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It’s all over the news: Big-name companies and organizations — AT&T, McDonald’s, The Guardian, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson are among them, in addition to the U.K. government — are shunning Google-owned YouTube and other assets, as some ads have been displayed alongside extremist-related videos, hate speech and other offensive materials.

An investigation led by The New York Times has found that ads placed by British newspaper The Guardian via Google’s Ad Exchange — a service for managing multiple monetization sources of online display advertising inventory — on YouTube were being displayed alongside extremist-related, terrorism-backed, offensive and/or violent videos. The newspaper quickly pulled its ads upon this discovery, urging others to follow suit.

Financial analysts expect that Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. could lose about $750 million this year, according to a report by business news service Fortune. YouTube alone could see a 7.5 percent drop in revenue (its earnings have been estimated to reach about $10 billion in 2017), in addition to costs associated with fixing the problem.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Google’s ad business took in just over $22 billion, representing about 85 percent of Alphabet Inc.’s total revenue for that period. A large part of total income includes Google search advertising; The New York Times report notes that the boycott does not include search ads.

Google is now addressing the problem of erroneous ad placement, starting with an extensive review of its advertising policies, the company told The New York Times, and is making “a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear.”

Put the reins on content

The internet is a vast worldwide arena that is growing every minute, and the Google/YouTube boycott storm proves just how difficult it is to control. So what does all of this mean for advertisers? Leverage, potentially, says Recode, an online business news service. Given the controversy and revenue losses, advertisers could be in a position to negotiate with Google to meet their needs and demands, which include more direct control over things like ad tracking and ad placement.

Smaller advertising outlets like Photonics Media don’t have that problem. They don’t have to worry about examining millions of videos and other uploaded materials every day the way Google does, which reduces concerns about potentially offensive or violent content slipping through the cracks.

With such concerns out of the way, advertisers can get to know their audiences well and more intimately. This ultimately builds a trusting relationship, which, in turn, can lead to successful ad campaigns and outcomes. The smaller outlets are also in direct control of the content they receive, as well as what is shared and posted to their websites.

Smaller web outlets can better moderate their content and audiences, too. Photonics Media’s larger publications — Photonics Spectra and BioPhotonics — are audited by a third party to assure every reader is qualified. The audience for its other print and online publications are already vetted, too, as individuals seek out information on photonics.

Part of the overarching ad placement issue right now is that larger web outlets such as Google don’t typically have much direct control over uploaded content, given the immense volume of websites and internet users they deal with — automation, rather than humans, places the majority of ads online, making it difficult to always know exactly which ads will be near which videos and other content.

With smaller outlets such as Photonics Media, advertisers can control where their content is placed in specific publications and on websites, because the outlet itself also has control.

As Google reexamines its services, policies and procedures, it continues its scouring of videos and multimedia materials that pour in to check for potentially offensive or violent content. Google plans to ultimately develop a comprehensive and trusted solution to the problem of erroneous ad placement, but admits that given the vast amount of content online, it won’t happen overnight.

With smaller web advertising outlets, such problems are not a concern.

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