Kantar Media Newsroom: Ad Fraud’s Nemesis: The Lowly Postcard

Welcome to this week’s Kantar Media Newsroom, your weekly summary of the news that matters in the media and marketing industries. To learn more about how we can help you monitor both paid and earned media and make informed decisions, please contact us at info-us@kantarmedia.com.

Social Media

Digital spend won’t drop, even with ad fraud

Last week we heard from Keith Weed, Unilever’s head marketer, sending veiled threats to the big guys including Facebook and Google, warning that ad dollars would be spent elsewhere if fraudulent behavior persisted on their platforms. But, truthfully, digital spend isn’t going anywhere, especially down, as more marketing budgets are committing to digital. “Recent history has shown that despite Facebook’s numerous measurement errors and YouTube’s brand safety scandals, few brands have kept their ads off these platforms. The duopoly captured more than 60% of US digital ad spend in2017, eMarketer estimates.” Furthermore, these brands want and need to get in front of consumers, and where are these consumers spending more and more time? On their devices; staring at screens for nearly 6 hours per day in 2017, per eMarketer. Do the “big guys” need to do a better job of weeding out the fraudulent accounts, ads and news? Of course, but the threat of brands taking their money elsewhere is rather empty at this point.

Best way to combat fraudulent political ad buys? Postcards.

Who knew the Pony Express was what was going to save Facebook in the wake of Russian meddling in American politics? No one. But, Facebook is looking for any way to help the process of verifying ads purchased for their platform are from actual, verified US accounts. In order to do so, it plans on sending good ol’ fashioned postcards to ad purchasers, complete with a verification code needed for input in order to complete the transaction. Ahh, you have to love the classics, right? “The plan was unveiled a day after special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians with interfering in the presidential election. Mueller's indictment described how Russian agents stole social security numbers and other information from real Americans and used them to create bank and PayPal accounts in order to buy online ads. Agents also recruited Americans to do things such as hold up signs at rallies organized to create content for Russian-created social media posts.”

Social media and its role in Parkland school shooting aftermath

Another day, another shooting. It’s becoming too familiar for many of us. But, this time, the students at Parkland in Florida took the issue of gun control up themselves in the hours after the massacre – tweeting, posting to Facebook and being interviewed on live TV. Hashtags started trending, massive organized protests formed, akin to the women’s marches after the Trump election, and students called out their elected officials for taking money from the NRA and only offering “thoughts and prayers” to the innocent victims of these tragic gun-related events. Their stance is simple – they were there, hiding in closets, being shielded only by books and desks, hiding from a madman with a gun. The fate of our future is in the hands of these kids, and for once it might be a good thing, they might actually force the conversation that this country needs to have. 



Students are viewing the shooting at a Florida high school a turning point – illustrating the importance of being politically active. “In the aftermath of other shootings, many survivors try to heal in private and return as best they can to daily life. If there is an outcry for new gun legislation or better background checks, it often fades in days or weeks. Will this time be any different than the short-lived movements that followed shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando or a country music concert in Las Vegas? The students say yes. They say they are tired of seeing blood and corpses on classroom floors, and they want their generation to be the catalyst for change.” This event is becoming increasingly accessible as well – with students using their smart phones to capture audio, video and virtually document the entire ordeal for their social media following. They then use that same social media platform to advocate for stricter gun laws and the like, making it a multifaceted channel for communication, information gathering and community organization.

Scandal in the White House – I know you’re shocked

It wouldn’t be a normal day without scandal, intrigue, rumor floating out of the White House. In fact, this past week was no different, with the Russia investigation indicting 13 Russians in election meddling. It’s a sad day when the Florida shooting actually provided a brief reprieve for the White House staffers from nearly-constant gossip. “Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught charging taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extramarital affair with the president. And the special counsel’s Russia investigation was intensifying. The tumult was so intense that there was fervent speculation that President Trump might fire his chief of staff. But a gun massacre at a Florida high school last Wednesday, which left 17 dead, seemed to shift the media glare away from the Trump scandals and gave embattled aides an opportunity to re­focus on handling a crisis not of their own making. While the White House mourned the loss of life in Parkland, Fla., some aides privately acknowledged that the tragedy offered a breather from the political storm.”


Alexa, I Love You.

Amazon’s Alexa buying unwanted cat food?

You know it’s happened, an Amazon Echo commercial airs and all of a sudden your home assistant illuminates and the cheery Alexa voice chimes in. Well, in the UK, a commercial illustrating the ease and benefits of the new Amazon Echo caused a stir when the user orders simple cat food. “A viewer lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying that the ad was irresponsible because it caused their Echo Dot to order cat food. Amazon confirmed that the complainant’s device did place an order for the cat food but it had been cancelled by the customer.” Have no fear, Amazon claims there are procedures in place to vanquish errant orders, “Amazon said it was aware of the potential issue and “marks” ads so that Alexa is not triggered. In addition, customers are required to confirm a purchase, which is automatically cancelled if they do not do so, the company said. Earlier this month Amazon used its technology to stop devices from interacting with its Super Bowl TV spot, which featured celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins taking over from Alexa when she ‘loses her voice’.”

Are we destined to fall in love with our AI home assistants?

I love you, Alexa. You tell me the weather, you give me the latest sports scores, and you can even call my mom for me. You tell me jokes, play hide-and-seek with my toddler, and can help me with a recipe for dinner. You’re such a great friend! “As consumers share details of their lives with these new friends, the relationship will grow closer—especially as they become more integrated into our phones, said Gemma Craven, head of social and mobile at ad agency network McCann. ‘We already have very intimate relationships with [our phones], as we carry them around with us every waking moment,’ she said. ‘It’s only natural that our relationship with them will become even deeper.’” While most people view their new assistants as helpful, it might not be too long before that attachment grows stronger. “It isn’t a stretch to suggest the possibility—or even the inevitability—of romantic relationships between consumers and their voice assistants.”


Who's on Top? - February 5-11, 2018

Comcast Goes for Olympic Gold

As an official partner of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), Comcast spent all of its national TV budget this week on three new ads which featured Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Comcast NBCUniversal also holds the U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games through 2032. As such, the TV advertising was placed exclusively during airings of the Olympic Games on NBC networks.

The majority of spend, $4.3 million supported an ad featuring Rico Roman, a Paralympic athlete and retired Army Staff Sergeant who explains how he used hockey as another way to serve his country after losing a leg while serving in Iraq.


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