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Extreme funding

17 : 02 : 2017 The Times : Backlash Brands : Advertising

Global – Brands are facing a backlash as a result of online adverts appearing alongside terrorist, extremist and pornographic content.

  • Mercedes-Benz, Disney and Marie Curie were among brands whose ads have appeared on extremist websites
  • Blacklists designed to prevent such ads from appearing on extremist sites failed, but advertising agencies contacted by The Times deny any wrongdoing
  • 65% believe businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for social change, according to Havas Worldwide
The Times, Global The Times, Global

New research from The Times claims the ads are likely to generate tens of thousands of pounds for extremists. Typically, an ad alongside a YouTube video generates £6 ($7.60, €7) for every 1,000 views. The newspaper cited the example of a YouTube ad for the new Mercedes A-Class that ran next to a pro-Islamic State video, which was viewed more than 115,000 times.

Ads for Honda, Thomson Reuters, Halifax, Argos, John Lewis and the Victoria and Albert Museum have also been found alongside websites and YouTube videos promoting extremist ideology created by supporters of groups such as Islamic State and Nazi sympathisers Combat 18.

The industry is blaming automated programmatic advertising for the placement of these ads. ‘The suspicion is that the surge in programmatic trading is being fuelled by the profit that media agencies can make rather than because it delivers better results for their clients,’ says Hicham Felter, a spokesman for advertisers trade body ISBA.

Following the report, Google, the owner of YouTube, took down some of the videos that had been featured. A Google spokesperson said: ‘When it comes to content on YouTube, we remove flagged videos that break our rules and have a zero tolerance policy for content that incites violence or hatred.’

The Big Picture

Brands are now expected to take civic responsibility and drive positive social change. Lego recently announced that it would stop advertising in The Daily Mail due to its inflammatory headlines.