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Google unveils tighter controls on advertising after clients boycott ads over extremist content

Google has tried to soothe advertisers' woes about extremist content by making changes to its technology

Google's first quarter showed little indication that the ad scandal had affected its revenue

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has announced tighter controls to prevent adverts from appearing alongside inappropriate content after a string of major brands pulled advertising from the search engine and its YouTube channel.

The company, owned by Alphabet, has made changes to its Adsense technology that will remove adverts from individual web pages, rather than targeting entire websites.

Google said this would ensure adverts do not appear next to violent images, pornography, illegal drug sales or content that advocates terrorism. 

The move comes after a raft of clients decided to boycott marketing from Google over worries that criminals and extremists were profiting from their advertising.

Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS), Havas, McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) the BBC, HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY),  L’Oreal and Audi were among the companies that suspended advertising on Google and YouTube.


Faster response to violation of Google's policies...

Adsense, launched 15 years ago, allows individual websites to earn revenue by installing a small piece of code on their websites.  Google paid US$11bn to website owners last year, compared to US$2bn in 2012.

Adsense previously blocked entire websites, instead of individual pages, if they violated Google’s policies but the company has sometimes been reluctant to do so unless they repeatedly break the rules.

Google said by blocking individual pages it would be able to act more quickly.

“Page level action lets us be more surgical on how we take policy action. We can do so more quickly because we don’t need a certain number,” said Scott Spencer, Google’s director of sustainable ads.

Google has also recently employed staff to proactively search for inappropriate content and was restricting which YouTube videos could carry adverts.

Despite the scandal, Alphabet last month reported a 22% increase in first quarter revenue to US$24.7bn with Google advertising revenue up 18% to US$21.4bn.


Google forms partnership with Lyft to develop driverless vehicles...

Meanwhile, the group’s self-driving unit Waymo has formed a partnership with US ride hailing business Lyft to develop driverless vehicles.

The deal is expected to escalate rivalry between Waymo and Uber amid a court battle between the two over self-driving technology.

Waymo claims a former employee stole technology from the company and set up a firm with it before Uber took it over. Uber has insisted it did not seal or use Waymo’s secrets.

Lyft, which is Uber’s biggest rival in the US, has also signed a partnership to develop self-driving cars with General Motors but said it would not affect its new deal with Waymo.

"Waymo holds today's best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world's best transportation,” Lyft said. 

Quick facts: Alphabet Inc

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