tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/legal-and-regulations Latest Legal content from Econsultancy 2017-09-22T09:39:51+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69438 2017-09-22T09:39:51+01:00 2017-09-22T09:39:51+01:00 Is Uber's lawsuit against an agency a harbinger of greater brand-agency discord? Patricio Robles <p>Procter &amp; Gamble <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69309-how-much-waste-is-in-the-digital-ad-market">has already slashed $100m from its digital ad budget</a>, while JPMorgan Chase has cut the number of sites it advertises on from more than 400,000 to 5,000.</p> <p>But unhappy with the results of some of its spend, Uber isn't just slashing its budget or cutting campaigns. As <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-18/uber-goes-on-rare-legal-offensive-suing-dentsu-unit-for-fraud">detailed by</a> Bloomberg, the ridesharing behemoth has filed a $40m lawsuit against one of its agencies alleging that it paid for "nonexistent, nonviewable, and/or fraudulent advertising."</p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4053888-Gov-Uscourts-Cand-317169-1-0.html">Uber's complaint</a>, it discovered that "mobile first" ad agency Fetch, which is owned by Japanese holding giant Dentsu, charged it "tens of millions of dollars" while knowingly purchasing bad ads. It also alleged that Fetch "allowed networks and publishers to steal credit for organic installs of the Uber App, and Uber App installs that were attributable to other sources."</p> <p>Uber says it discovered this fraud when it received reports of its ads appearing on a conservative political website that it had previously told Fetch to blacklist: </p> <blockquote> <p>Uber's investigation into that particular issue suggested deceptive naming was to blame. Specifically, the public-reported name of the websites and mobile applications where Uber advertisements supposedly appeared did not match the actual URL accessed. For example, one publisher retained by Fetch reported clicks on Uber ads as coming from placements such as "Magic_Puzzles" and "Snooker_Champion." In fact, those clicks actually originated from advertisements on Breitbart.com, despite the fact that Uber had instructed that no ads be placed with that website.</p> </blockquote> <p>Not surprisingly, Fetch is denying Uber's allegations. James Connelly, Fetch's CEO, says he was "shocked" at Uber's claims, which he calls "unsubstantiated" and suggests are designed to "draw attention away from Uber's unprofessional behavior and failure to pay suppliers."</p> <h3>The blame game</h3> <p>As Uber sees it, it hired Fetch for its expertise and part of Fetch's job was to deal with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67659-three-things-that-show-the-scale-of-the-ad-fraud-challenge">ad fraud</a>. "Regardless of whether Fetch purchased mobile inventory on an agent-principal or principal transaction basis, Fetch was responsible for the day-to-day oversight of [ad] networks and vetting of publishers for quality and fraud preventing, concordant with the...duties of a reasonably prudent mobile advertising agency," Uber's lawsuit states.</p> <p>Fetch, of course, says that it, like just about every legitimate player in the ad industry, is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67660-what-can-prevent-ad-fraud-we-ask-an-ad-tech-ceo">trying to deal with ad fraud</a> and "minimize its impact." As Fetch's Connelly sees it, Uber is "[using] an industry-wide issue as a means of avoiding its contractual obligations."</p> <p>Ultimately, the two companies will either settle their dispute or let the legal system determine the facts and decide which party is in the right.</p> <p>In the meantime, the lawsuit, which is notable because Uber is targeting its agency and not the actual media sellers from which the allegedly fraudulent ads came, highlights just how significant the costs of ad fraud can be and just how difficult it is for brands and their agencies to deal with it.</p> <p>It also raises a number of interesting questions. As more brands scrutinize their ad buys, sometimes through formal audits, they will inevitably uncover evidence of fraud. Will this lead to more lawsuits against agencies? In an effort to up control and oversight, will more brands opt to build in-house agencies or split the difference with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69148-in-house-agency-versus-on-site-agency-weighing-the-pros-and-cons">on-site agencies</a>?</p> <p>Time will tell, but it's clear that agencies, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69357-what-s-next-for-the-agency-model">already under pressure</a>, have yet another thing to worry about.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69418 2017-09-14T14:26:39+01:00 2017-09-14T14:26:39+01:00 The FTC begins cracking down on influencers who violate its rules Patricio Robles <p>Last week, the FTC <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/09/csgo-lotto-owners-settle-ftcs-first-ever-complaint-against">announced</a> that two influencers active on YouTube, <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69392-amazon-turns-twitch-into-an-influencer-sales-platform">Twitch</a>, Twitter and Facebook had settled charges that they "deceptively endorsed the online gambling service CSGO Lotto...while failing to disclose they jointly owned the company."</p> <p>In addition, the FTC says that the influencers, Trevor 'TmarTn' Martin and Thomas 'Syndicate' Cassell, paid other influencers to promote CSGO Lotto without requiring them to disclose that they were paid.</p> <h3>A notable first</h3> <p>This is not the first time that the FTC has taken action over influencer marketing rule violations – it previously won a settlement with Lord &amp; Taylor over the retailer's Instagram influencer marketing efforts – but it is the first time that the FTC has gone after influencers themselves for violations.</p> <p>"Consumers need to know when social media influencers are being paid or have any other material connection to the brands endorsed in their posts," FTC acting-chairman Maureen Ohlhausen stated in a press release. "This action, the FTC's first against individual influencers, should send a message that such connections must be clearly disclosed so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions."</p> <p>While this settlement is somewhat unique in that the influencers targeted owned the service they were promoting without disclosure, the FTC appears to be making it clear that it is now going to more aggressively pursue influencers for violations of its rule. Indeed, in its press release announcing this settlement, the FTC revealed that it has sent warning letters to 21 of the 90 influencers it contacted in April.</p> <p>"The warning letters cite specific social media posts of concern to staff and provide details on why they may not be in compliance with the FTC Act as explained in the Commission’s Endorsement Guides," the press release explained. "For example, some of the letters point out that tagging a brand in an Instagram picture is an endorsement of the brand and requires an appropriate disclosure."</p> <p>One would assume that if any of the 21 influencers the FTC contacted do not respond or don't allay the agency's concerns, new charges could be forthcoming.</p> <h3>A reminder for brands too</h3> <p>On one hand, the FTC's latest enforcement action is good news for brands, as it indicates that the FTC is willing to go after individual influencers and not just brands, who are the bigger financial targets. On the other hand, the FTC's move could signal that the agency is stepping up its enforcement efforts, which means that the entire influencer marketing ecosystem will be under more scrutiny and violations of the FTC's rules will carry with them a greater and greater risk of punishment for both influencers and brands.</p> <p>The good news is that as the FTC ups its enforcement, it is providing more guidance about what influencers and brands need to do to stay on the right side of the rules. For example, the FTC has also announced updates to <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking">its enforcement guides</a> which were last updated in 2015.</p> <p>The new information in them covers a number of topics, such as the obligations of foreign influencers, disclosure of free travel and whether disclosures must be made at the beginning of paid posts. It also adds platform-specific disclosure guidelines for Instagram and Snapchat.</p> <p>Among the notable additions:</p> <ul> <li>"Tagging a brand you are wearing [in a photo] is an endorsement of the brand and, just like any other endorsement, could require a disclosure if you have a relationship with that brand."</li> <li>"There is a good chance that consumers won’t notice and understand the significance of the word 'ad' at the end of a hashtag, especially one made up of several words combined like '#coolstylead.' Disclosures need to be easily noticed and understood."</li> <li>"The use of '#ambassador' is ambiguous and confusing. Many consumers are unlikely to know what it means. By contrast, '#XYZ-Ambassador' will likely be more understandable (where XYZ is a brand name). However, even if the language is understandable, a disclosure also must be prominent so it will be noticed and read."</li> <li>"Keep in mind that if your post includes video and you include an audio disclosure, many users of [platforms like Instagram and Snapchat] watch videos without sound. So they won't hear an audio-only disclosure. Obviously, other general disclosure guidance would also apply."</li> </ul> <p><em>For more on this topic, read:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing"><em>Measuring ROI on Influencer Marketing (subscription required)</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69209-six-inconvenient-truths-about-influencer-marketing"><em>Six inconvenient truths about influencer marketing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69196-11-impressive-influencer-marketing-campaigns"><em>11 impressive influencer marketing campaigns</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3247 2017-09-08T11:13:37+01:00 2017-09-08T11:13:37+01:00 Mini Masters in Digital Marketing Online <p>If you want to accelerate your career to take a leadership role as a professional digital marketer then the Econsultancy Mini Masters in Digital Marketing is the course that will give you the practical and strategic skills to step up.</p> <p style="background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;">Econsultancy’s Mini Masters is taught online with intensive, challenging, interactive modules taught by the very best in the business. Formalise your existing skills, and come away with the confidence that you really know your stuff – and how to prove it at the highest level. </p> <p style="background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><strong>Book your place now! Next course dates are in April and October 2018.</strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3246 2017-09-08T11:02:07+01:00 2017-09-08T11:02:07+01:00 Mini Masters in Digital Marketing Online <p>If you want to accelerate your career to take a leadership role as a professional digital marketer then the Econsultancy Mini Masters in Digital Marketing is the course that will give you the practical and strategic skills to step up.</p> <p style="background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;">Econsultancy’s Mini Masters is taught online with intensive, challenging, interactive modules taught by the very best in the business. Formalise your existing skills, and come away with the confidence that you really know your stuff – and how to prove it at the highest level. </p> <p style="background-image: initial; background-position: initial; background-size: initial; background-repeat: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial;"><strong>Book your place now! Next course dates are in April and October 2018.</strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69209 2017-06-30T10:43:00+01:00 2017-06-30T10:43:00+01:00 Six inconvenient truths about influencer marketing Patricio Robles <h3>1. Calculating ROI can be difficult</h3> <p>As Rakuten Marketing MD and Econsultancy contributor James Collins <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69164-should-sales-be-used-to-measure-the-roi-of-influencer-marketing/">recently noted</a>, “influencer marketing is often about raising awareness through aspirational content, with a view to generating purchases further down the line, rather than pushing immediate sales.”</p> <p>But for brands spending growing amounts of big bucks on influencer marketing campaigns (according to research from Linqia, marketers will spend $50,000 to $100,000 per influencer marketing campaign this year) justifying that spend increasingly requires more than faith that it will produce a return down the line. </p> <p>Unfortunately, a recent Econsultancy report <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing/">revealed that measuring ROI on their influencer initiatives is the biggest challenge for 65% of marketers</a>. While measuring ROI is hardly a challenge exclusive to influencer marketing, given the growing cost of influencer marketing campaigns, it's getting harder and harder for marketers to brush the ROI question aside.</p> <h3>2. Engagement doesn't necessarily translate to efficacy</h3> <p>Part of the ROI calculation challenge is that some of the most easily tracked metrics in influencer marketing campaigns are related to how much followers engage with sponsored content. But likes, retweets and comments aren't always meaningful metrics and don't even necessarily mean that an influencer's followers have truly engaged with the branded content.</p> <p>At a minimum, companies should use benchmarking to assess whether or not the engagement their campaigns is generating is in line with what they expect based on an influencer's non-paid content, but it's not clear that marketers are even doing this.</p> <h3>3. It's hard to assess audience quality </h3> <p>Fake accounts, often created by automated means, have for years been a thorn in the side of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While it's impossible to pin down exactly how many fake accounts exist, even if a relatively small percentage of the accounts on these platforms are fake, that represents tens of millions of fake accounts, if not more.</p> <p>By some estimates, even some of the biggest influencers on these platforms have fake followers well into the double digit percentages, which can equate to anywhere from tens of thousand to millions of fake followers. Even though in most cases this almost certainly isn't intentional, it's a problem given that the most popular influencers are setting their prices based on their total audiences and marketers can't really be sure whether the number of useless accounts following a particular influencer is 1%, 10%, 25%, etc.</p> <p>Beyond fake accounts, it's even more difficult to assess the quality of an influencer's legitimate audience. How many followers are active? How many are truly fans of the influencer? And so on and so forth.</p> <h3>4. You can't control how people will react</h3> <p>The concept behind influencer marketing – that brands benefit by positive associations with high-profile individuals on social media platforms – isn't an invalid one, but that doesn't mean that campaigns are guaranteed to produce positive reactions.</p> <p>For example, Marigold, a prominent dairy and beverage company in Singapore, learned that the hard when when it used three influencers to promote its Marigold Peel Fresh juice drink. One of the influencers, Naomi Neo, who did not disclose that she was being paid by Marigold, claimed that she “always [carries] around a carton of my favorite MARIGOLD PEEL FRESH juice.”</p> <p>That claim was, for obvious reasons, <a href="http://mothership.sg/2016/05/internet-person-says-she-carries-1-litre-carton-of-marigold-peel-fresh-everywhere-she-goes/">met with extreme skepticism</a> and lots of negative comments on social media and the web – probably not what Marigold was looking for.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7191/neo.jpg" alt="naomi neo" width="615" height="424"></p> <h3>5. Influencer relationships can go south, and quickly</h3> <p>Influencers are human beings and thus not infallible. That means influencer relationships are fraught with many of the same risks as typical celebrity endorsements.</p> <p>In a worst-case scenario, brands associated with an influencer could suffer some level of embarrassment if the influencer becomes the subject of a public firestorm.</p> <p>Case in point: after a Wall Street Journal article highlighted a number of anti-Semetic videos posted by PewDiePie, YouTube's biggest homegrown star, brands that had been involved with him, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/disney-severs-ties-with-youtube-star-pewdiepie-after-anti-semitic-posts-1487034533">including Disney</a>, made the decision to cut ties. </p> <p>While it's unlikely that the PewDiePie association will have a lasting negative impact on a brand like Disney, the fact that it had to end the kind of long-term influencer relationship that is most likely to pay dividends demonstrates just how hard it can be to bank on internet stars as reliable partners.</p> <h3>6. Disclosure is still an issue</h3> <p>In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is ramping up its efforts to ensure that influencers are adequately disclosing when they are being paid to promote products and services for companies. </p> <p>While in theory it should be easy for marketers to require that the influencers it works with are following the applicable rules, and platforms like Instagram are aiming <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-14/instagram-to-make-it-clearer-when-influencer-posts-are-paid-ads">to make it even easier</a>, the FTC <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/04/20/ftc-instagram/">is still finding dozens upon dozens of instances of violations</a> of its rules. Even following the FTC's letters, a number of watchdog groups <a href="https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/303461/celebrities-still-fail-to-disclose-instagram-ads.html">discovered that</a> many of the influencers the FTC warned are not disclosing when they are posting content for brands.</p> <p>Ultimately, if brands aren't proactive about making sure the influencers they work with are following the rules, it's likely that the FTC will be forced to take enforcement action, action that could carry with it fines for brands.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69217 2017-06-29T17:14:00+01:00 2017-06-29T17:14:00+01:00 As WPP hit by cyberattack, brands need to pay more attention to agency security Patricio Robles <p>Like WannaCry, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/27/petya-ransomware-cyber-attack-who-what-why-how">Petya</a> appears to be ransomware, as it encrypts files on infected computers and demands payment for access to be restored.</p> <h3>A very high-profile victim</h3> <p>One of the companies hit by Petya was the world's largest ad holding firm, WPP. In a statement, the company revealed that on June 27, "a number of WPP companies were affected by the ransomware attack that hit organisations around the world."</p> <p>WPP assured clients that it was working with its IT partners and law enforcement "to take all appropriate precautionary measures, restore services where they have been disrupted, and keep the impact on clients, partners and our people to a minimum."</p> <p><a href="http://www.adweek.com/agencies/wpp-cyberattack-serves-as-a-wake-up-call-to-agencies-and-cmos-alike/">According to</a> AdWeek, "staff at various offices left work early yesterday due to an inability to access their networks."</p> <p>In an internal memo, WPP chairman Sir Martin Sorrell tried to reassure staff that the cyberattack wasn't hurting the firm's business. "Many of you will have experienced significant disruption to your work. However, contrary to some press reports, WPP and its companies are still very much open for business," he told staff, adding that there was "no indication that either employee or client data has been compromised."</p> <h3>A new agency risk</h3> <p>Even if WPP emerges from this cyberattack with little more than a few nicks and scratches, the fact that it was affected at all by Petya should be of concern to brands that count agencies as some of their most important partners. After all, if a brand's agency is knocked offline, loses data or is otherwise compromised, it could affect clients in any number of ways, such as disruption to or delays of campaigns. </p> <p>As Michael Connolly, CEO of adtech firm Sonobi, <a href="http://adage.com/article/digital/wpp-ransomware-attack-smoke-screen/309614/">told AdAge</a>, "Any impact to an organization's infrastructure or operational ability...can have an impact on the ability to execute, particularly when data is involved." Data, of course, has become the lifeblood of digital advertising thanks in large part to the rise of programmatic.</p> <p>And there are a number of worst-case scenarios that could expose clients to even costlier crimes. For example, because agencies are privy to some of the most sensitive information of their clients, it's not inconceivable that agencies could be specifically targeted by groups who are aiming to extort or otherwise inflict damage on their clients by stealing, modifying or deleting client data.</p> <p>Seem far-fetched? Consider that this <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-hacking-disney-netflix-20170523-story.html">is exactly what is happening to Hollywood studios</a> on a now disturbingly frequent basis. Like brands, Hollywood studios rely heavily on third-parties, which out of necessity often have access to some of their most sensitive and valuable assets.</p> <h3>Agencies are ill-prepared</h3> <p>Unfortunately for brands, according to experts who spoke to AdWeek and AdAge, agencies are largely unprepared to deal with cyber threats like Petya. </p> <p>According to Tom Pageler, chief risk officer and chief information security officer at global information services provider Neustar, agencies are "probably doing the minimum versus other, more heavily regulated industries like financial services that deal with critical data."</p> <p>The news isn't all bad, however. "The industry realizes that they’re really not where they need to be," he stated, and in the the wake of the Petya attack, Pageler is already seeing signs that companies are trying to catch up. He predicts WPP specifically will soon announce the hiring of a big security vendor.</p> <p>But while agencies have a lot of work to do, brands must also recognize that they share with their partners responsibility for cybersecurity. They can't just demand that their agencies own the cybersecurity challenge. Instead, they need to better educate themselves, take an active role in establishing and enforcing data security policies that their agencies are required to adhere to, and take steps to ensure that they're not creating vulnerabilites themselves.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69213 2017-06-29T12:00:00+01:00 2017-06-29T12:00:00+01:00 How Europe's $2.7bn Google antitrust fine could impact the internet economy Patricio Robles <blockquote> <p>...Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.</p> </blockquote> <p>Google, not surprisingly, was quick to issue <a href="https://www.blog.google/topics/google-europe/european-commission-decision-shopping-google-story/">a response</a> refuting the EC's claim that it has illegally acted to stifle competition. In it, Google's general counsel Kent Walker stated that the company "respectfully disagrees" with the EC's conclusions and suggested that the rise of competitors like Amazon could be responsible for the challenges other shopping comparison sites have faced.</p> <p>"When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you're looking for," Walker wrote. "Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller – it's the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback."</p> <p>An appeal, while not yet announced, would appear likely.</p> <p>In the meantime, Google parent company Alphabet has 90 days to cease the conduct the EC found to be illegal or it will face daily fines of 5% of its average daily worldwide turnover. The EC also noted that in addition to the fine being levied by the EC, Google could face civil penalties for its behavior and that a new EU Antitrust Damages Directive will "[make] it easier for victims of anti-competitive practices to obtain damages."</p> <h3>A sign of things to come?</h3> <p>While Google, which generated some $90bn in revenue last year, can easily swallow the EU's $2.7bn fine without batting an eye, the billion-dollar fine signals that regulators, after years of talk, might now be willing to take action to reign in large tech companies that are increasingly dominant.</p> <p>Google and Facebook, for instance, <a href="https://digiday.com/media/will-duopoly-face-government-intervention/">have been labeled by some as a duopoly</a> that needs to be regulated more heavily, and as a candidate, now-U.S. President Donald Trump went so far as to <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/13/trump-says-amazon-has-a-huge-antitrust-problem.html">publicly state</a> that Amazon has "a huge antitrust problem."</p> <p>There's no evidence that tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are going to become less dominant any time soon. In fact, the evidence <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69186-is-the-whole-foods-acquisition-the-beginning-of-amazon-s-endgame/">indicates</a> that the dominance of a handful of large tech firms will only grow. This has led to concern that these companies are becoming too powerful and must be reigned in to protect the public.</p> <p>While it's too early to know whether the EC's Google fine is the beginning of a period of aggressive antitrust enforcement, the EC did use its press release to point out that it "has already come to the preliminary conclusion that Google has abused a dominant position in two other cases" involving Google's mobile OS Android and AdSense. </p> <p>It also noted that it "continues to examine Google's treatment in its search results of other specialised Google search services" -- a not-so-subtle warning that Google is still under a powerful antitrust microscope.</p> <h3>Is a Europe-US split developing?</h3> <p>Some observers have suggested that the EC unfairly targeted Google, an American company, and that this week's fine is actually intended to serve protectionist goals without starting an overt trade rift. The EC <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/27/technology/eu-google-biased-protectionism/">has dismissed</a> these arguments.</p> <p>While U.S. presidential candidate Trump bandied about the "antitrust" word in reference to Amazon, which is owned by one of his most prominent tech industry critics, Jeff Bezos, it's somewhat doubtful that President Trump will eschew his business-friendly political platform and go after big tech firms who employ tens of thousands of highly-paid workers in the U.S.</p> <p>This raises the prospect of a Europe-US split in which large tech companies, most of which are headquartered in the U.S., are forced to change the way they operate in Europe while keeping their modus operandi the same across the pond.</p> <p>For companies that rely in some form on these tech giants, particularly large brands, this possibility is worth paying close attention to. After all, if Google is forced to make significant changes to the way it operates in Europe, it could affect how Google's many frenemies work with and compete against it in Europe versus the rest of the world.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68865 2017-05-05T14:17:29+01:00 2017-05-05T14:17:29+01:00 Will bad PR lead Uber to destruction? Patricio Robles <p>Since the beginning of the year, the eight-year-old transportation company that investors have reportedly valued at more than $60bn has seen its name dragged through the mud:</p> <ul> <li>On February 19, a former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, published <a href="https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2017/2/19/reflecting-on-one-very-strange-year-at-uber">a blog post</a> detailing a culture of sexism at the company, sparking outrage and forcing the company's founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, to announce an independent review.</li> <li>Shortly thereafter, Uber's SVP of engineering, Amit Singhal, <a href="http://www.recode.net/2017/2/27/14745360/amit-singhal-google-uber">left the company</a> after it was revealed that he had left his former employer, Google, following an allegation of sexual harassment that the search giant had found to be "credible."</li> <li>Around the same time, a video recorded by an Uber driver revealed a conversation the driver had with Kalanick who, when pressed about driver pay, responded, "You know what, some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!" Kalanick apologized for his behavior and <a href="https://newsroom.uber.com/a-profound-apology/">in a statement</a> said "This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it."</li> <li>In late February, Susan Fowler tweeted that "research for the smear campaign has begun. If you are contacted by anyone asking for personal and intimate info about me, please report asap" and shortly thereafter announced that she had hired a law firm. Uber <a href="http://www.recode.net/2017/2/24/14728660/uber-says-its-not-behind-the-phone-calls-to-investigate-susan-fowlers-personal-life">responded and stated</a> that it was not behind any investigations of Fowler's personal life.</li> <li>Google parent company Alphabet, on behalf of its self-driving car unit Waymo, <a href="https://medium.com/waymo/a-note-on-our-lawsuit-against-otto-and-uber-86f4f98902a1#.v5sjnsfbq">filed a lawsuit</a> against Uber and Otto alleging that former Waymo employees engaged in a "concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property." Otto is a self-driving car startup Uber purchased in 2016. That lawsuit <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/25/uber-must-turn-over-information-about-its-acquisition-of-otto-to-waymo-court-rules/">does not appear to be going well</a> for Uber and might be why the head of Uber's Advantage Technology Group, who is at the center of the lawsuit, just <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/27/ubers-anthony-levandowki-out-as-advanced-technologies-lead-amid-legal-fight/">stepped aside</a>.</li> <li>In early March, Uber was forced to respond to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/technology/uber-greyball-program-evade-authorities.html">reports that it had built a "greyballing" system</a> so that it could evade law enforcement and regulators in markets where it was not permitted by law to operate.</li> <li>Also in early March, another former female Uber engineer <a href="https://medium.com/@contactkeala/sexism-at-uber-from-female-management-uberstory-238874075bbb">spoke out</a> about her last days at the company, which she claimed were filled with "disrespect, condescending managers, and sexism."</li> <li>Uber's president, Jeff Jones, who was previously the CMO of retail giant Target, resigned from the company after just six months on the job. Jones <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Amid-turbulence-at-Uber-company-s-president-11013195.php">said that</a>, "The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber and I could no longer continue as president of the ridesharing business."</li> <li>In late March, <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/25/15061270/uber-employee-company-trip-south-korean-escort-bar">a report was published</a> claiming that Uber's Kalanick and five other employees visited an escort karaoke bar in Seoul, Korea in 2014, which resulted in a complaint to Uber human resources by a female employee who was present. According to the report, Kalanick's girlfriend was later asked by Uber’s senior VP of business to lie if questioned about the incident.</li> <li>Earlier this month, it <a href="https://www.theinformation.com/ubers-top-secret-hell-program-exploited-lyfts-vulnerability">was revealed</a> that between 2014 and early 2016 Uber had a software program called "Hell" which was used to track drivers driving for Lyft, the company's chief rival. As part of this program, which relied on fake Lyft rider accounts and a flaw in Lyft's technology, Uber tracked drivers who worked for both Uber and Lyft with the goal of luring them to work for Uber instead. Now, an ex-Lyft driver <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/former-lyft-driver-sues-uber-for-hell-tracking-program/">is suing Uber for $5m</a> alleging that the program violated the Federal Wiretap Act and California's Invasion of Privacy Act. The lawyers representing the ex-Lyft driver are seeking class action status.</li> </ul> <p>Given Uber's ubiquity and dominance in key markets, one might assume that the company will no doubt weather all of these scandals with minimal long-term damage, but is that really a valid assumption?</p> <h3>Lyft pounces</h3> <p>If Lyft's fortunes are any indication, Uber might have reason to worry.</p> <p>While Uber has been dealing with bad headline after bad headline, Lyft has been courting riders and polishing its image. For example, when Uber was facing a #DeleteUber campaign over CEO Kalanick's participation in a business advisory council for US President Donald Trump, Lyft was responding to Trump's temporary travel ban targeting seven Muslim countries by announcing that it would be donating $1m to the American Civil Liberties Union.</p> <p>Is Lyft's cleaner image winning over consumers?</p> <p><a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-27/lyft-bookings-and-ridership-soar-while-losses-shrink"> According to</a> Bloomberg, Lyft's ridership and bookings "surged" in the first quarter of the year and according to fundraising documents Bloomberg obtained, the company is beating its internal targets. The documents revealed that Lyft's gross bookings in Q1 grew to $800m, more than double what they were in Q1 2016, and total ridership in February was 137% higher than February 2016.</p> <p>Obviously, there's no way to know just how much of Lyft's gains, if any, have come at Uber's expense, but it's difficult to ignore the fact that Lyft's momentum seems to be accelerating at the very same time its larger rival is under constant media fire.</p> <h3>The big problem with Uber's bad PR</h3> <p>Many companies face scandal at some point or another, and Uber is no stranger to bad press. From reports that the company <a href="https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/06/uber-hired-investigators-to-impersonate-journalists-to-target-lawsuit-plaintiff/">impersonated journalists</a> as part of a lawsuit reponse to <a href="http://bgr.com/2016/12/13/uber-privacy-and-security/">claims it has spied on users for years and lied about it</a>, Uber is at this point fairly well-versed in crisis PR. And on the surface, the company's response to the latest string of bad headlines has followed best practice.</p> <p>High-profile claims of a rampant sexual harassment? Denounce the behavior and announce an investigation to be led by the former US Attorney General. CEO gets caught on camera treating a driver poorly? Have the CEO issue a heartfelt apology and promise to get help. And so on and so forth.</p> <p>But something <em>feels</em> different about the latest crises. When the relatively new president of the company quits after only six months and points to the "beliefs and approach to leadership" as the reason, it suggests there's a bigger problem, as do the views of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/07/uber-work-culture-travis-kalanick-susan-fowler-controversy">current, former and prospective employees, as well as recruiters</a>.</p> <p>To be sure, companies <em>can</em> recover from <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/6119-bp-s-internet-response-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/">huge mistakes that create PR messes of significant proportions</a>, but what happens when a brand burdens itself with a culture in which mistakes that wreak PR havoc are inevitable? And what happens if a company comes to be seen by the public as rotten at its core?</p> <p>While the thought of the $60bn-plus upstart imploding seems like a far-fetched proposition, Uber appears to be testing just how far the limits of bad PR can be pushed in a way that is perhaps unprecedented.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69006 2017-04-20T15:00:00+01:00 2017-04-20T15:00:00+01:00 What publishers and advertisers need to know about Princeton and Stanford's new super ad blocker Patricio Robles <h4>1. It uses "perceptual ad blocking"</h4> <p>Most ad blockers in use today look for the footprints of digital ads. For example, they scan the contents of a page, identifying snippets of code and URLs that are commonly associated with ads and ad networks. This approach is very effective at blocking ads served by major ad players like Google, but it's far less effective at weeding out ads that are served by publishers themselves, including native ads.</p> <p>The university researchers' ad blocker uses computer vision technology to analyze the contents of a web page much the same way a human would. As Vice's Jason Koebler <a href="https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/princetons-ad-blocking-superweapon-may-put-an-end-to-the-ad-blocking-arms-race">explained</a>...</p> <blockquote> <p>...it uses optical character recognition, design techniques, and container searches (the boxes that ads are commonly put in on a page) to detect words like "sponsored" or "close ad" that are required to appear on every ad, which is what allows it to detect and block Facebook ads.</p> </blockquote> <h4>2. It could be 100% effective at blocking ads</h4> <p><a href="http://randomwalker.info/publications/ad-blocking-framework-techniques.pdf">According to</a> a paper published by the Princeton and Stanford researchers who created the new ad blocker, so long as advertisers and publishers adhere to the disclosure standards promulgated by regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "a perceptual ad blocker will have a 100% recall at identifying ads governed by that standard."</p> <h4>3. The ad blocker is difficult if not impossible to detect</h4> <p>The new computer vision-based approach allows the Princeton and Stanford ad blocker to more stealthily block ads by taking advantage of techniques normally employed by malware. In fact, when tested on 50 websites employing anti ad-blocking scripts, the university's ad blocker was able to block ads without being detected 100% of the time. </p> <p>Because it stealthily blocks ads, the super ad blocker is able to avoid detection by <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66606-here-come-the-ad-blocker-blockers">anti ad-blocking techniques</a> that publishers commonly use to thwart users who browse their sites with ad blockers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1281/netflixad.png" alt="" width="590" height="226"></p> <p>That's obviously not going to be good news for the growing number of publishers that are using anti ad-blockers to cut off access to people using the technology, and could encourage some of them to erect more restrictive paywalls.</p> <h4>4. The technology is currently available in a proof-of-concept that doesn't block ads</h4> <p>While it's probably only a matter of time before perceptual ad blocking technology makes its full debut, for now, the Princeton and Stanford researchers decided to release a limited proof-of-concept in the form of <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/perceptual-ad-blocker/mahgiflleahghaapkboihnbhdplhnchp?hl=en">a Chrome extension</a> that doesn't actually block ads. Instead, the extension highlights the ads it identifies.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5479/adblocker.png" alt="" width="644" height="404"></p> <h4>5. Perceptual ad blocking isn't the only new approach to ad blocking that could have a big impact</h4> <p>While it would appear that perceptual ad blocking has the potential to end the ad blocking wars, handing victory to consumers and defeat to publishers and advertisers, this new approach to ad blocking isn't the only one that publishers and advertisers need to worry about. </p> <p>In a paper detailing their perceptual ad blocking tech, the Princeton and Stanford researchers also presented another technique that could make ad blocking more effective. Under this approach, a browser extension would create two copies of a page, blocking ads in the one displayed to users. The end result would be that publishers would again have no way to identify users who are blocking ads.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68953 2017-04-04T15:30:00+01:00 2017-04-04T15:30:00+01:00 Can pharma companies effectively use influencer marketing? Patricio Robles <p>As Digiday's Yuyu Chen <a href="http://digiday.com/marketing/inside-influencer-marketing-weigh-loss-supplements/">recently detailed</a>, a weight-loss supplement company turned to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-voice-of-the-influencer/">influencer marketing</a> to help it "restore its image" as it battled legal issues related to product recalls.</p> <p>Unlike most influencer campaigns, Collective Bias, the firm it worked with, needed extra time to find influencers in the supplement company's target market – overweight female adults over the age of 40. And because the content the influencers created needed to be compliant with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, legal reviews were required before content could be published.</p> <p>All told, the campaign, which involved a relatively small number of influencers – less than two dozen – took two months to execute. Normally, Collective Bias says campaigns take three to four weeks.</p> <p>Another firm, Talent Resources, which has created influencer marketing campaigns for weight loss companies SlimFast and Hydroxycut, confirmed that pharma campaigns are a different beast. According to the firm's CEO, Michael Heller, with pharma campaigns it normally takes two months to find the right influencers.</p> <p>One of the big challenges is finding influencers who will commit to campaigns that are longer than usual because pharma companies frequently need influencers to publish content about their progress using a product over an extended period of time.</p> <p>Campaign execution brings its own challenges. Because of the amount of disclosure required by the FDA, the content published by influencers often looks more "heavily branded."</p> <p>Of course, not complying with the rules is a no-no. Last year, one of social media's highest paid influencers, Kim Kardashian, published a sponsored Instagram post for Diclegis, a morning sickness drug marketed by pharma company Duchesnay.</p> <p>The post racked up nearly half a million likes and boosted social media conversation about the drug by 500% according to one social media analytics firm, but because the post didn't abide by the FDA's rules, the regulator sent Duchesnay a warning letter and demanded corrective action. That <a href="https://consumerist.com/2015/08/31/after-fda-warning-kim-kardashian-posts-corrected-endorsement-of-morning-sickness-pill/">resulted in</a> a follow-up post by Kardashian in which she was forced to tell her followers that her post didn't meet FDA requirements.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5145/kimk.png" alt="" width="680" height="346"></p> <h3>A subtler way to use influencer marketing?</h3> <p>While there's no direct evidence that the FDA's action had a chilling effect on other pharma companies, the unique rules that pharma companies have to deal with will likely limit their use of influencer marketing and encourage them to think differently about how they can take advantage of it.</p> <p>One approach pharma companies seem to be embracing as an alternative to traditional campaigns in which an influencer directly pitches a product or service is to enlist influencers to drive awareness of a medical condition the pharma companies' drugs treat.</p> <p>Last year, pharma giant <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68403-pharma-company-novartis-taps-facebook-live-event-to-promote-heart-failure-drugs">Novartis partnered with actress/singer Queen Latifah</a> as part of a <em>Rise Above Heart Failure</em> initiative designed to call attention to heart failure, a condition that the company's drug Entresto treats. Novartis involved Queen Latifah because her mother, Rita Owens, had previously experienced heart failure, so the campaign was something that she was ostensibly eager to be involved with.</p> <p>As part of its initiative, Queen Latifah participated in a Facebook Live event.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/0425/Screen_Shot_2016-10-17_at_17.13.28.png" alt="" width="500" height="453"></p> <p>Other pharma companies appear to be mirroring Novartis's approach. For example, <a href="http://www.mmm-online.com/campaigns/agn-eye-care-campaign-diabetes-marketing-pharma/article/636563/">Allergan is participating in a <em>See America</em> campaign</a> that aims to put an end to preventable blindness. The awareness-building portion of the campaign will have Allergan "working with influencers in various areas, including art, fashion, sports, and music, to reach people across the country."</p> <p>Obviously, tapping influencers to promote a condition or cause might not seem as desirable as tapping them to promote a product directly, but for pharma companies already hampered by reputational woes, it's not only likely to be the best way to minimize the regulatory red tape associated with their campaigns, it's probably the best way to ensure that the goodwill of the influencers they work with doesn't go to waste or worse, is put in jeopardy. </p>