Don Marti

Thu 31 Dec 2015 07:42:56 AM PST

Countdown to 2016 (and some links)

No, I'm not going to do predictions for 2016. Here's something a little easier—some things that can't happen.

Adtech will beat ad blocking by cleaning up its act.

This is clearly not going to happen, because the subject of the sentence is a group of companies, and companies don't act in the group's interest. Some companies will always try to get away with pushing the boundaries a little, and when it comes to cutting back on the bad stuff, we as an industry means Someone Else Do It.

Matt Sweeney at Xaxis predicts fewer, more relevant, high-quality ads. Now, when an adtech dude says relevant, he means whatever my company does. Are there going to be fewer Xaxis ads? Well, no, just fewer of the other guys'. Now multiply by all the other adtech firms. Everybody's got the relevant ads that will displace all the others...right?

Tom Hespos suggested self-regulation of ads that "creep out" users, back in 2010. But it didn't work then, and can't work now. Users don't only visit web sites that participate in self-regulation. People have to set up their personal security tools to deal with the worst sites they encounter. After all, most email marketers don't spam, but users still need spam filters.

Reputable publishers will pay Adblock Plus 30 percent for whitelisting.

Newsroom staffs are shrinking, everyone is stuck writing desperate clickbait because there's no time or travel budget for an enterprise story, stock photos are everywhere—and AdBlock Plus wants 30 percent off the top?

Really? 30 percent for maintaining a relatively simple tool that other free software people who don't run an "Acceptable Ads" racket can do better?

In the news business, publishers sometimes have to face down government agencies, powerful corporations, and organized crime to be any good at their jobs. Adblock Plus doesn't even rate. The creepiest trackers are all in on "Acceptable Ads", but responsible publishers are too forward-thinking (and too squeezed for cash) to cough up.

User targeting will turn out to be where the money is.

The more we learn about web ads, the more we learn that Bob Hoffman had a point. The web is a much better yellow pages and a much worse television.

Marty Swant: Google Says Search Intent Matters More for Marketers Than Users' Identity. Yes, Google is talking up search, where it rules, at the expense of creepy stuff, where it doesn't, but Google does have a substantial investment in user targeting, too.

In 2006, Jakob Nielsen pointed out Search engines extract too much of the Web's value because of how well the much better yellow pages model works. People have put a lot of time and money since then into chasing Holy Grails of putting the right ad in front of the right person at the right time. But while each individual user-targeting trick creates a brief "pop", the long-term trend is a general Peak Advertising effect for targeted web ads, while search holds its value.

Adtech will make bank while publishers starve.

Yes, publishers are failing to replace print revenue with web and mobile. (Largely because of bad decisions long ago. Ben Brooks: They Never Even Tried For Value.)

But adtech isn't winning at publishers' expense. Sarah Sluis: With No Exit In Sight, Ad Tech Gets Lean Through Layoffs (via Marketing Land). Michael Eisenberg got this right last year.

Some of these adtech companies are venture backed and others are bootstrapped. In my opinion, the VC-backed ones will struggle to deliver their engineers much of a return. In fact, adtech is a value trap and is the farthest thing from easy money at scale.

Adtech can capture value, but not create it—the more effectively that user targeting works, the more of the signaling value of advertising gets lost.

Adtech will make progress against fraud.

The easy money at scale is on the fraud side. A good recent example is Ponmocup – A giant hiding in the shadows.

How bad is it? Bad enough that the IAB puts the numerator and denominator of the fraud ratio in separate press releases. Fortunately, I have a calculator. $8.2 billion in fraud divided by $15 billion in quarterly revenue (times 4 because the bottom part of the fraction is by quarter and the top is by year) and that's about 14 percent fraud.

I still think the 14% is on the low side. If you look at the level of access that malware has, the amount of malware out there, and the complexity of some of the attribution models that brand advertisers are using, it's pretty likely that sophisticated malware is able to avoid conversion-rate-based detection and free ride on real transactions. A user clicks on a search ad, and the attribution model gives some of the credit to a malware-generated impression delivered earlier to the same user's device.

Are attribution models developed with too much wishful thinking about the merits of user targeting, and not enough awareness of potential fraud attacks? We're going to find out.

All right, bonus link time. You probably saw these when they made the rounds earlier, but just in case you're a search engine bot looking for URLs to mark as important, check these out. (More links on the linklog feed for all you RSS fans.) Happy New Year and stuff.

MediaBriefing Analysis: Emily Bell: How "the great reintermediation of the web" caused publishers to lose control of distribution

Minda Smiley: US programmatic ad revenue totaled more than $10bn last year

Baekdal Plus: What's This About Editorial Independence? Aren't We A Team?

eaon pritchard: the brains of millennials are (not) being rewired by the internet

Alison Millington: How brands could use artificial intelligence to create ‘self-writing’ ad campaigns

The Verge's web sucks (via The Digital Reader)

Martin Bryant: Imagine a world where news sites drop display ads. It might not be that far away

Troy Hunt: How I got XSS’d by my ad network

Kate Kaye: Do Not Track Is Finally Coming, but not as Originally Planned

Sell! Sell!: Nine Ways To Improve An Ad

Oleg Dulin: Big Data Should Be Used To Make Ads More Relevant

Doc Searls: What am I doing here?

Help Net Security: Most malvertising attacks are hosted on news and entertainment websites

Nate Hoffelder: The Adblocking Revolution Is Not Months Away – It’s Happening Right Now

craigs: The Demise of Online Advertising As We Know it

Tim Peterson: What You Should Know About Yahoo's Malvertising Attack

Felix Salmon: Relax, blocking mobile ads won’t kill publishers

Google Chrome Blog: Protecting users from deceptive inline installation

Ben Woods: EFF’s Privacy Badger extension is finally ready to block ‘super-cookies’

Barry Levine: The digital ad business is broken, says former CEO

Ricardo Bilton: What would Kant do? Ad blocking is a problem, but it’s ethical

Cory Doctorow: Why privacy activists and economists should be on the same side

Bloomberg News: Thousands of apps secretly run ads that consumers never see

Neil Charles: Adblocking could be the saviour of high quality journalism (via Doc Searls Weblog » Doc Searls Weblog »)

Martha De Laurentiis: Marketers: Stop Advertising on Pirate Sites

Baekdal Plus: Publishers, Privacy is as Important For You as it is For Your Readers

Nick Bilogorskiy: Huffington Post serves malvertising, again.

Felicia Greiff: 2016 Election Digital Ad Spending Will Break $1 Billion

Pat LaPointe: How to Reach Consumers in Their 'Content Cocoons'

MediaPost | RTB Insider: Are Publishers Trying To Juggle Too Much Ad Tech?

John Naughton: Is this really the beginning of the end for web ads?

Scott Valentine: Analyze this: mobile, adtech, and big data analytics vendors fail to engage marketers

Jean-Louis Gassée: Life After Content Blocking

eaon pritchard: digital advertising. where did it all go wrong?

Mathew Ingram: Dear ad industry: Suing ad blockers and cutting off readers is not a great strategy

Ben: Ad Blocking Benchmarks for Digital Publishers

Paul Ellenbogen: can use your DNA to target ads

Noah Davis: If You Don't Click on This Story, I Don't Get Paid (via The Awl)

Paul Sawers: After selling his company to Google, this man now wants to block ad-blockers

AdExchanger: Ad Blocking Will Keep Growing Until We Make Ads Better

Garett Sloane: Inside Verizon’s plan to seal off its data (and conquer advertising)

Casey Johnston: Welcome to the Block Party (via Quartz)

Kashmir Hill: I created a fake business and bought it an amazing online reputation

Alex Dixie: Technology Alone Does Not Make Great Advertising

Matthew Yglesias: The ad blocking controversy, explained (via Nieman Lab and Tom Lee)

lukel: Why Safari Content Blockers beat standard adblocking

Justin Krause: The Web-Tracking Tipping Point

Brad Frost: Living with Bullshit

SysAdmin1138: Paying for the web

devin: What we break when we fix for Ad Blocking | (via Fortress of Doors)

Leli: ad blocking "controversy" aka foolishness

Lars Doucet: Ad Blockers and the Four Currencies

Johnny Ryan: Advertising 2.0: why publishers must lead

The Uptake: Ad Blocking and the Who US?? Mentality

Samantha Bielefeld: Ad Nauseam

DCN: You say you ignore the banners but they never ignore you.

Yieldbot: Exploding the Lie that People Hate Ads

Adzerk Joins EFF's "Do Not Track" Coalition, Becomes First Online Advertising Company to Adopt New Privacy Standard

Lara O'Reilly: Goldman Sachs: Online advertising is about to be 'fundamentally restructured' by Apple, Google, and Facebook (GOOG, FB, AAPL, CRTO, ORCL)

Doc Searls: Beyond ad blocking — the biggest boycott in human history (via Digital Content Next)

jbat: It’s Time to Flip the Bit on Publishing and Data

Massimo: Implied Contract

DCN: Dear Abby: I don’t mind advertising but I do mind tracking. What do I do? (via Baekdal Plus)

Baekdal Plus: The Blocking Problem

Karl Fogel: Privacy is an ecological concept, not a transactional one.

Baekdal Plus: When Tracking Goes Wrong

Dave Townsend: Delivering Firefox features faster

Cory Doctorow: How to save online advertising (via John Battelle's Search Blog)

Walt Mossberg: Mossberg: The Real Trouble With Web Ads

BOB HOFFMAN: The Whining Of The Online Ad Industry

Cog Blog: Building Trust and Belief in Online Advertising

Kashmir Hill: Facebook will now be able to show you ads based on the porn you watch

News: Consumers don’t like video ads targeted using their browsing history

BlockAdBlock: AdBlock’s “Acceptable Ads” will fail. Adblock users want no ads at all.

Massimo: A new web ads business that works

Greg Baker: HP gives up against Amazon (via IFOST Blog)

Doc Searls: How #adblocking matures from #NoAds to #SafeAds

Justin Ellis: What’s actually working in digital advertising? 8 publishers on how they’re bringing in money

admin: Can inaction be a viable ad blocking strategy for publishers?

Dan Goodin: Unpatched browser weaknesses can be exploited to track millions of Web users (via discrete blogarithm)

Kaiser Fung: Why Fraudulent Ad Networks Continue to Thrive

Martin Weigel: The fracking of attention

Brad Smith: The collapse of the US-EU Safe Harbor: Solving the new privacy Rubik’s Cube

Cog Blog: Sir Martin Sorrell Moves the Needle

MediaPost | RTB Insider: Is Programmatic Being Used By Big Agencies To Bash The Independents?

BlockAdBlock: The “Acceptable Ads” scheme is completely absurd

Chris Larsen: Malvertising Campaign Hitting Big Name Sites

David Barton: Ad Dodgers through the Ages

Kevin: CISO View: on Enforcing Ad Blocking

Hayley Tsukayama: The newest version of Firefox lets you block online trackers

Ryan Tate: What The Intercept’s New Audience Measurement System Means for Reader Privacy (via Idea Lab)

Aaker on Brands: Is Big Data Killing Your Brand?

Simon Davies: Why the idea of consent for data processing is becoming meaningless and dangerous

News: Xaxis Brings Programmatic to Political Advertising with Xaxis Politics

Dan Goodin: User data plundering by Android and iOS apps is as rampant as you suspected

Michael Bentley: Lookout discovers new trojanized adware; 20K popular apps caught in the crossfire

martinbalfanz: Why "Ad Blockers" Are Also Changing the Game for SaaS and Web Developers - Snipcart

Dan LaBelle: Using HubSpot? Ad Blockers Are Costing You Leads

John West: Death by a thousand likes: how Facebook and Twitter are killing the open web

BOB HOFFMAN: The Glorious Revolution Continues

Dan Goodin: Beware of ads that use inaudible sound to link your phone, TV, tablet, and PC

Simon St. Laurent: Blocked!

Idle Words: The Advertising Bubble

Chase Hoffberger: The new kings of YouTube botting

Lauren Johnson, Christopher Heine: We Brought Together the Major Players in the Ad Blocker War, and Here's What They Told Each Other

Ricardo Bilton: Venture capital gives ad tech the cold shoulder

Tim Peterson: Facebook to Tell Brands More About Who's Near Their Stores, Tailor Ads to Them

Frédéric Filloux: Ad Blockers Will Change How Ads Are Sold

Marketing Magazine Home RSS Feed: Adblockalypse now: we need a consumer/advertiser treaty

iMedia Connection: All Feed: Look-alike targeting's new frontier

Melissa Yeager: As campaign ads move online, the public gets left in the dark

Fatemeh Khatibloo: Consumer Privacy Attitudes: A 2015 Update

Kenneth P. Vogel: The Koch intelligence agency

Josh Stearns: Why Journalists Need to Stand Up for Reader Privacy

Lara O'Reilly: One of the few female ad tech CEOs explains why there may be so few women in ad tech (GOOG, GOOGL)

Judy Shapiro: News Flash: Ad-Blocking Is Not Marketing's Fault

James Green: Dear Publishers: Yes, Ad-Tech Companies Are Partly to Blame for Bad Advertising

Alexander J Martin: Video malvertising campaign lasted 12 hours? Try two months

AdExchanger: Publishers: Who Controls The User Experience On Your Website – You Or Your Advertisers?

Adam Roach: Better Living through Tracking Protection

Rahil Bhagat: Google Chrome update can drop data consumption by 70 percent - CNET

eaon pritchard: to brand or not to brand? is that a question?

Fatemeh Khatibloo: Understanding "Creepiness"

BOB HOFFMAN: Blair Witch, Zappos, Oreo, & Ice Bucket

Feeding the Cloud: Tweaking Cookies For Privacy in Firefox

Richard: The state of digital advertising right now

Massimo: Digital Doesn’t Matter

Madeline Welsh, Joseph Lichterman, and Shan Wang: The mobile adblocking apocalypse hasn’t arrived (at least not yet)

Harry Davies: Ted Cruz campaign using firm that harvested data on millions of unwitting Facebook users (via The Conversation)

Johnny Ryan: Despite the hype ISP adblocking is a no-go in Europe

Tim Peterson: Q&A;: Why Firefox Maker Mozilla Launched an App That Blocks Ads

Lara O'Reilly: The online advertising industry is about to be severely disrupted — 'It's the amputation of a significant revenue stream'

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff: Visualizing the Invisible

Shane Goldmacher: Inside the 2016 black market for donor emails

Basil Simon: Love thy reader, securely

Bill Budington: Panopticlick 2.0 Launches, Featuring New Tracker Protection and Fingerprinting Tests

Kevin Drum: Don't Blame Ted Cruz for Facebook's Sins