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Research Finds Google Violated Its Terms of Use in Ad Deals

Research Finds Google Violated Its Terms of Use in Ad Deals

Ivana Shteriova
According to Adalytics, an advertising data analytics company, almost 80% of YouTube ads have violated its own terms of service. Google, which owns YouTube, could be facing billions of dollars in losses if the research proves right.

YouTube runs ads on its platform as well as other websites and mobile apps as part of its Google Video Partners (GVP) program. YouTube claims that these platforms “are high-quality publisher websites and mobile apps where you can show your video ads to viewers beyond YouTube.” The ads should appear before the main video, fully visible and with audio. According to Google’s terms, brands will only have to pay for ads that aren’t skipped.

Adalytics collected data by monitoring 1,100 brand campaigns that netted billions of ad impressions between 2020 and 2023. According to its findings, brands typically pay $100 for every 1,000 views for these high-quality ad placements – but in reality, they received lower-quality ads that cost $5 per 1,000 views and placed on inferior, non-YouTube channels.

Furthermore, Adalytics found that the ads that end up on YouTube’s partner sites are muted and autoplay is off approximately 80% of time. On top of that, some of these partner sites hosted pirated content, spread misinformation, and used other practices like clickbait titles typical of low-quality, untrustworthy sites.

Some of the big brands affected by Google’s alleged dishonest ad practices include American Express, Samsung, Johnson & Johnson, Sephora, Macy’s, The Wall Street Journal, and Disney+. Government organizations also affected include the US Army, Medicare, the Social Security Administration, and the New York City municipal agencies.

Some advertisers want their money back. “This is an unacceptable breach of trust by YouTube,” Joshua Lowcock, global chief media officer at UM Worldwide, told The Wall Street Journal. “Google must fix this and fully refund clients for any fraud and impressions that failed to meet Google’s own policies.”

Google denies Adalytics’ findings. The tech giant claims a majority of its ads appear on YouTube and not its partner sites, and over 90% of ads placed on partner sites are viewable. According to Google, advertisers can fully control their GVP campaigns by excluding specific sites, see where their ads appear, and opt out at any time.

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