ASA rules against scientific claim in eHarmony ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against an eHarmony dating service advertisement which claimed science supported its matchmaking system, according to BusinessCloud.

The dating site claimed it had a “scientifically proven matching system” which would help users to find their ideal romantic match. The ad, which appeared on the London Underground in July, read: “Step aside, fate. It’s time science had a go at love.”

It continued: “Imagine being able to stack the odds of finding lasting love entirely in your favour. eHarmony’s scientifically proven matching system decodes the mystery of compatibility and chemistry so you don’t have to. Why leave the most important search of your life to chance?”

The ASA found that the ad was “misleading… the evidence provided by eHarmony did not demonstrate that their matching system offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love than what could be achieved if they didn’t use the service.”

The advertisement provoked complaints including one from Lord Lipsey, the joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics and a former member of the ASA council. Lipsey said the ad was “crude puffery designed to lure in those longing for love… This is a new form of fake news which the ASA has rightly slapped down.”

eHarmony said it would ensure its advertising is as clear as possible in future, adding that it “respectfully disagrees” with ASA’s finding and that the algorithm for matching users uses “sophisticated matching standards designed by PhD psychologists”.

eHarmony uses a questionnaire to discover user personality features, values and hobbies then finds matches using an algorithm based on data from 50,000 married couples.

Large-scale legal claim against Google for ad-tracking breach

Google is facing a large-scale lawsuit over claims it unlawfully collected data from millions of British users. According to BBC News, it is the first legal claim of its kind in the UK.

A group calling itself Google You Owe Us, led by former Which director Richard Lloyd has accused the tech giant of unlawfully collecting data from 5.4 million users by bypassing privacy settings on iPhones.

The claim centres on the allegation that Google used cookies, which enable the collection of information from devices. It is claimed that for several months in 2011 and 2012 Google placed ad-tracking cookies on devices using the web browser Safari, despite the app being set by default to block that type of cookie.

The move, known as the Safari workaround, would have enabled Google to run targeted ads on the browser and thereby access revenue. The legal claim focuses on iPhone users but it is claimed that many devices were targeted.

Lloyd said: “In all my years speaking up for customers, I’ve rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own.” It is estimated that claimants in the legal action could be awarded several hundred pounds each.

Lloyd says Google has told him he must pursue a claim in the United States if he wishes to take the matter further. However, the unprecedented mass legal action is being conducted in the UK by law firm Mishcon de Reya, which specialises in large-scale actions.

Google paid a record $22.5m (£16.8m) in settlement of a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission regarding the Safari workaround in 2012.

Future Publishing repositions T3 brand

Future Publishing is repositioning its technology brand T3 to focus on e-commerce, according to Digiday UK.

The brand’s content includes men’s lifestyle areas such as fashion, culture, travel and fitness. E-commerce is expected to be the main revenue stream for T3 in future.

Future Publishing has around 50 titles covering specialist interests such as photography, tech, music and gaming. Revenues from e-commerce have increased by 72% from last year according to the publisher’s financial review. Income from e-commerce is now £6m ($8.1m) in the first half of 2017; 15% of total revenue.

T3 has been relaunched with a simpler, image-led design with fewer display ads, more prominent buy buttons and a redesigned user journey.

Zack Sullivan, operations and marketing director at Future said: “We’re moving away from ‘here’s the five best watches’ to ‘here’s how you can get the most out of this experience’. It’s an interesting shift in consumer behaviour to want to buy more experiences.”

Virtually all pages on T3 will now have an e-commerce element. For example, an article on Swiss watchmaking could link to a related article on Swiss versus French watchmaking, which in turn would link to an article on chronograph watches then a list of the best watches with ‘buy now’ links.

T3 is building more links with niche retailers. Currently, around half a million retailers are involved with its Shopify partnership and 45,000 API feeds come from Hawk, its proprietary e-commerce platform. Future takes a cut of around 2-10% from these purchases.

France’s Publicis acquries Israeli creative agency network BBR Group

French communications major Publicis Groupe (EPA:PUB) said on Monday it had agreed to take over Israeli creative agencies network BBR Group for an undisclosed sum.

The buyer added that it has already collaborated with BBR and that it has a solid presence in Israel through its agencies Publicis Geller Nessis, Leo Burnett, Edologic and Superpush. Thanks to the latest deal, Publicis would be able to form an Israel-based communication agency with a staff of more than 400 across 23 offices.

Publicis Groupe chief operating officer and Publicis Worldwide executive chairman Jean-Yves Naouri said that the transaction expands the company’s services offering and that BBR will also benefit from Publicis’ scale and resources.

The target, focused on providing advertising and communications services with a headcount of 220, is a parent of a number of other agency brands, including Regev Kavitzky and Expert, TV content agency C, and media agency Smart Media, as well as key teams focusing on digital and design.

All of the firm’s agencies will remain autonomous and independently operated. BBR’s founder and chairman, Yoram Baumann, will become country chairman for Publicis Groupe in Israel.

BBR’s clients include DeLek Motors, cable TV Hot; Isracard, Procter & Gamble, Strauss and Super Pharm.

France’s Publicis increases presence in China with Longtuo buy

French advertising major Publicis Groupe SA (EPA:PUB) said on Monday it had taken over Chinese digital marketing firm Longtuo, with significant e-commerce expertise in creative, customer acquisition, marketing solutions and measurement tools, without revealing the price.

With this deal, Publicis is looking to capture more of the fast-growing e-commerce market in China, which according to technology market researcher Forrester will reach USD94.6bn (EUR74m) this year, the buyer said. eMarketer expects the Chinese sector market to grow at an annual pace of above 92% in the next three years and become the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace by 2015, Publicis said.

The French group will integrate Longtuo into its owned Razorfish network and rename it Razorfish Longtuo China. Longtuo’s CEO and founder SU Yi will be appointed managing director at Razorfish Longtuo China.

Beijing-based Longtuo was set up in 2000 and has now 200 employees working at offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The combination will more than double Razorfish’s size which now has a staff of 130 offering e-commerce services.

This takeover continues Publicis Groupe’s strategy to double its size in China between 2010 and 2013, as part of an overall plan to substantially boost revenues from emerging markets and the digital sector.

Publicis has bought four Chinese agencies in the past four months, it said.

Advertising watchdog ban TalkTalk’s ‘safest broadband’ adverts

The advertising watchdog has punished TalkTalk after adverts claimed they offer the ‘UK’s safest broadband’.


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have banned three of TalkTalk’s adverts following claims that their free Homesafe package was the safest security package for its customers.


The Homesafe package was launched last May, and it allows parents to block online adult content, and gives them control over the usage of social media and gaming sites. The service also alerts users against viruses.


Rival firm BT alerted the ASA about TalkTalk’s misleading claims, stating that customers would believe that the TalkTalk package was the safest for both the connection from the network provider to the router, and the connection from the router to the device.


In response to the ASA, TalkTalk said that the advert assumed that customers knew the statement ‘safest broadband’ referred to its security package, which protects the ‘internet connection to the router’ and doesn’t include the wireless connection from the router to other devices.


Nonetheless, the ASA sided with the claims made by BT, and felt that customers using TalkTalk broadband may think they are enjoying the safest overall online experience, rather than just the safest internet connection.


TalkTalk told the ASA, their adverts don’t claim to provide the safest online experience, instead the advert refers to additional services offered with its HomeSafe package, many of which other firms provide at a cost.


The ASA said “consumers were unlikely to understand what “network level security” was, and it was not a commonly used term in home broadband, and that it could be easily misinterpreted to refer to other features such as the security of the wireless connection”.


TalkTalk – despite the ASA finding against it – have chosen to take the ruling as a success, declaring that it proves that the company offer the UK’s safest broadband connection.


A spokesman for TalkTalk said, “We welcome this ruling that establishes, once and for al, that TalkTalk offers the UK’s safest broadband connection. We introduced HomeSafe and its unique network level protection, in May and already over 200,000 families have chosen to activate it and it’s blocked more than 1 million unwelcome websites at their request”.


However TalkTalk have been warned by the ASA that its current security adverts must not appear again stating these claims.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh