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from The Great Debate UK:

Help, I want my email back…

The web-based Heartbleed bug has dominated discussions about online security in recent days. We’ve been told to change passwords, and if you were a regular user of Mumsnet then you’ve probably had your data stolen, the forum said in a message earlier this week. While I was reading all of these articles not once did I think to actually change any of my passwords. This is not because I think that I am immune to Heartbleed and its evil ways, but rather I don’t think the data this super bug could steal from me would be of much use to anybody.

Take my email. First it started with my personal email, an account I have had since 2001, provided by a major internet company headed by an extremely glamorous CEO. For years now it has been hijacked by marketing types. I get hundreds of emails every day, all adverts. It’s worse than watching an episode of Game of Thrones in the US. There are literally adverts coming at me every minute of the day. Some even use my name in the subject line. Just today I have had a cleaning company asking me if I am ready for Easter (who gets ready for Easter???), a website telling me the secret to perfect “standout eyes” and an Easter gift from a clothing site.

I sowed the seed for my own digital undoing as I definitely have used these services. For some ridiculous reason I was asked for my email address at the checkout. For some even more ridiculous reason I gave it to them willingly, and they now update me many times a day, far more frequently than my best friends, or even my mother.

I am now drowning, digitally speaking, in so much marketing rubbish that anyone who genuinely tries to get in touch with me may find that I don’t respond. Rather than deal with the 10,000+ adverts in my inbox I try to ignore them. Luckily, I have an account at work, which I have always tried to keep private and not share with anyone bar my husband. But recently, when organising a little party for a friend, I found it so much easier to use my work account I broke my own rule and sent the invitation from work.

from Jack Shafer:

It’s an ad, ad, ad, ad world

The last place you'd expect to discover a map to navigate the future of the content-advertising landscape would be a book about the golden age of radio. But damn it all to hell, there it is on the concluding 12 pages of Cynthia B. Meyers' new book, A Word From Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio.

Not to discourage you from reading Meyers' first 281 pages about the co-evolution of broadcasting and advertising before excavating her new media insights, but this is one of those books that demands to be read backwards -- conclusion first, historical arguments and research later. In Meyers' view, advertising is not something appended to radio and TV broadcasts or shimmied into the pages of newspapers and magazines. Advertising has been both the dog wagging the tail and the tail wagging the dog, sometimes occupying points in between, its symbiotic relationship with popular media forever ebbing and cresting. And while the past never predicts the future, this book gives readers a peak around the media future's corner.

from Jack Shafer:

What’s worse than sponsored content? The FTC regulating it

What's more dangerous to consumer well-being, sponsored content or the intervention of the Federal Trade Commission? On Wednesday, the agency held a conference, "Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content," to "discuss native advertising," as the New York Times put it. The event attracted several hundred "advertisers, academics and media executives," who listened to the agency's views about native advertising -- or sponsored content, infomercial, or advertorial, as some call it -- those Web ads that are designed to look like editorial content, not ads.

Many if not most top editorial sites offer sponsored content, including the Washington Post, Huffington PostSlateTechmemeBusiness InsiderForbesBuzzFeed, the Boston Globe'Boston.com, the Atlantic, and others, and the list of advertisers includes such household names as IBM, Jet Blue, Pillsbury, Purina, Columbia Sportswear, Dell, UPS, McDonalds, and BMW. The Times piece acknowledges that it, too, will soon be joining the sponsored content caravan that brought publishers about $1.5 billion last year.

from Jack Shafer:

News never made money, and is unlikely to

Sometime in the mid-1990s, the Web began to peel from the daily American newspaper bundle its most commercial elements, essentially the editorial sections against which advertisements could be reliably sold. Coverage of sports, business and market news, entertainment and culture, gossip, shopping, and travel still ran in daily newspapers, but the audience steadily shifted to Web sources for this sort of news. Broadcasters had dented newspaper hegemony decades ago, absconding with breaking news and weather coverage, and inventing new audience pleasers, such as traffic reports and talk. But it was the Web that completed the disintegration of the newspaper bundle that dominated the news media market for more than a century. In addition to pinching the most commercial coverage from newspapers, the Web has also made off with the institution's lucrative classified ads market, simultaneously reducing its status as the premier venue for content and advertising.

This isn't to say newspapers deserted the commercial news categories. Newspapers have maintained their presence in the sports-weather-business-entertainment-culture departments to attract readers who attract advertisers. Even so, circulation has eroded and ad revenues have fallen to below 1950 levels in real dollars. The units of the newspaper bundle not yet ransacked by the Web -- international, national, state, local, and political coverage -- have (to paraphrase Frank Zappa) little-to-no commercial potential. Traditionally, newspapers have struggled selling space to advertisers by invoking these news varieties unless the news is absolutely spectacular or sensationalized. As the bundle fragments, it becomes more difficult for publishers to support non-commercial news.

from Breakingviews:

Facebook mobilizes back to square one

Photo

By Richard Beales
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Facebook has at last mobilized back to square one. Its shares finally broke back above the $38 price set in the company’s messy initial public offering 14 months ago. That’s largely thanks to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg making the social network’s platform work on smartphones and tablets even as his tech rivals mostly flounder at the task.

from Breakingviews:

“Equality” in Big Ad merger may be hard to sustain

By Chris Hughes and Quentin Webb

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The merger of equals between Publicis and Omnicom is easier to proclaim than to sustain. The combination of the two advertising groups is neat, but it carries risks. Mergers of equals have a bad name. That used to be because U.S. deals were wedged into the structure just to benefit from more generous tax rules. Nowadays, it is more often because they are a nil-premium takeover in disguise, with one company winning the battle for board seats, head-office location and name.

from MediaFile:

On Twitter, dubious health claims from e-cigarette bots

Advertising is a funny medium. TV spots, radio jingles, banner ads -- none of these are meant to get us to rise out of our seats and run to the store. Instead, most advertising is meant to impress something upon us: an idea, a favorable opinion, a subtle memory of a brand name. As social media has gotten more sophisticated, however, a funny thing appears to have happened online: People with products to sell aren’t even bothering to call themselves advertisers.

Instead, on Twitter, they open plain old accounts and start tweeting about the stuff they want to sell us. Social media has brought a revolution to advertising, but in the case of products subject to regulation regarding health, safety or efficacy claims, it’s also brought the potential for a return to the bad old days of snake-oil products peddled by quacks in the backs of magazines, where the best result would be to not end up becoming sick or dying thanks to the “cure.”

from Global Investing:

It’s all adding up – emerging markets to drive global spending

The world's leading ad agencies are positioning themselves  in Brazil, Russia and China -- countries that are expected to provide almost a third of the growth in global advertising over the next three years. That's according to a report by S&P Capital IQ Equity Research, a unit of publishing giant McGraw Hill.

Most major advertisers already have a foothold in these BRIC economies, where the advertising market is projected to grow by an average 10.7 percent  a year over the next three years -- more than three times the growth rate in  the developed world.  Over the next 15 years,  big emerging markets will add $200 billion to the global ad spend, S&P Capital IQ reckons.

from Jack Shafer:

And now, a word against our sponsor

The Washington Post's website joined the sponsored-content stampede early this week with the introduction of its BrandConnect Web product, making it the first major U.S. newspaper to embrace sponsored content, according to Digiday. Other high-profile Web publishers selling sponsored content include Gawker, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes, BuzzFeed, Slate, Cheezburger, Techmeme and The Atlantic. Meanwhile, Fortune magazine is creating Fortune-branded content "for marketers to distribute on their own platforms," AdWeek reports.

Also known as native advertising, the current wave of sponsored content on the Web can resemble the advertorial sections you're familiar with — the ponderous Russia Beyond the Headlines Today and China Daily pages in the print editions of the Post and the New York Times, which nobody reads, and those sections in glossy magazines you automatically skip. Or, it can look remarkably like the content the site already produces. BuzzFeed has created pages for Virgin Mobile, Pillsbury, Coca-Cola, Dell, the Nevada Commission on Tourism and General Electric that could pass for its standard pages as they use jokes to "subtly weave in the values of the brand," as the Wall Street Journal reported last October. BuzzFeed sponsored content costs about $20,000 for five or six "articles," reports Digiday.

from Breakingviews:

Profit first casualty in China’s mobile ad war

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s online giants are tooling for the mobile ad wars, and profit will be the first casualty. Of 560 million web users, three-quarters are already using smartphones, threatening massive disruption for companies who depend on online advertising revenue. Baidu, the dominant search provider that reports earnings on Feb. 4, has most to prove, and most to lose.

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