Signal June 24: Can You Feel The Real Me?

Brands explore tracking the emotional sentiment of consumers.

Brands advertising on AOL explore tracking the emotional sentiment of consumers. (Photo: CreativeCommons)

In today’s Signal: How do you feel? Brands want to know; on Instagram, size matters; Firefox to block tracking; tech ads from the 80s; Contently launches a new publication; social media and your insurance company; organizing, measuring and manipulating data; big companies experiment cautiously with native ads; defining premium inventory; and more.

To the links…

How Do You Feel About This: AOL Enables Brands To Track Users’ Unconscious Emotions, In Real-Time (Media Post) On June 14, AOL unveiled a new platform that enables brands to measure not just whether people are exposed to or even see their content, but how they actually feel about it. The platform, launching on AOL’s entertainment unit Be On, utilizes users’ own webcams to read their facial expressions while watching a brand’s video content in order to understand what their unconscious feelings are while exposed to the brand’s messages. According to MediaPost, “Be On CEO René Rechtman says AOL is already considering ways it could deploy the technology to track the emotional sentiment of its general users who want to opt into it. The initial goal, he says, is to improve engagement levels that users have with brands running video content on AOL, but over time he says it could be used to improve the overall user experience with any AOL or brand content.”

It’s No Accident Facebook Made Instagram’s New Videos Exactly As Long As a Television Commercial (Quartz) Facebook just added the ability to share videos on Instagram, opting for a maximum length of 15 seconds, which is nine seconds longer that what Vine allows. Big deal? Well, yeah, because those nine second mean that advertisers can drop in their short television spots without even modifying them.

Firefox Web Browser to Move Ahead Plan to Block Tracking (Washington Post) Despite strong resistance from advertising groups, Firefox is moving ahead with plans to allow hundreds of millions of browser users to eventually limit who watches their movements across the Web. “Firefox would still allow cookies if users were to give a Web site expressed permission,” according to the Post, “or if users were to visit a site regularly — as is common with shopping, social-media or news sites.” Randall Rothenberg, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, reacted by calling browser makers “oligopolies.” “There are billions and billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs at stake in this supply chain,” he said. “It should be done with stakeholders’ input.”

15 Hilarious Technology Ads From the 1980s (Mashable) A look down technology’s advertising memory lane. We can only wonder what we’ll be laughing at in 2050.

Content Marketing Gets Its Magazine Moment (PandoDaily) Contently has launched a new publication, “The Content Strategist,” aimed at brands, publishers, and freelancers, and promising “insights and analysis on brands, storytelling, and the future of content.” What does this mean? According to PandoDaily, “if you’re a journalist who cares about the increasing commercialization of the inverted pyramid, it’s a punch in the guts. If you’re a journalist who cares about making money, it’s an interesting sign of the times. The Content Strategist is essentially a signal that content marketing, in which brands act as publishers, has reached critical mass.”

Programmatic Buying and Content Marketing: Strange Bedfellows? (ClickZ) Our own Laney argues no, in fact, they are not.

Why Your Insurance Company Wants to Be ‘Friends’ on Social Media (Venture Beat) Basil Enan, the CEO and founder of CoverHound, discusses the value of your social media profile and activity to Insurance companies. “My insurance company will offer me a small discount for connecting on Facebook (Esurance already offers a “Like” discount in Arizona and Texas),” he writes. “Now that I’m connected with them via Facebook, they have access to lots of important data points.” Enan goes on to look at how the company might use those data points. It gets really interesting when he talks about how the content of your posts and check-ins could be used in the future to not only determine how much you pay, but also to determine fault in the case of an accident or to reduce fraudulent claims.

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How Brands Organize for Data (Digiday) Some of the most successful brands today are those creating digital marketing environments that are centered on data. Giselle Abramovich reports on how the environments of Mastercard, SAP and Conde Nast allow each of those companies to look beyond the horizon and be data gurus.

The ‘Big Data’ Fallacy (Digiday) Eoin Townsend, chief strategy officer for MediaMath, a digital media buying platform, talks about the problem with investing heavily in a data management platform to collect and store data. The drawback of having a big data strategy, he says, is that it’s based on a fallacy. “Big data is just regular data, and its something every business should already be built on. Successful online advertising is not about accumulating data, but actually doing something with it. The DMP and DSP are elements of a larger solution.”

New Ways Marketers Are Manipulating Data to Influence You (NYT Bits) Now that consumers have become used to retargeting — being followed around the Web by marketers — marketing companies are already focusing on the next generation of targeted advertising, one that collects and analyzes vast streams of data from social media, credit card histories and Web habits. Scott Hagedorn, the chief executive of Annalect, a data marketing company, said that the use of big data in digital advertising is “starting to get really prescriptive.” We have the data, he notes, but it’s about the processing power. “How you can manipulate the data — and what you can do with it.”

Pretty Much Everyone Is Doing Native Ads Now (Adweek) The Wall Street Journal, CNN and NBC are just a few of the companies experimenting cautiously with native ads on some properties. NBC, for example, is still looking for the right content and the right advertiser, but won’t  “force it in.” Peter Naylor, EVP of Digital Media at NBC News Digital Group, told Adweek, “the first rule is that there can’t be one user who doesn’t understand the difference between the editorial content and the advertiser content. The second rule is the editorial staff will never really be called upon to help create this content. Editorial will continue to create editorial—marketing and ad professionals will work on ad content.” The clear message: Brands are treading lightly.

Note To Publishers: Not All Of Your Inventory Is ‘Premium’ (Ad Exchanger) In the latest “Brand Aware” column, Bob Arnold, Director of Digital and Social Media at Kellogg Company, argues that “premium” inventory is in the eye of the beholder. “For me,” he writes, “the definition of premium inventory is ‘inventory that enables the highest probability to increase sales and long-term brand equity.’” Given that his is a high-level definition, he offers seven attributes that that he feels do and don’t make ad inventory ‘premium.’

Why Monopolies Make Spying Easier (The New Yorker) Writer Tim Wu believes that governments will always spy, but it’s the structure and design of information industries that make spying more or less likely. “These days, America has one dominant search engine, one dominant social-networking site, and four phone companies,” He writes. “The structure of the information industry often goes unnoticed, but it has an enormous effect on the ease with which the government spies on citizens. The remarkable consolidation of the communications and Web industries into a handful of firms has made spying much simpler and, therefore, more likely to happen.”

For Driving Engagement, Digital Video Ads Beat TV By a Wide Margin (eMarketer) According to a survey conducted by AOL Networks in April, almost 75% of marketing professionals worldwide plan to increase their spending on branded video content or video ads in the next year. “More than 50% of that group said that the added investment would come from TV and display budgets,” eMarketer reports. “Only 4% of respondents planned to draw back spending on digital video ads.”

Technology: The New Don Draper of Advertising (WSJ) Seems a fad, till it happens.