Google’s New YouTube Policy: Expanded Data Collection & Privacy

On May 6 2008, YouTube announced that “Starting today, signing up for YouTube means signing up for a Google Account that gives you access to YouTube, as well as other Google services such as iGoogle, Reader and Docs…So why are we doing this? We feel that by jointly connecting accounts, you can take greater advantage of our services both on YouTube and on Google, especially as we start to roll out new features in the future that will be powered by Google technology.”

But as search engine online guide explains it [excerpt]:

One of the advantages for Google once users sign up with a Google account would be a significantly better targeting for its advertising both in and outside YouTube (Google Docs, AdSense advertising, Google News and Finance, etc.) thanks to the personal information gathered on the search giant’s servers. This is particularly important in light of the recent introduction of behavioral targeting for AdSense, which keeps track of the user’s interests to try and display to him or her messages that are most likely to attract his or her attention…Like many other popular search engines, Google collects search data for its users for the previous 9 months in order to achieve better targeting, with governments — particularly the EU court — pushing for such a limit to be reduced to 6 months or less. However, there is no restriction for the gathering of non-search related data including YouTube and Gmail among others.

Online Behavioral Profiling & Targeting of Individuals Based on their Political Interests: Privacy Safeguards Are Required for Interactive Marketing

This week an online marketing company called Resonate Networks “announced the first online ad network built for political and public affairs advertising.” According to the company, “Resonate’s ad network is powered by its proprietary Attitudinal Targeting platform that, for the first time, provides public affairs and political advertisers with the ability to identify, persuade, motivate and organize like-minded audiences online and drive them towards an actionable step—whether it is joining a campaign, contributing to a cause, or supporting an initiative.”  Resonate’s platform, they say, was “[D]eveloped by world-class research and online industry experts, Resonate’s Attitudinal Targeting platform incorporates extensive and proprietary algorithms, data modeling and analysis to map Web users’ attitudes and issue positions against their online behavior.  Attitudinal data that advertisers can leverage include…Targeting highly influential individuals with a history of taking action related to an issue of interest…”   “It’s really drilling down to people’s beliefs and where they stand on issues,” Resonate’s CEO told MediaPost.

Resonate told the Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang that the company’s approach doesn’t raise any privacy concerns.  But they are wrong.  How citizens and others are tracked, analyzed, profiled and targeted based on their political views is a privacy (and consumer protection) issue.  Both Congress and the FTC need to look closely at the growing role online profiling and targeting is playing in the political and policy arena.   

Financially backed by well-known political campaigners from both parties,  Resonate also explains that it “has developed one of the most advanced engagement models available, with the ability to not just understand who is influential, but where you can find influentials who care about specific issues.”   Here are excerpts of its pitch to corporate advertisers:

“For the first time, corporate advertisers and agencies have the power to precisely pinpoint and reach web users whose attitudes and issue positions make them most receptive to certain messages and calls-to-action…Micro-Targeting Means Higher-Performance Campaigns: Resonate Networks delivers higher concentrations of your target audiences, translating into greater exposure for your campaign among the right mix of people…Message Segmentation: The success of your campaign may require reaching different audiences with different messages: A supportive audience may receive a direct response offer, while others who are unaware of your products or their benefits may receive an educational message designed to nurture their interest over time. Reduced Budget Waste:  Resonate offers the ability to reach web users that are pre-disposed to your message or product based on their attitudes or beliefs. Conversely, Resonate can help avoid those who hold opposing or conflicting beliefs.”

In addition, Resonate says that it uses “Rich Attitudinal Data:

  • Resonate targets campaigns based on layers of detail on a range of audience attitudes, including:
    • Issues and issue positions
    • Engagement/influencer status
    • Ideology
    • Media consumption
    • Religiosity
    • Partisanship
    • Vote history”

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 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 ( 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

John Wilke of the Wall Street Journal

John Wilke was a wonderful investigative journalist.  He had passion, style, and was relentless when on a story.  It was evident that although John was very serious about the work, he also had fun while in pursuit.   I had the privilege of first meeting John during the FTC review of the AOL Time Warner merger.  We all know how rare investigative reporters are in journalism–especially those interested in ensuring that both business and government be held accountable.  John was a breath of spirited fresh air–someone you could give documents, a source or a story angle to and would then do their best.  It was a joy to see him at work.

He will be missed.  I know he inspired me and I’m sure countless others.  My condolences go to his family, his colleagues, and his many fans among the public.

I urge everyone to read the comments of many of Wilke’s colleagues.   They are a moving homage to a terrific journalist, colleague and friend.  They also remind me of how precious great journalism is–exactly the type of work John embodied.

How Marketers Are Also Tracking Your Actions Online–when you hit “Play, pause, next…” [Annals of Web Analytics]

excerpt:  When it comes to analytics, few know the space like Avinash Kaushik, which is why we took your questions to him…

Ad Age: Are video-heavy, rich-media sites affecting the importance of certain metrics?

Mr. Kaushik: Absolutely. We used to live in the world of hits. Then we moved to page views. Now we are moving to “interactions.” … The actions of your website visitors are measured. Play, pause, next, send, forward, click, etc. — each is a “vote” by the customer to engaging in some kind of integration with your web experience.

Analytics.  Abbey Klaassen.  Ad Age.  March 30, 2009 [sub required]

“Social Influence Research” from Ad Agencies to Identify “Advocates and Champions” for brands [Annals of Social media Marketing]

excerpt:  In one instance, we used Social Infuence Research to conduct qualitative research for a Web site targeted at teen girls. Participants were recruited and asked to bring two friends to an interview. The researchers used the interview to observe the behavior of the group and the dynamics that occurred among the individuals in it. As a follow-up, the group was given a video camera and asked to document a trip to the mall. The video provided tremendous insight into the influencer and follower behaviors that were naturally occurring in the group… In another research project, we interviewed entire nuclear families to understand how its members managed and allocated financial resources. Families are the oldest and most established “social networks.” As such, they have fairly clearly delineated exchange and influencing processes to make decisions. To map how those decisions were made, we interviewed parents and children separately, and then together. In addition we worked with the family to create a digital photo diary for an entire week. Through those “mapping” interviews and exercises, we were able to canvas how financial decisions were made, how parents implicitly and explicitly passed along “money values” to their children, how children implicitly and explicitly absorbed the parents’ financial lessons and ultimately how the family network functioned around financial matters…

Generating social graph analysis and reporting helps to identify not only the attributes of influencers, but shows us who they are, where they are, what makes them influencers and, most importantly, where they cross other networks. Of course, social networks are nothing new; marketers have observed and responded to influencer relationships across categories for many years. However, the evolution of the social Web has created a new opportunity for digital marketers and researchers to harness a consumers’ social influence across their online network and create advocates and champions for their brand.

source:  Razorfish. 2009.

Alain Heureux, IAB Europe, and the Battle Over Online Marketing and Privacy: Worried about Article 29 Working Party and Calls for Regulation

We recently met Mr. Heureux in Brussels at a EU conference on consumers in the digital age.  He is a most capable representative of the European online advertising industry.  But Alain’s job is also to help prevent the enactment of privacy safeguards that would protect European consumers and citizens when they use digital and interactive media.  Here are excerpts from a recent article on Mr. Heureux in New Media Age [26 March 2009]:

In the battle to protect online advertising from intervention by politicians, Alain Heureux is on the front line. The president and CEO of IAB Europe spends half his time on what he calls public affairs, concentrating on the regulatory agenda in Brussels.  “The three main concerns are privacy, targeting and social media, and all the links between…“We’re very worried,” he admits. “At the moment, the revenues from targeting and profiling are not so big, so if you damage them you might not damage the entire industry immediately. But marketers want to move away from traditional techniques to targeted, efficient forms of marketing, and that shift can only happen with the use of technology and data. So there is a risk of damaging the future of marketing and media.”

Heureux’s concerns include the Article 29 working party which, although it has no power to introduce legislation, carries considerable weight in Brussels. It’s currently working on a paper which would define a person’s IP address as personal data, making it subject to the same data protection regime as other personal information. He’s also worried about the upcoming EU elections, wondering if one of the current commissioners might campaign on a privacy and data protection platform.

“Someone could position themselves as the messiah of data protection,” he says. “You’d get a lot of sympathy from consumers’ associations and citizens who are a little bit scared about all this data stuff, so it would be easy to take that great role and use it politically. That’s why these elections are dangerous, the threat is very much present.”…

Heureux takes the view that the only way to stop regulators passing new laws is for the industry to regulate itself. And while he acknowledges that Brussels is open to the idea of self-regulation, he sees one of his biggest problems as managing its expectations.

“Regulatory affairs take time, but the regulator wants everything now, not in a year’s time.” …“We need to create room for self-regulation but I’m worried about who will take care of enforcement. It’s not clear that the SROs [self-regulator organizations] will do it, because they’re under-resourced and under-funded, so it won’t be easy to extend self-regulation to include new techniques and practices.”

Despite these concerns, Heureux acknowledges with a smile that the current economic situation is helping the cause of self-regulation. He sees companies becoming more pragmatic and open to compromise with their competitors, while regulators are more concerned about the effect of new legislation on jobs and business.

Annals of Branded Social Media–Ford Chooses 100 Bloggers to Serve as “Fiesta Agents”

Anyone tracking social media marketing recognizes that major brands and ad agencies are playing a highly influential role shaping the new medium.  It’s something we are closely observing.  Here’s an excerpt from Ad Age’s “Ford is Counting on Army of 100 Bloggers to launch new Fiesta [Eric Tegler.  April 20, 2009.  sub required].

“…the automaker is counting on 100 bloggers to introduce its new Fiesta, which is set to reach U.S. dealers in early 2010. The idea behind Fiesta Movement is to get the model’s target audience to drive and, hopefully, chatter about the car for months to come…Ford is loaning 100 German-built Fiestas to social-media trendsetters for six months. The 100 “Fiesta agents,” chosen from 4,000 who applied online, will share their experiences behind the wheel, completing monthly, themed missions from travel to social activism; posting videos; and updating their friends and followers on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere…Early signs indicate a ripple effect from simply signing agents to the Fiesta Movement… several of those selected have already gotten interviews with regional newspapers or TV stations based on their acceptance into the program…JWT will undertake the bulk of reviewing/posting online content generated by Fiesta agents, while mining data with the new metrics made possible through social media.”