Google: machine learning may fix ad placement dispute

Google-owned YouTube is curbing advertising on some channels as it seeks to reduce pairing ads with inappropriate content

Google on Monday said it will apply machine smarts and outside eyes to help ensure brands don't find ads paired with hateful videos on YouTube.

The move come as the internet colossus scrambles to derail an advertising boycott of Google's money-making engine.

Google said it was using new machine-learning or artificial intelligence systems to enforce its policies, to help content objectionable to advertisers.

These systems will be adapted to advertiser preferences, Google said.

The tech giant also said it would work with third parties to help advertisers protect their brands from unwanted placement.

"As part of our commitment to provide even more transparency and visibility to our advertising partners, we'll be working with trusted vendors to provide third-party brand safety reporting on YouTube," a Google spokesperson said on Monday.

Google chief business officer Phillip Schindler recently apologized and said the company was taking a "tougher stance" on hateful, offensive, or derogatory content while ramping up safeguards to make sure ads only appear with acceptable material from legitimate creators.

Google has continued to downplay the effect of the boycott.

California-based Google, which has seen a slew of companies withdraw ads fearing placement alongside extremist content, has introduced new tools to give firms greater control.

The boycott began in February after the Times newspaper of London found BBC programs were promoted alongside videos posted by American white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke as well as Wagdi Ghoneim, an Islamist preacher banned from Britain for inciting hatred.

The analysis found more than 200 anti-Semitic videos, and that Google had failed to remove six of them within the 24-hour period mandated by the European Union after it anonymously signaled their presence.

The British government subsequently put its YouTube advertising on hold, saying in a statement, "it is totally unacceptable that taxpayer-funded advertising has appeared next to inappropriate internet content."

Others to pull the plug included the BBC, The Guardian newspaper group, McDonalds UK and the British arm of the major advertising agency Havas.

The movement spread to the United States, with AT&T and Verizon pulling ads from Google.

A solution may not be easy. Google needs to strike a balance between pleasing advertisers and those who upload videos to YouTube and are free to take their creations elsewhere if unsatisfied with their shares of ad revenue.