U of M puts a stop to Gophers ads on Breitbart after complaints

The university informed its media buyer to stop all of its ads appearing on Breitbart while it takes a fresh look at its commercial strategy
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The University of Minnesota is reviewing its advertising strategy after receiving complaints that Gophers ads were appearing on "alt-right" news site Breitbart.

The U received "four or five" complaints last weekend from people who noticed Gophers ads on Breitbart, which has courted controversy for its role as one of the major news providers for the white nationalist "alt-right" movement.

U of M spokesman Chuck Tombarge told GoMN News the university informed its "media buyer" to stop all of its ads appearing on Breitbart while it takes a fresh look at its commercial strategy.

The university took the decision because of the "national conversation and controversy" around the site, which "caused us to take a step back," Tombarge said.

The Gophers athletics department took out the ads via Google Display Network, which Tombarge explained makes the ad available on up to 2 million websites, with a reach of 90 percent of internet users.

Rather than selecting websites specifically, the university told Google the demographic it wanted to attract, with the ad then appearing on websites used by people within that demographic.

As such, the university didn't specifically select Breitbart, rather the ad "followed" specific internet users who fit the description, so Gophers fans/former students who use Breitbart are likely to have seen it appear.

Tombarge said it will be looking at other websites that are included in its ad buy, but so far Breitbart is the only one to have them removed. He wouldn't speculate as to whether the U would advertise on the site in the future.

A handful of companies, including the San Diego Zoo and eyeglasses company Warby Parker, have withdrawn advertising with Breitbart. The most high-profile withdrawal, from Kellogg, has prompted a boycott movement launched by Breitbart itself.

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