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    Frankenmetrics: Neuromarketing and the Really Cool End of Privacy

Frankenmetrics: Neuromarketing and the Really Cool End of Privacy

For all their intrusiveness, companies like Facebook really don’t want to hurt us. They want to sell us stuff. And for that reason, we tolerate the cognitive dissonance created by our love for technology and our desire for privacy.

So, it is with the mixed emotions all of us share about such matters that I say, “Facebook studied our neurological patterns and they found out some really cool stuff.”

Chief among the findings was for all our handwringing about dwindling screen sizes, it turns out people are more focused on their mobile screens than their television screens, not less. Equally important, it seems we trust that small screen more, as well. What that means for, say, politicians or the producers of YouTube cat videos is that the advent of mobile has not resulted in a qualitative loss in terms of the ability to communicate with video.

Facebook commissioned the neurological study (basically studying how your body responds to different stimuli) to answer the burning question on every marketer’s mind, namely, “If you keep making screens smaller, will we still be able to sell stuff?” Now, granted, when the government does these kinds of studies, it’s a lot creepier.   Corporations get that, which explains why companies like Facebook and Google hate to see their names linked to government data collection.

This study was done by SalesBrain, itself the brainchild of Christophe Morin and Patrick Renvoisé. Renvoisé’s bio humbly states that he “discovered the buy button inside the brain” which, just for the record, I’m not sure I buy. In any case, the study itself is fascinating in the way watching one’s own autopsy would be fascinating. The “them “of the study is us. And yes, we do act and […]

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    Programmatic Buying: Is Compiled “Big Data” Becoming Obsolete?

Programmatic Buying: Is Compiled “Big Data” Becoming Obsolete?

Huge resources have been poured into “modeling” voters based on compiled consumer data. The problem is that none of those predictive models comes close to beating the latest generation of programmatic ad buying algorithms.

These algorithms are used by Facebook, Google and other online behemoths to sell ad inventory in real time, which is another way of saying it’s how the rest of us buy ad inventory in real time. It is a moment-by-moment auction to see which ads will appear in an individual Facebook user’s news feed, for example. As individuals, we don’t all see the same ads, because advertisers value individual prospective customers (or voters) differently and are willing to bid up the price to place an ad in one news feed, while ignoring another.

That’s the “real” Big Data, and for most online ad buyers, it’s making that endlessly re-modelled compiled data out there seem almost quaint by comparison. When we then import voter file data into the Facebook equation, we suddenly find ourselves with a product far exceeding Big Data’s most grandiose promises. We don’t just talk to users who “look just like our targets”, we talk to our targets.

We can schedule ads to reach only likely voters in a Democratic Primary who vote by mail, for example, while targeting Independents who vote on Election Day, swing 45+ Republican married women, etc. with a different series of ads. Even the phrase “likely voter” is now more science than guesswork. Sophisticated propensity index models use a variety of data points in addition to simple vote history in order to rank voters against increasingly accurate scales.

Here’s the part where it gets dangerous. Agencies that understand this dynamic bid up the price to make sure […]

Why Facebook’s Future Doesn’t Matter

Facebook’s Q2 report makes one thing abundantly clear. No one can possibly predict what this company will look like, or what the Facebook user experience will feel like a year, let along 5 or 10 years from now.   Sure, advertising is up 31% in 2015, but the user experience continues to evolve in ways none of us could have predicted. Digging into the Q2 numbers leads one to the inescapable conclusion that, just as you cannot step into the same river twice, you cannot experience the same Facebook twice. Yeah, it’s changing that fast. So fast, in fact, that the challenge is not to predict what it will become, but to simply stay current with where it is at the moment.

Let’s take a look at the very recent past. Video finally went mainstream on Facebook in the first quarter, (and how that has changed advertising for the top 100 brands is an early indicator of how political advertising is going to change in 2016). Digging into those numbers shows that some companies adapted far more quickly and successfully than others. It also shows that Facebook got it mostly right.
Video is now a major content type, and Facebook users seem to have taken the self-starting videos in stride. The new format has complicated metrics on the back end (which Facebook addressed this morning by shaking up their video ad options). “Likes” are down and “shares” are up, which one would expect as the type of content shifts. People share pictures and videos more often, and that also holds true with ads. Major companies also learned lessons that will help everyone. Simply Measured conducted a study of the Interbrand 100 and recently shared the results. For […]

New Orleans Rocks AAPC (and vice versa)

For those of us in the world of politics and public affairs, there are some events and places that are “can’t miss”. The American Association of Political Consultants Pollie Awards in New Orleans turned out to be precisely that kind of event.
Nestled between Bourbon Street and the Mississippi River, the Omni Royal played host to the largest organization of political professionals in the world.  While television and direct mail continue to claim the lion’s share of many campaign budgets, the shift to digital was clearly on. 
We’ve experience that right here at home with our sister company Gateway Media.  In 2012, traditional radio and television advertising represented 80% of the ad spending, but in 2014 those roles were practically reversed.  Another change this year was a dramatic decrease in the number of Pollies awarded, with categories combined, and judging standards ramped tighter and tighter.
While it’s great to be recognized for any of one’s creative work, we were particularly proud of two Gold Pollies among our wins this year.  Taking home the Gold for Best Internet Campaign among all public affairs firms nationally showed how much the market, and our business, has changed over the last six years.   Another public affairs Gold for Best Facebook Ad reflected Gateway Media’s dominant role in voter-matched Facebook advertising.
One of our favorite ads of 2014 was “Slushie Girl,” produced for the California Drivers Alliance.  Featuring 9-year-old actress Vanessa Steib, this spot was viewed millions of times on Pandora and YouTube and was honored for Best Use of Humor in the Web Video category. 

And we would be remiss not to congratulate our many friends who were named to the first-ever “Forty Under Forty” Awards.  Great music, great food and a powerhouse lineup […]

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    Shout out to our sister company, SmithJohnson Research on a great election night in California!

Shout out to our sister company, SmithJohnson Research on a great election night in California!

Congratulations to Our Legislative Target Winners
Young Kim, Janet Nguyen, Marc Steinorth, Tom Lackey
(Sacramento) – “We were very proud to be part of turning back the 2/3rds Democrat majority in both houses of the legislature,” said Dr. Val Smith, Director of Research with SmithJohnson Research (SJR). SJR Was selected to by the Assembly Caucus to poll in four of their key Assembly targets and also for the top Senate target, Janet Nguyen. “In two of the four Assembly races, we were privileged to work for candidates who defeated incumbents, which is always an exciting challenge,” he added. Both Republican caucuses also adopted Porpoise Analytics, a new dynamic modelling tool developed by SmithJohnson Research which helped the candidates fine-tune their targeting and messaging. SJR also provided polling services for a variety of incumbent candidates, independent expenditure committees, and trade associations.

Slushie Girl

“Slushie Girl” was one of our favorite spots to produce this year, featuring 8 year-old Vanessa Stieb giving it to the “Hidden Gas Tax” with both barrels.  Prediction: You’ll be seeing a lot of this talented young actor in years to come.
 

Zombies Knock ’em Dead at the Pollies

Ads produced for “Zombies for Responsible Government” swept through the Pollie Awards at San Diego’s Manchester Hyatt Regency Hotel Friday night. The independent expenditure campaign targeted Nathan Fletcher in the San Diego Mayor’s race. In that race, the Zombie spots garnered tens of thousands of Youtube views and were featured on every major news channel in the San Diego market.

The Zombies, featured in a pre-roll video to San Diego voters, could also be seen in candid interviews filmed on location. Before the night was over, the Zombies racked up five Gold Awards, one Silver and two  Bronze trophies, in what proved to be a great night for our sister company Gateway Media.

Special shout out to our Zombie staffers, Matt Johnson, Bereket Kalile and Kameron Snow who backed up lead Zombie Jason Kuykendall, all under the superb director of Randy Bond.

So if you’d like to have the creative media production team that the 1,200-member American Association of Political Consultants calls solid gold, let’s talk.

Zombies in San Diego Mayoral Bid

White House correspondent John Gizzi weighs in on San Diego Zombie ad:

Democrat David Alvarez unexpectedly placed second in Tuesday’s mayoral contest, knocking out a candidate long considered a cinch to be one of the top vote-getters, and will join Republican Kevin Faulconer in a run-off early next year.

Although many point to Alvarez’s support from key union leaders for his advancing past former state legislator Nathan Fletcher, who had placed second in nearly every poll, other observers in San Diego credit anti-Fletcher TV spots that featured zombies.

That’s right. Zombies.

The mindless creatures featured in horror productions, from George Romero’s 1968 cult classic “Night of the Living Dead” to the current hit AMC TV series “Walking Dead,” were unleashed in independent commercials underscoring Fletcher’s change of positions as he continually changed party affiliations, switching in earlier races from Republican to independent to Democrat.

“Nathan Fletcher courted the tea party with anti-immigrant rhetoric, but then he switched his principles when he ran for mayor,” said the narration to the ad, as a hoard of zombies lumber Frankenstein-style at dusk.

“He bashed labor unions and supported pension reform, but then he switched his principles again. Now he’s against pension reform and supports spending billions – but wait! He’s switching again!”

Finally, an exasperated zombie declares: “This guy keeps switching his principles – on every issue! I can’t keep mindlessly following Nathan Fletcher! And I’m mindless!”

The commercials were paid for by an independent expenditure known as “Zombies for Responsible Government.” They began airing online on, appropriately, on Halloween.

“We only spent $1,800 on pre-roll ads on Youtube to launch it, but once Twitter lit it up, the paid media was practically irrelevant,” explained veteran California media maestro Wayne Johnson. “The real definition of virality […]

Coming This Friday: TV That Watches You

How Xbox One Beat Cable to the Punch and Will Change Political Advertising Forever.
The new generation of Kinect technology in Xbox One can distinguish up to six voices in a room, respond to voice commands, read skeletal movement, muscle force, whether people are looking at or away from the TV and even their heart rates, Mehdi said. The latter happens as the camera detects slight changes in skin tone related to dilation of a blood vessel in the eyeball that responds to heart rate, Mr. Mehdi said.

                                                                                                                Advertising Age

                                                                                                                10/5/2013                           
Seven years ago, I was invited to address the executives of one of the nation’s largest cable companies.  I challenged them to abandon their focus on competing with broadcast, and to exploit their natural advantage – set-box targeting.  At the time, they were drilling yet another dry hole in the frozen tundra of cluster group marketing, the erroneous notion that people who live near one another think alike.  Oh sure, there may be more Republicans than Democrats, or more liberals than conservatives in a given geographic pocket, but that’s descriptive, not prescriptive information.  Targeting based on such assumptions is highly dangerous in a political campaign, where voter behavior is as likely to be influenced by a negative perception as a positive one.   Show the wrong ad to the wrong people and it’s not just a waste.  You actually lose votes.  Elections are a zero sum game.  Those you alienate matter, because, in politics, 49% market share is called losing.

Let me put it another way.  Which mailing would have the greater impact, sending a National Right to Life endorsement of a candidate to a list of pro-life […]

Campaign Tech Kerouac

It’s taken a day to decide if the venue for Campaign Tech West was tawdry, ineffable or inspired.  I’m leaning to ineffable.  Across the street from the Naked Lunch restaurant, near the triangle of Broadway, Columbus and Grant.  Nearby, what the Chinese call “Ahdalah Hong” the short walkway that formerly bore the name “Adler Place”.  In recent years, it has been dubbed “Kerouac Alley”, in honor of the beat denizen who frequented the City Lights Bookstore on the corner.

One wonders what Kerouac would have thought of the gathering of political techies on the street where he composed his “spontaneous prose.”  He thought editing robbed prose of being in the moment, and thus somehow dishonest.  Had he been around to witness the billions of “moments” enshrined in tweets and posts today, perhaps, he would have been less opposed to such dishonesty.

Kerouac’s spontaneity was arresting in his time, and not always appreciated (“That’s not writing, that’s typing,” said Capote).  Yet, Kerouac thought before he wrote, which immediately distinguishes him from our own often too-connected world.   I thought about his roman à clef style and tried to imagine Kerouac blogging.  I suppressed the impulse to raise that question among Tuesday’s gifted tech panelists, or when visiting Google and Facebook’s respective HQ’s on Monday.

It would have been hard to watch Kerouac die, 144 characters at a time. From Rome to Zen and back to Rome again.  From leftie beat poet to cantankerous conspiracy theorist, one suspects the journey would have been difficult to watch, if only in one’s newsfeed.   Spurning the “communists” who stole the beat’s movement, Kerouac would die surrounded by a stack of old National Review magazines.  Once visited by some young neo-Nazis, he ran them […]