Cisco Scrubs Blog Post About YouTube Ads as It Figures Out Messaging

Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO -0.80% can’t seem to decide how upset it is with YouTube.

The networking-gear giant Wednesday attacked the video service, a part of Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -0.19% Google, over concerns about its advertisements appearing alongside unsavory content. In a blog post, Cisco’s chief marketing officer said the company was pulling its ads from YouTube “until the platform has met our standards.”

That post vanished Thursday.

A spokesman for Cisco said it didn’t want to call out a specific company, even though its marketing chief already had. Instead, Cisco preferred to comment generally about its concerns over having its brand associated with offensive content, he said.

Several hours later, a new version of the post surfaced, this time without any reference to YouTube, Google or pulling ads. The post didn’t mention it had been rewritten and it carried the same May 9 time stamp. A cached version of the original post was still available late Wednesday.

One thing Cisco didn’t waffle on: its decision to yank ads from YouTube.

“While we invest significantly with Google, we’ve temporarily paused advertising on YouTube,” he said, blaming ad resellers for not following Cisco’s brand guidelines.

The Cisco spokesman said Google contacted the company and they had a “conversation” about the post.

Google declined to comment.

Cisco didn’t say which videos its ads appeared alongside that it found objectionable. And it declined to say how much it spends on YouTube advertising.

Other companies have pulled their ads from YouTube. Procter & Gamble Co. , for example, boycotted YouTube when it discovered ads running before extremist and racist videos. Coca-Cola Co. and Walmart Inc. have also previously boycotted the video service.

The boycotts have had little financial impact on Alphabet. Still, YouTube last month said it took down more than 8 million videos in the final three months of 2017. More than 80% were removed by computer programs. YouTube has said it plans to employ 10,000 human content moderators by the end this year.

In her Wednesday blog post, Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Karen Walker expressed concerns about the “brand-tarnishing” experiences of having ads appear with content that isn’t aligned with the company’s values.

“At Cisco, we would rather not wait for something bad to happen,” Ms. Walker wrote. “While Google and Facebook have made some strides to combat the issue, at this time we have pulled all online advertising from YouTube until the platform has met our standards.”

That last line was changed in the scrubbed post.

“We are working closely with all of our media partners to ensure that Cisco’s online advertising meets our stringent standards. We only advertise where those standards are met and where we can ensure inappropriate content is not shared,” she wrote.

Neither she nor the company said anything regarding ceasing advertising with Facebook Inc.

Facebook declined to comment.

Write to Jay Greene at Jay.Greene@wsj.com

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