The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

What the UK riots told me about social media
James Aitchison, Director, Warc
James Aitchison

Social platforms have been in the headlines recently for their use in the organisation of the shocking riots that have taken place in various UK cities. This simply confirms the dark and extreme ramifications of what marketers have known for a long time: people are now connected in ways that circumvent traditional structures of communication and control.

But social media and the riots came together in a different way this week - for me, at least - to underline a home truth that all marketers need to know: the targeting of advertising on social media remains in the Stone Age.

That was the conclusion I drew from the following ads that appeared when watching a YouTube clip of riot footage that a friend had posted to his Facebook page:

Says YouTube on its Advertising and You page:

"While on YouTube, you may see ads appear inside and beside the videos that you watch. It's our goal to make these ads as relevant as possible to you."

At least relevancy remains a goal. To achieve it, I'd recommend YouTube's algorithmic masters of targeting read a particular paper that we've just published on

In fact, if you only have time to read just one of the 30 the new WPP Atticus Awards papers we've released, I suggest you read it too.

In We hate your .com, Bridge Worldwide's Jonathan Richman explains all the reasons why people hate digital marketing. "Just because it's digital," he reminds us, "doesn't mean that Marketing 101 rules don't apply."

Subjects: Digital, Advertising

12 August 2011 11:12

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