CMO Today: Google Bans Crypto Ads; YouTube Counters Conspiracies With Wikipedia; Ally to Pay Pitch Finalists
Good morning. Can you believe it hasn’t even been a year since the infamous incident when a passenger was forcibly removed from his seat and dragged off a United flight? Now the airline, still trying to rebuild passenger confidence, is facing another public-relations disaster after a customer’s dog died in an overhead luggage bin. United, in a statement, said the incident never should have occurred, adding, “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them.” Somewhat predictably, negative social media sentiment for the brand soared 140% on Tuesday, according to analytics firm Digimind.
No, Crypto Bro
The firm behind those ubiquitous James Altucher “Crypto-Genius” online ads might need to think about ripping up its media plan. As I reported alongside the WSJ’s Doug MacMillan, Google is following Facebook’s lead in banning ads for cryptocurrencies and other “speculative financial products” effective in June. Facebook, you may recall, announced its crypto ad ban in January. The rise in the popularity and price of bitcoin and other virtual currencies makes them a prime target for bad actors. Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, wouldn’t comment on how much potential revenue it’ll be turning away. The announcement came as Google released its annual update on its work to stamp out bad ads. The company said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads that violated its policies in 2017, up from the 1.7 billion bad ads it removed in 2016. Are scammers getting scammier, or is Google getting better at catching them? Probably a combination of both, not least as Google keeps adding new policies to keep up with the latest techniques.
—Wham, Bam, Goodbye Scam—
Digging a little deeper into that bad ads report, Google covered how its AdWords and AdSense policies tackle “deceptive content.” That includes scammers encouraging people to click on malicious ads with attention-grabbing headlines that actually lead to sites attempting to trick users into paying for schemes such as bogus diet pill subscriptions. It also covers people seeking to make money by creating sites and masquerading as real news organizations, or populating sites with articles ripped from legitimate publishers. But what of fake news? While Google prohibits publishers on its network from serving ads on “misrepresentative content”—pages that “misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about you, your content or the primary purpose of your web property,” according to the AdSense policy page—Mr. Spencer told me the company doesn’t have an ads policy relating to the factual accuracy of the content on publisher sites. Mr. Spencer pointed to the company’s “great relationships” with satirical websites such as the Onion, adding the sustainable ads division isn’t looking to identify whether publisher articles are true.
Wiki Wiki Wild Wild West
As journalists have uncovered many a time as recent high-profile news events are unfolding, if you search for the topic on YouTube, often conspiracy theory videos will appear at the top of the search results. YouTube is working on it. Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki said Tuesday that the video site will flag popular conspiracy videos with companion information from Wikipedia, the Guardian reports. Because of course, as many people snarked on Twitter, Wikipedia, which relies on user-generated content, isn’t open to mistakes or manipulation—especially in breaking news situations. Plus, it doesn’t seem the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation will be overly pleased with the new responsibility foisted upon it and its volunteers by a huge ad-funded commercial machine, if this tweetstorm from its executive director, Katherine Maher, is anything to go by. YouTube says Wikipedia will be just one of the third-party sources it will use for its new “information cues.” Who else might it be enlisting for help? No more information to share at this time, a YouTube spokesman tells me.
Pay It Forward
Pitching is a grueling process for agencies. Those extra nights and weekends of additional work rather than focusing on the actual clients. The vulnerability of sharing new ideas that could be torn apart or, worse, torn apart, then heavily borrowed later down the line without any credit. At the end of all that, your agency might not even win the business. As a former agency veteran, Ally Financial’s chief marketing and financial officer, Andrea Brimmer, feels that pain. The banking company has called a creative, digital and media review, Ad Age reports, and it plans to pay all agencies in the final round a “five-figure stipend.” Ally, whose current marketing campaign carries the “Do It Right” tagline, says the idea is out of respect for the time and expense that go into coming up with ideas. Defending the accounts are Spark Foundry, which has worked with Ally for around 10 years on the media and digital side, and Grey, which has held the creative account for more than six.
Best of the rest
Vice Media confirmed it will appoint A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc as its chief executive, while co-founder Shane Smith will move into the role of executive chairman. [WSJ]
Ad-tech company OpenX is pledging to invest $25 million in ad-quality initiatives in 2018. The company said its net revenue rose to more than $170 million last year. [CMO Today]
Campbell Soup has awarded its global creative and media accounts to Publicis Groupe. Omnicom’s BBDO had handled creative for more than 60 years, while media moves from WPP’s Wavemaker, whose MEC agency had worked with Campbell since 1999. [Ad Age]
A Q&A with Turner CEO John Martin, who discusses working with digital platforms and the consolidation of big media companies. [Digiday]
How mar tech companies are preparing for the new European General Data Protection Regulation. [AdExchanger]
Viacom says it will suspend regularly scheduled programming across its networks and digital platforms for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. EDT. The media company says it supports the national school walkout taking place to pay tribute those who lost their lives in last month’s Parkland school shooting and other young victims of gun violence. [Viacom Blog]
Elon Musk reportedly considered buying the Onion years ago. Now he’s funding a new project staffed by former writers from the satirical publication. [The Daily Beast]
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