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Facebook Just Owned Up to Misreporting Likes, Reactions and Shares to Brands

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:41:25 +0000


In a blog post today, Facebook admitted to miscalculating more of its marketing stats that companies look at to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. The move marks the third time since September that the digital giant has revealed that it's misled brands. 

The company has been miscalculating the number of likes and shares it shows for web links via its API, or application programming interface. It has also been misrepresenting the number of likes and reaction emojis marketers see for their live videos. 

Facebook detailed the latter situation this way:

In page insights in the column for "Reactions on Post," however, we show only one reaction per unique user. We misallocated the extra reactions per user that happened during the live broadcast to the "Reactions from Shares of Post" section, instead of counting them in the "Reactions on Post" section, so we're making a change to correct it. Note that total counts were and are correct; some of them were just captured in the wrong reporting column when broken out. The fix for this issue will apply to newly created Live videos, starting mid-December. It will increase "Reactions on Post" by 500 percent on average and will decrease them on "Reactions from Shares of Post" by 25 percent on average (actual impact to specific videos may vary).

However, the latest issues do not rise to the level of some of Facebook's higher profile problems like conceding that its video view metrics had been inflated or admitting to misreporting stats for Instant Articles. 

The blog post also included an update to Facebook's ad-creation system, as it will now be able to estimate the potential reach of a campaign more accurately. Facebook said it has enhanced its accuracy for sampling and projecting the estimated number of consumers an appeal will reach.

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How Some Agencies Rig Production Bids to Favor Their In-House Studios

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:34:49 +0000

Sometimes it's a subtle pricing scheme that stacks the deck. Sometimes it's as blatant as calling in a favor. Either way, the result is the same: Ad agencies are often rigging production bids to favor their in-house studios over independent vendors, according to several veteran producers who spoke to Adweek in the days since a Wall Street Journal report sent shock waves through the advertising industry. That report revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation to determine whether creative agencies regularly manipulate the bidding process for production contracts in order to send more work to their parent companies or internal studios.  Making the report especially ominous is the fact that lead investigator Rebecca Meiklejohn also handled a 2004 case involving a "kickback conspiracy" between WPP and a print studio, resulting in the indictment of a dozen executives. While the report notably lacked any specific examples of wrongdoing, presumably because investigators didn't want to show their hand, the WSJ article did specify that several postproduction company employees were reportedly asked to inflate bids on projects "to create a paper trail that justified to the advertiser its decision to award the project to an in-house facility, which provided a rival bid at a lower price." So how does this "rigging" work, and why would independent editing, production and postproduction studios go along with it, when it just means losing potential work? This week, Adweek spoke to multiple sources with direct knowledge of this practice, all of whom agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity for themselves and their employers.  These sources tell Adweek the "rigging" practice described in the federal investigation has become relatively common in recent years as clients' marketing budgets decrease and agency profit margins feel the squeeze. How 'check bids' work—and how they're tilted Because creative agencies often manage the bidding process for production and postproduction work, they have an obvious advantage in terms of knowing the client's budget, parameters and preferences. If they'd prefer the work go to their in-house studio or one owned by the agency's parent company, they might rig the process by seeking third-party bids they know will come in too high. These "check bids" are meant to prove to clients that agencies sought out competitive pricing before taking the work in-house.  However, these bids can easily be manipulated in the agency's favor. A common practice, agency and independent producers tell Adweek, is for the agency to provide a budget number to third-party studios, who can't be sure if they're being given a real goal or a false target that will be undercut by the agency. "The agency will tell us a [budget] number," said one postproduction company CEO, "and we will try to hit that number. But it's hard for us to tell if it's just a check bid that the agency will then use to justify taking the work in-house. We never know what the real price point was." These third-party companies are not directly involved in client-agency negotiations, and they have no choice but to follow the direction provided by agencies.  An offer production companies can't refuse Sometimes the setup is far more blatant, with agency producers specifically asking studios for inflated bids to help them win work. Why would a production company go along with such a request, knowing that there's no chance to win the work? Because, they tell Adweek, they fear reprisal or even being quietly blacklisted by the agency or its holding company. "The pressure from above, the higher ups, is we need this job because of the revenue," said one veteran agency producer. "They don't tell producers how to do it. So the producers call a friend at a production studio and say, 'Do t[...]

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How This Pet Food Brand Got Ice-T to Dress Like His Bulldog

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:33:43 +0000

As America gears up for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa (on Dec. 24, 25 and 26, respectively), there's another year-end holiday coming even sooner, on Dec. 16. The good news is there's still time to get ready for it. It's National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. (No, we're not kidding.) But unless you're in the business of actually selling ugly Christmas sweaters, these ghastly woolen creations probably don't seem like much of a marketing opportunity, with the notable exception of luxe dog food-maker Cesar. The brand recently unleashed an ugly sweater campaign called Matchy-Matchy—and we do mean unleashed, since this bizarre holiday gambit doesn't just celebrate people who love awful Christmas sweaters adorned with motifs like reindeer and snowmen, but the poor unfortunate pets who end up wearing the sweaters, too. "The concept comes from the holiday tradition of donning tacky sweaters to get into the festive spirit," said Mars Petcare's marketing director Dan Jackson, "and turns it up a notch by giving a matching set of those sweaters to dogs and their humans." Created by agency AMV BBDO, which also did the hugely popular Mog's Christmas Calamity short film for U.K. retailer Sainsbury's last year, Matchy-Matchy features short-form videos with social influencers doing festive things with their pets, with all participants wearing matching holiday sweaters. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="367" src="" width="652"> Somehow, Cesar also talked some pretty big celebrities into dressing themselves and their pooches in matching knits, too. They include Houston Texans defensive end Devon Still, and actor and choreographer Mark Ballas of Dancing With the Stars fame. Cesar even recruited no less of an Alpha dog than Ice-T, who donned a green sweater with snowflakes and posed with his bulldog, Maximus. (T's other famous dog, Sparticus, died shortly after Thanksgiving this year.) With encouragement like this, Cesar is hoping the rest of the campaign will take care of itself. The brand is encouraging people to post photos of themselves on social media wearing matching holiday sweaters (preferably with their pets) along with the hashtag #MatchyMatchy. NFL star Devon Still wears an unlikely uniform with his dog, Snickers. Pet owners can also visit a special site to sign up for a chance to win one of a particularly horrendous assortment of matching people-pet sweaters. (Hurry, because the contest closes on Dec. 11.) "These matching holiday sweater sets are a unique collection crated exclusively for the campaign," Jackson said with evident pride. (He didn't happen to mention any famous sweater designers.) And hey, if you miss out on the contest, don't despair—Cesar has also set up a "Matchy-Matchy Photo Generator" that, using a photo of you and your pet, will digitally "dress" both of you in matching (and awful) holiday sweaters. Of course, exactly how all of this holiday tacko-rama will elevate the image of Cesar—which, for the record, makes "canine cuisine," not mere dog food—is a little tough to say. But like so many holiday campaigns, the goal here just seems to be putting a smile on people's faces. "Our hope is that consumers who engage with this campaign will walk away feeling good about the Cesar brand," Jackson said. With luck, they'll wind up feeling better about the brand than those tacky sweaters, which will be safely back in the closet by January. Mark Ballas shares a holiday moment with Hendrix, whom he adopted last year [...]

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11 Eye-Opening Digital Marketing Stats From the Past Week

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:34:27 +0000

Last week, holiday shopping dominated a steady stream of digital marketing stats. During the last several days, the data points were more varied, providing a cornucopia of marketing intelligence. Here are 11 numbers that caught our eye: 1. IG > TW Is Twitter about to officially fall to third place for social marketing platforms? Well, per eMarketer, 74 percent of U.S. companies with at least 100 employees will use Instagram for marketing in 2017, while 66 percent will use Twitter.   2. Houseparty takes advantage of Vine's demise Downloads for Houseparty, a group video chat app, have at times been growing at a rate of 10 percent daily since late October, when Vine shut down. It was co-founded in late September by Meerkat founder Ben Rubin. The company gave Adweek that daily growth figure and said that it recently surpassed 1 million daily active users.  3. Online gains again WPP's GroupM, a huge international ad buyer, forecasted that digital will likely account for 77 percent of total spend in 2017. Digital spending jumped 31 percent this year, and GroupM predicted that the space will lift by 33 percent in '17. More generally, global advertising next year will lift 4.4 percent to $547 billion, the media agency said. 4. Booyah, Bezos Content marketing software company OneSpot surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers, and 55 percent of them indicated that Amazon sets the standard for delivering personalized digital experiences, followed by Google (39 percent) and Facebook (38 percent). Here's another data point Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will probably enjoy: Slice Intelligence found that the ecommerce giant dominated Black Friday through Cyber Monday, accounting for 38 percent of digital spending. 5. Irrelevance sucks Austin, Texas-based OneSpot's research also found that 45 percent of Americans won't spend time with branded content if it's not relevant to their interests. Also, 42 percent said they are less interested in a brand's products and services if the content the brand provides is not personally relevant. 6. Dynamic app-install ads Facebook just launched its "dynamic ads" for mobile app installs that could help target people who might actually download an app—and who might actually also want to use it. In a test related to app event optimization—a way of targeting users who are likely to take action within an app after downloading—Facebook worked with Zynga to drive downloads for the mobile gamemaker's Wizard of Oz Slots game. Early results showed the personalized app install ads doubled the conversion-to-player rate and increased installs by 60 percent. (Overall, return on ad spend for Zynga was 4.5 times higher than before.) 7. Five-figure influencer FuckJerry, an Instagram account that focuses on humorous memes and works with brands, averages 6 million to 7 million impressions per post at a cost per 1,000 impressions, or CPM, of $5. That means marketers can expect to pay at least $30,000 for a piece of sponsored content.  8. Canary in the coal mine for digital streaming? If you thought the vinyl record's comeback story was just a bunch of hoopla about hobbyists, consider the latest developments from across the pond. The U.K.-based Entertainment Retailers Association, or ERA, said Monday that Britons spent 2.4 million pounds on the old-school wax last week while only doling out 2.1 million pounds for digital downloads.  9. Holiday mobile ads lean toward video According to IronSource, 73 percent of in-app mobile ads served during Thanksgiving weekend were videos, while nearly 15 percent of such promos were native ads. Check out the mobile distribution and monetization company's full infographic here. 10. Ladies often buy what they're blog-reading Bloglovin' surveyed 22,000 women readers and found that 53 percent of them purchased a product or service due to an influencer[...]

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Flipboard Is Debuting a Swipeable 'Promoted Roundup' Ad That Looks Like Instagram Carousel

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:32:00 +0000

Flipboard has launched another native ad unit that lets brands promote multiple pieces of branded content or traditional advertising simultaneously in a carousel. The format, which the mobile magazine is calling "Promoted Roundup," shows a main image that when clicked brings up a full story similar to editorial content on Flipboard. Beneath it will be several stories that users can scroll through horizontally to see if anything is worth reading. For the launch, Sony is buying the Promoted Roundup ads to promote Alpha Universe—Sony's branded camera website that includes info about gear, lighting and shooting styles that help in part help raise awareness for its product series of mirrorless cameras. She said the latest unit helps Sony reach users beyond its website by targeting stories to the photography and tech channels on the app. According to Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, as carousel units become more common, tests have shown the users have gotten used to swiping rather than flipping through content by interacting with similar formats on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. McCue said he sees the formats as "print layouts but modernized." "We've given it our own spin by maintaining this paginated experience so that we can have that edge-to-edge immersive experience," he told Adweek. "So when it's multiple items on a screen at a time, it's a clear package. It's a very clear package, so when you want to move on from that package, you just flip up." Sephora will also be using Promoted Roundup to advertise products as a part of a larger holiday campaign. The ads are then targeted at users based on interests and also what they might be interested in based on other browsing habits. In the next few months, eBay will also begin using roundups to promote products. McCue said brands investing in content still face the challenge of reaching the right people who will care about it. "They can try and place it on Facebook or try to buy it on Outbrain, but the problem is then that you have this adjacency issue," he said. "You have people who are reading about something else and then they come across this article by Sony or something. And it's okay, but it could be a lot better." The carousel style is the latest in Flipboard's suite of native ad offerings. Nicole McCormack, Flipboard's head of sales strategy, said Flipboard has been pushing to grow its suite of native ad products to attract more native content. Brands like Mini Cooper and United Airlines have used Storyboard, which debuted in September and brings a print magazine gatefold style to the mobile experience that lets brands utilize photos and video. While some of the units are being sold programmatically, others are still being sold directly. Asked about the CPM of the native formats, McCormack said the units range between "high teens" to "high twenties"—depending on scale and targeting. This year it also launched Promoted Story, which lets brands insert a single piece of branded content into a user's feed, and Promoted Collection, which allows three stories at once in a user's feed. "If you think about Flipboard as a platform for discovering, sharing, consuming great content," McCormack said. "What a lot of those brands that we've talked about have been doing with us is distributing their branded content." [...]

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The Washington Post Is Marketing Itself to Brands as a Testing Ground for Video Ads

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:10:20 +0000

One year ago, the Washington Post decided it was done working with third-party ad-tech partners and instead started building its own slick tools and ad formats to tackle industry problems like speed, fraud and viewability. So, it started an internal group called Research, Experimentation and Development (or RED) that now includes a team of 10 to 15 engineers and product employees who are laser-focused on making ads faster and better for both marketers and other publishers like Toronto's The Globe and Mail who license The Washington Post's ad technology. "I said let's invest in a team of engineers that just focuses on the commercial side of the business—nobody is saying, 'Why don't we have our own ad builder or build our own video product,'" said Jarrod Dicker, head of ad product and technology at The Washington Post. "Let's figure out and identify trends in the space like speed and identify issues like ad blocking, fraud and viewability and build technologies that solve these that don't just benefit The Washington Post but can then be white-labeled and sold throughout the industry." In the past year, The Washington Post has reduced its mobile ad loads by 75 percent with new fast-loading ads and has also built its own content-recommendation tool called PostPulse. Now it's putting its focus on video with a new version of an ad format that crunches big video files into fast-loading clips that change size and shape based on what the advertiser wants—essentially letting marketers experiment with formats like autoplay for Facebook and vertical-oriented ads for Snapchat before investing heavily in the platforms themselves. The new ad format—dubbed FlexPlay 2.0—includes faster load times, higher video resolutions, compressed file sizes and supports closed captioning and longer videos up to 30 seconds long. Forty brands including Lincoln, Giant Foods and Morgan Stanley have run FlexPlay campaigns this year, with completion rates reaching more than 50 percent. Dicker said the ad was designed to help brands take existing TV content and test which formats work best for digital. "A lot of brands and agencies, when they're creating these video assets, they're building them for television and they want to repurpose them on the web," he said. "If they deliver it across the web, they'll get larger reach for a less amount of money—however they're not performing." Here's how it works: When setting up a campaign, advertisers first pick the shape and size of the video ad—either horizontal or vertical—and can also make their own custom-aspect ratios. The Washington Post's content then automatically fits around the size of the video ad. Advertisers can also add closed captioning to their clips, as well as text overlays and social buttons. Experimenting with sound is also a major push and brands have the option to run campaigns as either autoplay or with a button that consumers have to click to play. By bundling all of those options in one place, Dicker said brands will be able to test which social video formats work without having to go all-in on a platform. For example, an advertiser may want to "create a Tasty video without having to recreate everything," he said. Or, brands may want to run vertical video ads on The Washington Post that they can then use for Snapchat ads. "We're basically saying, 'You no longer need to work with just third parties and pay premiums and not be able to own your technology in order to step into the space—you could actually leverage the technology built by a publisher on your own platforms for your own behalf," Dicker said. "My argument is if we can start building technologies and no longer rely on partners to solve our problems, then clients are going to want to work with The[...]

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Ad of the Day: Beats by Dre's All-Star Athletes Rock Out to White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army'

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:25:21 +0000


Beats by Dre has a proud history of tapping into sports superstars, going back to "The Game Before the Game" with Brazilian soccer star Neymar and the "Hear What You Want" work with Kevin Garnett, Richard Sherman, Colin Kaepernick and Cesc Fabregas. Now, the brand is back with a rocking new spot—with no fewer than 23 of the world's top athletes.

The spot, by Anomaly, features Tom Brady, LeBron James, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Cam Newton, Kevin Durant, Simone Biles and Nigel Sylvester, among other stars. They're all seen beating their chests to the pulsing baseline of "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes, which has become a great sports anthem in its own right over the years.

The theme of the new spot is, "Be heard."

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So many athletes use music as inspiration and a way to get pumped up. And headphones have the added benefit of providing privacy, which athletes also crave—making Beats' connection to sports that much more resonant.

"It's full of emotion," Tom Brady said of the White Stripes song in a statement. "That beat. That rhythm. It gets everyone off their feet. It's a great feeling when that song comes on."

The spot is the second big anthem piece of the fall for Beats. It follows the "Got No Strings" spot, which broke in October, also from Anomaly. That was another star-studded piece, but with fewer athletes, and used a song from Disney's Pinocchio to sell wireless headphones.

Client: Beats by Dre
Agency: Anomaly
Starring: Cam Newton, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Owen Farrell, Tom Brady, Kevin Debruyne, Kevin Durant, Anthony Joshua, Simone Biles, Nigel Sylvester, Conor McGregor, Antoine Griezmann, Thierry Henry, Leticia Bufoni, Antonio Conte, César Azpilicueta , Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Bastian Schweinsteiger , Alexander Ovechkin, Michael Phelps , Arjen Robben

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Tinder Just Launched a Branded Podcast About Dating With Gimlet Creative

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:00:01 +0000

How often has someone just sent you a message that said "hey"? Maybe you weren't even lucky enough to get punctuation or capitalization with it. Maybe you were the one who sent such a bare-bones message.  All the chatter around dating, and more specifically online dating, now has a new podcast home. Gimlet Creative, the branch of Gimlet Media that creates both the interstitial ads you hear in its podcasts and entire branded series, worked with Tinder to create a branded podcast all about dating mishaps. "It's not just about Tinder," said Nazanin Rafsanjani, creative director at Gimlet Media and head of Gimlet Creative. "It's about all the things people are confronting on Tinder or on any other dating app." DTR, which stands for "define the relationship," premiered this week with an episode titled "Hey" and will run as an eight-week series with each episode focusing on a different dating-related topic. Making branded podcasts can be tricky because "no one's gonna listen to it if it feels like an ad," Rafsanjani said. "We're lucky that the companies we work with get that, too. It's not in their best interest, so we aim to make sure we're telling a story that's relevant to the brand." She added, "We want to make something that anyone would want to listen to." frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="650"> Tinder CMO Ferrell McDonald said, "We're constantly sharing podcasts with each other at the office. We were fortunate enough to find a great partner in Gimlet who got what we want to accomplish—telling original, relevant and compelling stories." Rafsanjani recognizes that podcasting is an intimate experience for listeners. People opt in to shows and specific episodes unlike TV audiences who often come across programming passively. "Try to make something people can connect to and that feels real to them—that's the challenge, and that's what we're aiming for," she said. Just as podcasting is up close and personal with people, so is dating. As The Wall Street Journal noted, the use of GIFs on Tinder tends to help messages come across better, especially ones of Joey from Friends saying, "How you doin'?" It's just two words more than "hey," but it seems to be a popular way to break the ice. "The rules of dating are constantly evolving," McDonald said. "People are experiencing new challenges and naturally have questions that they may be hesitant to ask and new experiences that they want to share but might not have had the appropriate platform to—until now." McDonald continued, "We hope our audience will be inspired by other people's successes and failures, because that's what makes us human. … And that's what makes modern relationships so interesting." [...]

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Pantone's Color of the Year Is Greenery, Designed to Perk Us Up in 2017

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:08:48 +0000


Pantone has unveiled its Color of the Year for 2017 and the cheery green shade—aptly named Greenery—is meant to help with the year ahead. 

"Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a statement. 

She continued: "Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose."

So far the shade, which Pantone dubs "nature's neutral," has been well-received. That wasn't the case two years ago, when it tapped Marsala as its Color of the Year for 2015 and was mocked online. 

Check out what Pantone's Color of the Year looks like below:

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Amazon Inserts Its Own 'Man of the Year' Issue in Time to Promote Man in the High Castle

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:08:18 +0000

If you thought Time's new person of the year cover featuring Donald Trump echoed the magazine's pick of Adolf Hitler in 1938, wait until you see what's inside. Each person of the year issue features an advertising booklet insert from Amazon Studios with a mock Time man of the year cover ostensibly from 1963 honoring The Man in the High Castle. It's part of Amazon's provocative marketing campaign for the return of the drama, with Season 2 streaming beginning Friday for Amazon Prime customers. Based on Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel of the same name, the series takes place in a world in which the Allies lost World War II, and Japan and Germany split up the United States. While Amazon does not release ratings for its streaming shows, it has said The Man in the High Castle is its most popular original series in the history of Prime Video. The six-page Time insert includes a feature story on the mysterious Man in the High Castle, whose identity remains a mystery at this point though he will be featured in Season 2, and a conventional ad for the Amazon series on the back cover. Its tagline: "The future belongs to those who change it."   It's an eerie parallel to the Trump cover, which many people have compared to Hitler's being named man of the year in 1938. The Amazon insert further highlights those parallels. Time's cover line for Trump calls him "President of the Divided States of America," wording Trump took issue with, telling Today on Wednesday that it was "snarky," and adding, "I'm not president yet. So I didn't do anything to divide." But Amazon's faux Time issue includes a map in which the United States literally is divided in two, as it is on the series—Germany controls the East Coast, and Japan is in charge of the West Coast. The Amazon insert was part of a larger Amazon ad buy for the show within Time Inc., though Time was the only booklet insert. Amazon also ran a faux cover on People in December 2014 to promote the first season of Transparent. While other brands have spoofed or reimagined Time's person of the year issue in the past, this appears to be the first time it was done as a booklet insert within the issue itself. While Time said Amazon was given no advance indication of its choice for person of the year, Trump was an obvious front-runner. This isn't the first time Amazon has taken an eye-raising approach to marketing the series. Last year, it briefly plastered a New York City subway train with Nazi and Imperial Japanese imagery before the ads were quickly pulled. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="367" src="" width="652">   [...]

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