A growing list of advertisers have decided to scale back their advertising on Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report YouTube, but it's unlikely to generate much of an impact on the search giant's advertising revenue, according to Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves.
As of Thursday night, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report, Ford (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report , Verizon (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report , AT&T (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and a host of other companies said they would be pulling ads from YouTube and Google's other non-search platforms after they discovered their ads were running alongside offensive or controversial videos, some of which was published by the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups.
Shares of Alphabet were slightly higher by 0.1% to $840.79 on Friday morning, after falling 3.5% in the past five days.
Most of Google's advertisers buy ads based on "well-defined metrics" and return on investment profiles, Hargreaves said, so as long as consumers keep using Google, that return on investment should remain stable and companies should continue to buy ads.
"So, unless the bad press causes people to stop using Google services (unlikely), then our estimates should not be meaningfully impacted," Hargreaves noted, who has an Overweight rating and $1,040 price target on Alphabet stock.
Additionally, Hargreaves said that YouTube has the "most quality video of anyone" and that although advertisers are threatening to scale back their presence on the popular video site, they will need to continue buying ads on YouTube and other Google properties, as more and more viewers are moving online and away from traditional TV environments.
That said, it's in Alphabet's best interest to address the issue in "short order," as the bulk of its overall revenue is derived from advertising, Hargreaves said. Alphabet's Google unit on Tuesday wrote a blog post saying that the company is taking a vast number of steps to ensure that its advertising partners are safeguarded from controversial content in the future, such as providing more account-based controls for advertisers.
And Google already has some protections in place for companies that are worried about brand safety, such as its Google Preferred feature, which allows advertisers to choose a subset of content partners to associate with, Hargreaves said. Advertisers should also understand that Google's issues with programmatic advertising are an "industry-wide" problem.
"This is an industry-wide problem, not just a Google problem, that comes with the scale and complexity of digital advertising," Hargreaves explained.
Facebook (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report and Snap (SNAP) - Get Snap, Inc. Class A Report , among other social media companies, have had their own instances of media buyers complaining about what kinds of content their ads appeared alongside.