YouTube-ad-scams.002Youtube slaps ads on scam uploads and collects dough from advertisers who look the other way.

It’s not news that Google doesn’t take kindly to anything standing in the way of revenue.  Its business practices on YouTube are no exception.

In order to stuff the mother ship’s coffers, YouTube will monetize just about any crap upload, whether it’s a terrorist recruiting videos or scams linking to pirate websites.  When Google monetizes these uploads both it and the uploader make money from the ads.  Does anyone care about this dirty income?

Two years ago stories surfaced showing YouTube monetized Al Qaeda videos.  At the time a YouTube the Daily Mail quoted a YouTube spokesperson as saying:

‘We also have stringent guidelines regarding advertising on the site, and we may choose to stop placing ads against any video or channel if we determine that the content is not appropriate for our advertising partners.’

Amazon ad links to scam pirate site on YouTube

Ad for Amazon Prime links to scam pirate movie website

As with most of Google’s dubious business practices the attitude is shoot first, ask questions later (if caught).  Is it really OK with advertisers that their ad budgets go to support YouTube and scam account holders (or terrorists)?

I wonder if the folks at Amazon Prime know where its YouTube ad dollars actually go?  Do they realize Amazon Prime ads pre-roll on scams for pirate movie websites?  It’s likely some of the productions pirated are Amazon Prime originals like Transparent.  Does Amazon, or any advertiser on YouTube, demand any sort of accountability as to where their advertising appears?

I’ve written more than one blog post about these shady YouTube monetization practices, but it’s like the movie Ground Hog Day--nothing changes.

Earlier this year Google/YouTube was again called out for ads on terror group videos.  This time ads played with ISIS recruiting videos.   Companies like Proctor & Gamble, Toyota and Anheuser-Busch were among those who ads played alongside terror videos and Google scurried to remove the ads once it was outed by the press.  Though clearly not pleased, advertisers didn’t say much, perhaps not wanting to draw more attention to an embarrassing situation.  According to a report on NBC News:

“Our ads should not have appeared and we’re working with YouTube to understand how it happened and to avoid it happening again,” Proctor & Gamble said in a statement to NBC News. Other companies whose pre-roll ads were spotted on since-removed ISIS-related videos — Toyota, Anheuser-Busch and smartwatch maker Pebble — didn’t immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment.

Of course ads on videos linking to scam pirate movie sites are clearly not in the same category as ISIS recruiting videos, but the underlying issue remains the same.  Where are the standards?

Why does Google depend on its community guidelines as a means to vet content for monetization rather than hire a staff to do it?

Why does Google allow YouTube to monetize uploads without checking them first?  Where are the gatekeepers?  Why doesn’t Google, with all its riches, hire staff to review content before ads appear on videos?  Google wont’ stand in the way of users uploading pirated movies or hate videos but certainly it could vet the videos to determine if they are appropriate for monetization.  Why don’t advertisers demand as much?

Google DMCA takedown liesThere’s a reason Google flacks pull out the same old rhetoric when any of its YouTube policies are scrutinized.  For Google, muddying the waters by mixing its protect free speech message with its unfettered approach to monetization is a savvy tactical move.   It’s a smoke bomb that provides political cover so YouTube can continue to rake in big bucks and avoid accountability.

It’s one thing to hide behind the shield of free speech by allowing unrestricted uploads, but making money off them is quite another.  The two are very different issues, yet Google gets away with treating them as one in the same.

Those with enough clout to force change seem either impotent, or unconcerned.  Despite the ad industry’s formation of the Trustworthy Accountability Group and its “Brand Integrity Program Against Piracy” there seems to YouTube_ad_scams.Unileverhave been little effort, beyond weak rhetoric, to call Google to account for its bad business practices.

Where’s TAG when it comes to Unilever’s ad promoting its sustainable business practices or the Weinstein Company promoting its upcoming movie No Escape on scam pirate uploads?  Why don’t industry representatives demand accountability from Google?
Do the advertising folks for Intel, Lexus, Sanuk Shoes, Oxiclean, Sandals Resort, the Weinstein Company and Disney care that their ad campaigns underwrite criminals?  Does anyone care?

YouTube Ad scams link to pirate websites

The advertising industry needs to take charge and force change.  I can write blog post after blog post documenting the myriad of ways YouTube scams advertisers (and the public) but unless those who send money Mountain View’s way demand accountability, nothing will change.