Posted on January 9, 2017 by staff

Are social media ads intrusive or indispensable?


Scrolling down your Facebook timeline you spot a glimpse of that holiday cottage you were looking to book for half-term or the iPad skins you were browsing on eBay.

Tailored adverts punctuating the personal posts of our social media contacts have become the norm, so much so that we may not often notice they are there.

Yet, for some, adverts on sites like Twitter and Instagram are a nuisance they feel makes it necessary to use ad-blocking software, which blocks out ads and domains that spread malware.

Others have taken a more radical view. Manchester-based digital agency Nothing But Epic has launched its own social media platform following concerns over scattergun advertising on other social networks.

Padoq won a £30,000 innovation prize at the city’s annual conference Venturefest in September and aims to address both advertising and privacy issues.

“You go on Facebook and Twitter and there’s a lack of relevant content, it’s all sponsored content and cat videos,” chief executive Mike Anderson told BusinessCloud.

“I was seeing ads for hair products that made me want to stay off. You can see why Facebook is letting more and more brands advertise but it’s completely compromising the product for the end user.”

Not only that, but Anderson says he and co-founder Craig Tomkins had grown increasingly concerned about privacy.

“I’d often see that a friend had liked and commented on something that they wouldn’t necessarily have wanted me to see,” he added.

“People go to WhatsApp because they trust the boundaries of that group, but because it’s an instant chat stream it doesn’t have the depth and tools to organise anything effectively.”

Padoq, which is currently in the beta stage, allows users to create and join different social media feeds – or ‘padoqs’ – based on a particular interest or social circle.

Conversations are kept within those boundaries, meaning users are free to say anything they please safe in the knowledge that contacts from other areas of their life won’t see it. Adverts are also targeted to those interest groups.

“The thought process is that if you’ve got a padoq about cricket, for example, you would be happy to see a cricket-based advert within that group,” Anderson said, adding that there is also the option to remain anonymous in padoqs, for example in a health-related group.

“We’re trying to create a platform that serves you with things you’re looking for at that minute – we don’t do ads based on profile, we do it based on interests.

“If you were looking at a computer game magazine you’d see adverts about computer games and that’s how it should be, but because targeted advertising has become based off your social profiles it has become more and more intrusive.”

The business is currently raising investment for the next stage and Anderson says he expects a big launch for the platform next year.