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03.23.17 | 6:55 am

Major advertisers including AT&T and Verizon have stopped advertising on YouTube

Both companies have joined others, including Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, the Guardian, U.K. supermarket giant Sainsbury's, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Havas, in halting their ads on YouTube and on Google's display network after it became known the search giant was running ads next to extremist content, reports Bloomberg.

After the U.K.'s Times raised the alarm, Google introduced new tools to better allow advertisers to choose what content their ads display next to. However, a spokesperson for AT&T suggests that is not enough: "We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate. Until Google can ensure this won't happen again, we are removing our ads from Google's non-search platforms."

03.21.17 | 6:18 am

Google to give brands more control so their ads don’t appear next to extremist content

The search and advertising giant has introduced "tougher" ad policies after uproar in the U.K. about ads appearing next to extremist videos on YouTube. Writing in a blog post, Google's chief business officer, Philipp Schindler, said:

We know advertisers don't want their ads next to content that doesn't align with their values. 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.

Among the new tools offered to advertisers are more fine-tuned controls that allow brands to exclude higher risk content from where their ads appear and new account-level controls that allow advertisers "to exclude specific sites and channels from all of their AdWords for Video and Google Display Network campaigns."

03.20.17 | 6:36 am

U.S. judge orders Google to identify people who searched for someone’s name

Don't worry, your ex won't find out you're Googling them–unless perhaps they're a victim of fraud. A court in Minnesota has ordered the search giant to release details of anyone in the city of Edina who has Googled any of the variations of a fraud victim's name, reports the Guardian. The reason Google got the warrant and not Bing or Yahoo is because police concluded that a photo of the victim used in the fraud case was likely obtained by a Google image search. The same photo is not available through Bing or Yahoo searches.

03.17.17 | 7:50 am

Google may have just found the perfect way to deliver ads through virtual assistants

Users of the company's Google Home internet-connected speaker were recently told about Disney's new Beauty and the Beast movie when they asked Home, "Okay, Google, what's my day like?" After Home told them about their schedules for the day, it added "By the way, Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast opens today," and followed that up with music and additional commentary about the movie, reports Bloomberg.

While Google told Bloomberg that the Disney plug wasn't an ad and that Home was just calling out "timely content" that may be of interest to users (sounds like an ad to me), investors and advertising people have gotten excited that Google may have hit upon the perfect way to serve ads as our computer devices go from being screen- and text-based to having an audio-only UI.

Image: Google

03.14.17 | 1:46 pm

A member of the U.K. Parliament just chewed out Google, Facebook, and Twitter for not doing more to control hate speech

Executives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter appeared in front of the U.K. Parliament's Home Affairs Committee today for an evidence session on "hate crime and its violent consequences." Committee chair Yvette Cooper was not impressed with their answers to questions about what they're doing to combat social media abuse. "In the end, it's still not enough," Cooper said, launching into an impassioned diatribe. She was especially tough on Peter Barron, a VP for Google Europe

"I would just say, YouTube—frankly, Mr. Baron, your answers on how you're implementing community standards do feel a bit of a joke, and do not feel as if you're taking your own community standards seriously and playing even by your own rules in terms of what counts as a hate crime and what should be removed. I think for both Facebook and for Twitter, there is still considerable concern about the pace at which you respond and are able to update your systems."

Cooper ended the meeting by saying the companies will be summoned back again and asked to provide more specific details on their progress. Watch the full session here or just skip ahead to 17:00 for Cooper's speech.

03.10.17 | 7:15 am

Google targets Amazon’s Web Services with an improved “always-free tier” in Cloud 

Yesterday the company launched the improved always-free tier of Google Cloud in hopes of luring away customers from Amazon's AWS solutions. The improved always-free tier now gives users free usage of a small (f1-micro) instance in Compute Engine, Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Functions, and Google Cloud Storage, reports TechCrunch. The AWS free tier offers similar solutions, without Google Cloud's new benefit of a virtual machine.

03.09.17 | 2:12 pm

Hey Slack, Google Hangouts is coming for you

Google's long-suffering Hangouts platform is getting a makeover, and it sounds a lot like a certain workplace chat app called Slack. Well, part of it does anyway. The company today said it's splitting the platform up into two entities: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. The former is for video conferencing and the latter for workplace communications. Or as Google puts it, Hangouts Chat is an app that reflects "the way modern teams talk business." It's too early to say whether Slack, with its 4 million-plus daily active users, should be worried, but given that Facebook also recently released a workplace app, it should definitely be semi-worried.

Photo: Google   

03.09.17 | 9:21 am

Can these media companies fight the Google/Facebook duopoly together?

Legacy media is tired of fighting for table scraps. Since Google and Facebook account for almost all of the growth in the digital ad market (a staggering 90% according to one estimate), it's no surprise that some competing media companies now see joint ventures as their only hope. And yet I was still intrigued to see that Condé Nast, of all brands, has signed on to "Concert"—a digital ad marketplace operated by NBCUniversal and Vox Media. In another reality, these companies are all fierce competitors, but in the winner-take-all world of digital advertising, a reluctant alliance may be the only way to counter the gravitational pull of Google and Facebook. AdAge has more about the deal here.

03.07.17 | 5:33 am

Google is hiring a head of Republican political advertising

The new position is being advertised on the search giant's careers page. The ideal candidate will "have strong relationships with GOP campaign managers, pollsters, and general consultants" in order to "lead and coach an account team that uses consultative skills to collaborate with candidates, political action committees, and advocacy groups to persuade voters and legislators." As Recode notes, the head of Republican political advertising is the second role relating to GOP outreach that the company has publicly advertised since Trump was elected president.

03.06.17 | 5:57 am

Google’s featured snippets are spreading fake news

The Outline has put together a damning report showing that the algorithms Google uses to serve featured snippets can't distinguish between real facts and the orchestrated lies published on fake news sites.

02.27.17 | 11:56 am

See that? Even Google and Comcast can play nice

There may be hope for humanity yet. Tech giant Google and cable giant Comcast have not always been the best of friends, but it looks like they're willing to put their differences aside once in a while for the greater good. The companies said today that they will launch a YouTube app on Comcast's Xfinity X1 platform later this year, giving X1 users more seamless access to YouTube videos. 

Comcast and Google have been at odds on a number of issues, including the FCC's ill-fated plan to force cable companies to open up their set-top boxes. Google had wanted to make its own boxes for cable TV content. Still, the X1 has proven a popular platform, and even Comcast's biggest nemeses don't want to miss out. Netflix, another Comcast foe, was added to the platform in November of last year.

[Photo: Flickr user Andrew Perry]

02.27.17 | 6:25 am

Google and Microsoft will stop showing illegal downloading sites on the first page of results in the U.K.

The two companies are voluntarily removing links to piracy sites from the first page under a new code of conduct put forth by the U.K. government that will see a copyright watchdog monitor search results that promote unlawful websites, reports the Telegraph.