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Havas APAC ‘will not’ withdraw ads from Google and YouTube

Havas Group Asia-Pacific has said it will not pull programmatic advertisements from Google and YouTube following a media storm in the United Kingdom over brands appearing next to videos with “questionable or unsafe content”, such as terrorist propaganda.

The French advertising and media company had announced that its clients in the UK, including Domino’s Pizza and Hyundai, would temporarily boycott Google after a number of ads were placed next to content promoting extremism and hate speech.

Havas was the first of the global media companies to take a proactive stance on the issue of brand safety. Other global media agency groups, including WPP’s GroupM, have said they will not adopt a blanket ban, but will work with concerned individual clients to craft solutions.

A spokeswoman for Havas APAC said: “The decision of our UK team to pause activity with our partner Google is a temporary move made on behalf of our UK clients and their specific needs. The Havas Group will not be undertaking such measures on a global basis. We are working with Google to resolve the issues so that we can return to using this valuable platform in the UK.”

Publicis Media APAC has released the following statement to Mumbrella Asia: “Publicis Media is committed to being at the forefront of rigorous brand safety, viewability and verification standards and protocols. We hold all publishers, including Google and YouTube, accountable to ensure that the highest standards of advertising are consistently met. Clearly, Google has fallen short of these standards. We are reviewing how we work with them moving forward.”

Following the story’s appearance in The Times of London on Friday, Google UK’s managing director Ronan Harris said the Silicon Valley giant would aim to do better. Writing in a blog post, he said:  “We’ve begun a thorough review of our ads policies and brand controls and we will be making changes in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear across YouTube and the Google Display Network,” he wrote

The news follows eMarketer’s prediction earlier this month that Google would continue to take the lion’s share of digital ad spend this year, accounting for 40 per cent in total worldwide. Meanwhile, the search engine’s main competitor Facebook was expected tol take a 16.4 per cent slice of the cake due to its heavy investment in video and the increasing brand interest in Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Earlier this month, the global CEO of Maxus – a WPP agency – told Mumbrella Asia all clients were being advised to used brand safety tools. Asked about the group’s own strategy, Lindsay Pattison said: “We have a huge blacklist of sites. We are scouring the internet all of the time to understand material we shouldn’t be appearing next to. We can then also create white-lists for highly proven credible inventory and access private marketplaces where we know the safety controls are already there.”

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