Facebook’s Partnership with Target Stores: Is this leading to its work thwarting a Boycott effort?

As news reports emerge that Facebook is preventing a group boycotting Target Stores for its political positions able to use the social network’s functionality, it’s important to connect its business relationship with the chain store.   Facebook recently made a deal with Target as part of its marketing push for its virtual “Credits” currency.  The growing relationship of the biggest brands and Facebook, and what happens to our information and how these companies get preferred treatment, must be on the policy and advocates agenda. Politico reported that: “As the number of Facebook members signed up for the “Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics” page neared 78,000 in recent days, Facebook personnel locked down portions of the page — banning new discussion threads, preventing members from posting videos and standard Web links to other sites and barring the page’s administrator from sending updates to those who signed up for the boycott.”

Facebook and Target stores are new partners, something which may explain its censorious efforts.  Inside Facebook also recently reported:Following recent efforts by Zynga, Playdom and other social gaming companies to launch pre-paid cards for virtual goods in stores, Facebook is going direct — starting this Sunday, it will allow users to buy pre-paid cards for its virtual currency, Credits, within 1,743 Target retail locations across the US and on Target.com.

Cards can be purchased in $15, $25 and $50 increments, similar pricing to what you’ll see for a wide variety of other pre-paid game cards already available in Targets and other stores around the country.

Facebook itself is also helping to push the new integration, by including a Target store finder on its official Credits splash page. When users click on the “Redeem Gift Card” in the Facebook Credits gift cards section of the Credits page, they’ll see a popup window asking them to enter the scratch-off number on the back of the Credits card. Clicking “Redeem Now” will add the amount of Credits purchased to their Facebook account.”

Online Advertising and News: How HuffPost Worked with GE

An excerpt from Ad Age’s interview [June 30, 2010] with Greg Coleman, Pres. of Huffington Post.  Coleman described the online news site as a “social media company,” able to “help our marketers beam their messages throughout the internet, across the galaxy, the internet, and the world.”  One of their advertisers is GE.:

Ad Age: Can you give me an example of Huffington Post’s view on social advertising?

Mr. Coleman: One example is a terrific project we did with General Electric, where GE has this whole campaign on “healthymagination.” We allowed them to run advertising on anything tagged “wellness” across our site — they were looking for positive health information. We then created a special share bar for GE, and any time you tweeted that article or retweeted that article or shared it, the ad module would go with it. So when you shared it with your friends on Facebook, the GE ad module would go there. When you retweeted it, [you’d get] the hashtag “GE healthymagination.” … We’re trying to come up with the real metrics, but we believe that the reach of the campaign is far greater off of our site, as a result of the social tools on our site.

Pay for Engagement Ad Model Raises Consumer Protection Issues

Let alone issues related to editorial independence.  Here’s an excerpt from the UK’s Marketing Week on what P&G is doing with the pay per engagement model (something we believe has privacy implications):

Brands are moving away from simple CPM deals and click-through rates. Indeed, back in September it emerged that Procter & Gamble was briefing media owners about a new payment model that would see publishers paid more for users that go beyond simply seeing the ads and sign up for newsletters, play games or watch videos, for example…It also means media owners having to work harder on the relationship between content and advertising… As publishers continue to struggle, the possibility of bringing significant brand money online is too compelling to argue about the conditions attached.

Games Microsoft Plays: “consumer online behavior” tracked on its video gaming service [a “massive” invasion of privacy!]

Microsoft’s just announced a new consumer tracking and profiling tool for advertisers using its Massive video gaming platform service. Calling it a “breakthrough” in its press release, the new Microsoft/comScore research tool enables advertisers:

“… to see the direct impact that in-game advertisements have on consumer online behavior…, advertisers will get an inside look at the degree to which in-game ads motivate gamers to visit Web sites, conduct brand-related search queries and engage in other online actions, something that previously had gone unmeasured…Through this collaboration with comScore, we will also now be able to measure those consumer actions that result from in-game ads. We think this has the potential to literally ‘change the game’ for both advertisers and publishers who want to improve the effectiveness of their in-game ad efforts.”

AdEffx Action Lift for Gaming matches in-game console ad serving data from Massive with comScore’s third-party, post-campaign panel data to track and measure in-game advertising effectiveness. By combining Microsoft’s proprietary, non-personally identifying Anonymous ID data, which is common across Xbox LIVE and Microsoft Web properties (known as Windows Live ID), with user data from comScore’s panel of 2 million Internet users worldwide, comScore can determine if panelists who saw in-game advertising subsequently visited a brand’s Web site, searched brand-related terms or engaged in other online behaviors important to advertisers.”

Online Ad Networks Targeting Teens: Time for new privacy safeguards

Teens are a major focus of online advertising.  We have asked Congress and the FTC to develop safeguards to ensure adolescents have their privacy protected.  As part of the public debate, it’s useful to review how online ad networks target teen users.  Here are some examples:

Betawave (its 12-17 targeting service):  “If it feels like it’s impossible to capture the attention of today’s short-attention-span teenager, we’d beg to differ. On average, teenagers spent 15 mins per session on our publisher sites and 73.7 mins per month. More importantly, their mindstate is highly receptive to advertising with stats 118% higher than industry average and 158% more likely to agree that advertisements influence their purchase decisions…What’s our secret? Our selection of casual games, virtual worlds, and social play sites that are in touch with their Teen and Tween audiences. We know how to create content to hold the attention of the American Teenager, but to also keep them coming back for more…Our Teen and Tween audience consumes all types of different media, but is addicted to the Internet. The content of our sites appeal to the “Influencers” — the kids who assert their preferences with parents and peers and impact the behavior of others…“Virtual World Integration:  Imagine a marketing vehicle where users embrace sponsorship, where they constantly ask for more brands, and where advertising is seen as a validation of their community. Virtual worlds offer this experience to savvy marketers…Integrate your product into virtual worlds, and turn casual observers into brand champions.”

Kiwibox teen network [Burst Network]:  Kiwibox Teen Network, brought to you by Burst Network, is the premier online vehicle for advertisers looking to target the teenage audience of girls and guys that are currently in high school or college. The anchor site for the network, Kiwibox.com, is a popular social networking destination and online magazine for teens…

As a member of Kiwibox Teen Network, your site will get the attention of popular brand marketers and attract high CPM campaigns. Advertisers on Kiwibox Teen Network will include the best brand names in consumer electronics, telecom, entertainment, apparel/footwear, snacks and beverages, retail, beauty products, and fast food…Kiwibox Teen Network supports several types of Rich Media layer ad units, including Interstitials, Superstitials, Floating, Synchronized and In-Person Rovion ads. We have partnerships with the top Rich Media vendors like PointRoll, Eyewonder, EyeBlaster, Unicast, Interpoll, and Atlas…

Microsoft’s “Sweeping Vision” for Online Ads: “unlocking the Holy Grail of marketing” by “mining user intent”

The digital data collection arms race is unleashing powerful forces focused on data collection and consumer targeting across much of the online world.  As advertisers meet to discuss and celebrate their accomplishment and plans, as part of Advertising Week, Microsoft is playing a leading role.  As you read about their plans from this excerpt in Adweek, keep in mind that they hope to bundle their search marketing platform with Yahoo!

Microsoft is heading into Advertising Week looking to capture the ad industry’s attention by laying out a sweeping vision for the online advertising market and the integral part it plans to play in its the future…At the heart of that undertaking is the plan to build a product that can determine exactly what ads Web users want to see and when. “At the core, the most important thing to us is mining user intent,” Howe [Scott Howe, corporate vp, Microsoft’s advertiser and publisher solutions group], said. “What does a user really want to see in the way of advertising.”

That’s easy in search. But intent is not so clear on content sites or social networks. “If Bing is step one [for Microsoft Advertising], step two is extending that engine to power the ads that someone sees across all display ad formats and multiple devices,” Howe said.

…”When people talk about behavioral targeting, often they’re talking about flat display formats on a PC — and we’re talking about across all digital devices,” he said. “And so, by having this engine power all the different things holistically, we’re actually in some respects unlocking the Holy Grail of marketing.”

Google’s “Health Vertical” Division and the YouTube `Branded’ Channel for Obesity-related Medical Product

Google is in, as we know, the interactive marketing of health products and medical information.  Here’s an excerpt from Advertising Age on one of Google’s new YouTube related efforts.  We are deeply concerned about the role of interactive health marketing, including the techniques used to present information, influence consumer behavior, and collect user data.

Excerpt: In the video, Viki, a middle-age blonde, tears up recounting her moment of truth: A couple of years ago she was so obese that she could not chase after her toddler to keep him from running into the street…If this sounds like a setup for a weight-loss ad, that’s because it is. But not for a diet shake, pill or plan. The video is for Ethicon Endo-Surgery’s Realize adjustable gastric band — a device placed around the stomach that restricts food intake. The video is on Realize Band’s branded YouTube channel.

Video is such a powerful medium for people who are having this type of surgery,” said Mary Ann Belliveau, managing director of Google Health Vertical. “What the channel does is give the patients a home for this, so they can get a more thorough experience, specifically with the company and the brand.”…The Realize band’s YouTube channel went live June 20 and already has received nearly 8,000 channel views. Ethicon also has a branded site for the band, where patients can learn more about the surgery and join the device’s online support program. In the video on YouTube, Viki describes her own experience with the Realize band. On the Realize website, consumers can read Viki’s diary, as well as those of other patients. Complementing Viki’s story on YouTube, there is a video simulating implantation of the band, and another explaining how to financially prepare for the surgery, which costs $17,000-$26,000 on average…”

source:  Gastric-Band Maker Reaches Out with YouTube Channel.  Marissa Miley.  Ad Age.  July 6, 2009 [sub required]

The Growing Role of Advertising in Online Video (and a Pitch by Google for Greater Ad into Content Integration)

As advertisers continue to exert greater influence in online programming content (and as we prepare for what will eventually be a digital version of the 1950’s Quiz show scandals), we are tracking this trend.  Here is an excerpt from Screenplays magazine on a recent Internet “upfront” conference held by ad company Digitas:  Across the board the message was that advertisers aren’t interested in backing web content without having access to precisely the right performance data…Measuring engagement…is a big component of tracking ROI…Carls Jr. recently rolled out an online video campaign with eight YouTube stars, said Alex Levy, director of Branded Entertainment at Google.  “Brands increasingly have an appetite for web content and the DVR has made everything old new again.  We have to keep figuring out how to integrate into the content itself, she said.

New York Web Confab Reveals Hurdles Agencies Have Set for Video Ad Metrics.  Screenplays.  June 9, 2009

Google Promotes Carls Jr. via special YouTube Ad Deal: But “won’t be marked as ads”

excerpt via Adweek:

Justine Ezarik might not be a household name, but the 25-year-old has a cable TV-size audience… Thanks to Google, she’s also now part of Carl’s Jr.’s effort rolling out this week to sell the Portobello Mushroom Six-Dollar Burger to young men. The search-engine giant drafted Ezarik and eight other popular YouTube creators to participate in an ad campaign for the fast-food chain on the video-sharing site…

The YouTube stars were chosen not only for their creative flair, but for the networks of followers they can mobilize. Ezarik, for instance, not only has 94,000 subscribers to the iJustine YouTube channel — the nine YouTube celebs combined total 3.8 million subscribers on the site — but also boasts 590,000 followers on Twitter and 25,000 Facebook fans…Google is adding such deals to its advertising arsenal as it attempts to turn the video site into a moneymaker… Other new tools include tying advertiser videos to search results and matching high-profile creators like Seth MacFarland with brands…

The Carl’s Jr. videos will live on a dedicated YouTube channel, the creators’ pages and in ad units across sites in the Google ad network. They won’t be marked as ads on the YouTube pages, but will carry a notice they were paid for by Carl’s Jr. Each video also invites users to upload their own videos of how they eat a burger.

source:  Carl’s Jr. Makes New Kind of Network Buy:  Burger promo leans on vast reach of YouTube content creators.  Brian Morrissey.  Adweek.  June 1, 2009

Memo to Acting FCC Chair Michael Copps on Cable TV “Branded Storytelling”: A Tour of Embedded TV Advertising

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are emailing you the link to this week’s Advertising Age’s story called “Designing a Custom Fit: Cable Offering more integrated, multiplatform deals.”  If you needed any additional evidence that the business model that further merges programming content with advertising requires scrutiny, debate, and safeguards (especially in the youth market), we offer the following article excerpts as evidence.  Clearly, the comedy writers are creating the marketing strategies for some of the cable programming networks.  But I’ve put a few of the best lines in bold:

Call it extreme sponsorship.

As advertisers look for maximum returns on their media investments, cable networks are offering an increasing number of creative, customized and multiplatform ways to partner with marketer brands—and to make sure viewers are paying attention.

The options for integrated marketing have gone far beyond a title sponsorship or a simple product placement. Today the buzzwords are “content-mercials,” “intromercials,” “branded storytelling” and custom marketing. Network series stars are featured in marketers’ commercials—and marketers’ products have a starring role in hit series…USA Network’s approach is to treat an advertiser’s brand as a supporting character in its multiplatform “Characters Welcome” credo. “Our network is not about one genre or one demographic. We are about characters. We celebrate the character of your brand,” says Chris McCumber, exec VP-marketing, digital and brand strategy for USA Network…

USA’s hottest show right now is “Burn Notice.” In its inaugural season, “Burn Notice” partnered with Saab 9-3 for an online game, “Covert Ops,” that allowed users to “drive” a virtual Saab all over Miami…In “Covert Ops,” “while you are playing the game, you are using the elements of Saab. The game drew more leads to Saab.com than the number of cars available to sell,” Mr. McCumber says. “The gaming area has incredible opportunities for brand integration.”…USA’s on-air integrations include using Hoover vacuums to “sweep” graphics off the screen during “Clean House.”…

On A&E Television Networks’ History, Subaru is a presenting sponsor for the upcoming “Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone.”…

“We provided the explorers at certain points in the expedition [in four episodes] with the Subaru—where it made sense,” says Mel Berning, exec VP-ad sales for A&E Television Networks.

The integrations highlight features such as trunk space capacity and vehicle toughness off-road. Thirty-second “content-mercials” will run in every episode…AMC is promoting its Branded Storytelling—a way for advertisers to tell their brand stories through AMC’s programming, says Bill Rosolie, AMC exec VP-sales….Examples include: Takeovers, where marketers can own an entire episode, movie or day with their messages; Matching Moments, where AMC breaks the action with a sponsored pod that directly follows relevant content; and “Matching Attributes,” where brands’ messages are connected to key movie content by using custom creative to run within the film…

Nickelodeon has made multiplatform integration central to its ad sales efforts. This year Nick teamed with Walmart for an integrated effort celebrating the 10th anniversary of the No. 1 kids show, “Sponge Bob Square Pants.” The plan included TV, print and online media backed by in-store support. The Happy Place inside its Walmart stores offered exclusive Sponge Bob merchandise. A microsite (www.spongebobhappyplace.com) requests a sign-on code, only available at Walmart stores, to allow visitors access to exclusive content.

In 2008 Nick and AT&T joined efforts on a Web site where kids could text “iCarly,” get an iCarly ringtone, view cool gadgets (such as the Palm Centro or the AT&T Slate) and see a sneak peek of the iCarly movie “iGo to Japan,” which aired last November.

source:  Designing a Custom Fit.  Nancy Coltun Webster.  Ad Age.  May 4, 2009