Google boss Pellegrino admits: ‘We’ve let a lot of people down’ on brand safety

The boss of Google Australia has admitted the search giant has let the industry down, apologising for recent brand safety issues that has been plaguing its video site YouTube.

Pellegrino: ‘We’ve let a lot of people down in the industry’

Speaking at the AdNews Media & Marketing Summit in Sydney, Google MD Jason Pellegrino told the room:

“Any time someone like me is up here talking about brand safety it has to start with one point and that point is to absolutely apologise – we’ve let a lot of people down in the industry, we know that we need to do better and we recognise that.”

Pellegrino’s comments follow on from a tense time for Google which saw a number of advertisers globally – with Holden and Kia amongst local publishers – pull away from YouTube programmatic ad buys over fears ads were running next to offensive content.

“I’m really proud though, that if you look back over a period of time, really since the middle of March… we’ve put through changes at scale and scope and pace which were incredible,” Pelligrino said during an onstage conversation  with News Corp chief digital officer Nicole Sheffield, who also chairs the IAB.

“Changes to the product itself, changes to the policies in terms of the content that can be on the platform, changes to the content that can be monetised on the platform and opening up to third-party verification from a brand safety perspective,” he went on, according to a transcript of his comments supplied to Mumbrella by Google.

“That, as well as investing in substantial resources to manually check videos, and putting machine learning and artificial intelligence against that manual check to scale those capabilities.

“What we’ve seen though over that period of time … has been a change in the discussion… there’s a recognition now did there’s not a media platform out there that can guarantee 100% brand safety.”

Pellegrino said the conversation around brand safety has moved on, with the actions of advertisers demonstrating that.

“There was a substantial proportion of our advertisers who worked through that process and discussion really, really quickly and made the choice that .. it was fine for them and they continued investing on the platform,” he said.

The comments mark the first time a local Google spokesman has addressed the issue in depth.

“There was a portion of advertisers though who, quite rightly, said, hang on, I want to pause because I want to assess this. And of those, a substantial proportion have decided that, working through that process, the platform was worth reinvesting in – whether that’s immediately or when campaign cycles allowed … And there are some… who are still working through that process.”

Pellegrino admitted Google did let people down however said discussions have started to move beyond brand safety concerns.

“We let a lot of people down, we need to do better and we’ve actually moved incredibly quickly over the course of the last three-six weeks and we are starting to see a change in the discussion,” he said.

“It’s not just about brand safety….. that’s table stakes, this is much more about brand suitability and understanding what’s the suitability of a certain platform for your brand.”

Pellegrino’s comments come as Google releases updates on ads transparency for publishers using Google’s publisher platform AdSense.

In a blog post, the search engine behemoth revealed it is introducing a “new technology” for policy violations that will allow Google ” to act more quickly and more precisely when we need to remove ads from content that violates our policies”.

“Historically, for most policy violations, we remove all ads from a publisher’s site. As we roll out page-level policy action as the new default for content violations, we’ll be able to stop showing ads on select pages, while leaving ads up on the rest of a site’s good content,” the post said.

Google has also announced a new Policy Centre “as a one-stop shop for everything a publisher needs to know about policy actions that affect their sites and pages”.

“We have been piloting this Policy Center with thousands of AdSense publishers, who have been very positive about these changes—and provided great feedback and suggestions on how to make the Policy Center more useful,” Google said in the blog post.

“In just a few weeks, all AdSense publishers will have more transparency about why policy actions were taken and the violations found, including page-level action data, so they can quickly resolve these issues across all their sites and pages using step-by-step instructions.

“The Policy Center also makes it easy for publishers to tell us when policy issues have been resolved and their pages are ready for review. ”

  • Issues around brand safety and media transparency will be key topics at Mumbrella360 in three weeks time. Further details are available on the Mumbrella360 website.




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