I was recently asked what I thought about the affect that Facebook’s “Obama Assassination Poll” would have on Facebook’s advertisers. Here’s how I responded…
Facebook is right to try to monetize everything. Google has built a more than $20b business around Internet advertising. Polls are a necessity and very popular. (My ex-fiancé’s father Bill Gaskill and his Mad Men partner, George Gallop made an industry out of taking polls in the 1940’s.) So, I think Facebook, Google’s Contextual Ads, and ole George’s polls are a perfect match. It’s unfortunate that there are idiots like the one who posted the “Obama Assignation Poll” on Facebook, but that’s human nature. Sometimes social media brings out the best in people, sometimes it’s the worst, and sometimes it brings out the stupid.
What happened on Facebook was an unfortunate mistake. The important thing about a mistake is not that you make it, its how you take responsibility for it and fix it. Facebook removed the poll immediately upon notice. Go Facebook! The poll went up, they were notified, it went away. In the past, there have been a lot of social interactive sites that weren’t that responsive. Craig’s List was one of them, which has now changed.
I don’t think this is as much about social media as it is about human nature. We’ve seen this type of bad judgment since the Internet first became popular. In the beginning there were “hate” sites, “sex” sites, and other content that we as a culture find offensive. While I am a strong proponent of the First Amendment, sometimes some things are just not appropriate. This was one of those times. The great thing about social media is the social conscience and the self policing. I am sure that it was an astute social citizen that first alerted Facebook to the poll and it was quickly removed.
The more I practice social media, the more I realize its similarities to conventional media. When asked by human resource managers “How do we create new rules and guidelines to control employee participation in social media”. It explain, don’t create new rules, use the ones you already have. You have rules that say as an employee, you are not allowed to talk to the media. Well, social media is media, too! The same rules apply. The same goes for liable, fraud, theft, and stupid.
When it comes to advertisers who use contextual advertising, the same rules apply. Instances like this will happen, not often, and not for long. As an advertiser you have two choices, understand that it was an isolated instance and roll with it or pull your advertising as you would with a newspaper or magazine you advertise with that ran a distasteful OpEd piece. With on-line advertising generating so much revenues, having such an effective delivery system, to such a targeted audience, my advice is “Get over it.”
With www.TheSocialMediaBible.com and the www.LonSafko.com web sites, I had to pull the Google Contextual Advertising from both sites. All of the advertising delivered by Google was for Bible Study, Churches, Bible purchases, and Jesus. I’m all for Jesus, but it just wasn’t appropriate advertising for my web sites. And there is no “Not” in Google AdSense. (Which means you can’t set it up to say “Social Media” – Yes, “Jesus, Bible, and Churches” – No.
Based on the keywords “Obama, Assignation, Poll” my curiosity is getting the best of me to know exactly what type of advertiser did Google pull up and match for that?!