Yes We Spam—From Meat to Mail

Spam, Email, Heather Cisz

As it turns out, British comedy group Monty Python is responsible for more than just numerous laughs and several memorable films. Considered a cultural icon, the group has inspired a genre of absurdist comedy, been the namesake for asteroids, a programming language, and, appropriately enough, an actual species of python.

But, as it turns out, we also have Monty Python to thank for “spam,” the colloquial term for junk email. Though many have drawn parallels to SPAM, the preservative-rich canned meat product of memetically questionable origin, it turns out that a certain group of British comedians accidentally coined the term.

Spam_can

The acronym, but sadly not the taste, has been lost to history.

You may know the sketch. In it, a couple inquires about a restaurant menu that gradually devolves into SPAM, with a group of rowdy Vikings singing of their love for the product, ad nauseum, until they drown out the rest of the conversation.

Now, with Monty Python reaching the height of its popularity shortly before the debut of the Internet, it’s not hard to imagine that early adopters would, as we all know, be more than willing to quote pop culture online.

A few incidents of chat room harassment later (some even typing out the entire SPAM song), and spam had received a new, arguably worse meaning. Junk mail, inevitably prolific and suppressing any valuable messages, is hardly a new concept, after all.

Really, there could not be any better parallel to draw. Regardless of the content of the Monty Python sketch, the utter revulsion that individuals display to both spam and SPAM is perhaps as good of a reason as any.

It’s hardly exclusive to the Internet, either. Telephone spam and letter spam prove that, no matter what the medium, people will go out of their way to shove an unappetizing, unsolicited message in your face.

Instagram Stories and Digital Advertising

Instagram LogoAt the beginning of August, the popular video-sharing platform Instagram rolled out a new feature that is almost identical to an app that already exists. Instagram Stories closely mimics Snapchat’s product model, although Instagram’s videos disappear after 24 hours instead of Snapchat’s customary set number of seconds. In its blog release, Instagram stated that the purpose of Stories was to let people create a montage of every part of their day, complete with stickers and ways to draw on pictures. That is, in a nutshell, Snapchat.

This release has come at a time in which Snapchat has been a growing force in the world of digital advertising. Brands have taken to Snapchat to give their customers an inside look at their company, and to get videos out to over 100 million users. Snapchat users have been able to connect with their favorite brands, who update them on company information, show them fun goings on within the business, and even utilize the platform to raise money. Perhaps Instagram felt Snapchat was becoming a threat, as there have been reports of the recent decline in Instagram usage, and decided to see how temporary videos would affect their platform of over 300 million users.

Instagram has stated that it implemented this new feature to make it possible for brands to be more accessible. Currently, businesses and other Instagram users can spend hours retouching photographs to get them just right for posting. Instagram stories gives them the opportunity to put up in-the-moment videos, meaning more content goes out regularly. Brands have already started utilizing Instagram Stories to spread word of new releases and events, and experts say the usage of Stories will only grow.  

Of course, whether or not Instagram Stories will succeed over Snapchat has yet to be seen. Stories does not have as many features as Snapchat, which is not surprising considering the amount of time Snapchat has been around. Additionally, there is an entire generation that has grown up using Snapchat and may not be willing to switch to a completely different platform. This, according to Instagram, is their biggest barrier to success.

Instagram does have digital advertising feature that Snapchat lacks, however, and this may be how they win out in the digital advertising realm. The fact that Snapchat does not have analytics alone is enough to drive companies to use Instagram Stories. All in all, it will take time to determine which platform becomes preferred. I am interested to see where this story will lead.

Google Plans To Give Users More Control Over Personalized Ads

GoogleWe’re all familiar with the concept of personalized ads on the internet. It is not uncommon to see an ad on the sidebar for a product you were just talking about or a site you recently visited. But Google is changing the way this works and giving its users more freedom to decide how it works for them. This will involve letting viewers update their privacy settings.

Google will be introducing a feature that allows users to choose a new way of storing information. Over time, this information could leads to ads that are more personalized for individuals. Google is already collecting lot of information through the user’s search activity, YouTube views, and Gmail messages. The change involves a switch from a system in which data for each Google product is stored separately to a system in which information is associated with a user’s account.

The feature should be coming out in the next few weeks. It will ask users if they want to opt in, and if they don’t, their privacy settings will stay the same. There are no immediate new advertising products to go along with the switch. However, the update may lead to more effective personalized ads because it will connect data across products and services in order to better anticipate what a user might want to buy.

Users can also expect a new section in their settings called My Activity. This section will allow users to keep better track of what they watched, read, and searched. It will do this by showing users their internet history across Google properties. In the past, the company kept data collected about each product separately. These products include YouTube, search, Gmail and other services. The update will also give users the opportunity to strengthen the association between their activity across devices and a certain username. In the past, the user’s mobile activity has affected the mobile ads the user receives, but this idea has not been applied to desktop activity.

Google’s update is a little different from the way other tech companies have operated in the past. Other companies have relied on their users to turn off features themselves. For example, Facebook added features similar to Google’s new features last month. These features allowed users to limit the information about themselves that advertisers can see. However, Facebook required users to go into their settings to make the change instead of having it done for them automatically.

We’ll have to see the impact this feature has on digital advertising. Will people be more likely to click on, or pay attention to, ads? How many people will use this new Google feature? Only time will tell, but it seems that this feature is revolutionary in the freedom it gives its users to choose whether or not they want to take it on board.

Instagram Will Add New Tools For Businesses, Including Analytics

InstagramDigital advertising has found a home on a number of platforms, and it looks like the next platform on this list will be Instagram. Many of us think of Instagram as a merely social platform, but this is about to change. Instagram will now add an option for business profiles, which will include some of the key analytics that help businesses know the reach of their social media posts.

Instagram has never before given users the opportunity to find out exactly how many people have seen their posts. Up until now, users know how many people follow their Instagram account, but they don’t know who is checking their feeds after the photo or video is posted. They also don’t know how many other people come across it through a profile page or the Explore tab. However, brands will soon have a lot more information at their fingertips.

Instagram’s new tools for businesses will include business-specific profiles. Brands that use these profiles will be able to track how many times their posts have appeared on people’s screens. Instagram will be reporting impressions rather than views. Brands will be able to view how many times their organic photos and videos appeared on someone’s screen. They will not know, however, whether users actually paid attention to the post or just scrolled past it.

Brands will have the opportunity to see the total number of impressions of their cumulative posts, as well as breakdown for the photos and videos with the most impressions. The breakdowns include the number of impressions and engagements a single post has received.

Instagram’s changes will not only benefit businesses by way of impressions. Businesses will also be able to get a better look at their audience. The insights tool will break down the follower base of a brand according to age, gender, and location. The insights will also provide hourly and daily looks at how many new followers a brand has gained.

In order to get these data analytics on your Instagram account you will need to convert your Instagram account to the service’s business-specific profile. These business profiles have been talked about since March, and a number of businesses are excited to see this plan come to fruition. In the next few months, Instagram will be rolling out business profiles as a free option for businesses in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. But the end of the year, this phenomenon will expand globally.

These business profiles are essentially Instagram’s version of Facebook’s Pages. This is not surprising since Facebook is Instagram’s parent company.  The conversion to business profiles will be free, and it will add a contact button to the account’s profile page. This contact button can be used to call, text, or email a business or get directions to its location.

Beyond the insights tool and the contact button, business profiles have an additional perk: advertising opportunities. Once a brand converts to the business profile, the brand will be able to turn an organic post into an ad without leaving Instagram’s app. All a business will need to do is choose a post and add some sort of call-to-action button. Then, they’ll need to specify the target audience, or let Instragram do the work of choosing a target audience. According to Instagram, businesses will be able to promote a post as an ad for however long they want.

Instagram is no longer just a platform for individuals who want to take fun photographs. Businesses are now using Instagram, and Instagram is catching on. The new business profile feature will drastically change the way that businesses utilize Instagram.

Digital Advertising Evolution

PhoneNot too long ago, it was common for digital advertising to be presented to audiences in the form of short television commercials or online video advertisements. Obviously, this has not changed, but the general public opinion of blatant advertising has. Such traditional campaigns quickly became outdated with the onset of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, digital advertisements spread to include social media. Users of social platforms quickly became annoyed by the constant advertisements, and have since been taking measures to block these disruptions. Therefore, advertising was forced to evolve yet again, into a mere shadow of what it used to be.

This newest form of digital advertising truly calls to mind the question ‘what is an advertisement?’ The taboo that now surrounds even the word ‘advertisement’ has forced digital advertising specialists to find ways to market products without blatantly advertising them. The popular website Hulu is a prime example of more subliminal advertising methods. Instead of simply throwing advertisements at their viewers, they partner with companies whose products are inserted into Hulu’s original series. Characters in their shows may be smitten with a new piece of upcoming Microsoft technology, for example, and their enthusiasm for the product is an advertisement in itself.

Hulu is not the only platform putting products into videos, however. The popular media platform Buzzfeed created a ‘Tasty’ channel, one that shows time lapses of appetizing food being made, which has partnered with appliance brands and promotes different cookware in videos. Additionally, different Buzzfeed pages are sponsored by different organizations. For example, Buzzfeed’s food page is, as it says on the top, ‘presented by Sabra.’

The use of branded content has also become widely popular in digital promotions. Instead of placing themselves into an advertisement, a company will generate original content that people will actually want to read in order to draw attention to their brand. For example, Dove began a ‘Real Beauty’ campaign with the mission of revolutionizing the modern definition of beauty. This campaign is beloved by consumers because it promotes self acceptance and self love, however it also draws attention to the products that Dove sells.

With the onslaught of companies fighting to be noticed in the digital world, advertising has drifted farther and farther away from what it used to be. It will be interesting to follow the digital advertising world into the future, as the habits of online consumers continue to evolve.