Australian advertising industry holds talks to protect brands against extremist content

Google plans to give its advertising clients more control over where their ads appear on YouTube and the Google Display Network, which posts advertising to third-party websites.

The industry body enocuraged Google to withdraw from sales any ad inventory "which it can not guarantee as a safe environment for advertising".

Marks&Spencer are amongst the firms pulling their adverts, saying: "In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms whilst the matter is worked through".

Google has begun a review of its ads policies and brand controls and in the coming weeks will be providing brands with more control over where ads appear across YouTube and Google Display Network.

Marks & Spencer acted after the United Kingdom government, the Guardian newspaper, grocer J Sainsbury Plc and other marketers pulled advertising from YouTube.

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The retailer has become that latest organisation to freeze its advertising with Google, alongside the BBC, HSBC, Havas, L'Oreal and Audi.

Representatives for retailers Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Argos, British banks HSBC and RBS, McDonald's, the United Kingdom branch of advertising group Havas and the BBC told Reuters their firms had stopped ads.

"We're not confident that this approach will be sufficient to remedy advertiser concerns", a statement from the group said. "They can not masquerade as technology companies, particularly when they place advertisements", said Martin Sorrell, the founder and head of the British firm.

On Friday, Google executives were called in to face questions from the advertising industry and Britain over the issue.

Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief executive officer of WPP, the global advertising firm, said in a statement that Google and Facebook have "the same responsibilities as any media company" and can't "masquerade" just as simple technology platforms.

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The association wants companies such as Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn to break down the walls around their apps so advertisers are able to better understand where the ads they are paying for are being seen.

She added: "We strive to ensure that our brands do not appear alongside this kind of content online and we manage our media buying very tightly, but unfortunately, no system is 100% failsafe".

Inevitably other media, particularly those on the right politically, have seized on the problems to engage in their much-loved sport of Google-bashing.

Google has said it would focus on improving policies regarding what is deemed "safe" for advertisers, including a refinement of definitions of hate speech and inflammatory content, strengthening controls and accelerating takedowns of content.

"We are committed to working with publishers, advertisers and agencies to address these issues and earn their trust every day so that they can use our services both successfully and safely".

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