About Marc DeNatale

"I just. felt.like runinggggg." -f.gump

Podcasts: The New Wild West

The IAB expects podcast advertising to exceed $500 million in 2019, which represents growth of about 65% in just two years. It’s a fast growing medium with limited standardization where only a small handful of categories have had ongoing success.

Part of podcasts’ allure (to brands) is the quality of its core demographics, which skew ages 25 to 40 with higher income levels and education. This is often an audience that’s tough to reach and they’re not typically watching a lot of TV.

The other allure is credibility. Most listeners are highly engaged when tuned into a podcast and usually don’t mind hearing ads. Ads tend to be kept to a minimum and are relevant to the program’s content, often via host-read ads. Trust and brand recall for podcast ads is also high when compared with other ad formats.

Based on data from nearly 50 custom studies Nielsen has conducted over the last 18 months, podcast advertising has demonstrated that it can move the needle on many important key metrics like awareness, ad recall, affinity, recommendation and purchase intent.

US Podcast Penetration

Podcast Ad Effectiveness

Why Its Hot?

The podcast advertising market in the US is poised for strong continued growth in listenership and ad dollars, but without meaningfully addressing current friction points, it might remain a niche advertising vehicle primarily suited to direct-response advertisers in the near term.

The ability for sellers and buyers to talk the same language is holding back the value proposition for brands more than anything else. There is a question of scale and fragmentation still – with only a few programs reaching the masses and many more reaching only smaller, niche audiences at far less frequent intervals than other media.

Newspapers existed before the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Radio existed before Arbitron, TV existed before Nielsen and the internet existed well before the IAB and comScore.  Podcasts are still living in this dawn of pre-standardization and governance, and how downloads and audience size is measured from one show or network to another is varied, making it harder for larger brands to execute – and measure – any meaningful effort.  Anyone want to start up an independent 3rd-party measurement company?




How Europe Is Taking Online Privacy to the Next Level

The GDPR is coming, the GDPR is coming!…but WTF does it mean?

EU’s General Data Protection Regulation sounds pretty scary, and I think it is. Scary moreso because of the unknowns: How strict or lenient will some of the provisions be interpreted? How will they be enforced?  Will brands ever be able to engage European audiences the same again? Why would anyone eat haggis?

A recent study published this week summarized some of the European sentiment around their data usage and protection, and they did us an awesome favor by providing some nifty charts.

  1. Value Exchange: 83 percent of EU respondents said they prefer free online content with accompanying ads over paying for content, and 69 percent said they would allow their browser data to be accessed in exchange for the free experience.
  2. Constantly giving consent is a drag, man.  Half of Europeans prefer to have access to information that explains how their data is being used for advertising, with the option of stopping any use of their data that they object to, instead of having to approve the use of cookies every time they visit a site.
  3. 3rd Party vs 1st Party data struggles: Publishers feel consumers will give consent if their site access is reduced as a consequence of not consenting — a similar approach to what publishers have done to deter ad blockers.However, the GDPR has banned publishers from reducing site access if users don’t consent.

4. Publishers don’t feel so great: The majority (64 percent) of respondents said they weren’t confident that people would agree to share data with other companies, and only 21 percent said they were “moderately confident.”

5. A place for Online ads: 42 percent indicated that they’re fine with sharing their browsing data for advertising purposes, saying they don’t mind seeing personalized ads in exchange for free news, content or services. Only 20 percent, however, said they were OK with sharing their data with third parties for advertising purposes.

Source: GfK/IAB Europe; PageFair

Why its Hot:

We sometimes take the data that powers our precise targeting for granted. We’ve fed off the cookie for years although some day I’m sure we’ll all look back and say: ‘remember the times we had to rely on a cookie to target our campaigns?’ just like we have flashbacks now about putting tracking codes in print ads (yea the old dude said it).

The point of this is, in a very large, important corner of the world, today, they are making huge strides to regulate personal data and protect consumers. It is not just being talked about, it is happening. It will have tremendous implications on how we conduct our business on global campaigns, potentially limiting scale and targeting options and creating disparity within select audience segments who adopt opt-out behaviors or fail to see value of content that is funded by ad dollars on quality publisher sites.


See the full findings here.


One Brand’s Trash is Another’s Treasure

To align with Columbus Day, Astral Tequila presented “Columbus Day: A Reenactment,” an ad starring Jonathan Goldsmith, the Artist Formerly Known as the Most Interesting Man in the World.


At the end of the video, Goldsmith breaks the fourth wall to address us, the viewing audience, directly: “That is pretty much how it happened.” Cue a close-up of a bottle of Astral Tequila and, on-screen, “Happy Columbus Day.”

To say that Columbus’ legacy is complicated is a vast understatement.

When you touch upon this realm, there’s sure to be backlash, but they’re not taking sides, they’re making light of what we know as the facts: An explorer set out for India and landed in a new world, one already inhabited albeit, although he claimed to have found it.

“Our spot is simply lampooning Christopher Columbus’ journey,” says Astral VP-Marketing Joen Choe in a statement provided by Erich and Kallman, the agency of record for the Davos Brands tequila. Choe added that Columbus “set out for India, but bumped into America instead. We are certainly not making light of any historical events.”

Why Its Hot:

I’m steering clear of the controversial nature of “Columbus Day” theme and going for what I like most about this spot: re-purposing of a commercial celebrity. It reminds me of the ‘can you hear me now’ guy’s resurrection by Sprint. One brand’s trash is another’s treasure!

What Goes Up (Slowly), Must Come Down (Quickly)

Readers are quick to click away from webpages that don’t load in a timely manner, and advertising contributes to that latency. But what if advertisers got taxed for heavy ads that delay publishers’ page-load speeds?Ad-quality issues delay page loads by an average of 4.3 seconds, costing ad-supported sites $400,000 in revenue a year, according to ad tech firm Ad Lightning, which helps publishers identify ads that hurt their site performance.Slapping fines on heavy ads would shift the responsibility for sluggish sites onto advertisers and their creative shops, where the blame often lies.

“Some advertisers hold publishers accountable for viewability yet use creatives that sometimes take 10 seconds to load,” says Spande. “Beyond viewability, lighter ads with less animation just perform better.”

The idea has some support among agencies. Publishers are already being “taxed” by Google’s algorithm, which pushes slow sites further down in search results, among hundreds of other signals it uses to rank results. So if an advertiser wants to use heavy ads, should they also pay a premium cost?

Enforcement challenges
Enforcing an ad surcharge would be tricky, though. It’s hard for publishers to prove which ad creative is slowing down their pages, especially when programmatic comes into play. Even if the publisher could prove that certain ads slow down page-load time, that cost would be eventually passed on to the advertiser, which might cause backlash from brands. It’d be hard for publishers to impose such taxes on their own because advertisers can just pull their spending from a site if they don’t like the publisher’s policy.

Then, there’s the question of who would tax the advertisers.  Google DoubleClick and other ad servers are in the best position to do the work because the ad server owns data around file sizes and the number of ad tags, and it’s the only place where an ad could change.

Why Its Hot:

In order for this to work, an ad tax would need broad enforcement. Publishers would need to rely on Google and trade groups like the IAB to tax advertisers, says a publishing executive, speaking on condition of anonymity. Similar to when Chrome decided to block ads that don’t meet certain standards, Google had the power that prompted lots of creative agencies to take notice.

There’s hope that market forces correct the problem before it gets to the level of an ad tax. Ad servers, supply-side platforms and  DSPs that work in publishers’ interests will be rewarded by getting publishers’ business. If creative agencies are told in the brief stage that their ads should meet certain ad specifications, they will do so to avoid penalties and to get better campaign performance.

Why does there have to be a loser?

If we all work towards the best user-experience, we all win.

Facebook Attempting to Quell Brand Safety Concerns

This week, Facebook  introduced new “monetization eligibility standards” it said are designed to provide more clear guidance on the types of content that will be allowed to have advertising run alongside it on the platform and will also specify the types of publishers and video creators who can earn money from ads on Facebook.  The news comes in light of its efforts to ramp up their in-stream video ad offering and avoid the brand safety pitfalls that continue to plague the industry – most notably the early summer snafus of rival YouTube.

The company said it would not place ads alongside content that focuses on tragedy, conflict or debated social issues, or that depicts acts or threats of violence, for example. It will remove ads from content that fails to comply with its guidelines.

To date, Facebook hasn’t had to deal with advertising adjacency challenges to the extent many online media companies and ad platforms have, owing to the nature of its in-feed ad formats that appear as stand-alone entries as users scroll through their news feeds.

The new in-stream ads will appear as ad breaks in the middle of publishers’ videos, but won’t be inserted in user-uploaded videos.

In an attempt to alleviate brand safety concerns, Facebook said that in the coming months it will begin providing advertisers with post-campaign reports specifying which publishers’ content their ads appeared in, across in-stream videos, Instant Articles and its Audience Network ad network product.

Advertisers won’t be given the ability to specify which content they want their ads appear alongside using “whitelists” of preapproved publishers. Rather, they will be required to “blacklist” specific publishers from their ad buys, or to remove categories of publishers Facebook deems to publish “sensitive” material.

Facebook said it would also provide marketers with a new tool that will offer a preview of which publishers’ content their ads may appear alongside before their ad campaign begins.

While the new monetization eligibility standards will apply to videos and Instant Articles hosted on Facebook itself, they will not apply to the Audience Network, which allows marketers to target consumers across websites and properties outside of the Facebook platform.

Why It’s Hot:

Brand safety has been a growing concern for marketers in recent years as they try to reach more tailored audiences. Thanks to the rise of automated ad targeting systems and vast ad networks, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep track of where their ads might show up. The rise of third party verification companies is putting increasing pressure on walled garden giants such as Google and Facebook (aka the Duopoly), but the walls have yet to crack.


The balance between brand safety and maximizing ad revenues can be a tricky one to strike, but will Facebook’s solution, which still disavows any third party integration be satisfaction enough to quell brand needs, or is the platform simply too integral to avoid at any cost for marketing campaigns?

source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-pitches-brand-safety-ahead-of-video-ad-push-1505309401



BK uses Whoppers to Pay Severance to Canned LI Users

With “Whopper Severance,” the first 100 people who participate can get a 30-minute session with online career resource The Muse. Burger King says the first 2,500 people who post “fire”-y messages between Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 will get a Whopper Severance letter and a Burger King gift card.

Burger King’s latest marketing stunt involves some public shaming from customers about themselves, all in the name of free food.

The flame-grilled burger chain wants people who have been fired to admit it on LinkedIn. It’s not offering them jobs, though some stand to get a bit of help finding them. The “Whopper Severance” plan offers a free Whopper to the first 2,500 people who publicly confess on LinkedIn that they were fired.

Of course, a little bit of public shaming mixed with social media isn’t exactly a new concept for Burger King. In 2009, it drew lots of attention for the “Whopper Sacrifice” campaign cooked up with CP&B. Back then, people had to drop 10 Facebook friends to snag a free Whopper. The campaign attracted thousands of entries and won awards, but also prompted Facebook to ask for changes (instead of tweaking the campaign, Burger King quietly dropped it).

Why It’s Hot:

Its about being fired, and about flame-broiled burgers,spun off of Burger King’s fire-grilling technique used to make Whoppers. Catchy or s stretch?

“We are always looking for ideas which showcase the fact that we flame-grill our Whopper sandwich,” Head of Marketing Fernando Machado said. “This is an idea that basically showcases the love people have for the Whopper sandwich. We know getting fired sucks, but getting a free Whopper doesn’t.”

While it’s great to make the pages of industry sources, it’s another to make a viral impact and resonate with mass audiences that BK is craving. I have yet to see engagement metrics to support success but admire the creativity and use of an otherwise B2B platform (LI) to reach their target.

source:   http://creativity-online.com/work/burger-king-whopper-severance/52544

Make Them Hate Your Pre-Roll Less

It is time to tackle another polarizing topic: the digital video pre-roll ad. We have all tried to watch a 90-second clip on YouTube, only to be confronted by a frustrating, 30-second ad.
What is absolutely remarkable is that even though 94% of pre-roll ads are skipped, per a study from eConsultancy, new studies show pre-roll ads are also among the most effective forms of digital advertising. For example, a study in April by IPG Media Lab and YuMe showed pre-roll is the most informative and engaging video ad format, compared to mid-roll and outstream.
Research findings like that are behind moves by companies like Twitter, which in March announced it would begin running pre-roll ads on Periscope videos.
Given how effective pre-roll ads have become, board rooms around the world are trying to figuring out how to overcome the “Skip This Ad” button to achieve even more engagement. I bet many executives wish they could call their counterpart from 1950 to commiserate about Zenith launching the first television remote control.
If the pre-roll is here to stay, here are four ways to make consumers hate them less:

1. Own the elephant in the room. Advertisers that have owned the fact that users do not want to deal with their pre-roll ads have had the most success. Consider that Ad Age’s 2016 Campaign of the Year was Geico’s “Unskippable,” which directly addressed the issue of viewers wanting to skip ads by making ads so short, users didn’t have time to move past them. Check out Ad Age’s (short) video about them:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/SrP8JSfXKZE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

2. If you can’t beat them, join them. No matter how clever or engaging your ad is, some people will skip the second they get the chance. Many Fortune 500 companies are using new interactive branded “Skip This Ad” solutions, such as TruEngage, which lets users skip with one click, but not before engaging with the product in a fun, interactive and memorable way. Our work on Honda’s holiday ad found success by telling users, “TO SKIP AD: HELP THE HOLIDAY POOCH TO THE HONDA!” With one click, users could drag the dog to the Honda and thereby skip the ad. Engagement for this campaign was up nearly 20%.

3. Stop showing the same video. If a visitor views an ad several times and does not take the intended action, it is critical that you stop showing that ad. Put a frequency cap on three of four views — across any device — and then begin to show a different ad.

4. Take targeting and retargeting to the next level. Ad platforms can determine the temperature in a city, and advertise hot or ice coffee. If pollen counts are high in Chicago, a brand can run an ad for antihistamines to people in the Windy City. It is also critical to master retargeting. Once a customer shows “intent” — such as putting a pair of jeans in a shopping cart but then not completing the purchase — advertisements of those jeans can be targeted to that user.

Why It’s Hot:
It is no secret that pre-roll ads are divisive. Most consumers can’t stand them, yet studies show they are effective. By combining creativity with cutting-edge advertising technology, advertisers can achieve great ROI while letting consumers enjoy their online experience.

The Delicate Art of Creating a National Holiday

“Holidays have just gotten so commercialized that we’ve lost the true meaning.”

…or so one side of that conversation quips. However, with no other vision except pure, unadulterated commercialism as catalyst, the Chinese government is pulling no punches with it’s latest Holiday proclamation.

How could the world’s second-largest economy and renown manufacturing powerhouse, have so many of it’s companies struggle with brand-building? The country’s leadership wants to change that, and the State Council, or cabinet, has proclaimed that every May 10 from now on will be known as “Chinese Brands Day.”

Chinese Brands Day can be seen as a message to Chinese companies that the government wants them to focus more on branding as the market is trying to build its influence internationally.  There are only two Chinese companies on Interbrand‘s list of the best global brands,phone manufacturer Huawei (No. 72) and PC maker Lenovo (No. 99.)

One of China’s other goals is to change the connotations of “Made in China.” After years of focus on process, efficiency and manufacturing, a higher focus on quality products and services and a whole lot of brand lovin’ seems only natural. It remains to be seen how creative brands will leverage the holiday to stand out or engage audiences.

Why It’s Hot:

It will be interesting to see whether this holiday empowers consumers to rally behind brands in any meaningful way.  China is not short of holidays or brands, but will consumers really embrace this as a means to deepen connections with brands and will brands accept the challenge to love them back? It may be just stimuli emitted from the government in an effort to keep pace with top global brands, but it’s interesting to throw the gauntlet down and see if your business and marketing leadership picks it up and runs.


FTC Fires Warning Shot at Social Influencers

After reviewing numerous Instagram posts by various social influencers, Federal Trade Commission sent out letters reminding influencers and marketers that influencers should clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.

The letters were  regarding influencer advertising on Instagram, and Instagram posts reviewed by FTC staff. They mark the first time that FTC staff has reached out directly to educate social media influencers themselves.

The FTC’s beef is that if there is a “material connection” between an endorser and an advertiser that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless it is already clear from the context of the communication. A material connection could be a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the gift of a free product. Importantly, the Endorsement Guides apply to both marketers and endorsers.

The letters also addressed one point specific to Instagram posts — consumers viewing Instagram posts on mobile devices typically see only the first three lines of a longer post unless they click “more,” which many may not do. The staff’s letters informed recipients that when making endorsements on Instagram, they should disclose any material connection above the “more” button.

The letters also noted that when multiple tags, hashtags, or links are used, readers may just skip over them, especially when they appear at the end of a long post – meaning that a disclosure placed in such a string is not likely to be conspicuous.

Some of the letters addressed particular disclosures that are not sufficiently clear, pointing out that many consumers will not understand a disclosure like “#sp,” “Thanks [Brand],” or “#partner” in an Instagram post to mean that the post is sponsored. When it comes to video, the FTC calls for disclosure to be said out loud or displayed on screen. It can get even more complicated on Snapchat, where there’s not an obvious place to put a hashtag, and the videos are only a few seconds.

Why Its Hot:

Personal endorsements are as old as advertising itself, and there’s always been abuse. So when the FTC highlights influencer marketing as having a disclosure problem, it can come across as unfair.

It’s up to the FTC to be more clear and consistent about their policies and enforcement, because more influencers than not want to adhere, be transparent and maintain their own credibility in their trade. It also should create a statement that is valid across all influencer-leveraged platforms, not just Instagram.

A lot of influencers think they are following the rules, but in fact are falling short. More than 300,000 sponsored posts on Instagram in July used hashtags like #ad, #sponsored and #sp, up from about 120,000 a year earlier, according to Captiv8.

With such a huge increase in the influencer channel in recent years, companies have been pouring marketing dollars into social media endorsements, paying everyone from a Hollywood celebrity to a mom who regularly Instagrams her baby snuggling with a puppy. But marketers need to remember that even the most renown celebrity endorsement is meaningless if it’s not authentic and maybe even harmful if not true to brand and voice.

FTC announcement, as posted yesterday, can be read here.


Your Kid’s Computer Has Dinner Covered.

Neural networks are computer learning algorithms that mimic the interconnected neurons of a living brain, managing astonishing feats of image classification, speech recognition, or music generation by forming connections between simulated neurons.

I’m not a neural network expert, so I had to look that one up when I heard that there was a grad student who loaded a neural network code on her 2010 MacBook Pro, and started training it on a bunch of recipes and cocktails.

Here’s a few recipes the network has generated:

Pears Or To Garnestmeam


¼ lb bones or fresh bread; optional
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon lime juice
2  eggs

Brown salmon in oil. Add creamed meat and another deep mixture.

Discard filets. Discard head and turn into a nonstick spice. Pour 4 eggs onto clean a thin fat to sink halves.

Brush each with roast and refrigerate.  Lay tart in deep baking dish in chipec sweet body; cut oof with crosswise and onions.  Remove peas and place in a 4-dgg serving. Cover lightly with plastic wrap.  Chill in refrigerator until casseroles are tender and ridges done.  Serve immediately in sugar may be added 2 handles overginger or with boiling water until very cracker pudding is hot.

Yield: 4 servings

This is from a network that’s been trained for a relatively long time – starting from a complete unawareness of whether it’s looking at prose or code, English or Spanish, etc, it’s already got a lot of the vocabulary and structure worked out.

This is particularly impressive given that it has the memory of a goldfish – it can only analyze 65 characters at a time, so by the time it begins the instructions, the recipe title has already passed out of its memory, and it has to guess what it’s making. It knows, though, to start by browning meat, to cover with plastic wrap before chilling in the refrigerator, and to finish by serving the dish.

Compare that to a recipe generated by a much earlier version of the network:

Immediately Cares, Heavy Mim

upe, chips

3  dill loasted substetcant
1  cubed chopped  whipped cream
3  unpreased, stock; prepared; in season
1  oil
3 cup milk
1 ½ cup mOyzanel chopped
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 ¼ teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoon dijon stem – minced
30  dates afrester beater remaining

Bake until juice. Brush from the potato sauce: Lightly butter into the viscin. Cook combine water. Source: 0 25 seconds; transfer a madiun in orenge cinnamon with electres if the based, make drained off tala whili; or chicken to well. Sprinkle over skin greased with a boiling bowl.  Toast the bread spritkries.

Yield: 6 servings

which bakes first, has the source in the middle of the recipe directions, mixes sweet and savory, and doesn’t yet know that you can’t cube or chop whipped cream.

An even earlier version of the network hasn’t yet figured out how long an ingredients list should be; it just generates ingredients for pages and pages:

Tued Bick Car


2 1/5 cup tomato whene intte
1 cup with (17 g cas pans or
½ cup simmer powder in patsorwe ½ tablespoon chansed in
1 ½ cup nunabes baste flour fite (115 leclic
2 tablespown bread to
¼ cup 12″. oz mice
1  egg barte, chopped shrild end
2 cup olasto hote
¼ cup fite saucepon; peppen; cut defold
12 cup mestsentoly speeded boilly,, ( Hone
1  Live breseed
1  22 ozcugarlic
1 cup from woth a soup
4 teaspoon vinegar
2 9/2 tablespoon pepper garlic
2 tablespoon deatt

And here’s where it started out after only a few tens of iterations:

ooi eb d1ec Nahelrs  egv eael
ns   hi  es itmyer
aceneyom aelse aatrol a
ho i nr  do base
o cm raipre l1o/r Sp degeedB
twis  e ee s vh nean  ios  iwr vp  e
pt e
ePst   e na drea d epaesop
ee4seea .n anlp
o s1c1p  ,  e   tlsd
lwcc   eeta  p ri  bgl as eumilrt

Even this shows some progress compared to the random ASCII characters it started with – it’s already figured out that lower case letters predominate, and that there are lots of line breaks. Pretty impressive!

Why It’s Hot:
Progress, progress, progress. Sometimes we take for granted how long and arduous the road to further our convenience is, or how well-equipped technology actually gets us from point A to B. We don’t always need to look under that hood, but we should be happy someone does, and technology such as machine learning neural networks continue to evolve to make our lives easier-or more entertaining until they get something right.  As the ability to learn from the tons of content mankind has already created continues to improve, there really is some scary (don’t)DIY frontiers on the horizon. Forget about wondering if your kid lifted their essay content from an online wiki source, worry instead if he loaded a code, taught his Mac to ingest thousands of volumes of American history and spit out a dissertation on the significance of the Lincoln-Douglass debates without penning a word. Then don’t punish that kid, get him a job making me new cocktails.
Click here if you want to see the cocktails it created:

The Winners and Losers of YouTube’s Brand Saftey Crisis

The ripple of the video giant’s woes has gotten so great that some have predicted the impact from major brands could cost YouTube $750 million. Seemingly, there are some that are happy when such a kink in the armor is exposed, but there are myriad of stakeholders, each with their own perspective. With that amount of money – as well as brand reputation and confidence – at stake there are going to be some winners and losers, and here they are:


Old-fashioned publishers

These are the classic media players who started losing their lunch the second Google started owning the internet. One could imagine publishers grinning ear to ear, thinking, “Told ya so. Quality content isn’t so easy.” They can can make a more convincing case that knowing the content and the audience actually is still important.

This issue can resurface a shift to high-quality, direct-bought content, where brands have the most control but pay a premium for it in some cases.


Anyone selling streaming ads is in a good position – including Sling, Dish and even TV networks. Hulu, Roku, TV networks and anyone with a digital video platform will be showing off their highly curated content. These new shows and programming will look pretty good to anyone with a heightened interest in knowing exactly where their messages will appear.

Tech tools & 3rd Party Verification Partners

Brands have called for digital platforms like Facebook and Google to clean up the media supply chain and to be more transparent with data. The brand safety issue on YouTube is yet another bit of leverage to force more cooperation.

Independent third parties like Integral Ad Science, Double Verify, Moat and others will find more brands at their doorsteps looking for ways to ensure their ads appear near quality content.

The agency

One of the most important roles for agencies was helping brands make sure their ads didn’t show up in the wrong place by intimately knowing the targeting, brand safety protections and best practices of each channel. Well, now those services are increasingly valuable.


Net neutrality

When the Trump administration makes further moves to undo net neutrality, as many anticipate based on current momentum repealing FCC consumer protections, Google’s ability to defend it in idealistic terms could be undermined by all the talk about serving ads on terrorist video.


It took a long time for programmatic to stop being a dirty word. Programmatic advertising was once considered the least controlled, lowest quality ad inventory at the lowest price. In part, brands could start to pull back from blind, untargeted buying without transparency.


YouTube has said that part of its solution is to implement stricter community standards, and that could mean more bannings and ad blocking from their videos, impacting their earnings.They could be quicker to cut a channel at the smallest offense now that brands are watching closely.

Advertisers still on YouTube – this is a tricky one to classify and it’s too early to say. We’ll have to see how the video platform reacts over time to increasing pressures to allow verification partners and data trackers access within the garden’s walls.

Why It’s (Still) Hot:

This topic will continue to be important to the brands we represent, aim to represent and even those far from us that are faced with the same decision to either stay the course or sit it out. There is a lot of money moving around on media plans, a lot of POV’s being routed and a lot of reps working overtime to reassure teams of buyers/planners that they are taking brand safety very seriously. Often it’s not the crisis that defines a company, but what they do in the aftermath. Some are hopeful that this is a definitive crack in the ‘walled garden’-  but even if it is not, we’re all hoping for a better, safer platform at the end of this tunnel…a world where once again clients can be irked by their premium pre-rolls showing up prefacing water skiing squirrels and dancing cat videos instead of terrorist rhetoric.

Our Next Item Up for Bid: Your Personal Data


The broadband privacy rules created by the FCC last year and vigorously debated last night are in grave danger after the Senate voted to repeal them this morning.

The rules, which forced internet service providers to get permission before selling your data, were overturned using the little-used Congressional Review Act (CRA). This is now being called “the single biggest step backwards in online privacy in many years” by those that spoke out against the repeal as well as the co-creator of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Sen. Ed Markey.

This is a big deal and a pretty bad idea for anyone even remotely concerned with privacy and limiting the already questionable practices of telecoms and ISPs.

Assuming that this resolution passes through the House, which seems likely at this point, your broadband and wireless internet service provider will have free reign to collect and sell personal data along to third parties. That information may include (but is not limited to) location, financial, healthcare and browsing data scraped from customers. As a result of the ruling, you can expect ISPs to begin collecting this data by default.

To play the devil’s advocate for a second, let’s assume there is some upside for companies in this deregulation: “You want the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive, but you have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want you in my living room.’ Yes, we’re capitalists, but we’re capitalists with a conscience.” states Sen Ed Markey. But with the wireless and cable industries both operating as powerful oligopolies, consumers will be left with zero protection against price-gouging, no advocate for net neutrality, and as today demonstrates, far less control over their own data.

The broadband privacy rule, among other things, expanded an existing rule by defining a few extra items as personal information, such as browsing history. This information joins medical records, credit card numbers and so on as information that your ISP is obligated to handle differently, asking if it can collect it and use it.

There is Nothing Hot about this.

You can see the utility of the rule right away; browsing records are very personal indeed, and ISPs are in a unique position to collect pretty much all of it if you’re not actively obscuring it. Facebook and Google see a lot, sure, but ISPs see a lot too, and a very different set of data.

Why should they be able to aggregate it and sell it without your permission? Perhaps to gain competitive advantage or profit or to cull other aggregators, in order to better target ads or build a profile of you. The FCC thought not, and proposed the rule, part of which was rescinded by the new FCC leadership before it even took effect. *Sigh*

If consumers continue to lose trust in the platforms we employ to market our brands and begin to widely question their safety, security and data usage, we are in big trouble. We’re already challenged by a litany of brand safety concerns – bots, fraud, hackers, malware, viewability –  and solutions aimed to mitigate yet limit marketing effectiveness (ex. ad blocking) continue to gain momentum. While some of this is good digital evolution (flashback to needing a pop-up blocker just to endure an average online session), the lack of consumer trust quickly erodes to lack of brand trust and soon those left behind willingly (or unknowingly) allowing their data to be sold on the open market might not be the ones worth reaching.

ISPs can now sell your browsing history without permission, thanks to the Senate

Senate votes to allow ISPs to collect personal data without permission

Be Opportunistaholic

Snowballs, sledding and hot chocolate soon becomes Netflix, comfort food and wine.

While frantic storm preppers were bum rushing stores up and down the East Coast in anticipation of winter storm Stella this week, Pernod Ricard (marketer of spirit brands Absolut, Chivas Regal, Jameson, Glenlivet et al) was opportunistically pushing them not-so-subtle reminders to consider stocking up on booze.

The brand sprung to action ahead of the storm, pulling API data around nasty weather reports in 10 local markets to dynamically target consumers with online purchase deals and cocktail recipes.

In a highly regulated category, the use of data targeting to focus content is still new. Seeing the opportunity in consumer trends and impacting moments that influence decisions, the brand’s aim was to better engage their consumers and provide more direct means to purchase in moments when demand is spiking.

The program was launched for four of its brands, identifying and targeting consumers with social content on Facebook and Instagram and search content on Google. The content also drove to alcohol delivery service Minibar, encouraging customers to schedule their deliveries before the storm.

However the plan was not powered by low pressure systems alone. The strategy combined demo (A21+), behavioral  and micro-contextual targeting based on hundreds of qualifiers (keywords) related to the brands AND the weather, such as “heavy snow,” “freezing rain,” “sleet,” “extreme wind” and “violent storm.” So, for example, if someone searched “whiskey delivery” or “winter cocktails” on Google, the ad could serve.

The focus of the creative in each instance was weather-centric. 

Why Its Hot:

Fusing occasion-driven engagement with real-time conditions to influence action instead of using traditional brand-driven engagement is not a new concept (Oreo’s tweet during SBXLVII’s blackout is a prime example) – but it also takes precise targeting, being relevant with your audience and providing something of perceived value. Sometimes that value can be advice (stay home, don’t drive), a promotion (free next day delivery, save 15%), useful information (recipes, how-to’s) or a simple reminder…like given this forecast, you might need more liquid happy at the ready.

More on the campaign here: https://digiday.com/marketing/pernod-ricard-used-weather-data-target-drinkers-east-coast-blizzard/

Drop it Like it’s a Bot

What goes up must come down…and brands are already starting to cool on the chat bot trend.

Facebook said earlier this week it was “refocusing” its use of AI after its bots hit a failure rate of 70 percent – meaning bots could only get to 30 percent of requests without some sort of human intervention.

It’s not surprising that bots are experiencing a backlash. Like branded emoji keyboards before them, there was a gold rush towards the new tech at the onset and some great conceptual uses popped up:

  • Taco Bell’s TacoBot let you order from your Slack messenger.
  • Domino’s DOM helped users order from Facebook.
  • At whole Foods, you could chat with the Messenger bot to get a recipe.
  • HP’s print bot printed things for you, via Facebook Messenger.

Brands went to them because they were easy to build from a basic perspective. But while Facebook Messenger seems to be stalling, brands and agencies are starting to get cautious about bots and other doodads on other platforms too.

Why its Hot:

Facebook’s Next Power Grab for Your Attention

Two weeks ago, Facebook talked with dozens of media companies including news outlets such as The New York Times, NowThis and The Washington Post in New York  about their content and monetization product roadmap for 2017. Conversations covered Facebook’s plans to fund original shows, the platform’s focus on getting publishers to distribute more long-form videos for Facebook’s video tab and soon-to-launch TV app, and mid-roll advertising products for live and on-demand videos.

Many publishers agreed it was a step in the right direction for Facebook, which has struggled to build an ad product that helps media partners generate consistent revenue on the platform. What’s troubling some hard-news publishers, however, is that Facebook’s new plans don’t really seem to have their specific interests top of mind, according to multiple news media executives that were in attendance.

Facebook is looking for scripted and unscripted shows covering light genres like entertainment, lifestyle and sports — not hard news. It’s unclear how much Facebook is willing to spend on original content, but the company has been making the rounds in Hollywood to speak with L.A.-based studios and producers, far from New York, where most of the news media is headquartered.

Why? Facebook is after TV money, and the big money on TV is for entertainment content, not the latest atrocity in a war zone.

Why Its Hot:

As Facebook begins to pursue TV studio content , their goal is to provide a better reason to get people to go to the video tab on their phones and their video app. To do that, they’re going to need programming that’s differentiated, and not what people already get in the news feed. It’s a growing trend of original content that we’ve seen over the past several years from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and cable entities that continues to fragment our options and vie for our ever-increasing time spent staring at screens. However, with more options come more niche targeting possibilities. Something to keep an eye on for brands as original content creation the platforms struggles to be….well, original.

Elaborate Click-Fraud Scam Makes Headlines, Questions Digital Integrity

As reported today by AdAge, a Texas jury last week ordered TriMax Media, a digital advertising agency specializing in search engine marketing, to pay one of its competitors $2.3 million for executing an elaborate click-fraud scam.

After TriMax,  lost a client to competitor  Wickfire,  TriMax began bidding on search terms associated with 140 Wickfire clients and clicking on those ads in search results, driving up clients’ search advertising costs.

Wickfire clients became frustrated over the small returns they got from their ad spending, even though it seemed like potential customers were clicking on their ads. “(They) couldn’t believe it,” Chet Hall, CEO and founder of Wickfire said. “I had to spend months talking to them.”

TriMax also created false Google AdWords accounts in the names of key WickFire employees and used them to buy fake ads that looked like they were coming from Wickfire. That made it appear as if Wickfire was in direct violation of contracts with its clients, affiliate networks and Google, creating reprehensible damage to Wickfire and the brands it represents.

Why It’s Hot:

Such high-profile examples of ethical violations are the exception not the norm. They do however, erode the public’s (and business’s) credibility in digital marketing, bad news for all. While brands take diligent, deliberate steps to build their reputations over years and years, it can wash away in a blink with one fowl play. It can easily be indirectly caused by the hand of a partner they trusted to act ethically on their behalf, pressured to differentiate or shave off valuable pennies on a CPC, CPA or CPM to maintain competitive edge.

One of the pillars of digital media is its culpable trackability – reliant on our sources of data and measurement to be accurate and unbiased. But amid several other recent examples of measurement missteps- from bigger entities Facebook and Google, to name a few – we’re reminded how reliant we are on standards, checks and balances (such as those constantly iterated by bodies like the IAB or MRC) to stay far enough ahead of the curve so we can maintain this delicate balance we make our daily trade.

Faces of Brands Keep Getting Creepier

In early January, B&G Foods reanimated the monstrous “Green Giant” – he’s now a real person, a Lithuanian cage fighter who also works as a lawyer in London.

KFC brought back the dead “Colonel” – and keeps bringing him back with different actors/comedians. They are mostly coming off as unsettling, not funny.
This Sunday, Procter & Gamble will officially introduce a creepy CGI version of Mr. Clean to the world during the Super Bowl.
He made his TV debut as a crude animated character in the late 1950s. Then in early 1960s, actor House Peters, Jr. started playing him, wearing a suit, which made him look like a white-collar serial killer:
Last year, P&G showed us the origin of Mr. Clean, a big-headed orphan.
Now he’s back as a very ripped, animated man who “does it all over the house,” according to Leo Burnett Toronto’s press note. He appears to be spray-painted white while wearing only white shoes and a white codpiece.

Why Its Hot:

Did we mention ‘White Codpiece’? Also, very interesting that brands are stretching for unconventional and out of the ordinary instead of ‘crowd pleaser’.  We’re seeing this also affecting Dos Equis, The Brawney Man and the (ever-creepy) Snuggles the  Bear. It’s important for brands to evolve with their consumers and their changing attitudes.  At the same time, building recognition and recall amid a crowded space is getting tougher and tougher, so brands aren’t quick to abandon faces and nostalgic icons that built their empires – back when a guy made of tires or guy who steals hamburgers went a long way around a water cooler.

YouTube Launches Premium, Ad-Free Product: RED

YouTube is launching a subscription plan in the U.S. called Red that combines ad-free videos, new original series and movies from top YouTubers like PewDiePie, and on-demand unlimited streaming music for $10 a month.

Red builds on Google’s existing music streaming service by providing ad-free access to YouTube programming, along with features such as the ability to download videos to mobile devices and have music playing in the background while using other mobile apps.

Current subscribers to the $10-a-month Google Play Music service will also get access to Red.

Red targets YouTube fans who want to skip ads, while giving them a chance to pass along some cash to their favorite video creators, who’ll share in the new revenues. It comes as streaming services like Hulu, Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn offer ad-free as a paid option.

Recommended for you:Background Music – Unlimited, Royalty Free Downloads.

audioblocks.com/music | Sponsored

The plan, which launches Oct. 28, includes exclusive access to new videos launching next year, as well as the YouTube Music Key service — to be called YouTube Music going forward — for music videos.

The original videos will range in length from a few minutes to feature-length movies and come from established YouTube stars such as the Fine Brothers. A subscription will eliminate ads from all YouTube services across devices and platforms except for the YouTube Kids app, which is operated separately.

YouTube still intends for advertising revenue to remain its core business, and executives say they believe it could take a while for paid subscribers to grow significantly, but consumer appetite for ad-free experiences is booming.

Why Its Hot:

Ad-blocking software has become popular on personal computers, and Apple’s iOS 9 operating system update last month allowed ad-blocker apps to run on its mobile Safari browser for the first time. Worldwide usage of ad blockers rose 41 percent last year to nearly 200 million people, according to PageFair, a firm that seeks to counter ad blockers.

And yet content providers are finding a way to make money from eliminating ads, too.

Internet radio giant Pandora Media Inc. made $54.6 million on subscription and other revenue in the quarter through June, mainly from its $5 a month ad-free plan, Pandora One. Its subscription revenue is growing faster than ad revenue itself.

Hulu launched a “No Commercials” plan in September for $4 more per month than its regular $8 subscription, and TuneIn added a premium tier for $8 a month in August that throws ad-free music together with audio books and sports play-by-play coverage.

Red could help boost the ranks of Google Play music subscribers, which stood at around 815,000 in the U.S. at the end of last December, according to royalty tracking firm Audiam.

That’s far short of leader Spotify with 20 million paying subscribers globally. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook told a technology conference this week that Apple Music has 6.5 million paying subscribers and millions more still on free trials following its launch at the end of June.

As a consumer, I am already paying $10/month for my music. Google isn’t trying to only compete against music services (Spotify/Apple Music/etc.) or video services (Hulu/Netflix/etc.) anymore, it’s trying to win users by giving them both for that base price.

source: msn.com

The Connected Car Shows Big Promise for Marketers

It is now believed the Connected Car Will Surpass All Other IoT Initiatives (and provide Four Key Opportunities for Advertisers).  In-Car Advertising will soon ascend to match TV and Mobile in time spent and provide marketers with a new trove of useful data points.

We’re hearing more and more about connected cars these days. They will be among the first internet of thing activations to achieve true scale. Cars will be talking to other cars before most other types of IoT applications have meaningful impact on our lives. This connected “network” will ultimately be very powerful — possibly saving lives while also providing better traffic information and ultimately better driver experiences. But what does this all mean to marketers? And how can they plan for this eventuality and take advantage of it?

Pandora on a Mini dashboard
Pandora on a Mini dashboard Credit: Mini USA

The connected car will present marketers with far-ranging opportunities. In the most obvious case, in-car advertising, now limited to radio and small-scale infotainment activations, will ascend to a medium on par with TV and mobile in terms of consumer’s time spent.

In a less-obvious case, connected cars will create an entirely new set of consumer data that will act as an enabling technology for marketers. Marketers have long craved data on real-world consumer behavior. The connected car will open insights on where consumers shop, travel and spend their time. As marketers better understand the connected car evolutionary path, they can make more informed decisions about how they leverage each discrete opportunity along the way. Here are four opportunities for marketers to explore with connected cars:

1. Audio. Radio owns the car today, but with its one-way broadcast structure it will be supplanted over time. The first steps are being taken by Pandora now, as it begins developing a programmatic targeting network for in-car ads. Over time, as more and varied applications migrate to the car dashboard, this exchange will grow more robust, with more ad impressions becoming available and migrating into an “auto exchange” for buyers to act against, based upon all of the typical targeting data, in addition to location data and other information.

2. Video. Visual ads are likely to be first inserted in the actual driving experience as drivers are given less and less to do in maneuvering their vehicle — and have more time to engage elsewhere. In the meantime, video will be a prime inventory format for pre- and post-drive and traffic-snarl periods. They require less-focused concentration, are entertaining and can deploy much more information.

For example, consider someone who gets into their car in the morning to drive to work. Starbucks has a new drink offer and may know that person has not been in-store for a couple of days. The video starts as the driver is getting ready to drive and provides an offer — and maybe even a direct “drive-to” for the location the consumer would normally choose (or, even better, press a key to order and have the coffee waiting upon pull-up). Video will be the most engaging way to get the consumer activated, and marketers will assuredly be able to reap the benefit.

3. Custom services marketing.For now, consumers use tools like Evernote to track a to-do list,Google Calendar to track time and Google Now to surface key actions based on email messages. All of that data will soon be converted into a data source for marketers to mine for targeting purposes. For example, a to-do list might include three specific shopping items; a marketer might use that data to deliver a targeted message showing they have all of those items in stock (i.e. at a nearby Walgreens) — and offer two of the items on a weekly special. This approach will be used by partners that can surf large quantities of data for “matches” to a marketer’s parameters, and in turn deliver a truly personalized targeted message.

4. Highly personalized location-based targeting.This is the ad type many small businesses will want to figure out so they can make messages most engaging. If a consumer is at location X and has a history of visiting certain types of restaurants, a local restaurant could target the consumer with an ad — perhaps in the form of a location bookmark or an actual calendar event with a coupon. While it may not drive immediate action, it could bring the consumer in over time.

Why it’s Hot:

The real-world location data from connected cars represents a new pillar of marketing insight that will help marketers effectively understand consumers. Who owns the data, how it will be protected and how it will be used are still issues to be resolved, but the data itself represents a sea-change in the consumer knowledge that will be available to marketers.

The connected car, the first large-scale IoT platform, offers great promise to marketers — and a whole new way to reach consumers — at a time when they were previously reachable only on a very limited basis, such as with out-of-home or radio ads. Smart marketers will want to consider the potential new media consumption implications — and opportunities — for consumers and drive hard to get their messages in front of them accordingly. In a rapidly emerging space, first movers will have a serious advantage.

Source: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/connected-car-dwarfs-iot-initiatives/300517/

Turn your TV into a Smart Touch Display

If you grew up when I did, then the first TV you probably had at home was a major piece of furniture or probably sat deep in an enormous entertainment center that rivaled the family car in size and weight.

Innovations on the good ol’ family television have moved from fat to flat, to 3D to 4K to curved panel over the years. But what all of those evolutions have shared are a heightened price tag for a whole new device. An Indiegogo campaign that launched yesterday is hoping to bring some crazy new functionality to your existing TV by way of a $99 device that adds touch controls and other smart features to your TV.

The Touchjet WAVE allows you to control your television with your finger, a stylus or your smartphone, while also letting you download a host of apps directly to your TV.

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TechCrunch met up with the team from Touchjet to try out the device, and while it was just a prototype, it was clear that the WAVE had a ton of potential uses for users looking to upgrade their existing TVs.

The device works much like those novelty laser keyboards in that it pretty simply puts a laser overlay on your TV that matches your touch input to the onscreen experience.

Why Its Hot:
OK I get the functionality, but “why?” It’s clear that Touchjet isn’t aiming for everyone with its touch capability but it definitely also sees touch input as the feature that really sets it apart.

This feature isn’t going to be the new way you control your TV (I’d definitely still rather be on the couch), but it does seem like a fun way to play Fruit Ninja with the family or a cool method of flipping through a presentation at work.

As a marketer, I would love to see this technology advancing to enable us to potentially ‘swipe’ past ads that aren’t relevant – much like we can skip music tracks on Pandora, or people on tinder (is that how it works single people?).

The other thing to remember is that the pre-order price $99 isn’t just for touch capability, you’re also buying an Android-based hard drive that upgrades your TV and allows a host of apps that you can control from your smartphone, as well.

At the time of writing (Thursday 8/13), the WAVE had just blown past its $100K 1st day goal.

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“We Are Good on Supplies” #SaidNoSchoolEver

Trash bag company Hefty and Havas Worldwide Chicago tackle a big issue—one that’s more powerful than smelly garbage or nondurable bags—for the brand’s new #SaidNoSchoolEver campaign.

The new work, which includes two 30-second online spots and a handful of playful memes, aims to raise awareness of the serious lack of funding many public schools and teachers face—but does so in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
The writing in the 30-second spots is both sarcastic and sharp, with teachers delivering lines like “We do not need any more art supplies,” and “This map—from 1913. Almost all of the states are there.”
“At no point was this supposed to be polarizing for the brand,” Havas group creative director Ecole Weinstein told Adweek. “We wanted to touch the surface of the issue and still do it with a bit of a smile and make [the campaign] culturally relevant and sharable.”

Havas also wanted to bring Hefty’s involvement with the Box Tops for Education program to light. Hefty, the only trash-bag brand currently supporting the initiative, has donated over $3.5 million to Box Tops over the years. The subject matter also hit close to home for some members of Havas’ creative team.
“Myself, as well as a couple members of the creative team, have deep ties to the education system,” Weinstein said. Weinstein, whose mother was an inner-city school teacher in Florida for 29 years, said she grew up knowing all about the challenges teachers and public schools face. She added that the dry, sarcastic humor would share well on social channels, especially among the teacher crowd searching for a little bit of humor.

Check out some of the memes from the campaign below.

Were-Good_meme_0 Budget-Cuts_meme_0

Instagram Advertising Set to Grow

Instagram will soon carry a lot more advertising. Direct-response buttons, an API for ad buying and Facebook-style targeting capabilities will give advertisers new ways to buy and will lead to rapid increases in ad spending on the photo-focused social network. eMarketer forecasts Instagram will have $595 million in ad revenue this year, rising to $2.81 billion in 2017.


These changes will likely result in their ad business growing rapidly the latter half of the year, as features will roll out over the next several months, and by the end of 2015 Instagram will have a full slate of ad products for advertisers large and small.

“We’ve spent the last 18 months establishing the platform for large brands. The next logical step is to empower businesses of all sizes to be able to achieve their objectives,” said Jim Squires, Instagram’s director of market operations.

Many companies will be eager to test the social network’s new features. Instagram advertising was previously a rare commodity, reserved for McDonald’s, L’Oréal, Mercedes-Benz and other brands that were willing to spend a flat rate of $200,000 to conduct a campaign. Instagram offered those advertisers a limited assortment of image ads, 15-second video ads, and the newest feature, carousel ads, which can display more than one image.

Now that Instagram is opening up to more advertisers, it’s likely to find a lot of pent-up demand.

“Instagram is probably [our] favorite platform right now in terms of pioneering and being willing to try new things,” said Roderick Strother, director of worldwide digital and social at Lenovo, whose Australian arm recently conducted its first Instagram ad campaign. “The importance of Instagram has grown tremendously for us.”

Why Its Hot:

Instagram has a lot of what marketers see as the most compelling package: audience plus strong engagement plus strong brand awareness. The new features seek to make a user-friendly success story into a marketer-friendly one as well, with the help of FB learnings.

  • The social network’s ad revenue is projected to increase rapidly, approaching $1.5 billion in 2016 and $3 billion in 2017. Instagram will account for 3.7% of parent company Facebook’s ad revenue this year.
  • In 2017, Instagram will have higher US net mobile display ad revenues than Google or Twitter.
  • Instagram advertisers will be able to use a full slate of Facebook targeting tools, including the popular Custom Audiences feature. That will be a key drawing card.
  • Instagram will set a high bar for direct-response ads, which will have a premium look. Ad load will remain low, which will likely increase prices. This combination will effectively shut out many performance advertisers seeking a low cost per click (CPC).
  • Users have shown high engagement with the branding ads that have appeared on Instagram thus far, but that could change as new types of advertisers enter. Appropriate use of targeting and creative will be necessary.
  • Instagram will launch ecommerce capabilities with the “shop now” and “install now” buttons, but the kinds of advertisers that will benefit most from them will be those with unusual, limited-quantity or eye-catching products. App installs may fare better—as long as the ads meet Instagram’s creative bar.


Hackers Remotely Shut Down a Jeep at 70 MPH

There are connected cars and then there are cars that can be ‘disconnected,’ at least from the driver.

In a somewhat on-the-edge experiment published this week, two well-known hackers tapped into a moving Jeep and remotely operated the radio, air conditioning and windshield wipers.

Then, while the car was moving at 70 miles an hour, the car’s acceleration was remotely shut down, leaving the volunteer driver & writer from Wired slowing on a busy highway.

Aerial view of a freeway interchange, LA

Aerial view of a freeway interchange, LA

The two hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Vasalek, have been conducting car-hacking research to determine if an attacker could gain wireless control to vehicles via the internet.

They created software code that could send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, brakes, steering and transmission from a laptop many miles away, according to the first-person account in Wired.

Why Its Hot:

The timing of the widely reported Jeep experiment is interesting in light of a new privacy bill in congress that would stop car makers from using data collected from vehicles for advertising or marketing. More about the bill can be found here.

Drivers shouldn’t have to choose between being connected and being protected. Controlled demonstrations show how frightening it would be to have a hacker take over controls of a car. We need clear rules of the road that protect cars from hackers and American families from data trackers. When consumers feel safe with technology it flourishes but when the opposite is true it can become an epic failure.

But the Jeep episode shows that sending unwanted ads to drivers on the move may be the least of the issues. The silver lining in all of this is that the vulnerabilities in the coming interconnected world of things are being identified and highlighted.

As you might imagine, Fiat Chrysler has issued a software fix that Jeep owners can either download and install or ask a dealer to install it.  There will be more bumps in the road that get identified. Then they can be addressed.

Read the full story here

Google Builds AI Image Network That Could Benefit Search


Improvements in image recognition for Google mean building an artificial neural network where the software is capable of recognizing, learning, and eventually, generating its own network in the likeness of the original. It’s one way that the future of search could improve on serving results, and perhaps another way to give creative advertising agencies an alternative perspective.

Artificial Neural Networks, a Google research project, relies on software based on the structure of how biological brains learn when being shown millions of images. It is trained by seeing millions of examples. The researchers gradually adjust the network parameters until it gives the desired results, such as recognizing the image.

If an image is incorrect, researchers adjust the neurons as images change to help the network reach the correct conclusion. There are between 10 and 30 layers of “artificial neurons,” and each talks to the next until it learns to redraw the correct image and recognized when the last layer is reached.

One remaining challenge is an understanding of what exactly goes on at each layer. “We know that after training, each layer progressively extracts higher and higher-level features of the image, until the final layer essentially makes a decision on what the image shows,” wrote a team of Google software researchers in a blog post. “For example, the first layer maybe looks for edges or corners. Intermediate layers interpret the basic features to look for overall shapes or components, like a door or a leaf. The final few layers assemble those into complete interpretations — these neurons activate in response to very complex things such as entire buildings or trees.”

The researchers were surprised to find neural networks that were trained to discriminate between different kinds of images have quite a bit of the information needed to generate images too,” according to researchers, who learned that the technology doesn’t look for the signals once thought to recreate the image.

The researchers used an image of dumbbells to provide an example. In this case, the network failed to completely identify the dumbbells because it lacked a muscular weightlifter in the picture that most would associate with the exercise equipment.

Researchers said the techniques help to better understand and visualize how neural networks are able to carry out difficult classification tasks, improve network architecture, and check what the network has learned during training. They also suggest it might make a tool for artists, or perhaps creative advertising agencies, presenting a way to remix visual concepts or even shed a little light on the roots of the creative advertising process in general.


Read the full story here

Time for Marketers to get in the Gaming Game?

According to a new eMarketer report, “Mobile Games: A Large Audience, but Limited Ad Spending (So Far)” – the US mobile gaming user base is swelling and not showing any signs of letting up. The report estimates that in 2015, for the first time ever, over half of the US population will be mobile phone gamers, . Although ad spending is not very robust right now,that may change as advertisers become increasingly more comfortable with mobile in general and with some of the special features mobile games offer creative marketers.

US Mobile Phone Gamers and Penetration, 2013-2019

Shouldn’t the sheer size of the mobile gaming audience should make it attractive to advertisers? Not always the case, but it seems that the tide is changing quickly as marketers find ways to leverage their brand in non-obtrusive ways to gamers that are increasingly spending more and more time with their devices.

“I can leverage a program for Coca-Cola today that reaches 28 million unique users in the US through one title. In console, one publisher couldn’t reach 28 million users in a day, let alone a month.”argued Julie Shumaker, vice president of ad sales at game publisher Zynga.

In addition, Shumaker said, the mobile gaming audience is diverse and broad—more akin to a TV audience.

However, there are differences. “Brands like to look at metrics like time spent and impressions as measurement of whether or not a branding campaign has been effective, but if you think about it applied to mobile, the amount of time spent with a brand might be more [associated with] how potentially annoyed a user is with that brand,” said Brian Wong, founder and CEO of Kiip.

As a defense against that “annoyance factor,” a number of advertisers have invested in rewards-based advertising—giving the audience a tool or a free pass to move up a level within a game in return for viewing an ad.

“If a brand comes in and interrupts [a game] in any way, the first thing [the user does] is look for the X button to close the ad,” said Ari Brandt, co-founder and CEO of MediaBrix. “However, you could be playing a game and you’re stuck, and then you get a message that looks native to the game and it says, ‘It looks like you could use some help. Coca-Cola wants to help you. Click here and Coca-Cola will give you a boost to help you clear the level.’ The user not only appreciates that you’ve acknowledged their state of mind, but beyond that you’re coming in and offering to help.”

Another game-specific opportunity for marketers is brand integration. Game publishers like Zynga and CrowdStar work with brands to integrate their products within mobile games. For example, CrowdStar’s Covet Fashion game lets users style, shop and win virtual clothing and accessories from more than 150 brands. In addition to styling a look, users can also purchase the actual clothing and accessories featured in the game using the app.

Why its Hot:

Historically, whenever a shiny new thing appears and begins to attract people’s eyeballs, media dollars are..skeptical…then eventual to follow. Once the secret sauce of properly leveraging gaming for a particular brand is unlocked, the value in capturing a highly diverse and highly engaged audience will surely unfold.  With the proliferation of mobile gaming and the relative ease of entry (for users) into the recreation, what was once thought of to marketers as the gaming demo (younger males) is invariably changing as well. Who has a grandma that hasn’t at least heard of Candy Crush? How can this work best for the brands we represent? Think like a gamer and add value – its a good start. There’s definitely a trend developing towards value exchange and figuring out ways for brands to be additive to an experience

Amazon Delves Further Into Voice Search

As the traditional search box begins to take a backseat to audio search tools, Amazon broadened its reach in voice services Thursday with a collection of free self-service application program interfaces (APIs) and tools that allow developers to create voice-driven capabilities for smartphones and a variety of Internet-connected devices. AOL, Intuit, and StubHub have already begun building out services.

Voice will power the future, from search across the Web and smartphones, to everyday actions like adjusting sprinkler watering times. Alexa powers Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around voice services that began in home automation control. Amazon_Fire_TV_Voice

Many major companies have begun using the tool to build services around voice. AOL uses Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to allow site visitors to listen to the portal’s daily news headlines and articles and Intuit plans to build a reference implementation using Alexa to access Mint.com, the free Web-based personal financial management service. StubHub, an online marketplace for event tickets, uses the platform to enable customers to purchase tickets using their voice.

Hardware developers can use the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), which becomes available in July, to integrate Alexa into their Internet-connected devices with a few lines of code, and in a few hours can build new experiences designed around voice, per Amazon.

Companies like Wink, Scout Alarm, and Toymail have begun to integrate the technology. The possibilities span across any Internet-connected device. For example, device maker with an Internet-connected sprinkler system can integrate its sprinklers with Alexa, so a customer can say, “Alexa, ask my sprinkler to water my lawn for 15 minutes.” Or a fitness service can enable Alexa to access a user’s workout history to say “Alexa, ask My Fitness how many miles I have run this week.”

Why Its Hot:

Amazon is putting its money where its mouth is in backing the future of voice-recognition search. It announced the Alexa Fund , up to $100 million in investments, to support developers, manufacturers, and start-ups passionate about creating new experiences designed around the human voice. So with less barriers to enter the market for tech developers, we’re likely to see an increased proliferation of voice-activated online activities beyond search that will change the landscape of how people use devices. Will visual marketing tactics (like traditional banners & rich media) take a backseat as more people let their lips do the work? It will be interesting to see in the coming year.

Read the full story here.

This is Not a Print Ad.

Most agencies win business by pitching a brilliant idea to clients, but what happens when you have what you feel is a a brilliant idea – but no clients willing to back it?

This story is about a small South African agency, OpenCo, that ran a print ad about how angry it was that no one ran its print ad.  They pitched the idea seen below to several non-profit prospects, feeling strongly that the message would resonate very well for their cause and provide a flood of well-intended PR to their organization.


They simply loved the idea and were fishing for someone brave enough to run with it. No takers? They ran it themselves, minus any branding/logo (see bottom right corner) As you can see, the content is not general audience, and along with the positive PR a non-profit might attract, it would also need to deal with robust polarization and offense.

However, after several clients that were close to committal backed out, they decided to run the following ad in response, describing in detail the prior ad – as if the reason organizations didn’t flock to them after the first attempt was that they didn’t quite understand it.


1 week after Ad Week ran the story about the ad(s), the agency responded that although it might have felt like a PR stunt, the intent to put the idea to use was genuine. They defended the AdWeek article’s portrayal of the agency as ‘angry’ or offended’ that no one ran the work. They were grateful for the larger podium the online exposure provided for the idea and hoped that the publicity now awarded to the work will court a worthy suitor”

We don’t presume that the ad we’d like to make is objectively “great.” What we do know is that the juxtaposition of the images creates a visceral reaction in people who see it. For better or worse, it cannot be ignored, and ideas like this are relatively rare. We respect all reactions to it. That some would find it offensive was clear to us. We don’t believe that this is reason enough to subvert it.”

Why Its Hot:

Sometimes our best work never sees the light of day. Sometimes we need to tweak strategy, message or execution to appeal to a greater audience. However, we should remember that arrogance is not the way to court clients or be perceived to fight for their best interest. Many great ideas are crushed every day and most well-intended.  Letting it roll off your back shows willingness to keep trying until the secret sauce is just right, instead of sticking to your guns despite the ramifications. But – if your idea is just too good to let go of, what lengths will you go to?


The Power of Storytelling without Words

HSBC Travels 40 Years in One Remarkable Elevator Ride

The spot from Grey-London portrays one man’s 40-year ride to the top – not without bumps- encapsulated completely within one elevator ride.  The genius of it is that, without dialogue or caption, it conveys a story brilliantly in which we are allowed to fill in (or assume) the details.

The tie-in to the brand (HSBC) can also be perceived many ways, but it can be assumed that the journey of this brand, born in 1974, is personified by the one man’s trip ‘up’. It also shows the business from one man’s life from both sides – with personal and professional triumphs. At one point he is seen in conflict, another in defeat and others are life-milestones celebrated. Its a brave and well-crafted emotional roller coaster that keeps us involved and thirsty to know how it ends.


Why its Hot:

It’s a novel, effective style of storytelling that lets the audience fill in the blanks and promotes repeat viewings. (As Mad Men proved, you can get more drama out of elevator scenes than you might think.)  I can see such clever storytelling leveraged for a brand such as ETS, to portray, without verbose narration, how one young person who grasps opportunity, can have a very positive life change as we continue conversations around scaling up our use of more visual channels that utilize video. Leaving out words can create a more universal message and allow for acceptance across many cultures and markets as well. Well done!

Putting the Wearable Tech Trend in Perspective

The wearable device category has all the makings to ignite a technology revolution except one: widespread consumer interest.

Among key findings of a recent emarketer study released this week were:

  • Awareness of wearables was high as of last year, which is a long time in a tech category. A significant share (40% to 68%) of mobile media users polled worldwide in Q3 2014 were already well aware of wearable devices.
  • However, high awareness of wearables did not lead to a high rate of ownership in 2014. Less than 2% of the world’s population and less than 20% of internet users worldwide reported owning a wearable device last year. Ownership among US internet users was above the world average, however, ranging from 20% to 25%.
  • Fitness trackers continue to be the most commonly owned wearable device among internet users worldwide. Adoption of wearable devices outside the fitness category has been slower due to a less apparent value proposition.
  • The jury is still out on the Apple Watch. Despite robust sales, early reviews are mixed, with users unclear about the need for the product.
  • Still, forecasting firms have a positive outlook on the growth of wearable device shipments going forward, particularly smart watches. In fact, forecasts for smart watch shipments this year are more bullish than the year-one shipment projections made for the iPad.


Of note:  Through 2019, sales are projected to skyrocket spurred by the wristband and smart watch category and further consumer interest in the Apple watch.wearables2

Of note: among internet users worldwide, ownership of wearable tech is on par with other trending tech and still in single digits with expectations to double within 1-3 years.wearables3








Key stats: females are faster adopting to wearable technology and express higher interest. 26% of female US internet users own a Fitbit device (vs 18% male) and 30% of females who don’t own, expressed interest to own any wearable tech (vs 24% males).







Why its Hot:

The state of the wearable products consumers are polled about in one survey are likely to have changed (for better or worse) by the time the next survey is conducted. Additionally, consumer awareness and opinions of wearable technology are in flux, so older surveys need to be weighed against newer findings to gain insight into how the market is evolving.

Of note: The wearables category includes a long and growing list of smart body wear, which makes it difficult for any one survey to probe deeply into consumer use of all the device types, let alone all the specific brands of devices on the market. But the trend is clearly growing and with that growth comes opportunity for marketers interested in targeting people not only based on where and who they are, but what activities they are engaging in at that precise moment. So we need to keep an eye, an ear, a wrist, a foot or a head on this movement very closely as it evolves.


What if you were Dating a Social Media Site?

What would it be like if you went on a date with a social network? That’s the question answered in this very funny video, produced by up and coming YouTube star Emma Blackery, and it turns out, Google+ would be very, very needy indeed. So, we should clarify here. In the video, Emma shows what would happen if you were on a date with a person who exhibited the stereotypical qualities of a particular social website. It’s shockingly accurate.

** Caution: Video contains some offensive language **

What do we have? Instagram is obsessed with taking pictures of food, Facebook wants to know whether you know this other person, Snapchat’s bound by the clock, Twitter needs attention, and Tumblr — well, we don’t want to say in case we cause offense. This description doesn’t do the video any justice, and it’s far more cutting; so just watch it, and have a good laugh at poor old Google+.

How reasonable are her depictions of social networks? They’re pretty spot on, highlighted by the real world gulf between the number of active Facebook users and Google+ — the butt of Emma’s cruelest observations — users. Facebook claims it sees 936 million active users each day, and a giant 1.44 billion monthly active users.

Google+ may boast more accounts — 2.5 billion, apparently — but according to recent research a tiny percentage of these accounts actually post anything on a regular basis. It’s estimated there are around 111 million active accounts, and just 6.7 million have 50 or more posts on them in total. No wonder Google+ is crying out for attention.

Why Its Hot:

We know each channel has pros/cons and it’s own vibe. It’s very clever to personify these well-known outlets and call out, well… mostly weaknesses. But the sharable quality of this video is hard to ignore – the author received half a million views in the first two days and now has over 1 million YouTube followers.

Source and to read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/dating-a-social-network-video-news/#ixzz3bT98Iopd