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TODD SMITH — Google News launches fact check feature



In the midst of a highly charged presidential election, where fact and fiction have frequently become confused, Google News has introduced a new fact check feature in search results for news stories.

Fact check will now appear as a label among news search results, alongside other established labels such as opinion, local source and highly cited.

Google News algorithmically connects fact-checking articles with live news stories partly based on an established process called Claim Review. Google says sites meeting the definition of a fact-checking service can apply to have their service included.

In a blog post promoting the new feature, Google said: “We’re excited to see the growth of the Fact Check community and to shine a light on its efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin.”

Facebook, despite its increasingly critical role in the distribution of news, has yet to deploy any fact-checking feature. Research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in June 2016 found that Facebook was the primary source of news for 18- to 24-year-olds. After sacking its trending topics news team, the social media site was at the center of a storm when its algorithm started promoting fake news.

In Google News, fact check labels are visible in the expanded story box on the Google News site, on both the iOS and Android apps, and roll out for users in the US and UK first.

The timing of the new label is significant, contributing to an unprecedented presidential election where both sides have been accused of misrepresenting facts. Some commentators have used the term “post-truth” to describe the current state of political discussion.

Ad buyers tap into Twitter’s Instagram-like carousel ads

Some marketers are enticed by Twitter’s new Instagram-like carousel ad unit.

GroupM has run carousel ads for NBC Universal, Pandora jewelry, Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine, AB InBev’s Stella Artois, Unilever’s Hellmann’s and Panera Bread, according to Kieley Taylor, GroupM head of paid social. Carousel ads featuring the NBC Universal film “The Secret Life of Pets” were clicked on 22 percent more often than Twitter ads for other entertainment companies were clicked on, on average. And the “cost per engagement was 6 percent lower than the industry benchmark,” she said.

Omnicom confirmed that it has run carousel ads. “We like the ability to promote brand-created, influencer-created or consumer tweets within a single experience to tell a better story,” said Kerry Perse, U.S. director of Omnicom subsidiary OMD Word.

The ads allow brands to aggregate multiple tweets into a carousel format that users can swipe through. Advertisers have been excited about the ads since news of their development broke in January. And in June, Twitter officially announced it was testing them out. But a few agencies reported that it wasn’t clear to them if the ads were still in pilot or if they had been opened up to all advertisers.

While several agencies were under the impression that the ads were open for business to all advertisers, the ads are still in testing and only available to a limited number of partners, according to Twitter. A few agencies said they don’t plan to run the ads regardless of their availability, according to Digiday. However, others were intrigued, and media-buying giants Omnicom and GroupM have already run carousel ads that elicited encouraging engagement.

Pinterest exploring sections for publishers, brands

Pinterest is building a new media channel for publishers and brands to create videos and multimedia posts, according to advertisers familiar with the plans.

The Pinterest media section is similar in concept to how publishers work closely with Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the advertising sources said speaking on condition of anonymity. The design and content would be uniquely Pinterest but it gives publishers and brands a more structured playground to share to the site.

There will be places for advertisers to buy into media sections, for now at least. A person familiar with Pinterest’s plans said the new channel’s ad offering will be pushed out initially as a test. Where the company takes it from there remains unclear.

The new section could be called “Explore,” according to a social-media agency executive. That would be the same name Instagram calls its page where it curates content from across the platform, and personalizes it for people. Snapchat calls its publishing section “Discover.”

Another agency executive said that this is not quite a Snapchat Discover clone.

Pinterest has had some success with advertisers including Target, Wendy’s and Burberry. Many brands have shown faith in its nascent ad platform, but Pinterest has been criticized for moving too slowly to build its ad technology and innovate. Still, the platform has made moves to acquire talent in this space, recently snagging a Snapchat exec to lead its measurement efforts.

Pinterest president Tim Kendall told Ad Age recently that including top tier publications and media companies with Pinterest will be especially important to the company’s future efforts in video.

Facebook Live ad campaign debuts

In a new push to get Facebook users to stream live video, the giant social network is rolling out an advertising campaign on television as well as on billboards and buses in the U.S. and the U.K.

Facebook’s in-house ad studio called The Factory created the ad campaign that kicks off Sunday in the U.K. and in the U.S. on Monday and runs through January. Facebook would not say how much the campaign will cost.

The ad campaign, a rarity for Facebook, comes as Facebook focuses on its new “video-first” strategy.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the next content wave is hitting Facebook. In the beginning on Facebook, there was text. Then images spread throughout the News Feed. Now Facebook says video will soon consume the lion’s share of attention of its 1.71 billion users. And it’s making aggressive moves to get people to make and view more video, whether from friends and family or from professionals. Facebook Live, the popular new app that makes it easy to shoot streaming video on mobile devices, is a big step in that direction.


Comic Mic | MetLife punts Snoopy, strikes more serious note

After three decades of selling insurance, Charlie Brown’s famous dog Snoopy, and his Peanuts cohorts are hitting the unemployment line.

MetLife has announced it’s ending the longstanding association as it relaunches its brand for a more corporate audience.

The shakeup comes after the company announced earlier this year it would spin off its retail life insurance business to focus more on its workplace clients.

Snoopy and the gang began appearing in MetLife commercials in the 1980s as a means of grafting a familiar face on the insurance giant.

But that warmth is less important now that MetLife caters to business-side customers. The 148-year-old brand said the decision was informed by market research conducted on more than 55,000 people around the world. Most respondents were indifferent.

The use of the Charles Schulz-penned comic strip characters in ad campaigns was made possible through a multimillion-dollar licensing deal with the company that owns their rights.

MetLife will also no longer contract blimps for aerial coverage of big live events, and plans for future sponsorships are unclear. Time will only tell if this move will crash the company’s brand identity. It may be time to visit Lucy’s psychiatric stand for some quick grief counseling.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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