Government pulls Facebook ads

The government’s Central Office of Information (COI) has temporarily pulled advertising from social networking sites, following a page placement controversy on Facebook.

Government pulls Facebook ads

Earlier this week, Vodafone removed its advertising from the social networking site, after its ads appeared on the official page for the British National Party. The mobile operator said in a statement that it hadn’t expected its ads to be put on a page for any political group.

The COI’s advertising agency i-level expressly states that advertising should not appear on sites which have “socially unacceptable behaviour.” In light of the Facebook-Vodafone incident, the COI temporarily pulled its advertising from social networking sites until they received confirmation that their adverts were acceptably placed. Bebo and MySpace have both confirmed with the COI regarding placement, while Facebook has not yet done so.

“Advertising has been paused temporarily on any websites that have not provided COI and i-level with the further assurances our bookings require,” claims Jamie Galloway, COI Director of Digital Media, in a statement. “COI will be talking to i-level and the respective media owners this week to review individual bookings. COI and i-level will then update and amend bookings accordingly.”

But Galloway stressed that the COI is not permanently removing advertising on social networking sites, just double-checking the campaigns. “COI is not considering removing all social media activity indefinitely,” he adds. “COI are regularly reviewing the use of social media in government communications campaigns, to ensure they are effectively reaching target audiences.”

Indeed, releasing its annual report last month, the COI showed it spent £135.9 million annually on advertising, of which £22.5 million was on digital media – up 85.4 per cent. “Our figures show that government, like the private sector, is following audiences online as more and more people access information and services via the web,” said Alan Bishop, the COI’s chief executive, in a statement.

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