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GSK, AT&T and Verizon join advertising boycott on Google over extremist content

Google's promise to crack down on adverts from appearing alongside extremist content has failed to reassure clients

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Google's clients aren't waiting around for planned changes to advertising policies

GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON:GSK), Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) have become the latest companies to pull advertising from Google over extremist content.

The move comes despite the tech giant’s pledge to put a stop to videos that advocate terrorism from appearing alongside clients' adverts on Google’s YouTube.

Google’s European boss Matt Brittin apologised to clients on Monday after several brands suspended advertising on the search engine and on YouTube, including Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS), the BBC, HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY), L’Oreal and Audi.

Google plans to make changes to its technology in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear.

The group is also reviewing its advertising policies and will adjust how it controls and enforces appropriate content on its platforms.

But Google’s clients don’t seem to be hanging around for these changes to happen.

British pharmaceutical group GSK, one of the latest companies to join the advertising boycott, said in a statement: “The placement of our brands next to extremist content is completely unacceptable to us and we have raised our concerns directly with Google.

"We are encouraged by Google’s steps over the past few days to take action and will continue to work with them to make further progress in developing adequate safeguards to ensure that advertisers are not placed in this position.”

AT&T echoed GSK’s concerns that its ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content “promoting terrorism and hate”.

"Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms,” the company added.

Verizon said it decided to suspend its advertising after its marketing content was appearing on non-sanctioned websites.

"We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future," a spokeswoman told Reuters.

Google has declined to comment on individual customers.

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