Facebook Advertising Cancelations: The Thin End Of The Wedge?

Making headlines in the United Kingdom Friday was news that a number of Facebook advertisers had canceled their advertising due to their ads being displayed next to dubious content.

First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, the AA, Halifax and the Prudential withdrew their Facebook advertising after it was disclosed that their advertisements were being displayed on the Facebook page of the British National Party (BNP). The ads of the six companies were being rotated through the BNP’s page along with other advertising. Facebook is said to be unable to block campaigns on specific Facebook pages.

It seems a little strange in 2007 that advertisers would have been naive enough to believe that a run of site style advertising campaign on a site as large as Facebook would not have resulted in advertisements appearing next to dubious content to start with. As The Register points out, Vodafone’s UK rival Orange currently has their ads appearing on the Facebook page of the Aryan Satan Worshipers. Of course, no sane person would draw the conclusion that Orange is indeed in favor of Aryan Satan Worshiping, this is how run of site advertising works.

The outstanding question is whether this is the thin end of the wedge. The issue of advertising being displayed against dubious content applies to any social networking site, not just Facebook.

Facebook, and other social networking sites will need to find ways to provide filtered delivery of advertising soon, or face the real possibility that advertisers may take their business elsewhere; the risk that their advertising may fuel unwanted campaigns against them based on the premise of guilt by association is real.