YouTube faces new advertiser exodus

Controversy over child exploitation sees fresh wave of big brands abandoning video platform

Leading video platform YouTube has found itself yet again suffering a wave of advertiser unrest.

The Guardian reports that companies such as Cadbury, Mars, Lidl and Adidas have pulled advertising from the site amid concerns about troubling comments left on videos featuring children. Some of these are explicit and some even encourage children to post videos of themselves performing inappropriate acts.

The problem was recently unearthed by Buzzfeed, since when YouTube claims to have pulled over 150,000 videos and banned over 270 accounts.

This comes on the back of a scathing report earlier this month which lifted the lid on a network of accounts uploading an assortment of content that appears to be designed to deliberately upset younger viewers – much of which was evading YouTube’s filtering system and making it as far as the YouTube Kids app.

“We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” a Mars spokesperson said. “We have taken the decision to immediately suspend all our online advertising on YouTube and Google globally. Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google.”

Adidas added: “We recognise that this situation is clearly unacceptable and have taken immediate action, working closely with Google on all necessary steps to prevent this from happening again.”

This is the second big advertiser scare YouTube has faced this year. The Google-owned company faced trouble in March after awareness grew of the racist hate speech that has become alarmingly common among some of its top stars. Gaming was been hard hit by controversies including the likes of PewDiePie and JonTron, although of course the problem of games pundits espousing extreme right wing views had been around for some time.

Then the likes of PepsiCo, Walmart, Dish, Starbucks, McDonalds and GM all pulled their ads and major advertising networks demanded discounts from YouTube. Furthermore, the yanking of YouTube advertising had a wider effect on Google's entire ad network, with many companies defaulting back to just targeted search advertising as they no longer trust Google's ad algorithms.