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Publishers Weigh Ways to Fight Ad Blocking

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ATM$ Inside
ATM$ Inside…

Adblocking software is a default installation for any browser on any computer I set up, usually using Ghostery. I am frequently amazed at the sheer amount of tracking code a typical publisher uses. Dozens and dozens of third party cookies, sometimes even more.

Browsing the web without ads is actually kind of nice. No popups stealing your screen. No autoplaying video ads making the page load as slowly as if it were being dialed up through America Online circa 1999. And millions of people seem to agree. They’ve installed extensions to their web browsers that delete the ads from most, if not all, of of the sites they visit. One popular ad blocker, AdBlock Plus, claims that it’s been installed on people’s browsers more than 400 million times and that it counts “close to 50 to 60 million active users,” said Ben Williams, communications and operations director at Eyeo, the company that makes AdBlock Plus.

Ad blocking isn’t a new issue. People have been installing these extensions for years. But those people were considered a fringe group. But that group is getting closer to the mainstream as kids who grew up browsing the web on their parents’ computers are getting their own laptops that they can customize all the way.

And advertisers’ target audience du jour — millennials — appear to be more likely to use ad blockers than any other age group. Of the survey respondents who were between the ages of 18 and 29 years old, 41% said they use ad blockers. As further evidence ad blocking isn’t abating, Mr. Williams said AdBlock Plus has averaged 2.3 million downloads a week since 2013.

(click here to continue reading Publishers Weigh Ways to Fight Ad Blocking | Media – Advertising Age.)

Nelson Muntz Furniture
Nelson Muntz Furniture

If the trend continues, the ad-supported model of web publishing will die soon. I’m not sure what will replace it – a subscription model I guess – but web publishers did themselves no favors by making ads increasingly more obnoxious. Autoplay videos are evil, and I cannot wait until Apple allows ad blocking software on iPhones and iPads.

Ad blocking extensions have been possible on Safari for Mac for a long time, but plugin architecture for Safari on iOS is much more limited. With iOS 9, Apple has added a special case of extension for ad blockers. Apps can now include ‘content blocker’ extensions that define resources (like images and scripts) for Safari to not load. For the first time, this architecture makes ad blockers a real possibility for iOS developers to make and iOS customers to install and use.

The inclusion of such a feature at this time is interesting. Apple is also pushing its own news solution in iOS 9 with the News app, which will include ads but not be affected by the content blocking extensions as they only apply to Safari. There is also clearly the potential for Safari ad blockers to hurt Google, which seems to be a common trend with Apple’s announcements recently…

(click here to continue reading iOS 9 lets app developers make ad blockers for Safari | 9to5Mac.)

Blocking ad tracking is also parenthetically about user privacy, and Apple is more likely to increase capabilities for its customers to opt out of the massive marketing databases of contemporary corporations like Acxiom, with the exception of inclusion in Apple’s own massive database of course. Apple is not a benevolent grandmother, but at least they are being more open about their marketing and data collection practices than some of their technology company peers.

Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, who was onstage to present new “proactive” artificial intelligence features of the next iPhone operating system, paused before one of the slides to make the company’s devotion to privacy clear.

Yes, he said, the new software will try to anticipate your information needs, based on things like your calendar and location — something that its rival, Google, already does. But, Federighi added, “we do it in a way that does not compromise your privacy. We don’t mine your email, your photos, or your contacts in the cloud to learn things about you. We honestly just don’t wanna know.”

He continued: “All of this is done on [the] device, and it stays on [the] device, under your control.” And Apple says that if it does have to perform a lookup [online] on your behalf, it’s anonymous, it’s not associated with your Apple ID, and it’s not shared with third parties.

In case you missed that point, Federighi immediately repeated: “You are in control.”

(click here to continue reading Walt Mossberg: Apple’s Latest Product Is Privacy | Re/code.)

Waste Your Time and Money
Waste Your Time and Money

We are talking significant revenue at stake already:

“Consumers want a faster web, significantly less tracking by unknown third parties and clean, well-lit media experiences. [Apple’s mobile ad-blocking plan] just accelerates it, and opens up a significant share of the marketplace,” said Jason Kint, CEO of online publisher trade group Digital Content Next. That significant share would significantly cut into publishers’ revenues. Take the biggest digital ad seller — Google — as a proxy. PageFair has estimated that Google, which made $59.1 billion from advertising in 2014, lost $6.6 billion that year because of ad blocking. As Vice’s chief digital officer Mike Germano said at an industry conference in New York earlier this month, “I love my audience, but fuck you, ad blockers — 20% of my revenue is gone.”

How to Get Your Business To Show Up On Google
How to Get Your Business To Show Up On Google

Written by Seth Anderson

June 19th, 2015 at 8:23 am

Posted in Advertising,Apple,Business

Tagged with ,

Instagram Purge Hits Brands Who Artificially Built Up Follower Numbers

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Stop Following

Stop Following!

I am no self-described expert in social media, just a sometime user of it, but from I sit, obsessing about follower counts is stupid, and a waste of everyone’s time. I guess certain digital agencies sold the concept to their clients, and then cut corners in building up follower counts by utilizing sleazy tactics and spam-bots.  Follower counts are a nearly meaningless number to be used on a PowerPoint presentation to clueless executives. As the poet sang, numbers add up to nothing.

Instagram in recent days has revealed “corrections” in the number of people following many users, after announcing last week it had removed a significant number of fake accounts from the Facebook owned photo-sharing service.

Celebrities including Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez each lost more than a million followers, according to Zach Allia, a Boston photographer and Web developer who tallied the losses in this chart. Each of those celebrities still counts more than 18 million followers. Allia estimated that the average Instagram user lost 7.7% of his followers from the purge.

The purge reflects a persistent problem for social networks: separating real users from computer-generated “bots.” Instagram conducted a similar purge in May. Twitter says fewer than 5% of its 284 million monthly active users are fake, though outside researchers think the number is higher.

In an interview last week, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom declined to say how many accounts the service deleted. Systrom said fake users are most often created “for commercial reasons.” Users are either “paying to buy followers” he said, or “trying to get attention for some product they’re selling or some email subscription.”

(click here to continue reading Instagram Users Finding They’re Less Popular Than Thought – Digits – WSJ.)

from Adweek:

National Geographic, Nike, Adidas and Forever 21 were among the top 100 Instagram accounts that saw their follower counts pummeled after the spam hunt. The photo- and video-sharing app said last week that it would cull fake and inactive accounts, and it did its best to prepare brands and fans for the worst. Today, Instagram users were lamenting their fallen following with memes and jokes to cover the hurt. The shock of a diminished audience is just a short-term hit for marketers, who ultimately want to know if their fans are fake, said Eric Brown, head of communications for social influence measurement tool Klout and its parent company, Lithium.

(click here to continue reading Instagram Purge Hits Brands Like National Geographic, Nike, Forever 21 the Hardest | Adweek.)

Numbers Add Up to Nothing
Numbers Add Up to Nothing

For myself, I stopped caring long ago how many Twitter followers1 I have, how many people2 follow my Tumblr feed, or my Instagram account3. It  means nothing, it isn’t as if I get a financial incentive to have more followers. Neither does Nike, or any other brand. It is nearly meaningless number to be used on a PowerPoint presentation to executives basically.

Defunct Tweets
Defunct Tweets

Adweek reports that these are the brands that should fire their digital agencies, or at least ask a few hard questions to their digital team at the next social media meeting.

  • National Geographic: 229,000 followers lost. New count: 9.75 million
  • Nike: 257,000 followers lost. New count: 8.75 million
  • 9Gag: 120,000 followers lost. New count: 8.38 million
  • Victoria’s Secret: 215,000 followers lost. New count: 7.7 million
  • The Ellen Show: 270,000 followers lost. New count: 7.47 million
  • Forever 21: 245,000 followers lost. New count: 5.33 million
  • Real Madrid Club de Fútbol: 159,000 followers lost. New count: 5.36 million
  • FC Barcelona: 133,000 followers lost. New count: 5.33 million
  • NBA: 196,000 followers lost. New count: 4.15 million
  • GoPro: 94,000 followers lost. New count: 3.64 million
  • Adidas: 101,000 followers lost. New count: 3.6 million
  • Louis Vuitton: 107,000 followers lost. New count: 3.55 million

Amusingly, I noted the problem with Instagram followers being spammy right away:

As a side effect of this growth, there are a lot of spammers who take advantage of Instagram’s audience, and offer to sell you “likes” or other sleazy tactic

(click here to continue reading Notes on Instagram after Using It for A Month or So at B12 Solipsism.)

  1. currently 1,015 []
  2. currently 589 []
  3. currently 144 []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 22nd, 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with , ,

Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers

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Daily News
Daily News.

As we suspected, having traffic to Spanish news sites drop by 5%-15% is kind of a big deal…

We call it the “Google News bump.” When a story on WIRED.com gets a link on the front page of Google News, traffic skyrockets. Readers click. Ads are served.

But in Spain, at least, the Google News bump is no more. On Tuesday, Google shut down Google News in Spain in response to a law that requires news aggregators to pay a fee for the right to post snippets of stories. Big Spanish publishers pushed for the law, but their math is hard to fathom. Without Google News, they get no bump, nor do they get any fee. Trying to stick it to Google is an understandable impulse, a resentment fed by the company’s monolithic influence over the web. But all the shutdown really shows is how powerless traditional publishers really are.

But where I work, at least, a 5 percent traffic dip wouldn’t exactly be something to celebrate, much less lobby lawmakers to effectively codify. And as GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram says, the damage could be worse. The chief data scientist at Chartbeat, a web service many publishers use to monitor real-time reader traffic, told Ingram that the average falloff in the hours since the Google News shutdown was more like 10 to 15 percent.

(click here to continue reading Spain’s Google News Shutdown Is a Silly Victory for Publishers | WIRED.)

and as many people have noted: removing all Google News traffic benefits the larger media companies at the expense of the smaller media companies. Google News links to both: sites you’ve heard of, and sites you haven’t. If you don’t regularly visit the websites of smaller news organizations, you probably won’t.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

Google Shutting Google News in Spain

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Ride Smarter
Ride Smarter on the Google Train.

I wonder how this new development will play out. Will the traffic plummet for Spanish publications? Or will it not matter? And how exactly does Google News move past this trend of European countries1 demanding Google pay for fair use inclusion? Does this relate to blogging Fair Use?

Google Inc. said Wednesday it will shut its Google News service in Spain because a new law will require the company to pay publishers for displaying any portion of their work.

In a blog post, Google said it also will remove Spanish publishers from the service.

The legislation, which takes effect in January, requires Spanish publishers to charge services like Google News for showing excerpts or snippets from their publications, Google said.

“As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable,” Richard Gingras, head of Google News, wrote in a blog. He said the service will close Dec. 16.

(click here to continue reading Google Shutting Google News in Spain – WSJ.)

From Google’s Europe Blog:

[Google News is] a service that hundreds of millions of users love and trust, including many here in Spain. It’s free to use and includes everything from the world’s biggest newspapers to small, local publications and bloggers. Publishers can choose whether or not they want their articles to appear in Google News — and the vast majority choose to be included for very good reason. Google News creates real value for these publications by driving people to their websites, which in turn helps generate advertising revenues.

But sadly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we’ll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it’s with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.

For centuries publishers were limited in how widely they could distribute the printed page. The Internet changed all that — creating tremendous opportunities but also real challenges for publishers as competition both for readers’ attention and for advertising Euros increased. We’re committed to helping the news industry meet that challenge and look forward to continuing to work with our thousands of partners globally, as well as in Spain, to help them increase their online readership and revenues.

(click here to continue reading Google Europe Blog.)

Daily News
Daily News

Germany already has some data on how well it works, we’ll soon see if politicians are getting angry phone calls from media websites:

A German law now requires Google to secure the rights to publish any content other than links to articles and headlines. Google refused to pay for those rights, but gave publishers a choice: offer them free or face the removal of snippets and thumbnails from its services like Google News.

German media giant Axel Springer , a Google critic, demanded payment from Google for a time this fall. But Axel granted Google a free license when traffic from Google News and Google’s search engine plunged.

“I imagine the news outlets for which the law was designed will start to miss the traffic that Google sent their way,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird.

I’ve long used Google News as a primary jumping off point to read news sites, for what it’s worth…

  1. and Rupert Murdoch companies []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 10th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Lawsuit accuses Maker’s Mark of false advertising

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 Maker's Mark - a collectors edition?

Maker’s Mark – a collectors edition?

Ridiculous, and also truthy. What exactly does “homemade” mean in the context of a corporate beverage manufacturer? Is Beam Suntory expected to grind the grain with a team of oxen? What about making the bottles? Are they supposed to be hand-blown by crusty old dudes wearing overalls? Are there Revenue Agents a’coming through the piney woods?

Two California consumers sued one of Kentucky’s best-known distilleries, saying Maker’s Mark tries to spike demand and sticker prices by falsely promoting its bourbon as being handmade. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego, accused the distillery of deceptive advertising and business practices with its “handmade” promotion on the labels of its bottles, known for their distinctive red-wax seal. The potential class-action suit claims damages exceed $5 million.

A spokesman for Beam Suntory Inc., the parent of Maker’s, said the suit was meritless and the company will fight it. The suit was brought by Safora Nowrouzi and Travis Williams, who purchased Maker’s Mark bourbon last month.

“Defendant promotes its whisky as being ‘handmade’ when in fact defendant’s whisky is manufactured using mechanized and/or automated processes, which involves little to no human supervision, assistance or involvement,” the suit said.

(click here to continue reading Lawsuit accuses Maker’s Mark of false advertising – Bowling Green Daily News: State News.)

I have to laugh at the amount of money though, $5,000,000 is a lot of anguish over one’s cocktail. Like all class action suits, the lawyers are the real money makers.

The Good Stuff
The Good Stuff – Templeton Rye (not actually made in Iowa).

and this aside should be noted:

Executives at Templeton Rye said earlier this year they will change labels on bottles of their whiskey to clarify that the beverage is distilled in Indiana, not Iowa.

Also, obligatory YouTube clip of Bill Murray’s Suntory Time ad from Lost in Translation

Written by Seth Anderson

December 10th, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Fraud from bots represents a loss of $6 billion in digital advertising

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Spare Change

That’s a lot of fraudulent advertising.

Almost one-fourth of video ads and 11 percent of display ads are viewed by fake consumers created by cyber crime networks seeking to take a chunk of the billions of dollars spent on digital advertising, according to a new research report released on Tuesday.

The study, by digital security firm White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers, is one of the most comprehensive looks to date at the persistent criminal activity involving online advertising. Specifically, it addresses “bots,” automated entities that mimic the behavior of humans by clicking on ads and watching videos.

These bots siphon money away from brands by setting up fake websites or delivering fake audiences to websites that make use of third-party traffic. The report estimates that advertisers will lose $6.3 billion to bots next year.

The study included 36 ANA member companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Ford Motor Co Verizon Communications Inc and Pfizer Inc.


(click here to continue reading Fraud from bots represents a loss of $6 billion in digital advertising – Yahoo News.)

If I were a corporation like Ford, Verizon or Pfizer, and I cared, I’d demand a meeting with my ad agency, and insist upon receiving a detailed audit of the last year of digital advertising. Well, maybe not, because then I’d discover that a lot of the annual budget was knowingly pissed away and my ad agency kept the commission anyway.

Bots are computers hijacked by viruses that are programmed to visit sites and mimic human behavior, creating the illusion of authentic Web traffic to lure in advertisers. Contrary to what many in the industry believe, that bot traffic doesn’t exist just in the dark corners of the Internet, White Ops found; it infects mainstream sites and services, too. A quarter of the bot traffic logged during the study was found across the top 1,000 sites on the Internet, according to White Ops Chief Executive Michael Tiffany.

“The most interesting part of this study to me is not the top-line numbers; it’s that fraud is happening in the well-lit parts of the Internet,” Mr. Tiffany said

Online display ads bought through automated or “programmatic” channels were 55% more likely to be served to bots than display ads purchased through other channels, according to the study. Some advertisers said they expected the discrepancy to be even higher.

“It was helpful for us to learn that this is a problem that affects everyone, and that the method of procurement didn’t make as much of a difference as we thought it might,” said Fernando Arriola, vice president of media and integration at ConAgra Foods .

Marketers say they hope the ANA research will force publishers, ad brokers, and agencies to police ad fraud more aggressively. For starters, they plan to begin including language in their agreements with online publishers and other suppliers to specifically address “nonhuman” traffic. The ANA recommends that all marketers take that step.

(click here to continue reading Advertisers Pay Billions for Bogus Web Traffic – WSJ.)

The thing is, savvy corporations already were aware of this problem:

Concerns over ad fraud, viewability and overall inventory murkiness are causing Kraft to reject up to 85% of all impressions offered via real-time ad marketplaces, Kraft’s Julie Fleischer said today at the Ad Age Data Conference in New York.

The massive number reveals that talk of digital advertising supply-chain corruption is indeed leading to action among top brands. Kraft, one of Ad Age’s 100 leading national advertisers, spent $35.9 million on digital advertising in 2013, according to Ad Age Datacenter.

“That 75% to 85% is either deemed to be fraudulent, unsafe or non-viewable or unknown,” Ms. Fleischer, the company’s director of data, content and media, said, referring to the rejected impressions. “Think about what this means for us as an industry. When we’re rejecting 75% to 85% of the impressions available, that’s a problem.”

(click here to continue reading Kraft Says It Rejects 75% to 85% of Digital Ad Impressions Due to Quality Concerns; Big Spending Advertiser Wants No Part of Fraud )

[Editor’s note – Full disclosure: a year or so ago, we met with a startup that purported to have invented tools and procedures that would ferret out this kind of digital advertising fraud, but nothing ever came of the meeting, we never used nor resold their services. I think a large advertising corporation ended up purchasing this startup]

Written by Seth Anderson

December 9th, 2014 at 9:22 am

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with

Ghost Brands

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Gelber Bros - Ghost Sign
Gelber Bros – Ghost Sign.

Comfort marketing is amusing, and yet a bit sad. Steve Jobs would be appalled: he didn’t even want to keep old computers around, much less old brands.

Now, the vintage Smith Brothers brand of cough drops is poised to try a comeback, keeping its familiar brand symbol of a pair of bearded brothers and expanding into a line of health and wellness products.

The campaign is an example of an effort to breath new life into what is known as a ghost brand: a once-popular mainstay among packaged goods that fell dormant or out of favor because of a loss of consumer interest and advertising spending. Some ghost brands disappear from stores altogether, while many others remain but are banished to bottom shelves in supermarkets or drugstores and get little or no marketing support.

Other examples of ghost brands include Aim, Ammens, Aqua Velva, Armour, Barbasol, Breck, Brylcreem, Bromo-Seltzer, Brut, Camay, Close-Up, Comet, Duncan Hines, Fab, Hydrox, Kretschmer, Lava, Log Cabin, My-T-Fine, Oxydol, Parkay, Pepsodent, Pert Plus, Prell, Schlitz, Spic and Span, Sure, Vitalis and White Rain.

There are a couple of reasons it is common during uncertain economic times to seek to restore ghost brands to health. One reason is that it can be far less expensive to reintroduce a brand that was formerly well known than to bring out an entirely new product.

A second reason is that ghost brands fit a trend called comfort marketing, which uses nostalgia to appeal to shoppers in tough times. The belief is that consumers who are carefully watching their spending will be reassured by a product’s longevity and authenticity, deeming it of value because it has been around for decades.

(click here to continue reading Hey, Brothers, Can You Spare a Cough Drop? – NYTimes.com.)

Pipe To Industrial
Pipe To Industrial

Looks like this is an actual marketing trend, and not just something dreamed up by editors at the NYT:

What is inspiring the trend is a belief that shoppers — watching carefully what they spend in an uncertain economy — seek authenticity in brands because a product’s longevity suggests it has value and is thus worth buying.

“At General Mills, with cherished brands like Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, we are seeing an uptick in interest” in mainstay products, said Elizabeth Crocker, associate marketing manager for Cinnamon Toast Crunch at General Mills, “from both millennial consumers who enjoy the taste and fun, as well as older consumers.” (Yes, Elizabeth Crocker works for General Mills, home of another longtime brand character, Betty Crocker.)

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story “Social media is helping to fuel the interest in historic brands and favorite icons,” Ms. Crocker said, citing popular memes like Throwback Thursday (#tbt) and Flashback Friday (#fbf). “For many fans of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the cereal brings back happy childhood memories, so it’s an easy tie to fun #tbt social content,” she added.

(click here to continue reading Comfort of Longtime Brands Inspires Campaigns – NYTimes.com.)

Best In The Polish World - ghost sign
Best In The Polish World – ghost sign

Ghost signs predate ghost brands: wall advertising faded by weather and the passage of time. Sometimes the brand is dead, but not always.

Look for the Spear
Look for the Spear

Written by Seth Anderson

November 24th, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with ,

Google Experimenting With Removing Google Ads for a Fee

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Cougle, Google's neighbor
Cougle, Google’s neighbor in the West Loop.

Almost sounds a little back-alley-ish: “hey, I’ve been deluging you with these ads for decades, but for a small fee, I’ll remove them, in certain circumstances…”

On Thursday, Google started experimenting with a new way to let users contribute to web sites in exchange for removing – or at least reducing – the number of ads. The service, called Contributor by Google, has users give between $1 and $3 a month to sites like The Onion and Mashable.

Once they pay, the ads that normally show will be replaced with a banner that says “Thank you for being a contributor.”

For Contributor, Google is only working with 10 sites, and it will take a small cut of the contributions. The sites may not be completely ad free: Google only has the power to remove ads it has served, so it should probably be described as a way to see “fewer ads” rather than no ads.

(click here to continue reading Google Experimenting With Removing Ads for a Fee – NYTimes.com.)

The only way I could see this working would be for low-traffic websites with a loyal leadership – it seems Google shares a slice of that fee with the publisher. I notice Google doesn’t disclose what the percentages actually are, it could be a 90-10 split for all we know, with Google retaining $2.70 of a $3 contribution. I doubt I’d ever use Contributor By Google, but you never know. Is the occasional visit to Urban Dictionary or The Onion worth $36 a year? Meh. Especially since I use Ghostery to block most ads in the first place, so the savings would be negligible, plus Google would be able to accumulate more data about me for their data mills.

Sophism Becomes You
Sophism Becomes You

I used to have Google Ads displayed over there on the right column, and when this blog sucked less1 and got more daily traffic, the ads paid me a few hundred dollars a year. That was quite a while ago though, certainly before Twitter and other social media soaked up my bandwidth, and the tumbleweeds started accumulating here. In fact, I removed the Google Ads several years ago, probably when Google started frequently being a bully and a thief.2

  1. when Bush was in the White House []
  2. In the eyes of Steve Jobs at least []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 21st, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

344-Year-Old Hudson’s Bay Tests Beacons in Several Markets

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 Hudson's Bay Company

I expect other retailers, museums and the like to follow with their own iBeacon programs this fall.

Hudson’s Bay Co., a pioneering North American business that was founded in 1670, is blazing trails in mobile marketing. Two of the Toronto-based company’s retail chains, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay, are getting on board the smartphone-triggered beacons trend with a test program rolling out today in 10 stores.

While Hudson’s Bay Co. certainly is not the first department store to experiment with beacons (Macy’s ran a test in New York and San Francisco last year), it claims to be the first to do so in multiple locations across the United States and Canada. The Lord & Taylor stores participating in the U.S. include New York’s flagship Fifth Avenue store, a location in Westchester, N.Y., and three shops in Massachusetts. North of the border, Hudson’s Bay stores in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa are testing the technology.

“We recognize the appetite for mobile experiences that cater to our customer’s needs and provide a seamless shopping experience,” said Michael Crotty, Hudson’s Bay Co. evp and marketing chief.

Upon entering the stores, consumers with these apps open will receive a welcome message. Certain departments like ladies’ shoes, cosmetics and Lord and Taylor’s Black Brown label will then send out specific messages around the store. Areas of the store that sell Michael Kors and Alex and Ani also plan to push out offers that are tailored towards specific groups. Approximately 10 beacons are deployed in each store, which are tied to an average of seven different messages.

(click here to continue reading 344-Year-Old Hudson’s Bay Tests Beacons in Several Markets | Adweek.)

Cell Phone Evolution
Cell Phone Evolution

For the record, if you haven’t yet heard of Apple’s iBeacon, here’s a brief overview:

The term iBeacon and Beacon are often used interchangeably. iBeacon is the name for Apple’s technology standard, which allows Mobile Apps (running on both iOS and Android devices) to listen for signals from beacons in the physical world and react accordingly. In essence, iBeacon technology allows Mobile Apps to understand their position on a micro-local scale, and deliver hyper-contextual content to users based on location. The underlying communication technology is Bluetooth Low Energy.

Why is iBeacon a Big Deal?

With an iBeacon network, any brand, retailer, app, or platform will be able to understand exactly where a customer is in the brick and mortar environment. This provides an opportunity to send customers highly contextual, hyper-local, meaningful messages and advertisements on their smartphones.

The typical scenario looks like this. A consumer carrying a smartphone walks into a store. Apps installed on a consumer’s smartphone listen for iBeacons. When an app hears an iBeacon, it communicates the relevant data (UUID, Major, Minor, Tx) to its server, which then triggers an action. This could be something as simple as a push message [“Welcome to Target! Check out Doritos on Aisle 3!”], and could include other things like targeted advertisements, special offers, and helpful reminders [“You’re out of Milk!”]. Other potential applications include mobile payments and shopper analytics and implementation outside of retail, at airports, concert venues, theme parks, and more. The potential is limitless.

This technology should bring about a paradigm shift in the way brands communicate with consumers. iBeacon provides a digital extension into the physical world. We’re excited to see where iBeacon technology goes in the next few years.

(click here to continue reading What is iBeacon? A Guide to Beacons | iBeacon.com Insider.)

more from Business Insider:

To state the obvious: Modern, smartphone-toting humans spend most of their time indoors.

 But indoor spaces often block cell signals and make it nearly impossible to locate devices via GPS. Beacons are a solution. Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop — that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet. They are poised to transform how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors. Consumers might even want to deploy them as part of home automation systems.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we explain what beacons are, how they work, and how Apple — with its iBeacon implementation — is championing this new paradigm for indoor mobile communication. We also take a look at the barriers in the way of widespread adoption.

People are confused about Apple iBeacon because it has yet to take a true physical form. Apple hasn’t manufactured a physical beacon. Instead, Apple’s iBeacon is built into its devices and iOS7 mobile operating system. Already, 200 million iOS devices can already serve as transmitters and receivers. But third-party manufacturers have built beacons that can send iBeacon messages to Apple devices.

(click here to continue reading Beacons And iBeacons Create A New Market – Business Insider.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2014 at 10:40 am

Posted in Advertising,Apple,Business

Tagged with , ,

Coconut Water Changes Its Claims

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A Favorite Breakfast Beverage
A Favorite Breakfast Beverage

Funny how that works. A few years ago, coconut water was being marketed as a panacea for each and every thing wrong with you. And now? Not so much. However, people still repeat those initial, miracle-drug claims. Shows you the power of advertising, doesn’t it?

When coconut water broke into the American market 10 years ago, it was billed as a miracle drink able to fight viruses, kidney disease and other ailments like osteoporosis. Global sales now reach $400 million a year, and many consumers believe that the beverage has a wide variety of health benefits. But they may be unaware that the drink’s marketers have sharply scaled back their claims.

The minerals in coconut water are what prompted the early claims of curative power, but their amounts are quite modest and they are widely found in other foods. A banana, for example, has 422 milligrams of potassium, compared with 660 milligrams in a typical container of coconut water. The water’s big three minerals are potassium (19 percent of the daily recommended intake), calcium (4 percent) and magnesium (4 percent).

Coconut water taps into a “deep consumer vein,” Tom Pirko, a beverage industry analyst, wrote in an email. “It is not seen as a ‘manufactured’ concoction, but rather the issue of Mother Earth.” And it seems poised to become just the first in a wave of natural waters; already for sale are bottled waters from maple and birch trees, barley, cactus and artichokes, with their own exuberant promotions.


(click here to continue reading Coconut Water Changes Its Claims – NYTimes.com.)

I do think coconut water is tasty, occasionally refreshing, but I would not expect it to cure anything. But then I’m a natural born skeptic…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2014 at 8:54 am

Posted in Advertising,health,science

Tagged with

Facebook Is the NSA of Corporate America

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Over Under Sideways
Over Under Sideways

Speaking of Big Data and Facebook, the marketing and privacy experts at Mark Zuckerman’s data mining company have come up with a new way to make money off of you: turning on the microphone on your mobile device, and listening in to your life as you live it.

The social network appears to be preparing to serve ads to users based on a Shazam-style feature that picks up via the microphones on devices with Facebook’s app installed—watching Breaking Bad? Check out this ad for the new drama on AMC. Listening to OutKast? Try Ludacris.…

Facebook’s ad strategy is getting more sophisticated every week; with the new tool (which Facebook stresses is optional, though you know how it is: if people like it and it’s convenient, that’s better than mandatory), it’ll have far more information about something Nielsen, Acxiom and other data giants conduct huge panel studies to determine: user media habits. Not the media habits users write down in diaries, but what people actually do and might not self-report to anyone but their friends—who marathons Murder, She Wrote until 3 in the morning or listens to nothing but Ween for three straight months.

  • It’s totally fair to wonder where the data derived from the recordings—song title, album, etc.—is stored and where it goes. Based on the fact that this is being used for marketing, the short answer seems to be “to people who are willing to pay to know what you’re into.” 
  • It’s hard to make this not creepy. Facebook is using your cell phone to listen to you and serve you ads. It’s doing it all in the name of user convenience, of course, but it’s still doing it. 
  • Marketers are going to love this. Dynamic ad serving has been a pipe dream for so long, and Facebook’s multi-billion-person user base is everyone’s favorite thing for that specific purpose.

(click here to continue reading Listening to Beyoncé? Facebook Has an Ad for You | Adweek.)

Or Pay The Price
Or Pay The Price

From the WSJ:

Facebook on Wednesday added a feature to its mobile app that identifies music and television shows playing in the background and suggests users share them with a larger audience.

The feature was the latest in a series of changes by Facebook to nudge users to divulge more—and more-specific—personal information on the social network. This week, it introduced a feature that allows users to prompt their friends to divulge more information about themselves. Last year, the social network allowed users to categorize posts by activity.

Facebook uses the data to sell targeted advertisements. The more detailed the information it gathers from users, the more personalized—and expensive—advertising the company can sell.

The recent changes represent an effort by Facebook to prod users into sharing more information about themselves. In recent years, the company has added categories, like “watching,” “eating” or “listening,” that users can add to their posts. In April it created a “traveling to” category, allowing users to post their travel destinations. A “nearby friends” feature, also rolled out last month, lets users know when their Facebook friends are in the vicinity. Turning on the feature lets Facebook track users wherever they go, even when the app is closed.

This week, Facebook began allowing users to request their friends’ relationship status using the new “Ask” button.

Advertisers like the additional data.

(click here to continue reading Facebook Adds Feature to Identify Music, TV Shows – WSJ.com.)

Continuous Video Recording in Progress
Continuous Video Recording in Progress

Amusingly, Facebook announced on the same day:

Responding to business pressures and longstanding concerns that its privacy settings are too complicated, Facebook announced on Thursday that it was giving a privacy checkup to every one of its 1.28 billion users.


“They have gotten enough privacy black eyes at this point that I tend to believe that they realized they have to take care of consumers a lot better,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. Ms. Dixon was briefed in advance about the latest changes.

For most of its 10-year history, Facebook has pushed — and sometimes forced — its users to share more information more publicly, drawing fire from customers, regulators and privacy advocates across the globe.

(click here to continue reading Facebook Offers Privacy Checkup to All 1.28 Billion Users – NYTimes.com.)

Sure, sure they are.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2014 at 10:07 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with , ,

Facebook, Google Face Backlash Over Logins

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Cougle, Google's neighbor
Cougle, Google’s neighbor

Personally, I never, ever use logins that depend upon Facebook. I have run across a few iOS apps that insist upon Facebook logins, and I deleted them rather than give up my information. I have on rare occasion used the Google login, but I’d much prefer using my own login credentials, even if it involves creating yet another password. Since I use 1Password these days, creating and maintaining unique passwords isn’t as much of a burden as it used to be.

Facebook and Google are battling to be the gateway through which users connect to websites and mobile apps. But users and businesses may be losing interest in such “social login” services.

Consumers worry about broadcasting their preferences and habits to companies and across their social networks. Businesses are torn between making life easier for users and letting Facebook and Google see the resulting data.

“A few years ago, there was a frenzy, but the interest has peaked,” says Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst at Forrester Research who studies social login. “There’s the fear of, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to click something and God knows what’s going to show up on my Facebook wall.’ ”

The social login buttons allow consumers to log in to other websites and apps using their usernames and passwords, for example, from Facebook Login or Google+.
But a Forrester survey of 66 large and midsize companies finds that only 17% use social-login buttons, and more than half have no plans to do so. Forrester hadn’t previously done a similar survey, but Ms. Mulpuru-Kodali says social login offerings are no longer appealing to retailers and users.

(click here to continue reading Too Much Information? Facebook, Google Face Backlash Over Logins – WSJ.com.)

The One Chord Song Lasts A Lifetime
The One Chord Song Lasts A Lifetime

I think also more consumers are realizing that Facebook and Google are not creating these tools to make consumers digital lives easier, but instead to enable Facebook and Google to collect data on consumers that they will then sell to businesses. Why make the process any easier for Big Data? Especially since Google and Facebook have repeatedly made errors that benefit their own business practices, and only apologize when the “error” becomes public, or the FTC files a complaint.

One reason users hesitate is privacy — the fear that logging in to the real-estate website Zillow through a Facebook button, for example, might inadvertently reveal the house you looked at, and its price, to your social network. Facebook says this can’t happen without a consumer’s express permission. But many users are wary because of the social network’s mixed record on privacy.

Some large brick and mortar retailers are concerned that letting Facebook or Google put code on their website might lead to the Web giants collecting their purchase data. Google says it doesn’t collect this information1.

(click here to continue reading Silicon Valley Is Waging a War Over Your Online Identity. But Is It Worth It? – Digits – WSJ.)

  1. but won’t swear to it in court []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2014 at 8:14 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with , ,

California Urges Websites to Disclose Online Tracking

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 Tired Of Keeping Track

Tired Of Keeping Track

Kudos to Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, let us stipulate that this becomes a national trend, and soon…

Every major Internet browser has a feature that lets you tell a website that you don’t want it to collect personal information about you when you visit.

And virtually every website ignores those requests. Tracking your online activities — and using that data to tailor marketing pitches — is central to how Internet companies make money.

Now California’s attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, wants every site to tell you — in clear language — if and how it is respecting your privacy preferences. The guidelines, which will be published on Wednesday, are intended to help companies comply with a new state privacy law that went into effect on Jan. 1. That law requires sites to prominently disclose all their privacy practices, including how they respond to “do not track” requests.

“This guide is a tool for businesses to create clear and transparent privacy policies that reflect the state’s privacy laws and allow consumers to make informed decisions,” Ms. Harris said in a statement.

(click here to continue reading California Urges Websites to Disclose Online Tracking – NYTimes.com.)

Eye see u Willis
Eye see u Willis

Though this is a voluntary rule, and there are lots of lobbyists chewing on Congress-critters ears to block this practice from expanding, the publics’ opinion is very clear, so maybe by the time the aliens land, or the oceans reach the Midwest, we’ll have action:

The California guidelines for the Jan. 1 privacy law are voluntary. Other efforts to establish more binding privacy protections — either through federal or state laws or through industry self-regulation — have failed to win enough support to pass.

In an attempt to nudge the process along, two of the leading web browsers, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, began giving users the option of sending a signal that tells all websites they visit that they don’t want to be tracked. Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome later added similar options.

But despite pledges by the advertising and technology industries to find a way to honor such requests — and endless discussions at an industry standards group, the World Wide Web Consortium, that was supposed to come up with a common set of rules — little progress has been made. This month, a White House advisory group again called for limits on tracking.

Do Not Track
Do Not Track 

Today, virtually no site respects “do not track” requests coming from web browsers. The only major company that honors the signals is Twitter.

Yahoo, which was one of the first companies to respect “do not track” signals, announced last month that it would no longer do so. Part of the company’s turnaround strategy depends on personalizing its services and advertising, which requires — you guessed it — tracking you across the web.

For what it’s worth, I still use Ghostery, despite it breaking functionality of some websites like Crain’s Chicago, or Nordstroms…

Written by Seth Anderson

May 21st, 2014 at 8:23 am

Senator Rockefeller Warns Marketing Data Giants: You’re On Notice

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Video Flag Z by Nam June Paik
Video Flag Z by Nam June Paik

We’ve long been dismayed by how powerful and secretive the massive data broker corporations have become. Our data is collected, often surreptitiously, then repackaged and sold to other corporations, and we don’t get a percentage of the profits, nor any real notice that this is happening.

Good news, maybe, from Washington, as reported by Kate Kaye of AdAge:

Today the Senate Commerce Committee held a long-awaited hearing about the consumer-data-broker industry.

“We have a feeling people are getting scammed or screwed,” said Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., whose office sent inquiries to several data brokers in the past year. He called out data giants Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian, threatening to use more forceful ways of getting them to divulge information about how they do business and with whom.

One concern shared by Mr. Rockefeller and privacy advocates is predatory marketing activity conducted by financial firms or other companies targeting vulnerable groups such as the impoverished or immigrant populations. Another concern is the practice of scoring individuals determined by algorithmic data analysis and serving them with tailored offers. In some cases that could involve higher interest rates for loans or dynamic prices for products based on prior web behavior or demographic data.

“To date they have not given me complete answers,” said Mr. Rockefeller of Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian. “I’m putting these three companies on notice today…that I am considering further steps and I have steps I can use to get this information.”

Mr. Rockefeller sent letters to data companies such as Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon, Experian and Transunion in June, then broadened the inquiry to include media firms — typically big collectors of behavioral web data — like About.com, Babycenter.com, Cafemom.com, Time’s Health.com and Conde Nast’s Self.com.


(click here to continue reading Rockefeller to Marketing Data Giants: You’re On Notice | Privacy and Regulation – Advertising Age.)

Bares paying attention to…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2013 at 11:04 am

Internet groups whine about new online privacy rules for children

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 Miniature Office Globe

Oh, cry me a river. I’d love to have the same options available for myself! Kids luckily have some protection from being subsumed by the data collection industry, but not much. Adults – not even a token bit of assistance.

Internet groups complained Monday that new Federal Trade Commission regulations to protect children’s privacy online are financially burdensome to start-up companies.

Under regulations that went into effect July 1, websites catering to children will no longer be able to collect a range of identifying information without obtaining verifiable parental consent.

The child protection regulations will now hold the owners of sites and apps frequented by children responsible for third-party services — such as plug-ins or ads — that collect personal information from visitors who say they’re younger than 13. The third-party services will be held liable only if the FTC can prove they knowingly collected personal information from children.

Kid-friendly websites that want to use such ads to provide free content to kids, or that want to collect personal information for interactive content, now have to either get parental consent or forgo the content altogether, as some tech experts worry they’ll do.

“The biggest challenge here is that the commission defines personal information in a way that is so incredibly broad,” said Lydia Parnes, the former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and now a privacy lawyer, at a gathering of data experts and representatives of Internet companies in Washington.


(click here to continue reading Internet groups decry cost of new online privacy rules for children – latimes.com.)


 Have you ever tried to opt out of Acxiom’s database, for instance? Good luck. And they are just one firm out of thousands that Ghostery knows about. Unless you are paying attention to that industry, you’ve never heard of most of them, have no business relationship with them, nor consent to your information being bought and sold. Tough luck, unless you are under 13…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 11th, 2013 at 11:54 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,