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Interpublic Group boss: ‘If Google doesn’t act, we will pull spend’


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

March 20, 2017 | 3 min read

Interpublic Group’s (IPG) chief executive Michael Roth has said that it will give Google the benefit of the doubt and give it time to fix the problem of ad misplacement and brand safety. But if it fails to act quickly then the advertising group will pull client spend.

Michael Roth, IPG chief executive

Michael Roth, IPG chief executive.

IPG remained silent last week while its peers publicly rebuked the online behemoth after fresh reports revealed ads were still being misplaced against inappropriate content on YouTube just weeks after its pledge to do all it could to limit the issue. However, the holding group’s boss used his Advertising Week Europe panel to reveal that despite the silence, the business had conducted talks with Google and ultimately “chose to hold it accountable, rather than pull spend”.

“We had one or two clients that were affected and we discussed it with Google who agreed to have reviews of content and have assured us that they will be able to fix it very quickly,” he told delegates at the conference.

“To the extent that it doesn’t change then we will hold them accountable the best way we know how – hold back allocating funds to them. But I believe they will fix it,” he continued. "The industry can get together and talk about how to uniformly approach, but the best way is to hold them to account economically.”

While he was unwavering in his belief that it is Google’s problem to fix, Roth has not issued it with a deadline: “We’re not giving them a free pass. We don’t know how long we’ll give them but we will hold them accountable," he said.

“Advertising companies pay for pipes the and market forces will come into play where, if the provider of the pipe isn’t checking quality, then advertisers will start to stay away from those platforms. The economic forces must come into play. The Facebook’s, Google’s have to govern the quality, they have a responsibility.”

The torrent of concern from Roth and his peers at Havas, WPP, Publicis and Omnicom were roused by the second report in a matter of weeks that found misplaced ads on YouTube.

At the time the advertising groups remained relatively silent on the issue, except for WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, who has long-been a vocal critical of Google’s dominance of the ad market. But following another investigation Havas decided enough was enough and ad pulled budgets in order to jolt Google into doing more to curb the issue. The decision was soon followed by claims from WPP’s media arm GroupM, Publics and Omnicom, all of which revealed they were in separate talks with Google about the matter and would advise their clients accordingly.

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