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PepsiCo, Walmart Among Latest Brands to Pull Ads from YouTube

Major advertisers suspended their ads after they have continued to appear alongside objectionable videos

PepsiCo, Walmart, Dish Network and Starbucks are some of the latest companies to pull their ads from YouTube, as Google’s online video behemoth continues to struggle keeping advertisements away from videos showing racist and otherwise objectionable content, according to a Friday Wall Street Journal report.

After the Journal discovered their ads on videos containing racist and anti-Semitic content, PepsiCo, Walmart and Dish Network told the newspaper they would suspend all Google advertising except targeted search ads. Starbucks and General Motors pledged to pull all ads from YouTube, while FX Networks said it would suspend all Google advertising altogether. Other companies found to have ads on these types of videos said they were monitoring the situation.

A Google spokeswoman did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Times of London investigation on March 17, which found major British brands advertisements present on videos such as one from a preacher who talked about homosexuals burning, sparked an exodus of several of the country’s major advertisers from the platform. That movement has since traveled across the pond, as Verizon and AT&T suspended their ads Wednesday.

The brands mentioned aren’t directly advertising with these types of messengers, but their ads are placed on their channels through programmatic advertising, which is an auction-type format that purports to enable companies to efficiently place advertisements based on the browsing histories of likely target customers. But the discovery of their content on these videos — and YouTube’s apparent inability to prevent it at this point — is unwelcome news for a company that’s positioned itself to take TV ad dollars as younger viewers increasingly watch online video, and is about to launch its own live TV service with plans to sell ads on that platform as well.

In a Tuesday post on YouTube’s blog, Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler apologized for ads that appeared next to videos containing hateful content and outlined next steps.

“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values,” Schindler wrote in the post. “So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites.”

Google parent Alphabet’s stock is down nearly 5 percent over the past five days.