Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pre-Budget Report 09: Tories buy Pre-Budget Report Adwords

The interesting news to come out of the Pre-Budget report was that the Conservative digital team (according to Mesha Chhabra)  immediately purchased key Adwords on google, such as 'boiler scrappage' and 'PBR'.

The first thing to say is to hold your hands up and admit that they have gone on the front foot and gained a digital advantage.

I would, however, argue that political parties need tighter regulations over online ad spend and indeed strict rules about the content they can and can't pay for.

I'm all for digital campaigns and creative platforms, it's just the data sharing and paid for elements of online advertising that I'd like to see made fairer so come election time it doesn't become a free for all.

Not only can digital spend be harder to track, it can also be unfair. To have one party's ads come up when an ordinary voter looks to learn about the Pre-Budget Report means that, in my opinion, that party gains an unfair advantage. I think all parties should declare their digital spend in a transparent way and that they should not be allowed to pay to link themselves to topics or key words in such a manner.

I realise this sounds rather ridiculous given that it's hardly new but this particular examples re-enforces my uneasiness over how digital democracy can suffer if we don't have stricter online advertising rules.

The question is where do you draw the line between creativity and advertising - I think it's clearly on paid for links and Adwords.

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