Archive for December, 2013

2013’s Worst Ad Campaign Hashtags By Hollis Thomases

If you think hashtags are the next big thing for your advertising efforts, proceed with caution…before you lay your brand out to dry.


There’s been plenty written over time about tweets and hashtags that have gotten people and brands into trouble. The latest Justine Sacco/IAC debacle is just one example. Typically, these catastrophes result from careless postings – ones in which the people posting did not follow the 10 second self-censor “rule” I always recommend to social media newbies. That is to say, before you post anything publicly, take 10 seconds to think if there could be any negative ramifications to your post…and if so, edit it or don’t post it at all.


When it comes to hashtags in advertising, however, there is nothing accidental about them. Ad agencies and their clients put a lot of deliberate thought and approval processes in place to ensure everything about their ad campaigns meet certain standards. Ad campaigns using hashtags are no exception. In fact, hashtags could be considered one of the latest “it” bright shiny object techniques in advertising. Advertisers just seem to be chomping at the bit to find a way to weave a hashtag into their campaigns and show what great “integrated marketers” they are.


Sorry – this technique isn’t necessarily working for me, particularly when it comes to the execution and intended value of some of 2013’s advertising hashtags. Let’s explore my list so you can be the judge yourself.


The Benign, Add-No-Real Value Hashtags


This category is made up of hashtags that don’t necessarily harm the brand, but don’t really do much of anything for them at all. Some of these kinds of hashtags used in TV ads are flashed across the screen so quickly, the unsuspecting or unprepared viewer can’t even see them…so why employ them in the first place?


1.  Ford’s #forddreambig – I get where Ford was going with this hashtag idea, and it’s mainly been used by some consumers the way Ford intended them to, but then there are the abusers, and it’s the abuse a brand shouldn’t leave itself open to.

2.  Toys R Us’s #wishinaccomplished – With no brand correlation at all and tiny font flashed on its television ad, this hashtag is more like #nuthinaccomplished. Instead, Toys R Us left itself open to hashtag hijackers and brand protestors.






3.  Sprint’s #HonorThis – While this campaign featuring James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell vocalizing calls and texts of supposed Sprint users (let’s just ignore the creepy shades of NSA privacy violations with this fiction) has apparently entertained many, my biggest complaint about the hashtag is that it’s flashed on the screen for all of two seconds at the very end of the commercials…and that’s if you’re paying attention by then.



sprint HonorThis




1.  Domino’s #poweredbypizza – Rohitb Hargava makes a compelling case for why you can have a great hashtag but if you don’t have great execution to back-up your campaign, it will ultimately not be viewed of as a success.


2.  Guinness’s #RoundUpYourMates – This campaign run in Great Britain and detailed on Dan Barker’s blog shows just how far a brand is willing to go to experiment with hashtags in advertising…and fail. Barker also gives great advice to any company considering running ad campaigns with hashtags and how to do it better.



Ripe for Abuse


1.  Jell-O’s #FML – Trying to add a little levity to a standard negative acronym hashtag (***k my life), Jell-O turned it around to “fun my life.” They offered to help out a few lucky #fml sufferers. A clever idea…so long as everyone got in on the joke. But do you want your brand associated with a hashtag that’s dicey to begin with? The verdict was mixed.



2.  Wonderful Pistachio’s #crackinstyle – Launched during Super Bowl and still playing today, this television commercial features Gangham Style’s Psy and a dancing pistachio. I’ll refrain from commenting upon those visuals alone, but the hashtag is not only unmemorable, but also easy to abuse, particularly after Psy’s anti-American statements. I also seem to remember an old crank caller script: “Phil M. #Crackinstyle,” anyone?

crackinstyle2 crackinstyle






3. Mucinex’s #blamemucus – I’m sorry, but I don’t even like speaking the word “mucus” in front of my doctor let alone in a public forum like social media. Mucus is gross so I associate the use of a hashtag about it as gross too. I found evidence of paid incentives to use the hashtag in tweets, which isn’t criminal, but, as an example, would you attend a #blamemucus party? And then there are these:

mucinexblamemucus2 blamemucus

















4.  Charmin’s #tweetfromtheseat – Mucus ain’t got nothing on Charmin in the gross department. With its campaign that clearly evokes people using their phones while they’re doing their business on the toilet, and God knows what their hands have or will be touching before, during or after their tweet! This campaign is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

tweetfromtheseat charmin2 charmin3






The takeaway? If you’re considering incorporating hashtags into your advertising or marketing campaigns really consider if the hashtag is adding any or enough value. That value has to outweigh the likelihood of the negative or hijacked use of your hashtag.



Hollis Thomases

Entrepreneur, author, analyst, and “Client Advocate,” Internet pioneer, Hollis Thomases founded her first company, Web Ad.vantage, in 1998. In 2013, Hollis moved on to ROI Diva, which, through fact-based assessments, analysis and consulting, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital ad/marketing landscape.

Hollis authored the book, “Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day” and has been a columnist with and ClickZ. Hollis also frequently speaks at industry conferences and association events. You can find her in the Twittersphere (@hollisthomases) or by old-fashioned phone:  +011-484-679-6364.


Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 digital No Comments

86% of Brands to Increase Video Ad Spend in 2014. Where’s the Money Coming From?

source: media and marketing professionals are bullish on video ad spending, find and Digiday in their latest semi-annual “State of the Video Industry” report released today. Brands reported an average 65% increase in spending this year over last, with agencies upping their expenditures by 83%. And the dollars should keep coming: roughly 9 in 10 brand and agency respondents plan to increase video ad spending next year. So where’s that money coming from?


TV is the likely answer, and the study results bear that out. 31% of brands said they would pull from broadcast TV (up from 19% last year), while 10% said they would draw from their cable budgets (down from 13% last year).

Interestingly, though, the most common response from brands was that video budgets would be incremental: 33% said their spending wouldn’t come at the expense of any other category. That’s up from 26% stating the same last year.

Display remains on the hook this year, too, with 30% of brands saying they’d shift funding from there to online video, relatively unchanged from last year’s 32% anticipating such a shift. But concerns about display cannibalization ramping up seem to not have materialized for the time being.

Print (19%, down from 29% last year) appears to be relatively safe this time around, while direct response (6%, from 3%) and search (5%, from 0%) may see some budget cuts in favor of online video.

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 news No Comments

Data Dive: US TV Ad Spend and Influence (Updated – Q3 2013 Data)


TV as the Largest Advertising Medium

PwC-US-Ad-Media-Market-Sizes-2012-v-2017-jul2013Whether or not TV’s spending growth is outpacing or lagging the overall market, TV’s growth rates appear to be healthy given its maturity and size as an advertising medium. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) examined the entertainment and media markets in the US, and data provided to MarketingCharts by the researchers confirms that TV currently remains easily the largest advertising medium in the US. (No huge surprises there.) Last year, PwC estimated that advertisers spent $63.8 billion on TV, about 75% more than they did on online ads and more than they did on all other traditional media combined. Unlike other traditional media, the researchers also forecast TV to see healthy growth through 2017, whereas many other traditional media markets are growing slowly or declining.

Ad Revenues Grow Despite Stagnant Reach

US-TV-Ad-Spend-vs-Audience-Growth-Rates-Q1-2011-Q3-2013Leaving other media out of the equation for the moment, research shows that TV ad spending continues to rise even as audience size remains flat or declining, speaking to the value advertisers continue to place on TV commercials. (A separate MarketingCharts analysis suggests that advertisers are spending roughly $225 per year on each TV viewer, versus $144 to reach each online user.) Indeed, a comparison of Kantar Media spending figures with Nielsen audience estimates reveals that TV ad spending growth continues to be relatively solid (with the exception of the Q3 decline) amidst an apparent saturation in audience size. The size of the TV-viewing population (Americans aged 2 years and older) appears to be recovering, but has remained mostly stagnant for almost 2 years. TV consumption rates seem to be remaining fairly flat, too. Overall, traditional TV viewing time is inching up, though there are stark demographic differences at play: the oldest segments continue to increase their viewing time, while younger segments are slowly turning away from traditional TV and upping their consumption of online video. (See here for an in-depth look at TV consumption rates for youth.) It’s also worth noting that the number of TV homes has increased, according to the latest Nielsen list of DMAs.

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 news No Comments

Top Web Properties | Content Marketing | Holiday Ads | Social Care | Data-Driven Marketing


comScore-Top10-Gaining-Web-Categories-bypercent-change-oct-nov13-Dec2013The latest web rankings are in from comScore, and Yahoo once again ranked as the top desktop web property in November, boasting about 2 million more unique visitors than Google (194.6 vs. 192.7 million). As always, it’s important to remember that these are desktop-only figures; until further notice, Google continues to have the bigger overall audience when factoring in mobile counts. Meanwhile, the top-gaining site categories aren’t surprising: retail categories occupied 6 of the top 10, with 2 services! categories – e-cards and coupons – also in the mix.

  • Curata has released an early look at its 2014 Content Marketing report, revealing that most survey respondents are recognizing content marketing’s increasing impact across a variety of goals, including awareness building and customer engagement. The data indicates that the majority (63.4%) of content is currently being created by marketers, with roughly one-quarter curated and the remaining 12.6% syndicated. Respondents would like to see a gradual shift away from created to curated content, though.
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 news No Comments

US Online Ad Revenues Grow 15% YY in Q3, Set Yet Another Peak


IAB-Q3-Online-Ad-Revenues-2001-2013-Dec2013Online ad revenues continue to climb to new heights, growing 15% year-over-year in Q3 from $9.26 billion to $10.69 billion, according to the latest quarterly revenue report from the Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. That makes Q3 the latest record-setting quarter, up from the previous peak of $10.31 billion set in the fourth quarter of 2012. The record won’t stand for long, though: if current growth trends continue, online ad revenues could approach $12 billion during the fourth quarter of this year.


Meanwhile, the Q3 rate marks the 14th consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year growth. It also represents 4.2% growth from Q2′s $10.26 billion in revenues.

While the growth rates remain strong, they couldn’t quite match last year’s pace. During Q3 2012, revenues were up 18% year-over-year and 6% quarter-over-quarter. Both of those rates were the highest that had been seen in several quarters. (The second quarter of this year matched that year-over-year growth rate of 18%.)

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 Uncategorized No Comments

2014 Marketing Budget Plans, by Channel


StrongView-2014-Marketing-Spend-Plans-by-Program-Dec20139 in 10 “business leaders” plan to either increase (46%) or maintain (47%) their marketing budgets in 2014, according to [pdf] a recent survey from StrongView (formerly StrongMail). Respondents – from a mix of B2C and B2B companies primarily headquartered in North America – evaluated their spending plans across a variety of programs. The results reveal strong support for a variety of digital marketing channels, while traditional media budgets look like they’ll suffer.


Topping the list in terms of planned spending increases was email marketing, with 52% of respondents planning to increase their investments. Just 2% plan to pull back on their email budgets. Close behind was social media (46% increasing versus 2% decreasing), with organic and paid search (41% increasing versus 4% decreasing) and online display (36% increasing versus 5% decreasing) also likely to see gains. Curiously, fewer (32%) are planning to hike their mobile marketing spend, despite recent projections suggesting healthy increases over the next few years.

The big losers in terms of planned spending appear to be traditional advertising channels, with print advertising (10% increasing versus 32% decreasing) and radio/TV advertising (9% increasing versus 17% decreasing) both having a larger percentage of respondents expecting to decrease than increase their budgets. While it’s not surprising to see print advertising among the losers, a recent MarketingCharts analysis suggests that TV ad spend should remain healthy, at least in the US.

Interestingly, trade shows and events appear to be making a bit of a comeback: wh! ile last year’s survey found more respondents expecting to decrease than increase their event budgets, this year’s results find the opposite to be true. That result follows from a series of studies released earlier this year (such as this one) indicating that marketers – from B2B companies in particular – are seeing strong ROI from their trade show budgets.

While this particular survey doesn’t segregate B2B and B2C marketers, the results indicate that the general budget shift towards online marketing at the expense of traditional media and marketing channels that was observed in much research over the past couple of years (a recent example here) will continue into 2014.

Delving further into spending plans for some marketing channels, the study finds that:

  • The top email marketing programs by planned budget hikes are social media channel growth (38%), triggered/transactional programs (38%) and lifecycle programs (34%);
  • Loyalty (57%), welcome (53%), and winback/re-engagement (50%) are the lifecycle email marketing programs that most plan to increase spending on; and
  • The mobile programs slated for budget increases by the largest share of respondents are building apps (20%) and SMS to email opt-in (16%).
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 news No Comments

2013 Speaking Engagements Recap

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS – Mobile Innovation Summit, August 2013 – NYU Advanced IMC, Digital, June 2013 – OMMA Social, May 2013 – PMA Executive Insights, April 2013 – Reboot Camp, April 2013 – Performance Marketing Insights, Mar 2013 – SES Conference NY, Mar 2013 – iPharma Summit, Feb 2013 – Social Media Week NYC, Feb 2013 – Carnegie Conference, Jan 2013
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 news No Comments

drag2share: SOCIAL INSIGHTS: Facebook Is A Daily Habit In The US, While Twitter Users Log On Less Often


BII pew researchSOCIAL MEDIA YEAR-IN-REVIEW: Pew Research Center released its annual social media report yesterday. The report is based on survey responses from U.S. adults. 

Some of the more interesting data in the report shows that nearly two-thirds of Facebook users in the U.S. use Facebook daily (63%), compared to less than half of Twitter users who access that site as frequently (46%). More than half of Twitter users reported visiting the social site either weekly or less often. 

Furthermore, 90% of Twitter users in the U.S. said they also use Facebook. Whereas, just 22% of Facebook users reported using Twitter. In fact, Facebook users were quite evenly dispersed among Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn when asked what other social media service they use to complement their Facebook usage. 

It just further proves that Facebook has remained the backbone of social media in 2013. (Pew)

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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 news No Comments

Ad Fraud Slideshares by Augustine Fou

  1. Fake Websites for Ad Fraud Investigation by Augustine Fou Digital F…

    Dec 12, 2013 – Bad guys create fake websites to accomplish a variety of different forms of fraud. My technical experience allows me to help clients detect and …
  2. Estimates of Digital Ad Fraud by Augustine Fou Advanced Technical …

    Dec 16, 2013 – bad guys deploy their resources efficiently – to capture value from the easiest sources first, then they target the most lucrative sources, etc.
  3. Proof Positive Ad Fraud Digital Forensic Analysis by Augustine Fou

    Nov 20, 2013 – screen grabs of what bad guy sites look like and how they commit click fraud, and also impression fraud and even affiliate fraud all at the same …
  4. How Click Fraud Search Ad Fraud Works Analysis by Augustine Fou

    Nov 21, 2013 – Bots load ads related to expensive keywords; then they click on the ads on the search partner sites and sometimes even pass an affiliate link to …
  5. Biggest Insurance Advertisers Being Ripped Off by Ad Fraud

    Nov 27, 2013 – When large insurance companies spend tens of millions on search ads per year, on very expensive keywords, they are a prime target for bad …
  6. How Bots are Used in Ad Fraud What Bots are Used For – SlideShare

    zov 21, 2013 – Bots are used for everything from generating fake traffic and pageviews, to typing in search terms, and to clicking on search ads.
  7. The Magnitude of Digital Ad Fraud Impressions Clicks Leads Affiliat…

    Nov 21, 2013 – ad fraud in the digital space is rampant and large. With the advent of programmatic buying and ad networks, it has made it even easier for bad …
  8. Ad Fraud Value Chain by Augustine Fou Digital Forensics

    Oct 28, 2013 – The various points in the ad fraud value chain where bad guys can extract value.
  9. Video Ad Fraud Investigation by Augustine Fou – SlideShare

    Oct 24, 2013 – Video Ad Fraud Investigation Pt 1 Dr. Augustine Fou October 2013 -1- Augustine Fou.
  10. Fake Views on YouTube Video Ad Fraud Analysis by Augustine Fou

    Oct 24, 2013 – Fake Views on YouTube Video Ad Fraud Dr. Augustine Fou October 2013 -1- Augustine Fou.
Monday, December 30th, 2013 news No Comments

drag2share: This Chart Shows Why Google Gives Away One Of Its Most Valuable Assets Away For Free (GOOG)


Both Apple and Google make popular mobile operating systems.

Apple packages its operating system, iOS, with hardware, the iPhone, and sells the whole thing for ~$600. This business has created huge profits for Apple, and now the company has a $500 billion market cap.

You would think that Google would see this success and copy it.

But it does not.

Google gives away its operating system, Android, for free to hardware makers.

Why does Google do this?

One reason: The company believes giving Android away for free increases the size of the world’s Web-connected population. The company believes that increasing the Web-connected population will inevitably lead to more Google searches — which Google can monetize with search ads.

Is Google’s theory correct?

There is some new evidence to suggest the answer is yes.

Horace Dediu of Asymco has a chart that proves there is at least a correlation between the size of the world’s Internet population and Google revenues.

Here it is:

google revenues internet population

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Monday, December 30th, 2013 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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