Kantar Media Newsroom: Putin’s in another election, and it’s not in the US

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.

It’s March Madness Baby!

College hoops is a slam dunk for advertising

According to Kantar Media’s analysis, TV ads during March Madness have increased at a clip of 3-5% every year, with over $1.28 billion sold last year alone. That’s second to only the Super Bowl. This is significant – with the NBA in a distant third place with less than $1B claimed. The top advertising categories include goods including motor vehicle and electronics, and the top ten advertisers for the event account for over one-third of all ad dollars spent, most with longstanding partnerships to the game itself. It’s game time!

Politics and the game

It’s a big election year, if you hadn’t heard, and candidates are looking for the best “lightning in a bottle” opportunities to get their message across to the masses. March Madness just might be their top get – with a giant audience glued to the screen in real time (who watches this exciting stuff on the DVR anyway?!) it might be the best platform leading up to key primary elections. The gamble may be a lot for some of the candidates’ pocketbooks, but the potential of viral success or at the very least, drawing attention away from their opponents, seems worthy of the price tag.

Looking for a ‘fresh’ wardrobe?

Spring is upon us, and the opportunity to purchase a few new pieces to liven up the wardrobe may be on the minds of many. Well, if you’re in the market, look no further than Wendy’s. Wait…what? The fast-food Wendy’s? In a word, yes. Part of a tie-in with its March Madness advertising, Wendy’s is offering apparel giveaways including jerseys, with a “fresh” appeal. “It all has to do with the motto "Fresh since Day One," which appears aimed at McDonald's for making its hamburger patties from frozen, not fresh, beef. Wendy's has been promoting the difference lately such that it clearly sees its use of fresh beef as a key competitive advantage. Only lately has McDonald's begun to introduce burgers made from fresh beef, which some say improves their taste. Wendy's has teased McDonald's usage of frozen beef on Twitter and in this year's Super Bowl commercial. However, as it relates to the merchandise, Wendy's is playing its tweak on the down-low, not mentioning the Golden Arches.”

Politics and Personal Data

Cambridge Analytica garnered millions of peoples’ data via FB “personality test app”

Hopefully you’re at least slightly leery when you click on a personality test found on your Facebook newsfeed. You click the link, a box pops up asking for the app to gain access to your friends list, likes, personal data, bank account routing number, birth weight – you know, the basics – so you can see what type of cat you’d be. No harm in the silly test, right? WRONG. All those permissions allow these apps to see and store your data, and some places can choose to go to the dark side and use your data to gather stats on a lot of people. Enter the latest FB snafu – where a mocked personality quiz was able to grab stats on as many as 50 million people. It was revealed that, “a professor used Facebook’s log-in tools to get people to sign up for what he claimed was a personality-analysis app he had designed for academic purposes … Afterward, the professor violated Facebook’s terms when he passed along that data to Cambridge Analytica.” Cabridge Analytica, an advertising data firm hired by Trump’s team and helped him win the election, has since been banned from Facebook, along with the professor who originally devised the plot. Now, lawmakers in the US and Europe are requesting answers and demanding accountability for data assurances and ultimately tighter regulation of social networks.

So what’s Cambridge Analytica’s deal anyway?

Now that all of this has come to light, we in the industry need to take note of what is happening around us. Cambridge Analytica’s claim to fame is psychographics, and hypertargeting an audience using triggered language and themes. Cambridge Analytica’s own whistleblower, Christopher Wylie explained, “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of profiles. And built models to exploit that and target their inner demons.” A tad nefarious, perhaps? When asked about its use of Facebook and other social media data in relation to the Trump campaign, a spokesperson said, “the company's data analytics prowess assisted the Trump campaign for everything from resource allocation, calculating the most efficient candidate travel stops, advertising, and the language used in surrogate speeches, and even ‘personalizing messaging to the individual voter.’” This type of technology is not solely at Cambridge Analytica’s fingertips, in fact, it’s one of the fastest growing areas of business tech – with Machine Learning and AI at the forefront of automation and ad generation. How much will this hypertargeting actually sway voters and what part did it play in the last election? It’s hard to pinpoint but it’s not the first election to use this type of targeting and certainly won’t be the last.

There’s another election going on related to Putin and Russia

An election is taking place where it’s appropriate for the public to hear with words “Russia” and “Putin” tossed into regular conversation? Who would’ve thought!? A critical, albeit locked, vote is happened in Russia, where Putin was running for re-election. Now wait, don’t get ahead of yourselves. We’re not talking about a democratic election, where the popular vote or fandangled “electoral college vote” wins the pot, because this election already knows the winner – Putin himself. So what’s the point of an election when the people already know who will be elected? “Non-democratic elections like Russia’s are important not for choosing a ruler, but for providing a rare public signal that potential rivals can use to gauge the president’s power. Those who might challenge Putin’s rule will surely be scrutinizing the election results for signs of weakness – even as they know he will win.” Spoiler alert: Putin won in a “landslide” victory, securing over three-quarters of the votes with over 99% of the votes counted. Why should we pay attention, you wonder? A growing contingent of young people and celebrities are rallying around the election and its propensity for corrupt practices, “ballot stuffing” and over-reporting. Hashtags went viral and groups were formed to abstain from voting and stand watch at poling locations to push for a more fair process. Will it work? Only time will tell; but for now, Putin is president until 2024.

Social Media

Is social media making you spend more $$?

A study looking at social media’s impact on US spending habits has found “About 60 percent of millennials report feeling ‘inadequate’ about their own life because of something they saw on social media, like flashy clothing or vacations … And, as a result, 57 percent say they parted with money they hadn't planned to spend.” It might be easy to blame the constant barrage of advertising – amounting to BILLIONS each year – a combination of advertising and “keeping up with the Joneses” has people, especially millennials, feeling the pinch. “Along with the ‘fear of missing out’ on a new item, trend or experience, advertising does of course play its part in tempting you to splurge. Last year, Facebook brought in $39.9 billion of revenue from ads alone. Instagram recently rolled out Instagram Shopping, which allows people to view product descriptions and pricing. And other social media platforms facilitate monetary transactions directly from the website or app.”

No more cryptocurrency ads

You’ll be seeing even less cryptocurrency advertising on your social media platforms, now that Twitter has banned several cryptocurrencies from advertising on their site. The question of bots created to scam Twitter users was brought to the forefront, and, “Twitter has also become nearly the last bastion for broad advertisements of cryptocurrency sales and projects. Both Facebook and Google have imposed similar bans, as it has become increasingly clear that U.S. financial regulators such as the CFTC and SEC regard many cryptocurrencies as investment offerings. Regulators closely monitor the marketing of investments, suggesting potential headaches for digital advertisers. Platforms such as Google and Facebook use primarily automated systems to screen ads, making it more difficult to prevent misrepresentation.” Furthermore, because of the surge of Bitcoin in 2017, the heightened interest in crypto-assets has birthed a plethora of scams, with  “nearly half of 2017’s ICOs — sales in many ways similar to initial stock sales in startups — collapsed within months, with many supposed founders simply disappearing with the money they raised.”

One More Thing

Delta can’t be Switzerland

In the days following the deadly Florida school shooting, brands from across the country “took a stand” and ended discounts and programs for the National Rifle Association (NRA), including Delta Airlines. Delta took the stance of neutrality – claiming it didn’t want to take one side or the other, which meant it was no longer offering discounts for either side of the argument. Only, there’s never a neutral anymore, especially when such announcement is made in the wake of such tragedy. The announcement angered some, which is ending up costing Delta dearly, “Georgia Senate Republicans retributed by axing a fuel tax exemption that would have saved the airline $50 million.” In this day and age of hyper transparency, big brands need to be that much more conscious of who they are offending at every moment, and how those parties may change as news items change consumers’ focal points.

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

A fast-food advertising frenzy 

In the week ahead of NCAA March Madness, advertising spend on new broadcast placements increased by 26 percent the week of March 5th, reaching a total of $167 million. 

Quick Services Restaurants (QSR) dominated the top five this week, with Burger King, Sonic and McDonald's all vying to get consumers in the door or drive-through.

Burger King spent 100% of its TV budget to promote its new Spicy Crispy Chicken sandwich, spending $4.8 million. Sonic came in second this week, also using 100% of its TV budget on new commercials. McDonald's spent $3.7 million to promote breakfast, chicken tenders and happy meals.


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