March, 2014

Are Consumers Tuning Out Online Advertising? And Does It Matter?


To anyone with a computer and connectivity, online advertising is physically impossible to ignore. Mentally, though, may be a different story.

An online discussion at the Advertising Professionals LinkedIn group worries that consumers “will simply tune out advertising online” and gives many possible reasons why. But there’s also one big, unmentioned reason why that may not matter.

Why consumers tune out

One reason consumers tune out online advertising is that it isn’t aimed at them – or any human beings, for that matter. It’s sent by robots to robots.

Just as botnets have been used to create fake Twitter trends, they’re being used to create fake online advertising traffic – fake traffic accounting for as much as 36 percent of all web traffic, according to a Wall Street Journal report. As a Slate story explains, Read more →

Obamacare Advertising Neglects Its Key Audience’s Main Medium


At a time when Obamacare desperately needs to sign up 19-to-34-year-olds and a time when this cohort has abandoned legacy media for digital, “[m]obile and video, for instance, have yet to generate significant investment,” Advertising Age reported March 25.

Make it or break it

Of all of America’s demographic cohorts, this group of Millennials is crucial to Obamacare’s financial survival.

“The demographics are clear enough,” says Ad Age. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, adults aged 19-34 have the highest proportion of uninsured.” And for good reason.

Being young, statistically healthier and less affluent than older Americans, they’ve quite rationally opted to either forgo health insurance or just invest in catastrophic coverage. But in order to do what the insurance industry calls broadening the risk pool, they’ve been required by law to buy overpriced policies with coverages they don’t want or need and higher deductibles than they’re likely to pay, just in order to subsidize older, sicker folks.

If some 34 percent of the so-called Young Invincibles signed up, according to government calculations, the system would be viable. But so far, the over all signup percentage is in the low twenties. In California, the most populous state, it’s down to 16 percent.

Your tax dollars at waste

To recruit this crucial audience segment, Obamacare is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a medium its prime prospects have abandoned. Read more →

How’s Advertising Doing In The War On Drugs?



Colorado and Washington state have legalized recreational marijuana.

Fewer than one-third of eighth graders (32 percent) saw at least one anti-drug advertisement per week last year, compared to more than three-quarters (76 percent) ten years earlier, the University of Michigan’s ongoing Monitoring the Future study reports. Percentages for tenth and twelfth graders were lower overall and followed the same trend.

That report also found that marijuana use “has been drifting higher in recent years following a decade or more of fairly steady decline.”

Texas State University at San Marcos researchers concluded in 2004 that anti-drug ads were not only ineffective, but could actually be encouraging drug use.

In 1987, the Office of National Drug Control Policy was spending as much as $1 million a day ($2,066,734.15 in today’s dollars) on anti-drug television advertising, but in 2012, their media buying became one of the very few non-defense projects to be cut from the federal budget.

So it would be only logical to conclude that advertising has lost the War on Drugs.

Logical, perhaps, but wrong. Read more →

Can Advertising Ever Be Diverse Enough?



Just as Advertising Age celebrated the contention that “Ad Campaigns Are Finally Reflecting Diversity of U.S.,” yet another minority group popped up to complain of being left out.

You’ve come a long way, baby

“Marketing experts say this is the moment that historians and social commentators will likely declare a tipping point for advertising enlightenment in the years to come,” gushes Natalie Zmuda, noting that this magic moment was a while in coming.

  • In 1947, Pepsi became one of the first national advertisers to show people who were then called Negros and are now called African-Americans in advertising. (Not in the same ad as whites, though.)
  • In 1963, some 40 major advertisers announced they’d started preparing integrated ads.
  • In 1974, Jell-O broke a color line by choosing Bill Cosby as its on-air spokesman.
  • In 1994, Ikea ran the first ad featuring a gay couple in mainstream media.
  • Volkswagen’s 1997 “Da Da Da” television :60, featuring two men cruising in their VW and loading up an armchair left on the sidewalk typified what was to become a “vaguely gay” trend.
  • A 2012 Target weekly circular featured a child with Down syndrome without particular comment. Read more →

Make Sure Your New, Improved Logo’s Actually An Improvement

olive garden

Changing your logo can be expensive – and that’s not counting the multimillion-dollar creative fees that national design firms charge.

As Paul Veness, director of brand implementation company Endpoint, said in 2010, “…the cost of [executing] a rebranding is 20 to 30 times the creative budget. It’s everything from signage to staff uniforms to the IT back end.” But even that’s not the biggest cost.

The biggest cost of changing your logo is the revenue you lose when your customers hate it. (And then paying to change back to your old logo if customers hate the new logo enough.)

Slower is better

Replacing or updating or improving an established logo can be unsettling to long-time customers who’ve grown accustomed to your corporate face (and have grown to like it).

Some brands have managed to immunize consumers against bad logos by coming up with one after another every few years. Microsoft, for example, has come up with at least five clunkers since its start in the Disco Era. Read more →

Good News And Bad News About Facebook Ad Roi



The good news is that a 2013 test, reported by Facebook and confirmed by Coca-Cola executives, showed that Facebook display ads linked to videos outperformed a television campaign by a factor of 3.6.

The bad news is: In France, not here.

The test

In the first quarter of last year, Coke ran a campaign to reintroduce its polar bears.

One component was five 30-second television commercials, edited down from a six-minute online video shot by Ridley Scott.

The other component was three days of Facebook display ads linked to videos and a video that played when people logged out. Read more →

Why Are Advertisers Buying Time On A Network No One’s Watching?


Al Jazeera America is the cable television equivalent of the tree that falls in the forest with no one around to hear it. Though the tree may or may not have made a noise, depending on your semantics, AJA is starting to make some advertising money – though with too few viewers for Nielsen to even measure, it’s a mystery why.

Even fewer viewers

When AJA debuted last August, its viewership was nothing to write home to headquarters in Qatar about. As TVNewswer reported at the time,

The 2 PM Saturday edition of “News Live” averaged 48,000 viewers, while “Inside Story” Thursday at 12:30 PM averaged 41,000 viewers. “News Live” Thursday from 12-12:30 averaged 40,000. The debut edition of “The Stream” on Tuesday averaged 38,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s accuracy threshold, while the debut of “America Tonight” averaged 34,000 viewers.

The launch hour, which was Tuesday afternoon at 3 PM, and featured a preview of what was to come on the channel, averaged 22,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s minimum accuracy threshold. In other words, Nielsen says it cannot accurately count how many people watched it, and the number it gives is essentially a rough guess. This is also called “scratching.”

We do not have the adults 25-54 numbers, but given the total viewer numbers, one can surmise that they scratched.

Six months later, those August numbers look like the Good Old Days. Read more →

Well-deserved Recognition



Congratulations to our client, Bikram Hot Yoga, for the recognition they’ve earned for teaching yoga to public middle and high school students.



Ad Law Expert Calls Native Advertising Illegal

wolf in sheepskin


As Erik Sass notes at MediaPost,  so-called “native advertising” comprises

marketing messages…presented in a way that makes them hard to distinguish from editorial content, including their location on the page, choice of font, graphics and layout, all in an effort to get readers to give them the same consideration — and trust — they give to editorial content.

…In many cases, it is based on an attempt to deceive consumers into thinking they’re seeing something that is not a paid advertisement.

It’s one thing when a few ads look like editorial content, but there are now so many native ads, so cleverly disguised, that in a strange inversion it’s actually becoming hard to tell if a particular piece of editorial content isn’t advertising.

Like the paid Church of Scientology paid content campaign on The Atlantic’s website that was so virtually indistinguishable from genuine articles that it triggered a reader revolt, a withdrawal of the ads and a “We screwed up” apology from the publisher.

Or the Mashable post about “Why Godzilla was so mean” that includes a video claiming it was all just a case of hunger-pang irritability which a Snickers bar could have cured. So faithfully did it mimic editorial content, writes Sass, with “nothing that identifies it as an ad being presented by Mashable (e.g., a disclaimer, or a Snickers brand image somewhere near the headline) and also no indication that it isn’t an ad. I’m still not sure.”

There are almost as many definitions of native advertising as there are formats. Read more →