International round-up: Google’s potential fine, Alibaba partners with Publicis

Plus Fox follows YouTube with six-second ad format, Comcast brings blockchain technology to TV advertisers.

McDonald’s wins the right to call itself ‘Australia’s most popular’

Not everybody was in agreement with an Austrailian TV ad for McDonald’s that claimed “when you try a freshly-made coffee at McCafe, you’re enjoying Australia’s most popular barista made coffee”.

In fact, a complaint was submitted to Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) questioning the authenticity of McDonald’s claims.

In an epic three-page response, McDonald’s justified the volume of coffee it sold as it confidently stated: “McCafe coffee is the most popular barista-made coffee in Australia because we sell the most coffee by volume”.

“We submit that if there is no other brand better able to make this claim than us, then, by process of deduction, we are the most popular.”

The ASB decided the advertisement did not breach the Food Code and dismissed the complaint in a verdict that’s being called a defeat for coffee snobs everywhere.

READ MORE: Maccas crushes coffee snobs in reply to advertising complaint

Google could be set for a $1.1bn fine from the EU


It’s been a difficult year for Google, with the digital advertising giant losing dozens of advertisers after a Times investigation exposed how YouTube ads were placing major brands next to extremist content. And things could be about to get a whole lot worse.

According to reports, the European Union is about to fire a fine that will top $1.1bn in Google’s direction after a seven-year investigation found it to be abusing its dominant market share in search advertising,

Should Google be fined by the EU, it will be capped at 10% of Google’s parent Alphabet’s earnings from last year and  “up to 30% of Google’s shopping revenues times the number of years of the abuse.” To put this in perspective, Alphabet made $90bn in revenue last year, so that’s a lot of money to potentially lose.

This is just the first of three competition claims against Google investigated at a European level.

READ MORE: Google faces big fine in first EU case against search practices

Alibaba partners with Publicis to create new brand building platform

In a surprising turn of events, Alibaba and Publicis have teamed up to create their own brand building platform called UniDesk.

The partnership is intended to enhance Alibaba’s existing Uni Marketing framework, a product portfolio that uses data to control brand building across the Alibaba ecosystem. In effect, Publicis wants to bring the benefits of the Chinese ecommerce giant’s ecosystem to outside parties.

Publicis clients will have priority access to the platform, which aims to support third parties with precision storytelling tools.

If you’re scratching your head, here’s Bertilla Teo, Publicis Media’s Greater China CEO, explaining what this all means: “This partnership propels our vision to create future forward capability and solutions by harnessing the power of data and technology for brand growth via data-enabled precision storytelling and brand operations for our clients.” Well, sort of.

READ MORE: Publicis announces exclusive tie-up with China’s Alibaba

Fox launches new six-second ad format

Fox Networks Group is preparing a new six-second ad format for traditional TV as it looks to appeal to viewers more accustomed to the fast pace of online ads.

YouTube recently launched a six-second format itself, but David Levy, executive vice president of non-linear revenue at Fox Networks Group, says the move is inspired by a wider shift in viewing habits.

“We’re getting to a place where there’s just too much noise and people are seeking environments where there is a lot less clutter,” he explains. “How do we get more efficient with consumers’ time and attention? Everything you see us invest in has that as a backdrop and premise.”

The ad format should be ready by October for Fox shows and content viewed through digital and on-demand platforms. The plan is to then start selling the six-second inventory to traditional television advertisers a few months later.

So is the traditional longer 15- to 30-second TV ad format set to die out? Not according to Levy, who says there’s more room for different formats nowadays: “The best marketing we’ve seen, and we now are able to measure, is when we’re delivering multiple ad formats with different time lengths. The biggest thing will be making sure that we understand, and advertisers understand, the true value of what this kind of ad format can deliver.”

READ MORE: Fox to Launch New Six-Second Ad Format for Digital Content and TV

Blockchain technology set to evolve to TV ads

In yet another example of the convergence between digital and traditional advertising channels, Comcast Advanced Advertising Group has launched a new platform allowing marketers to make ad buys in broadcast and streaming TV using blockchain technology.

Blockchain works by allowing parties to transact with each other directly and aims to make digital advertising more transparent. In effect, it means two parties can have a central system of record, with no need for a bank or agency to interfere.

The Comcast platform will allow marketers to anonymously match their data sets with programmers and others in the industry to target consumers on any device without giving up proprietary customer info. The platform, which is being called Blockchain Insights Platform, already has the likes of Disney, NBC Universal and the UK’s Channel 4 signed up.

Marcien Jenckes, president of advertising at Comcast Cable, explains: “It is very difficult in today’s environment for anyone to say, ‘Hey I’ll give you my data to give you an answer. It just doesn’t happen that way.

“If you think about what a blockchain is, it’s how can you do a transaction where you trust the transaction, without having to trust the counterparty or the other people involved and without requiring some giant central system of record.”

READ MORE: Comcast, Disney, NBC: Media Giants to Launch Blockchain Ad Platform