Monday, August 06, 2007

Marketers Pull Ads From Facebook

Marketers Pull Ads From Facebook

source: MediaPost

Vodafone, Prudential and the British government's Central Office of Information are among the six marketers who just pulled all ads from social networking site Facebook after realizing that they appeared next to content by the right-wing extremist group British Nationalist Party.

Their ads, like those of other Facebook marketers, appeared on randomly chosen pages, including those with potentially offensive content. While the companies clearly don't want even to be mentioned anywhere in the vicinity of right-wing extremists, they might need to accept this possibility as the cost of maintaining a presence in Web 2.0.

Marketers should know by now that they can't control where their brand name appears on the Web. They can pull all the ads they want from Facebook and other sites, but if bloggers, Facebook users or members of the British Nationalist Party want to post about Vodafone, they're going to.

Yes, having your name mentioned in a user's post is different from buying an ad on that person's page -- which, in the traditional media world, usually means that the marketer is sponsoring that person or his content. But Facebook isn't TV. On social networking sites, ads only facilitate content indirectly, if at all. After all, Facebook was! around long before Vodafone decided to take out ads on the site.

For marketers, this dilemma isn't new. Advertisers who make buys across networks that rely on user-generated content have long complained that their ads might appear next to inappropriate content. In fact, Google two years ago attempted to deal with this issue by giving advertisers in its AdSense network some degree of control over where their ads appear.

But that's a lot easier to do when the network consists of a limited number of publisher sites. In the absence of near-continual monitoring, Facebook, with its millions of users -- all, in effect, publishers -- clearly will face problems in attempting to restrict ads to pages with neutral content.

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