Here's a page from a mailer opposing California's Proposition 46.
If the "privacy is dead" crowd were anywhere near right, the pro-46 mailers would have come out with something like:
"Proposition 46 helps you connect with public and private sector stakeholders and share your love for your favorite health brands!"
But that's not the kind of message that works on regular people. All that connect, share, conversations with brands jive? That only works in Marketing meetings with too few breaks and too much PowerPoint® and CO2.
No on 46: Privacy
George Tannenbaum: Conversations about brands. A Primer.
The Economist: Leaders: Advertising and technology: Stalkers, Inc.
Emerging Technology From the arXiv - MIT Technology Review: The Murky World of Third Party Web Tracking
Adam Tanner, Contributor: Health Entrepreneur Debates Going To Data's Dark Side
In the Pipeline: The Most Unconscionable Drug Price Hike I Have Yet Seen
Paul Scicchitano: Critics Say Big Data May DiscriminatePosted Sat 25 Oct 2014 07:31:46 AM PDT
Posted Thu 23 Oct 2014 05:21:47 AM PDT
The addiction to targeting, which digital technology
has only amplified, has derailed the advertising
industry from concentrating on its real job—creating
Recent Snapchat blog, announcing ads:
We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted. It’s nice when all of the brilliant creative minds out there get our attention with terrific content.
That's a great idea, and ties in with what I've been saying all along about the targeted ad problem.
But I'm not optimistic. Snapchat is still running on a mobile phone, running within an environment that's either problematic or outright privacy-hostile. If Snapchat can't commit to its core feature, the idea that photos disappear after sending, how can the company credibly commit to less creepy, more valuable advertising?
It would be a huge win for Snapchat if they could pull it off. But I doubt that a single app can do it.
Signalful ads are an emergent benefit from media that tend to build user confidence through tracking resistance. Non-creepiness can't be declared, it has to be discovered.Posted Sat 18 Oct 2014 05:11:52 AM PDT
Something I hear a lot in discussions of online ad blocking is something like:
Ad blocker users aren't susceptible to advertising anyway.
But advertising isn't a matter of susceptability. It's not fly fishing. Advertising is based on an exchange of attention for signal. The audience pays attention, and the advertiser sends a signal of his or her intentions in the market and belief in product saleability.
We may not conform to a model of perfect economic
behavior, but neither are we puppets at the mercy
of every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a billboard. We
aren't that easily manipulated.
Ad blocker users aren't the only ones who aren't "susceptible." Nobody is "susceptible." People pay attention to advertising more or less depending on how involved they are in that market, but it's a rational process.
If you go down the road of believing in "susceptible," then you get to the wrong answers. First, advertisers throw away their signaling ability by targeting users likely to click. Then users respond by blocking not just the targeted ads but by over-blocking the remaining signal-carrying ads.
Once you understand how advertising works (you did read that Kevin Simler essay?) you can get to the optimal blocking tool for yourself as a market participant: Privacy Badger, which blocks the ads that it's not rational to look at while letting non-targeted ads, with their signaling value, through.
More on this kind of thing: Targeted Advertising Considered HarmfulPosted Fri 10 Oct 2014 08:43:07 AM PDT
These were making the rounds in April and May, but worth a look if you missed them the first time.
Sam Harris: Author, neuroscientist, philosopher.: The Path Between Pseudo-Spirituality and Pseudo-Science
italovignoli: Old unaccessible documents, rejoice!
Elizaveta Naumov, Marketing Manager, TextMaster: Is SEO Actually Improving your Writing?
Mark Suster: How to Make Better Reference Calls
abdel ibrahim: How to make money from Spotify by streaming silence
Sherwood Neiss, Crowdfund Capital Advisors: The New York Times thinks only the rich should profit from crowdfunding
Matthew O'Brien: Everything You Need to Know About High-Frequency Trading
jackfranklin: Passwords are Obsolete — Medium
michaelochurch: 3 mean-spirited HR policies that can kill a tech company.
Geoff Shullenberger: Volunteerism, Deskilling, and Profit at Coursera
Cooper Quintin and Peter Eckersley and Yan Zhu: Help EFF Test Privacy Badger, Our New Tool to Stop Creepy Online Tracking
Adam Tanner, Contributor: Federal Healthcare Web Sites Are More Big Brother Than The KremlinPosted Fri 03 Oct 2014 09:39:46 AM PDT
Matt Harty from Experian
Marketers Buy Clicks But Don’t Understand What
Clicks usually do not bring any other information with them. When the click hits the marketer’s site, the ability to value the differences (and related potential ROI) between these visitors is minimal.
Harty's proposed solution, not surprisingly, is to add another layer of Big Data intermediaries, to sell information about the users behind those clicks. This one will fix it for sure, right? But does online advertising have to be just a matter of piling up more and more layers of companies selling expensive math and sneakily-acquired PII?
If only there were something that you could attach an
ad to, some work that people
who were interested in a certain topic would naturally
see as valuable and want to spend time with. Something that would
make an ad pay its own way, by sending the message, as Kevin Simler put
Here an ad conveys valuable information simply
Yes, paying for something valuable to run the ad on would cost money, but that's part of how advertising really works. Advertising done right pays its way by carrying a signal to prospective buyers, one that they have an incentive to receive and process, not block. Simler also points out a kind of meta-signaling, or "cultural imprinting." When a brand establishes itself, it helps its customers send their own signals.
[B]rands carve out a relatively narrow slice of brand-identity space and occupy it for decades. And the cultural imprinting model explains why. Brands need to be relatively stable and put on a consistent "face" because they're used by consumers to send social messages, and if the brand makes too many different associations, (1) it dilutes the message that any one person might want to send, and (2) it makes people uncomfortable about associating themselves with a brand that jumps all over the place, firing different brand messages like a loose cannon.
Advertising isn't just a game of spam vs. spam filter, popup vs. popup blocker, and cookie vs. Privacy Badger. There's more to it than that, or there can be.
Meanwhile, Bob Hoffman writes,
Content is everything, and it's nothing. It's an artificial word thrown around by people who know nothing, describing nothing.
Good point. The audience's perception of how much it cost to place an ad is the way that the ad acquires its signaling power. The ad-supported resource, whether it's a TV show, an article with photos, or a story, amplifies the ad by its quality and apparent cost.
A famous byline on a magazine cover increases the
magazine's reputation, which increases the signaling
power of the ads inside, which makes ad space more
valuable. Get a reputation for paying well, get
more money from advertisers, and so on. Do it right
and the more you pay people, the more advertisers
pay you, the more you can pay people. (This is the
positive feedback loop that pro sports is in.
And not only is the sports audience not
product being sold, the audience is paying
to be advertised to.)
Signaling through quality editorial product is the opportunity that online advertising is thowing away, by programmatically buying ad units attatched to crappy, infringing, or outright fraudulent "content". Somehow, people have gotten the idea that math matters, user data matters, but "content" doesn't.
Malvertising Campaign Employs the
Nuclear Option on
last week by the Zedo advertising network, redirected
victims to the Nuclear exploit kit which (under the
right circumstances) delivered a punishing series of
infections onto PCs.
The brand you've gradually grown to trust over
the course of three generations.
Posted Sun 21 Sep 2014 09:21:47 PM PDT
The Agile Manifesto might also be to blame for the
Scrum standup. It states that "the most efficient and
effective method of conveying information to and within
a development team is face-to-face conversation." In
fairness to the manifesto's authors, it was written in
2001, and at that time git log did not yet exist.
However, in light of today's toolset for distributed
collaboration, it's another completely implausible
assertion, and even back in 2001 you had to kind of
pretend you'd never heard of Linux if you really wanted
it to make sense.
Giving respect to brand advertising, by Doc Searls, is the latest chapter in the blog conversation about the problems that targeted web advertising poses for web publishers and brand advertisers. It's fun to speculate about big-picture fixes, such as finally cleaning up trackability problems in the browser. But that's potentially slow-moving development work. Fixing an old software bug that people have had to work around always is.
So is there anything that brand advertisers can do today? Not changing the industry, or changing the ecosystem, but items we can take to the meeting we have to have about this stuff this week?
I'm inclined to say yes. (Otherwise I would have had to stop writing right here.)
Avoid making decisions based only on online metrics. The chances are good that at least one fraud ring or overenthusiastic intermediary is tainting those numbers. Sales numbers and offline surveys are harder to mess with.
You can "advertise online" using media that create online echoes. You can have a presence at events covered online, or even stick with TV and other old-school advertising that doesn't have the fraud problems of online. (Ever notice that people post TV commercials on social sites, but not the other way around?) Stick with search ads where they work, but avoid throwing money at fraudulent online display and video ads.
Reward your existing customers for using privacy tech. If your brand is related to computers at all, help people load up and use Privacy Badger. And run an exclusive area of your site, just for privacy tech users, that offers some exclusive product, service or other benefit.
The point is not to prevent customers from being "poached" by adtech-using competitors, but to push yourself into the future by a few years. You can't change the whole technology market, but the sooner you have some experience working with privacy-enabled customers, the better.
Privacy tech is a crisis for many intermediaries, but an opportunity for brands. Have fun with it.
Social media reputation can be a way to measure some customer-facing aspects of the business, for some product categories (Not necessarily—some social sites are terrible at this.) Social media can be a way to get a second chance to fix customer service issues that dropped on the floor. But you can't build reputation in social media.
The brands that have good social media reputations are the ones where customer-facing employees have a good attitude. You can't fix this with "social media marketing." You have to do the whole enchilada for everyone who talks to a customer: decent pay, reasonable schedules, don't order people to abuse or deceive customers, all that.
It's a waste of time to do perky social media marketing that contrasts with stressed-out service people—even the best Social Media Manager can only make things look worse. (Bonus link: Conversations about brands. A Primer. by George Tannenbaum)
Remember when Apple took a stand against Adobe Flash and a zillion post-Flash web development products popped up? Now, Apple is taking a stand against creepy advertising. We can expect privacy to be a Thing, and there are certainly startups brewing in the post-creepy space. But for brands, it's not just time to pass the popcorn and wait for the IT industry to fix privacy. There's low-profile work to do that will help you today.Posted Sat 20 Sep 2014 06:38:42 AM PDT
Is advertising ruining the web? Ethan Zuckerman writes,
I have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the web. The fallen state of our Internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services.
Is the web ruining advertising? Bob Hoffman writes,
[T]he advertising industry has become the web's lapdog – irresponsibly exaggerating the effectiveness of online advertising and social media, ignoring the abominable results of display advertising, glossing over the fraud and corruption, and becoming a de facto sales arm for the online ad industry.
Advertising can be a good thing. Some of my favorite cultural goods are leftovers paid for by advertising at its best. There should be a way to make advertising work for the web, the way it has worked for print magazines.
But Hoffman and Zuckerman are both right. Web advertising has failed. We're throwing away most of the potential value of the web as an ad medium by failing to fix privacy bugs. Web ads today work more like email spam than like magazine ads. The quest for "relevance" not only makes targeted ads less valuable than untargeted ones, but also wastes most of what advertisers spend. Buy an ad on the web, and more of your money goes to intermediaries and fraud than to the content that helps your ad carry a signal.
From Zuckerman's point of view, advertising is a problem, because advertising is full of creepy stuff. From Hoffman's point of view, the web is a problem, because the web is full of creepy stuff. (Bonus link: Big Brother Has Arrived, and He's Us )
So let's re-introduce the web to advertising, only this time, let's try it without the creepy stuff. Brand advertisers and web content people have a lot more in common than either one has with database marketing. There are a lot of great opportunities on the post-creepy web, but the first step is to get the right people talking.Posted Sat 13 Sep 2014 08:03:45 AM PDT
Dave Winer writes,
The idea is to start a great flow of news to Twitter and Facebook, while enabling new networks to boot up on the open web, building on the RSS support.
When you post using Radio3, you're helping a new open web news network boot up. It's like using solar or wind energy, or riding a bike instead of driving. It's good for the environment.
Linklogs aren't new. Some examples...
Some cool things about Radio3 are...
It's easy to use
It hooks up to Twitter, so you can share links with both your free-range web friends and with Twitter users.
Anyway, if you don't have a linklog because it's too hard, you might want to give Radio3 a try. When everyone else is writing long anguished blog posts about how Twitter is burying your links by going from neutral "following" to some kind of secret algorithm, you can already be set up for whatever the new thing is. (If you try it, please mail me and let me know your linklog URL.)
These are from old linklog links. Worth a second look if you missed them the first time they went past.
Mike Hadlow: Coconut Headphones: Why Agile Has Failed
Dr. Michael Wu: Consumers under the influence
Jeremiah Shoaf: Taking A Second Look At Free Fonts
Adactio: Our Comrade The Electron
Alexis C. Madrigal: A 26-Story History of San Francisco
Angie Schmitt: Smart Growth America: Sprawl Shaves Years Off Your Life
Ian Morris: The Slaughter Bench of History
Charlie Stross: Generation Z
- Barton Hinkle: The Dumbest Federal Policy You'll Read About Today
michaelochurch: 3 mean-spirited HR policies that can kill a tech company.
David Kopel: The First Amendment Guide to the Second Amendment
Zack Weinberg: Redesigning Income Tax
MediaPost | Online Media Daily: White House Warns 'Big Data' Can Lead To Discrimination
Benjamin Ross: The Counterculture Looks for Parking
Geoff Shullenberger: Work and Non-Work under Digital Capitalism
inessential.com: The Old Reader on Good Ol’ RSS
Jonathan Cohn: Gallup: Uninsured Rate Is Lowest We've Ever Recorded
Tyler Cowen: Some neglected Gary Becker open access pieces
Adam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large: Yes, we're in a tech bubble. Here's how I know it
Josh Harkinson: Will American Pot Farmers Put the Cartels out of Business?
Digg Top Stories: Should Your Job Exist?
Peter Suderman: The Ethanol Disaster
Greg Storey: And They All Look Just the Same
The Old Reader: behind the scenes: In Defense of Publishers
Geoff Shullenberger: Corporatization and the Bullshit Jobs Effect
Chris Hulls, Life360: Patent trolls have come after my startup. I’m fighting back
Nelson Minar: Scribd and Quora considered harmful
Nathan Donato-Weinstein: Younger and wealthier, Caltrain riders opt out of traffic
Ricardo Hausmann: Piketty’s Missing Knowhow
Cory Doctorow: What's the story with the Makerbot patent?Posted Sat 06 Sep 2014 03:19:53 PM PDT
Marketplaces tend to consolidate (PDF). Sellers go where the buyers are, and buyers go where the sellers are. Repeat, and everyone is trading in the same place. No surprise that it's happening in online advertising.
Not only are the natural economics in favor of consolidation, but the big marketplaces have more Big Data than the little ones. Megan Pagliuca from Merkle Inc. explains, in Counterpoint: The Third-Party Ad Server Has A Big Future.
The large media platforms with logged-in identity data are in the best position to enable individual level cross-device measurement as well as get the industry past its dependency on the third-party cookie. They may not be independent and objective, but they are well-positioned to solve the problem. Now let's play this out. It’s a year from now and Google and Facebook are operating their ad servers off of IDs that are derived from logged-in identity, rather than off of third-party cookies.
So where does that leave you? If you're one of the best minds of Jeff Hammerbacher's generation, working away in some corner of the LumascapeTM, what happens when the gold rush ends? The new efficient, centralized multi-screen surveillance marketing system won't have a standing desk for everyone. As ever, it's a cubicle job for whoever ends up inside the big winner, and on to the Next Big Thing for everyone else.
Jérôme Segura: A look at a double-dipping advertising network
John Naughton: We shouldn't expect Facebook to behave ethically
Nicholas Carr: Cluetrain crashes, casualties widespread
Arvind Narayanan: No silver bullet: De-identification still doesn’t work
Jim Sleeper: New shots heard 'round the world
The Daily Stat: Beware the CEO Who Is Showered with Awards
michaelochurch: Greed versus sadism
Jeff Jarvis: No silver bullets
Rebecca Jeschke: Stop Sneaky Online Tracking with EFF's Privacy Badger
Lauren Johnson: Half of Smartphone Owners Don't Want Their Locations Tracked
MediaPost | Online Media Daily: Ad Exchanges Unclothed
BOB HOFFMAN: The Consumer Is In Charge. Of What?
brokenrhino: Wladimir Palant's notes: Which is better, Adblock or Adblock Plus? (via ReadWrite)
Fatemeh Khatibloo: The Evolution Of Consumer Attitudes On Privacy
Doc Searls: What do sites need from social login buttons?
Mark Weinstein: Europe Declares War on Facebook
Sean Blanchfield: So Long, ClarityRay
Jeff Jarvis: Unoriginal sin
John McDermott: Why Facebook is for ice buckets, Twitter is for Ferguson (via Nieman Lab and ... My heart’s in Accra)
Dave Zatz: Amazon Launches Ad Network
Lockstep Blog: It's not too late for privacy
Denelle Dixon-Thayer: Trust should be the currency
eaon pritchard: red stitching turn-ups and creative publicity
ydklijnsma: Malvertising: Not all Java from java.com is legitimate (via Security Affairs)
Tony Finch's link log: Some "dark patterns" of underhanded e-commerce are now illegal in the UK. (via taint.org: Justin Mason's Weblog)
Brenda Barron: Mozilla launches browser ads for Firefox
Cooper Quintin and Jeremy Gillula: Blocking Consumer Choice: Google's Dangerous Ban of Privacy and Security AppPosted Sat 06 Sep 2014 08:56:51 AM PDT
One of the main reactions I get to Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful is: why are you always on about saving advertising? Advertising? Really?
Even when I do point out how non-targeted ads can be good for publishers and advertisers, the obvious question is, if I'm not an advertiser or publisher, why should I care? As a member of the audience, or a regular citizen, why does advertising matter? And what's all this about the thankless task of saving online advertising from itself? I didn't sign up for that.
The answer is: Because externalities.
Advertising can have positive externalities.
The biggest positive externality is ad-supported content that later becomes available for other uses. For example, short story readers today are benefitting from magazine ad budgets of the 19th-20th centuries.
Every time you binge-watch an old TV show, you're a positive externality winner, using a cultural good originally funded by advertising.
I agree with the people who want ad-supported content for free, or at a subsidized price. I'm not going to condemn all advertising as The Internet's Original Sin. I just think that we need to fix the bugs that make Internet advertising less valuable than ads in older media.
Advertising can have negative externalities.
On the negative side, the biggest externality is the identity theft and other fraud risk inherent in large databases of PII. (And it's all PII. Anonymization is bogus.) The costs of identity theft fall on the people whose information is compromised, not on the companies that chose to collect it.
In 20 years, people will look back at John Battelle's surveillance marketing fandom the way we now watch those 1950s industrial films that praise PCBs, or asbestos, or some other God-awful substance that we're still spending billions to clean up. PII is informational hazmat.
The French Task Force on Taxation of the
Digital Economy suggests a unit charge per user
to address the
dangers that uncontrolled practices
regarding the use of these data are likely to raise
for the protection of public freedoms.
But although that kind of thing might fly in
in the USA we have to use technology. And that's where
regular people come in.
What you can do
Your choice to protect your privacy by blocking those creepy targeted ads that everyone hates is not a selfish one. You're helping to re-shape the economy. You're helping to move ad spending away from ads that target you, and have more negative externalities, and towards ads that are tied to content, and have more positive externalities. It's unlikely that Internet ads will ever be all positive, or all negative, but privacy-enabled users can shift the balance in a good way.
Don't punch the monkey. Embrace the Badger.Posted Fri 29 Aug 2014 06:16:08 AM PDT
Posted Mon 25 Aug 2014 09:21:47 PM PDT
While ad fraud hurts the brand, every other party
benefits from its existence. This alone has buoyed ad
fraud's overwhelming survival in the industry. Bot
operators, of course, end up pocketing a significant
chunk of the $140 billion of overall digital ad spend.
But it's not just the botmasters or fraudulent site
owners that benefit. Buyers in the space have long been
winning incremental budgets from advertisers by buying
artificially well-performing impressions. Open
exchanges and supply side platforms (SSPs) are
responding to a demand for inventory by buying cheap
scale from unknown publishers with limited transparency
into the quality of those sites.
Set up a temporary directory to use in a Bash script, and clean it up when the script finishes:
Posted Fri 22 Aug 2014 11:46:57 AM PDT
TMPDIR=$(mktemp -d) trap "rm -rf $TMPDIR" EXIT
Ethan Zuckerman calls advertising The
Internet's Original Sin. But
is overstating it. Advertising has an economic
and social role, just as bacteria have an
important role in your body. Many kinds
of bacteria can live on and around you just
and only become a crisis when your immune system
The bad news is that the Internet's immune system is compromised. Quinn Norton summed it up: Everything is Broken. The same half-assed approach to security that lets random trolls yell curse words on your baby monitor is also letting a small but vocal part of the ad business claim an unsustainable share of Internet-built wealth at the expense of original content.
But email spam didn't kill email, and surveillance marketing won't kill the Web. Privacy tech is catching up. AdNews has a good piece on the progress of ad blocking, but I'm wondering about how accurate any measurement of ad blocking can be in the presence of massive fraud. Fraudulent traffic is a big part of the picture, and nobody has an incentive to run an ad blocker on that. The results from the combination of fraud and use of privacy tools are unpredictable. Paywalls are the obvious next step, but there are ways for sites to work with privacy tools, not against them.
What Ethan calls pay-for-performance is the smaller, and less valuable, part of advertising. Online ads are stuck in that niche not so much because of original sin, but because of an original bug. When the browsers of Dot-Com Boom 1.0 came out in a rush with support for privacy antifeatures such as third-party tracking, the Web excluded itself from lucrative branding or signaling advertising. The Web became a direct-response medium like email spam or direct mail. Bob Hoffman said,
Recent news, from Kate
Tummarello at The Hill: Tech
giants at odds over Obama privacy bill.
Microsoft is coming in on one side, and
a group of mostly surveillance marketing
the united voice of the Internet
economy is on the other. There's no one
original sin here, but there's plenty of opportunity
Jeff Jarvis: Absolution? Hell, no
Jason Dorrier: Burger Robot Poised to Disrupt Fast Food Industry
BOB HOFFMAN: Confusing Gadgetry With BehaviorPosted Sun 17 Aug 2014 05:21:35 AM PDT
Older stuff: archive