Tuesday, 5 July 2022 – 22:01

May begins Brexit digital offensive

Theresa May’s attempts to garner support for her Brexit deal is continuing, but not through tours around the UK, nor warnings of a ‘no-deal’. With the Cabinet Office due to reveal how much is being spent on government advertising, the government has begun an all-out digital offensive to promote the deal. 

The government is paying to promote the Prime Minister’s deal on Google, pushing the government’s message to the top of the rankings when people search “what is the Brexit deal?’. However, they are facing opposition, battling opponents of the deal who are using similar headlines. Despite the campaign, the government and keeps being held off the top spot, in particular by a campaign group called “Britain’s Future”. They argue that the deal betrays Brexit in contrast to the government’s line on their website claiming that rejecting the deal sets Britain back to square one. However, the two competing sites have similar looks on the search results page. Google defended the move, claiming that the top search spots are routinely allocated on an ad auction. Try this link to see for yourself. 

Digital advertising is a contentious issue. financially, we are unlikely to know how much this has cost the government until after the deal goes through Parliaments. However, we do know that the government spent £44,219 on Facebook advertising in September. All parties pay for online advertising. In particular, Labour’s digital presence in the run-up to the 2017 General Election has been attributed, in part, to their performing above expectations. Additionally, a government spokesperson said: “Communicating government policy effectively to the public is a core function of the Civil Service”, and arguably, the government is moving to reflect modern communication. The government is also paying to promote the deal with videos on social media. 

The success of this campaign, however, is far from conclusive as Google does not all personalised advertising for political groups. The outcome for some searchers may seem odd, with brexitdealexplained.campaign.gov.uk promoting May’s deal, featured directly above brexitexplained.britainsfuture.co.uk, explicitly opposing the deal. 

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