M&S suspends advertising on Google

British retailer Marks and Spencer on 19 March joined other popular brands to boycott Google's YouTube over its failure in removing extremist content. McDonald's, L'Oreal, Audi, RBS, the BBC, O2, HSBC, The Guardian, Domino's and Lloyds are some of the famous companies that have already pulled their advertisements from YouTube. The second part of the plan aims to improve the controls that advertisers have to implement brand safety issues and the final promise states that Google will work faster in enforcing existing rules regarding takedowns of content.

As reported, last month, it emerged that big-name advertisers, including vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover and media and information firm Thomson Reuters, have suspended or limited their United Kingdom digital advertising spending following a report in The Times, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, that said that their ads have appeared on hate sites and next to videos on Google's YouTube from supporters of Islamic terrorists and other extremist groups.

Havas, a major European marketing firm, recently said it would pull its clients' ads from YouTube and the Google Display Network in the United Kingdom after ads began running next to "questionable" content, including videos supporting terrorism. Department store John Lewis became the latest to suspend advertising via Google, saying it was awaiting "reassurances on the actions they are taking".

"Clearly we need to do more", he said.

It comes as high-profile companies such as Marks & Spencer and HSBCpulled advertising for British markets from Google sites.

Google had previously issued an apology over the extremist content on Friday in a blog post. Flagged content is then reviewed - a process that Google says takes less than 24 hours in 98% of cases.

MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO - news) recently said Google was "still profiting from hatred" after it failed to remove videos from groups allegedly linked to terrorism.

"We are looking at accelerating changes to policy controls and enforcement that will help us to do better", he said.

"Google assured us they would fix this very quickly and so we've chosen to hold them accountable rather than pull our allocations", he said.

"They can not masquerade as technology companies, particularly when they place advertisements", said Martin Sorrell, the founder and head of WPP.

One analyst thinks the issue could hurt Google-parent Alphabet's stock.

Nina dos Santos contributed to this article.

  • Joey Payne