was made with good intentions, it’s not as if Google was purposely placing ads alongside offensive content. With over 400 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all instances of objectionable content.
Many brands joined the boycott after The Times released an article last month about legal implications of Google allowing offensive and in some cases illegal content to be posted on YouTube. The article stated that Google could potentially be prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation.
Google commented on the issue, saying that they have begun taking actions to remedy it: “We’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear. We’re also raising the bar for our ads policies to further safeguard our advertisers’ brands.”
Dropping your Google ads can cause you to lose significant advertising opportunities and revenue. And while pulling your ads may seem like an act of solidarity and a good PR stunt, there are other ways that you can ensure better placement. In fact, Google does have placement control options already in existence. The trick is to know where to find them and how to use them.
PPC Campaign Management Restriction Options for the GDN
If you want to restrict where your ads are shown on the Google Display Network (GDN), the negative placements feature offers two solutions. First, you can add a blanketed ban with “site category options,” which will eliminate certain sites based on certain categories that you select. For example, you could choose to bar your ads from content categorized as “sexually suggestive” or for “mature audiences.”
To add campaign exclusions by category, first go into AdWords and select an account. Then, click the “Display Network tab” and then click “Targeting.” Scroll down and click “Add campaign exclusions” and then click “site category options. From there, you can select a variety of category options to exclude:
The only problem here is that it won’t eliminate content that has not been properly categorized. However, if there are sites you know of that you want to bar, your second option is to exclude those sites specifically using the placements feature. To add placement exclusions, follow the same instructions as before but select “placements” instead of “site category options.” Then, just enter a site or list of sites and choose “add placements.” Once you’ve done this, your ads will no longer show up on these domains.
PPC Campaign Management Options for YouTube Content
The content exclusion options for YouTube are a little less advanced than they are for the GDN. However, Google is currently working to expand these features. For now, you can choose from the following restrictions:
While this doesn’t completely solve the problem of where your ads are displayed, it does help. Fortunately, this fiasco has encouraged Google to create what they call “Expanded Safeguards.” Google explains that the changes will make it simpler for advertisers to monitor where their ads are shown by adding more intricate control features. They also added that they are making it a priority to enhance content monitoring, taking it upon themselves to eliminate instances of hateful or offensive content.
“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values,” Google said in a statement posted to their blog. “So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites.”
Pulling your ads from Google is certainly a bold statement, and it did inspire the tech giant to take immediate action. However, considering there are already PPC management campaign options available to control your ad placement, it is in your best interest to adjust your settings rather than pull your ads. Google has released several statements regarding this issue, and no doubt they will release a new solution very soon.