by Johnny Crisp // March 24, 2017
Introducing a seminar at Advertising Week Europe entitled “If advertising is funding terror, what should we do differently?”, Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer for Guardian News & Media, acknowledged the difficulty of his position. This is both an appropriate time to discuss advertising’s role in addressing terrorism and not. As people lose their lives around us, discussing the world of advertising can evidently seem frivolous, insensitive, inappropriate. However, the panel also follows the fallout from revelations by The Times that programmatic advertising, in this case via Google and YouTube, has led to brands such as Mercedes-Benz unwittingly opening up revenue streams for extremists by advertising next to their content.
As several brands, including The Guardian, withdraw online advertising from Google and YouTube, whether it is pennies or pounds, it is important to ask the question: what can the advertising industry do to avoid marketing budgets ending up in the pockets of white supremacists or religious extremists?