European online advertisers organize to defend the industry

European Interactive Advertising Bureau bodies will convene next month to formulate a constitution. IABs based in European nations are expanding their operations, driven by a more mature, renewed and redefined central body: IAB Europe. “[Europe] has started to wake up now, finally,” said IAB Europe President Alain Heureux…IAB Europe plans to restructure and reorganize the European bureau to provide a “more professional and more effective” central body, Heureux told ClickZ News… Now, representatives from each of the continent’s 15 national bodies will meet in Brussels on May 6 and 7 to draw up a constitution defining a new role for the IAB Europe, as well as a funding and staffing structure to support it…

The primary role of the bureau going forwards, according to Heureux, will be to represent and defend the industry in relation to legal and public affairs, and be prepared to “educate European regulators properly” on issues surrounding the industry.

source:AB Europe Embarks on Expansion and Restructuring. Jack Marshall.The ClickZ Network, Apr 23, 2008

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MySpace expands ability for marketers to track and target "community" members

MySpace has launched what it calls its “community builder platform for [the] advertising community.” Here’s what they say it does (our emphasis):

The new platform gives MySpace advertisers the ability to build, maintain and customize brand profiles while also providing guaranteed valuable analytics to help them gauge campaign performance and make real-time adjustments to maximize effectiveness. The platform is currently being beta tested by Deep Focus

“Community Builder allows our clients to connect with potential brand evangelists in an unprecedented way,” said Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus. “The flexible platform provides access to solutions and value propositions that enable brands to engage with a new generation of consumers and the freedom to update and manage communities in real-time. It’s a powerful tool that can help build community literally — and figuratively.”

The Community Builder advertising platform will be available in the US and builds upon MySpace’s industry leading advertising model, which includes customized communities, multi-platform integrated marketing campaigns, and the new advertising platforms HyperTargeting and SelfServe which empower users such as small business owners, bands, and politicians to purchase, create and analyze the performance of ads throughout the MySpace network.”

Red Herring reports that “… Community Builder…allows marketers to analyze the impact of their online ad effort and respond to it by doing things like updating blogs, studying finely tuned traffic data, changing videos, shifting ads, or testing messages…“One of the major complaints about social network ads has been the metrics, as marketers complain that they have no return on investment to show for their campaigns,” said Ian Schafer… “This gives us 24/7 access to the process of building communities.”

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Randall Rothenberg of the IAB cries digital wolf

Mr. Rothenberg, head of the trade group that represents interactive marketers, is in a tizzy because privacy, consumer advocates, and some lawmakers in the U.S. and EU advocate public policies that would empower citizens and consumers to have greater control over their data. Groups such as my CDD also want online marketers to inform users about the range and intent of data collection taking place. Anyone who has studied the online ad industry and is following it should be disturbed by many of its developments and directions.

There needs to be a serious and honest debate about all this–and rules enacted to protect the public. As more people realize the dimensions of the interactive marketing system and its implications, there will be a raising protest. We expect that when the EU’s Article 29 Working Party, made up of data privacy commissioners, issues its report on behavioral targeting, it will be an informed and thoughtful discussion of what must be done. Given the henny-penny approach Mr. Rothenberg has embraced to fight off consumer protection safeguards, we assume he will ask Congress to formally break diplomatic relations with `old’ Europe!

This is a serious issue, with ramifications affecting consumer welfare in a number of areas, including information they receive about pharmaceutical products, personal finances (such as mortgages) and with our children and adolescents. As I’ve said, we recognize the vital importance of advertising for the online medium. But it must be transparent, respect privacy, and operate fairly. The global digital ecosystem must evolve, as much as possible, in the most open and democratic manner.

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One more request for those friendly Privacy Penguins–the AOL and Verizon deal, please

Dear Mr. or Ms. Penguin: It appears that’s new deal with Verizon brings behavioral and other data targeting to both its broadband and mobile platforms. Please explain what AOL’s recent acquisition Third Screen Media means with its April 14, 2008 release that says:

“Under the terms of the agreement, Verizon will leverage Platform-A’s sales capabilities for all of Verizon’s online inventory and a majority of Verizon’s mobile inventory. In addition, Platform-A will be the only sales organization that can represent Verizon’s inventory in the marketplace and guarantee placement within the Verizon network. All other sales partners are selling on a blind-network basis.

Verizon will continue to use Platform-A’s mobile ad serving platform, Third Screen Media, to manage the sale of its mobile web advertising. Third Screen Media’s advanced mobile advertising options include geographic, demographic, and content targeting, display, and sponsorship opportunities on Verizon Wireless’ portal, sections and article Web pages. The Verizon ad network is available to brands and agencies wishing to buy advertising on Verizon Wireless Mobile Web pages…”

We await, kind Privacy Penguin, for an answer. Thanks.

PS: Please include any details about the sharing of consumer data from either the broadband or mobile platforms.

U Penn Prof. Joseph Turow responds to the

Randall Rothenberg of the Interactive Advertising Bureau lobbying group wrote a commentary where he made a number of misleading statements. He incorrectly characterized the work of Professor Joseph Turow. Prof. Turow, a leading academic expert of the online marketing industry, is on the faculty of the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Here is Professor Turow’s response:

In one sentence, Mr Rothenberg manages to make two fundamental misrepresentations. What I really say on page 2 of my 2006 book Niche Envy (where the quote originates) explicitly relates to marketers use of surveillance technologies without consumers understanding: “Over the long haul, however, this intersection of large selling organizations and new surveillance technologies seems sure to encourage a particularly corrosive form of personal and social tension.” Nor do I anywhere lament the passage of the three network universe. For example, I explicitly state in Breaking Up (on page 199, for example) that three network era had its own forms of social exclusions and state that “that “the proper response to this hypersegmentation of America is not to urge a return to the mass-market world of the 1960s and 1970s.” My conclusion: when I see Mr Rothenberg quote someone I will be sure to check the source to make sure the passage has not been wrenched from its context. I should add, too, that I accept the need that digital interactive media have for target marketing and database marketing. But there are many creative ways to meld data analytics and their implementation with openness and public engagement. I fear that Mr Rothenberg”s policies and writings indicate he will lead this important organization in directions that are misguided for marketers and for society.

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Ad industry continues its focus on brain research, inc. meeting at Harvard U

[we have covered this topic in our book and on this blog. Here’s a story from the April 2008 issue of Media Magazine–excerpt]

The meeting, held in a lecture room of the Harvard Business School, was hosted by four leading research organizations that are trying to figure out how to apply the fledgling field of neuroscience to media and marketing research, and to find out whether biometric technologies that map the brain’s responses to media stimuli can be used the way Madison Avenue has used conventional forms of audience research like Nielsen’s TV ratings.

In fact, the field is so promising that Nielsen itself is jumping into it. The media research giant recently acquired NeuroFocus, a Cambridge, Mass.-based firm that is beginning to apply neuroscience to advertising research…What social research was to advertising and media 50 years ago, neurological research promises to be for the next half century…By mapping and understanding how the brain responds to advertising and media stimuli, he [Gerald Zaltman] suggested, researchers would have empirical knowledge about what kinds of advertising and media content were most engaging to consumers. Because the brain – and how it remembers things – is malleable, Zaltman says, it’s not possible to use a map of someone’s thought processes to create rules of thumb. Rather, researchers must use the information to understand how people “coauthor” messages. In other words, people don’t just passively absorb and process information, but react to it, append it and make the content their own. And depending on when and where they are exposed to it, the content could be processed very differently.”

source: Going Mental. Joe Mandese. Media Magazine. April 2008

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AOL should also explain for our EU friends

AOL’s articulate chief privacy officer Jules Polonetsky says he will be responding in his blog to my citing some of ad copy promoting its behavioral targeting. I hope he also explains, to help out privacy and consumer advocates in the EU, what’s UK division means when it says:

Behavioural Targeting is the most dynamic way of reaching the right audience online. Using our Behavioural Network and LeadBack technology, we can target a pre-defined audience segment based on user behaviour on the internet.

There are a number of different ways we can create these audience segments:

  • Advertiser LeadBack
    We are able to target users across our network based on their behaviour on advertiser websites (e.g. partial conversion, abandoned shopping cart).
  • Audience LeadBack
    We are able to target users across our network based on their behaviour on publisher websites (e.g. viewing product review sites).
  • Search LeadBack
    We are able to target users across our network based on their search engine activity.
  • Creative LeadBack
    We are able to target users across our network based on their interaction with ads served outside the network.

By establishing certain user traits or demographics within an audience we are able to target those individuals with the most relevant advertising or simply reach those same users in a different environment.”

and when it says that: employed its web marketing solutions to drive high-volume subscriptions for Vonage. From advanced targeting to view-through tracking…’s AdLearn optimisation technology analyzed user response data, accounting for thousands of factors – including behavior, geography, hour, creative, website and more – to determine optimal ad placement based on the highest expected number of subscriptions generated for Vonage… Vonage also sought a solution to convert those users who clicked on the ad but did not complete a subscription. Vonage implemented’s LeadBack behavioural targeting technology to anonymously track consumer activity on the Vonage website, e.g., abandoned subscription form. After exiting the website, consumers who had not completed a subscription received targeted ads designed to drive them back to the Vonage site.

In order to accurately track the success of the campaign, Vonage leveraged’s view-through tracking technology to match conversions occurring in the days following the initial impression.”

and with: “MediaContacts came to to drive sales of Volkswagen’s Jetta A4 model… created a custom subnet within its extensive network comprised of consumers who had researched cars online in the past six months. Ads featuring the Jetta A4 model were targeted to this subnet and were designed to drive consumers to Volkswagen’s website where they could configure their ideal version of the A4 or request more information from a local dealer.MediaContacts also leveraged’s LeadBack behavioural targeting technology to anonymously track consumer activity on Volkswagen’s website, e.g., did not configure an A4. After exiting the Volkswagen website, consumers who did not configure a vehicle or complete a request for information received targeted ads designed to drive them back to the site to complete the unfinished action.”

and please also explain what you currently offer via Time Warner’s recently acquired Tacoda. For example, when it says that (our emphasis):

“All 4,000 plus partner sites in TACODA Audience Networksâ„¢ carry tags that reflect the interests of the audience that view that page. Every time a user visits any page, that tag information is added to a cookie on the user’s computer and a profile of the user’s interests quickly builds up. Before they are added to a segment in the database though, individuals must have demonstrated an interest in specific content at least two to four times in the past 7-30 days (this period varies to account for the differing lengths of the purchase cycle for each segment). Such is the size and scope of our network that over two billion new web behaviours are added to the database each day – making it one of the top ten largest commercial databases in the world.”

Yahoo! wants politicians to use Behavioral Targeting to target voters–Privacy and voter manipulation ethics ignored

Yahoo! is urging elected political officials and campaigns to use the arsenal of online advertising tools, despite the questions such dubious techniques raise on privacy and other consumer protection issues. Here’s an excerpt from a Yahoo! VP for political ads piece urging pols to embrace behavioral targeting. From Politics magazine online:

“Use the Internet as a more efficient, less expensive channel to reach voters with certainty… political campaigns are about seven years behind the private sector in their use of the Internet as a paid media vehicle…campaigns can make the web work harder for them by using online display media…Our studies indicate that a targeted ad based on geography or demographics can increase response rates by 50 percent. And when ads are targeted based on behavior, those rates increase to 66 percent. These are campaigns based on certainty-whereby a specific audience is messaged to and managed to produce a desired result. This is true whether it’s a campaign to acquire donations or e-mail addresses, or a persuasion or get-out-the-vote message. Moreover, the results can be seen in just hours or days, letting you keep doing what works and kill what doesn’t…the real opportunity is to use the Internet as a paid media platform to run, track and move persuasion metrics.”

Here’s Your Real Online Advantage … And No, It’s Not Viral Videos. Richard J. Kosinski. Politics. 4/1/08

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FTC will need to do better job protecting our mobile privacy

The FTC, as nice as so many folks are over there, simply lags behind the online ad market. The agency’s forthcoming May 6-7 town hall entitled “Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace” fails to include consumer and privacy advocates on the key “Mobile Advertising & Marketing — The Transition and Adaptation to Mobile Devices and the Small Screen” panel. There is overall a lack of real mobile industry watchdogs at this FTC event. Perhaps the FTC should start off reviewing the plans of mobile marketers to track and target consumers. Here’s what Yahoo! Mobile says it can help marketers do:

“Yahoo! offers a rich, comprehensive set of mobile ad products – all designed to empower advertisers to tap into the rapidly–growing, lucrative audience of mobile consumers. Yahoo!’s Mobile Ad Services make it possible to reach your target customers wherever they are, seamlessly following them from the PC to the mobile Internet. A wide variety of ad formats, targeting options, and calls-to-action are available – as well as resources to help you put effective programs in place if you’re new to mobile advertising…Eye-catching display ads can be targeted using the same wide array of options as traditional Web banners (e.g. context, demographics, behavioral) – and can incorporate location, which has greater importance when marketing to consumers who are ‘on the go’…Select the call–to–action that works best for your business: click through to a promotional site, enable the consumer to find or call a store directly, offer a coupon, send an SMS message – the options keep expanding…

Mobile search that practically reads your mind.”

PS: How come so many of the speakers from the non-profit world on the agenda are supported by online marketers, including mobile oriented ones? See, for example, CDT, Internet Education Foundation, TRUSTe.

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Google/Yahoo or Microsoft/Yahoo!–either way, antitrust issues for the Asian online ad marketplace

In addition to North America and the EU, any combination (or alliance) raises serious marketplace competition questions. One area that will require attention is the growing Asian digital media market. Here’s an excerpt on the search engine related market:

“…a huge factor on who wins the search engine war in Asia hinges on search engines’ ability to develop business relationships that would help both parties leverage their capabilities and offer the appropriate services…We are already seeing such partnerships beng forged between large telecommunications companies and search engine providers across Asia.

A case in point is Yahoo, which has made great strides in developing strong relationships with mobile carriers in the Asia Pacific region. In China, Google and its formidable rival Baidu, are partnering up with large telcos such as China Unicom and China Telecom. In addition to relations with the telcos, search engines are reaching out to mobile phone manufacturers to provide search engine solutions.

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