Sunnier Side of the Office

The Latest on the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Controversy


Last week we wrote about the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story, which, as predicted, has produced too many follow-up stories to count.

A quick recap: The New York Times and the Observer (sibling of The Guardian) published stories about Cambridge Analytica, on account of a whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, who had worked at the data firm. Cambridge Analytica “used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements,” according to the Observer. At the time frame in question, Cambridge Analytica was headed by Steve Bannon.

This data harvesting happened through a third-party app in which hundreds of thousands of Facebook users were paid to take a personality quiz and agreed to have their data collected for academic use. The problem with that, according to the Observer, is “the app also collected the information of the test-takers’ Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions-strong. Facebook’s ‘platform policy’ allowed only collection of friends’ data to improve user experience in the app and barred it being sold on or used for advertising.”

What’s new this week? A lot. For one, Mark Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday after a 5-day silence. From the Guardian: “‘We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,’ Zuckerberg wrote. He noted that the company has already changed some of the rules that enabled the breach, but added: ‘We also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.’”

Today, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed it was conducting an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices and “is focused on whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handling of personal user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without users’ knowledge,” according to a person familiar with the matter.

On the advertiser front, Facebook has been communicating with the marketing industry “to tell them it is working to audit all apps on its platform and reassure its users that their personal data is being protected,” according to the Wall Street Journal.


Conde Nast Bids Adieu To NBCUniversal and Vox Media

By Zuli Mohammad

After less than a year of working together, Conde Nast announced that it has left its partnership with NBCUniversal and Vox Media. The partnership worked to bring Conde Nast’s data platform ‘Spire’ and Vox and NBCU’s advertising platform ‘Concert’ together.

Concert, which was formed by Vox and NBCU in 2016, combined premium digital inventory and audiences from both companies’ digital assets. By layering on Conde Nast to this partnership in 2017, Concert was able to reach over 200 million consumers and 99% of millennials in the U.S. across the three companies’ digital networks.

Three campaigns ultimately resulted from the partnership with Conde Nast. The overall goal, General Manager Ryan Pauley told Digiday, was “to take these to market, and then the partnership would end.”

While Conde Nast has yet to disclose why they left the partnership, they mentioned that they will look to utilize Concert again under the right circumstances. Vox and NBCU will continue to work together on Concert, which has tripled its sales from 2016 to 2017 and is on track to double sales in 2018.

While Conde Nast’s involvement with Concert didn’t last long, publisher partnerships similar to this are important and continue to grow as they can work to create reach and scale equal to the likes of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google. Additionally, partnerships like these work to create more room for contextually relevant and brand-safe environments for brands to live within.

As these types of partnerships continue to grow it is important that publishers focus on not only hitting the right target audience, but also on providing insights that will help measure and meet campaign goals.

HQ Trivia Lands Warner Bros. and Nike Ad Deals

Popular live game show app HQ landed its first sponsorship deal, Ad Age reported yesterday. The partnership, worth $3 million, will include the promotion of three movies, starting with Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One.”

If you’re not familiar with HQ, it’s an app that hosts live game shows twice a day, with a jackpot that varies in size. There are 12 questions, and as soon as a player gets one answer wrong, they are disqualified. (HQ’s most popular host, Scott Rogowsky, is pictured above.)

Nike yesterday was promoting a partnership with HQ on Twitter, and MacRumors reports that with Nike, HQ will have a surprise third game today with a $100,000 prize and a sneaker giveaway, billed as “a prize that money can’t buy,” according to a HQ spokesperson.

This Week in Social: Elon vs. Facebook, Instagram Changes, Wendy’s Fire Mixtape

By Melissa Santiago

This week on social media was relentlessly eventful. Aside from social movements, political news and various scandals, the internet continues to deliver some light-hearted moments. While the former is very important, it’s also important to look to the latter and rally around a few things that can unite us and momentarily lower our collective stress level, so please enjoy.

1. Elon Musk deletes SpaceX & Tesla Facebook accounts. It seems based on his tweets Elon wasn’t aware the Facebook pages existed, but after some prompting from random people on Twitter, the pages were gone on Friday. Elon’s tweets about deleting the pages don’t explicitly mention the #DeleteFacebook movement, but those calling on him to delete the pages referenced the hashtag. After both pages had been deleted, he added, “looks lame anyway” in reference to them.

Thoughts and prayers to the social media manager who set up and managed those pages — and the massive panic attacks they have most likely experienced since Friday morning.

2. Instagram’s new algorithm will favor more “recent” posts. After users voicing their complaints about the randomness of the Instagram algorithm and seeing posts several days after they’d been posted, Instagram has announced they will make some changes.

3. Fast food Twitter beef continues, now comes with mixtapes. Move over Burger King, there’s a new burger royalty—at least on Twitter. Wendy’s is aiming to dominate all other fast food burger chains on Twitter between being a major part of the most retweeted tweet to date, to flirting with Moonpie, to dropping mixtapes full of diss tracks firing shots at competitors last week on Twitter. Wendy’s social media team is on fire and challenging the popular notion that large brand social accounts are manned by “interns.”