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NMA: Is Govt Comms strategy helping fake news to thrive?

THE News Media Association (NMA) has called for a meeting to discuss the Government’s “digital first” communications policy and the “safe, trusted environment” for advertising provided by newsbrands amid concern around blind programmatic buying that lacks transparency.  

In a letter to Ben Gummer MP, Cabinet Office Minister, the NMA said that more than a third of the Government’s digital ad spend had been channelled into programmatic. Checks to ensure ads appear in appropriate environments were failing, leading to taxpayers unwittingly funding extremists through advertising on Google’s YouTube.  

The NMA has previously raised concerns with Government that its communications strategy has sought to bypass news media – which is reaching greater and more engaging audiences than ever before – in favour of social media and search engines.

'Diversion of ad revenues could create
conditions for thriving fake news industry'

Such a policy not only ignores the safe, trusted environment of newsbrands which are reaching bigger and more engaged audiences than ever before in a time of uncertainty. The rapid diversion of advertising revenues by major advertisers like the government to Google and Facebook and away from the content creators could also create the conditions for a fake news industry to thrive,” the NMA said in a letter to Mr Gummer.  

We are aware that the government communications strategy is now intended to be ‘digital by default,’ with social media at its heart. We understand from a Cabinet Office response received last week to our FOI request of 10 February that 41.8 per cent of government advertising spend in 2016 was on digital, with 33.5 per cent of this on programmatic activity.

We were informed that the government deploys three layers of protection for government digital advertising campaigns, including white list, black list and pre- and post- bid blocking. Yet, according to the latest expose by The Times, these protections are not working and taxpayers are unwittingly funding extremists through government advertising on Google’s YouTube. It has been reported that the government has had to pull its advertising from YouTube pending investigations.”

The NMA has called for an urgent investigation by the CMA into the impact of Google, Facebook, and a digital advertising supply chain described by Marc Pritchard of the major advertiser Procter & Gamble as “murky at best, fraudulent at worst".

The full story is on the NMA website.

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