HANOI: Following intervention by Vietnamese authorities, several major brands have withdrawn their advertising from YouTube amid concerns they could be fined for ads appearing against content that contravenes Vietnamese law.

The Bureau of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, part of the Ministry of Information and Communications, wrote last week to a number of businesses asking about ads for their brands or products which were delivered with content that was pornographic, slanderous or anti-government.

In all, the Bureau identified 17 videos containing illegal content, and, according to VietnamNet, ads for Unilever and P&G brands were among those displayed with these as well as for local brands including Vietnam Airlines and dairy business Vinamilk.

"We have demanded our partner to work with Youtube to stop running our ads in illegal videos," said Vinamilk in a statement. "Furthermore, we are suspending any advertising plan on Youtube until our media partner and Youtube resolve the issue."

The media partner in question is Mediacom and Vietnam News reported that it was under a contractual obligation to ensure the communication services it supplies are in line with Vietnamese laws, while also monitoring and reporting any problems that could affect Vinamilk's image and reputation.

"Advertisers need to be careful when placing ads on UGC sites as they will always pose reputational risks," said Tarun Dhawan, founder of Moblaze, a Vietnamese digital media agency. "There is almost no way to guarantee the absence of brand risk," he told Campaign Asia-Pacific. The alternative, he added, is to "consider premium inventory that has been vetted".

YouTube is also under fire for reportedly failing to provide relevant registration information to the authorities as a foreign company providing advertising services in Vietnam; the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has announced it will fine the company for these breaches of regulations.

Data sourced from VietnamNet, Vietnam News, Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff