A controversy related to inappropriate videos targeted at children on YouTube has resulted in some fallout among the platform’s advertising partners. As reported by The Guardian, major brands like Mars, Adidas, and Deutsche Bank have suspended campaigns on YouTube until they can be assured that their spots will not run next to dark, violent, or sexual content.
The presence of those infringing videos, which are aimed at kids, designed to excel in YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, and populated with popular family characters like Elsa and Spiderman, has triggered a controversy called ElsaGate. Spurned on by a widely-shared Medium post, some parents have raised concerns about the quality of YouTube’s family-friendly offerings, and brands are now following suit.
“We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” said a Mars spokesperson in a statement. “We have taken the decision to immediately suspend all our online advertising on YouTube and Google globally. Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google.”
“We recognise that this situation is clearly unacceptable and have taken immediate action, working closely with Google on all necessary steps to prevent this from happening again,” added an Adidas spokesperson. Other brands that have reportedly pulled their ads include HP and Cadbury.
YouTube is not sitting idly by as its advertisers threaten to depart. It recently authored a blog post that detailed the steps it is taking to clean up its kids’ section. As part of its efforts, it is doubling down on advertising restrictions it laid out earlier this year, which disabled monetization on videos that misappropriate family characters or are otherwise unsuitable for children. Whether that initiative will allay the fears of its brand partners will become evident in the coming days, weeks, and months.