Google, Wells Fargo, Spectrum/Charter Communications, GoDaddy, HBO Max (promoting a Harry Potter offering), Square Online, Hotels.com and AARP with the Ad Council (encouraging retirement savings) are among the companies whose ads were still on a website owned by a U.S.-sanctioned Russian bank, Sberbank, as of March 2, according to Pixalate.
In a short-duration test run on March 2, the fraud protection and compliance analytics platform identified six Sberbank websites, at least one of which, onlaine-sberbank.ru, appeared to be using Google Ads for monetization as of that date.
Google's own ad, shown above, could still be seen on that site as of noon ET today. Pixalate's blog shows more of the ads it found in its test. The Ad Council last Thursday began running a campaign online and on billboards promoting donating to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, according to The New York Times.
Pixalate says its intention is to make advertisers aware of the adjacency situation. The company stresses that it "understands that the sanctions are focused on U.S. financial institutions" and is not asserting that any company identified is violating any laws in connection with the purchase of ads on any Sberbank website.
It is offering the links to the bank's sites so that advertisers can check these themselves if they want to do so. The other five are: sberbank-business.com, sbi-sberbank-online.ru, sberbank.sporteasy.net, sberbank.ru, and online.sberbank.ru.
On Feb. 24, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) updated its Russian-related designations and included Sberbank on its correspondent account or a payable-through account (CAPTA) list of sanctioned companies under Executive Order 14024 Directive 2, explains Pixalate. Directive 2 covers “prohibitions related to correspondent or payable-through accounts and processing of transactions involving certain foreign financial institutions.” The actions taken against Sberbank require closure of Sberbank correspondent or payable-through accounts within 30 days and prohibit future transactions with Sberbank and certain of its foreign financial institution subsidiaries (unless an express sanctions exemption applies or the transaction is authorized in advance by OFAC via a license).