Advertising, Technology

Facebook vs Apple. Nobody likes a voyeur.

Picture this. You are on your bed in your boxers. The mood is right. Barry White’s deep sensuous voice comes up on the HomePod. Telling you this. Telling you that. Or maybe Joe is your thing. Or Ed Sheeran. The room is chilled by the air conditioner. The lights are dimmed. Your bonnie lass is in the bathroom. You can smell her fragrance. She comes into the bedroom in a towel. She drops the towel as she walks towards you. 

Then your eye catches something in the corner of the room. A silhouette. A male figure seated in the armchair with a glass in his hands. You jump up from the bed in panic and switch on the lights. It’s the landlord.

You are shocked and furious. You shout at him to get the hell out of your room. Out of your apartment. He smiles and says no can do. He has the right to be there. You agreed to his presence when you rented the house. It was in the fine prints. But you didn’t bother to read it. Like the last tenant. And the one before him. And the one before that. All tenants really. But if you are adamant he should leave the room, he will. You’ll only have to move out of the apartment and forfeit your rent. It’s in the contract. In the fine prints. 

He pours himself another drink and waits on your decision. He smiles at you the way I imagine a lecher would. 

The story above is, of course, a sordid metaphor. An over-dramatization of Facebook’s tracking activities. But you did grant Facebook a front-row seat to your private life when you installed the app on your phone. You didn’t know you did. But you did. 

So, here is how Facebook tracking works. 

When you use the Facebook app on your iOS or Android device, Facebook tracks what you do on the app. It collects a host of information ranging from device, OS, city, gender, age and many more. But this tracking is not limited to what you do on the Facebook app. Facebook also tracks you across other apps on your phone and websites you visit. It is not content to know what you do on its app; it also needs to know what you do on other apps and on the internet. Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, eBay, Candy Crush, TikTok, Tinder, Bumble, PornHub. Name it.  

Now, why does Facebook track you across apps and websites? 

Why, to know you better, of course! 

You see, Facebook’s business is selling targeted advertising. That’s how it makes money. It makes some $86 billion annually selling these targeted ads. Targeted ads are personalized advertising delivered to you based on the data companies like Facebook and Google collect about you. They collect these troves of data about you so they can have a good picture of who you are. That picture is important to advertisers and data brokers who need to reach a specified audience. That, after all, is the vaunted advantage of digital media over traditional media.

These gems of personal bits are not all necessarily available on the Facebook app. There are a lot more things you do on your phone than just scroll through Facebook. You read the news. You play games. You window-shop. You buy stuff. You watch YouTube. You take pictures. You live for the ‘gram. By following you across apps and the internet, Facebook is able to piece together all these activities and paint your demographic and psychographic portrait. Ergo, nail you down to your needs and wants. If you’ve been checking out websites on how to emigrate to Canada, don’t be surprised if Facebook serves you ads on emigration services to Saskatchewan.

So, if you are playing with your side chick’s phone and you start seeing Facebook ads for baby food and diapers, congratulations homie! Facebook probably knows something you don’t. 

The depth of information Facebook collects about you may be disconcerting. But all ad-based tech companies track you across apps and websites. Google does it. So do Amazon, Instagram (Facebook Inc), Twitter or Yahoo. If they sell ads, they probably track you. That is the cost you pay for using the apps for free. Like many people, you didn’t read the Facebook privacy policy or terms. Nobody reads those. But that’s where the bodies are buried. Where you consented to be tracked.

So, what is the feud between Facebook and Apple all about? 

Starting with iOS 14.5, Apple will introduce a feature called App Tracking Transparency or ATT. ATT requires users (you) to give permissions to apps before they can track you across apps and websites. 

With ATT, when you launch any app for the first time, you will see a pop-up that informs you that an app wants to track you across platforms. The pop-up will explain what the tracker is and asks whether you want to approve or reject the tracking and sharing of your data. 

Which is awesome for privacy.

One of Apple’s brand promises is privacy. The iPhone is supposed to be iron-clad. So iron-clad that Apple itself claims it cannot unlock an iPhone encrypted by the user. The FBI found that out the hard way. Thus, from a consumer and marketing perspective, offering iPhone users ATT is keeping with a brand promise. It helps deepen loyalty. It is good for business.

But not for Markie’s business. Mark Zuckerberg is outraged about App Tracking Transparency. ATT threatens Facebook’s nest egg. When users opt out of being tracked, it means Facebook’s ability to paint a portrait of the user is affected. There’ll be gaps in the picture. A nose missing. One ear missing. Maybe three teeth lost. That is bad for targeted advertising. Bad for Facebook.

Facebook probably suspects that if users have the choice of turning off tracking, many would. I know I would. I don’t want some bot stalking me all over the internet. What happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas. 

So Markie is pissed. So pissed he is calling Apple its biggest competitor. So pissed he is smearing Apple as an enemy of small businesses and the free internet in newspaper ads. He said Apple is using privacy as a justification to disadvantage Facebook. 

Said Markie, “Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own.” 

Tim Cook has never hidden his disdain for Facebook’s business model and flagrant abuse of users’ data. 

“If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform,” said Tim.

Whoa, those are some pretty strong words there, Tim!

However, Apple claims it is not asking Facebook and others not to track across apps and websites. It only requires them to asks permission from users before they do. 

Yea, right. 

That’s like telling a thief to ask for your permission before he steals your car.

You may well ask why Facebook is worried about Apple’s ATT. After all, iOS is only 27% of mobile operating systems. Android rules the gamut. 

Thing is, the bulk of Facebook’s $86 billion annual revenue comes from the US and Canada. iOS accounts for over 61% and 52% respectively of mobile operating systems in those two markets. Crucially, North America also happens to be the region with the highest Average Revenue per User (ARPU) for Facebook per the Statista data below. 

©Statista 2021

So, Facebook’s fight with Apple is a fight over ad revenue in the US and Canada. Europe is not an insignificant second. The rest of ya’ll go eat a donut. 

Is Apple sincere about privacy claims or only manoeuvring for advantage? Time will tell. We’ll be watching its future actions closely. But Facebook’s history of data abuse and measurement untruths may deprive it of sympathetic ears. At least not from iOS users. They’ll be on Apple’s side. We the iSheep.

And many will also remember the fiasco of Cambridge Analytica, US electioneering, and the upcoming data merger between Facebook and WhatsApp. Facebook always seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons

Social trust is proving to be a thing. 

 

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Advertising

Difference between comparative advertising and advertising puffery.

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a piece on the absence of comparative advertising in Nigeria. You can read the piece here.
 
A debate ensured on a WhatsApp group on the subject. Several people believe brands in Nigeria do in fact run comparative advertising. The advertising below was cited as an example.
Well, intelligent people of WhatsAppville, hear me. Hear me. That is not an example of comparative advertising. Here is why.
 
A comparative ad makes an objective claim against a named or unnamed competitor who is meeting the same need.
 
The operative word here is objective. The claim cannot be subjective or ambiguous. It must be verifiable and testable.
 
For instance, if Ariel runs an ad that claims 20g of its detergent washes 50 white shirts cleaner than 50g of Sunlight would, that would be comparative advertising. The ad mentions a competitor and makes an empirically verifiable claim.
 
Or if Honda claims that its 2.0L 4-cylinder Accord is 25% more fuel-efficient than Toyota’s 2.0L 4-cylinder Camry. That would also be comparative advertising.
 
False advertising occurs when a false or misleading statement is used to promote a product.
 
This is different from advertising puffery, although a fine line runs through both. Advertising puffery uses ‘puffed up’ or exaggerated language to promote a product. The claim is subjective and a matter of opinion.
 
Study.com defines advertising puffery as advertising or promotional material that makes broad exaggerated or boastful statements about a product or service that are subjective (or a matter of opinion), rather than objective (something that is measurable), and that which no reasonable person would presume to be literally true.
 
In this understanding, puffery does not give any express warranty or guarantee to the consumer.
 
So, when Glo says it is ‘Grand Master of Data’, that is advertising puffery. ‘Grand Master’ in what regard? Speed? Coverage? Market share? Glo doesn’t say. So, no reasonable person is expected to believe that claim. Glo can’t be accused of false advertising because it is merely making a ‘puffed up’ claim.
 
It is the same for the Budweiser advertising above. Budweiser is displaying puffery. No one will literally believe Budweiser is ‘king’ over Heineken. ‘King’ in terms of what? Taste? Sales? Ingredients? The claim in this particular instance is a matter of opinion.
 
Enter the perennial Virgin knee-in-the-groin on British Airways. The ad below was from Nigeria. Virgin Atlantic was introducing Upper Class Suite on the Lagos-London route. The defining feature was the length of the bed. It was some few inches longer than the bed in the British Airways First Class cabin on the same route. But saying its bed is 10 inches longer will be unimaginative. So it ran the ‘We are better in bed’ ad. Very Branson.
One of my best instance of advertising puffery is the war of attrition between Mercedes Benz and BMW. Boy, do those two love each other!
 
In the advertising below, Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes Benz was retiring. He says his final goodbyes to employees. He drives home. Then kaboom! A secret side of Dieter is revealed.

So, good people of Nigeria, I hope I have been able to convince you and not confuse you that comparative advertising is different from advertising puffery.
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Advertising, Branding, Creativity

Brittle country. Brittle advertising.

So, it is that time of the year and I was rummaging on the Tesco website for some Christmas feasting ideas. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of eating jollof rice and fried rice at Christmas. The birthday of my Lord and Saviour is too important for such trite fare. Oyinbo people know how to throw a proper Christmas feast. And they are precisely the folks I’ll be looking to for inspiration. So, to ‘Every little helps.’ 

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Advertising, Consumer Insight

How my wife got me to quit smoking.

There are those who swear that the greatest human invention is writing.

That is nonsense.

It is tobacco.

So I believed when I smoked.

I’ve been clean nine years now. But I smoked for seventeen years before quitting. I know that is scarcely deserving of any recognition considering a friend’s grandpa smoked till his nineties. He died on his bed with a big smile on his face and a half-smoked cigarette by his side. He was our hero.

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Advertising, Branding, Marketing

Brands. Stoking vanity since 1888

Lust of the eye. Pride of life. Instant gratification. A marketer’s best friend. We love that you have them. We tell you it’s OK to have them. To sate them. After all, you only live once. Humans have had those predispositions since Mrs Adams bit on that fruit. I imagine how the serpent hustled her.

Serpent: Yo sweetness, let me holla at you real quick.

Eve: I don’t know you!

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Advertising, Creativity

Nigerian advertising at the global stage – not all awards are born equal.

Recently, a few Nigerian advertising agencies won ‘big’ at the African Cristal Festival in Marrakech, Morocco. Nigeria’s Noah’s Ark won ‘Agency of The Year’. X3M Ideas, DDB Lagos and Insight Publicis all had a decent showing too. There have been a lot of congratulations and reportage across the media.

There have also been questions about the prestige and worth of the African Cristal Festival. Some folks have therefore asked me to shed light on this matter, and on the subject of Nigerian advertising at the global stage.

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Advertising, Consumer Insight, Reputation

Lay off Dove! Some women want lighter skin.

Courtesy: photobucket

In case you just crawled out from under a rock, Dove’s done another clanger. It ran an ad on Facebook where a black woman removes her brown tees ( an allusion to skin colour?) to transform into a white woman. The interpretation by many is that the ad depicts white skin as being superior to dark skin. Dove has been accused of being tone deaf and the ad racist.

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Advertising, Creativity, Marketing

What I learnt from being both a client and an agency guy.

Credit: Campaign Asia

Is there something in the water on the ‘client side’? Something that turns good people into ogres? An agency guy crosses over to the client side and then haunts dreams and kills libido. What gives?

I have drunk from the water on both sides and I share my thoughts on why the relationship is often fraught. It might seem I’m taking a piss and desecrating otherwise torturous experiences. That’s the problem these days: everyone is too sensitive. Too little perspective.

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Advertising, Brand Identity

Distinctive brand voice: ‘Honey, I’m home!’ Er, sorry, who are you?

I started out my career as copywriter writing obituaries. And if that wasn’t distressing enough, my parents constantly asked me what it was I did for a living again. Somehow, when they were paying for my education, they had imagined me in a suit and tie, poring over important documents and solving real world problems. They also didn’t imagine me borrowing money from them before the month was over. I tried to make them understand that had nothing to do with the job per se but a result of my lifestyle. But they didn’t know many bankers or accountants who were broke by the tenth day of the month. They loved me of course and would support me in whatever career I chose. But this sign writer or typewriter thing (copywriter, damn it!), well if it made me happy…

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Advertising, Consumer Insight

Why a lot of Nigerian advertising sucks

“The most important element in advertising is the truth” – Bill Bernbach. 

For a people with such an interesting culture, beliefs and attitude, it’s disheartening that a lot of our advertising do not mirror our lives and peculiarities. Let me regale you with an experience I had about thirteen years ago.

A chum was getting married in Jos so I flew into ‘J-Town’ with another friend. It was a Yoruba wedding. The ‘Engagement’ was on Friday and the ‘Church Wedding’ the next day. We’d flown in Friday morning. We were part of the groom’s friends to ‘prostrate’ to the family of the bride.

The Engagement was to start at 1 pm. We therefore had a little time to kill. My homeboy and I thought we might have a beer and then get a little sleep. It was going to be a long day. There was still a Bachelor Party to attend in the night.

Foul spirits must have been afoot that day because one bottle inexorably turned into five (Don’t blame us. It was December and chilly and our souls needed comforting).

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Advertising, Consumer Insight

The spirit of the Games: not all winners take home medals.

In a blog post in April 2016, Damon Stapleton recounted a conversation he had with fellow creative blogger Rich Siegel on the frustration of the latter with a client. Rich and his partner had pitched a powerful idea to the client for the Olympics. It involved telling the stories of athletes who come last in their events at the games. You know, those athletes no one remembers. It was the inverse of the norm. Athletes breasting the tape and the media fawning over them. The Phelps. The Bolts. The Froomes and Fraser-Pryces. It was an idea that would force us to reevaluate our concept of winning and winners. 

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Advertising

‘My friend Udeme…’ We see the world the way we are. Not the way it is.

 

The first time the Guinness ‘Udeme’ TV spot was shown to the Marketing Team in Lagos, not many of the lads were sold on it. It didn’t look like a great ad. It had no drama. It was too poetic, not ‘aspirational,‘ and it was apparently shot for the whole of the African market, not for Nigeria, the biggest Guinness Foreign Extra Stout market on the continent and where we needed help.

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