Google Promotes Carls Jr. via special YouTube Ad Deal: But “won’t be marked as ads”

excerpt via Adweek:

Justine Ezarik might not be a household name, but the 25-year-old has a cable TV-size audience… Thanks to Google, she’s also now part of Carl’s Jr.’s effort rolling out this week to sell the Portobello Mushroom Six-Dollar Burger to young men. The search-engine giant drafted Ezarik and eight other popular YouTube creators to participate in an ad campaign for the fast-food chain on the video-sharing site…

The YouTube stars were chosen not only for their creative flair, but for the networks of followers they can mobilize. Ezarik, for instance, not only has 94,000 subscribers to the iJustine YouTube channel — the nine YouTube celebs combined total 3.8 million subscribers on the site — but also boasts 590,000 followers on Twitter and 25,000 Facebook fans…Google is adding such deals to its advertising arsenal as it attempts to turn the video site into a moneymaker… Other new tools include tying advertiser videos to search results and matching high-profile creators like Seth MacFarland with brands…

The Carl’s Jr. videos will live on a dedicated YouTube channel, the creators’ pages and in ad units across sites in the Google ad network. They won’t be marked as ads on the YouTube pages, but will carry a notice they were paid for by Carl’s Jr. Each video also invites users to upload their own videos of how they eat a burger.

source:  Carl’s Jr. Makes New Kind of Network Buy:  Burger promo leans on vast reach of YouTube content creators.  Brian Morrissey.  Adweek.  June 1, 2009

Google’s Retention of Search Data–tied to selling ads [Google Connects Offline Behavior To Digital Marketing]

This excerpt from an online ad news report illustrates perhaps a more compelling reason for Google to retain user data for longer periods, so it can better analyze the decision-making process for consumer purchasing for its ad businesses:

“We now understand the types of keywords people use at specific points prior to purchase,” says Davang Shah, head of automotive marketing at Google. “Six months prior to the purchase, we see roughly 56% of the auto searches buyers conducted were on non-branded search terms such as fuel efficient or hybrid sedan.”…Search plays a critical role throughout the purchase process…The data, related to paid, organic and display advertising as well as online marketing, includes the facts that 68% of buyers visit a manufacturer’s site in the six months prior to purchase, and 77% visit a third-party site. In aggregate, 84% visit at least one or the other…Shah says Google will cut the data by brand and provide the information to manufacturers, dealers and third-party companies…”

source:  Google Connects Offline Behavior To Digital Marketing.  Laurie Sullivan.  Online Media Daily.  May 22, 2009.  

YouTube Home Page Ad Costs “$175,000 a day, plus an incremental $50,000 in spending on Google or YouTube”

We recognize Google has to generate ad revenues for YouTube.  But we also believe the public deserves to know about–and understand the implications–of Google’s deals with deep-pocketed advertisers.  These recent excerpts from Advertising Age and Online Media Daily help add to the public record.  First, Ad Age:

…the bigger YouTube grows, the more marketers find they must couple a campaign with spending…Geico, for example, spent a few hundred thousand dollars on YouTube as part of its online-video campaign… Geico took over the YouTube front page for the day April 2, and then bought YouTube search keywords such as “numa numa.” The rate card for a YouTube front-page roadblock is $175,000 a day, plus an incremental $50,000 in spending on Google or YouTube. Of the video’s 1.3 million views, 500,000 were achieved that first day on the YouTube home page. You can’t just throw a video up on YouTube and expect consumers to find it, “because it’s a needle in a haystack,” said Taylor Valentine, director-digital services for Horizon Media, who implemented Geico’s digital-media strategy.

Here’s an excerpt from Online Media Daily, on the impact of so-called “rich media” [multimedia & interactive] YouTube ads:

Sprint is expected to take over Google’s YouTube home page for 24 hours this week in a groundbreaking ad campaign that highlights a human clock. The campaign, which emphasizes Sprint’s “Now Network,” will embed user-generated content in the masthead — a first for masthead ads running on YouTube. Those who want to participate are assigned a number and use a Web camera to shoot the video and add themselves to the clock…YouTube’s standard home page masthead, 960 x 250, which launched in January, sits above the fold on the home page. A tandem unit — 300 x 250 — placed just below on the right can interact with it…

“We needed to figure out a way to embrace rich media on our home page, especially with the growth of impressions and more than 11 million unique users visiting the U.S. home page daily,” said Zal Bilimoria, product manager for the home page at YouTube. “On average, these rich media masthead units have 14% interaction rates, compared to the industry average noted by DoubleClick for similar-size units of just under 5%.”

YouTube has already sold and run mastheads in 12 countries…

sources:  Why Free-Ride YouTube is Finally Winning Ad Dollars.  Michael Learmonth.  Ad Age.  April 13, 2009.
Sprint Takes Over YouTube Home Page With UG Human Clock.  Laurie Sullivan.  Online Media Daily.  May 8, 2009.

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.

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.

Google and WPP Fund Neuromarketing Research for Digital Ads: Ethical Issues and the Need for Policymaker Scrutiny [with an update on the grants!]

The Wall Street Journal and other publications report that Google and ad giant WPP will announce today the $4.6 million grants it will award for academic research designed to “improve understanding and practices in online marketing, and to better understand the relationship between online and offline media.” Among the research efforts given funds are projects that will “analyze internet users’ surfing habits to determine their thinking styles, such as whether they are most influenced by verbal or visual messages or if they are more holistic or analytical, and how to tailor ads accordingly” and an “analysis into how online ads effect blood flow to different areas of the brain. This research would seek to show the role that emotions play in decision making.”   Academics from MIT, Stanford, and Harvard will receive funds, among others. (And for those of us concerned about the role online advertising and data collection is playing in China–and impacts human rights and environmental sustainability–one of the new grants will fund “how Chinese web users respond to different online-ad formats, such as display and search ads”).

As we will tell the European Commission at the end of the month, at a workshop they have organized to discuss interactive advertising and consumer protection, the evolving role of neuromarketing with online advertising raises a number of troubling concerns–and should trigger a serious policy review.   We have not yet seen a final list of the grantees.  But Google should be funding independent research that will honestly explore the impact and ethics of online marketing.  They should be ensuring that the ethical issues of online marketing–such as the concerns raised by their new behavioural profiling and targeting system–receive a honest scholarly review.

The growing controversy over the role pharmaceutical companies are playing with scholarly research on drugs, we think, has implications here.  We believe all the academic institutions receiving these grants must vet them to ensure they truly address the real impact online ad techniques have on individuals and society.

Update:  Google & WPP made the academic research announcement–eleven grants awarded.  Here are some to ponder–and raise questions:

*  “Targeting Ads to Match Individual Cognitive Styles: A Market Test”; Glen Urban, Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management;

*  “How do consumers determine what is relevant? A psychometric and neuroscientific study of online search and advertising effectiveness”; Antoine Bechara, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Department of Psychology/Brain & Creativity Institute, University of Southern California and Martin Reimann, Fellow, Department of Psychology/Brain & Creativity, University of Southern California;

*“Unpuzzling the Synergy of Display and Search Advertising:Insights from Data Mining of Chinese Internet Users”; Hairong Li, Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing, Michigan State University and Shuguang Zhao, Media Survey Lab, Tsinghua University;

*”Are Brand Attitudes Contagious? Consumer Response to Organic Search Trends”; Donna L. Hoffman, Professor, A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, University of California Riverside and Thomas P. Novak, A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, University of California Riverside;

*“Marketing on the Map: Visual Search and Consumer Decision Making”; Nicolas Lurie, Assistant Professor of Marketing, College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Management and Sam Ransbotham, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, Carroll School of Management, Boston College.

“…distinctions between government services and political campaigning are being blurred as politicians use Internet technology”–National Journal

excerpts:  In general, federal laws bar the use of government assets for political campaigning. But the much-lawyered distinctions between government services and political campaigning are being blurred as politicians use Internet technology to extend their advocacy…White House officials declined to be interviewed on the rules governing the separation of campaign and state data.

“There are indications that the administration wants to revise some of these laws, particularly with respect to the Internet, and we’re waiting to see if we can play a role,” said Peter Greenberger, a former regional campaign manager for Al Gore’s presidential bid who now heads Google’s Elections and Issues Advocacy team. “The real question that people are trying to answer is what can the White House do now that they’re the White House as opposed to a [political] campaign.”

Finding that line will mean answering questions about rules that bar the use of government assets for political campaigning, contracting rules that limit the ability of officials to hire one company rather than another and laws that bar government officials from favoring contractors, said Google officials. Also, added Greenberger, “There would be issues providing some services to an elected official that is not provided to somebody else,” such as a political opponent. But, he added, “in some cases, you know, incumbency is a powerful thing.”

source:  Google Stands To Gain From Capital Connections.  Neil Munro.  National Journal.  March 17, 2009.

Google’s Federal Sales Division– “in position to capture Uncle Sam’s spending”

John Letzing of Marketwatch wrote an interesting story last week on Google’s DC-based federal sales division.  Microsoft and many others have long sold technology related products to government.  But as consumer database and online advertising companies, including Google, seek to secure federal contracts, what goes on should be transparent to the public.  Here’s a few excerpts from Mr. Letzing’s fine article, which we urge you to read in its entirety:

“…Google is increasingly well positioned to tap at least one big spender to be found amid the economic malaise: the federal government…Some $20 billion in additional, wide-ranging federal spending is expected to go into technology as part of the recently-passed stimulus package…while the proposed 2010 budget should include at least three times as much for tech-related projects…Google, which in December leased 15,000 square feet of office space for a Washington-area outpost, pitches “search appliances” to agencies, or pieces of hardware installed within a network to facilitate quick access to internal documents and databases…Google has at least one key supporter of [Google] Apps in the new administration. On Thursday, President Obama named Vivek Kundra as the government’s chief information officer. In his former capacity as the District of Columbia’s chief technology officer, Kundra switched its public agencies to Google Apps from Microsoft…There may be even more evidence of Google’s federal bounty, if sales to classified intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency were made public.”

Google in position to capture Uncle Sam’s spending:  Federal agencies testing Google tools; a key fan is Obama’s new tech hire.  John Letzing.  Marketwatch.  March 6, 2009

Google Does Behavioral Targeting. Why Is It Trying to Fool Users & PolicyMakers By Claiming it’s “Interest-Based” Advertising? [Annals of Commercial Surveillance]

Google has finally fully entered the behavioral targeting business, although they are trying to disguise it through an Orwellian change of language by calling it “interest-based” advertising. The world’s largest and most dominant online ad system is expanding its data collection and targeting activities whenever we search, view videos or read blogs.  This isn’t really about, as Google’s blog suggests, “more interesting” ads for consumers. It’s about a further expansion of Google’s already considerable data-mining and interactive marketing and data-tracking/targeting arsenal, which now also includes using neuroscience for its YouTube ads.  Google is further endorsing a global culture with data collection, profiling and targeting at its core.  No matter how Google attempts to frame it as “better for you ads,” digital advertising is designed to influence our behaviors in non-transparent ways.

This announcement, which was done so Google can better incorporate all the behavioral targeting technologies it acquired when it bought online ad targeting giant DoubleClick, is also designed to help head-off the enactment of privacy laws in the US and EU (Google isn’t alone here.  Microsoft, Yahoo and others are in a global race in attempt to preserve the data collection status quo under the cover of industry self-regulation).  Giving consumers access to their (incomplete and likely to constantly be revised with even more targeting categories) profile has to be viewed with such a perspective–it serves as a smokescreen so Google can broaden its data collection and targeting (and become even more dominant in the global online ad business).  Instead of having the default be no data collection without prior expressed informed consent, Google has created the system as an flawed opt-out.  Missing from what users should know and control in their profile are the applications online marketers use to develop the ad so it can more effectively target (and collect data), including: neuromarketing, viral videos, rich immersive media, social networks, online product placement, etc.

Yesterday, Google should have called on Congress, the EU and other governments to enact meaningful consumer privacy safeguards.  While it is entirely to be expected that as the world’s largest online ad company Google would fully embrace behavioral targeting,  it’s also unfortunate.  Eventually–and we hope soon–responsible shareholders, such as socially conscious investment funds, and global regulators will hold Google–and other online marketers–more accountable to the public.

But stay tuned for the next entry, on what Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have done to evade privacy safeguards for behavioural targeting in the UK!

Center for Democracy & Technology Goes for the “Gold” as it Raises $ for its “Gala” from AT&T, eBay, Microsoft, Google (and many other corporations)

CDT is having a “Gala Celebration” next month, supported by “Gold, Silver, and Bronze” sponsors.  AT&T, eBay, Microsoft and Google are listed at the $15,000 “Gold” level [“Two tables in Premium Location-Two tickets to the VIP Reception”]; Among the “Silver” sponsors [“One table-One ticket to the VIP Reception”] at the $7,500 tab include Time Warner (AOL), Dow Lohnes, Qorvis Communications (repping Sun, Cisco, etc), American Express, Verizon, Intel, US Chamber of Commerce, ID Analytics, Yahoo!, Arnold & Porter, IAC/Interactive Corp, Thompson LexisNexis, Hogan & Hartson (reps News Corp’s MySpace, among others), Comcast, and Sonnenschein Nath  & Rosenthal, LLP.   There are also a number of “Bronze” sponsor at the $1000 level [“One seat at a table”]. (CDT has a Facebook page on the event.)

CDT’s 2007 Gala, which honored Bill Gates, had “more than 900″ supporters” in attendance.