• Category: Media Idea Client: America’s Navy Agency: Lowe Campbell Ewald Title: Project Architeuthis: Engaging America's Cyber Warriors (link is external) The Project Architeuthis campaign from America’s Navy and Campbell Ewald proves that big results don’t always require big budgets. The initiative focused on recruiting hard-to-find Navy cryptologists, but had no paid media budget despite worsening market conditions. It fused target insights, creativity and social media knowledge into one idea so powerful it generated its own success. Challenge: Navy sets recruiting goals for its all-volunteer military force, including targets for especially hard-to-fill roles (e.g., doctors, chaplains, nuclear engineers, cryptologists). In FY2014, it faced an especially tough market: The U.S. unemployment rate had dropped 18% (to 5.9%), important because the lower the rate, the harder it is to find people who qualify for and want jobs in the Navy. Press coverage in America reached new highs regarding the importance of a college education for long-term life success, a cultural hurdle for those considering an alternative path. There was a high level of consumer confusion regarding America’s war status in the Middle East (the higher the perceived danger, the lower the consideration people give to joining the Navy). Congressional “budget sequestration” severely impacted government spending, forcing across-the-board cuts including a 22% decrease in Navy’s total communications budget. Despite these challenges, the goal for recruiting cryptologists — sailors who make and break codes and are responsible for Navy’s digital/cyber security — was not reduced vs. the prior year. Solution: Exploration of the small and elusive cryptologist target audience revealed an intriguing insight: “The brightest cryptology minds can’t resist the aroma of a nearly impossible puzzle.” From this, Project Architeuthis was born, an augmented reality game (ARG) where characters, cryptologic clues, tips and updates were revealed via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. provided cryptology job information and a lead generation form. The ARG storyline revolved around Maria, the fictional Navy protagonist who discovered an enemy plot and snuck aboard the adversary’s submarine. She then sent out coded clues via different social media platforms over the course of 18 days, which players had to decipher in order to lead Navy rescuers to Maria and foil the enemy plot. Although some players worked alone to solve the puzzles, many created sub-communities and teamed up to help each other progress through the game. Some groups even chose to communicate in code to keep their messages private and out of the “line-of-sight” of the game’s enemy force. The game took on a life of its own, mirroring the kind of camaraderie that takes place in the real Navy Cryptology community. Results: Project Architeuthis succeeded in generating visibility for Navy Cryptology, creating a digital information path for prospects, and inspiring them to spread the word. As a result, Navy not only met its recruiting goal, it did so ahead of schedule. The campaign’s success was highlighted in an innovative analysis of unstructured social media data that revealed a significant, highly correlated relationship between ARG participation, lead generation and cryptology enlistment, which grew stronger as engagement in Project Architeuthis deepened. Effie Awards (link is external) are known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the marketing industry and recognize any and all forms of communication that contribute to a brand's success. Gold, silver and bronze Effie winners will be announced at the 47th annual North American Effie Awards gala on June 4 in New York.
  • EMBARGOED FOR USE AFTER THE REPORT IS LAID IN PARLIAMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER ON THURSDAY 11 JUNE 2015 Today the Prime Minister published the Report of the Investigatory Powers Review, entitled ‘A Question of Trust’. It was submitted to him by David Anderson Q.C. Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. Quote David Anderson said: “Modern communications networks can be used by the unscrupulous for purposes ranging from cyber-attack, terrorism and espionage to fraud, kidnap and child sexual exploitation. A successful response to these threats depends on entrusting public bodies with the powers they need to identify and follow suspects in a borderless online world. But trust requires verification. Each intrusive power must be shown to be necessary, clearly spelled out in law, limited in accordance with international human rights standards and subject to demanding and visible safeguards. The current law is fragmented, obscure, under constant challenge and variable in the protections that it affords the innocent. It is time for a clean slate. This Report aims to help Parliament achieve a world-class framework for the regulation of these strong and vital powers.” The Report The Review was conducted by a small independent team under the leadership of David Anderson Q.C. It received almost 70 written submissions. Further evidence was taken from public authorities (at the highest level of security clearance) and from a wide range of organisations and individuals in the UK, California, Washington DC, Ottawa, Berlin and Brussels. Parts I-III of the Report (Chapters 1-12) inform the debate by summarising the importance of privacy, the threat picture, the relevant technology, external legal constraints, existing law and practice and comparisons with other types of surveillance, other countries and private sector activity. They also summarise the views expressed to the Review by law enforcement, intelligence, service providers and civil society. Part IV of the Report (Chapters 13-15) sets out five underlying principles and 124 separate recommendations. Taken together, they form the blueprint for a new law to replace the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 [RIPA] and the dozens of other statutes authorising the collection of communications data. The key recommendations are summarised in paras 10-34 of the Executive Summary at the start of the Report. They include, in particular: a new law that should be both comprehensive in its scope and comprehensible to people across the world (Executive Summary, paras 10-11); maintaining, subject to legal constraints, existing capabilities relating to compulsory data retention as provided for by DRIPA 2014 and formerly under an EU Directive (ES, para 12); the enhancement of those capabilities (e.g. by requiring the retention of “weblogs” as proposed in the draft Communications Data Bill 2012, the so-called “snoopers’ charter”) only to the extent that a detailed operational case can be made out and a rigorous assessment has been conducted of the lawfulness, likely effectiveness, intrusiveness and cost (ES, para 13); the retention subject to legal constraints of bulk collection capabilities (the utility of which is briefly explained by reference to six case studies from GCHQ: Annex 9), but subject to additional safeguards and to the addition of a new and lesser power to collect only communications data in bulk (ES, paras 14-15); a new requirement of judicial authorisation (by Judicial Commissioners) of all warrants for interception, the role of the Secretary of State being limited to certifying that certain warrants are required in the interests of national security relating to the defence or foreign policy of the UK (ES, paras 16-17); measures to reinforce the independence of those authorising requests for communications data, particularly within the security and intelligence agencies (ES, para 21); a new requirement of judicial authorisation of novel and contentious requests for communications data, and of requests for privileged and confidential communications involving e.g. journalists and lawyers (ES, paras 25-27); the streamlining of procedures in relation to warrants and the authorisation of requests for communications data by local authorities and other minor users (ES, paras 19, 23-24); improved supervision of the use of communications data, including in conjunction with other datasets and open-source intelligence (ES, para 29); maintaining the extraterritorial effect in DRIPA 2014 s4, pending a longer-term solution which should include measures to improve the cooperation of overseas (especially US) service providers and the development of a new international framework for data-sharing among like-minded democratic nations (ES, para 20). the replacement of three existing Commissioners’ offices by the Independent Surveillance and Intelligence Commission: a new, powerful, public-facing and inter-disciplinary intelligence and surveillance auditor and regulator whose judicial commissioners would take over responsibility for issuing warrants, for authorising novel, contentious and sensitive requests for communications data and for issuing guidance (ES, paras 28-32); expanded jurisdiction for the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, and a right to apply for permission to appeal its rulings (ES, para 33); and the maximum possible transparency on the part of ISIC, the IPT and public authorities (ES, para 44). Other Reports The Report endorses some of the recommendations of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (“Privacy and Security”, March 2015). But the Report is broader in its scope, covering the activities of all 600 bodies with powers in this field and not just the security and intelligence agencies. It also departs from the ISC in recommending (a) that a new law should apply across the board (Report, 13.35-13.44), and (b) that interception warrants should be judicially authorised (Report, 14.47-14.57) A further Independent Surveillance Review, to be conducted under the auspices of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), was commissioned in March 2014 by the Deputy Prime Minister. It has not yet issued a report. Encryption There has been some recent media speculation on the subject of encryption, which it may be useful to correct. The position communicated by the security and intelligence agencies to the Review is summarised (Report, 10.20) as follows: “The Agencies do not look to legislation to give themselves a permanent trump card: neither they nor anyone else has made a case to me for encryption to be placed under effective Government control, as in practice it was before the advent of public key encryption in the 1990s. There has been no attempt to revive the argument that led to the Clipper Chip proposal from the NSA in the 1990s, when public key cryptography first became widely available. But the Agencies do look for cooperation, enforced by law if needed, from companies abroad as well as in the UK, which are able to provide readable interception product.” The Report recommends that in the digital world as in the real world, “no-go areas” for intelligence and law enforcement should be minimised (13.7-13.14). But as concluded at 13.12: “Few now contend for a master key to all communications held by the state, for a requirement to hold data locally in unencrypted form, or for a guaranteed facility to insert back doors into any telecommunications system. Such tools threaten the integrity of our communications and of the internet itself. Far preferable, on any view, is a law-based system in which encryption keys are handed over (by service providers or by the users themselves) only after properly authorised requests.” Notes for editors: Section 7 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (link is external) required the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation to examine: the threats to the United Kingdom; the capabilities required to combat those threats; the safeguards to protect privacy; the challenges of changing technologies; and issues relating to transparency and oversight; and to report to the Prime Minister on the effectiveness of existing legislation relating to investigatory powers, and to examine the case for a new or amending law. This Report is a result of his work on those issues. David Anderson Q.C. is a barrister practising from Brick Court Chambers in London, a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, a Judge of the Courts of Appeal of Guernsey and Jersey and a Bencher of the Middle Temple. He is an experienced advocate in the European Court of Human Rights and in the Court of Justice of the EU: (link is external). He has served on a part-time basis since 2011 as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, reporting in that capacity to the Home Secretary, to the Treasury and to Parliament on the operation of the UK’s anti-terrorism laws. Contact: For more information about the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and for a full copy of the Report please go to: (link is external) or contact his clerk (link sends e-mail). You can also follow David on Twitter: @terrorwatchdog
  • AppNexus has launched a new programme which it claims allows advertisers to say “goodbye to the black box” and use their data more effectively. The ad tech company has today announced the launch of AppNexus Programmable Bidder (APB), enabling buyers to “bring their own algorithms” and plug them directly into the firm’s infrastructure. Available to only a handful of clients, the product will eventually be opened up to all clients with their own data sets. Advertisers will set the parameters for the campaign, while AppNexus will manage bidding, reporting and engineering. According to AppNexus co-founder Brian O’Kelley, this king of “real-time algorithmic bidding” with “revolutionise” marketing, but allowing advertisers to “refine and adapt”. Speaking to M&M Global, Catherine Williams, chief data scientist at AppNexus, said the scheme offers a “middle way” for brands with data science processed in place, but without the funds to build their own bidding infrastructure. “[Advertisers] have either had to take their data to a third party and plug it into a black box, and the third party promise to use the data to get the best results, or build their own infrastructure, which is an enormous engineering and maintenance project,” said Williams. Full article available at (link is external)
  • There is a growing and much needed debate (link is external) on the role that algorithms and machine-driven decision making play in our lives. The use of “Black Box (link is external)” assessments of individuals to determine what kind of financial product to offer is raising (link is external) legitimate concerns about discrimination and unfair practices. Why are some people targeted for a high-cost payday or higher interest credit card, for example, while others receive better terms and conditions? The answer to such questions can be found inside the “Black Box,” in which there are very clear objectives from businesses designed to effectively use all the new power they now have due to the merging of “Big Data” technologies with our always-connected (and data-generating) online way of life. Corporations have armed themselves with the latest tools to harvest and analyze the ever-growing flow of information available. Through (link is external) “Data Management Platforms,” alliances (link is external) with giant data brokers, and through effective use of the powerful digital (link is external) marketing apparatus created by Google, (link is external) Facebook (link is external) and many others, financial, retail, grocery, health, education and nearly every other sector can make decisions about an individual in lightening speed. Companies can now reach us with offers in milliseconds, regardless (link is external) of whether we are using a mobile phone, personal computer or other connected devices. Over the next few months, we will explore the business models driving the “Black Box.” But today we will examine one crucial element that enables companies to so easily take advantage of our information to assess and influence our behavior. So-called programmatic (link is external) advertising is a data-driven system that allows companies to “buy and sell” individuals in real time when they are online or using their mobile device. In today’s digital marketplace, our “profiles”—the information gleaned about who we are and what we do—is traded as a commodity. Pioneered in the U.S. by Yahoo, Google (link is external), Rubicon Project (link is external), Appnexus (link is external) and others, this little known system is quickly dominating how online marketing and advertising operates throughout the world (link is external). Programmatic advertising relies on superfast computers that keep tabs on where we are online, so we can either be sold to the highest or special-interest bidder or labeled as someone not worth targeting at all (in ad terms, these people are classified as “waste (link is external)”). Regulators in the U.S. and EU (link is external) have not done a good job addressing the privacy and consumer-protection concerns raised by programmatic marketing. It’s a key area in which CDD has played a role advocating for a more responsible regulatory approach. But for now, we want to highlight some of the features of programmatic marketing by excerpting from the new “Adgorithms” (link is external) IPO (which just went public in the UK). We think the excerpts provide an opportunity for the public to peer inside an important part of the “Black Box” machine that is increasingly dominating our lives. Take a look and we will return soon with a discussion. For more information on programmatic advertising, see (link is external) and (link is external). Excerpt: Business Overview The Company's software, Albert, is a proprietary artificial intelligence based programmatic platform, which plans, identifies, prices and delivers relevant advertisements in multiple fields of online advertising. Using complex algorithms, historical data and artificial intelligence, Albert seeks to predict user intent and deliver advertisements that are likely to engage that particular user and result in higher engagement for the brand. It analyses the available advertising opportunities on the advertising exchanges, decides which one of them is most relevant and ultimately determines the right price to pay for a specific impression. The advert is then displayed on the screen of the user. This whole process occurs in under a second. Self-learning The accuracy of Albert improves with every online advertisement it delivers, as it incorporates new data whilst continuing to learn from previous data. This ability of Albert enables it to adapt to changes in the marketplace in order to capitalize on opportunities and to minimize purchasing of non-effective inventory, including fraudulent advertising activity. Understanding of consumer behavior patterns Albert has powerful and actionable insights into consumer behavioral patterns and web properties that it can leverage, such that the Directors believe it is able to target the most relevant audience for a particular advertising campaign more effectively, and achieve KPIs set by brands quicker and more cost effectively, than its peers. Adgorithms offers clients targeted online advertising via demographic, geographic location, time of day and behavioral characteristics. Direct Adgorithms works directly with companies who wish to advertise their goods and services, and also with media agencies working on their behalf to optimize advertising campaigns. At the outset of an engagement, the Company is supplied with creative materials, such as a banner or video advertisement, a pre-defined KPI to launch an advertising campaign and an advertising budget. Examples of KPIs include a number of user click-through on a banner or a user watching a video advertisement for a specified period of time. The creative materials and KPIs are inputted into and processed by Albert, following which it bids for impressions in real time based on observed or predicted user intent. Albert will then optimize the performance of the campaign until the KPI is reached. Albert does this by using its own data and also proprietary data that its clients provide (including data in relation to which users have the highest value to the client), contributing to the feedback loop. By using Albert to determine the right price to pay for a particular impression, the Company has a proven ability to maximize ROI from a client's advertising budget and reduce customer CPA. The automation of the campaign management by Albert also minimises the need for human intervention, creating efficiencies and reducing labour costs for the advertiser, and particularly for media agencies (which often manage many campaigns concurrently). ALBERT The Company's technology solution enables online advertisers to efficiently and effectively engage and convert customers. Its solution is comprised of the Adgorithms software, called Albert, data assets, the feedback loop and access to display, video, mobile and social advertising inventory through the online advertising exchanges. Overview On a daily basis, the Company is presented with billions of opportunities to deliver an advertisement to users when advertising impressions become available through the various advertising exchanges. For each impression that becomes available, the Company has realtime software systems that recommend an advertiser's specific creatives (e.g. banners or videos) based on a prediction of the likelihood of a user engaging with an advertisement. Albert is designed to determine the most appropriate advertisement to show to the user and determines what price to pay for the advertising impression. The core of the Company's solution involves: · determining a user's engagement with display advertisements, which is a relatively rare event that requires a large sample size of relevant data to accurately predict; · obtaining a large sample size of relevant data, which is difficult, in particular where the most relevant data points are also the most sparse e.g. very recent data on specific product interest; and · building powerful, scalable and flexible systems that operate both accurately and quickly, between the time a user navigates to a page and an advertisement is delivered. Albert is designed to continuously download data from advertising exchanges, analysing and storing it in its internal database. It then re-calibrates its prediction models so that the prediction and bidding are constantly up to date with new media sources available through the exchanges and with the ever-changing pricing and quality landscape of existing media. As those internal predictions are updated in Albert, they are propagated to the various exchanges so that customer's campaigns running in the exchanges can bid more aggressively for opportunities that are considered positive for that advertiser, and less aggressively or not at all for opportunities the software now considers less favourable. To achieve those performance goals, Albert acquires hundreds of gigabytes of data daily, containing information on impressions, engagements and conversions, and performs tens of thousands of updates every hour. It collects and analyses information on millions of online websites and mobile applications that are available for it to advertise in, evaluating the performance of each of the campaigns it manages in those websites and based on that generates prediction for future performance of advertising campaigns in relevant media spots. Using this feedback loop, Albert is able to choose from the tens of billions of available opportunities daily, the hundreds of millions of impressions it predicts would be optimal for its customers.
    Jeff Chester
  • Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences. Full article available at (link is external)
  • Nielsen today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Innerscope Research and has renamed its combined offering as Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience. The combined entity is thought to be the largest consumer neuroscience organization in the world. Boston-based Innerscope has been a leader in integrating multiple tools of consumer neuroscience, combining biometrics, neurometrics and psychometrics to deliver unprecedented understanding of consumer behavior. By adding Innerscope’s best-in-class biometrics and facial coding technologies plus additional expertise in eye tracking and integrating self-report to its EEG and other technologies, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience offers one comprehensive suite of conscious and non-conscious research solutions on a global scale. The unique and unparalleled insights gained from these combined technologies will empower clients to make even more informed and strategic business decisions with greater confidence and greater return on investment. “Through this acquisition, we will deliver to clients unprecedented understanding of consumer behavior that helps brands build deeper connections and optimize product and communication performance,” said Joe Willke, President for Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience. “We are delighted to welcome Innerscope Research into the Nielsen family.” Full article available at (link is external)
  • Washington, DC – Friday, May 1 – Thank you, Representative Kind, for that warm introduction, and for your leadership of the New Democrat Coalition. The Coalition’s American Prosperity Agenda recognizes the role that smart economic policy can play in sharpening the competitive edge that makes America home to the world’s finest innovators. Your commitment to advancing polices to ensure that the Internet remains open, free, and a platform for global innovation is something that we at USTR share. It is also a key impetus for many of the digital economy initiatives I will describe today. I would also like to thank Simon Rosenberg and the entire team at NDN for providing me with a platform to explain how the Obama Administration is transforming the rules of international trade to promote the digital economy. As many here today know, Simon and NDN have been early champions in encouraging the United States to play a leadership role in establishing a solid policy foundation to support the global digital economy. For this reason, I could think of no better context in which to shine a spotlight on the comprehensive package of trade rules that the United States is currently negotiating and to explain why the Obama Administration has made promoting the digital economy a key component of its trade agenda. I am speaking today about the digital economy and trade as a 21st century leadership imperative, because we stand at a cross road. The rules we have in place in the international trading system—historically championed by the U.S. I will add—have served us well, so far. They have helped enable the explosive growth of the Internet and dissemination of new technology, and have led to rapid changes that have brought us closer together, allowed us to trade across borders, and that have allowed some of the world’s greatest innovations to emanate from our shores. However, as someone who has worked at the intersection of technology and international trade for over two decades, I can speak with confidence when I say this: the trading rules that have helped us get to where we are today are no longer sufficient. They are no longer sufficient in light of the seismic changes in the way that technology is evolving. They are no longer sufficient in the face of new barriers that are being erected. Barriers that if allowed to proliferate will stand in the way of innovation and impede the ability for U.S. innovators to succeed in the digital future as they have in the digital past. One of the most important aspects of President Obama’s 21st century trade agenda is centered on the digital economy and digital trade. It is this agenda that I am glad we can talk about today. I call the rules I will describe today our “digital dozen.” Before I get to that it should be said that we are negotiating many more disciplines in our trade agreements to support the free flow of goods, services, and data across the Internet. But the dozen rules I will describe in detail today, building on other fundamentals of the agreements we are negotiating, will help ensure that the digital economy and the Internet remain as central to America’s competitiveness and prosperity in the next 20 years as they have been in the past 20. The principles we are looking at today are designed to secure not only our ability to compete in the 21st century digital economy, but also the very parameters of that economy itself. Our digital agenda is designed to address questions such as: •Will the Internet continue to remain open, accessible, and free? •Will the Internet drive growth as powerfully in the next 20 years as it did in the last 20? •Will the Internet continue to create opportunities for small businesses, deliver high-quality health care and financial services to rural areas and marginalized people, and continue to fulfill its promise to lift people out of poverty and oppression? •Or will it become fractious and balkanized, disintegrating into regional and national networks that our farmers, exporters, creators and innovators can only access for an exacting price? Full article available at (link is external)
  • Blog

    Nielsen Launches Digital Ad Ratings in China

    Developed in Conjunction with Industry Leader Tencent; Digital Ad Ratings Brings Accountability and Accelerates Growth of Digital Advertising in One of World’s Largest Markets

    Beijing – May 28, 2015 – Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) today announced the launch of Digital Ad Ratings (link is external) in China in collaboration with Tencent, further expanding the solution’s global footprint. Currently available in eight other markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, U.K. and U.S.), Digital Ad Ratings has become the industry standard for digital campaign measurement globally. In addition to China, Nielsen will be launching the service in six more markets this year. Digital Ad Ratings, powered in China by Tencent’s more than 800-million active user accounts and Nielsen’s high-quality calibration sources, provides the unique audience, reach, frequency and gross rating points (GRPs) for a campaign’s full digital audience across computers, tablets and smartphones in a way comparable to TV. The solution will bring to the market accountability and comparability for brand marketers, advertising agencies and publishers who have been seeking measurement to better understand the true audience of their digital campaigns across devices. “The launch of Digital Ad Ratings in the Chinese market reflects Nielsen’s ability to grow and adapt services to meet the needs of clients in today’s fast-changing world,” said Yan Xuan, President of Greater China, Nielsen. “Given the explosive growth of online and mobile usage and Chinese consumers’ changing media habits, we believe the introduction of a robust, independent measurement standard for digital campaigns is essential to unlocking additional digital ad growth in China.” “As China’s leading internet giant, Tencent shoulders the responsibility and mission for creating a set of standards for China’s Internet-based advertising’s ecosystem. Due to the explosive development of the Internet and a fragmented media landscape, the current measurement system for digital and mobile advertising needs to be further improved to ensure that it is independent, reliable and accurate,” said SY Lau, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent and President of its Online Media Group (OMG). “Nielsen has taken the initiative and leveraged its global expertise to develop Digital Ad Ratings in China, while powering the platform with Tencent’s big data.” “This is a really big milestone, it’s something that we’ve been waiting for. We all need these as advertisers. It will make our advertising much more efficient. I think it will actually change completely the way we talk with our consumers, the way we deal with data, and also just the way we target our advertising,” said Anthony Ho, Marketing Director – Media, Mondelez. Full article available at (link is external)
  • Financial marketers will be spending more and more on paid digital advertising in the next five years. This exclusive report looks at the digital advertising trends that will be reshaping the banking the industry in 2015 and beyond. Ad spending on digital media by US financial institutions industry will top $7 billion in 2015, a 14.5% gain over 2014, according to a report from eMarketer (link is external). For the foreseeable future, banks and credit unions will continue to shift more and more of their budgets away from traditional- and offline channels and towards online and mobile media. Growth rates in digital advertising budgets may ease slightly as time passes, but eMarketer forecasts a healthy 11.7% compound annual growth rate between 2014 and 2019. By 2019, eMarketer estimates that the US financial industry will spend over $10 billion annually on digital advertising. Spending figures from Kantar Media show that digital advertising is white hot in the banking industry. While traditional media channels saw significant decreases from their 2013 levels, online advertising (which Kantar defines as desktop display and paid search ads) grew by 20.4%. Digital video is another bright spot, across both desktop and mobile, with financial marketers projected to spend $755 million on the format in 2015. Though the bulk of video ads by the sector will be short pre-roll formats (link is external), (link is external)the desire to tell stories and engage audiences is leading to longer videos tied to branded content sponsorships. Spend some time poking around YouTube and you’ll see what eMarketer is talking about — even credit unions are using online video to retarget visitors to their websites. Full article available at (link is external)
  • Verizon Wireless’ purchase, or merger, with AOL stands out as one of the ad tech stories of 2015. This is not only for its multi-billion price-tag, but also how it symbolises the attempted re-emergence of telco operators in the digital advertising game; which is valued at $600bn per year. ExchangeWire analyses how the worlds of telecomsand ad tech are starting to collide; as well as previewing some of the conflicts this may cause, as advertisers look to take their campaigns across screens. Earlier this month, Verizon Wireless recently confirmed it is to pay $4.4bn in a ‘merger’ with AOL, meaning it will acquire the ad tech firm’s various assets, including: its dial-up internet business and premium content brands, such as Huffington Post; but, most importantly, its ad tech suite, which includes its One by AOL, The telecoms operator aims to challenge Facebook and Google’s near stranglehold on the mobile advertising market. After the conclusion of the deal, which still has to be approved by regulators, AOL will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon Wireless. This will put the operator on the front foot when it comes to selling mobile advertising services in competition with established internet players, such as Facebook and Google – which are credited as tying up 75% of the entire market between themselves. In addition, it will also fend-off the dreaded ‘dumb pipe’ scenario, where mobile operators are effectively unable to monetise their networks, while online advertising companies making increasing gains on the back of them. The key opportunity being the possibility to monetise both its extensive first-party customer data, plus its control over their devices. The move comes amid great consolidation in the UK telecoms operator space – which in turn reflects the wider global telco market, as the market is largely controlled by multinational operator groups – as BT attempts to buy EE, the UK’s biggest carrier by subscriber number, plus O2 UK, a subsidiary of Spain-based Telefonica, under offer by 3-owner, Hutchison Whampoa. Full article available at (link is external)
  • Advertisers, agencies and publishers serve the AdChoices icon more than 1 trillion times each month. Yet despite the icon's presence throughout the Web, fewer than one in 10 Internet users know what the small blue symbol in the shape of a sideways triangle actually means, according to the latest State of Media report by the agency Kelly Scott Madison. That icon -- the centerpiece of the industry's privacy code -- is supposed to function as an immediately recognizable symbol indicating online behavioral advertising. That is, it's supposed to inform people that advertisers are drawing on consumers' Web-surfing history in order to serve them targeted ads. Clicking on the icon also takes people to pages where they can learn more about behavioral targeting and also opt out of receiving targeted ads. KSM calls the industry's icon program a “valiant attempt” to provide transparency. Nonetheless, the results have been “disappointing,” the agency says in its report. “Consumers need to understand advertising capabilities so they aren’t fearful of the potential consequences, and advertisers need to be transparent about how and when they are using customer data,” the report states. For the report, the agency partnered with research forum ORC International, which conducts twice-weekly surveys of 1,000 online adults. The survey found that three out of four Web users (74%) aren't familiar with the AdChoices campaign at all, while only one in three (35%) of the 26% that are familiar with the you-are-being-tracked icon know what it means. The bottom line: Just 9% of Web users understand the icon, according to KSM. Full article available here: (link is external)
  • Blog

    YouTube shortens path to purchase

    YouTube, the Google-owned online video platform, is launching a new advertising format which will enable advertisers to buy, almost, from within ads.

    SAN BRUNO, CA: YouTube, the Google-owned online video platform, is launching a new advertising format which will enable advertisers to buy, almost, from within ads. TrueView for Shopping (link is external) links to the technology that powers Google Shopping and allows brands to showcase product details and images within video ads and includes the ability to click to purchase from a brand or retail site. "One of the things we saw was people going off YouTube and searching on for that product [seen in an ad on YouTube], and then clicking the product listing. In this case we're just reducing the friction," Lane Shackleton, YouTube's senior product manager, explained to Advertising Age (link is external). Neal Mohan, vice-president of brand advertising at Google added that "consumers go to YouTube to be entertained and to find information – there are lots of searches for products and looking for 'How To' videos". "They are truly engaged which from a marketer perspective is the perfect time to reach the consumer (link is external)," he told the Financial Times Evidence of the potential effectiveness of the new format came from home goods retailer Wayfair, which ran two campaigns targeting the same audience, one using a standard TrueView ad, the other a new shoppable TrueView ad. The latter delivered three times more revenue, reported Ben Youngs, Wayfair's media manager of TV and online video. "It feels like a huge win," he said. "Having the opportunity to lay additional information on top of our pre-rolls is huge." The development complements Google's work on a '5 (link is external)0', set to be introduced shortly in a move aimed at recovering traffic lost to Amazon. Consumers using smartphones will be buy products from a search advert without having to check out through a retailer's site, although retailers will continue to own the orders and shipping arrangements. Data sourced from YouTube, Advertising Age, Financial Times, Search Engine Watch; additional content by Warc staff. Full link to article: (link is external)
  • Mondelez International—the makers of Oreo cookies, Cadbury chocolate and Trident gum, among other treats—quietly started becoming an e-commerce brand with a a small test in Europe earlier this year. Now, Mondelez plans to convert all its digital media in 25 countries into shoppable ads with "buy now" buttons to drive sales through retailers like Walmart and Amazon. The goal is to double Mondelez's online revenue over the next couple of years, particularly on social media where millennials are spending a substantial amount of time. Despite the hefty, multiyear investment, consumer-packaged-goods brands like Mondelez have long struggled with e-commerce—90 percent of grocery sales are still made in stores (link is external), and some experts question how big a dent the Deerfield, Ill.-based company can make. "I doubt that anyone at Mondelez or anywhere else thinks it will be groundbreaking or an enormous new revenue strategy, but it shows they're willing to test and learn," said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. "It doesn't cost much to experiment in this way, and at least they capture some data and insights that could help personalization and marketing efforts later.” Calls to action on Mondelez's video, social and display media prompt people to buy the products being advertised. The ads are geo-targeted to retailers' websites. For example, an ad served in New York might link to online grocery-shopping site Peapod (link is external), while a promo viewed in Chicago could direct potential customers to In both examples, users can buy a snack and have it shipped from a nearby store. Cindy Chen, Mondelez's global head of e-commerce, acknowledged that CPGs have a hard time with e-commerce but claimed retailers like the buy button because it gives them a bit of free traffic. "The role of our 'buy now' button is really taking the traffic that we have from the brand side to the retailer," Chen said. More at: (link is external)
  • Blog

    Don’t forget big data in TTIP and TISA

    The issues of data sovereignty and data protection have been sadly lacking in the debate on trade agreements, writes historian Svend Aage Christensen.

    It is crystal clear what corporations want in the Transatlantic trade greement (TTIP) and the other treaties being negotiated: a commitment to allow cross border data flows and data-processing across all services sectors, including financial services, without any limitations. They consider requirements to use local network infrastructure or local servers as discriminatory, with potentially adverse effects on trade. According to Michael Froman, the American chief negotiator, this is high on the agenda in the trade negotiations. It is common to talk about big data as the raw material of the new digital economy of the 21st century, and as an important factor in every industry and business function. In agriculture, for example, the farmers transfer large amounts of business and production information regarding their planting, production and harvesting practices to their service providers. All this data can be connected in business models, where the sale of seeds, plant protection, fertilizer, sensor capacity, analytical capacity and high-tech equipment may be combined with marketing of the crop and with banking, insurance and pension services. This can be used to make the farmer totally dependent and thereby further strengthen monopolistic features among the service providers. Big data floods all aspects of life. As the first big insurance company in Europe, the Italian based Generali Group is now aiming at digital control of its customers. Via an app, they are expected to send data regarding their health, fitness, lifestyle etc. to Generali, and may be awarded a cheaper premium, if they are in good shape. Predictably, some algorithm will determine that we need to pay higher health insurance premiums, if we refuse to have our bodies hooked up to cables, or if we don’t exercise daily. More at: (link is external)
  • Blog

    Digging into the Cross-Device Implications of the Verizon-AOL Deal

    Verizon is hooked into 1.5 billion connected devices across the world, responsible for about 70% of all Internet traffic. The next step is to match user identity across those devices.

    Verizon has access to deterministic data – and now it ostensibly owns the programmatic tech to put that data to work via AOL, which the telecom bought for $4.4 billion on Monday. This isn’t Verizon’s first stab at ad tech. Precision Market Insights (link is external), the company’s addressable advertising division, has been groping about, with various degrees of success, for a way to take advantage of Verizon’s rich user data, which includes everything from email and browsing history to phone number and physical mailing address – all of which in theory could be used to connect device IDs across mobile, desktop and TV. “Verizon obviously has a great asset here, a significant user base, and once that becomes available for media buying, it’s going to be very valuable for cross-device connectivity, assuming they can get fully integrated into AOL’s platforms,” said Michael Collins, CEO of mobile DSP Adelphic. The merger is a clear sign of Verizon’s desire to go head to head with Facebook and Google in terms of scale, a “symptom of a larger recognition in ad tech that” those platforms “are only going to grow more dominant,” said Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner. More at: (link is external)
  • Blog

    Researching the New Shopper Experience

    Exploring how shopper are more digital and emotional, while research is more implicit and virtual shopping itself is changing.

    The internet and the usage of smartphones has altered buying –shops are becoming much more experience oriented. They deliver emotions, they address certain values and develop a narrative for shoppers. New payment methods, self-service cashiers are out, while digital signage is getting more accessible. In short, there are many new questions around the shopper. We want to give an update about the recent trends and findings. Third many new research devices have appeared on the market. Many of them provide data about the implicit consumer processes like attention, emotion and behavior. Shoppers can be assessed through video cameras and smart phones. Algorithms allow for an automatic detection about their position, speed and initial emotional reactions. Eye tracking is now miniaturised and affordable and hence provides exact information about visual attention in large-scale samples. Virtual 3D technologies allow pre-testing on a much more realistic level than it used to be. Furthermore consumer technologies like wrist bands are used for assessing activity and emotions. All of these methods claim to go beyond the limitations of self-reported measurements, and to deliver extended insights especially about-hidden drivers. In the workshop, we want to give an overview of these new technologies, the potential added value and the limitations. Using our experience with successes and failures we want to give advice on the right usage and the right communication. We will also have a special section to address privacy questions coming out of these new techniques. More (link is external) at: (link is external)
  • Twitter’s recent agreement to purchase mobile retargetting company TellApart (link is external) was just the latest round in the ongoing industry consolidation.
  • So-called “native advertising” ─where advertiser-produced or –directed content is designed to blend in with online editorial information ─ is quickly becoming a dominant way American consumers receive marketing. Marketers in the U.S. spent nearly $8 billion last year on native ads (up $3 billion from 2013), which is expected to rise to $21 billion by2018.1 Native ads are where the “format and the tone match that of a publisher’s original editorial content.2 1 (link is external)‐native‐ads‐will-soar-as-publishers‐and‐ 2 “The Native-Advertising Report: Spending Trends, Format Breakdowns, and Audience Attitudes.” Mark Hoelzel, BI Intellengence. 6 Nov. 2014, personal copy.
    Jeff Chester
  • Answering Your Questions About Google's Forthcoming DMP by Zach Rodgers (link is external) // Friday, April 24th, 2015 – 3:53 pm On Wednesday, Adweek's Garrett Sloane reported (link is external) that Google is finally, officially (no, really) closing the last big gap in its ad tech stack. That is to say, it's coming to market with a data-management platform (DMP). Called DoubleClick Audience Center (DAC), the product will allow advertisers to create audience segments using their first-party data along with data from third parties. In the wake of Sloane's story, AdExchanger did some calling around, and we've pieced together what DAC’s strengths and weaknesses are likely to be and how quickly Google is bringing it to market. What follows comes from people with direct knowledge of Google's road map, as well as some folks outside the company (including competitors) who have first- and secondhand knowledge. Google has confirmed the existence of the product, but is offering few concrete details as of yet. What is it? DAC performs all the functions of a standard DMP, i.e., it lets marketers bring to bear their CRM database, website audience data and other first-party data in combination with data from third parties. These data sets can then be used to build audience segments, and to push those segments into campaigns that run across supply sources. What's the differentiator? This is an easy one. For existing DoubleClick clients, the big value proposition is the promise of a DMP that's natively integrated with Google's DSP DoubleClick Bid Manager and its ad management product, DoubleClick for Advertisers. That tight integration comes with benefits such as smoother workflow, quicker activation of data segments and closed-loop analytics. Additionally, DAC appears to perform well with third-party data overlays. Is it a standalone product? This is a big question. Is Google only launching a DMP so that marketers already invested in its DoubleClick suite can manage audiences in the same hub? Or will it plug into outside platforms? A source with direct knowledge of the product says DAC will absolutely function as a standalone capable of plugging into outside DSPs such as MediaMath, Turn or DataXu. Two others aren't so sure. They believe, based on early accounts, that the primary early use case is for the existing DoubleClick customer. "My take is it's less of a pure DMP play and more of a connecting the pipes both internally and externally," said one senior executive at a DSP company. What are the weak points? The key vulnerability for Google is that marketers and agencies may balk at the prospect of uploading their precious customer data to Google's platform. It's the same issue Facebook faces as it aims to position Atlas as a cross-device audience management platform. From a features standpoint, DAC may have a shortcoming when it comes to granular analytics, such as tracking consumer journeys and attributing conversions. DAC is not providing that functionality out of the gate. (Google acquired attribution platform Adometry last year, but the technology has been housed within Google Analytics, not DoubleClick. More granular conversion attribution in DoubleClick may be on the way.) Finally, DAC's segment-building capabilities appear to be relatively rudimentary, according to a source. At what stage is Google with the rollout of DAC? While officially still in a private beta, Google appears to be ramping up sales quickly. A senior source at a major DMP says many of his customers have been pitched in recent weeks. What took so long? Google has talked internally about launching a DMP for close to six years, but has held back for various reasons. Its biggest concern and hesitation has been around user privacy, since a DMP by its nature mingles a range of consumer information. The flip side of that privacy coin is regulation. US and European regulators keep a close eye on Google's moves. According to one person, the absence of a DMP was more strongly felt after Google unveiled its full-stack offering – Doubleclick Digital Marketing – consisting of all its ad tech components for the buy side. But that was three years ago. So, why now? The two biggest factors in the timing appear to be (1) the emergence of Oracle as a strong data-management contender, through the acquisitions of BlueKai and Datalogix in 2014, and (2) the rise of Facebook as a competitor with strong cross-device data tied to user logins. "They're worried about Facebook leaning too far forward and using Atlas as the all-in-one center for controlling data," speculated one source. "Facebook obviously has a stronger audience position out of the gate with its registered users than Google does." Will it support cross-device identity? No word on this yet. One source said that in several early briefings, cross-device functionality was not part of the pitch. (link is external)
  • Blog

    How YouTube, Big Data and Big Brands Mean Trouble For Kids and Parents

    The motivation for big tech is to mold this generation of youth into super-consumers.

    By Jeff Chester (link is external) / AlterNet (link is external) April 6, 2015 There is a “digital gold rush” underway to cash in on young people’s passion for interactive media. Google and other media (link is external) and ad companies are working to transform kids’ clicks and views into bundles of cash and burgeoning brand loyalty. While TV still dominates a great deal of kids’ media viewing, they are also consuming content (often simultaneously) on mobile devices, tablets, and through streaming or video-on-demand services. In February, Google (link is external) launched its YouTube Kids app for children five and under; Disney acquired leading youth-focused online video producer Maker Studios (link is external) last year in a more than $500 million deal, giving it control of “the largest content network on YouTube”; Viacom’s Cartoon Network (CN) now offers CN’s “Anything,” providing mobile phone-friendly “micro” content and promising to serve a “network of devices giving a network of experiences to a network of fans”; and Amazon, Netflix, and others are sending more “kid targeted” streaming video-on-demand programming. But unlike broadcast and cable TV, where there is at least a handful of FCC regulations that prevent some of the worst practices perfected by advertisers for targeting kids, the online world is mostly a regulatory-free zone when it comes to digital marketing. Advocates and child-health experts fought a long campaign, from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, to ensure that TV didn’t take unfair advantage of how kids relate to advertising—so that shows weren’t simply “program-length commercials” for toys, or that the “host” or star of a program—such as a cartoon character—didn’t also pitch products at the same time. There were also modest limits in how many ads could appear in so-called “kidvid” programming. These rules reflected research on children’s development and their inability to fully comprehend the nature of advertising. The FCC (link is external) policies embraced an important principle: children were to be treated differently than adults when it came to TV advertising. Such safeguards are even more important in the digital era, when sophisticated advertising techniques gather and analyze data on everything an individual does, and incorporate an array of powerful interactive features on mobile devices and PCs that have been designed to get results. Parents and others who care about children should be forewarned: For Google, Facebook, media companies like Nickelodeon, toy companies, and junk food marketers, the Internet is a medium whose primary focus is to help brand advertisers turn young people into fans, “influencers” (to spread the word via social media), and buyers of products. Although children benefit from using educational apps, and have greater access to more diverse entertainment and other content, the motivation really at work is to mold this generation of youth into super-consumers, encouraged to engage in a never-ending buying cycle of goods and services. Children (link is external) are now a key target for Google’s “monetization” strategies, helping the company cash in from the sales of toys, apps, junk food, and other products. (So-called “tweens” in the U.S. alone are said to influence (link is external) some $200 billion a year in spending, including $43 billion of their own money.) With Google’s overall revenue growth slowing, with Facebook aggressively seeking to displace it as the global digital advertising leader, and with consumers flocking to mobile phones (instead of PCs) to view videos and use apps, kids—which were one of the only consumer groups not formally targeted by Google until now—are viewed as an essential new market to conquer. In February, Google unveiled a new advertiser-supported “YouTube Kids” app, its first “product built from the ground up with little ones in mind.” Google’s YouTube Kids “product manager” claimed that “the app makes it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore.” Google also promised that ads “that aren’t kid-appropriate don’t surface.” But Google’s YouTube Kids (link is external) is filled with ads disguised as programming and product pitches that violate rules that broadcast and cable TV channels have to follow. A coalition of consumer, privacy, and children’s advocacy groups urged the FTC to investigate Google’s new YouTube Kids app, as well as how the company targets older children on YouTube itself. (Six (link is external) of YouTube’s leading channels are “aimed at children.”) Google wants to place even the youngest kids inside its powerful marketing apparatus, making sure they will help the company generate much-needed profits as they grew older. It is encouraging brands to take advantage of how young people are engaging in a “multi-screen experience,” including watching video on smart phones, and how YouTube combines the attributes of video service and social networking. Google explains (link is external) that YouTube takes the most powerful medium for connecting with the heart and mind—video—and elevates it from a one-way communication to a two-way experience by inviting brands and consumers alike to connect, curate, create and form community … . On YouTube, brands have the unparalleled opportunity to connect with their most valuable audience and the creative freedom to do so in the most compelling way. The reward for the marketer is a fanbase moved not only emotionally, but also literally, to purchase, comment, share and advocate for that brand. In short, YouTube moves people to choose your brand. As an article on the launch of YouTube Kids explained, “If YouTube can earn the trust of parents and hook (link is external) a new group at an even earlier age, then that’s tapping a whole new market of users that will literally grow up with the service—and use it for a much longer portion of their lives.” While appearing as a distribution service for many programmers, independent and professional, YouTube is a key part of an incredibly sophisticated, elaborate, and highly powerful global marketing apparatus. Google executives recently pledged that they are “listening to brands” and taking “action” to help make YouTube a more effective platform to help accomplish their goals. YouTube: “one of the biggest Big Data projects in the world” YouTube incorporates (link is external) all of Google’s expertise in gathering and analyzing consumer information, so a user, even a young one, can be effectively targeted with marketing. YouTube, it explains, “is one of the biggest Big Data projects in the world.” “At YouTube, data drives the way we make decisions,” including to help its advertisers “get closer to the holy grail of precision targeting.” YouTube, explains the company, has “one of the world’s richest datasets,” which it combines with “Google’s cutting-edge technology” to “transform insights into real-world products.” YouTube continually researches and develops ways to measure and analyze how ads can work more effectively; it identifies “new algorithms and methods for optimizing ads,” “researches new ways for modeling end user behavior,” and more. Its data fuel YouTube’s “recommendation systems,” and the company is now “pushing the boundaries of science and engineering” to make its home page deliver more revenue. It offers its users, including children, “recommended videos” as well as other products that help its advertisers. Through machine learning about us, including analyzing our data, Google plans to further strengthen how it can “introduce users to areas of their interest that many did not realize YouTube had.” YouTube is now working to “build the next generation game-console based TV experience with YouTube video content,” which will deliver “a compelling lean back experience with monetization and e-commerce offerings” (including “pay-per stream” and ad content), as well as through partnerships that “integrate” its content. Generating revenues by attracting and targeting gamers is a key part of YouTube’s marketing-to-youth strategy. It is also positioning YouTube to be a key part of digitally connected “Living Room” devices, including “game consoles, smart TV’s, set-top boxes” to “drive distribution and user engagement.” We “put your brand in their hand” Through its “brand channels”—“a 24/7 broadcast center where customers can watch, share and love your brand”—YouTube helps advertisers like Red Bull and Walmart “energize” its customers. These channels can be specially configured to work well with mobile devices, explains Google, so marketers (link is external) can “put your brand in their hand.” Google also offers a “Custom Brand Channel” on YouTube, “the highest level of brand channel customization,” which incorporates special “interactive applications” designed to promote the “branding” experience more effectively. Last year, as part of its ongoing effort to work more closely with leading advertisers, Google also unveiled its “Partner Select” program, which helps its clients take advantage of its advanced data-targeting platform to run ads on its top-ranked video programming. Google is working to have YouTube play a key role erasing what’s left of the boundaries that have separated advertising and content. Through what it calls “content marketing,” YouTube promises to help its advertisers take advantage of our “shortening attention spans” to positively respond to a brand’s message, explaining that “In a world of shortening attention spans and increasing options, advertising is undergoing a sea change. More and more, ads are becoming content that people choose to watch. … [W]e use the tools and know-how developed by a generation of YouTube content creators to help brands develop ads that will resonate with today’s consumers.” As a leader in using mobile phones to target individuals based on their actual location, Google is also in the forefront of delivering its content on smart phones and similar devices, boasting that “viewing video on smartphones is far less distracted than it is on TV.” YouTube: “Precision Targeting at Scale” To help its advertisers, YouTube provides “precision targeting at scale” thatleverages (link is external) “the sight, sound and motion of video, the most persuasive ad format every evented.” Google claims that its “targeting tools are so precise” marketers “can show your ad to folks around your corner or to anyone around the world.” One can target by age, gender, zip code, language, interest, and can “retarget” someone whose data have been (largely secretly) collected when they were on YouTube or other sites. Google offers advertisers a formidable arsenal of “3rd Party Audience Data” that can incorporate details on one’s finances, buying behavior, and many other personal details. Now reaching one billion people worldwide, YouTube identifies Hispanics, teens, those “hard to reach,” as well as adult men and women as key targets; it notes, for example, that “54% of all teens” and “59% of all Hispanics” use it. (Among the “facts” on Hispanics it lists for advertisers is that “76% currently own a pet” and “58% are grocery decision makers in their household.”) YouTube also plays a direct role helping key advertisers achieve their goals, including through its “in-house creative team” (which it calls “The ZOO”) that “can unleash the true power of your message with a custom campaign.” YouTube’s “Brand Nirvana” Promotes Junk Food to Kids Google has been helping Mondelez, Pepsi, and other fast-food marketers push their products—despite concerns about the global obesity epidemic—especially on young people. Last year, Mondelez signed a deal with Google that featured the candy (link is external) and snack company (Oreo, etc.) making a commitment to “accelerate” its investment in online video. The pact involved the use of Google’s advanced data-driven targeting system (known as “programmatic buying”) and the development of more “branded content.” Google and Mondelez are “partnering on content pilots through YouTube’s Brand Partner Program … [to produce] low-cost video content featuring influential digital stars with Sour Patch Kids in the U.S.” Mondelez’s YouTube channel for Oreos features an array of ads dressed up as games, in English and Spanish, which is typical of Google’s use of video to promote junk food products using the full power of its platform. Fast-food companies, including such brands as Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, Wendy’s, and Post cereal, are also using advanced analytics on YouTube viewing to help refine their targeting strategies. Frank Cooper, Pepsi’s chief marketing officer, was a keynote speaker at YouTube’s “Brandcast” 2014 event. In announcing that Pepsi has increased its spending for YouTube services by 50 percent over the last year, Cooper noted that “we live in a world where visual content in the digital space is the new center of gravity for pop culture,” and being on YouTube and related digital applications enables Pepsi (link is external) to be part of a conversation that is “driving culture.” When people share “your content with their friends,” he noted, it is “brand nirvana.” YouTube as Toy Promotion Central Google is positioning YouTube (link is external) to be a central place for children to learn about toys they want their parents or family to buy. As one toy business analyst explained, “It’s a totally new way of advertising. [The YouTube channels] are becoming more and more important.” Although Google’s terms of service (ToS (link is external)) for YouTube requires users to be 13 and older, it’s clear that it is targeting kids—and violating its own policy—in order to profit from the children’s market. Its ToS states that “the Service is not intended for children under 13. If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service. There are lots of other great web sites for you. Talk to your parents about what sites are appropriate for you.” Yet despite its own ToS banning children from signing up, YouTube is clearly targeting kids. For example, “FunToyzCollector (link is external),” which describes itself as “all about kid-friendly videos for toddlers, babies, infants and pre-school children,” recently placed first in views among all the YouTube channels (517.3 million). The channel engages in “unboxing” toys, an increasingly sought after YouTube genre that provides viewers with a “virtual tour” of kids products, such as “Sofia the First Balloon Tea Party 2-in-1 Playset with Disney Frozen Princess Anna Elsa of Arendelle.” Very popular with young kids in the U.S., the YouTube ad-supported channel made its owner an estimated $4.9 million last year. Kids either find or are shown these channels as they search for new toys to buy or to receive as presents. “DisneyCarToys (link is external),” “a fun kid friendly toy channel” produced by Disney subsidiary Maker Studios, is another example of how Google profits by permitting the targeting of children. The channel is one of five toy-related YouTube channels that Disney acquired (link is external) in 2014, including “HobbyKidsTV, ToyReviewToys, AllToyCollector, and TheEngineeringFamily.” These popular “top 40 toy channels worldwide,” which integrate Disney’s characters and brands into the programming content, are now part of Disney’s “merchandising” strategy, which will include more brand tie-ins and advertising. Maker Studios itself has a major kids marketing presence on YouTube. It describes its “Cartoontium (link is external)” set of programs as “the place to find all the best kid’s entertainment on YouTube!” One of its channels is called “Messy Painting in the Dark-Neon Arcade,” where “Toys, games and financial support [is] provided by Hasbro.” Other Cartoonium programming features “classic episodes of Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.” “Strawberry Shortcake” and other programming include ads for toys (and some of these shows are also on the YouTube Kids app). One reason Disney acquired Maker, explained CEO Bob Iger, was to reap its “great access to data and algorithms,” which are gathered from billions of views collected through its 55,000 YouTube channels. Another kids’ toy–focused YouTube service is also partnering with the Disney/Maker empire. “EvanTubeHD (link is external),” involving two young children (eight and five years old) and their father, “boasts more than a billion views across” three channels. The two children “review and play with the most popular kids toys currently on shelves.” As an analyst explained why toy companies are enthusiastically seeking out relationships with kid reviewers online, “Kids trust other kids more so than they would an adult.” Maker has a broad range of marketing services it offers brands (link is external) and advertisers, including “custom pre-roll” ads (the short spots that run before a YouTube or other video content starts); channel targeting (“integrate your brand message natively into our top performing channels”); and sponsorships (“More than just a logo, our unique custom sponsorships allow you to connect with our forward leaning and deeply engaged audiences”). Maker touts its strong alliance of partners, including its “custom solutions to the world's best brands” and “effective and hyper-targeted media solutions.” Partners include Mattel, Pepsi, Warner Bros, and parent Disney. It also works with the leading ad agencies that represent major global brands “to create unique programs across our programming and talent.” In another example of how Google fails to protect children, it allows Disney to encourage its young viewers to connect to them using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—despite these sites requiring users to be 13 years or older. So eager is Google to reap profits, it appears purposely to ignore how toy companies are establishing nothing more than 24/7 virtual ad channels on YouTube. For example, Spin Master, a “top-five” toy company, has created a “kid centric YouTube channel dubbed SpindoTV (link is external), aimed at children 6-11. Its shows are based on its toy line-up, including “Sick Bricks” and “Beat the Parents” board game. Many of its shows are a part of Google’s new YouTube Kids app. According to a Spin Master executive, “We know from our research that these kids are already on YouTube in massive numbers.” YouTube, of course, is just one method Google uses to help it reach and monetize young people. It is also “building successful apps and games” for its “Google Play for Education and Kids vertical,” helping developers create “commercially viable offerings to educators and students, parents and kids.” The popularity of YouTube among children has triggered a “must-have-the-video-network” buying strategy from companies targeting the youth market worldwide. Marketers researching youth know that kids are using YouTube as a search engine because it includes pictures, videos, and other audio-visual material. It’s also “easy to navigate” for children, with reports that “kids who are into watching TV episodes on YouTube” like to see other episodes and “recommended videos” on the sidebar. More critically, digital market researchers studying children have identified YouTube as providing an important social and creative outlet for tweens, and finding cool YouTube videos to share with others is a form of social capital. … [T]weens most frequently share cool videos when hanging out (in person) with their friends and family. … [W]e call this phenomenon clustersharing. … [I]t speaks more to their desire to physically experience videos with others—to see, to feel and to share that experience, including their thoughts and emotions. The same researchers advise marketers to take advantage of the “clustersharing (link is external)” concept, and encourage ways to “enhance that in-person, social experience. Using ad content (like a group game) or finding a way to alleviate the agonizing “live” wait of a 15-second pre-roll between each video presents “an opportunity to enrich your brand experience with this very engaged audience.” Tracking our “Consumer Journey” Google is in the forefront of digital marketing companies promising to help its clients influence and “measure” what it calls the “customer journey.” It views itself as helping them analyze and place each consumer on a continuous “path-to-purchase (link is external)” cycle, tracking us wherever we go, and using its resources to have us shop “until we drop”—online and off. Among the benefits Google promises its advertisers, for example, is that they will be able to identify and “value” their “best customers,” and “distinguish the whales from the wasted energy.” (“Whales” is a marketing industry term describing a big spender; “waste” is an ad term for a consumer deemed not valuable.) YouTube conducts research (link is external) to document how its advertisers positively impact our “recall” of various brand commercial messages. Google’s DoubleClick division, which uses data to determine the impact of video ads, offers advertisers the latest ways they can “verify” whether a person actually views a video ad on YouTube. To help its largest advertising clients measure how we respond to Google’s interactive marketing services, the company is now working with Nielsen and comScore, two of the leading global companies that assess consumer interaction with ads, including on YouTube. There are other companies also helping marketers analyze YouTube data. For example, Outrigger’s “OpenSlate (link is external)” platform “ingests, analyses and scores more than 220,000 YouTube channels on measures of engagement, consistency, influence, momentum and ad effectiveness.” (It now is up to 250,000 channels.) It “supplements YouTube data on more than 70 million videos with data from social media and proprietary demographic data. Our platform consistently incorporates brand advertising performance data to further develop video and channel level profiles.” Through its information, brand advertisers can identify “the highest-quality inventory on YouTube,” and then target them using a variety of Big Data tactics. (“Inventory,” as used by the online marketing industry, can either refer to individual users or programming content. Kids and teens are seen as highly valuable “inventory.”) Time for Regulatory Action Against Google to Protect Kids Google, as the dominant digital marketing company, has raised numerous concerns about its corporate practices, including from privacy regulators, civil liberties advocates, and competition regulators from around the world. (The company has led an anti-privacy-regulation agenda in both the U.S. and EU, to ensure that the flow of personal data that makes its interactive marketing system run will never end.) Its latest move to better monetize children through YouTube Kids is the first of what will be a succession of profit-generating ventures that help transform kids’ lives into a never-ending commercial. Even Facebook, which expressed interest in targeting children 13 and younger, has not yet directly entered the kids market. Google’s brazen move to cash in on our kids will likely spur Facebook to jettison any reticence to include them on its social network. After all, why should Google gain all the profits from this new, lucrative, and influential audience? Beyond federal and state investigations into Google’s brazen targeting of children on YouTube, what’s needed now are new policies that ensure young people aren’t unfairly treated by digital marketers. This includes rules that don’t leave children and teens vulnerable to digital marketing practices and also better protect their privacy. For example, Google is at the forefront of companies using what is called “immersive” media, to make sure brands—including on YouTube—can “grab” our attention. All of the data gathered from our use of mobile phones, social media, and online video feed so-called “profiles” that are used to target us for advertising—increasingly regardless of location (think of a mobile discount coupon from a nearby fast food outlet appearing on children’s phones as they come out of school) and in real-time (right as you are in the store cereal or toy aisle). These practices are highly questionable when targeting adults, let alone young people. Companies like Google should develop their own policies that actually protect and empower young people—not just turn them into the latest profit center. A global leader like Google, with immense profits, should only be offering kids commercial- (and data targeting-) free content. It shouldn’t be helping junk food and toy companies take advantage of kids to sell them products that don’t promote their development and health. It is doubtful, however, that Google will change course. It is, after all, primarily an advertising company whose allegiance is to the biggest brands and the marketing industry. It’s time for activist shareholders of Google and other companies to press for the adoption of new corporate policies that protect young people in the digital age. Parents will have to decide whether Google’s corporate culture, focused as it is on promoting marketing to young kids, is incompatible with their values and goals. But it will also take a movement of parents, educators, public interest groups, and policymakers to force Google and other kids marketers to act responsibly. If we want to see the next generation grow up without being greatly influenced by the most powerful advertising apparatus yet developed, this is a fight we must join.