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Google Under Pressure

It is fair to say that Google has acted arrogantly in the past with an ‘if you don’t like it, lump it’ type of attitude towards search and its other services. Google, who now operate under the parent company Alphabet, are one of the most successful ‘tech’ firms in history with their fingers in many different pies.

The majority of people all over the world, with the exception of China, use Google as their primary search engine on the Internet or mobile devices. Google is not just a company but now a word entered into the Oxford dictionary. They ‘own’ search and much of online and digital advertising.

They are one of the companies that have been highlighted as paying less corporation tax that they should by basing some of their operations in places like Dublin. They have had multiple law suits from EU countries and further afield not happy about anti-competitiveness and privacy laws. They were once allowed into China but decided to then not to censor content and were promptly shut down.

Yet here we all are still very much reliant on them as a service provider. But in this world things can change. People can become angry and disheartened when big businesses start to ignore public opinion or push the boundaries of common decency.

This is happening right now with Google and some of the world’s largest corporations and even governments are now standing up sand saying enough is enough. They are pulling campaigns from Google which will affect the monthly revenue Google relies upon.

Why?

As many of you know, Google purchased the popular video sharing company YouTube many years ago. It was a way for Google to get their paid ads, both textual and video, on to a much wider audience.

This has been fine for years but recently Google has been under pressure about ‘extremist content’. They have always responded with the freedom of speech and non censorship line, but when a UK government advert is appearing as an advert alongside such content, it goes way beyond freedom of speech, it is unacceptable.

Google’s lack of action has now led to a number of top UK brands pulling their adverts from Google. In fact just to highlight the scale of this issue, 250 UK based brands have asked to pull their advertising from Google.

In the USA we hear that giants like AT&T and Verizon, the car rental company Enterprise and pharmaceutical GSK, have withdrawn all non-search advertising.

Google has now of course confirmed that it is working to update ad policies and give more control to brands as to where their content appears. But has the damage already been done?

This is a major blip in the world of Google and one that is very public and frowned upon by the majority of businesses and the general public. Most feel that this content should not be allowed to appear anyway and Google’s response still seems to be about advert policies as opposed to banning the uploading of this content.

An example of brands appearing alongside such content can be seen in the image below. I did a search in YouTube for Wagdi Ghoneim, an Egyptian cleric who had been banned from the US over extremism. There are a number of videos and by clicking on one of them I got the following Spanish advert playing out for the brand MAPFRE;

This is also a major opportunity for the Social Media channels like Facebook to pick up accounts and increase their own ad revenues.

This story is still playing out and we are watching with interest to see where it goes.

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