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Top Irish ad agency relaxes YouTube boycott with activity on 'limited basis'

By Adrian Weckler

One of Ireland's largest advertising agencies has provisionally called off its advertising boycott of YouTube.

Core Media, which has clients that include Heineken, AIB and the National Lottery, says that it has decided to "recommence some very controlled campaign activity" on Google's video channel.

The company, which has 300 employees and purchased €225m (£192m) of media advertising in Ireland last year, had suspended its ad campaigns on YouTube over fears that ads might appear alongside extremist YouTube video content.

However, the company is now placing campaigns again with YouTube on a limited basis.

"This applies to all of our clients as opposed to individual brands," said Justin Cullen, chief digital and data officer for Core Media.

"We have had a number of campaigns activated over the last few days in these controlled areas of YouTube."

Mr Cullen said that the YouTube campaigns would be restricted to music-related Vevo channels and homepage placements without re-targeting possibilities.

He said that his firm has been seeking assurances from Google over the "brand safety" of companies that risk their ads appearing next to homophobic or hate-speech content.

"We have seen a commitment from Google to deliver a better experience for advertisers that reduces potential compromise," he said.

The move comes as market analysts estimate up to €750m (£641m) in lost revenue to Google because of 250 global brands pulling their ads over the extremist content controversy.

The boycott started in the UK in March when companies such as Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and Tesco withdrew ad campaigns from the video channel over revenue going to extremist video creators.

Major US brands such as AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson followed suit in the boycott. However, the companies have continued to advertise with Google's broader search and adwords services.

The controversy resulted in multiple apologies from senior Google executives, including the company's chief business officer, Philip Schindler.

Mr Cullen said that Google would roll out "deeper brand safety policies and controls as well as the creation of opportunities to utilise third party platforms for inventory and campaign verification".

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