The results from this incredible analysis by ProPublica again show why the AdTech industry needs stricter 'Know Your Customer' standards, and proactive vetting of partners.
The current free-for-all landscape, in which intermediary platforms carry limited accountability for behaviour of the entities they represent, is simply not sustainable. Google, like other parties that sell or buy media, should be directly responsible - and dare I say carry liability - for the conduct of companies using its network.
The argument has long been that the Google Display Network is a marketplace that allows website operators - large and small - to monetize their inventory in a self-serve model, lowering the barrier to do so significantly. However, Google cannot continue to rely on passive T&C's with regards to disinformation for their customers to comply with through self-regulation.
Some basic vetting processes would have a direct positive impact in addressing this issue, but it would impact the scale - and hence revenue - of the network Google operates. After all, it earns money on each dollar transacted through its myriad of ad platforms across the supply chain, so there's a perverse incentive to prevent limitations.
The ProPublica research, however, shows how Google's passive approach directly harms communities across the world and society at large. Impact on Google's reputation, and consequent regulatory sanctions, could very quickly start to cost more than it earns from harmful website operators, so the time to act decisively and clean up their network is now.
Google is funneling revenue to some of the web’s most prolific purveyors of false information in Europe, Latin America and Africa, a ProPublica investigation has found.
The company has publicly committed to fighting disinformation around the world, but a ProPublica analysis, the first ever conducted at this scale, documented how Google’s sprawling automated digital ad operation placed ads from major brands on global websites that spread false claims on such topics as vaccines, COVID-19, climate change and elections.
The investigation also revealed that Google routinely places ads on sites pushing falsehoods about COVID-19 and climate change in French-, German- and Spanish-speaking countries. The resulting ad revenue is potentially worth millions of dollars to the people and groups running these and other unreliable sites — while also making money for Google.
Read the full report here: