Several big name brands have once again frozen ad spend with YouTube following claims that ads are being served against videos of "scantily clad" or "naked" children.
YouTube has said it is working "urgently" to demonitise such content following yet another report into brand safety on the platform from the Times.
According to The Times, alcohol giant Diageo was among those to freeze YouTube spend, along with HP, Cadbury, and Adidas who called the situation "completely unacceptable".
Many of the videos examined in the report had been posted by children themselves, comprising innocent footage showing young girls filming themselves in underwear, doing the splits, brushing their teeth or rolling around in bed.
Adding a further dimension to the Google's ongoing brand safety crisis, the paper noted that YouTube’s algorithms then suggest similar clips — including one showing naked toddlers in a bath, and that the videos comments section was being "used by paedophiles" to make predatory observations.
Commenting on the report, 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 news broke in The Times less than an hour after YouTube's final pitch of the year to advertisers at its Brandcast event last night (24 November).
Addressing previous brand safety issues on the platform, Google's UK and Ireland boss Ronan Harris said: “It’s wholly unacceptable to us that any of our brand partners have their advertising shown against undesirable content. And it’s wholly unacceptable that this undesirable content might be shown to some of our users."
He pointed to a series of product upgrades YouTube will implement in response to claims that videos of child exploitation were being monetised via branded content.
The first of these changes, he explained, involved blocking inappropriate – or in Harris’ words “predatory” – comments on videos featuring minors and turning off comments on these posts entirely when necessary.
The second, involved working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and reporting comments of this nature, as well as illegal behaviour, to law enforcement.