Posted August 6, 2007 5:45 pm by with 7 comments

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Late last week, Virgin Media, Prudential, Vodafone, Halifax, First Direct Bank and the Automobile Association Ltd. pulled advertising from Facebook for fear of their ads being seen on the same page as the British National Party Facebook group.

With an astronomical number of page views and time spent on site, advertising on Facebook creates the opportunity for a massive number of click throughs. At the very least, it’s a great branding opportunity—if your ad is shown on the right pages.

Controlling your online image is an important part of branding, as is carefully selecting the sites where you advertise. You wouldn’t want your brand associated with a porn site (okay, depending on the brand, I guess). So, when debating whether or not to advertise on Facebook, let me give you one piece of information that may make all the difference to you:

People have opinions.

I just wanted to remind you that people generally have opinions. Not all of them will agree with yours—or that of your organization, company, brand (and other inanimate, intangible objects that aren’t supposed to have an opinion).

Social networks often become places where people share these opinions. (Yes, it’s more than just “What RU doin 2nite?” “Facebookin.”) And buying an ad that will run on all pages of Facebook may be displayed on some pages with far less agreeable things to say than the British National Party.

Even the most basic on-site advertising for Facebook allows advertisers to target their ad by gender, age and networks. Facebook should definitely offer an option to exclude your ads from specific pages of the site, categories of pages or both. But until then, take care before advertising there—pulling your ads is a much bigger deal than passing on them.

  • Matt

    I think they are overreacting. If I see an advertisement on facebook I associate them with facebook, not with the person/organization of whose page I’m on.

    It’s like saying they won’t put advertisements on buses for fear of being seen with a representative of the British National Party who may be on that bus.

  • Ah, but from what they said, it wasn’t the fact that it was the BNP, it was the fact that it was a political party, and they (or at least Vodafone) have a strict non-political advertising policy… of course, that could just be how they’re spinning it…

  • That’s pretty strange, in my opinion. I really don’t see what the big deal is, it’s not like it’s for something illegal.

  • Ads? What ads?

    Like Matt I would associate the ads with Facebook and not the particular page so this may be a bit of an overreaction.

    Jordan I think the idea to prevent ads from appearing on certain pages is a good one and it’s probably something we’ll see in time.

    By the way great title.

  • I think Jordan is right that the better decision would have been to think through all the possibilities of advertising on such sites before doing so. But in terms of dealing with the problem once it had come to light, I don’t see how they had any choice other than to take them off.

    I’m not sure how it works in most other countries, but here in the UK, being associated (even in a very indirect way) with a far-right group which has in the past espoused views that could be considered to be racist, isn’t good PR. Would anyone here be happy for a client to have ads shown on a page praising the KKK?

  • I’m with Matt above. Most people realise that web advertising is far removed from any association with the content of the site. It’s not like an iPhone kiosk showing a Windows logo (

    Do you associate the ads you see on TV with the show that it’s shown with? There might be some synergy there, but that doesn’t work that much online. The Marketing Pilgim page I’m looking at is showing me a job opening for Microsoft MSN, it doesn’t follow that MP has any dealings with them though.

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