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Australian government joins YouTube advertising exodus

What do Pepsi, Wal-Mart and the Australian Federal Government have in common? They're all fleeing YouTube.

YouTube is under fire once more.
Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Don't expect your next viral video of a boxing kangaroo to be sponsored by the Australian Government -- at least not on YouTube.

The Australian Government has announced it's suspending "all non-corporate campaign advertising" from YouTube. That includes everything from public messages from the Department of Health to Defence Force recruiting ads (though not ads for Government owned corporations like Australia Post).

The decision is another blow to Google's video platform, which has seen advertisers exit in droves over concerns their ads could appear alongside inappropriate or extremist content. The exodus has seen major US brands like Wal-Mart, PepsiCo and AT&T pull advertising material, as well as UK names such as the The Guardian.

Australia's move follows a similar decision by the British Government, which reportedly had its ads served up next to videos featuring former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Speaking about the decision to suspend advertising, Australian Special Minister of State Senator Scott Ryan said it would prevent taxpayer funds "inadvertently flowing to unsavoury organisations" through YouTube.

"The Australian Government... will continue to request updates from Google on the steps being taken to mitigate risks," he said.

Google says that it's doing an "extensive review" of its advertising policies and hopes to "give brands more control over where their ads appear."

"While we recognise that no system will be 100% perfect, we believe these major steps will further safeguard our advertisers' brands," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Update, 8:01 p.m. AEDT: Added comment from Google.

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