The communications briefing: Google admits to underreporting political spending

PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media 

Political
 
Google admits to underreporting political spending
Google admitted to underreporting UK political advertisement spending. Google’s voluntarily published weekly transparency reports have been varying significantly week by week. The current report shows that Labour spent no money on adverts through Google Search or YouTube in the week immediately following the announcement of the election. In reality, Labour spent 63,900 on Google Search results over a two week period. The figures were accurately reported in previous weekly reports, but have been altered for the most recent week. In a statement, the company said: “We are looking into this issue. If we find any ads that were mistakenly underreported, we will add them into our transparency report as soon as possible.”
The Guardian

Snapchat fact-checks all political ads
Evan Spiegel, the co-founder and chief executive of Snap, said the company’s photo-sharing app Snapchat has a dedicated team of fact-checkers to vet political advertisements. All advertisements on the app are subject to fact-checking, and Spiegel said he wants the young people who use the app to be able to engage with politics without the danger of misinformation being spread. This approach to political advertising sits between that of Facebook and Twitter. While Twitter announced an all-out ban on political advertising, Facebook has been criticised for stating that it will not fact-check such posts. Meanwhile, Labour has spent almost 15,000 on two Snapchat advertisement, compared to the Conservatives, which spent only 3,000 on the platform. Labours posts have reached nearly 13m views, while the Conservatives have reached over 2m views.
Campaign Live  The Guardian

 Industry
 
Decline in digital publishing revenue
New figures from the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) showed digital publishing revenue fell 3.7% to 113.1m in the second quarter. The decline was driven largely by a fall in display advertising, which dropped 15% over the three-month period. However, this was partially offset by online video and subscriptions, which reported growth of 20% and 14% respectively. The report revealed that as traditional revenue sources continue to decline, more and more publishers are looking to diversify their business models. Just under 90% of respondents said non-advertising revenue growth was a high priority, while half said they wanted to introduce new products or services in the next 12 months. AOP MD Richard Reeves said the figures reflected “challenging times” for the UK publishing industry. “Publishers across the board are looking to diversify their revenue sources and move away from solely relying on advertising revenue,” he added.
City AM

Big pharma missing out on online opportunities
The first ever Digital Health Monitor report on pharmaceuticals from Worldcom Public Relations Group showed that a large portion of the top 25 firms are not properly utilising online and social media communications. Almost all of the companies have a “global blog”, although country-specific sites are rare and the number of posts are fairly low. The report included five steps the pharmaceutical companies can use in order to maximise their online exposure to their advantage, including a setting up a YouTube ‘careers channel’, comparing their “digital footprint” to that of their competitors, and investing in each local market.
ACRP Net

Legal
 
Pernod Ricard staff allege oppressive drinking culture
French drinks company Pernod Ricard is facing court action after being accused of piling “constant pressure” on staff to consume alcohol on the job. One current and two former employees have accused their employer of forcing them into drinking at work as part of a drive to increase sales, leading to addiction, poor health and, in one case, hallucinations. “It’s the company’s culture: if you say no, you’re not very well regarded,” one company saleswoman said, adding that she had resorted to tipping unwanted glasses of drink into nearby plants. “People would say, ‘what are you complaining about? You’re being paid to party’.” Emmanuel Vouin, a press spokeswoman for Pernod Ricard, refuted the claims, saying “There is no culture of alcohol, no order, no incitement in any form to drink.” Bruno Gomier, the head of communications for the group, added that staff could decide “not to drink, or drink moderately.”
The Daily Telegraph  Daily Mail  The Guardian

Campaigns
 
Christmas ad backlash over same-sex kissing
A Christmas ad campaign for Australian underwear brand Bonds featured two men kissing over breakfast, resulting in a backlash from a group of customers. The caption beneath the Instagram ad read: “It’s the little moments that made the Christmas season so special”, and was overwhelmingly met with praise from many fans of the brand. However, a number of users on the platform claimed it was inappropriate and “unnecessary”. The brand has seen no such observations on similar posts featuring heterosexual pairings. Bonds head of marketing Kelly McBride said: “It felt natural that our finale to the year would be a celebration of the deep and meaningful bonds that make the festive season so special.”
Pink News

Christmas marketing may move online
John Lewis reported a 2% fall in sales this year, marking the retailers worst financial performance in years. Keele University marketing lecturer Griff Round considered whether this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert could be its last. With only 24% of under-35s watching terrestrial TV and over a million UK homes not owning a television, it may no longer make sense to put out Christmas campaigns on traditional television. This year, Gap launched an online-only Christmas advert. Mr Round states that this makes sense, as their key demographic is 25 to 35-year-olds.
Metro News

Reputational risk
 
Prince Andrew first deemed BBC interview a “great success”
Prince Andrew reportedly informed the Queen that his BBC interview with Emily Maitlis was a “great success”. This is despite the interview being widely considered a “car crash”. The interview featured the Duke of York standing by his friendship with billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, stating that it had “seriously beneficial outcomes” for him. While the interview had the intention of putting rumours to rest, he has been criticised for his apparent lack of remorse for the friendship and his unsympathetic tone regarding the victims of Epstein. It is understood that Jason Stein, the former head of public relations for Prince Andrew, stepped down from his position a few weeks prior to the interview, after he advised against it. Lawyers have also claimed that the interview could have legal ramifications for the prince.  

Following the fall out from the interview, the Duke of York announced yesterday (Thursday) that he would step back from royal duties.
The Independent

Technology
 
Wikipedia founder’s new social network
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launched a new social network, WT:Social. The platform has pledged to never sell user data and currently has over 160,000 members. The platform has also announced that it will not feature advertisements, and instead will rely on “the generosity of individual donors”. Those who do sign up are added to a waiting list and asked to invite others, or choose a subscription of either 10 a month or 80 a year. Social media consultant Zoe Cairns said: "It's going to need a lot of money ploughed into it. People are so used to social media being free. I think businesses might pay for it, but people are so used to having news at their fingertips for free."
BBC News

And finally…
 
Rise in “belief-driven buyers”
Hugh Taggart, general manager of public relations firm Edelman, said that consumers are increasingly placing more importance on environmental and ethical issues, leading to a rise in “belief-driven buyers”. The comments came when he spoke at the Global Resilience Summit. Mr Taggart said: “Trust today is a genuine deal breaker. All this cuts across age segments, gender, income brackets in a way that’s striking.”
Travel Weekly

This briefing has been prepared by Early Morning Media.  If you are interested in a customised bespoke news briefing for you or your client across any vertical, please contact Charles.Webster@earlymorningmedia.co.uk

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