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ISBA and IPA to meet with Google following claims YouTube comments ‘used by paedophiles’

Many of ISBA’s members have now chosen to withdraw from the channel

Some of the biggest UK advertising trade bodies are to host talks with Google next week following a report which found YouTube was monetising inappropriate videos of kids and inadvertently facilitating "predatory comments" below the footage.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) have said they will hold discussions with the tech giant next week.

In a statement ISBA’s director general Phil Smith said many of ISBA’s members have now chosen to withdraw from the channel. “By their own admission, YouTube's control and monitoring procedures are inadequate," he said.

Indeed, brands like Cadbury, Mars and Adidas have paused ad spend with YouTube, following on from a report from the Times which found that ads were being served adjacent to videos featuring children doing gymnastics or filming themselves in their underwear.

Much of the footage was uploaded innocently by young people, but it subsequently attracted predatory and inappropriate comments – which has provoked questions around child exploitation on YouTube and whether brands wanted to be associated with such content.

Smith said that ISBA met with Google on Wednesday so they could respond to the concerns raised by members, but added that they have agreed to meet with the group next week to address the issue.

“ISBA is pushing for much more proactive and positive vetting of content before it is deemed suitable for brand advertising and for tighter monitoring and tougher action on inappropriate user comments,” he finished.

Google has made updates to the way it moderates comments and filters content in response to the issue.

A YouTube spokesperson said: “There shouldn’t be any ads running on this content and we are working urgently to fix this. Over the past year, we have been working to ensure that YouTube is a safe place for brands. While we have made significant changes in product, policy, enforcement and controls, we will continue to improve."

The IPA's director general, Paul Bainsfair, said it had arranged for relevant Google execs to attend the IPA Media Futures Group meeting on 4 December. The event brings together bosses from the UK’s major media agencies including Havas, Mediacom and OMD. Here, there will be a "frank discussion" about the situation and the solutions being deployed.

He added: "We are in regular dialogue with YouTube on this issue of brand safety, particularly since our letter to them in August. With great scale and power comes great responsibility and, as Google have openly acknowledged, they have not done enough to date."

"That said, we are encouraged by their efforts to address the challenges facing YouTube."

The Drum has reached out to a number of other advertising bodies including the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Advertising Association (AA) to find out if they were to schedule meetings with Google for the coming week as ISBA and the IPA have done. Neither provided specific details on the matter, with both saying they were in regular discussion with Google.

Jon Mew, the chief executive officer of IAB pointed to its recently launched Gold Standard pledge which aimed to clean up the digital ecosystem. He said: "All 24 of our board members – including Google – have publicly committed to implementing the Gold Standard. This commitment increases transparency and provides buyers with choice and control to manage where their ads are placed."

The Association of Online Publishers (AOP), meanwhile, took the opportunity to make the case for advertising against only premium content, with managing director Richard Reeves telling The Drum: “Advertisers that choose scale over context and environment will potentially face more brand safety risks. Not everybody operates to the same, high standards as premium publishers, which just continues to highlight our mission that we need to have agreed guidelines to create a level playing field.”

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