George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

Trash the Internet Month?

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Trash the Internet Month?

We commented in this space last year (05, Sept. 2013) on a study by the University of Michigan showing that frequent use of Facebook “leads to feelings of envy, sadness, loneliness and anger.”  The same piece quotes a social psychologist who contends that “Rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result – it undermines it.”  These past few weeks have seen a mini-boom in articles trashing various aspects of the Internet and especially Facebook and other social media from the prevalence of narcissistic self-promotion (NYT, 8/24/14) to a Times Book Review that states, “The creative masses connect, create and labor, while Google, Facebook and Amazon collect the cash.” Which leads to assessing social media from an advertising point of view as it rapidly becomes Ground Zero for targeting you and me as we click around the web, whether we like it or not.

A piece in Bloomberg Business Week (8/25/14) aptly titled, “The Cookies You Can’t Crumble,” explores the alternatives to normally blockable cookies now being tested by “big Web companies and dozens of startups.” The Business Week piece reports that AddThis, a tech startup, has developed canvas fingerprinting, a technique through which a web site asks visitors to draw an object and can distinguish individual machines by analyzing slight variations in the drawings. Roughly 5,000 websites are now using canvas fingerprinting to track us. Tracking is only part of the problem of losing our right to privacy on the Internet. The analysis of that data is where the rubber meets the road. As Edward Snowden has meticulously revealed, today’s sophisticated tracking software and data analysis capabilities can practically count the fillings in our teeth.  As government sources continue to deny or downplay them, web advertising companies boast of them – at least to advertisers. Clearly, we’re going to see more ads on every Facebook and Google page we bring up, including a new surge of ads being anticipated on Twitter. A recent feature on 60 Minutes, for example, detailed how in an ad test, Facebook delivered 100 million page views targeted to users for a krill oil manufacturer. And while Bloomberg points out a number of industry attempts to mitigate or develop standards for tracking technologies, an official of the watchdog group, Electronic Frontier Foundation declares, “People attempting not to be tracked, will be tracked.” Words to click by.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

GOOD: Two great ads now on screen are Depends’ ad, “Drop your pants” showing men – and some women – marching along in their Depends underwear, sans pants. Some are cruising along on Segways and there’s even a cop on horseback. Brilliant!  Another well executed ad is for Samsung’s new curved TV screen. It uses familiar faces in film clips expressing shock, admiration and awe for something or other in the original context, but re-directed to a final shot of the new screen.

BAD: could have done better than show – however cutely – a situation where Captain Obvious, obviously doesn’t need a room for that lovely at the end of the bar who eventually brushes by him to the guy she’s meeting. The implication sucks to begin with, and why show a situation where the character doesn’t need the product?

UG-LY: An ad that has me diving for the mute button is Acura’s ad for their new TLX. The graphics work well, but the soundtrack has someone trying to sing “My Way” while being castrated. Yuck! Frank is spinning.

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So, what’s this hot new trend that has everyone saying “so” at the start of almost every sentence? Who declared World “So” Year?

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Brad? Really?

Do women today really name their cars? Liberty Mutual seems to think so. Really? Brad? Does Brad work as well in Mississippi as it does in Santa Monica?

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Omigod! 7 ½ minutes?

Why waste a whole 7 ½ minutes of your life saving 15% on auto insurance in 15 minutes at GEICO when esurance has pared it down to just 7 ½ minutes! Think of all things you can do with that precious 7 ½ minutes! Go ahead, think.

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Quote of the Week

Sleep Number Beds: “Your mattress is a battleground of thwarted desire.” And here I was blaming the extra blanket.

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Welcome back to school. Keep clickin’


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