Within the past decade, YouTube has become a video hosting giant used for entertainment, advertisements, music, businesses ventures and more. But has its growth finally come to a halt? In the past week major consumer brands have pulled their ads from YouTube after they started appearing alongside racist, misogynistic and extremist content.
The boycott was initiated in late February after the Times Newspaper found BBC programs advertised among videos posted by former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke. Following these findings, companies began pulling ads off the video hosting site. These companies include major consumer food, entertainment and auto-motive industries such as McDonalds, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, Starbucks, General Motors, Telstra, Foxtel, Caltex, Holden and Kia Motors. Along with the growing number of organisations, the UK Government has also pulled its ads to boycott YouTube’s advertising platform.
YouTube has always struggled to manage and control the publishing of offensive content; and with over 400 hours of video uploaded onto the site every minute, it’s no surprise why. This, paired with the world’s highly volatile socio-political environment at the moment, has seen an increase in offensive and hateful videos posted. Thus, the possibility of a situation like this should not have come as a surprise. The boycott has since instigated an intense debate on retaining brand image while advertising online.
The boycott could cost YouTube’s parent company Google upwards of USD$750 million. While Google’s own search advertising has escaped the effects of the boycott, its stock price has taken a hit. Since the beginning of the boycott, Alphabet Inc.’s stock price has dropped from $872.37 to $835.14. Last year, YouTube alone earned over $11 billion via advertising costs – thus the potential harm of this boycott is immense unless action is taken.
Google's initial response failed to curb the boycott with the promise of more controls for marketers. Here’s what Google has rolled out for YouTube in an effort to curtail the boycott:
Whether Google will be successful in stopping the boycott and bringing the advertisers back onto the site still remains to be seen. Stay tuned for more updates!