No high five for marijuana TV advertising

The first recreational marijuana advertisement created for TV was in the talks and negotiations in Colorado with ABC's Denver Affiliate, but never aired after all, according to Advertising Age. Cannabis marketing agency Cannabrand tried to run a commercial for Neos, a vaporizer and cannabis oil company, before “Jimmy Kimmy Live”. Colorado’s Amendment 64 permits TV advertising if 70% of the audience is at least 21 years old. However, airway transmissions are still federally regulated and marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Nevertheless, there is a large and developing online advertising market in this domain, and even before receiving green light for TV commercials, there are a few ethical questions that advertising for products like alcohol and cigarettes has also brought into discussion. The current advertising context makes it even more complex due to the widespread access to Internet, viral advertising potential, and global access to online information. There are the classical issues related to exposing children and other vulnerable categories to this type of ads.

There is the potential of spreading the message in areas and countries where the product is illegal, even just for the fact that the advertisement is an excellent viral ad.

Is it ethical from the part of marketers?

Can you blame a marketer for creating a great ad for a product legal in his/her state or country?

As far as controlling distribution and access only in legal states and countries, it is clear it is extremely difficult online, with easy download, copying and reposting… Can we count on consumers’ common sense in managing these issues, their advertising entertainment and their brownie ingredients as a function of local regulations?

Maria Petrescu, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

5 Ways Top Brand Stories Went Viral

This past year witnessed the mainstream development of brand stories. The top 25 brand stories released over the past year amassed an average of 1.9 million views per month. Spanning from heartwarming to heart-lifting, the best performers touched on some key themes showing that tears work nearly as well as laughs when connecting emotionally to target audiences.

Results of a study showed that the highest performance is reached when brand stories are about:

1.      Female Confidence

2.      Unlikely Friendship

3.      Pushing Limits

4.      Spirit of Giving

5.      The Unforgotten

Stories of Female Confidence topped the list as young girls in particular are encouraged to see themselves in a better light. Unlikely Friendships come in second as they touch upon themes of harmony and peace. Stories about Pushing the Limits taps into the inner self that seeks encouragement to overcome severe life battles or achieve greatness.

Following the great success of WestJet's Christmas Miracle, others pursued the Spirit of Giving to bring tears to the eyes of those surprised with unexpected gifts. Finally, a number of stories are developing along the lines of those feeling their sacrifices were unappreciated. The Unforgotten includes familiar tales of hard working moms and soldiers surprised with rewards for their acts of generosity.

Shown above is a rank ordering of these Top 25 stories. The term story, in this case, refers to narratives encompassing a familiar story arc that includes a hero, challenges and overcoming obstacles.

What other stories released recently do you feel were testimony of brand story trends?

James Barry, D.B.A., is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He develops, teaches and consults on a variety of social media marketing subjects. He can be reached at

Mobile Advertising: Billion-Dollar Fraud!

There are over 5,000 apps that display unseen ads on both Apple and Android devices, engaging in mass fraud regarding advertising and slowing down devices. They also deprive consumers from advertisements that could have brought them useful or entertaining information. This conclusion was drawn in a study performed by Forensiq, a company that tracks fraud in online advertising. Over ten days, Forensiq observed more than 12 million unique devices running at least one of the 5,000 apps flagged for ad fraud. These hijacked devices represent about 1% of the mobile devices observed in the US and 2–3% of those observed in Europe & Asia.

According to the study, the threat to advertisers continues to increase with the use of known fraud tactics including device emulation, mobile user agent and location spoofing, and user acquisition fraud. In addition, the emergence of new fraud tactics not only serves to impair advertiser ROI but also impacts the consumer segment. Forensiq has discovered this new type of ad fraud called mobile device hijacking, a tactic used by mobile applications to steal revenue by rapidly loading hidden ads and emulating human behavior. While in traffic statistics the ads appear as shown, they were actually never seen by consumers. The company projected that in the US alone in 2015, $20B will be spent on mobile in-app advertising and the annual impact of in-app fraud will surpass the $1 billion mark globally in 2015.

These conclusions underline once again the importance of every basic stage in a well-planned advertising campaign, including monitoring and evaluation. Work does not stop once the campaign is formulated and the ad is running. The marketer should constantly monitor the evolution of the campaign and its preliminary results in order to be able to make adjustments and deal with potential issues, including this type of problems. Nevertheless, dealing with trustworthy partners, from a reputable advertising agency to the right platform of communication, is also very important. Otherwise, the company will end up paying money for advertisements that nobody will ever see and keep wondering why they did not work.

*Image source:

Maria Petrescu, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

Useful or Invasive? Your thoughts on Personalized Advertisements

Personalized advertising (sometimes referred to as behavioral re-targeting) represents a new and emerging trend in the field of online advertising. Through the use of enhanced online data collection techniques, marketers can now craft seemingly made-to-order advertisements tailored to a specific individual. Numerous websites and services have begun hosting personalized banner and/or text ads, such as YouTube, Facebook, Hotmail, and Gmail. In addition, the technique is being used by more and more firms such as Amazon, MetLife, Dollar Thrifty, Staples, Joseph A. Bank, Orbitz, Zappos, and T-Mobile.

Through advances in data collection that allow individual consumers to be identified and their behavior analyzed, personalized advertising promises to deliver consumers more relevant ads. This is because the ads are created from specific consumer information and explicit and/or implied preferences obtained from previously monitored online activity including search entries, cookie clickstream data, and/or user profiles.

You may or may not have heard the term personalized advertising before, however you have most likely been served a personalized advertisement at some point. If you have conducted an online search for a particular product, and/or viewed that product on an e-commerce website, a laptop computer or tablet, you have probably noticed an advertisement for that same exact product, from the same seller, following you around the Internet from site to site for about a week or so.

The logic behind personalized ads, is that the increase in advertisement relevance should lead to a number of benefits including, more effective online display ads, less wasted advertising dollars, increased consumer satisfaction, and increased profits, just to name a few. Therefore, personalized advertising has the potential to benefit both consumers and firms alike. This has led to excitement regarding the huge potential that personalized advertising may hold. Hailed as a breakthrough because it will allow for the right person to receive the right ad at the right time, personalized advertising has even been touted as the savior of online display ads.

While personalized advertising seemingly holds great potential to transform online advertising and provide benefits to both marketers and consumers alike; consumer acceptance of the technique still remains a significant hurdle for personalized advertising to overcome.

One of the main issues concerning the lack of acceptance of personalized advertising involves the privacy concerns of consumers who do not yet seem comfortable with the immense levels of tracking, data collection and selling of consumer information that takes place in order to allow personalized advertising to happen. Recent studies by Pew Research reported that 68% of consumers were uneasy about personalized advertisements because they do not like their online activities tracked and analyzed, while 73% felt that it was an invasion of their privacy. In addition, there have also been concerns regarding consumer displeasure with personalized advertisements displayed on social networking sites (SNSs) that explicitly use information from a user's SNS profile in the ad, such as the name of a brand that the user has previously "liked" or "followed". In addition, SNS ads have also utilized information from users' SNS posts and previous browsing history of other websites to tailor advertisements. Finally, there also seems to be a thin line between personalization and invasiveness in advertising. For example, personalized advertisements may sometimes actually be too accurate or "over-personalized", meaning that the level of precision is too high, with the advertisement containing too much personal information about an individual to the point where the ad may be perceived as disturbing and almost "creepy".

Personalized advertising seems to be one of a number of online data collection issues under scrutiny right now, since recent breaches of online security systems due to fraud and/or hacking, have increased concerns over the safety and security of consumers' online personal and financial information. These concerns have led to calls for increased consumer privacy protections in a number of global regions including both the United States and European Union.

So where do you come down on personalized advertisements? Do you find them useful, relevant, annoying, an invasion of your privacy, or something else? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

*Image source: MyBuys, Inc., 2015, "Personalized Display Ads"

John Gironda, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University. His teaching and research interests include digital and social media marketing, consumer behavior, marketing strategy, advertising, personal selling, and sales management. He can be reached at:;