Brands that fled YouTube over hate videos are already back
Well, that didn’t last long.
Nearly half of the American brands that made a show of pulling their ads from YouTube over placements on extremist videos in March have resumed advertising on the platform, according to tracking firm MediaRadar.
The firm says six of the thirteen of the major companies—General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, AT&T, Verizon, and Walmart—ran YouTube ads at some point last month.
The analysis does note, however, that the latter three only appeared as part of joint ads with partners and may not have had full control over the spend.
MediaRadar also can’t track ad placements across the pond in the UK, where the boycott originated and more than 200 brands participated.
The exodus began after the Times of London and other news outlets surfaced ads from major brands attached to videos posted by hate groups, including Nazi sympathizers and Islamic State terrorists.
YouTube parent Google responded by doubling down on video vetting operations, tightening content policy, and rolling out new tools that used machine learning to recognize patterns in offensive videos.
However, some YouTube creators complained that the crackdown went too far, sweeping up legitimate videos in the process.
“We do not think this will impact YouTube,” MediaRadar CEO Todd Krizelman said in an email. “YouTube acted responsibly and swiftly, taking down the offensive material. The team at YouTube operates at the highest level.”
The statement echoes what some analysts said at the time—that while Google’s rift with advertisers made for bad headlines, it ultimately wouldn’t have much impact on the company’s bottom line. While Google makes the majority of its money from advertising, the bulk of it comes from the company’s search ads.
The boycott also represented the latest instance of growing tensions between advertisers and the giant walled-garden platforms that dominate the web.
Advertisers are generally wary of the duopoly powers Google and Facebook hold over the digital ad market. That fear has led to an increasing willingness among major brands to speak out together in favor of their collective interest, whether that be less ad fraud or more measurement transparency.
The short-lived protest time of so many major brands may demonstrate the limits to that approach. Or marketers may simply be satisfied that YouTube has met their demands.
None of the brands immediately responded to a request for comment.