Corporate Australia’s YouTube brand safety blockade continues but the government makes exceptions for Border Protection campaigns

The corporate boycott of YouTube continues in Australia as major advertisers maintain their refusal to advertise on the platform in the face of brand safety fears, while in the US and UK the service is reportedly offering tiny refunds to customers.

In Australia it’s not clear if YouTube is offering rebates, although Telstra, the NBN Co and the federal government – with one notable exception – told Mumbrella they are all continuing to keep their money off the service.

The federal government’s ban remains largely in place with a spokesperson for Acting Special Minister of State, Dan Tehan, telling Mumbrella: “The Australian government’s suspension of non-corporate campaign advertising from the YouTube platform remains in place. This suspension is based on advice provided by the government’s media agency Dentsu Mitchell.”

Canberra’s YouTube ban does however have one exception, explained the spokesperson.

“A limited exception has been provided to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to place some priority advertising to ensure an ongoing campaign reaches its target international audience. This will continue to be monitored while outstanding matters are resolved.”

“The government and Dentsu Mitchell are continuing to monitor and evaluate brand safety in digital advertising with a view to increasing transparency and accountability in this space.”

Dentsu Mitchell was contacted by Mumbrella but declined to comment.

Meanwhile Telstra is maintaining a full ‘pause’ on YouTube advertising with a spokesperson telling Mumbrella, “Telstra has very strict guidelines around our brand and the type of content we believe is acceptable for it to appear with.  Our pause on all advertising on YouTube remains until we are satisfied that the platform can deliver on these strict brand guidelines.

“We continue to review our position with Google and have an ongoing dialogue with them around this.”

An NBN spokesperson told Mumbrella they are not advertising on YouTube at all while the organisation’s last post on their account was five months ago while the organisation focuses on posting content to Facebook and Instagram rather than any paid online advertising.

Meanwhile in the US and Europe YouTube is crediting disaffected advertisers token refunds, the Financial Times reported earlier this week with various partners saying they had received amounts of less than £2 as rebates.

The tiny amounts seem to reflect the small audiences the problematic sites attract one source told the FT.

Google Australia was reluctant to comment on its refund policies or discuss specific clients with a spokesperson telling Mumbrella: “We’ve been conducting an extensive review of our advertising policies and controls – and have made significant changes in the past few months. While no system will be 100% perfect, we believe these steps will further safeguard our advertisers’ brands and we will continue to improve our controls over time.

“When we find that we have made an error in letting ads run against content that doesn’t comply with our ads policies, we immediately stop serving ads on that content. When someone demonstrates a pattern of violations of our policies, we terminate their account, withhold any unpaid revenue, and credit our customers,” the YouTube spokesperson continued.

Google also provided a comment from its chief business officer, Philipp Schindler, saying: “Many advertisers never left and many have decided to come back. While they know that no system can be perfect, they appreciate the actions we’ve taken and know we are taking this seriously and are committed to getting better and better.”

Schindler’s optimism is underscored by comments in the Financial Times which quoted one anonymous former YouTube advertiser as saying:  “We would like some firm assurances our brand will be safe. We know we will go back on there at some point — but not until they have appropriate measures in place.”

In Australia for the moment it seems advertisers are still to be satisfied Google’s significant steps will be enough for them to restart their campaigns.


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