Ad agency has “profiled more than one-third of the world’s online population”

Developments in advertising, data collection, consumer analysis and targeting must be transparent and accountable to the public.  In a profile of Havas Digital, OMMA Magazine notes that [our emphasis]:

Havas has created a dynamic online ad trading system that separates audiences from publishing content, and it makes user profile and unique cookie data king, rather than the inventory a publisher serves.  The core of Havas Digital’s virtual brand network is its Artemis database management and reporting system, which has already profiled more than one-third of the world’s online population. That and the agency’s Adnetik system help deliver customized roi analytics for media buying.”  “Artemis is the central piece of our media buying offering,” Kasper [Adam Kaspar, a senior VP] says. “Its importance has only grown as the technology has improved.”Coupled with proprietary algorithms, that database has allowed the agency to develop systems that draw on data from third parties, including clients, publishers and networks, that helps it understand which audiences command the most value at a particular time for specific brands.”

Artemis is a “marketing data warehouse.”  Yahoo is using the service, including for its already data-enabled Right Media Exchange.  Havas describes Artemis as “our proprietary marketing decision support system – a secure warehouse for all your marketing data, plus reporting tools that help make sense of it all.  Unlike some of the less sophisticated reports advertisers may receive from ad-servers, for instance, Artemis® provides detailed reporting right down to the user level.”

The FTC, EU, Congress and others will need to need to investigate the growing role consumer data plays in targeting us on and offline.  We don’t need private ministries of information tracking the global public.

Digital TV, the Giveway to the Broadcast Lobby, and the Current Proposal for a Delay

The focus on a lack of digital TV converter discount coupons obscures a more important story.  The grabbing of the digital spectrum by the broadcast lobby as part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  There is no business model for terrestrial broadcasting—what happened was a spectrum grab–so broadcasters could gain for free public airwaves worth billions.  Ironically, now taxpayers are footing the bill for the converters as well–another subsidy in a way to the National Association of Broadcaster lobby.

The debate should be on how the digital airwaves giveway to the broadcast lobby should be a lesson learned.

Dr. Mark Cooper’s Vision of a Principled Broadband and Telecommunications Policy Stimulus Approach

In a recent essay on reforming the Federal Communications Commission, long-time consumer advocate and economic expert Dr. Mark Cooper concludes with a very important analysis.  He says that:

“Ensure that stimulus does not deteriorate into corporate welfare, as the financial bailout did. A progressive stimulus package should direct funding to the distinguishing features of 21st century infrastructure – human capital and social networks.  Human capital and social networks are the unique inputs of the digital economy that create collaborative production.  These can be supported by directing funds to people and communities, rather than corporations.”   

Dr. Cooper is correct.  If the digital media era is to truly help the public, then funds should empower communities.  That includes social networks, mobile platforms, video services and other content services that foster a diverse and more democratic communications environment.  If the broadband part of the stimulus plan is merely corporate welfare to the already unregulated powerful, it will not generate the kind of economic growth–or societal change–envisioned by the incoming Obama Adminsitration.

Google Helps Sell Pizza for Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s

Google does many important things.  But it’s an ad company, including helping these three companies build their direct selling online.  Here’s an excerpt from the trade publication QSR:

“We’ve been working with the big three pizza companies over the last three to four years to develop online ordering, and it has become a significant sales engine for them,” says Sam Sebastian, director of local and business-to-business markets at search engine giant Google. “It’s such a competitive space.”

Online ordering typically accounts for anywhere from five to 20 percent of a national pizza chain’s business, Sebastian says. To entice customers to use their service over that of the competition, chains are turning to online search advertising, banner and click-through ads placed on Web sites, and social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace.

So far, online search advertising, whereby a company buys ad space that will appear when a user types a keyword or phrase (“New York City pizza”, for example) into a search engine, has made up the largest portion of media spending online.

…”It’s a direct connection, direct response,” Sebastian says….

Web sites across Google’s content network partner with the company to syndicate advertisements, and Google works with individual web sites and companies to broker advertising.

“If I know my customers are on … any web site where in the content there is a discussion about pizza, I can place my advertising there so it’s available contextually,” Sebastian says.

Papa John’s recently launched its first foray into advertising on the Google Content Network with a one-day blitz of display ads on various sites including MySpace, and restaurant and menu guide site

The flash display ads promoted an offer of one free medium cheese pizza with any online pizza purchase for customers who signed up to receive e-mail offers…

Broadband Stimulus Investment or Broadband Corporate Welfare?: The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s new report

Yesterday’s New York Times had a column on broadband innovation and a potential federal investment as part of the forthcoming stimulus proposal.  The article cites a new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) calling for a “$30 billion” investment in “the nation’s digital infrastructure.”  The ITIF report, “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America,” is to be released Wednesday.  Yesterday’s article didn’t mention the special interest relationship ITIF’s backers have with such a proposed broadband “bailout.”  We haven’t seen the report yet (ITIF says it will be available Wednesday).  But we hope it explains how the major digital media companies and lobbyists which help govern the ITIF will likely benefit from such federal funding.

For example, ITIF’s board includes representatives of IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems.  The ITIF itself is an affiliate of the Information technology Industry Council, which says it’s “the tech industry’s most effective lobbying organization in Washington.” The council’s members include, among many others, Time Warner, Dell, Corning, and eBay.

Pork–whether for building bridges to nowhere or of the digital variety–doesn’t belong in a stimulus package.  Broadband investment is important.  But the public deserves full disclosure about who may benefit from the use of federal funds.

Get Set, Ready, Regulate!: Online Marketing and Data Collection in 2009-2010 [see how everyone “owns” your data except you!]

New Year, new Administration and Congress.  Plus a growing global concern from policymakers, advocates and citizens about data collection online.  Even the relatively feckless Federal Trade Commission will do more on the issue this year. Here’s a toast to hope for a honest discussion about the data collection and targeting system which embodies the online marketing apparatus.  Look at this excerpt from a story on behavioral targeting and online publishing from this week’s Advertising Age.  Note that everyone believes that can collect and use the data collected from observing an individuals’ behavior–and don’t even have to get permission from the actual person.  Such online marketing practices, of course, raise important civil liberties issues, as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s the excerpt:  “…Who created the customer and who owns the data generated by a visit or a sale? “Data is key; everybody wants to own it, everybody wants to use it. It’s not just ad networks — its portals, publishers and holding companies,” said Mike Cassidy, CEO of Undertone Networks. “The question to be answered is who owns the data, if anybody.” In the offline world, publishers market their own subscriber lists. But online that data is harvested by a host of third parties such as Google’s DoubleClick, Microsoft’s Atlas and vast ad networks such as Platform A’s “People are stealing from the media companies who have lost control of their data,” said Operative CEO Mike Leo….Here’s how it works: A publisher decides to allow an ad network to sell some of its inventory. That network places a cookie on the publisher’s site. Now, when a user leaves that site, and goes somewhere else, the network can track that user.”

source:  “As Tracking Proliferates, Web Publishers are Left Out: Behavioral Targeting Punishes Producers of Original Content.”  Michael Learmouth.  Advertising Age.  January 5, 2009 [sub may be required].