Tory MP’s Twitter Banner Blunder
Earlier this week, Conservative MP Gavin Barwell took to Twitter to reveal what he thought was a scandalous political money spinning stunt by the opposition. Whilst reading a press release posted by The Labour Party press department via TwitLonger, he was shown a Display advert which invited him to ‘date Arab girls’ and foolishly presumed that this was a placement sold directly by Labour to accompany their content.
His tweet was aimed at both the Party press team and shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan, stating “I know Labour are short of cash but having an invitation to ‘date Arab girls’ at top of your press release?” His fighting efforts were soon met by ridicule however, as the Labour press office explained to Mr. Bardwell how Google AdSense works which left him feeling red-faced.
I decided to follow the TwitLonger link where the supposed Arab dating ad appeared and I was met by the following adverts: a retargeting ad for one of Latitude’s clients, two ads for phone networks, both of which have been saturating the net of recent, a cruise company, some business software and a number of education-related ads.
Using my browsing experience as an example, this is what may have caused the dating advert to be shown:
1. This was a run-of-network advert, potentially related to geotargeting.
2. This advert was behaviourally targeted relating to his browsing history. Display advertising has moved beyond direct placements, which place adverts side to side with related content towards following the potential customer across the web. This means the site in which the ad is shown would not necessarily be contextually relevant as it’s all about the user. Enliken have a great product which allows you to view the data points that are being traded about you, and interestingly I fall under the ‘Management & Business’ and ‘Travel – Cruises & Charters’ categories which would explain the cruise and software ads.
3. He may well have been retargeted based on visiting an Arab dating website. (Disclaimer: of course I’m not making accusations, just highlighting the technological possibilities!)
4. We can rule out keyword or contextual targeting as none of the content is related to the ad in question. Keyword/contextual targeting would explain why education-related adverts were served alongside the press release.
5. This wouldn’t have been a direct placement either- TwitLonger would be part of ad exchange networks rather than being considered a premium placement.
There’s no doubt that Display advert placements can go wrong, as highlighted by this darkly comic article by Econsultancy (NSFW) which has remained a constant feature of my Bookmarks bar to warn what can go wrong with placements related to keyword and contextual targeting! But by combining negative match keywords, careful campaign management, site blacklisting and technology designed to recognise the meaning behind words rather than just the word itself, the chances of a grave matching of advert and content are becoming increasingly smaller.
However, it looks as though Gavin was just the target of a wide net run-of-network campaign, completely unrelated to his search history or the content on-site. Just a shame he wasn’t clued up on digital marketing!
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