Tag: advertising

Twitter is the latest to fill your feed with auto-playing video ads

Your Twitter feed is going to get even busier thanks to the microblogging service unlocking auto-playing video ads for advertisers. Starting today Video Website Cards are available to every ad-buyer. In limited beta tests (like the one embedded below; videos don't seem to work with embeds), Twitter has found them pretty successful, with a 200 percent higher clickthrough rate compared to the leading standard. So yeah, expect to see an awful lot more of these coming soon. Just wait until #brands start combining these with 280-character tweets. Suddenly, paying for Tweetbot doesn't seem like a horrible idea.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Twitter

Junk technology: A ridiculous history of fast-food PR stunts

Who doesn't love a good, over-the-top marketing stunt? Recently we've seen a lot of those, including Pizza Hut's Pizza Parka, a coat made out of the same insulating materials as its delivery pouches. Because why not? That ridiculous product from Pizza Hut shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, this is the same company that made shoes that can order a pie for you. But Pizza Hut isn't the only one trying to get creative using technology to promote its brand.

Over the past few years, other food chains, like Domino's, KFC and McDonald's, have also used tech as a marketing tool. The hope is that whatever they make, be it a delivery robot or a chicken box with a built-in charger, is ridiculous enough that it'll go viral. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, we're here to show you a history of marketing stunts that have taken things too far. Or not far enough, depending on your taste.

LinkedIn would like to add autoplay ads to your professional network

LinkedIn is synonymous with email spam for many users, and their latest announcement isn't going to help their reputation. According to Recode, the company (which is now owned by Microsoft) is going to start selling autoplay video ads that users will see in their feeds. The good news here is that the videos will play without sound.

The company was late to the video party, debuting "Influencer" videos just last year, but it seems to have doubled down on the strategy since then. Since then, they've also added a video creation tool that allows users to record and post clips to their feed. Video posts are shared more frequently than other types of posts on LinkedIn -- up to 20 times more often, according to Recode. It makes sense that they'd want to make some revenue off of them.

Sudeep Cherian, LinkedIn's head of product marketing for ads, says that video advertising is a "must-have" for the professional networking service. They're currently testing the product with a small group of marketers, but will expand the option to anyone who purchases advertising on the platform eventually.

Source: Recode

Facebook will hand-review every ad targeting politics and race

When Facebook said it was hiring 1,000 more people to manually review ads, it wasn't necessarily clear to everyone what that entailed -- just what was the focus, and would it affect upstanding advertisers? While the company touched on what whats happening before, there's no ambiguity now. According to Axios, Facebook is telling advertisers that it now requires manual review for any ad targeting people based on "politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues." In other words, Facebook is determined to avoid any attempt to use ads to stoke social tensions, even if that means slowing down its ad system. The social network warns marketers that they're "likely to experience a delay" to the start of their ad campaigns, at least until Facebook finds a way to streamline the process.

When asked for comment, Facebook pointed to its earlier news post, which only made reference to "certain types" of ads going through human reviews. It didn't touch on the specific content or the expected delays.

It's not shocking that Facebook would limit manual reviews to more sensitive subjects, but the absolute requirement for reviews covering a wide range of subjects is notable. It's a more direct acknowledgment that the company's previous reliance on automated screening let shady ads slip through the cracks, and that manual inspection might be necessary to catch people trying to game the system. And simply speaking, this could represent a survival tactic. Facebook knows it's under government scrutiny for Russia-linked ads, and it may have decided that voluntarily slowing down its ad system was better than risking government intervention.

Source: Axios

Facebook is hiring 1,000 people to fight shady ads

Now that Facebook has given Russia-linked ads to Congress, it's outlining what it'll do to prevent such a suspicious ad campaign from happening in the future. To begin with, it's promising to make ads more transparent -- it's writing tools that will let you see all the ads a Page runs, not just the ones targeting you. In theory, this could help concerned people spot questionable advertising without requiring help from Facebook or third parties. Most of Facebook's efforts, however, center around toughening the ad review process and the standards that guide them.

The social network is hiring 1,000 more people for its global ads review teams in the space of the next year, and is "investing more" in machine learning to help with automated flagging for ads. Advertisers will need "more thorough" documentation if they're running ads related to US federal elections, such as confirming the organization they work with. Facebook is also tightening its policies to prevent ads promoting "more subtle expressions of violence," which might include some of the ads stoking social tensions.

The site is aware that it isn't alone in grappling with Russia-backed campaigns, for that matter. It's "reaching out" to government and industry leaders to both share info and help establish better standards so that this won't happen elsewhere.

Facebook's moves look like they could catch dodgy ad campaigns, particularly those attempting election influence campaigns. However, this is part of an all too familiar pattern at Facebook: the company implements broad changes (usually including staff hires) after failing to anticipate the social consequences of a feature. While it would be difficult for a tech company to anticipate every possible misuse of its services, this suggests that Facebook needs to extensively consider the pitfalls of a feature before it reaches the public, rather than waiting for a crisis.

Via: Recode

Source: TechCrunch

Snapchat’s AR Lenses are the newest tool for ads

Remember Snapchat's dancing 3D hot dog? Well, you might start seeing a few more Lenses like that one because Snap is opening up its 3D World Lenses to advertisers. So far, it has partnered with Warner Bros. and Bud Light to create Lenses featuring the Blade Runner "Spinner" car and a bud light vendor.

3D World Lenses are active through the outward facing camera and can be placed on pretty much any surface. You can resize it, move it around and even walk around it once it's in place. Snap says that its dancing hot dog was viewed over 2 billion times on Snapchat and that its Lens popularity has an impact on advertising with ad campaigns using them resulting in increased ad and brand awareness.

Snapchat introduced the ability to add 3D objects into an image in April and 3D Bitmoji followed earlier this month. Today's announcement brings these AR capabilities to advertisers who can offer them nationally, targeted by age, gender or interest or via a swipe-up attachment to a regular ad. And with users snapping over three billion times a day, snap-based advertisements stand to be seen quite a lot.

Source: Snapchat

Russia-linked Facebook ads sought to exploit US social divisions

There's been a lot of fuss over a Russian group buying Facebook ads in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, to the point where it's handing the ads to Congress as it investigates the scope of Russia's influence campaign. But what's in those ads, exactly? We might have a better idea. Washington Post sources say that the 3,000 ads headed to Congress were built to exploit American social divisions. Some championed activist groups like Black Lives Matter, while others portrayed them as existential threats. Others aimed to split opinions through hot-button issues like Islam, LGBT rights, gun rights and immigration.

The members of Congress involved in the investigation haven't seen the ads yet, but have confirmed at least some of the content following briefings. House Intelligence Committee lead Rep. Adam Schiff doesn't believe the ads were intended to drive incensed voters to the polls -- rather, they were meant as an act of "voter suppression" that discouraged involvement. That's backed by strategies seen elsewhere, such as attempts to fuel voter boycotts among Bernie Sanders supporters upset he didn't win the Democratic nomination.

While it's still not certain that the Russian government was directly behind the ads, they line up with strategies the country has used for decades, such as paying for ads in newspapers and even creating activist groups. The difference, of course, would be the scale that the internet involves. The $100,000 in ads may not sound like much, but that can get you a lot of views (BlitzMetrics' Dennis Yu believes it could be "hundreds of millions") with relatively little effort. Russia could have paid a relatively minuscule amount to achieve the effect of fostering division and discouraging voters.

Source: Washington Post

Facebook will turn over Russia-linked ads to Congress

Earlier this month, Facebook admitted that it sold $100,000 worth of ads between 2015 and 2017 that led to fake news pages and were bought by advertisers operating out of Russia. A report released yesterday noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee expected the social media titan to testify about the advertisements, and today, Facebook agreed -- and will also share the 3,000-plus advertisements in question.

In its statement, the company emphasized that it heavily weighed the disclosure; Facebook wants everyone to know that it will think hard about handing over your data to the US government, even if you're suspected of running a propaganda campaign to influence an American election.

We are deeply committed to safeguarding user content, regardless of the user's nationality, and ads are user content. Federal law also places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information. As our biannual transparency reports make clear, we carefully scrutinize all government data requests, from here and abroad, and we push back where they do not adhere to those legal limitations. And, of course, we also recognize and support the important work of government investigations and take care not to take steps, like public disclosures, that might undermine them.

It's unclear when Facebook will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but they won't be alone. Today, Wired confirmed that Twitter will also testify before Congress at the same meeting. Both social media platforms will likely have a rough go as they explain how they allowed propaganda to spread on their networks.

Appending Facebook's statement was a personal message (below, or text here) from Mark Zuckerberg about the platform's next steps. Predictably, the company will revamp their ad vetting process, which anonymous workers told The Verge had insufficiently prepared the review force to screen out something as subtle as propaganda. But more importantly, Zuckerberg vowed that Facebook would bring about more transparency in online advertising, starting with their own site. Soon, advertisements will disclose which pages paid for them, and those pages would list all the ads they're currently running.

When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they're required by law to disclose who paid for them. But you still don't know if you're seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we're going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they're currently running to any audience on Facebook. We will roll this out over the coming months, and we will work with others to create a new standard for transparency in online political ads.

The full video is below:

Source: Facebook

Democrats call for tougher online ad spending rules

Politicians aren't just asking Facebook to testify on how suspicious Russia-linked ads allegedly reached its social network -- they want some political reform to prevent this from happening again. A mix of House and Senate Democrats have written a letter to the Federal Election Commission calling for it to produce "new guidance" telling online advertising platforms (like those at Facebook and Google) how to prevent illegal foreign spending during elections. Internet ad buys give countries like Russia a cheap but effective method for "disruption of our democratic process," the politicians say, and it's important that internet companies stop this to "preserve the integrity" of election law.

The Democrats, which include well-known figures like Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. John Conyers, aren't dictating the exact policies so much as mentioning concerns they want the FEC to address. They want to close "loopholes" in campaign disclosure systems to prevent foreign outlets from using corporate and non-profit labels to hide their spending. They'd like a set of "best practices" for preventative measures, including suggestions for improving companies' internal procedures. And they'd like to explore changes that could apply regardless of the medium, such as tougher disclosure standards and measures that can track "coordination" between political campaigns and third-party political spending.

As you've no doubt noticed, the letter isn't bipartisan. Rep. John Sarbanes tells Recode that he thinks there's an "edict from on high" that tells Republicans to avoid touching anything that mentions Russia. Whether or not that's true, it limits the momentum of the letter. Democrats will have to hope that the FEC cares enough about the issue to start work on guidelines, and there's no guarantee that any action would be ready in time for the 2018 mid-term elections. Still, Facebook's ad buy revelations were broadly concerning enough that these Congresspeople might get the FEC's ear.

Source: Recode, Scribd

Facebook tightens safeguards against hate-driven targeted ads

Facebook was caught more than a little off-guard when ProPublica discovered ads targeted at racists, and today it's taking steps to prevent those hate-filled ads from showing up again. The social network's Sheryl Sandberg has announced plans to tighten control of ads, including more human involvement. There will now be "more manual review" of ad targeting options to prevent promos based on hateful terms. Also, it's developing a program that will encourage you to report abuses directly -- you might not have to wait for a news story for Facebook to take action.

Sandberg notes that hate-fueled targeting has "always been in violation" of Facebook's ad policies, but the company is now clarifying those policies and improving its enforcement mechanisms to reduce the number of ads that slip through the cracks.

The executive is quick to acknowledge that Facebook simply hadn't anticipated the possibility that hatemongers might abuse ad targeting that way. "That is on us," she says, adding that the site will be "unrelenting" in fixing future abuses. It's a candid admission, but the question is whether or not it'll be enough. As we saw with Russia-linked election ads, human review doesn't automatically guarantee that Facebook (or anyone else) will intercept dodgy material before it's too late. This is really just a start -- Facebook will likely need to play it by ear and see just how well it can anticipate abuses.

Source: Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook)