prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

The “Holy Grail” of Advertising

Posted by prof e on April 9, 2013

In this social media saturated landscape, word-of-mouth (or word-of-MOUSE as the case may be) advertising carries a lot of clout. Because so many of us are skeptical of traditional advertising pitches, a referral from a trusted friend…yes, even a Facebook friend…is highly valued. In fact, according to Reuters, “Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was quoted as saying that a trusted referral was the ‘Holy Grail’ of advertising.”  And just as money is what advertising is ultimately about, money is also central to a class-action lawsuit that Facebook lost when it was accused of using Facebook users’ “likes”, without their consent, to pitch products to their Facebook friends.

This is not a new story. Most of it transpired in Summer and Fall of 2012, but the lesson is worth reviewing and repeating. The poster-child for this particular violation is Facebook user Nick Bergus. According to Venturebeat.com,

The most egregious example of a user becoming the inadvertent spokesman for a less-than-lube-in-barrelsqueaky-clean brand, of course, is Nick Bergus, who became the leading pitchman for Passion Natural Water personal lubricant — in 55-gallon allotments.

A class-action lawsuit, brought in California court, sought damages from Facebook for their use of “sponsored stories” without paying Facebook users or allowing them to opt out. According to Reuters, “A ‘Sponsored Story’ is an advertisement that appears on a member’s Facebook page and generally consists of another friend’s name, profile picture and an assertion that the person ‘likes’ the advertiser.” In the case of Nick Bergus, his likeness was used to sell 55-gallon drums of personal lubricant.

Now that the lawsuit has been settled, a potential 125 million Facebook users are eligible for a settlement of … wait for it … two cents each, or up to $10 if they apply.

One thing is certain, the advertising business is changing. Native ads, what some are calling the “next wave” of advertising, are replacing traditional banner ads, pop-ups, and pre-rolls. As new media companies attempt to find new ways to monetize their business, too often they step over boundaries intended to protect users’ privacy.

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One Response to “The “Holy Grail” of Advertising”

  1. Count Chocula! personal said

    A class-action lawsuit, brought in California court, sought damages from Facebook for their use of “sponsored stories” without paying Facebook users or allowing them to opt out. According to Reuters, “A ‘Sponsored Story’ is an advertisement that appears on a member’s Facebook page and generally consists of another friend’s name, profile picture and an assertion that the person ‘likes’ the advertiser.” In the case of Nick Bergus, his likeness was used to sell 55-gallon drums of personal lubricant.
    *********************************************************************************************

    What else does anybody think that the ridiculous time wasting site is about? Connecting with friends? Ha! It’s about peddling the ordinary worthless consumer paradigm that is American culture. If Nick Berger didn’t thumbs up this particular piece of consumer angst, then he most certainly endorsed some other such marketed nonsense at some point. And he did it for free! So why try to get paid now? Because he was embarrassed. What a high threshold for shame.

    Facebook has turned the personae of real human beings with natural quirks, qualms, and precious imperfections into ready-made, android marketing sex-bots with no true identity. And subcribers did it voluntarily, with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance as they laid down their consciences and let the marketing Jons in the motel room door. Hookers don’t get to express real thoughts on sites like FB or, and heaven forbid, make minor foibles that won’t be used against them later in a quick public screwing. Insert advertisement for personal lube here:

    Instead, You have to frenetically manage your “personal” brand to the sacrifice of any real authenticity and capacity for genuine relationships with “friends.” It’s even taught this way in schools. “Manage your page professionally”, the bordello madams (teachers) lecture. Rule number one when servicing customers: let go of your own ego and emotions, “the customer is always right.” Just lay back and go to another place in your mind. Sounds like this sucker finally set down the social media crack pipe and found out that his identity was actually being managed for him. Facebook never rose above the level of simple prostitution, and Nick Bergus just realized what his services were worth – 2 pennies or a $10 spot, depending on the cyber street corner. Zuckerberg is just one of many white-collar pimps who the average status quo acolyte in this country loves to idolize. What a pimp.

    Sorry, Sam. I hope your Spring break was enjoyable and that the hide or delete button isn’t broken :>)

    Cheers!

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