Google’s new online ad-suppported animated venture:“We feel that we have recreated the mass media”

That’s the headline here–“We feel that we have recreated the mass media,” said Kim Malone Scott, director of sales and operations for AdSense in a New York Times article on Google backing a “Calvalcade of Cartoon Comedy” for online. Google is likely using its resources which can track how long users are likely to watch a video, and how they interact with a slew of interactive advertising pitches. They can measure each click too, so they can better determine what works for the commercial sell.

But, of course, the analogy to the “mass media” is what is interesting. Google is leading the way to recreate the mass media in the digital age. They are right about that. But with such an ambitious plan comes responsibility–to ensure there is funding for serious and diverse independent news, investigative reporting, and quality cultural programming. Google should also help ensure that women and people of color–now cut out of ownership in media–actually own significant parts of the new digital content landscape. And there must also be a serious privacy policy which covers broadband video as well. Google, its advertisers, and partners shouldn’t automatically know what we watch and how we respond (without our permission–and with special rules for children and adolescents).

source for quote: Google and Creator of `Family Guy’ Strike a Deal. Brooks Barnes. NYT. June 30, 2008

The IAB Can’t Say the Word “Privacy” Before the U.S. Congress

On Wednesday, IAB president Randall Rothenberg testified before a House Small Business subcommittee. Incredibly, the written testimony failed to mention privacy. Nor did the testimony really convey the nature of interactive advertising today. We will be contacting the subcommittee to set the record straight. And the IAB has to do some serious soul-searching. As more people become informed about the data collection and targeting practices underlying digital marketing, they will expect that companies doing business online are engaged in ethical data collection practices. This will be especially true when it comes to protecting the privacy and consumer welfare of children and teens.

PS: This excerpt from Mr. Rothenberg’s testimony is another illustration of how out of touch the IAB has become. They can’t acknowledge the industry’s problems and offer reasonable solutions. The IAB is also going to hurt small business, once customers learn how their privacy is threatened (and how online advertising raises medical and financial data issues, for example). Perhaps someone will come along offering responsible leadership on this issue for small business. They aren’t getting it from the IAB’s lobbying campaign. Once again, no one is saying there shouldn’t be online advertising. But we are saying that privacy has to be protected–where consumers are in charge of what is collected. And that some practices–including data collection and targeting of children and adolescents as well as sectors such as medical information–require safeguards. But the IAB’s leadership has decided to use the “Chicken Little, Our Data Won’t Be Falling” scare tactic.

“A small but vocal coterie of forces opposed generally to marketing, advertising, and open media markets is attempting to advocate to limit the technology responsible for this internet advertising revolution.

Although these advocacy groups have provided no evidence of public harm, their efforts have begun resulting in regulatory proposals which, if enacted, would severely hinder the ability of small publishers to support themselves with advertising sales, and impair the ability of small businesses to use interactive advertising to market themselves.”

Google “Platinum Sponsor” at Ad Research Event

excerpt: “At the Advertising Research Foundation measurement conference… Google’s designs on establishing a leadership position in advertising research were evident… It was the event’s “platinum sponsor,” and the stage, halls and registration area were festooned with Google signage and promotions that made other dominant industry players such as Nielsen Co. look circumspect by comparison…

a Google executive gave a presentation about the capabilities of the TV Ads service–which provides a detailed next-day report on where an ad ran, how many impressions it received, and viewer tune-in levels over the course of a particular spot via second-by-second data.”

ARF Talk: Google Stalks Research Walk, May Balk On Accreditation. David Goetzl. Media Daily News. June 26, 2008

Google expands data targeting and profiling to provide “more brand lift and brand awareness” for ads

Google’s new “Ad Planner” is just one of a series of tools now emerging which are designed to more precisely track and target consumers for advertising campaigns. Microsoft’s “Engagement” initiative has similar roots. “The focus [of Google Ad Planner] is primarily on creating more brand lift and brand awareness [for advertsiers],” [Wayne Lin, business product manager at Google] told DMNews.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The tool lets advertisers match demographics and related searches for a particular site, or aggregate statistics for sites in the advertisers’ buying plan.

“This will expose many more sites that are much deeper into the Web,” Lin said. “It opens up data that wasn’t necessary visible before.”

Lin would not elaborate on specifics of how the data is pulled, but said that Google’s wide reach and powerful analytics would provide information on the long tail of the Web.

Internet for Everyone: Broadband access should be a right, not just a feature of the “competitive” market

The new non-profit and corporate coalition has nice rhetoric, but fails to articulate a policy agenda that would really address the digital divide. Public interest media groups should be calling on government and industry to provide free access to broadband for those who can’t afford it (whose numbers must be increasing, given the current economic squeeze). Just having “access” doesn’t mean it would be really affordable. Universal service in the digital age should mean the right of everyone to have broadband service in their home–as well as eventually on the mobile network. Americans should also have a broadband system where privacy is protected and is not primarily focused on data collection and the delivery of interactive marketing messages. That principle is noticeably missing from the new group’s statement. But the kind of Internet Google and other online advertisers will bring us threatens our privacy. [Google is a member of this new group.] Yes, we should have real competition–and the Bush decision awarding cable and phone companies a monopoly over residential broadband service should be reversed. Yes, we need network neutrality. But we also need to address quickly how we can ensure low income Americans have the access they require. That should involve a call for the government to pass legislation requiring a build-out of digital infrastructure, foster for profit  and not-for-profit ISP competition, and provide subsidized access for all. Broadband access is a necessity, and should be an essential “Right” Americans have in the digital era.

Google pushes Plug-in Vehicles while it expands its ad pitching for the auto industry

We are glad Google seriously wants to improve the environment, and sponsored, as its corporate blog noted, this recent two-day conference in Washington, DC. The event was designed to “showcase plug-in electric vehicles and examine how the government can support their widespread adoption.”

But it needs to reconcile this noble cause with its business practices. Here’s an excerpt from Google’s job announcement for “Industry Head-Automotive” (based in the UK):

As a Google Automotive Industry Head, you’ll be working with those who produce, market or sell products or services related to cars, trucks, boats or other transportation vehicles. This includes original equipment manufactures, third-party websites, dealers and after-market parts and accessories companies. This is a highly consultative position that reports directly to the Automotive Industry Leader. You’ll be responsible for presenting the team’s strategy and managing a team of experts to increase sales on a national level. Focusing on building strong relationships at the highest possible level, your goal is to help your automotive clients get as many of their marketable assets online in an affordable and measurable way. You’ll combine exceptional Automotive knowledge, deep industry and marketing agency relationships…to develop and close new business as well as grow existing business.


  • Develop the vision and manage the sales/account strategies that will fully unlock the potential in the Automotive sector.
  • Build and maintain relationships with senior-level clients, industry-specific direct advertisers and relevant agency contacts.
  • Educate the Automotive industry and evangelise Google, particularly at targeted events, conferences and media opportunities….
  • Develop a deep understanding of the business needs of Automotive advertisers and insights into consumer behaviour.

Google’s Expanded Ad Targeting: Interactive Video & Rich Media

In May, when Google opened up its content network to other online ad companies, one of them was PointRoll. We think, as the online ad and privacy debate heats up, it’s useful to highlight the PointRoll announcement of its deal with Google:

PointRoll, the leading provider of rich media technology solutions, announced today that the company has joined with Google to enable PointRoll’s advertisers to run rich media ad campaigns across the Google content network, one of the world’s largest advertising networks… PointRoll currently provides its interactive capabilities and engaging brand-building formats to 65% of the Fortune 100, and now its clients can integrate the Google content network into their rich media campaigns…Using PointRoll’s precise targeting technology and measurement capabilities, advertisers are able to reach their desired audience with the most relevant and salient messages, and definitively analyze campaign effectiveness…PointRoll’s sophisticated targeting technologies can now optimize the breadth of Google’s sites and categories, matching advertisers’ messages to the users who find them most relevant…The Google content network joins the more than 3,000 online publishers-including elite sites such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo! and The New York Times-that leverage PointRoll rich media to provide powerful, engaging brand experiences to users.”

Google’s Hispanic Targeting via Search

Every marketer wants to target Hispanics and they are tracking their online behaviors closely. Here’s a view from Google:
Sarah Carberry, team leader at Google, says, “Connect with U.S. Hispanics at the right time and right place when receptivity is at its greatest. The consumer is choosing when to engage with your brand and signals their interest when they search for information on Google or on trusted content sites such as Univision or MySpace en Espanol. You can now tailor messaging to many niche markets, such as U.S. Hispanics, and target them with various ad formats in more places where consumers are throughout the web. This relinquishes marketers from the confines of traditional media where a standard design has been the norm.”

Carberry recommends optimizing on the fly after seeing what keywords, channels and messaging are working best. Also, she says, “take advantage of Google’s geo-targeting capabilities where there are higher concentrations of U.S. Hispanics. With AdWords, you can set your ads to show only to users within a certain radius of your business.”

source: 10 Experts Weigh in on Marketing to U.S. Hispanics. Joe Kotchera. imediaconnection. May 5, 2008

NebuAd’s CEO Discusses Online Targeting

“The latest in behavioral and contextual advertising technology enable marketers to personalize their messages to consumers by serving hyper-targeted and varied ad formats at every stage of the purchase cycle — ensuring that the right offer is reaching the consumer at the right time. New tools that measure engagement by the degree to which the user is engaged throughout the conversion cycle lets advertisers know what messages work. Rating systems that assign value to each consumer action throughout the funnel give advertisers a more accurate measurement of real engagement.”

Bob Dykes. NebuAd CEO. Imediaconnection. May 28, 2008

Google/Yahoo! Combine also raises questions about Publicis and WPP deals

Officials need to examine the recent deals made both by Google and Yahoo! with advertising agency powerhouses, Publicis and WPP, respectfully. The Google/Yahoo! combine reduces competition in the online ad sector, and these agreements need to be part of the analysis. Google and Publicis completed their deal last January “based on a shared vision of how new technologies can be used to improve advertising.” Last month, Yahoo! and WPP formed a “multi-year strategic partnership” that is connected to the online ad trading Right Media Exchange.

Search should not be considered a “natural monopoly,” as some cynics suggest. Nor should search by viewed as separate from display; increasingly the two are intertwined. Marketers desire cross-platform strategies. Perhaps that’s one reason Google is hiring cross-platform ad specialists. To quote from a Google job posting: “The Cross Platform Solutions team forms partnerships with advertisers and agencies to build brands online. We strive to deliver the most efficient and effective digital platform upon which the world’s leading brands are built. We connect advertiser’s brand messages to their target audience through innovative, precise and accountable online marketing solutions whose reach can extend around the world.”

It’s hard to keep up with the online ad world, so it’s not surprising that regulators have been slow to address the critical consumer and competition issues. But much is at stake in how diverse and consumer-friendly the new media world will become. That’s why the DoJ and the Hill need to look at these ad agency deals, among other issues we will discuss soon.  Btw, privacy is a serious issue in the deal, no matter how Yahoo! may be spinning it.