International round-up: Gillette’s targeting errors & Facebook’s subscription news service

Plus ‘unconventional’ agency acquisitions are on the up and fraudulent ad traffic plummets in Australia.

Audi criticised for comparing a wife to a used car in ad for China

Comparing women to any inanimate object in advertising is never a good idea, but sadly brands are still falling foul of this.

This week, car marque Audi landed itself in hot water after comparing a wife to a used car in an ad for its Chinese market.

The ad goes like this: A mother-in-law interrupts a wedding ceremony to inspect the bride, checking whether she’s up to standard. The older woman grabs the bride’s nose and ears, pinches her lower lip and peers at her teeth and tongue. The bride gets an OK, along with a warning to cover up her cleavage.

The ad looks to promote the fact that all used Audis are checked out and officially certified for resale. “An important decision must be made carefully,” the tagline says.

Naturally, the video did not go down well on social media. The ad was surprising given that Audi has made campaigns in the past that looked to tackle gender stereotypes in markets from Spain to the US. Audi has since apologised for the ad.

READ MORE: Audi made an ad in China comparing a wife to a used car — it’s not going over well

Fraudulent ad traffic plummets in Australia


The volume of invalid traffic that has been detected on desktop browsers has fallen by more than one third this year, according to IAB/PwC Invalid Traffic Benchmarks.

The latest data, which PwC assesses from Comscore, IAS and Moat data, shows a decrease in invalid traffic from 3.7% of impressions between July and September 2016 to 2.4% between October 2016 and March this year.

For mobile, the drop was even more stark – from 3.8% down to 1.3%. Only 1.4% of video inventory was deemed fraudulent, the first time monitored for the first time.

Ad fraud is believed to cost the Australian market about $116m (£71m) each year, with $68m (£41.6m) wasted on fraudulent website traffic, such as bots.

The invalid traffic benchmark tracks one element that could indicate ad fraud, the amount of internet traffic that is invalid not seen by a human.

The traffic can include general invalid traffic such as bots, spiders, crawlers and other routine means of filtration, as well as sophisticated invalid traffic such as hijacked devices, ad tags or creative, malware and misappropriated content.

READ MORE: Invalid traffic across digital plummets in Australia

Gillette misses the mark with “happy 18th birthday” kits

Gillette has been sending razors to young men turning 18 for almost 20 years. But it recently seems to have started getting things wrong.

Suddenly, women are also sent the packs, as well as men nearing their fifties.

Each pack comes with a razor and a little booklet that says, ‘Your first shave won’t make you a man but your first real shave will get you pretty darn close’. The booklet also says ‘welcome to manhood’.

Gillette plans to send more than two million razors to consumers in the US this year. It declined to disclose the data sources it uses to identify potential customers, though it says online that it may use sign-ups on its websites and opt-ins from retailers, as well as other “commercially available sources” like magazine subscriptions. That could also include lists from data brokers, which harvest information on people from a variety of places and sell it.

Barbara Diecker, a spokeswoman for Gillette, said the number of mix-ups was “very small” over all. She added, however, that such reports might increase after bigger mailings and that the brand had “just sent out a fairly large shipment over the last few weeks.”

READ MORE: Welcome to Manhood, Gillette told the 50-year-old woman

Facebook reveals plans to launch subscription news service

Facebook has long refused to identify itself as a media company, but it seems it can no longer deny this claim.

The digital giant announced it will launch a subscription-based news product later this year, according to a report from The Street.

The feature appears to be built on top of Facebook’s Instant Articles, which aggregates stories from hundreds of publishers based on a reader’s interests and preferences. In addition to steering readers to a publisher’s home page to consider taking out a digital subscription, Facebook plans to erect a paywall which would require readers to become subscribers of the platform after they’d accessed 10 articles. Initial tests will begin in October.

“One of the things we heard in our initial meetings from many newspapers and digital publishers is that ‘we want a subscription product – we want to be able to see a paywall in Facebook,'” Facebook’s head of news partnerships Campbell Brown said at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in New York.

“And that is something we’re doing now. We are launching a subscription product.”

Facebook’s plans seem to be aimed at appeasing news organisations, which had previously complained that they had little control over how their stories were being exhibited on Facebook.

READ MORE: Facebook Exec Campbell Brown: We Are Launching a News Subscription Product

Unconventional agency acquisitions are on the up

Unusual buyers for digital agencies is perhaps the biggest trend to come out of agency mergers and acquisitions in the first half of this year, according to a report by global marketing consultancy R3.

Among the purchases made by unexpected buyers: Domino’s Pizza Enterprises in Australia shelled out $6m for digital publishing and communication agency IPG Connect. Meanwhile, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo snagged Agency of Trillions for $10m. The report defined buyers as “unconventional” if they do not usually make acquisitions in the ad marketplace or have not been on R3’s report before.

“Domino’s wants to own more of the demand chain,” Greg Paull, co-founder and principal at R3, said. “We’ve seen this trend before with Shiseido and others. More and more marketers are going to want greater in-house control of their marketing.”

Overall, M&A activity is down within the marketing communications sector, R3 said. A total of 184 deals worth a total of $4.1bn were tracked through the first six months of 2017, a 39% decline when compared to the same time a year ago. Paull says the decrease is the result of a “significant slowdown in China,” which only had a total of 12 deals in 2017, down 45% year-over-year.

READ MORE: Agency Acquisitions In 2017: Domino’s Pizza 1, Publicis 0



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