Commentary

Whoops: Twitter Runs Ads Next To Porn

This probably isn’t what they meant by a high-engagement adjacency. Twitter’s Promoted Tweets were in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, following reports that ads from marketers including Nielsen, Duane Reade, NBCUniversal, and Gatorade had appeared next to pornography. Adweek first reported the news.

And it wasn’t just a couple stray pictures here and there, according to Adweek: the Promoted Tweets appeared in Twitter feeds that were clearly inappropriate, with profile names like “Daily Dick Pictures,” helpful purveyor of all your day-to-day dick pic needs, and “Homemade Porn,” which sounds nice and crafty. The naughty ad placements apparently resulted from a bug, and unsurprisingly marketers are suspending their campaigns until Twitter fixes the technical glitch.

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While Twitter is in the hot seat today, these porn adjacencies raise the much broader issue of brand-safe environments on social media sites where people can share whatever happens to be of interest to them, which not infrequently means porn, porn, porn, not to mention a whole slew of other objectionable content including racism, drugs, violence and so on.

To name just one example, Tumblr is awash in hardcore porn, which makes advertising on the site a delicate (or indecent?) proposition, to say the least. It’s not clear if that will change, but last month there were reports that Yahoo plans to start supervising the blogging platform more closely, probably with an eye to boosting ad revenues. On the other hand, Tumblr has made a point of keeping its content standards very liberal, so it’s hard to see how it will all play out. One possible solution would be a purely technical fix, relying on better content analysis to identify non-brand-safe content and automatically screen it out of the pool of available ad inventory. 

Meanwhile, the good people at “Daily Dick Pictures” also have to figure out how they’ll monetize their product without ad support. No question -- it will be a tough nut to crack.

 
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