Why Big Brands Are Boycotting Google’s Ad Network

An advertising boycott of Google’s YouTube is gaining traction among some of the world’s biggest brands. Volkswagen, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, PepsiCo, AT&T, Verizon, and more have suspended their advertising over concerns related to Google’s ability to prevent their ads from being run alongside offensive content.

Wal-Mart said in a statement on Friday, “The content with which we are being associated is appalling and completely against our values.”

The boycott shines a light on the fact that advertisers have little control over where their ads will be seen when they buy display through ad networks like Google’s, which includes YouTube and more than two million other third-party websites.

As reported by TechCrunch, “Google is pulling display ads from being placed alongside a wider range of content on YouTube and other sites, in the wake of a spike of criticism that its automatic, programmatic advertising seemingly cannot stop mainstream brands from appearing alongside extremist and offensive material.”

The big brand boycott comes at a time when advertisers are already grappling with concerns over fake traffic and other issues, which highlight the challenge of blind, programmatic display media buys in digital advertising.

When determining where to place their digital ad dollars, automotive advertisers — including dealers and their agencies — should consider the quality of a publisher’s content as well as the quality of the publisher’s audience to ensure the safety of their brands and to safeguard their spend and maximize impact. Those publishers that have an existing, quality audience — like Cars.com — offer advertisers massive opportunity and reach.  Google (and YouTube) can provide advertisers incredible scale and an “efficient” ad buy if all the advertiser cares about are cheap impressions and the occasional click vs. real influence on results.

It will be interesting to see how the industry responds as there’s no ‘quick fix’ to the issues related to programmatic ad buying. Those automotive advertisers that focus on quality, will ensure their advertising strategy reaches car intenders and in-market car shoppers in the right places at the right time.

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