The Central Office of Information (COI) has decided to pull all its government advertising from social networking sites.
They are currently running armed forces ads via YouTube and have used MySpace and Bebo before.
This follows the latest beat-ups on the Web from MSM (MainSteam Media). This time it's the Sunday Times, linking brands to the BNP via Facebook. Vodafone, First Direct, Halifax, Prudential, Virgin Media and the AA have deserted Facebook. eBay have not.
Plus the BBC's increasingly ridiculous primetime ratings-chaser Panorama criticized YouTube for refusing to police so-called 'happy slapping' videos, and damned Peugeot and Carphone Warehouse. [The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) called Panorama 'misleading', I'd call it a very good example of the worst sort of tabloid TV.] And Teachers' Unions want the Internet banned.
A lot of bellowing, confused people all sounding like they want the whole thing stopped and for us all to live in somewhere censored and filtered and quiet - like China? Sites are changing content because of this (as they would).
[Register comment]: I work for a large uk website that is made of user generated content.Thank you Panorama, are you the Taliban-wing of the BBC? I notice that News Online is undermining your argument again (see 'Cyber bullying - don't blame the web'), as they did over WiFi.
Our media provider (who serves the ads) has asked us to pull various bits of content and retire entire sections of the site to please the advertisers.
As Scottish social marketeer Andrew Girdwood puts it:
If you are going to venture out into social media then this sort of thing is going to happenThis is COI chief executive Alan Bishop:
We don't want to exclude use of any of the new social media but we do have to have a very clear idea of what the context is going to be like.When the newspapers will spend lots of energy trying to place you in ANY negative context — see what the Mail did to 'Whitehall blogger' Owen Barder, taking comments out of context for example — this strikes me as plain wrong and naive.
I'm reminded of point six from the BBC's new Web 2.0 principles:
6. The web is a conversation. Join in: Adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes.Appears not to have reached Panorama.
Also reminded of much of what Tom Steinberg wrote in his recent report (for the government, most of which was accepted), The Power of Information.
Appears to have not reached the COI.
Effective government net marketing — hence 'reaching youth audiences through social networks' for example — is never going to happen unless someone gets some backbone and stands up to press/TV luddites. Someone like a politician.
Is it not slightly irresponsible not to go where the kids actually are?
It is just not possible to effectively use social media without something, somewhere which can be taken out of context.
After extensive investigations, The Register can reveal that Vodafone rival Orange's adverts are running on the [Facebook] group "Aryan Satan Worshipers" [sic]. Sick.®
The commentators on the Guardian about the BNP/Facebook [Racists don't just read online ads] have no information about Web marketing, social networks etc. for which I blame the BBC, in large part.
How is this country's economy going to get anywhere if both politicians taking advantage and tabloid media are dominating the 'debate' and scaring people witless about the Web?
Some would like to change the context to this:
- [blog comment]:
NEW ad serving engines are appearing from companies like wunderLoop that are based not on the context of a sites content but on the indivdual and their behaviour, so that advertising appears related to their profile.
People are already talking about networks based on class.
Never mind how easily gamed that will be:
- [blog comment]:
I don’t think a filter system would do too well on social networks. Just imagine - if you knew there were certain trigger words or phrases to stop ads from being displayed on your profile, how easy would it be for people who don’t want ads on their profiles to include those so they get a commercial free profile?
- Nigel Gwilliam, senior communications manager at the IPA:
Online ad networks need to address the issue of trust they now face and our view is that independent, random, campaign level audits are the best solution. In the mean time, agencies need to be vigilant when trading with networks, particularly with regard to high volume, low CPM deals.
If advertisers are nervous, they can speak directly to us and we will make sure their advertising does not appear against user-generated content pages, or against any political parties. The best way is to come directly to us.You either advertise/engage with 'user-generated content pages' or you don't. MySpace just said that.
It's not possible to filter it to meet the likes of the COI's very strict rules and guidelines.
- Context is Content:
The ability to connect anything to anything else online continues to challenge standards and practices.
The ballpark, the gameplan, the inventory, the master plan .. you've got to change the argument, the context to make real use of social media.
Postscript: I've been pointed at the following, from June > New PM to bring COI into 'MySpace era
It quotes an unnamed Minister saying:
COI has adopted more modern techniques in recent years but we think there is scope to go further. We want to make sure that it moves more fully into the YouTube and MySpace era.The RAF YouTube page is currently running video diary entries from the front line in Kandahar.
[SAC Paul Goodfellow] is careful not to endanger the lives of others or include any breach of intelligence, but will speak openly about his day-to-day experiences as a gunner in the RAF.Although I think ads can be controlled on their YouTube page, Paul's RAF diary is sharable - I just did this and it's below. Which means - yes - the BNP could use it the same as I am. Does that one possibility damn what is evidentially a good thing for the RAF?
RAF AFGHAN DIARIES: 10th July 2007
I don't think COI chief executive Alan Bishop has thought this one through:
We don't want to exclude use of any of the new social media but we do have to have a very clear idea of what the context is going to be like.