The Deets Welcomes New Advertisers

It looks like The Deets picked up 85 new advertisers in June 2010. Here they are:

  38. Interactive Media Sales
  47. Mexad
  48. Mixpo

These ads are served through Google AdWords’ placement targeting system, where advertisers can choose to push ads onto The nice thing about this is that they can do this automatically. It’s totally self-serve, so I can focus on ranting about phone books rather than selling ads.

This also means that you can also place ads on The Deets without talking to me. You build the ads (text or images), decide the geography of the visitors to The Deets that you’d like to target, and how much you’re willing to pay. How often your ads are displayed is largely a matter of how much you’re willing to pay vs. other advertisers targeting the same site visitors. It’s pretty slick.

Faces of Snipe 2b: 651-317-9699

The Freets made good on his promise to, “make sure they are compliant with the law by removing the sign on my way home today.”

651-317-9699 Snipe in St Paul

The sign is up.

651-317-9699 Snipe in St Paul

And now it’s gone.

651-317-9699 Snipe in St Paul

And stuffed into the back of a car.

The Freets does clean work. It makes me wonder what other types of things he can make disappear. I’ll try to stay on his good side.

Twin Cities’ Snipe Advertising Activists

Snipe advertising is the commercial form of graffiti and is sadly all too common around town. Luckily, at least a few local activists are doing something about this, including my dad in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul, by cleaning up the commercial litter:

Dad with Snipe Signs

This is not a new issue, but it does seem like one that’s worse than usual these days due to the popularity of We Buy Houses and dating site advertising. Here’s an excerpt from a 2001 post by Minneapolis’s Director of Solid Waste and Recycling, Susan Young, describing the problem:

Yes, Solid Waste and Recycling has removed snipe advertising in the past—it is sort of like stopping the ocean tides, but we have persevered. As any other blight (litter, graffiti, dumped tires)the best defense is to require the blight not to occur. We, and Regulatory Services, have had meetings with the folks whose names and phone numbers are prominently displayed on the signs. They contend that they contract with “companies” to place the fliers, that they specify that the fliers can only be placed in “appropriate” places (for instance display windows of willing retailers), and that they have no control over the actual placement—we’d need to go after the “distribution” companies. When we trace those folks, THEY contend that they “hire” individuals to make the placement, and that they specify that the fliers can only be placed in “appropriate” places (sound familiar?) and that they have no control over the actual placement, we would need to go after THOSE individuals. When we ask for names and addresses—well, they were “jobbers,” paid in cash, nobody knows who, where, etc.

Sounds a lot like the yellow pages industry to me. Start with a slimy company, throw in cut-rate contractors, then use downright hostile distribution tactics to build a business with community blight as an externality.

John Hoff and Jeff Skrenes are working on this same issue up in North Minneapolis by taking what looks like a broomstick to the signs posted high on light poles:

I love seeing people taking time to improve the quality of their neighborhoods by removing these signs. As my dad’s mentioned to me before, the neighborhood my parents live in is not overrun with foreclosed properties, but people driving through the neighborhood may get the impression that it is if they see a snipe ad for We Buy Houses on every corner. That’s a darn good reason to keep on top of this illegal form of spam.

I’m not sure if this is a problem because it’s hard to solve or whether it’s just a low priority for the city. Regardless, one tactic that could make snipe a little less valuable for advertisers is to call the numbers on the sign. If you drive past a sign, give it a quick ring and see how long you can keep the person on the line. Show some interest in what they’re selling. Ask tons of questions. Then when you finally arrive at your destination, tell them that you’re not interested and only called because they have been posting illegal snipe advertising in your city. If enough people did this, they’d simply move on to cities where people care less than people in the Twin Cities do.

How IKEA Helps Make Facebook Less Valuable

Chase Turner dropped this video over on his Tumblr where IKEA’s advertising agency, Forsman and Bodenfors, shows how they managed to exploit Facebook’s photo tagging functionality to promote the opening of yet another IKEA store.

For the handful of non-Facebook using readers out there, here’s the deal: When someone uploads a photo into Facebook, people can tag themselves within the photo. This is an awesome piece of technology because it makes it easy to find photos that you, friends, and family are in. Whenever you’re tagged in a new photo, your friends receive a notice that there is a new photo of you in the system. For example, BenCredible may upload a photo that I happen to be in, I may notice this and add myself to the photo. The people I’m connected with then receive a notice that I’ve been tagged in a photo with a link to go check it out.

IKEA figured out how to manipulate the Facebook community by encouraging them to tag themselves within photos that they don’t actually appear in. For example, if I tagged a candlestick within one of IKEA’s photos with my name, I would be eligible to win that candlestick from IKEA. And, hundreds of my Facebook friends would potentially click through to check out a new awesome photo of me only to end up at a picture of an IKEA showroom.

To me, this is a creatively stupid exploitation of the Facebook community. If this catches on, I’ll be less likely to click on friend’s photos since they may direct me to ads for big box retailers rather than actual photos of people I care about. Facebook users who participate in contests like this are not without guilt since they’re choosing to waste their Facebook friend’s time in exchange for a chance to win something made in China.

Christina Warren at Mashable claims that this is a genius move by IKEA and the commenters seem to agree with her (which probably explains why I rarely read Mashable). Maybe I’m an idiot for putting my friends ahead of brands, but if that’s the case, I’m comfortable with that.

Retweet Contests to Get Unfollowed

While this may be one of the first such exploitations within Facebook, it’s already become an all too common occurrence on Twitter. I don’t follow people so I can receive their contest entry spam. There are plenty of interesting people on Twitter who don’t exploit their followers in an attempt to win a camera or a pizza so do a little follow-purging from time to time to turn down the volume.

Apparently, the IKEA promotion violates Facebook’s terms of service, which goes to show that Facebook understand that hosting a community is a delicate balance. But that’s not likely going to stop advertising agencies like Forsman and Bodenfors from coming up with additional creatively stupid ideas on how to exploit the community in the future. Instead, we can take a step back and think about whether we value our friend’s time more than the chance to win something on the back’s of our friend’s time.

Should You Disclose When You’re Paying to be Interviewed?

As regular readers of this blog know, I occasionally get interviewed by news sources to discuss things I either know something about, am passionate about, or claim to know something about. To me, this is good humor, helps people add some depth to their stories, and occasionally lets me gain greater exposure for topics I care about for one reason or another.

Basically, if someone calls me up, says they’re working on a story, and asks me if I care to comment, I’ll do so if time permits.

But there is one thing I want to be very clear about: I have never paid someone to interview me. That’s correct. I didn’t pay METRO, or FOX9, CityPages, the Pioneer Press, or AM950 over the past month. They didn’t pay me either, but what I want to be particularly clear about is that I did not pay them.

The reason I bring this up is because I think people should make a point of mentioning if they HAVE paid for what may be perceived as news. (Update: The YPA has updated their post to disclose payment.) A specific example of this would be a recent story put out by the Yellow Pages Association regarding the YPA President, Neg Norton, being interviewed on a show called Sky Radio Business and Technology Report. Here is how the YPA explains the coverage Mr. Norton is receiving on behalf of the organization he represents:

YPA President Talks Small Business Advertising on SkyRadio

YPA President (and InsideYP blogger) Neg Norton can be heard all this month on the Sky Radio Business and Technology Report airing on 29,000 American Airlines flights across the country.

Other featured guests included Ed Pollock of the U.S. Department of Energy, Ginny Gomez of Peopleclick, Inc., and John Damgard of the Futures Industry Association among others.

The entire post is five paragraphs long. One thing that isn’t mentioned in the post is that the YPA is paying for the “news” coverage Neg Norton is receiving. They make it sound like it’s a news segment rather than an ad placement.

Here’s the deal: Sky Radio provides in-flight stations on airlines. Companies pay Sky Radio to have their executives interviewed and broadcast on in-flight channels. To me, this is something the YPA should clearly disclose. Sky Radio discloses this in the footer of their website, but companies and organizations who’ve paid to be guests on Sky Radio, like the YPA, don’t seem to bother pointing out that they’re essentially buying long-form audio ads in an executive profile format.

Think of it this way: If I published an interview with the Yellow Pages Association’s President, Neg Norton, on this blog where the YPA paid me to interview Mr. Norton, wouldn’t you expect me to tell you that I was paid to ask softball questions of Neg so he could regurgitate his talking points? Of course you would. So why shouldn’t businesses paying for this type of ego-stroking product placement on in-flight radio stations be held to the same standard?

Google’s New Android GPS Looks Phenomenal

When I heard that Google was turning GPS up a notch, I thought they’d mean they’d use Google Maps and their driving direction technology. But then I saw this dude search for a location based on something you’d find at that location. That’s a real game changer. That makes me think that searches for “navigate to breakfast burrito in Minneapolis” would come up with suggestions, which absolutely crushes current GPS navigation technology.

This solves the problem that yellow pages have never been able to solve. People are looking for products or services. But to find what they’re looking for, they need to take a step up from that to guess what stores carry the item or service they’re looking for. It’s time to stop playing games like that and just tell people what you have so they can find it.

This has a lot of potential for restaurants to drive new business if they’re interested in that sort of thing. But, to do so, they’re going to have to get away from the horrendous Flash driven websites with PDF menus and start building things Google and see and humans prefer.

StarTribune Advertising Information

Dear StarTribune online advertisers.

I think it’s great that you support Minneapolis’ major online media source. But, I think it’s worth understanding where some of your money is going.

Earlier this week, I clicked on a link to a story from a Tweet or something. I’m not sure how I got there, but the point is that I found myself on a page of At that point, I realized that I didn’t have time to read the story on that page at the time so it sat idle in one of the open tabs in my FireFox browser.

As time passed, I noticed that the StarTribune kept force-refreshing the tab I didn’t have time to read, which meant that StarTribune was forcing new ads onto my browser whether I looked at them or not every 10 minutes. I can guarantee that they were seen by no one. This went on for around 4 hours, so if my calculations are correct the StarTribune forced 24 pages of ads onto my computer that someone paid for but no one saw.

The reason this ended after 4 hours is because I disconnected from the Internet at that time. My computer was still running. Ten minutes later, the tabs on my computer looked like this:

Picture 37

See the one that’s dead? That’s the StarTribune’s page that tried to force even more ads onto my browser only to find out that the Internet had been cut off.

Here’s the point: If you’re paying for space on the on a CPM basis (based on ad impressions) there is no guarantee that a human saw the page you served since the StarTribune serves ads to people who have left for lunch, have more than one tab open in their browser, or who have died while their browser was open to

It’s also worth noting that the StarTribune seems to take pride in the Time On Site stats their website receives. That number is likely ridiculously skewed by people who were fired from their jobs six months ago while reading the sports section at work. Their old computers continue to run up the stats. Here is all you need to know about this: Time on site stats are based on a measure of when someone first visits a site and when they hit the last page they visit. If the StarTribune didn’t force-refresh their visitor’s browsers, would that number be lower or higher?

This isn’t to say that no one reads the StarTribune. It’s just important to understand that not all ads served by the StarTribune will be viewed by humans, so if your goal is to reach actually humans with money who may buy your (or your client’s) products, negotiate accordingly.

10 Ways Google Could Use PowerMeter Data for Advertising

Jamie Thingelstad raised what is likely a common privacy concern regarding Google’s PowerMeter service in the comments of my previous post:

Knowing someone uses 2x the “neighborhood” average of electricity would be a great targeting opportunity. For whatever reason, I find that data crossing a boundary that makes me a little nervous. I don’t know why, just reacting to my gut. Perhaps in a year I wouldn’t care.

This caused me to ponder different ways that one could target advertising based on having access to precise power usage data (hour by hour or even more precise). Here are a few things that came to mind that one may be able to glean from the data:

1. Job changes. Do lights suddenly stop turning on at their regularly scheduled time? Are people suddenly sleeping in?

2. Growing family. Do lights suddenly start coming on at all hours of the night?

3. Home improvement. Are power tools being used?

4. Vacations. Did they just come back from a week on the road? They may need groceries.

5. Divorce. Has dinner’s power consumption switched to reheating pizza slices?

Dining Out on Google PowerMeter

6. Restaurant Junkies. How many times do you need to see this after-work pattern before you start adjusting your advertising to suit this crowd?

7. New TV. That plasma draws some serious power. Better ramp up the ads for Blue-Ray players.

8. College kid returns. Dang, that’s a lot of laundry all of a sudden.

9. Party thrower. Look at those weekend night spikes.

10. Frugality. This person will likely respond well to value based advertising. Ramp up the Consumer Reports ads.

Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with Google serving more relevant advertising to me based on factors such as those above that they should have no problem gleaning from the data they’re collecting. It has the potential of turning advertising into something I’d actually value. It’s good for me and good for advertisers if they can reach me when I’m actually in a position to care. Wouldn’t Pampers prefer to advertise to new parents rather than buy ads that reach an audience that’s only 10% in-market at most?

In some cases, there may need to be a balance of advertising vs. value. If I don’t feel like I’m getting enough value in return for sharing my data with Google, I may choose to opt-out of their program while continuing to use the meter within my own home. The PowerMeter service from T.E.D. is quite valuable with or without Google at this point. In fact, I get real-time rather than incremental data if I view it through T.E.D.’s footprints interface rather than Google PowerMeter. So far, the only advantage of PowerMeter is being able to see what’s happening in my home while I’m gone in 30 minute increments (which I can also see when I’m at home and in a position to do something based on the data).

My hope is that the service achieves a few things such as providing better insight into how I use power, helps me figure out how to conserve energy, and helps others conserve energy based on what I contribute to benchmarks. If the service also generates more relevant advertising that helps publishers make a buck or two off my eyeballs, that seems like a fair trade.

To be clear, I have no idea if Google plans to target ads based on any of the profiles mentioned above. As Jamie pointed out, it’s not clear what Google’s plans are for the data they’re gathering. I have no doubt that they’re capable of profiling people like that and serving increasingly relevant ads based on those profiles, but that doesn’t mean they actually will. For example, Google’s probably capable of profiling gambling addicts and could serve gambling related ads to those users across the web no matter what they searches for since gambling ads are so lucrative, but I’ve never heard of them doing such a thing.

It looks like Amazon will be carrying the PowerMeter from T.E.D. once they’ve caught up with demand.

Show Your Card Promotions at TCF Bank Stadium

Show Your Card - TCF Bank Stadium

This has probably been around for a while now, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. During the Gopher football game on Saturday, Goldie Gopher held up an oversized TCF Bank debit card to the student section while the announcers asked students to whip out their plastic.

Are the students holding up TCF cards making a smart choice due to near-monopolistic market conditions on-campus? Or, are the students with cards from one of the many credit unions on or near campus wondering why someone would be proud of their TCF Bank cards?

As far as I can tell, there are only 9-10 ads on the scoreboard. At least that’s all I could see from this angle.