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Latest news from The Drum

Why deceptive ad injections are setting the industry back years
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Deceptive ad injections are setting the digital industry back years, according to ZenithOptimedia’s Pedro Mona, and advertisers and publishers need to work together to protect consumers, and the ad industry’s reputation.

Ad injections are not a new phenomenon, entering the public eye earlier this year when it was discovered that a number of Lenovo laptops were shipped with addons that placed display ads on Google. Further interest has been triggered by Google receiving over 100,000 complaints from Chrome users in the past year. What’s the cause for concern and what measures need to be put in place to protect advertisers, publishers and consumers? 

Ad injection probably grew as an opportunistic way to make additional revenue out of the growing complexities of digital marketing. Publishers and advertisers focus on the results and not the full digital journey. This leaves gaps for certain players to use deceptive methods to hijack content, playing the system to their financial gain. 

How does this happen? Too many companies still operate on a lastclick attribution business model. Ad injectors, paid on a click basis, may well be looking as excellent in driving results and advertisers may well be completely unaware that their ads are even being shown via these practices. 

For publishers, the primary issue is loss of revenue. When inventory is placed on their website via ad injection, they are not remunerated. Advertisers are in the firing line too, as they are unable to keep track of where their ads are displayed. There have been some high profile cases where ads ended up appearing on competitor sites or next to highly contentious content.

Most importantly perhaps, is the impact on the consumer. Consumers visiting a publisher’s website receive a poor user experience. They are targeted with the wrong ads at the wrong time, disrupting their online activity with irrelevant content. Even more worryingly perhaps is the security breach ad injections leave consumers vulnerable to. Ad injectors leave the door wide open for hijacking secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates, that all important code that tells your browser a site is legitimate and will not steal your personal information, leading to potential fraud and identity theft. 

So what steps are being taken to solve the issue of ad injections? Following the number of complaints laid at Google’s door recently, the company has moved to stop malicious ad injectors. Google removed 192 extensions from the Chrome Web Store, as these did not send an alert to the user that the extension would alter the web experience. Google has also developed tools to remove ad injectors from Chrome and sends a warning message to users. Recognising the need to work in tandem with those affected, Google is working alongside affected advertisers to identify the networks involved in the malpractice. 

Overall, deceptive ad injections are setting the digital industry back years in terms of everything it has worked for around transparency, viewability and user experience. Only by working together and smarter, can advertisers and publishers hope to raise awareness of the issue to protect consumers as well as the advertising industry’s reputation.

From Coca-Cola to Heinz Ketchup, what makes an iconic bottle?
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

So distinctive it can be recognised in the dark or lying broken on the ground. That was the brief that led to the creation of the iconic contour Coke bottle, and few would argue that it fails to fulfil its remit. But what other bottles could you identify, emptied of their contents and with their labels scratched off? What does it take to create an iconic bottle?

Turnbull & Asser award global digital brief to Poke London
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Turnbull & Asser has appointed Poke London to handle a global digital brief spanning creative, design, UX and strategy across its digital portfolio.

The appointment sees Poke tasked with defining a digital strategy for the Royal Warrant Shirtmakers and James Bond outfitters as the brand seeks to expand its global presence.

“Luxury is a natural space for Poke to work in as brand owners need no education in the importance and value of beautifully crafted customer experiences,” said Poke executive creative director Nik Roope.

“The Turnbull & Asser owners and management team have an inspiring ambition to fuse their rich heritage with progressive product and service innovation that will give bespoke a whole new resonance in the luxury space.”

The brand’s worldwide client base is served from stores in London and New York.

Story Time: The importance of authentic provenance for food and drink brands
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

One of the first things we like to know about people when we first meet them is where they’re from and what’s their story. The same is true for brands. We refer to this as brand ‘provenance’; a word derived from the French ‘provenir’, meaning ‘to come forth’ or ‘originate’.

Which is all rather ironic for Kronenbourg, who last year fell foul of the UK Advertising Standards Authority for making claims about its ‘Frenchness’ that the brand could not substantiate. Parent company Heineken has appealed the decision, which would limit its ability to portray Kronenbourg as authentically French. If successful, the damage to the brand could be significant. After all, without a claim to a distinctively Gallic provenance, Kronenbourg is about as French as a McDonald’s fry.

This case highlights how provenance matters for brands, particularly in the food and drink sector, where it can provide a strong source of differentiation and, ultimately, competitive advantage.

Consumers value authenticity and will gladly pay a premium when the brand’s connections to origin run deep. Much of our industry research points to the fact that we put provenance before price and availability when shopping for food and drink. ‘Made In’, ‘Made By’ and ‘Made Since’ all matter. They have become the shorthand for all things consumers care about: quality, ingredients, health, animal welfare, environmental and labour concerns. In short, provenance equals confidence.

Of course, advertisers have known this for a long time. We’ve been handcrafting ads about provenance since 1623. Probably.

Even a humble bag of spuds can be covered in purple prose - often accompanied by a sepia-tinted photo of the very field from which they were plucked – in a bid to sell the unique provenance of its contents. Potato lovers aren’t merely buying the potatoes, they are buying into the farm, the field and the fingers that pulled them from the long-tilled earth. They are buying the story. Your story.

That does not mean you should instruct your agency to dress up your mutton as salt-marsh or black-faced lamb. Or that you enlist the services of Eric Cantona as your brand spokesman before you can prove that your Strisselspalt hops are grown in Alsace and not some greenhouse in Latvia. While there is a popular conceit that ‘all advertising is fiction’, the best and most effective advertising is invariably built upon truth.

If the consumer spots a hole in your story, their confidence in your brand can be obliterated. And digital consumers can be highly attuned to testing the veracity, or otherwise, of claimed provenance. From a communications perspective, brands simply need to get their stories straight.

Of course, many regulatory bodies and industry kite-marks exist to rubberstamp brand provenance. An unfortunate side effect of this is a proliferation of brands seeking to ‘flex’ the rules. Hence, our supermarket shelves are well stocked with ‘Greek-style’ yoghurt, ‘Belgian-style’ chocolate and ‘American-style’ pancake mix. Volvic piggy-backed the 2014 World Cup with a flavoured water ‘Inspired by Brazil’, surely stretching notions of provenance to their breakable limit. Unless you understand your core consumers and are absolutely sure that they’ll be similarly elastic in judging your brand, it’s a risky game to play.

Marketing begins and ends with your consumer. The digital consumer has a whole repository of tools to instantly gauge the strength of your claims and often a large audience to broadcast to, should they find your story lacking. It’s only worth you making origin a strong part of your brand marketing strategy if you understand their expectations about your brand category. Belgium works for chocolate. Not so renowned for pasta sauces.

If you’re a brand with strong provenance, leverage it and be truthful. For ‘comeback brands’, rediscover your heritage. For ‘new brands’, find your story. And if your provenance isn’t attractive – Belgian tagliatelle, anyone? – don’t emphasize it.

Zane Radcliffe is creative director at The Agency.

Brand of the Day: FIFA
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Today we feature the International Federation Association of Football, better known as FIFA. On Wednesday, several arrests were made after US prosecutors accused FIFA officials of corruption and bribery.

1) The association

Founded in the early 1900s, FIFA was created to be a central governing body for soccer across the globe. It is the central organizer of major football events, most notably the World Cup. The association is headquartered in Zurich and follows the laws of Switzerland.

2) The sponsors

The association is sponsored by seven major brands: McDonald’s. Gazprom, Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, Budweiser and Hyundai. These brands pay top dollar -$1.4bn in 2014 – to align themselves with the football association. Sony was once on this list, but left last year.

3) The money

There is no shortage of money involved with FIFA. Much of this money goes to the association’s top officials. In 2011, $30m was allocated just for the salaries of the top 35 employees. However, a report in the Sunday Times last year indicated that many ‘secret bonuses’ are paid to the officials, including $4.4m after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

4) The arrests

Early Wednesday, Swiss police stormed Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich during a FIFA meeting. Nine individuals, named by The New York Times as Jeffrey Webb, Eugenio Figueredo, Jack Warner, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas, Rafael Esquivel, José Maria Marin and Nicolás Leoz were arrested for accepting bribes and kickbacks. The exact amount is unknown, though it seems that The Sunday Times may have grossly underestimated.

5) Looking forward

A few of the sponsors backing FIFA, namely Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Adidas, have publically stated that they disapproved of the corruption allegations. However, none of the brands have officially dropped the association. US prosecutors are just beginning their investigations into the scandal will use US law to try to rid FIFA of all corruption. 

Meanwhile, next week it will hold its presidential elections with Prince Ali bin al-Hussein standing against long-time incumbent Sepp Blatter, although calls have been made for these to be postponed following the arrests. 

Tesco shareholders go to war over profit overstatement scandal
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Tesco shareholders rankled by Tesco’s recent profit overstatements have recruited a top City barrister to fight their cause against the retail group, in a bid to claim redress.

Reports from Sky News suggest Philip Marshall QC will represent Tesco Shareholder Claims, the umbrella group for burned investors in the supermarket chain who were left nursing significant losses when the firms share price slumped amidst last autumn’s accounting scandal.

The group is believed to include a number of institutional investors as well as private individuals, adding to the legal woes headed Tesco’s way.

For its part Tesco has vowed to defend itself in court, despite having been found to have overstated profits by as much as £320m and a live investigation being carried out by the Serious Fraud Office.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator and the Financial Reporting Council are also conducting their own inquiries into what went wrong.

In an attempt to put such woes behind it Tesco is embarking on an ambitious turnaround strategy to place the business on an even footing; including a programme of store closures, cost cutting and sell offs.

Email snooping victims to sue Yahoo as a single group
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Yahoo is bracing itself for a class action lawsuit over allegations that it illegally accessed emails sent to its mail customers from non-Yahoo accounts, after a US judge granted Californian victims the right to sue the company as a group.

The action relates to users who sent or received emails to Yahoo Mail accounts from 2 October 2011, encompassing an estimated 1m members, who attest that Yahoo breached their privacy to collect data in order to bolster its ad revenues.

Claimants accuse Yahoo of intercepting and analysing emails and attachments sent by non-Yahoo mail users to improve ‘targeted advertising’ for its 275m members, a crucial component of Yahoo’s business model with some 80 per cent of all revenue deriving from search and display advertising.

In their action the plaintiffs call for an injunction banning Yahoo from further spying as well as unspecified damages.

Whilst not denying that it accessed the emails Yahoo contends that as some claimants continued with their subscriptions despite being aware of such activity they had consented by default to allowing their emails to be read.

A separate group of non-Yahoo account holders since 2 October 2012 were also granted the right  to sue.

Oculus Rift package likely to cost around $1,500 on release
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

If you want to own the full Oculus Rift package then it is likely to cost you around $1,500 (£972) the virtual reality company’s chief executive has revealed.

Speaking at the Re/Code conference yesterday, where the host media site also revealed that it had been acquired by Vox Media, Brendan Iribe revealed the cost of owning the full Rift package upon its likely general release of Q1 next year.

"We are looking at an all-in price, if you have to go out and actually need to buy a new computer and you're going to buy the Rift... at most you should be in that $1,500 range,” he commented, however he failed to disclose the cost of the package items individually.

The cost of the Rift headset alone was previously revealed as around $350 (£227).

Brands and media experts offer tips on how to further unlock brand spend in programmatic
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Programmatic trading is becoming a bigger part of the media mix, yet there are still road blocks to advertisers unlocking their brand budgets. Brands including eBay, Moneysupermarket and Unilever, along with other media experts have highlighted some of the remaining barriers in the above video.

eBay’s head of advertising Phuong Nguyen said publishers must ensure they are providing advertisers with clear definitions of premium programmatic – beyond a guaranteed buy alone – with more focus on what rich-media formats they can offer programmatically.

Meanwhile Moneysupermarket’s head of programmatic Sammy Austin stressed that measurement of programmatic should incorporate brand awareness metrics not direct response alone, and Unilever’s Alex Tait called for brands to pay more attention to their first party data.

The spokespeople were judges for The Drum’s Digital Trading Awards, in association with AppNexus, which took place last month at the Marriott Grosvenor hotel in London. View the complete video above. 

Wearable tech firm Jawbone sues rivals Fitbit over data theft
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Wearable devices and consumer technology specialist Jawbone has launched legal action against rivals Fitbit after accusing its competitor of poaching as many as 15 staff members who copied intellectual property and trade data onto USB sticks as they left.

The lawsuit names five former employees who are thought to have been directly involved in addition to 10 others who have also fallen under suspicion, after a Fitbit recruiter contacted 30 per cent of Jawbone’s staff.

Seeking redress Jawbone is demanding compensation for its losses and a bar on further employees jumping ship.

In a statement Fitbit said: "As the pioneer and leader in the connected health and fitness market, Fitbit has no need to take information from Jawbone or any other company. Since Fitbit’s start in 2007, our employees have developed and delivered innovative product offerings to empower our customers to lead healthier, more active lives. We are unaware of any confidential or proprietary information of Jawbone in our possession and we intend to vigorously defend against these allegations.”

Fitbit is in process of listing on the New York Stock Exchange, a process which could net it as much as $100m after reporting sales of $340m in the first quarter, three times what it achieved over the same period in 2014.