The CEO of advertising giant WPP, Martin Sorrel, declared advertisers boycotting YouTube for hosting extremist content “doesn’t make sense,” but that Google and Facebook need to “step up” their fight against the inappropriate content on their platform.
Speaking to CNBC, Sorrel discussed the recent boycott of YouTube by many advertisers who were upset that advertisements for their products were appearing alongside extremist content on the video sharing platform. Sorrell stated that while companies may have reason to temporarily disable their ads on YouTube, a permanent suspension of ads on the platform is not beneficial to YouTube or advertisers.
“Boycotting what is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful medium, doesn’t make sense,” Sorrell told CNBC.
WPP invests a lot of money in advertisement, spending $5 billion advertising with Google last year on behalf of their clients. This makes Google the largest digital platform that the company invests in, spending only $1.7 billion on Facebook and $96 million on Snapchat. According to data from eMarketer, Google is likely to generate $72.6 billion in ad revenue in 2017.
Sorrel stated that WPP has worked with Google to introduce technology to help monitor where ads are placed across the Google platform but warned that “you can’t make things 100 percent brand safe.” Sorrel further stated that it is the responsibility of Google and Facebook to monitor what is allowed to be displayed on their platform.
“With duopolistic control or influence comes responsibility, and last time I checked Google’s revenues and margins and Facebook’s revenues and margins, they were certainly, I look at them with some degree of envy, it’s true… With authority or position comes a responsibility, and they have got to step up and take responsibility,” said Sorrel.
Sorrel does believe that Google so far has made efforts to prevent extremist content on their platforms and that they “deserve credit” for their efforts but that Google and Facebook must come to terms with their role as a media company and stop acting as a technology company. “They are media companies, they are not technology companies, they cannot masquerade as technology companies and they are responsible, just like you and everybody else, for the content that goes out on their channel and they have to take responsibility,” Sorrell said.