Joined: 02 Mar 2009
|Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:34 pm Post subject: federal government has spent $13 million on social media ads
|( the federal government has been spending like crazy on various ads on most of the major social media sites , is this spending affective ?who knows )
Liberal government has spent upwards of $13.7M on sponsored Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts
Documents tabled in the House of Commons show departments and agencies’ use of paid promotion on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has ramped up considerably
The Liberals have spent over $13 million on sponsored Facebook, Twitter and Instagram content. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER /FILES KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
September 26, 2017
3:45 PM EDT
OTTAWA — The Canadian government has spent at least $13.7 million on sponsored social media posts since Liberals took office, part of an ongoing shift away from traditional advertising.
Documents tabled in the House of Commons show departments and agencies’ use of paid promotion on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has ramped up considerably in the past couple of years.
These are “new dynamic ways to reach Canadians,” according to Transport Canada, and “the most cost-effective,” says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the government’s response to a question from Conservative MP Blake Richards.
Amounts listed in the document cover expenses between November 2015, shortly after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals formed government, and May 2017. Most departments and agencies that spent money on sponsored social media posts used Facebook — about 60 of them — while just under 50 used Twitter, and half that number used Instagram (which is owned by Facebook).
Destination Canada, a Crown corporation that encourages tourism to Canada, spent the most, with $4.3-million worth of posts targeted at travellers from specific countries including the U.S.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spent another $1.5 million, with the bulk of that going towards raising public awareness of a new Electronic Travel Authorization requirement for visa-exempt travellers to Canada.
The other federal bodies that spent more than half a million dollars are Veterans Affairs Canada at $867,100, Heritage Canada at $829,500, Health Canada at $762,700, Export Development Canada at $608,500, National Defence at $546,300 and Statistics Canada at $503,700.
The government targets social media users with a wide variety of messages, including federal programs and recruitment efforts.
The Privy Council Office spent a full $245,000, for example, on promoting a consultation on an electoral reform policy the Liberals eventually decided not to pursue, the online portion of which was met with criticism over possible privacy breaches.
Heritage pushed Canada 150 events this year while Health Canada has focused on cannabis education, tobacco cessation, opioid addiction and other topics. Public Safety tweeted about flood readiness and Transport shared posts about drones on Instagram.
The fisheries department sponsored quite a few posts about the beauty of Canada’s coastlines, while the National Capital Commission urged people to check out the fall colours at Quebec’s Gatineau Park, near Ottawa.
Smaller government-funded entities, such as Canada’s national museums, used social media to encourage visits to exhibits or special events, such as “Baconpalooza,” “kids pizza making,” an “ice cream festival” and “sheep shearing” at Canada’s science and technology museums. In one case, Parks Canada promoted a whiskey tasting.
Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mint said amounts spent on social media count as commercially-sensitive information, so didn’t share how much they doled out to Facebook and Twitter.
Richards said the more-than-1,500-page response to his question raises concerns about how much oversight the government puts on its advertising activities. He noted the Liberals promised during the 2015 election campaign to instate an “advertising commissioner” to scrutinize government ads, and questioned the government promising “openness and transparency” when no commissioner has been put in place.
The Ottawa Citizen reported a year ago that $3.8 million had been spent on Facebook ads alone during the first eight months of Trudeau’s mandate. Between 2006 and 2014, the feds spent just $5.8 million on Facebook ads.
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Liberals have spent more on Facebook ads than total amount spent between 2006 and 2014
The growth in spending on on social media advertising is part of a wider shift away from advertising government programs in traditional media like newspapers and radio.
A decade ago, online government advertisements were bunched into a category with outdoor ones and made up only 10 per cent of ad spending, according to the government’s annual advertising report for 2005-06. Print ads were at 52 per cent. About a quarter of spending went towards television and cinema ads.
In the 2015-16 year, print, radio and outdoor ads were grouped together and made up 15 per cent of spending, versus 34 per cent on Internet ads. Half of spending was on TV.
The Public Policy Forum’s recent report on the state of Canada’s news media said it heard from stakeholders expressing “discontent” about the decline in government print ad budgets. “Those feeling the most aggrieved included minority-language, ethnic, Indigenous and community newspapers, for whom government ad revenues have been particularly material,” said its report, released in January.
“Larger companies argued that tax dollars should not be spent on multinationals that neither pay taxes here nor contribute to the production of Canadian news and cultural content.”
Global Affairs Canada pointed out in its response to Richards’s question that more than 20 million Canadians use U.S.-based social media sites, however, and the government is trying to “reach people where they are.”