When in 2017 they cut spending on Facebook , they noticed no corresponding drop in sales, leading them to conclude that the spending they cut was probably ineffective to begin with .
 http://adage.com/article/media/p-g-s-pritchard-calls-digital...  https://www.wsj.com/articles/p-g-to-scale-back-targeted-face...  https://mediatel.co.uk/newsline/2017/07/28/pg-cuts-100m-in-d...  https://wolfstreet.com/2017/07/28/procter-gamble-slashed-dig...
I really wonder how many companies are actually getting anything for their money.
Does anyone know of any data either way?
However, most big ad spenders engage in "brand" advertising, where the goal is building brand recognition to influence decisions at the future point of purchase decision rather than driving a purchase decision at the point of viewing the ad. I don't see what measurement advantage an online ad brings for this type of advertising, and I see many reasons why it would be inferior to, for example, TV, which can more fully capture a viewer's engagement than a side banner ad.
There reason advertising is hard to measure despite lots of data is that the data isn't always accurate and doesn't always tell the whole picture.
When you do advertising for a big brand, things are even harder to measure than direct response advertising. Viewability is a problem, but attribution is an even bigger one because your tracking to the end purchase is missing many key data points.
Hope that helps clarify a bit.
Myself I have an adverse effect when I see an ad for a product. I will actively try to avoid it as I feel if you have to advertise, the competition probably has a superior product.
I think my reaction would have been different of the ad was subtler though. Thoughts?
A lot of brands will try and piece together negatives - if you want to help a marketer, fill out that NPS popup you see ;)
I am sure a company as big as proctor and gamble has at least a team of people who are dedicated to gather the end to end metric. Then where’s the gap?
In my experience as a data scientist working along-side some marketing people, most of the performance measuring, if it was ever done, was total psuedo-science. It was almost universally done either by people aligned with the actual marketing or who actually worked on said marketing effort.
Not only is there the universal mantra of "Don't ever come to a finding which says that your team and effort fails to contribute value to the company", but lets say that you actually are a data scientist and you really are independent and you come to a conclusion that your multi-million dollar marketing campaign is doing sweet f all.
This will generally be despite 6 months of presentations from the marketing team about how great it was, and probably several bonuses/pay reviews.
And now you're not only fighting a civil war in your company, you're doing it against multiple people with millions of dollars in budget, who have been proclaiming their success, and who's entire career has been based upon appealing to peoples guts to give them high paying jobs and big budgets.
Good luck with that fight...
Rule 37 of professional analytics in big companies: be VERY careful before turning your analytical eye inwards into your own companies' hierarchy/practices...
I do not understand why it’s hard to see
at least the end result.
You moved your spending from billboards to print magazines, and 6 months later sales are higher. How do you tell if it was the ads, when there was also a model refresh, your competitor released a poorly reviewed product, and the economy has been kind to your target demographic?
As John Wanamaker supposedly said, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half"
See where the problem might be?
After realizing that I just need some tops and shorts to sweat in at home, I ended up buying the store brand label, saving myself ~80% in costs.
It's funny how the mind works.
Conducting an on/off test can be a viable approach in some cases assuming you can properly control for the numerous (understatement) variables that often make your data incredible dirty for such a test. That said, often the nature and number of the variables is such that you would not get meaningful results from an on/off test. This is quite often the case with large brands. As such, other forms of testing are often used individually or in conjunction with each other to get a better read on things.
In terms of the end-to-end data, from an online advertising standpoint you often are missing trackable data points around other brand touch points the person might have encountered before purchase, or often, even the end purchase itself. And that's just the start of the data headaches.
However you also have the problem of identity tracking. The simplest way is cookie tracking but this had cross device and IRL problems. You can use services like Facebook or Google top track identity across devices, even in store purchases if you track data well enough.
Problem in both cases is that the data collection and analyses becomes increasingly complex and inefficient. However this data is a lot more sophisticated than what you could achieve in old media. On the other hand it's up to debate whether the ads themselves are efficient in the digital medium.
Personally, I believe far too many advertisers obsess over ROI without having a clue how to do proper attribution modelling. This leads to everyone trying to grab that last interaction dollar, clickbaiting, creating a divisive environment and this is why we can't have nice things.
I've lived my life doing digital advertising work, but if I turned off 3/4s of ours tomorrow, I'd be loathed to pin my cap and predict volume would drop by that.
Interestingly, I've seen a lot more focus on different attribution models recently, I think people are finally asking the questions now it's been ingrained in a lot of teams for a few years.
eg - person A is going to get onto walmarts site and buy 2 things. They do a G search and click the first result and purchase 3 things. You could track that and attribute 3 items sold to a specific ad at a specific time, person, all that.
However that person was going to buy 2 of those things anyways, had no intention of clicking an ad, only thing the ad did was displace an organic result further down the page and waste money.
I've done ads for years (not a big time high tech company) - but enough to see they can work, unfortunately they seem to work for a short while, I'd say about one year - then you end up paying for clicks for your repeat customers who are actually looking for you, not looking for generic "good past near me".
There comes a point where saving the money on your click budget is actually a bigger savings than the 20% spend's effectiveness gain in profits.
For some types of businesses / some campaigns / your results may vary, yada yada.
Sadly much of the ad inventory and display is completely wasted.
How many people see a display ad for something they just bought? We have been preying upon ignorant companies and ignorant consumers who can't really tell what a sponsored search result is and what the heck organic result means, and what is a url bar? More things like this. It's sad really.
Of course your ad campaign seems effective when you're displaying ads to people specifically searching for your company name. At some point, agency cannibalization of their client organic results crosses from inefficiency to straight up fraud.
If someone searches "Walmart near me" or "Walmart sales" or something like that, they're as brand-aware as you can possibly make them. If you're worried that a competitor might distract them somewhere between their deliberate branded search and clicking on your #1 organic search result, you need to de-commodify your frigging product line.
If search = "walamart" and another non-walmart company is placing ad above organic result, then a warning would be prominent in the ad displayed, and when you clicked it - an interstitial warning would tell you that you are going to a different web site than the one you believed to be shopping for most likely.
- several reasons, 1 - the faint color change google says clearly marks ads is a friggin joke, everyone knows it, and adwords laughs all the way to the bank while the tech face says "look at our perfectly calibrated large screen blah blah" (not the average person's cheap laptop) - 2 - malware has been installed how many thousands of times when I tell someone to update they flash, they type flash into google search (not url bar) - first result is trusted - and it's a malware site. Seen it happen dozens of times myself, know it's happened lots more. 3 - fake news - or whatever else, this is basically saying that many other devious things can be done with ads beyond neighborhood markets battling for eyeballs.
If search equals "walmart diapers" - I think it is fine to show competitors as long as they are clearly marked as such. It gets complicated if the results show 5 competitors with pricing like google shoppiung kind of style - and if they are all paid results - and they not be accurate, and what IF walmart would not pay to be listed there, and it was at the top - is this right?
Some people might think the search they did returned no results and instead google was showing results that were more likely to return an actual document. Now this gets serious in my mind, we could joke that people would know better.. but what if it was amazon echo or something else.
Lots could / should be said about these things above.
Also, walmart should be educating web site visitors, just as other businesses should - explicitly show them that the top results from google (and others) are almost always paid results. Show them that these could be conflicts of interest, and that clicking on them costs money.
Being lazy and typing walmart into search box instead of url bar is giving google money, and wasting time, and raising your costs at walmart and other places - completely unnecessarily - and most often without the consumer having any clue.
I've seen it too many times with so many different types of people. They do not know these things, and it's costing us all. We know that google knows / sees this, with the opaque bidding for adwords cost thing - no one knows like google how much this is screwing how many people and millions of dollars.
Yes, I do think walmart should let go any and all ads that have "walmart" in the search parameter, also "wal-mart" and "wallmart" etc. They should not have to pay for those results, and they should educate the consumers about why they will never show up in a sponsored ad box when they are searched by name, and how consumers would be leery of any company / page that does show up there.
It is wasteful, it takes advantage of the ignorant consumers, and the companies that are essentially being held hostage by engines who at one time earned so much trust with the public that they will now search for anything, click the first result, download and install new software without reading more than "google first result".
So many patterns have emerged to encourage this wastefulness, cramming small screens with lots of ads and pushing more and more organic results away - it's greed run rampant at the expense of all of us who don't own stock in the alphabet.
PS: I’m not referring to actionable ads, but mere advertising to boost brand awareness etc
Then again, I’ve spent lots of money on Apple products because there’s something I value associated with that brand.
It's not enough for me to make a difference, considering I don't spend much time in dirt. But if I had children, I'm sure I'd try different brands.
Not consciously. But when you get into a store and want to buy a shampoo or toothpaste, you are more likely to buy a brand you have heard of than something completely unknown.
Note that in the case of consumables, like shampoo or toothpaste, there's almost no risk in getting the cheapest: if it turns out to be crap you'll mentally blacklist it and buy the second cheapest next time if the blacklisted product is still the cheapest. Buying a car is a very different matter.
I watch plenty of maker/electronic/mechanic channels on YouTube and having them recommend a product to me would definitely be more effective than putting an ad on social media or between videos.
Why would Calvin Klein place their beautiful ad with Kate Moss next to photos of your right-wing friend's AK-47 collection and videos of his deer field dressing skills?
"Children killed in terror attack" matches "children", ergo diaper ads.
In many places in the U.S., hunters are among the most effective conservationists at the local level.
Because they want to reinforce the notion that wearing Calvin Klein will make you strong and manly and help you attract beautiful women? I'm sure your general point makes sense but I'm really not seeing your example.
The goal in fashion is to make people appear more attractive, not to make them appear unattractive.
Then getting into the amount of money allocated when it comes to "Keeping Up with the Joneses" for companies competing in pharma, healthcare, or any health related field really racks my brain, especially with pharma. In the United States there is no way to purchase pharmaceuticals online. We aren't making any e-Commerce-type products. The target audience is being fed information that looks better suited for scientists, doctors, and lawyers as opposed to who we and our customers imagine / intend. At some point it feels like it's being created to cover asses more than help sell product. I see things like case studies and the like but I imagine that even those are flubbed in order to mask the truth: nobody really knows if the work we do or the end result our customers seek is moving the meter in any direction at all.
That's because they intend for you to go to a pill mill, and demand an 'as seen on TV' prescription.
The entire system needs to be torn out, root and stem.
Well, if marketing in a given field is genuinely a waste of money then eventually a competitor should be able to enter the field and beat the incumbents by spending less on marketing. There are some fields where the cheap generics win out, but there are others where they don't.
If a company is finding digital advertising to be inefficient then they should cut it, but it begs the question - what IS efficient for them? In my experience, the efficiency of digital simply can’t be touched.
As a shopper, I know damned well that brands mean nothing these days. Here's my deal: Make a great product, promote it enough so that I know it exists, is something I really need and will last, and - after I test that with experience - I'll promote your brand for free.
The deal is off once you're bought by some Org only interested in milking the brand dry.
Have to admit, its not 'fully online' but, with their webshop and customer card registration for in shops, its all one datapool if you ask me.
How that translates into dollars is what matters and I think the hand waving of "any publicity is good publicity" has long been a way for marketing folks to avoid talking about measurable results.
How I wish all the brand dollars that are probably wasted stopped advertising and making our clicks so expensive, ha!
Meanwhile, like you said, I’m served the same handful of annoying ads over and over, for products I’d never consider buying. Where are all the ads for stuff that’s so desirable and targeted to me that I just can’t resist purchasing them??
Not saying that critics of advertising have no valid claims, but the juxtaposition is funny.
That said, I think the reason why machine-driven advertising is so much better than its predecessors is simply that the predecessors were really awful. They used to do market research by installing double-sided mirrors in department stores then taking notes on what people looked at. It was absurd. Now, there's actually an even-odds chance that a targeted advert will meet somebody that might be vaguely interested - and that's absolutely orders of magnitude better than a billboard.
And also, to be honest, this whole complaint about cost-performance indices is a bit absurd - since as far as I can gather, they were basically oneiromancy before Google and Facebook came along.
I'm not so sure we have progressed that much since then. You search for something on Google, swap to Facebook and an ad appears for that same exact thing on the sidebar - not really any different than using browsing as a determining factor for desire to purchase.
A small aspect of ads, I know but I found it such a ridiculous truth that I can't imagine the rest of their systems are actually all that smart.
To give you a perspective, efficient "performance" (the kind which wants you to buy now) advertising is a click ratio of about half a percent on ads, which vastly outperforms the basic performance one, usually having a ratio of about a tenth of a percent. Of those fractions of a percent, a fraction of a percent will actually buy...
That still means ads missed the target 995 times out of 1000, so are still globally horrible.
Nevertheless, since ads on the internet are so cheap (prices are often negotiated by 1000 ads, to make it a bit more tangible, and we're talking like 5$ per 1000 ads here), it's still sometimes worth it.
So yeah, the global experience is crap, but that's often not the point anyway.
Or worse, for big-ticket items that you'd only buy infrequently. HEY THIS GUY BOUGHT A DRONE LETS SEND HIM DRONE ADS! WAIT NO NOW HE BOUGHT A CAR HE'S A CAR BUYER SEND CAR ADS. No, you silly equation, I just bought a car, that means I'm NOT in the market for a car.
Then they sell us household gadgets to sink their hooks deeper into our lives. Microphones listening to conversations won't be enough; soon we'll herald the coming of new "smart" appliances like the Google Toilet, which plays your favorite music, recommends better posture, sprays you off when done and stealthily analyzes your stool samples for markers to see if the Captain Crunch ads they bombarded you with over the last week led to a conversion.
It doesn't work, but failure is clearly no impediment to progress.
The reason this happens is that nobody involved gets anything out of stopping this happening. Incoming extreme cynicism.
First off, the marketers are still mostly using demographic segments - often a marketer will encounter a machine-learning model, and their first question is "who are these people" and when you can't explain how the model works, they revert to using demographic segments because they trust them more. This means they often do analysis demographically, and over target people in particular narrow age and gender demographics because they did better last month by chance.
Second, management want to keep their budgets large so their resumes look good. Their desire is to increase the amount of people they can target, while simultaneously appearing to work on interesting tech. Since social and video have recently been en vogue, spend increases on these platforms, while projects focus less on increasing spend efficiency and more on taking credit for sales by tracking customers through the pipeline. This creates a weird scenario where everyone says they're using sophisticated machine learning models, but the contractors and consultants involved are glorified powerpoint factories.
Third, the big silos, google and Facebook, probably have some incredibly sophisticated models of consumer behaviour that are incredibly efficient - but why would they want to give their advertising customers something that would reduce spend?
I'm sure it raises "brand awareness" measurements, at the cost of making people hate them.
The reality is that people don’t actually want enough to cover ad revenue, but ads make them buy more.
The rule is roughly "narrow targeting, cheap impressions, reasonable frequency, pick any one". A shady ad agency (but I repeat myself) will never pick "reasonable frequency" because their advertisers aren't sophisticated enough to ask if their ad is being sent to one person 50 times in a day.
It only takes one buyer to not set the frequency control option to spam you with the same ad over and over -- everyone else is one-and-done.
Ugh. Seriously though I suspect it is because their algorithms have decided that you like X and therefore they only show you adverts about X, which is a small subset of all available adverts, so you get the same ones again and again.
On TV they can't target so accurately so you basically get shown every advert. This means there are more to show and it is less repetitive.
I also think advertisers don't mind showing the same person their advert a million times. It may be annoying but it works - name one competitor to Grammarly off the top of your head.
I'd go as far as to say that the end user would be more receptive to ads, if they filled ads with pro-bono charity ads promoting some charity or another ... then the user wouldn't start to hate ads, and they could probably write off the ads they donated.
Similarly, twitter showing ads for Mac/windows only product when my user-agent clearly says Linux!
There's a simple explanation for that: they cut only the advertising spend that was ineffective.
Maybe brand recognition plays some role, at that point, but the push to change almost always seems to be the degradation of what I'm currently buying.
Or, just outright dropping it. This happens frequently enough, when I find something I like, that I joke with the store staff that they're watching me on the cameras and if I seem to like something, dropping it to pull my chain.
Often, long-established brands and products. Store staff themselves express surprise. Granted, their perspective is limited to that store and what they notice. But I've had them comment that the product sold well, and they have no clue why it was discontinued. And how I'm not they only one they've heard from about this.
In one case, it wasn't even the supermarket's decision. A product that had been purchased by the Frito Lay brand. It sold, but the Frito Lay rep who stocked Frito Lay products at that store (yes, more and more, supermarkets don't do their own stocking -- not for big brands, who purchase shelf space from them) just stopped stocking it. Store management was even readily willing to request its return. It did return, for a few weeks, and then no more.
One way or another, big brands seem to lose customers more through their own actions than direct competition.
Like my recently acquired Merrell boots. (There was a thread on that brand, recently.) Merrell used to be -- still "are", in one associates mind -- "the best".
But, they apparently have gone volume and cheaped out. I won't be buying them, again. Not because I found a better competitor, but because they sabotaged their own product.
But, maybe they're selling tons of them, trading accumulated good will against profits. Someone will bonus out, leaving the eventual wreckage behind.
I wonder if they show adds on foxnews. Foxnews also seems to be filled with mostly fake news.
Anyway, fake or not is a difficult discussion, i agree. Personally i think religion is also fake news, no evidence available as far as i'm concerned.
Reason i mentioned fox is that i recently read: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/you-need-to-watch-this
It seems a bit shortsighted to just single out social media for fake news, when regular media is as much to blame.
To the contrary; they need to advertise on the internet to capture the next generation, who don't watch as much TV. If it turns out that facebook ads were influential, P&G could risk losing billions by giving up on that market.
Sure, they make soap and toothpaste and food and a billion other things, but so do their competitors.
Every sale of a bottle of shower gel is a competition between P&G, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, and Henkel; every tube of toothpaste is a competition between P&G, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Church & Dwight, Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline...
And most white-label generic store brands are the product of an alliance between a retailer and a manufacturer, whereby spare plant capacity is used to run a slightly different product through, whose bulk amount was paid for by the retailer ahead of time. This way, the big brand still gets paid, and retailers make better margins on store brand items than big brands.
I haven't had a television in the past decade... but I still buy soap and toothpaste. The advertising from decades ago still haunts my decisions. I'm more likely to get a brand name toothbrush over a non-name one, even if it costs a few cents more (my preferred flavor of toothpaste is mostly discontinued - its harder to find cinnamon toothpaste than mint... so its Tom's of Maine which is easier to find cinnamon toothpaste for). I'm also more likely to ty a different variation on a major brand soap than an off brand soap (I've found I like irish spring oatmeal soap...).
Advertising isn't necessarily a "do this, get money today or tomorrow". I suspect that the advertising from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s; however, is paying off now... at least for my purchase decisions.
And so, it could be interesting in another decade or so as these companies find brand awareness of the next up and coming generation "lacking."
There's probably a bell curve where we all make some decisions on brand, but some people moreso.
I wish they could put where I fall in my advertising ID. Advertisers could spare me jingles and cartoon dogs and just tell me who is selling cheaper toothpaste than I usually buy.
I’m always surprised when people feel this way about toilet paper. I have literally spent two weeks in pain after switching toilet paper brands once. When I later moved countries, I was very wary of the fact that I would have to switch brands.
Some generics have multi-ply and quilting features and they do ok, but most generics are John Wayne toilet paper: they're rough as hell and don't take shit off nobody.
There are generics and then there are generics...
They are not trying to increase the size of the pie, they are trying to increase their share of it. Yes, (nearly) everyone already buys these household items, but are you brand indifferent? Do you just reach for whatever is closest when you walk down the toothpaste aisle or do you buy the same product over and over? When was the last time you switched brands or even product lines within the same brand? This is why these ads exist; not to coerce you into buying toothpaste, but to convince you to buy _their_ toothpaste (that has the highest profit margin).
Holy cow, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Dove soap, Lipton tea, and Axe fragrance are all brands owned by the same company?!
Now, in some places you can absolutely vote with your dollars, buying locally produced food and keeping the money circulating within your community and so forth. But that's also a bit of a luxury choice - you're willing to pay a bit more, and have the know-how to figure out the difference between a genuine small business that's doing right by its employees/the environment/whatever you care about, and a hip brand that is associated with those values but actually yet another front for a large corporate concern. Many people don't have those choices available (their only buying options maybe through superstores like Walmart or Dollar Tree), or lack the insight to see through the multiple layers of marketing and the economic pros and cons of our complex business infrastructure.
Unilever and other big conglomerates do actually put their logo on the products so if you pay careful attention you can see that information just by inspecting the packaging at the supermarket, but to most people that's just another certification stamp.
It's interesting that you mention these 'greenwashing' marketing tactics as well, as I have never really drawn a line between these two phenomena. I am always surprised to hear how many very smart and un-naive people fall for transparent tricks like this. It seems that, like Harley stating that they don't sell motorcycles, they sell a lifestyle, these companies could be said to sell neo-liberalism along with their products. No need to worry about the fact that a system where corporations are destroying the planet might not be perfect, I bought from a company that donated $100k to save the Orangutans once etc.
Note also that the worshipping around Elon Musk is much the same thing, just for techies.
> Let’s turn to the high point of our consumerism. Let me take a drink.
> Starbucks coffee. I’m regularly drinking it, I must admit it. But are we aware, that when we buy a cappuccino from Starbucks, we also buy quite a lot of ideology? Which ideology?
> You know, when you enter a Starbucks store, it’s usually always displayed in some posters, their message, which is: “Yes, our cappuccino is more expensive than others,” but, then comes the story.
> “We give 1% all our income to some Guatemalan children to keep them healthy, for the water supply for some Saharan farmer, or to save the forest, to enable organic growing for coffee, or whatever or whatever.”
> Now, I admire the ingenuity of this solution. In the old days of pure, simple consumerism, you bough a product, and then you felt bad. “My God, I’m just a consumerist, while people are starving in Africa . . .”
> So the idea is that you had to do something to counteract your pure, destructive consumerism. For example, I don’t know, you contribute to charity and so on.
> What Starbucks enables you, is to be a consumerist, without any bad conscience, because the price for the countermeasure, for fighting consumerism, is already included into the price of a commodity. Like, you pay a little bit more, and you’re not just a consumerist, but you do also your duty towards the environment, the poor, starving people in Africa, and so on and so on.
> It’s, I think, the ultimate form of consumerism.
Huh, you mean Musk doesn't actually push R&D more than other car manufacturers / launch providers?
Its only natural those marketing tactics work. Who the hell does have the time to research environmental impact when buying a $4 brush. Don't forget to also research its durability, health impacts, social ethics, and so on. Apart from "evil" gov regulations, consumer organizations can help you to at least some degree. But i doubt that is enough for a good society.
Exactly. I can't think of a better example of this than Dove branding (love-your-body-in-any-shape-or-size feminism) compared to Axe (our deodorant will make hot chicks love you).
You can see some of this on display at
Notice the Danone link at the bottom of those pages (!!). (Americans will know their yogurt brand as "Dannon".)
Same with cars, buy a Bolt or a Prius and the money still goes to GM and Toyota. But the signal it sends is pretty clear (and it's clear car companies are seeing consumers voting with their wallets).
This is how it should work. We all want change to happen quickly and we want companies who suddenly (20 years ago, milk wasn't cruel) find themselves on the wrong side of morality to be punished. But it's more reasonable (and probably better) for this to happen gradually.
That some brands are less transparent than Bolt == GM, Prius == Toyota, doesn't seem materially relevant.
(I realize you weren't necessarily passing judgement, just some facts (which I didn't know!), so I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just injecting my opinion onto your facts).
And then looking at who owns all the huge companies: Vanguard, Wellington, BlackRock, State Street, Fidelity, etc.
Who owns BlackRock? PNC, Vanguard, State Street, Wellington, Fidelity, etc.
Who is this PNC? BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity, State Street, Wellington, etc.
It's just a big incestuous orgy of pension fund managers pretending to diversify and skimming a little off each trade.
I still buy it, but I know to treat it like a commodity product and buy when the sale is good rather than a premium product that someone is actually taking pride in and might be worth the premium occasionally.
This is gold.
But if I buy Fair Trade products, even if they're from Unilever/P&G/whatever, don't I still influence the way they are produced? Sure, Unilever would still be producing non-Fair Trade products, but only because other people are buying those.
The brand has to reflect the reality eventually; if Dove was being made in sweatshops (for example) that would be a news story sooner or later, in a way that it wouldn't for a brand that didn't have the same image. Likewise if you work for a company whose whole image is x, the easiest way to project it is simply to be x; it takes a lot more effort to fake a position you don't believe in than it does to simply believe that position. Even if the CEO is operating on pure cynicism, if the employees are constantly told that they're working for a company with strong ethical values they'll start to believe that and that will affect how they make decisions in their work.
But that's called communism and is frowned upon in most capitalist growth-must-be-eternal countries.
No that's not a typo, the number is around five hundred.
But your point remains valid here. A small number of companies control a huge percentage of supply.
The funny thing is that they probably use the same manufacturers as the popular brands and just also a different label on it.
They absolutely do. For example, Costco has two Kirkland Signature vodkas. One of them is Grey Goose, and the other I forgot. Skyy? Same goes for their tequila, it's all Jose Cuervo.
Depending on the store you get either mostly only store products (Aldi, Lidl), both store products and brand products (Kaufland, Rewe?) or mostly brand products (likely Edeka)
The case of what you mentioned is the reason why the Schwarz Group (Lidl and Kaufland) are moving overseas, respectively to the US and to Australia: there isn't much price competition.
Disclaimer: work for them.
The story goes that their biscuits are made in the same factory and cooked in the same batch as other brands, but M&S required that their biscuits be taken from the centre of the tray where they were cooked in the oven more evenly.
Banning the use of brands obviously won't achieve anything desirable, but requiring transparent branding seems like it will improve the consumer market's spending decisions.
Of course, pro-free-market legislation will never make it through Republican-controlled Congress...
IANANC but my understanding is that a true market is two-sided: it requires informed consumers. Initiatives that bolster the buyer-side of the market aren't anti-market.
Regulations that improve market efficiency are good. Regulations that impede efficiency are bad. In practice, we do need regulations because real-world actors are not optimal rational agents.
The most basic is the enforcement of contracts, which I think everyone agrees on.
But regulations about truth in advertising fit in there too. Lists of ingredients and nutritional information on packaging are an onerous regulation that allow consumers to make better informed choices (and so lead IMO to a "better" market). (I think brand ownership transparency is close philosophically to requiring ingredients on food products.) There are many examples of regulations that promote market efficiency, which sellers don't like because they may have been making profits from the inefficiency, or from information asymmetry.
There are of course regulations which degrade market efficiency too, either by regulatory capture or ill-thought out "consumer protection" like price controls, rent control, etc.
My overall point is that the assumption that a market with the fewest controls is de-facto the "best" market should be examined closely - manipulations of the market (whether by regulation, taxes, etc.) should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on whether they promote or degrade market efficiency.
Brands can be a mnemonic that helps customers quickly recall relative quality experienced in previous purchases. This may vary across brands, and my experiences with Dove soap don't tell me anything about my experiences with Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Brands are often silly and misleading and I try to avoid them, but they aren't inherently malicious by default.
Any medium that can manipulate can also inform.
In this case, the information is technically available but obscured such that consumers cannot make educated purchasing decisions without expending an irrational amount of time... thereby reducing supply-side competition.
I feel this is something like identity politics, and something that really does not need regulation except to allow those to identify however they wish, with no determent to others.
Corporations are made up of people, yes, but giving them personhood is a pretty dangerous idea. Should they get to vote? Obviously, the answer has to be "no" or else people will register companies to rig elections.
If they can't vote, are they really people?
This logic is hugely flawed. Since we work off of a one-person-gets-one-ballot system, grouping people together (as in a corporation) and giving them a vote wouldn't make any sense. By contrast, you can't "use up" your speech rights: Each person is allowed an unlimited amount of legal speech, and I don't think there's a compelling philosophical argument that a group of people speaking together isn't protected. There may be _pragmatic_ arguments, but that's another ballgame altogether, since the entire point of the Constitution is that it's _not_ subject to the pragmatism/whims of the time.
I'm not saying that "corporations should be legally modeled as people" is an ironclad truth, but none of your objections make sense.
In reality, the argument is that you can't restrict a corporation's speech because using a corporation to speak is merely a form or method people use to speak.
You could speak via billboards, grass roots organizations, a radio show, lettets, or even a company you own.
The government can't curtail your speech no matter the method.
The people who comprise a group have no extra vote to give: if two friends and I form a group, a new vote allocated to the three of us doesn't magically materialize. By contrast, since there is no quota for speech per person, two friends and I can form a group (eg, an advocacy group) and tomorrow go down to Union Square (or buy airtime, or hand out pamphlets, or stand on a street corner) and engage in whatever legal speech we like, collectively. The claim is that if that group of people happens to be given the structure "corporation", that doesn't automatically allow for infringing on the rights of the people within the corporation to engage in legal speech.
Again, I'm making no statement as to whether I think this approach is wise or good for society or not, but it's astonishing how common it is to see people who completely don't know what they're talking about on this issue and yet are somehow super passionate about it.
If they aren't, then what exactly are felons and foreigners?
Why shouldn't a corporation, effectively a person, use the vast wealth at it's disposal to influence elections and steer government policy in the direction it wants?
Hmmm, perhaps we should rethink this whole corporations as persons thing.
I have some nasty reactions to the stuff and so did my late mother, who was a total skeptic to all crunchy-granola pure-foodery. I hate that they can brand a strange chemical like this with the names of natural sweeteners and then we're expected to call it by that name. Though I admit DichlorodideoxyβDfructofuranosyl4chloro4deoxyαDgalactopyranoside is much harder to say, and contains letters that aren't even letters at all.
And, obviously, within any one local market, there will be far more better-known regional brands, often not owned by any big corporation.
Why would anyone buy bottled water when it comes practically free from the tap? Why would anyone buy bread that has had all the tasty goodness removed ('white bread')? Why would anyone buy branded toothpaste when the chemically-identical supermarket version is half the price? Why would anyone want roasted grain coated in sugar as the first thing you eat each day? Would anyone buy sugary water (a.k.a. pop) if they knew just how bad sugar is for them? Why would anyone want hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of butter?
Unilever can go hang.
Some reasons: immediacy, taste, convenience, quality, lack of price sensitivity.
> Why would anyone buy [prepackaged white bread]
Texture, goes stale slower than fresh baked bread, sizing, taste, convenience.
> Why would anyone buy [brand toothpaste vs store-brand toothpaste]
Taste, familiarity, trust.
> Taste, familiarity, trust.
That's the idea; familiarity and trust can be manufactured through advertising. You can become familiar with a brand name just by being exposed to it, and trust is harder but advertisers have it down to a science in some important ways.
Sure, bottled water tastes a little better than tap water, but I can’t help but cringe at the thought of 600 plastic bottles going into landfill. I avoid bottled water as much as possible, however when required I admit I do purchase 6 packs of 2L bottles for long road trips.
I guess it depends on where you live, but this is definitely not the case for me. And I live in a 111 year old building.
The BBC did a wonderfully subversive 3-part documentary a few years ago called "The foods that make billions", which investigates in some depth the way people's tastes have been shaped to accept anything the food industry comes up with (no matter how disgusting in concept). Well worth tracking down on YouTube or whatever (particularly the episode about yoghurt, which I found grimly hilarious).
IKR? The tub of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey is right there! And you don't have to pour the milk!
A question I often ask myself because the tap water in my house is literally the stuff they put in the bottles (mountain spring fresh etc). And yet the entire family drinks bottled water hauled at great carbon footprint via Costco, probably bottled in California which is 1200 miles away.
My best answer is that if I were to lay down the law and mandate everyone turn on the tap to get their water, I'd be viewed as the cook tinfoil hat Dad everyone hates.
How the water-industrial-complex arranged for that to be the state of play is a very intriguing question I think.
Sometimes people prefer bottled water to tap only because they store the bottles in the fridge. Cold water to some people tastes better, but if you ran a blind test where you took their tap water, put it in bottles and chilled them, they can't tell the difference. This does not explain things in my house however because the bottles are kept at room temp.
Maybe it's just a matter of rebranding yourself as the nature-loving, environmentally-conscious Dad who wants to keep the world plastic-free for your children :-)
You're in a place where tap water is not safe to drink and don't have a way to boil it. You live in a place where tap water is safe to drink, but tastes of sulfur. You're traveling and will want water in the next N hours. ...
Sure, there are many regions where potable water is difficult to attain, and there _are_ reasons to bottle water, but your contributions are disingenuously oblique.
Doesn't really matter, they are both manufactured and sold by the same company, at the same facility. The difference is just to provide the illusion of choice (and the price difference is usually much smaller, just enough to trigger a response in a certain common kind of consumer.)
Bottled water: Because you don't always have a tap on hand and you don't always bring a water bottle from home. Some regions doesn't have water that can be consumed directly from the tap for sanitary reasons.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil: Because of lactose intolerance, and because liquid vegetable oil wouldn't be useful in the situation.
It is inevitable that the global consumer goods industry consolidates into a handful of large groups as has happened, and the outcome is lower prices to consumers.
CPG companies are distribution and marketing powerhouses. They rose with supermarkets and mass media. The rise of voice-based ordering, as well as shops like Amazon, fundamentally threatens their business model.
Not totally sold on that part.
Unless, of course, the market turns into a monopoly. But even in oligopoly markets (such as the cola/soda) there is still plenty of choice, especially around lower cost products and with the rise of white-label/home-brand products.
You can also look at how much the large ones are buying local new brands (such as Blue Bottle). Tastes change, and small local companies are a great way for the big ones to figure out which new products work.
You'd be surprised how many "artisan", "organic", and "fair-trade" brands they own, too.
The full list of their brands did not fit in the main Wikipedia article, so they had to create a separate one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unilever_brands.
I get the quotes on "artisan," but why put them around two terms with very clear definitions?
Fair trade: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade
To pretend they are very clear definitions when applied to products is wrong.
(includes kraft + mondelez on the page)
> These are consumer goods products that sell quickly at relatively low cost – items such as milk, gum, fruit and vegetables, toilet paper, soda, beer and over-the-counter drugs like aspirin.
They've amassed their portfolio by slowly buying up local producers and their brands, and keeping the production facilities. There might be some synergy to be had by letting former separate production facilities learn from each other.
However, almost all of their products are sold in grocery stores, and there has to be enormous efficiencies there by newly acquired brands getting into a large existing distribution network. Instead of each product being distributed and marketed separately, Unilever can simply dump a couple of pallets of all their goods at once, and they can easily introduce new products by just dumping it on the grocery stores complete with marketing materials as part of a normal delivery.
Is that how it works? I always assumed grocery stores give shelf space to what they themselves pick, not "whatever you multinational corps want us to advertise today". (?)
When I used to live in Stockholm, my closest grocery store was one of the big two chains in Sweden, and they had "outsourced" part of their shelf re-stocking to the distributors, so if you went there in the mornings, you could have one or two people from a big bread producer/distributor restocking half the bread section, and you'd have someone from a different producer/distributor doing half the candy section (probably someone from Mondelez). I don't know this for sure, but I would bet that the distributor had a lot of leeway on how to restock the shelves using their own sales data.
Right now, my local Safeway has a bunch of shelves of deli products, but it's all Boar's Head products. Five bucks says that Boar's Head is choosing how to stock those shelves, and not Safeway. They also sometimes have a little floor display promoting new products from Boar's Head, that's also something that the local Safeway didn't do, they were just served up with some ready-to-go marketing, and they're okaying it.
If the grocery store is small, and Unilever, for example, is responsible for 10% of the inventory, but they're not happy with what the store is doing, it's probably really easy for them to say "Our delivery trucks only come every other week now, because you're not profitable enough. But, hey, if you let us decide what you should stock, the trucks will be there exactly when you need them."
One of the most obvious places this happens is at Home Depot. The tools department is almost entirely manufacturer-rented. If you buy a drill or such and take it apart you'll find that the anti-theft magnetostrictive tag is actually inside the tool, not just stuck on the box!
Update: also very informative Banks Roadmap:
less than $1 billion in research.
$13 billion in SG&A.
P.S. My own view of the whole YouTube adpocalypse thing is that it had little to do with controversial content but more to do with how ineffective those ad placements had been overall. Is today's media landscape so messed up that nobody is able to monetise properly?
I suspect they have no better than guesses as to why those returns change over time, or what might improve the returns. That brief "ad-blockers are immoral" campaign was probably the result of a few advertising committees deciding that some downward trend was caused by ad-blocking. This is more of the same.
The companies are never going to come out and say "we're not making good enough ads," they're going to blame the platforms they're advertising on. That will put pressure on the platforms to lower prices, and in this case, serve as a kind of corporate virtue signalling by pretending to be concerned about social issues.
When the first ad exodus from YouTube happened, a lot of us thought that it would take them about 6 months to renegotiate and things would be back to normal. Well, it did not happen and we have only seen more exits since.
Complaining about facebook is a way to get free advertising for all of it.
Giant advertiser Unilever threatens to pull its ads from Facebook and Google over 'toxic content'
They haven't committed to it yet, they're in talks with Facebook, Google, etc.
Also, their entire digital ad budget is $2.4B, but not all that went to Facebook and Google, which the title implies. Probably majority did, as they make up like 65% of the digital ad market, but not all.
Once those kids are fat teenagers, they own Axe of course, infamous peddlers of archaic gender role pushing crap like this:
So yeah, the first step on making responsible ads for the internet is banning these particular vermins at Unilever.
* this article, about Unilever pulling ads from Facebook and Google
* an article about Facebook losing 2.8 million US users under 25 last year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16360408
* an article about German courts ruling that Facebook's use of personal data is illegal: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16361614
The way people on HN feel about any technology today is how the rest of the world will feel about it tomorrow.[a]
This does not bode well for Facebook.
[a] Typical example: http://www.paulgraham.com/mac.html
Hn doesn't predict market desires at all, its just a smaller subset of the same market.
Can the divisive part also apply to any cable news networks guilty of divisiveness?
no, because these are already in the pocket..
The only other avenue I see for meaningful change is proper enforcement of anti-trust laws, but the odds of that happening inthe current administration are probably zero.
Unilever exists at upper echelons of a free market that even most libertarians would begin asking for a semblance of regulations. To think that this is an attempt at anything other than capitalizing off of social trends in order to lower advertising costs or simply to cultivate easy social good will would be foolish.
Ben Shapiro is in opposition to those views.
Ben Shapiro is mostly a classical liberal with personal conservative beliefs. Anti-authoritarian, focus on individual identities and universal policy.
When I worked in radio and TV, years ago, small stations that couldn't afford a news department would just rip news copy off the teletype machine from UPI and AP and read that. Thus the term "rip and readers" as a derogatory term for a bad news man or department. Something you see on virtually every TV station now except with video.
The entire structure of CPG companies is an organic outgrowth of a) retail's constrained distribution and b) old-media advertising (radio, tv, etc).
It makes sense, then that digital advertising does not deliver ROI on CPGs. E-commerce and digital advertising break all of the constraints above: consumers no longer have a single point-of-decision for what they buy, and because of that, digital advertisements can directly track their effectiveness (and ROI for advertisers) through immediate conversions. CPGs can somewhat take advantage of that new opportunity, but they are built for the post-war era of consumer behavior and advertising.
 - https://stratechery.com/2016/dollar-shave-club-and-the-disru...
 - https://stratechery.com/2014/technology-changing-world-pg-ed...
Not sure that Unilever (dish soap and other supermarket consumables should advertise on FB.
I really hope fb (also Google properties like YouTube) don't try to PG their content further. The problem is spam and garbage, not breasts and politics.
I'll laugh when the alt-right tries to boycott Unilever, though. Enough big companies do this, and they'll all starve to death. :)
Also they should have taken greater interest in the agency they used to do the buying rather than just handing the PPC budget to the Marketing directors mate who he plays golf with.
Its not all FB and Googles fault there is a lot of ass covering going on here.
"Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children — parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us," <-- really ,where did u think anonymous free speach would lead? Happy clappy love land? someone misunderstands the human condition. the world is in a shit state and so this reflects to the internet, if yu don't shield people from the real world by living in some kind of bubble they won't be so 'influenced' by the things they read on the internet because they will better understand it.
The hatred and fake news comes from small but very radical and vocal minorities. The vast majority of people is quite sensible and does not like this a bit, that's one of the reasons for a certain online fatigue and why people are so annoyed with many unmoderated forums nowadays. For example, I personally came to HN from Slashdot, which has become unbearably toxic within certain topics, even though they have tried to adjust their moderation attribution algorithms to compensate against the haters.
The same reality distortion was already at place back on Usenet, though. It's a simple fact of life that certain crackpots and people with an agenda have way more time at hand than people with a real life.
So we used killfiles. But apart from such drastic private solutions, moderation is the right way to go. In my view Unilever's pressure on Google and FB is quite welcome.
I'm not sure it really addresses the content itself, everyone else's adds will just fill that gap.
Whatever standard this ends up being, it needs to guarantee you cannot get drive-by malware, or the ad blocker is staying on and the arms race will continue indefinitely.
What is the LD50 of a social network?
There seems to be massive inertia on both sides: advertisers don't want to be placed next to user-provided content, and users want to pay for content via ad views. I wonder which is easier to change?
Do we want Unilever to decide what we see on TV, too (such as political opinions, etc) ?
Which is why stuff like nudity and swearing is almost never shown on basic cable (advertising sponsored) but is shown on premium channels such as HBO which don't rely as much on advertising. Then every couple years we have people who get fired from TV or have their shows cancelled after advertisers pull out due to some controversy surrounding them.
Soap operas got their name by originally being sponsored by soap companies.
Then there's the advertisers that suspended YouTube ads after Elsagate, which prompted YouTube to clean up and ban certain content and channels, including one of it's top 100 channels Toy Freaks.
And, yes, some political opinions are simply bad business, which is why we don't see them on TV.
This isn't new, this has been the way the world works since the beginning of humanity.
Sad but true. Also add reddit in its vocal, annoying, pro-Trump minority.
One can only hope they return to ad policies that eschew social constructivism for plain advertisements displaying the utility of their products, but I won't hold my breath.