Online ads are popping up all over the (wrong) places.

Another quicky this afternoon, but no snarkiness today as it’s raining outside, I feel grumpy and I haven’t had any coffee today, but also because this is pretty serious stuff. Ok, that was a bit snarky, I apologise. Moving on.

The #FBRape Twitter campaign, started by Women, Action & the Media, in protest against the large volume of misogynistic content that is allowed to remain on Facebook, despite their otherwise heavy-handed policies against hate-speech. Laura Bates, one of the women behind the campaign, highlights the extent of the problem, from memes about beating up young girls, to raping women because they didn’t make their boyfriend a sandwich. I have no snarkiness on offer here, just a lot of anger and sadness. Their solution? Get companies to pull their ads until Facebook takes this problem seriously.

The campaign is picking up speed. Consumers have been quick to judge those brands they feel should pull their FB ads on account of their brand values, but who have not, such as Dove. Within two days of the campaign going live, Dove’s Twitter feed was flooded with messages from outraged consumers, demanding Dove take action (and more than just attempting to stop their ads appear on pages that have the offensive content).

Perhaps not so relevant after all...

Perhaps not so relevant after all…

As a brand that has always aligned itself with women’s welfare, consumers expected a great deal more from Dove and have been disappointed by their generic PR response…incidentally it is the same copy and paste response they have given to almost every comment on their FB page on the subject so far.

And fresh off the press, the Daily Mail, accusing YouTube of cashing in on ads for extremist hate clips which incite violence and murder. Their concern is that not only is this kind of content on YouTube, which is a separate issue, but that big-name companies have had ads placed next to the clips in the first place. Companies such as Vodafone and Apple. The problem with both of these cases, is that neither YouTube or Facebook currently have refined their advertising algorithms sufficiently to know when this happens, and they have no way of preventing it when companies ask them to do so, other than removing an offensive page when it’s been flagged (and the damage already done). Ads are placed according to page views on YouTube (e.g. the more views a video has, the more ads it may get) and Facebook attempts to display ads relevant to an individual’s interests. I say ‘attempts’, I’ve never shown much interest in gardening for instance, but that hasn’t stopped the odd pesticide ad from showing up on my sidebar.

Both raise a very pertinent issue: how the hell do you stop your brand popping up in all the wrong places? This is not a new problem, but in the context of online advertising, it seems very little is currently being done about it. Facebook and YouTube need to be seen taking strong action on this very quickly if they want to reassure clients and keep their advertising dollars in supply.

2 responses to “Online ads are popping up all over the (wrong) places.

  1. Nice article as usual – not sure what kind of measures can be taken to scan for potential problem videos though… Besides checking videos as they’re uploaded which isn’t really feasible. That’s the only short coming of the campaign I can see the moment; it’s over-reliant on large companies to pull advertising and doesn’t offer any real solutions that the ‘offending’ websites can put in place themselves. More anarchistic than revolutionary. To gain long term credibility they need to suggest something more concrete imo. It’s a good start though!

  2. I think prevention is the only cure. Fb has to monitor and delete this kind of content more readily. They’ve now responded to the campaign and admitted their failings so far in moderating misogynist content so we’ll have to see what happens next.

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