Ad Placement in the New Internet

Advertisements may seem like an irritant, but they are (unsurprisingly) imperative to the companies that utilize them. Advertisements are tailored to different demographics of consumers in an attempt to ensnare their target market. This can entail language used, both the terminology and the dialect, as well as content and the location of the ad.

 

Recently, advertisement placement has been the topic of controversy. Google’s algorithm — one of the key factors to the rise of Google — tracks user clicks and web pages visited. The data collected allows the algorithm to place advertisements on sites that the user has previously visited. However, this method affects more than just the consumer; some companies do not want their advertisements to be featured on websites with certain content. Some of the content in question includes hate speech, racial and anti-Semitic sentiment, or heavily-slanted political commentary.

 

Because the algorithm does not yet possess the flexibility to exclude websites based on content when determining ad placement, many major companies that use the service have backed out, including AT&T and Verizon. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, faces a similar problem, and advertisers are pulling out their business due to their ads shown before or during controversial or discriminatory videos.

 

There will not be a quick fix for this issue. Flagging problematic words might be easy enough, but subtext, connotations, and statements can create derogatory messages without using the contentious words. Additionally, flagging words can arguably interfere with free speech and deny some websites access to a larger audience base through Google’s services due to improper characterization of content.

 

The larger issue at hand comes from the recent repeal of online privacy measures. While any given individual never had much privacy to begin with, the Federal Communication Commission’s rules created protections against reporting an individual’s information to companies without their permission. The absence of these rules provides an advantageous opportunity for companies to access the spread of information, as well as create and use more specifically targeted ads. Businesses looking to more accurately target potential customers benefit from the change. On the other hand, it creates increasingly transparent channels for the distribution of consumer information. The security measures that used to monitor the flow of information to companies is now almost non-existent.

 

As individuals and consumers, what can we do? For the most part, be aware that advertisements are targeted at you, and do not necessarily approve of the content of the website they appear on. To create a little more privacy online, a virtual private network can be obtained.

 

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Can’t Catch ‘Em All

Copyright law can be tricky to follow, especially with large fan bases of popular entertainment companies. Nintendo recently had to address copyright infringement with it’s Pokemon franchise. A few fans of the game created their own spinoff game featuring new Pokemon they invented. But they also included already existing Pokemon. Due to its widespread popularity and free distribution, it quickly became an issue not just legally, but socially as well. Nintendo, in these situations, is very unlikely to receive monetary compensation from filing a lawsuit, but it serves to help control the fan made and widely spread games, and Pokemon’s branding. Typically, though, large companies perceive fanart to be a positive, and free, way to promote their product. In this case, it was on too large of a scale, with just too much similarity to be ignored.

To read a bit more about the case, click here. To learn about the evolution of the copyright law, and how Mickey Mouse affected it, click here.

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Stealing Snapchat and Other Tech News

snapchatSnap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat,  announced that their IPO occurred this past Wednesday, March 1st with a positive response.  While Snap Inc. may appear to be taking the world by storm with its filters and geotags, this IPO is important to determine the path of growth the company can take, as it allows for a one time influx of income. A successful IPO means technology improvements, leading to not only a better app, but better products as the company expands. In addition, this is one more way to secure their spot in the market, but one company may be stealing the spotlight, and the stories.

Facebook has recently introduced Instagram Stories, which also feature 24 hour posts, filters, text, and now Boomerang, a feature that shows few frames of a video playing and rewinding on a loop. The international social media giant has also introduced “Status”, a feature similar to Stories, on Whatsapp. Whatsapp is a free messenger service owned by Facebook and widely used by student-aged demographics all over the world, particularly with individuals who have international relations. This new feature shares strong similarities Instagram and Snapchat stories; pictures, videos, and GIFS can be sent, only to disappear after 24 hours. However, like the rest of Whatsapp, the Status feature is also encrypted.

For Snapchat, a strong company with a comparable product means that competition will be fierce on an international level,  while Snapchat is still only starting to penetrate countries outside of the United States. Facebook is reported to have approximately 1.86 billion monthly users, with only a mere 167 million being from the US and Canada, as compared to Snap Inc’s 301 million users monthly, of which 68 million are from North America. Instagram and Whatsapp already have large user bases that actively follow social media influencers- negating the need for another, comparable service.

The rapid pace of growth and innovation at companies like Facebook make investing in Snapchat a potentially high-risk investment. Recent news reports that the stocks available are Class A and are worth $17 a share; these would be available to investors, but those who own Class A stock have limited power in corporate decisions. It is likely that stockholders who are worried will have no direct say in the company, which can make the stock a less appealing purchase for those interested in investing in the self-titled camera company.

The sale of these stocks is crucial, as Snap Inc. needs the revenue for contracts with major companies such as Google and Amazon. Facebook’s recent influx of features on their different platforms emphasize its influence over the social media industry. Yet, Snap Inc. is confident in its ability to perform, especially as it is valued higher than many of the social media giants when they released their IPOs. Currently, Snap Inc.’s stock is soaring at $27.09 a share at the close of Friday. When the stock market closed on Monday, stock was $23.77 a share. 

To follow Snap Inc. and check how their IPO is faring, their ticker symbol is SNAP and is traded on the NYSE. Spread the news and share this article or follow us on our WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter!

On Fire to Hire… YOU!

Looking to flex your PR skills at a startup and gain experience working for a growing company? Be sure to check out the On Fire to Hire Startup Expo on Monday Feb. 27!


On Fire to Hire is a Northeastern-only event for alumni, undergraduate and graduate students looking for internships, Fall 2017 co-op positions, and full-time jobs. It will take place in the Curry Student Center Ballroom starting at 5:30pm for undergrad students and alumni and 6:30pm for graduate students. Pre-registration is recommended but not required. For a full list of the startups participating this year, click here. Hope to see you there!

Building your Personal Brand

In today’s competitive job market, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Gone are the times of walking up to a brick-and-mortar business and handing them your resume in person—today, first impressions are often made long before you meet with a recruiter or manager in person. Building your personal brand online is one way college students (and job-seekers of any age) can make themselves known and work towards snagging the job of their dreams. Here are five tips to developing a strong, unique personal brand:

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  • Be authentic.

 

When you’re job-hunting, it’s important to show your true colors. Potential employers want to know about you and the type of energy you might bring to the workplace—and it can turn employers away when your posts don’t seem genuine. Be sure that your posts reflect who you truly are, and work on developing a style of posting online that is lively and engaging.

 

  • Be consistent.

 

 

While it’s not necessary for your social media presence to be as tailored as a public figure’s, be aware that everything you post ties into the overall image you present online and try to make your posts consistent with your personal character. Career-focused social media channels, such as LinkedIn, provide an additional opportunity for you to nurture your professional personality, especially if you have your heart set on a specific position or industry. For example, when listing the roles and responsibilities of your previous positions, highlight those that are most applicable to the job you’re hoping to get.

 

  • Keep it clean.

 

While your friends might appreciate your drunken snapchats from last weekend’s party, employers might not feel the same way. Think about what you’re about to post and ask yourself if you would want your grandmother, little brother, or high school principal seeing it. If the answer is no, it’s probably something that should stay private. Make sure your privacy settings are up to date as well, so only those who you approve can see what you post.  

 

  • Use your social media presence to highlight unique, non-work talents and interests.

 

Do you speak fluent Mandarin? Play the trombone? Backcountry ski? Knit sweaters for puppies? There’s no better place to showcase these talents than your online brand. Although employers are looking to see your work experience first and foremost, showcasing evidence of a talent that’s unique and interesting may catch the eye of a recruiter. If anything, it’s an interesting conversation starter for networking events!

 

  • Publish work and projects relevant to your career goals.

 

For example, if you’d like to get into graphic design, it’s a good idea to build an online portfolio to show off your work. You can also publish writing samples, case studies, and other projects that you’ve worked on that can help you show your experience to employers! If you’re searching for good, simple websites to host your online portfolio, Squarespace, Wix and Webs all offer easy-to-use templates to help you get started (don’t worry, no coding is necessary!).

Personal branding isn’t just a marketing tactic for large corporations; anyone in any career or academic field can start working on their personal brand and take their online presence to new heights. Don’t forget to join BRPR on Wednesdays at 7 PM to discuss useful branding and marketing skills that anyone can put into action!

The Purge: Lasting Impacts of Digital Media

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For those keeping up with the news, popular YouTube vlogger Felix Kjellberg, known by his pseudonym PewDiePie, was dropped from working with Disney and YouTube. He was previously contracted with the two media giants to produce content for a large consumer base featured online and his own spin-off video series. The decision to cut this YouTuber from future projects by these companies is due primarily to racist and anti-semitic notions repeatedly found within his content.

A recent video sponsored by PewDiePie showed two men holding an anti-semitic statement. Before it was taken down, the video was seen over six million times. It was at this point following an investigation that Disney and YouTube announced their decision to withdraw support and discontinue working with him further.

The importance of branding here is obvious: Disney and YouTube have strict brand guidelines and reputations that they do not want associated with anti-semitic or racist statements. Disney’s primary consumer base is young children whose values are still being formed by the society we live in.

Alternatively, the negative effects of poor branding choices are clear. In choosing to promote racially charged and anti-semitic messages, PewDiePie set himself up for negative feedback. But what can you do in order to save face in moments like these?

Here’s where we can take a note from the successful YouTuber. He responded with a formal apology, stating that he does not support these ideas and that the reason behind the video was to show the extremes of people on the internet.

In this day and age, now more than ever, it is important to ensure that what we post online is a representation of ourselves that we are comfortable with allowing potential employers to see. An increased number of recruiters search online forums and sites to examine potential employees, and over half have reconsidered these candidates after the search. Posts with incorrect spelling or politically inclined remarks are among the most detrimental content employers can find.

With so many opportunities at Northeastern University, and just as many students, it’s important to make sure all aspects of your personal brand are presented appropriately. Having a strong and positive online profile can make the difference in securing a job.

So take another look at your social media accounts and ensure that you are only associated with those of reputable esteem. While we can’t completely erase our online data, we can minimize its damage and be aware of where we stand.

For more tips and tricks on how to create your online brand, be on the lookout for our next post and make sure to hit that follow button to get notifications!

Play-By-Play: Big Game Data

 

The Super Bowl LI might be over, but everyone is still feeling the effects! While you are still in a celebratory mood, check out the data from the Big Game.

Meltwater, a company that monitors the media and develops business intelligence software, created an infographic on the collected data. Its subjects range from big buzzwords, to popular ads, to popular drinks.

The Chicago Tribune showcased the best and the worst ads of the Super Bowl- what was your favorite and which ones did you hate?