Target’s Bullseye and The Voice’s Finalists Star in Holiday Mashup

Bullseye, Target’s black-and-white dog mascot, isn’t a contestant on NBC’s singing contest “The Voice,” but the marketer paid for the pup to appear in ads with the show’s eight finalists during Monday’s episode.

The four 30-second commercials show pairs of contestants singing holiday classics before Bullseye closes things out with a bark from a judge’s chair.

It’s not the first time Target has tried to catch viewers’ attention with commercials that integrate the surrounding programming. In November 2012, Target and Nieman Marcus tapped the actors, writers and even set designers from ABC’s “Revenge” to fill an episode’s breaks with ads emulating the show. Since then, brands have often turned to live programming to further combat ad-skipping, and Target has run commercials featuring live music performances during the Grammys.

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Uber Set to Name MediaCom to Handle North American Media

MediaCom is poised to win media duties for Uber in North America, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Most recently, Uber worked with Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Initiative in some of its media markets including North America. An Initiative spokesperson said in October the agency would “not be participating in any review that Uber calls.”

In October, Ad Age reported the brand was set to hire MDC Partners’ 72andSunny as its global creative agency.

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Truth in Metrics: Essence named Programmatic Agency of the Year 2017

AdExchanger named us their Programmatic Agency of the Year. The acclaimed publisher “ranked the top 10 agencies advancing superior work in programmatic, based on the breadth of their services, their proprietary tools and their skills in applying data and technology to media buys”. Among a list of esteemed agencies, we’ve come out on top and we simply couldn’t be prouder.

Here’s what they said: 

“Essence truly gets programmatic, going the extra mile to deliver on metrics that ensure its clients get value from their buys.

The agency is moving away from last-touch attribution to measure performance against metrics that can’t be gamed, like its “qCPM,” or cost for every 1,000 quality impressions: viewable, on-target, brand-safe, in-geo and within an acceptable frequency range. With regard to open exchange bids, it has built custom tools that ensure quality, like crawling Ads.txt files and checking where buys run at the log level.

“The space has become commoditized to the point that audiences become numb to formats and placements, and the impressions are not impactful,” said Ryan Storrar, head of media activation in EMEA, in a previous AdExchanger interview. “We try to get a read on incrementality of what’s delivered. Programmatic is an impactful channel when done right.”

Essence is also Google’s digital AOR and the top investor in DoubleClick, YouTube and Google Display Network, but buyers are trained across all platforms.

To keep programmatic expertise strong, Essence puts every campaign into a “learnings library” analyzes every six months to determine the optimal frequency or channel mix for clients. Essence buys programmatic for all clients and employs experts across platforms.”

Read more on AdExchanger.

Watch the Newest Ads on TV From Spectrum, Target, Microsoft and More

Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from more than seven million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time over the weekend.

A few highlights: Microsoft serves up a 60-second animated extravaganza (see Alexandra Jardine’s Creativity post, “Microsoft’s Holiday Ad Is a Magical 3D Adventure About Inclusion,” for the backstory). A creepy talking doll named Gary and his even creepier human roommate cope with slow internet and restricted bandwidth in an ad from Spectrum. And Walmart wants you to “Rock this Christmas” by stocking up on all your holiday meal essentials in its grocery department.

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Dentsu Aegis Wins Subway’s North America Media and Creative Accounts

Subway has chosen a customized Dentsu Aegis Network team of agencies to handle its media and creative work across North America, the sandwich chain said Monday.

The Franchise @ Dentsu Aegis Network North America will include people from across the Dentsu Aegis Network including Carat New York, Mcgarrybowen New York, Carat Canada and DentsuBos, Subway said. The integrated team will have people based in New York, Toronto and Montreal Canada, Subway said.

The move marks the first time in more than 25 years that Subway is consolidating its U.S. and Canadian media and creative accounts, the company said. In 2016, Subway gave most of its creative business back to former incumbent MMB after working with BBDO for about a year. The new team begins in early 2018.

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How to Prevent Cyber Fraud During the Holidays and Beyond

Criminals know that the holidays are an opportune time for theft—people are traveling, properties are left unsecured. The classic movie “Home Alone” describes this scenario perfectly: two comedic and dimwitted burglars don’t miss an opportunity to attempt to burglarize a home, wreaking havoc on clever eight-year old Kevin McCallister who’s home alone and forced to defend his property with DIY booby traps such as piping hot doorknobs, flying irons, sticky tar steps, and more.

The holidays—with their exponential increase in online activity and online shopping—represent an opportune time for cyber fraudsters to create havoc for your organization. And unfortunately, this is true across industries, from retail to finance to insurance, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s first look at holiday trends and challenges, and then we’ll look at some best practices and solutions to help you verify identity, prevent fraud, and mitigate risk.

Holiday Shopping Trends

This year, according to Adobe, Cyber Monday had the largest online sales day in history reaching $6.59 billion—a $1 billion-plus increase over 2016. Additionally, smartphone-driven revenue reached an all-time high at $1.59 billion. These trends are expected to continue. According to Adobe:

“For the rest of the season, 13 days are projected to exceed $2 billion in online sales bringing the total to 18 $2 billion days this holiday season, over double the number from last year.”

Is your organization ready for that—for those 13 days? Are you prepared to deal with that increase in the number of visitors, the number of potential sales, and the increased exposure to risk? With increased traffic, comes increased risk and vulnerability.

Holiday Fraud Trends

Unfortunately, holiday shopping—and holiday fraud—go hand-in-hand. Last year, for example, ACI Worldwide’s survey data (based on hundreds of millions of transactions from global merchants during the 2015 and 2016 holiday shopping season from Thanksgiving through December 31) uncovered this key finding:

  • While eCommerce transactions grew by 16%, fraud attempts grew by 31%

A clear one-to-one correlation: As transactions increase, so do fraud attempts.  Consequently, organizations need to be prepared for this challenge.

Peak Fraud Days and Beyond

It does not matter that Cyber Monday has already come and gone. This holiday season, organizations should be aware of “peak fraudulent days,” and prepare accordingly. According to ACI Worldwide’s data for last holiday season:

“Fraud attempt rates were highest on Christmas Eve (1.6 percent), Shipment Cutoff Day (1.5 percent) and Shipment Cutoff—Express (1.7 percent). The trends driving these peak fraudulent days include shipment cut-off and buy online pick-up in-store.”

Smart organizations, prepared organizations, expect and plan for this expected boost, or rise, in fraudulent activity. Even beyond the holiday season, you should be prepared to verify customer identity, mitigate risk, and prevent fraud all year long. Recent, large-scale data breaches (such as Equifax) now expose PII for hundreds of millions of people.  Consequently, criminals will take advantage of this opportunity to create false identities.

Combatting Synthetic Identities

At the heart of mitigating risk—and protecting your organization from fraud—is identity resolution. You need to be able to verify identity—that your customers are who they say they are.

As customers go about doing business with your organization, shopping and creating a digital presence, some people create true identities, while others create false or synthetic identities. Fraudsters then use these synthetic identities to acquire goods and services.  What can my organization do to address this type of consumer fraud?

Fraud Prevention Best Practices

Let’s get your organization better prepared for this reality: the fraudsters (burglars) will come knocking on your door. You can count on it—it’s a statistical reality. Here’s where I suggest you start.

I want you to think of yourself as a surfer—figuring out when and how to catch the next wave of fraudulent activity. Surfers, they watch the waves, study the waves, the sets, the patterns. Waves, and fraudsters, move in predictable ways. These patterns can be studied, identified, and harnessed by smart, trained organizations willing to put the right solutions in place.

1 | Identify Customer Entry and Exit Points

First, figure out the entry and exit points for your customers. Then decide when and how to “interrupt” their customer journey with your organization.

  • By entry point I mean: the new customer relationship, when the stranger (potential customer) is beginning to form a relationship with your organization.
  • By exit point I mean: the stranger’s identity has now been verified or established; a stranger becomes a friend (as opposed to a fraudster or foe) and so, you allow them to proceed through your organization’s doors.
  • By interrupt I mean: asking for identity verification, providing prompts and questions that will empower your organization to resolve the stranger’s identity, and verify, in fact, that they are a real person and not a fraudster, not a synthetic identity.

As a best practice, allow for variable entry and exit points. In other words: you do not need to replicate the same identity verification process for everyone.

2 | Stay Balanced (Friction vs. Seamless Customer Experience)

The trick here is this: figuring out how to stay balanced between friction (annoying the customer, asking too many questions, scaring them off) and seamless experience (no disruptions, it’s so easy to transact with your organization, etc.). The balancing act is yours and yours alone.

You need to figure out how and when to interrupt their customer journey and say, essentially: “Can I please see your ID? Thank you.” Typically, you don’t want to introduce friction at the beginning of the customer journey since this prevents visitors from becoming loyal customers.  You don’t want your customers to feel policed, intruded upon, de-railed (from the pathway to purchase); but you also don’t want to neglect to do your job (resolving identity, mitigating risk, preventing fraud) by being too polite.  The balancing act is yours.

3 | Low Friction Entry Point: “What’s Your Email?”

Before providing access to services or content, some organizations are asking for a consumer’s email address. This simple disruption (which causes minimal friction) seems like a great way to establish a relationship with a potential customer.  However, how can you verify who is really behind the email address?

Recently, we launched a new solution:  that can go a long way in helping you to understand patterns of activity associated with the email address. For example, the solution provides insights on your customer’s email activity ranging from “weeks last seen” to “total sightings” and “late night sightings” to “browsing patterns (financial, retail, etc.)” and web and IP addresses. Email addresses can provide descriptive statistics and true/false values about your customer’s key characteristics related to their email address activity online.

How do you know if that email address truly belongs to “honest person” or “fraudster” who plans to purchase goods or services?  Well, you analyze the activities that surround the email address and determine if it is being used for legitimate transactions or false transactions.  You can do this in real-time and determine if the person should proceed in the journey or if they should be interrupted with another barrier to verify their identity.

4 | Additional Friction When Necessary: “You Shall Not Pass”

Now that a relationship has been established, how much trust exists in the relationship.  What do organizations need to trust the consumer?  This is largely based upon the activity.  Am I changing my account information?  Am I authorizing a transfer of funds or goods?  Depending upon the amount of risk associated with the action requested, organizations should consider when they must act like Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and say: “You Shall Not Pass”.  This can be accomplished through knowledge based authentication, second factor authentication, context based authentication or bio-metric authentication.  Each of these options for establishing trust offer different implementations; but, the common goal is to help you verify identity and prevent fraud. 


Surfing the waves of fraudulent activity and protecting your organization is no easy task.  Staying balanced and providing the right mix of entry and exit points is important to your customer experience.  For low friction entry points like email addresses, I highly recommend that you analyze user activity to validate if the person is a friend or foe before allowing deeper entry and access your organization.

To learn more about our solutions for detecting and mitigating consumer fraud, click here.

Virgin Atlantic and Delta Team on ‘Prodigal Brother’ Holiday Campaign

Virgin Atlantic and Delta bring charming cheek to the schmaltz-filled holiday advertising season with a short film, their biggest push yet to promote their strategic partnership. Created out of Figliulo & Partners and directed by Anonymous Content’s Tim Godsall, it tells the story of a wayward man named Jacob who turns up unexpectedly at his brother’s home for Christmas.

Delta acquired a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic in 2013, opening the door to an expanded network for both airlines and letting customers to take advantage of both flyers’ services, from lounge offerings to miles redemption.

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We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #380

Instagram tests a new standalone messaging app called Direct
Instagram is testing a standalone app for private messaging called Direct, which if you install causes the inbox in the original Instagram app to disappear. It is available in just six countries so far: Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay. The rationale being that Instagram could never produce a ‘best in class’ messaging app when it is inside an app designed for broadcasting publicly. As well as this, Facebook is also testing a feature in Messenger which lets users import their contacts from Instagram. Confused yet 🙃?

Instagram introduces Story Highlights and Archive
Instagram has introduced two new features which makes its disappearing Stories, less … disappear-y. Now after Stories expire, they will automatically be saved to an archive which handily doesn’t take up room on your phone. As well as this you can now pin your ‘highlights’ to your profile page, so people can explore your best bits.

Did you know about Did You Know …?

Facebook has rolled out a new feature called ‘Did You Know?’ which encourages people to answer questions about themselves which they can then share with their friends. Answers can be customised with background colours, patterns and photos, and once shared friends can chip in their thoughts on your answers too.

Facebook celebrates a year of Instant Games with new games and features
How time flies when you’re gaming your little fingers off. Facebook is celebrating a year of Instant Games in Messenger by announcing that it’ll be introducing Angry Birds to the platform in early 2018. As well as this you’ll be able to live stream your playing to your friends (if you think that’ll be interesting to them …) and also start a video chat with your gaming buddies while you’re playing. The first game this will be possible with is Words With Friends.

FBInstantGamesOneYearVideo from SocialTimes on Vimeo.

Pinterest launches a Facebook Messenger bot
Pinterest has launched a Facebook bot to power Pin searches, which means that any pin shared in Facebook Messenger will now automatically link to the Pinterest chat extension. The chat extension is meant to be used when brainstorming ideas with friends in group chat. The bot will suggest related ideas if users share a Pin and, according to Pinterest, over one million Pins are shared per week this way.

Snapchat and Coach partner to create Snapcode badges
Behold the latest accessory from Snapchat since Spectacles: badges. Consumers can get their hands on them by taking an online or in-store (in 20 Coach locations across the U.S.) quiz. When scanned, the users are taken to an online arcade game based on Coach’s holiday video campaign. Also pinned onto the pins, is the hope that they could help Coach in another area – in-store visits. According to a Nielsen Buyer Insights study commissioned by Snap, Snapchatting households spend 39 percent more at retail stores than the national average and are more likely to try new products.

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