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J&J and Verizon Join Major Marketers Suspending YouTube Advertising

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Credit: Johnson & Johnson via YouTube
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Johnson & Johnson has suspended its YouTube advertising globally, joining a growing group of advertisers and agencies stepping back from the dominant video platform over ads' proximity to hate speech, terrorist propaganda and other objectionable content.

"The Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies takes this matter very seriously, and we have made the decision to pause all YouTube digital advertising globally to ensure our product advertising does not appear on channels that promote offensive content," a spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. "We will continue to take every measure to ensure our brand advertising is consistent with our brand values."

Spending wasn't disclosed, but digital video is a substantial portion of the $2.4 billion in global advertising spending J&J reported last year. The Ad Age Datacenter ranked the company as the 35th largest global marketer last year.

J&J also has been a close partner with YouTube parent Google, among the first to bring customer teams from the digital giant inside to work alongside its marketers and to try YouTube Labs, which links marketers with YouTube creators to guide video development.

J&J's YouTube "pause" came on the same day that Verizon and AT&T, both prolific video advertisers, also said they were halting their YouTube spending until they can be reassured about the safety of the content for brands.

"Verizon is one of the largest advertisers in the world, and one of the most respected brands," a Verizon spokeswoman said in a statement Wednesday. "We take careful measure to ensure our brand is not impacted negatively. Once we were notified that our ads were appearing on non-sanctioned websites, we took immediate action to suspend this type of ad placement and launched an investigation. We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future. "

YouTube has said that it's taking steps to give advertisers ultimate control and transparency over where ads run. It's also enacting stricter policies on the type of content the service will allow.

A Google spokeswoman said in a statement: "We don't comment on individual customers, but as announced, we've begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear. We're also raising the bar for our ads policies to further safeguard our advertisers' brands."

Contributing: Garett Sloane