Don Marti

Wed 31 Dec 2014 08:05:40 AM PST

2015: the year to save web advertising?

I spent some time with targeted online advertising from the advertiser side this year, looking at a data-packed dashboard and tweaking all kinds of stuff. Did not get to spend that much time on it, since I have to do a lot of different things for work, but did get to learn and try it out. And managing targeted ads is like all the most habit-forming parts of solving crossword puzzles, gambling for real money, checking and re-checking social sites, and getting sucked into a real-time strategy game. All at the same time.

But in the long run...

The more targetable an ad medium is, the more it provokes filters and regulation. (Do Not Call, the junk fax ban, spam filters, web adblock...)

The less targetable an ad medium is, the more it can support content, build brands, and get attention. (Even people who spent perfectly good money on a TiVo still watch most of the TV commercials.)

In 2015, we have an opportunity to save web advertising, by moving toward less targetability. While database marketers are all fired up about ads in native mobile apps, the main web browsers all have decent tracking protection available to users who choose to turn it on.

Individual sites and brands can't unilaterally give up the Big Data habit all at once, but I can help make my own site's users less trackable, which helps me a little bit right away and a lot more later.

Now is the chance to inform, nudge, and tempt users into doing what's right for publishers and brands. Some users like the "getting away with something" feeling of running an ad blocker, but IMHO most people will feel better about helping their favorite sites by getting tracking protection turned on.

Please have a look at and let me know what you think. JavaScript bug reports and pull requests welcome.

End of year bonus links

Mathew Ingram: It’s getting harder to tell what’s a real Silicon Valley startup and what’s a parody

JR Hennessy: The tech utopia nobody wants: why the world nerds are creating will be awful | JR Hennessy

Lisa Vaas: Cat stalker knows where your kitty lives (and it's your fault)

BOB HOFFMAN: Why Your Social Media Strategy Sucks

Lauren Kirchner: Amway Journalism

Kashmir Hill: Forget Glass. Here Are Wearables That Protect Your Privacy.

Derek Thompson: The New York Times Is a Great Company in a Terrible Business

Robinson Meyer: I Drank a Cup of Hot Coffee That Was Overnighted Across the Country SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

Rebecca J. Rosen: Actually, Some Material Goods Can Make You Happy

Dana: Browsewrap Agreements Must Be Brought to Users’ Attention

Richard Byrne Reilly: NSA spying might have affected U.S. tech giants more than we thought

AdExchanger: Beware Of Publishers’ Walled Gardens

Angèle Christin: When it comes to chasing clicks, journalists say one thing but feel pressure to do another

AdExchanger: Answering A Squirrelly Question: 'What Is PII?'

Sarah Sluis: Ghostery and IPONWEB Team Up To Bring Fraud Detection To RTB

John Robb: The BEST grocery store brand in the US right now is Market Basket. Here’s their secret.

Sean Blanchfield: 2014 Report – Adblocking Goes Mainstream

eaon pritchard: influencer theory is the wrong end of the stick

ronan: ‘The Only Way To Combat Ad Fraud Is With Real-Time Transparency’

Allison Schiff: Fraud-day With Dstillery: Everyone Is Responsible For Fighting Fraud (In the long run, fighting fraud means fixing tracking.)

Tauriq Moosa: Comment sections are poison: handle with care or remove them

Matthew Garrett: My free software will respect users or it will be bullshit

Katerina Pavlidis: The day I realised my personal data was no longer mine

sil: The next big thing is privacy

Stephany Fan: Do Beacons Track You? No, You Track Beacons

ronan: Facebook Poses Further Threat To Google With Full FAN Roll Out

Alex Hern: Sir Tim Berners-Lee speaks out on data ownership

ronan: Ad Tech Firms Prepare For Bolstered US Profile

Doc Searls: How Radio Can Defend the Dashboard

Federal Trade Commission: Online ads roll the dice Could different groups of people, including “protected classes,” see entirely different ads? If the offer and group are subject to legal protections, could the result have a disproportionate adverse impact? Even if they are not subject to legal protection, can some ads be offensive or harmful to some audiences?

BOB HOFFMAN: Amazing Tale Of Online Ad Fraud

AdExchanger: Facebook And Google Are Bringing Walled Gardens Back

Erika Napoletano: Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page (via Street Fight)

ronan: Domain Identity Theft Is The Fraudsters’ Latest Ponzi Scheme

Computerworld: Hackers strike defense companies through real-time ad bidding

Amanda Tomas: My Day Interviewing For The Service Economy Startup From Hell (via The Awl)

Malvertising Campaign on Yahoo, AOL, Triggers CryptoWall Infections

jonathan: How Verizon’s Advertising Header Works (via The Not-So Private Parts)

Ad blocker that clicks on the ads (via OneAndOneIs2)

BOB HOFFMAN: Hypocrisy By Proxy

Susan Crawford: Jammed (via Doc Searls WeblogDoc Searls Weblog ») Silicon Valley will destroy your job: Amazon, Facebook and our sick new economy

Matthew Yglesias: Car dealers are awful. It's time to kill the dumb laws that keep them in business.

Rachel Goodman, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program: FTC Needs to Make Sure Companies Aren’t Using Big Data to Discriminate

Gregory Ferenstein: Study: more Americans fear spying from corporations than the government (also, clowns)

Andrew Casale: A Better Programmatic Supply Chain Will Root Out Fraud

Bourree Lam: Newspaper Ad Revenue Fell $40 Billion in a Decade

Ben Williams: Acceptable Advertising – before and after (via Adblock Plus and (a little) more - mozilla -) (via Adblock Plus and (a little) more - Blog)

Jim Edwards: The Guardian Is Being Swamped With 'Dark Traffic' And No One Knows Where It's Coming From ("Dark" traffic is worthless to low-reputation sites, though. The less information available on individual users, the more that site reputation matters.)

Greg Sterling: First Half Ad Revenue: Search Dominates PC Ads But Not Mobile

Napier Lopez: Reuters moves conversation to social media as it kills comments on its news stories

MediaPost | Garfield at Large: These 15 Hottest Naked Celebrity Diets For Getting Audience Attention Will Shock You

Nicholas Nethercote: Quantifying the effects of Firefox’s Tracking Protection

Bloomberg: High-Speed Ad Traders Profit by Arbitraging Your Eyeballs

Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project: Americans Consider Certain Kinds of Data to be More Sensitive than Others

Baekdal Plus: Clickbait is the Greatest Threat To Your Future Success - (by @baekdal)

eaon pritchard: sincerity is bullshit

Digg Top Stories: Somebody’s Already Using Verizon’s ID To Track Users

Daniel Nazer: Victory! Court Finally Throws Out Ultramercial’s Infamous Patent on Advertising on the Internet

Doc Searls: Some thoughts on App Based Car Services (ABCS)

Brian Merchant: How the World's Largest PR Firm Uses Big Data to Grow Its Astroturf Campaigns

marks: Dark social traffic in the mobile app era -- Fusion (via Digiday) (via Digiday)

Darren: My journey in becoming a Mozillian

Simon Phipps: A shadowy consortium opposes your Internet privacy

Michael Sebastian: Major Ad Buyer Tells Magazines It Won't Buy Tablet Circ Like It's Print Any More

Frédéric Filloux: The Rise of AdBlock Reveals A Serious Problem in the Advertising Ecosystem

Kelly Jackson Higgins: Online Ad Fraud Exposed: Advertisers Losing $6.3 Billion To $10 Billion Per Year

Media Briefing TheMediaBriefing Analysis: Guardian CEO: 'The idea we will survive by becoming a technology company is garbage'

Chris Smith: How publishers combat ad blockers

BOB HOFFMAN: Charts, Graphs, Facts, and Fiction

Ed Lee: Getting Tiles Data Into Firefox

Daniel Terdiman: Facebook goes all-in on advertising after years of laying groundwork

Ben Williams: Adblock Plus is best defense against 'malvertising’ according to new study (via Adblock Plus and (a little) more - Blog)

Dylan Tweney: Tech VCs poured millions into media companies in 2014 — but it’s not clear why

Leo Mirani: The secret to the Uber economy is wealth inequality

Bruce SchneierS: Over 700 Million People Taking Steps to Avoid NSA Surveillance

Antonio Cangiano: Don’t Count on Ads

Barry Levine: Sorenson releases Spark tools to take TV to the next interactive level

Brian Braiker: Michael Wolff on digital media in 2015: ‘A deluge of crap’ (via Doc Searls Weblog)

Gretchen Shirm: The push: product placement in fiction

Jay Rosen: When to quit your journalism job (via The Big Picture) (via The Big Picture)

Ryan Gantz: Bad community is worse than no community

Alisha Ramos: Reporters, designers, and developers become BFFs (via Pressthink)

Timothy Geigner: Librarians Are Continuing To Defend Open Access To The Web As A Public Service

Justin Peters: The Sony Emails Are Fair Game

Ricardo Bilton: 4 publishers that killed their comment sections in 2014 (via Marketing Land » Marketing Day)

John Koetsier: Mobile ad tech to 2017: App-centric, private markets, native ads, and closed loops

george tannenbaum: Writing copy.

Steven Englehardt: How cookies can be used for global surveillance

AdExchanger: The Publisher’s Guide To Domain Spoofing

Jeffrey Zeldman: Unexamined Privilege is the real source of cruelty in Facebook’s “Your Year in Review” (via One Foot Tsunami and swissmiss)

Mark Copyranter: IT’S THE END OF ADVERTISING CREATIVITY AS WE KNOW IT (and you should not feel fine).

RichardStacy: Organic social media is dead: but was it ever alive?