January 29, 2023 BY Jacey Edwards in Newsletter
All out blitz: Egg smugglers vs Super Bowl ads: NL #127
Super Bowl ad-oration
Well. It’s been one week since the Cowboys’ dream of a Super Bowl berth was intercepted (twice) by the 49ers. Let’s just say I’m doing my best to pick up the pieces by moving on to the next best thing: Super Bowl commercials.
Although many companies have had to tighten the belt on their marketing budgets due to the economy, it’s safe to say that ad enthusiasm for the Super Bowl is alive and well.
By September 2022, Fox had already sold a majority of their ad inventory, with some 30-second spots going for north of $7 million. (Just for reference, the total in-game ad spend for last year’s Super Bowl came in at $545 million.)
The real question is, are they fine with paying for $10 scrambled eggs? Guess I”ll never know.
Here’s some more of what to expect as we approach gameday:
MVPs: Celebrities, surprises, and throwbacks
- Budweiser is already drumming up curiosity with its “6-Degrees of Kevin Bacon” teaser. The beer barons might be staying tight-lipped with this one, but we know it’ll be totally Footloose.
- A decade later, Walt and Jesse are still Breaking Bad and taking names. (Don’t forget the snacks.)
- What do you get when you cross an iconic Bill Murray character and a former Cowboys’ quarterback? This Super Bowl teaser from Michelob Ultra.
- How much would you bet on four-time Super Bowl champ Rob Gronkowski to kick a field goal live at LVII? FanDuel wants to know.
Subs and injuries
- Out with the old, in with the new. Molson Coors will be airing its first Super Bowl ad in three decades due to the close of Anheuser-Busch’s long standing exclusivity agreement.
- Apple Music will oust Pepsi as the official sponsor of the Super Bowl HalfTime Show.
- Crypto-not-so-much. Expect to see an about-face from last year’s “Crypto Bowl” after a year marked by mayhem.
- The ongoing drama at Twitter HQ could trigger a shift from some brands to other platforms like TikTok to capture real-time reactions and encourage fan engagement.
Cowboys or not, this year’s Super Bowl is going to be packed with spectacle, and hopefully, a few moments of marketing magic for the books. Personally, my bet is on the Rihanna halftime-show, Kevin Bacon, and my party-sized queso fountain.
CNET presses “pause” on AI-generated stories
CNET faces a wave of scrutiny after it was discovered the company has “quietly” published over 70 SEO-friendly finance explainers without disclosing they were generated by an AI bot. Uh oh.
The articles’ bylines were conspicuously labeled “CNET Money Staff,” (while the actual staff remained unaware of the AI authorship) and contained numerous errors and lengthy corrections issued by the editorial staff, which some say are misleading and raise ethical questions about journalistic standards.
CNET justified the move in the name of productivity. But is backtracking through error-ridden copy after publishing really a timesaver? I’m guessing not.
Regardless of intent, the stories written by the bot were also central to the site’s SEO-winning strategy, which drives search engine traffic to capitalize on lucrative ads and affiliate links. The inaccuracy of the stories compromise the credibility of CNET and raise red flags for advertising partners, who, I’m guessing, aren’t keen on being affiliated with the botched journalism. Not the best look.
While the experimental use of AI for analyzing news, gathering data and writing copy is becoming more widespread, even with reputable news organizations like the Associated Press, the ethical controversy over how bots are managed is still up for debate.
With all the promise of AI to revolutionize how we do work, growing pains are also to be expected. The biggest lesson from the CNET debacle (and every math teacher I’ve ever had): you gotta show your work.
TikTok’s viral fixes
Lucky for CNET, there are plenty of ethical conundrums to go around.
TikTok just confirmed a long-held “open secret” about the merits of their viral content: some of it is quietly being boosted under the radar by the platform itself.
According to a recent Forbes report, U.S. employees can artificially boost posts in a practice called “heating,” ostensibly to magnify the presence of celebrities and new creators on the platform. So while viewing may remain organic, users’ feeds aren’t–with (unmarked) heated videos accounting for 1-2 percent of daily content. And it gets worse: TikTok employees have allegedly heated content for their friends, family, and even themselves–which does feel a bit like a rigged game.
While TikTok isn’t the only platform to come under fire for manipulating how content is seen, the lack of transparency actually disadvantaged the same creators TikTok claims to support. When it’s impossible to differentiate between underperforming videos and their boosted counterparts, how do you know if you’re succeeding?
Between competitors like YouTube forking over cash for Shorts and Instagram pushing to compensate creators for Reels, TikTok creators don’t have to keep dancing with the “one who brung em,” if the relationship goes stale.
As Michael Scott would say, “Well, well, well. How the turntables,” TikTok.
Best of the Week
Stats to See
AI is changing the way business is done. A recent report by McKinsey found that the average number of AI capabilities that organizations use, such as natural-language generation and computer vision, doubled—from 1.9 in 2018 to 3.8 in 2022.
The handy cheat sheet you didn’t know you needed, from one Apple fanboy to another.
Got an all-star resume and a penchant for GIF Wars? We might have a spot for you on our team.
New year, same you? We like it that way. Our January playlist is the perfect soundtrack for keeping up with your resolutions . . . or not.
More News from the Week.
- Twitter Blue who? Elon Musk teases plans to introduce a “higher priced” subscription for Twitter Blue users that allows “zero ads.” Hmmmm.
- Scientists dug up Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, on his 200th birthday to test his DNA. HBD Greg? Hope you’re ok.
- Tax Time(out). More than 300k accountants and auditors have quit in the last two years, forcing U.S. firms to look overseas for workers to look over your W-2.
- Poached. US Border officials have seen a 108% spike in egg smuggling busts, as the price for a carton stateside still fetches a pretty penny.
- Say it ain’t so. Amazon is sunsetting its AmazonSmile program, which allowed shoppers to donate a percentage of purchases to their charity of choice.