The Scottish government also spent tens of thousands on adverts on TikTok and Snapchat.
Friday, 24th July 2020, 1:57 pm
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that, in the months since the lockdown, £5.7 million has been spent to promote the government’s Covid-19 information campaign – including £1.3 million in digital advertising.
Officials have so far paid a combined £417,897 for adverts on the giant social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, as well as £65,378 on Google ads, and £33,634 on music streaming service Spotify.
Notably, the Scottish government also targeted its coronavirus messaging at teenagers and younger audiences, forking out £27,342 for exposure on photo messaging app Snapchat, and a further £21,113 on TikTok – a video-sharing service.
Downloads of TikTok recently surpassed 2 billion worldwide, boosted by months of global Covid-19 lockdown.
But the Chinese-owned company has been forced to downplay security concerns voiced by some US politicians in recent weeks, who claim the app allowed the Chinese government to access data from American TikTok users.
Despite the investment in digital advertising, however, the majority of the Scottish government’s coronavirus messaging budget was directed at more traditional outlets.
£1,809,918 hjas been spent on TV spots, £838,907 on radio adverts and £204,943 on a nationwide poster campaign.
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Commenting on the figures, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is essential our important public health messages reach as large an audience as possible during the pandemic.
“Digital channels ensure our guidance reaches as many people as possible during these challenging months.
“In line with the UK Government, we regularly review the channels we advertise on and are seeking reassurances about continued use.”
The Scottish government also paid £765,475 for newspaper and magazine ads, as part of a £3 million advertising boost unveiled in May.
Many Scottish national and regional titles have been badly affected by the lockdown, with fewer readers buying print copies in shops, and a steep decline in the demand for online news advertising from businesses.
Announcing the £3 million package in May, Holyrood’s cabinet secretary for finance, Kate Forbes, said: “Scotland’s newspaper industry plays a vital role informing the public on COVID-19 developments and its impact.
“The Scottish government will continue to share public health messages in Scottish papers and on their digital sites.”
It followed the UK-wide “All in – all together” newspaper advertising campaign, launched in April by the Westminster government.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove said at the time: “Newspapers are the lifeblood of our communities and we need them now more than ever.
“Their role as a trusted voice and their ability to reach isolated communities is especially vital at this time.
“With this campaign we are both saving lives by providing essential information to the public, and supporting cherished local institutions.”
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