Madison Avenue is finally putting the screws to ad-selling tech giants, fed up that they can’t tell who is viewing their ads online and where.
On Friday, global advertising firm Havas announced it was yanking all of its ads from YouTube in the UK after a report revealed spots from big-name clients — including the UK’s prestigious Prince’s Trust charity — were showing up next to videos from white-supremacist David Duke and gay-bashing pastor Steve Anderson.
Soon after, the Association of National Advertisers released a statement demanding that tech firms allow them to independently audit the data they provide advertisers.
The ANA wants to see Amazon, Facebook-owned Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest break down the so-called “walled garden” of their applications so that advertisers can better understand where their ads are getting served and seen.
The problems are coming to the fore as Silicon Valley behemoths are expected to grow their piece of the ad pie by 16 percent to $83 billion in 2017, according to eMarketer.
That’s bigger than the $70 billion currently spent on television, which operates by much stricter standards.
Nick Troiano, who’s chief executive of Cross MediaWorks, told The Post that advertisers are trying to get a handle on the devilishly complex networks that tech firms use to distribute their spots.
That can get confusing quickly: A single digital ad stream can be broken into five pieces, and some companies might define each individual piece as viewed by five people, rather than a single viewer watching five ads in one piece of content.
As for ads being served up next to hate speech, “how they calculate things isn’t going to solve the contextual problem,” Troiano says.
Havas — whose UK advertising clients include the British government’s Royal Mail and BBC TV network, Domino’s Pizza and Hyundai — said it was considering a global ban on YouTube’s platform after Google admitted it couldn’t guarantee that ads wouldn’t get displayed next to unpalatable content.
The UK YouTube boss, Ronan Harris, said in a statement: “With millions of sites in our network, and 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we recognize that we don’t always get it right,” and pledged to do more.
Rob Norman, chief digital officer at Group M, which is the largest advertiser in the world, leapt on the opportunity to chastise the world’s most powerful ad platform, telling the Financial Times, “Google should make it public that this is a flaw in their technology.”
Robert Thomson — the CEO of News Corp., which owns The Post as well as The Times of London, which broke this week’s story on YouTube UK’s advertising problem — issued a statement Friday that warned of the risks of poorly policed ad networks.
“Advertisers need to go back to basics to protect their brands from serious damage and to protect themselves from being involved in potentially criminal activity, whether it be supporting extremist groups or funding hardcore pornography.”
This article was originally published in the New York Post.