FTC Tech Chief Clarifies On Tracking; The Consumer Contradiction; Lesser On Attribution

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No Blanket Tracking Ban

Now that the ad industry is girding itself for new regulations governing the use of tracking cookies that follow users from site to site, the FTC’s inaugural chief technologist, Edward Felten tells ClickZ’s Kate Kaye that the commission merely thinks that a little more user consent needs to be obtained by companies who do behavioral targeting. But he insists the call for a Do Not Track button embedded in web browsers is not a blanket ban on tracking. “The system, as currently envisioned, would not apply to ordinary first party tracking or to a first party’s use of a service provider for website analytics, assuming the service provider makes no additional use of the collected data,” Felton said.

The Consumer Contradiction

While the latest Gallup/USA Today poll finds that web surfers overwhelmingly are averse to being tracked, more of them are starting to notice the monitoring. That appears to be fueling this latest round of calls for regulators to do more. The poll, taken from Dec. 10-12, 2010 with a random sample of 1,019 adults, found a bit of a disconnect though about online advertising and tracking. More than six in 10 say they have noticed that some ads are targeted specifically to them based on websites they have previously visited. Still, it doesn’t make much sense, given that nine out of 10 say they pay little or no attention to online ads. Read more.

Last Ad Loses?

When it comes to attribution methods, the use of the “last ad model” drives budgets toward “bottom-funnel tactics” as marketers and agencies ignore the top-funnel, says GroupM’s Brian Lesser. This problem is made worst by the industry’s difficulty in figuring out how best to divide ad budges between search and display. These issues persist mainly due to ingrained behavior and thinking. Lesser proposes a number of things to get out of the rut, such as emphasizing attribution models that tend toward the fact-based thinking greater use of algorithms, as opposed to subjective judgment or assumptions. Read more on Jack Myers’ Mediabizbloggers.

TV vs. Online

A Forrester survey just showed the consumers were spending equal amounts of time with TV and online. So how come advertisers aren’t dividing their budgets accordingly? Ariel Geifman, principal research analyst at MediaMind, finds the usual answer from WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell: advertisers still feel brand building efforts are better served through traditional mass media, such as TV. Online is best for keeping costs low. But with more users turning to online for their “traditional” media consumption, such as print and radio, TV audiences are going to be quickly migrating to over-the-top technologies like Boxee and Roku. At that point, things might not be so even between the web and TV when it comes to share of ad spend. Read more.

Social Media Brand Love

Speaking of comparisons, many marketers have been weighing which provides more brand lift, Facebook or Twitter? An infographic from Digital Surgeons appears to offer snapshot of where things stand between the two social media juggernauts. The researcher found that 67 percent of people on Twitter follow a brand (that they will purchase). That’s considerably higher than that 51 percent who do the same on Facebook. That’s quality. But in terms of quantity (it all comes down to what the goals are, after all) Facebook has 40 percent of all people follow a brand versus only a quarter on Twitter. So which is more important? Joe Marchese, in his Online Spin column, says that there will be a shift to quality, as better measurable insights has started a trend toward quality of quantity, and specifically toward paying for engaged consumers.  Read more.

iAd Aid

Need help with building creative for Apple’s tightly-controlled iAd mobile ad system? There’s an app for that – on the desktop, to be clear. Whereas Apple was the art director in the machine, the new iAd Producer software is promising to put more creative abilities in the hands of agencies and marketers. The other promise is simplicity: just “point-and-click,” and voila, you have the HTML5 code automatically inserted to begin running ads on iPhone and the iPad, according to ClickZ’s Jack Marshall. Clearly, the move is meant to counter the near-total control advertisers have with Google’s rival Android system. See some new iAd Producer templates here.

Moms And Media

A new study from Publicis Groupe shop Razorfish and parenting site CaféMom offers some proof about the growing use of social media by moms, as painfully and hilariously shown in an SNL skit this past season. But to those who were worried that moms are just Facebooking, the study shows its way more pervasive: 65 percent of digital moms already use social networks, 56 percent text message, 55 percent instant message, and even 52 percent are gaming. The study is being promoted by online family organizer Cozi, which is making a big bet that those numbers will rise in 2011. Read more.

The Social Ad Network

Andrew Pancer, COO, Media6Degrees, has some more general predictions for the social media space as the new year approaches. For one thing, he thinks that large publishers will start giving up on the Facebook Connect feature, which lets users share articles easily on their walls. Still, they might want to rethink that, if Pancer’s next prediction comes true, as there could be more ad revenue opportunities as well. In addition, Pancer envisions Facebook launching an ad network that works both on the site and off. Oh, and of course, as with any Facebook change, there will be a huge cry and the social network will march on, ignoring the brickbats. Read more.

Google’s Traveling, Acquiring Plans

With the seemingly endless array of Google acquisitions, it’s hard to find one to pick on as particularly anti-competitive. The NYT’s editorial page, however, zeroed in on flight info aggregator ITA, arguing that the deal, should it go through, would probably result in Google sending search results to its own travel products. The Grey Lady was also worried that the combo could cause higher travel prices for consumers over time, because of its ever-increasing dominance. SearchEngineLand’s Greg Sterling takes the paper to task for being too genteel in its critique of the deal, but ultimately for being overly concerned about Google’s ability to rule the market to the point where prices rise noticeably. For a closer look at what’s driving Google’s shopping spree, check out this profile of the search giant’s M&A head David Lawee in the Mercury News.

Script Tags And Trust

With the rise of ad exchanges, pure ad networks have faced challenges to their viability. One of the main issues that come up over and over again is trust and transparency. In a post on Information Week, Dave Methvin says that advertisers can’t be sure that the clicks they were charged for were from actual sales leads, or if it was just from a competitor trying to cause them to spend their cost-per-click cash, which would deplete its ad budget. “Not only is it not even clear that ads were truly displayed when the ad networks say they are,” Methvin writes. “They’re just numbers in a report, unaudited by any trustworthy party.”

AdWords Top Ten

With all the predictions for 2011 floating in at the last minute, Google is happy to take a look back. Case in point, its AdWords unit took to its blog to trumpet some of the new features it added this past year, including, better analytics through AdWords Campaign Experiments, which provides an early test of a campaign before it gets full-blown; search funnels, which shows the search ad click and impression behavior leading up to a conversion. Read more of the top 10 here.

Can’t Stop Predicting

Zach Coelius of Triggit has loaded up his blog with more predictions on the digital advertising year ahead including, “Yahoo will realize that they can’t wait any longer as the market passes them by and they will roll out real RTB.” Read ’em all.

You’re Hired!

Former Jumpstart and AOL ad executive Randall McAdory has joined supply-side platform ad summos as VP, of ad sales. He was most recently at Jumpstart Automotive Group. Before that, McAdory logged about 20 years at Chrysler and General Motors. That experience should come in handy for New York-based ad summos, as McAdory has been tapped to serve as the company’s first Detroit rep. Read more.

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1 Comment

  1. I wonder where retargeting will fall under the proposed FTC guidelines for behavioral advertising. Is this a first party cookie activity that will be “left alone” or a third party cookie activity that will need to adhere to the broader restrictions?