Verizon joins Facebook ad boycott
Verizon on Thursday said it’s halting its advertising on Facebook, joining an ad boycott called for by civil rights organizations aimed at pressuring the social media giant to do more to prevent the spread of hate speech.
"Our brand safety standards have not changed," John Nitti, chief media officer at Verizon, told Ad Age in an emailed statement. "We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action. We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we've done with YouTube and other partners."
The ad pause includes Facebook-owned Instagram.
The move came moments after the Anti-Defamation League sent out an open letter saying the wireless carrier’s ads appeared alongside hateful content.
Verizon is by far the biggest advertiser to join the so-called “Stop the Hate for Profit” campaign, which has also lured Patagonia, REI , The North Face, Ben & Jerry's and Eddie Bauer. Omnicom-owned Goodby Silverstein & Partners—whose clients include PepsiCo and BMW—is also supporting the movement.
A PepsiCo spokeswoman has not replied to multiple requests for comment from Ad Age about whether it will join the boycott. A BMW spokesman told Ad Age the automaker is not participating.
Verizon is the country’s largest wireless carrier and is the nation's 10th largest advertiser in terms of overall ad spend, according to The Ad Age Datacenter’s most recent rankings. The company is estimated to have spent more than $850,000 advertising on Facebook through the first three weeks of June, according to Pathmatics, a digital intelligence platform, which tracks where and how brands spend their ad dollars.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Carolyn Everson, VP global business group Facebook, in recent statements about brands joining the ad pause has said: “We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”
Verizon in 2017 was among a cohort of large brands that froze ad spend on YouTube after press reports revealed its ads were appearing next to offensive content. The company returned five months later after it developed safety measures to prevent the issue from happening again.
Contributing: Garett Sloane