Mar 22, 2017

Google's ad crisis reaches the U.S.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Tsering Topgyal / AP)

Even though Google formally apologized for having ads run alongside extremist content on its properties (like YouTube), and vowed to take steps to fix the problem, some of America's largest companies say they will still pull all of their non-search ads from the platform.

An AT&T rep confirmed to Recode that it's pulling all display ads globally until Google can ensure "this won't happen again." Verizon says in a statement they are working to "understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future." The Times reports pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is also pulling its display ads.

Why it matters: Prior to Tuesday, dozens of U.K. brands, including the U.K. government, were leading the charge in pulling ads after they had appeared next to controversial content. Now that U.S. heavyweights are taking action, Google may have a serious branding (and potentially revenue) problem. Google's display ad business is already expected to drop 12.5% in market share this year, setting them billions of dollars behind Facebook. Facebook is experiencing similar extremism problems with Facebook Live, but thus far advertisers haven't been pulling out to the same extent because mid-roll ads haven't launched on Facebook's video platform yet.

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Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

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World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

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Wisconsin may be the start of the 2020 election wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wisconsin voters braving lines in face masks — after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling against extending the absentee deadline — could foreshadow a nationwide legal struggle over how to conduct elections during the coronavirus outbreak, election experts say.

Why it matters: "It's a harbinger of what's to come in the next skirmishes in the voting wars" from now through November, Richard Hasen, a professor and national election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Axios.