According to ad quality transparency platform Adalytics, YouTube could have displayed ads with adult content on about 100 videos that were supposed to be for kids. This publicity featured inappropriate material for children including car wrecks, injuries, and videos from shows targeted towards mature audiences.
In addition, Adalytics found inconsistencies in Google’s own policies about the content in the ads that are made for children. Reportedly, the policies state that these ads must not use trackers or collect personal information without getting permission from parents or guardians. Moreover, the study showed that websites linked in the ads transmitted cookies to their devices that could be targeted to advertisements for children as well.
In response, Google’s vice president Dan Taylor stated:
“We do not allow the use of third-party trackers in advertisements served on made for kids content on YouTube. This report falsely claims that the presence of cookies indicates a privacy breakdown. The opposite is true, and the report fails to show otherwise.”
Google has already been accused of similar actions on previous Adalytics reports. The research states that Google misled advertisers over where the video ads were placed. Again, the company said the research was flawed. In contrast, a report by Ad Age said at least one ad agency executive affirmed that Google refunded some clients over discrepancies. In response, a Google spokesperson said this was “not uncommon” and that this action is a normal part of dealing with advertisers.
The @nytimes just reported that YouTube and Google might be tracking and targeting children on their platform without parental consent—violating their consent decree and my law, COPPA. This is egregious behavior and @MarshaBlackburn and I are calling on the FTC to investigate. https://t.co/jKcJXDbdtq pic.twitter.com/66AEZTploG
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) August 17, 2023