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Facebook rejects SCA boss’ accusation of misleading small business advertisers

Facebook has defended its Community Boost program against claims its team is misrepresenting the effectiveness of radio and television against online advertising.

Speaking to Fairfax earlier this week, Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) CEO Grant Blackley claimed Facebook considered small and medium enterprises to be a ‘goldmine’ for potential advertising dollars, with the social media company misrepresenting its market reach and effectiveness.

Facebook head of policy, Mia Garlick: “We recognise the value of radio as an advertising platform”

“Facebook has been doing a regional roadshow trying to convince all of the small and medium enterprises that they’re the only thing that exists in the world [to advertise on], which we know to be untrue,” Blackley told Fairfax.

“They’re holding conferences and town halls all around Australia saying ‘We are the only thing that counts, take all your money off radio’.”

Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, rejected Blackley’s claims, telling Mumbrella: “Absolutely not.. In fact, we recognise the value of radio as an advertising platform, which is why we are taking out paid advertisements for this initiative.

“Many small businesses in the regional communities that we’ve been to have told us that they see value in both traditional (TV, print and radio) and online advertising channels – and, we think that’s great.

“In fact, 350,000 Australian small businesses spend less than $100 on Facebook to reach consumers outside of their local area – whether that be potential consumers living interstate or even internationally.”

The Community Boost program is a national Facebook roadshow for regional communities and businesses which kicked off in the Queensland town of Mackay in February.

Blackley: “Facebook’s claims don’t withstand close scrutiny”

“Community Boost is a Facebook initiative that we developed based on feedback from Australians living in regional communities, local chambers of commerce, local, state and federal government and community groups about how they use our platforms,” Facebook’s head of policy, Mia Garlick said.

“The initiative aims to empower local communities in regional Australia with digital skills that can help them engage successfully and safely online. Community Boost has two goals: We want to bridge connections with metropolitan and regional Australia, deepening the understanding and value of the diverse contributions of regional communities from across the country.

“By adopting a whole-of-community approach, we hope to empower regional centres to feel more connected to the digital economy, increasing participation, inclusivity and a more connected society.”

When contacted by Mumbrella, Blackley repeated his claims, saying: “Facebook are making their way around regional areas, clients have said that they have attended their seminars.

“The more sophisticated businesses know that it’s just another advertising platform but some are much more vulnerable,” he said.

“Facebook’s claims don’t withstand close scrutiny, especially when compared to commercial radio’s robust, well-understood and independently audited measurement systems,” Blackley concluded.

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