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Freedom of Information request: advertising for clearing

Rowland Manthorpe made this Freedom of Information request to University of Sheffield as part of a batch sent to 140 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

We're waiting for Rowland Manthorpe to read a recent response and update the status.

Dear University of Sheffield,

Under the Freedom of Information Act, can you please tell me how much money you spent on advertising for clearing in 2019.

Can you please provide subtotals for the following categories (feel free to break them down further if that's appropriate):
1. Facebook
2. Instagram
3. Google - that is, search advertising
4. YouTube
5. Snapchat
6. Twitter
7. Other social networks (please specify)
8. Amazon
9. Online - that is, on websites excluding social networks, or those websites those listed above (this includes advertising using Google's ad network)
10. Television
11. National newspapers
12. Local newspapers
13. Magazines
14. Posters and billboards
15. Radio
16. Public transport billboards

Can you also provide an example of an ad in each of the above formats.

For the online forms of advertising, can you also tell me how many clicks each advertisement received. Can you also provide any other data you have which indicates the engagement with each ad.

For Google advertising, can you list which keywords you advertised against. Can you please indicate the cost-per-click in each case.

For Facebook, can you please supply
- A list of the interests and/or demographics you targeted
- If you used custom audiences, where you derived the data to make that custom audience from

Can you please provide this information in an Excel format.

Thanks for your help!

Yours faithfully,

Rowland Manthorpe

Anne E Cutler, University of Sheffield

Dear Mr Manthorpe
I write in response to your recent Freedom of Information request to
Sheffield University.  The information you have requested is considered to
be commercially sensitive and therefore exempt from disclosure under
Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The University considers that disclosure may give an unfair advantage to
its competitors, and thus damage its own commercial interests. 

The University of Sheffield operates in a commercial and competitive
environment, both within the United Kingdom and internationally.  The
information requested could be used by competitor institutions to secure
an advantage when recruiting students, by indicating where its own
recruiting activities are targeted and where they prove most successful. 
This would give competitors the ability to exploit perceived weaknesses in
Sheffield University's activities to the detriment of Sheffield

In the light of this, the University is therefore engaging the Commercial
Interests exemption Section 43 (2) in the FOI Act.   

This exemption is subject to the Public Interest test.

Public interest in favour of the disclosure of the requested information

Promoting accountability, transparency and scrutiny of the University on
the range of information

relating to:

• Costs;

• Specifications

• Public/private partnerships.

 Public interest in favour of withholding the requested information

Universities operate in a commercial and competitive environment.  Unlike
many other types of public authority subject to the Freedom of Information
Act, they are in direct competition with each other.  Universities in the
UK are also in competition with overseas institutions, and certain private
service providers, neither of whom are subject to the Freedom of
Information Act.

Release of this information could well put the University of Sheffield at
an unfair disadvantage in that this information could be used by
competitor institutions to their own commercial advantage. 

 Conclusion – Withhold the information

Section 43 of the Freedom of Information act sets out an exemption from
the right to know if the release of information is likely to prejudice the
commercial interest of any person (a person may be an individual, company,
the public authority itself or any other legal entity).

The University therefore feels that it is justified in applying the
exemption described in S.43 in this case.

[]^Please note that the University will be happy to release this data
after 1 December 2019, if you wish to submit a further request after that

I am required under the Act to inform you that if you have cause for
genuine complaint regarding our reply to your request for information, you
should within 60 days of receiving this response, write to the University
FOI Unit, The University Secretary’s Office, Sheffield University, Western
Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN or email [University of Sheffield request email] explaining why you
are not satisfied with the result.

If you still remain unsatisfied with the University's decision, you will
be entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.


Yours sincerely


Anne Cutler

The University Secretary’s Office

University of Sheffield


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