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Exclusive: Lib Dems target gay voters with ad blitz after Tim Farron gay sex row

Nick Duffy May 5, 2017

PinkNews Exclusive
The Lib Dems are using an aggressive targeted digital advertising campaign to fight back after a row over party leader Tim Farron’s views on gay sex.

Tim Farron, the leader of the pro-European Liberal Democrat party, came under fire last month in a row over gay sex.

In an interview with Channel 4, Mr Farron was asked if he believes gay sex is sinful, but refused to answer the question. He dodged the same question in multiple interviews for a full week.

The row was eventually put to bed in an interview with the BBC, when Mr Farron explained he doesn’t think gay sex is a sin.

However, PinkNews can reveal that the Liberal Democrats are now using an online advertising blitz to promote a positive view of the leader’s record on LGBT equality, decreasing search traffic to articles critical of Mr Farron.

Prominent Google adverts purchased by the party are being targeted at voters looking into Mr Farron’s record on LGBT issues, directing them to a page on the Liberal Democrats website, which states: “Mr Farron has an impressive record on LGBT+ issues, both at home and abroad.”
The Google page promoting the Lib Dem page

The page claims “The Liberal Democrat leader has very clearly said he does not believe being gay is a sin, and nor is gay sex.

“Whilst he does not believe politicians should declare what is or isn’t sin he was concerned some people were forming an impression of him that is not accurate.”

The targeted ads appear for Google users who search for ‘Tim Farron gay’, ‘Tim Farron gay sex’, ‘Tim Farron LGBT’, ‘Tim Farron religion’, ‘Tim Farron same sex marriage’ and other LGBT-related keywords.

Perplexingly, at the same time online adverts appear to have been purchased by an unidentified third-party linking to a PinkNews report on Mr Farron.

The Google search pages of the Guardian and Telegraph promote a PinkNews report

The ads linking to the PinkNews report were served via Google search boxes across several other outlets, including the Guardian and the Telegraph.

Unlike other reports of the issue, the mysteriously-advertised PinkNews report included an overview of Mr Farron’s pro-LGBT record as leader.

No such online advertising has been purchased by PinkNews. We could not verify the identity of the third party who purchased the ads.

Targeted ads have also been served heavily on PinkNews itself via a third-party ad network, linking to a clip of Mr Farron’s BBC interview.

The clip is hosted on the official Lib Dem YouTube channel but set as ‘unlisted’, meaning only those with a direct link can see it.

It has hundreds of views, which could suggest thousands of ad impressions in total.

PinkNews asked the Liberal Democrats to clarify why the ad campaign was purchased and whether any of the ads were specifically targeted at LGBT people.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats told PinkNews that digital search advertising is routinely used to promote Mr Farron’s appearances in the media.

However, PinkNews could not find any other active Google ads targeted at users searching for Mr Farron’s views on other issues.

Unlike the LGBT keywords, searches for ‘Tim Farron’, ‘Tim Farron Brexit’, ‘Tim Farron tax’, ‘Tim Farron economy’, ‘Tim Farron election’ and ‘Tim Farron policies’ do not generate ads from the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats did not clarify whether ads had been specifically targeted at LGBT users or LGBT outlets.

More: ad, advert, adverts, Gay, LGBT, lib dems, Liberal Democrats, tech, tim farron

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