Kraft’s Research to Boost Oreo Sales reveals “resurgent desire for indulgent food products”–A multi-media ad campaign designed to stimulate cookie “licking”

This excerpt from an Brandweek article on the 2009 Super Reggie winning ad campaign deserves to be highlighted, so the Federal Trade Commission can do a better job next time it researches the market.  The agencies involved for this campaign included Draftfcb (general and promotional advertising);  Razorfish (digital); Digitas (online media);  MediaVest (media); IMG (experiential); Weber Shandwick (PR).

“…Double Stuf Racing League (DSRL) …The highly stylized marketing and entertainment vehicle, billed as a professional sport…has enjoyed 16 consecutive months of sales growth since the program debuted in late 2007, per the company. That consistent performance was a resounding reversal of the brand’s previous sales declines that year, and it explains why Kraft continues to build on the effort in 2009.

It all began as Kraft’s marketing team and litany of agency partners searched for a new brand experience that would distinguish the creamier Double Stuf Oreo from the original cookie. Research revealed consumers’ resurgent desire for indulgent food products, and collective brainstorming led the team to focus on a familiar aspect of Oreo consumption.

“The spark came as we were thinking about fun new ways to engage consumers with Oreo,” explained John Ghingo, marketing director for Oreo at Kraft Foods, East Hanover, N.J. “Lots of people partake in the rituals of twisting, licking and dunking Oreo cookies in milk. Double Stuf Racing League focuses on the ‘lick’ aspect and takes Oreo to a new place in an unexpected way.”

Thus far, Double Stuf Racing League has pitted two sets of celebrity siblings against each other: NFL star quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning and pro tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams. In January 2008, a national TV teaser spot featured a mock press conference by the all-American football heroes declaring their entry into a “second sport.” The ad directed fans to a Web site ( where they enter DSLR and participate in games by creating avatars called “Yoobies.” However, the identity of the second sport was kept alive, leaving viewers to chatter about the mystery on fan sites and blogs…

That buzz continues this year. A spring contest is slated for the Sunshine State, with appearances by both the Mannings and the Williamses. So what other famous athletes may join the competition? “Like any league, DSRL is always looking to scout great new talent,” demurred Ghingo.”

Super REGGIE Winner:  Oreo Double Stuf Racing League ‘Licks’ the Competition.   Michael Applebaum. Adweek.  April 6, 2009

DSRL site Privacy [data collection] policy

Congressional Internet Caucus and the State of the Mobile Net: Corporate Donors Influence Group’s Agenda, Leaving Public Vulnerable to Loss of Privacy

When will members of the Congressional Internet Caucus wake up and address the role its special interest dominated “Advisory” Committee is playing?  The Caucus is holding a “State of the Mobile Net” conference on April 23.  It’s doubtful Congress will be receiving the unbiased information they need, given that the sponsors of the event are the leading companies engaged in mobile marketing and data collection.  As typical of the “business model” crafted by the Center for Democracy and Technology connected group known as the Internet Education Foundation, the event prominently acknowledges its  Platinum” sponsors: the CTIA lobby group, Google, Microsoft and Verizon.  Gold” sponsors are AT&T, Nokia, T-Mobile.  There is also a category called “promotional” sponsors which lists Yahoo and several others.

It’s highly unlikely that the meeting will discuss the real issues challenging consumer privacy and welfare on the mobile Internet (including, we expect, the recent CDD/USPIRG complaint filed at the FTC– which has helped launch an investigation into that market).   The Advisory Caucus is run by the Internet Education Foundation, whose board members include representatives from Google, Verizon, Comcast, Microsoft, Recording Industry of America, and the Consumer Electronics Association. So the line-up of speakers is crafted to make sure that corporate donor feathers–and their willingness to continue to financially contribute–aren’t ruffled.  On the privacy panel for the event we have, of course, a representative from CDT.   There are also mobile marketers–including Yahoo and loopt.  There is the DLA Piper law firm that advocates for industry and a lone academic. Consumers and citizens deserve better from Congress.

PS:  As an example of how incredibly biased the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Net Caucus is, look at the description and speaker line-up of its recent briefing on online advertising.  A supposed “unbiased” event,  it featured industry lobbyists and several groups funded by online marketers!  Incredibly shameful!

Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus

Anatomy of Online Advertising: Understanding the Privacy Debate
March 30, 2009…The purpose of the briefing is to provide an unbiased foundation for understanding the various privacy issues that Congress will debate in the context of online advertising.


* Paula Bruening, Hunton & Williams
* Maureen Cooney, TRUSTe
* Michael Engelhardt, Adobe Systems
* Tim Lordan, Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee
* Jules Polonetsky, Future of Privacy
* Heather West, Center for Democracy & Technology
* Mike Zaneis, Interactive Advertising Bureau

An Example of Why Online Marketing Requires Public Scrutiny: An Ad Network that will “find the individuals that matter”

The vast system of online marketing has implications for how we define ourselves and are viewed by others.  It’s simplistic to say that online marketing is really only about sending the “right” ad to the right person  at the right time.  The tremendous amount of data and consumer tracking raises fundamental questions about the kind of society we are creating.  Here’s how a relatively new ad network–Rocket Fuel--describes what they do.  It’s an excerpt and not meant to single them out for criticism.  But it’s emblematic of a philosophy that must be vetted for its direction and implications:  “Our technology focuses on finding desirable audience characteristics rather than mere impressions. Through rapid automated testing and user-level targeting we find the individuals that matter…An ad server makes billions of decisions per day, tens of thousands of decisions per second, about which ad to serve for a given online impression…”

Facebook’s COO: “There aren’t that many places where an advertiser can connect with users and do so as a part of their experience”

An excerpt from a Businessweek interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:

“…our business is advertising…What we do is we enable connections. We enable people to connect with users and provide advertising in such a way that it’s not obtrusive at all, but it’s part of the advertising experience and part of the user experience… We believe advertising needs to blend into the experience…There aren’t that many places where an advertiser can connect with users and do so as a part of their experience and as part of the sharing. We actually offer that ability.

from:  “BusinessWeek Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler talked with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg”

A Mobile Marketer explains how they build a profile, including operator, geographic, demographic, search query data [Annals of Mobile Marketing]

Here’s an excerpt from an video interview we transcribed with Paran Johar, CMO of Jumptap (a mobile marketing company).  The interview was done at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona 16-19 February, 2009:

“Journalist: You have a lot of intelligence built in to your engines in the back. How is that working together? How far down can you deep-dive in the targeting? How granular can you get?
PJ: Number one; Targeting is only important as long as you have scale and reach. So we need to kind of frame that out. Number two; we take inputs from various sources. So, we take operator data, whatever they want to pass to us, they can pass us. Certainly with AT&T we get geographic data from them, in some cases we get demographic data, we get search word query data, whether we are the search engine or if it is Google, Yahoo or Microsoft, that can get passed to us, contextual data and behavioral data. We take all that together and we score it, build a taxonomy to build a profile that will serve a relevant ad. We believe mobile phone is the most personal devices…
Journalist: … How much of an issue is the analytics now and are you positive and upbeat now that you feel that maybe mobile operators are getting their head around this to deliver it?
PJ: That’s a great point. A couple of things with the GSMA-Comscore UK trials. Number one, was absolutely wonderful that it fostered collaboration among operators for various audience segments. Number two, it was wonderful that they looked beyond just geographic, demographic, but they also include behavioral profiles in terms of their audience assessment. I also think it is very interesting that they are moving forward without actually being able to monetize this and building a platform so advertisers can participate in this. I think from a metric standpoint, the next thing that we are gonna look for is really standardization of post clip metrics and how to integrate that into
advertising campaigns.
Journalist: That’s an interesting idea. How do you envision that? How should it be?
PJ: It gets a little complicated but it shouldn’t be. In it’s simplest form you just have post-click, like a click to action. You click on the ad unit, you perform some action and it calls a pixel and you register that. But with mobile you obviously have different actions that can occur. It could be click to a map, it could be click to call, click to SMS. How do you track those actions? How do you then integrate them into a reporting structure, which is key. And we are building the tools to make it easy for media planners, agencies and clients to actually track all their actions holistically and then optimize their campaigns so that they are reaching their maximum ROI.”

IAB UK’s “Good Practice Principles” on Behavioural Targeting: Alice in Wonderland Meets Online Data Collection

Last week in Brussels at a EU Consumers Summit, Google and other interactive ad companies pointed to the new Interactive Advertising Bureau/UK “Good Practice Principles for online behavioural advertising” as a model for meaningful self-regulation.  The companies that have endorsed the principles include  AOL/Platform A, AudienceScience, Google, Microsoft Advertising, NebuAd, Phorm, Specific Media, Yahoo! SARL, and Wunderloop.   The message sent to EU regulators was, in essence, don’t really worry about threats to privacy from online profiling and behavioural targeting.  But a review of the Principles suggest that there is a serious lack of “truth in advertising” when it comes to being truly candid about data collection and interactive marketing.  These Principles are insufficient–and are really a political attempt to foreclose on meaningful consumer policy safeguards.

Indeed, when one examines the new online “consumer guide” which accompanies the Principles,  one has a kind of Alice in Wonderland moment.  That’s because instead of being candid about the real purpose of behavioral advertising–and the system of interactive marketing it is a part of–the IAB paints an unreal and deliberately cheery picture where data collection, profiling, tracking, and targeting are just harmless techniques designed to give you a better Internet experience.   UK consumers–and policymakers–deserve something more forthright.

First, the IAB conveniently ignores the context in which behavioural targeting is just one data collection technique.  As they know, online marketers are creating what they term a “media and marketing ecosystem.”  A truly honest “Good Practice Principles” would address all the principal ways online marketers target consumers.  That would include, as IAB/UK knows well, such approaches as social media marketing, in-game targeting, online video, neuromarketing, engagement, etc.  A real code would address issues related to the use of behavioural data targeting and other techniques when used for such areas as finance (mortgages, loans, credit cards); health products; and targeting adolescents.

The IAB/UK also fails to reconcile how it describes behavioural targeting to its members and what it says to consumers and policymakers.  For example, the group’s glossary defines behavioural targeting as:  “A form of online marketing that uses advertising technology to target web users based on their previous behaviour. Advertising creative and content can be tailored to be of more relevance to a particular user by capturing their previous decision making behaviour (eg: filling out preferences or visiting certain areas of a site frequently) and looking for patterns.“  But its new “Good Practice” consumer guide says that “Online behavioural advertising is a way of serving advertisements on the websites you visit and making them more relevant to you and your interests. Shared interests are grouped together based upon previous web browsing activity and web users are then served advertising which matches their shared interests. In this way, advertising can be made as relevant and useful as possible.”

Incredibly, the IAB/UK claims that “the information used for targeting adverts is not personal, in that it does not identify you – the user – in the real world. Data about your browsing activity is collected and analysed anonymously.”  Such an argument flies in the face of what the signatories of the “Good Practice Principles” really tell their online ad customers.  For example, Yahoo in the UK explains that its “acclaimed behavioural targeting tool allows advertisers to deliver specific targeted ads to consumers at the point of purchase.”  Yahoo has used behavioural targeting in the UK to help sell mortgages and other financial products.  Microsoft’s UK Ad Solutions tells customers it can provide a variety of behavioural targeting tools so it “can deliver messaging to the people who are actively looking to engage with what you’re offering…With Re-messaging we can narrow our audience by finding the people who have already visited you. It means we can ensure they always stay in touch and help create continual engagement with your brand…Profile Targeting can help you find the people you’re looking for by who they are, where they are and when you want to be seen by them.”  Time Warner’s Platform A/AOL says Through our Behavioural Network, we can target your most valuable visitors across our network, earning you additional revenues, or simply fulfil your own campaign obligations.  By establishing certain user traits or demographics within your audience, we are able to target those individuals with the most relevant advertising (tied into their common characteristics), or simply reach those same users in a different environment.”  Or Audience Science’s UK office that explains “While other behavioural targeting technologies simply track page visits, the AudienceScience platform analyzes multiple indicators of intent:

•  Which pages and sections they have visited

•  What static and dynamic content they have read

•  What they say about themselves in registration data

•  Which search terms they use

•  What IP data indicates about them, including geography, SIC code, Fortune 500 rank, specific Internet domains,   and more

Because AudienceScience processes so many indicators of intent, it enables you to create precisely targeted audience segments for advertisers.”  And Google, which knows that the UK is “arguably the most advanced online marketplace in the world” has carefully explained to its UK customers all the data they collect and make available for powerful online targeting.

The Notice, Choice and Education “Good Practice” scheme relies on an ineffective opt-out.  Instead of real disclosure and consumer/citizen control, we have a band-aid approach to privacy online.  The IAB also resorts to a disingenuous scare tactic when it suggests that without online marketing, the ability of the Internet to provide “content online for free” would be harmed.  No one has said there shouldn’t be advertising–what’s been said is that it must be done in a way which respects privacy, the citizen, and the consumer.   Clearly, the new IAB/UK code isn’t a model that can be relied on to protect the public.  UK regulators must play a more proactive role to ensure privacy and consumer welfare online is meaningfully protected.

UK Online Ad Lobby Group: “behavioural targeting is going to be the future of the internet.” [Annals of Behavioral Targeting]

The debate over behavioural targeting, profiling and interactive advertising is heating up in the European Union.  We just spoke at a EU event on the topic.  More later on that meeting (which featured Google, Microsoft, Nokia and others, all wearing their Brussels best).  Google and others pointed to a new code on behavioural targeting created by the UK’s Interactive Ad Bureau, which they suggest is a model (and is designed to foreclose on real privacy safeguards).  I will be writing about this code in the next post.  But here’s what the chairman of the IAB UK, Richard Eyre, said about protecting privacy online and the Internet’s future [via Brand Republic.  March 31, 2009]. Excerpts:

Richard Eyre, chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau, has said he accepts the European Union’s decision to investigate behavioural targeting as “logical” but hopes that the current self-regulatory process “will satisfy everyone”.

Eyre was responding to the EU’s decision to investigate behavioural targeting by online advertisers, in a move that could result in legislation that overrides the code recently introduced by the IAB with the support of Ofcom and search giants Google and Microsoft…Eyre said that he understood that the EU had to have a point of view on the issue because behavioural targeting is a new tool about which the general public is still forming its opinion. However he hopes the self-regulatory code on behavioural targeting recently introduced by the IAB will satisfy everyone. Eyre said: “It is very easy to dismiss the issues as an invasion of privacy but the fact is that behavioural targeting is going to be the future of the internet.”Eyre told ISBA’s annual conference recently that behavioural targeting would be a “game-changer” for advertisers.
PS:  As for Microsoft’s position on privacy, here’s an excerpt from a March 5, 2009 New Media Age story:  “Zuzanna Gierlinska, head of Microsoft Media Network, said, “It’s better that regulation comes from within the market rather than from government, which might not be fully aware of how behavioural targeting works.”  source:  “Industry unites to defend trust in online advertising.”   Suzanne Bearne.