Recent blog entries for dmarti

QoTD: Bob Hoffman

The addiction to targeting, which digital technology has only amplified, has derailed the advertising industry from concentrating on its real job—creating interesting messages.

Bob Hoffman

Syndicated 2014-10-23 12:21:47 from Don Marti

Snapchat ads and committing to non-targeting

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.

Syndicated 2014-10-18 12:11:52 from Don Marti

Susceptible to advertising?

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.

Kevin Simler writes, 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 Harmful

Syndicated 2014-10-10 15:43:07 from Don Marti

Treasuring clicks, trashing content

Matt Harty from Experian writes, Marketers Buy Clicks But Don’t Understand What They Get. More:

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 it, Here an ad conveys valuable information simply by existing.

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 the 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.

What's the alternative? Some ideas at What can brands do now? and Solutions.

Bonus links

Malvertising Campaign Employs the Nuclear Option on Zedo A malicious Javascript file, unintentionally served 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.

Einbinder Flypaper, The brand you've gradually grown to trust over the course of three generations.

Syndicated 2014-09-24 03:27:52 from Don Marti

QoTD: Giles Bowkett

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.

Giles Bowkett

Syndicated 2014-09-22 04:21:47 from Don Marti

What can brands do now?

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.)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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.

Syndicated 2014-09-20 13:38:42 from Don Marti

A fresh start for advertising and the web?

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 it 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.

Syndicated 2014-09-13 15:03:45 from Don Marti

Thank you for linklogging

Dave Winer writes, Radio3 has a philosophy.

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.)

Bonus links

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

Jeffrey Ball: The Proportion of Young Americans Who Drive Has Plummeted—And No One Knows Why

Adactio: Our Comrade The Electron

Alexis C. Madrigal: A 26-Story History of San Francisco

rands: Drift

Mark Suster: Helping Startups Understand Salespeople & the Sales Culture

Angie Schmitt: Smart Growth America: Sprawl Shaves Years Off Your Life

Brad DeLong: The Social and Moral Philosophy of the Minimum Wage: Monday Focus: April 14, 2014

Ian Morris: The Slaughter Bench of History

Emma Roller: How Congress Stayed Wet in the Dry Years of Prohibition

Charlie Stross: Generation Z

  1. Barton Hinkle: The Dumbest Federal Policy You'll Read About Today

michaelochurch: 3 mean-spirited HR policies that can kill a tech company.

lizapveale: Why tech workers want to live in Oakland: it’s not just cheaper rent

David Kopel: The First Amendment Guide to the Second Amendment

alex: Opposition against TTIP is not an outflow of anti-Americanism

Justin Fox: Piketty’s “Capital,” in a Lot Less Than 696 Pages

Jacob Sullum: John Paul Stevens, Leading Enabler of the War on Drugs, Says Pot Prohibition Was a Big Mistake

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

David Frum: Why Gun-Rights Backers Win While Other Conservative Causes Lose

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

iang: No Accounting Skills? No Moral Reckoning

Adam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large: Yes, we're in a tech bubble. Here's how I know it

Casey Johnston: Vibram can no longer claim its goofy FiveFinger shoes offer health benefits

Josh Harkinson: Will American Pot Farmers Put the Cartels out of Business?

Nathan: Why we in tech must support Lawrence Lessig

Digg Top Stories: Should Your Job Exist?

Peter Suderman: The Ethanol Disaster

Greg Storey: And They All Look Just the Same

Kashmir Hill: The Terrible Irony In The New York Times Failing To Publish Its Own ‘Innovation Report’

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

John Hood: "Tax Freedom Day" comes earlier for the rich than the poor

Cory Doctorow: What's the story with the Makerbot patent?

Tom Hatfield: Ingress: The game that reveals Google's secret war to control London

Ars Staff: How Amazon got a patent on white-background photography

Syndicated 2014-09-06 22:19:53 from Don Marti

News from the world of surveillance marketing consolidation

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.

Bonus links

ronan: Ad Tech’s Dilemma: Fragmentation vs. Consolidation

Allison Schiff: How Much Cross-Device Clout Do Facebook And Google Actually Have?

ronan: ‘Ad Tech 3.0’ Dystopia or Utopia?

John Koetsier: The next big ad-tech disruption: Not RTB … and maybe not even Google or Facebook

Jérôme Segura: A look at a double-dipping advertising network

John Naughton: We shouldn't expect Facebook to behave ethically

Mark Bergen: Michael Barrett Is Crafting a Plan to Keep Millennial Media in the Mobile-Ad Party

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

eaon pritchard: shot with your own gun (or the META-return of the texas sharpshooter fallacy)

The Daily Stat: Beware the CEO Who Is Showered with Awards

michaelochurch: Greed versus sadism

Louise Roug: The 'Fingerprinting' Tracking Tool That's Virtually Impossible to Block

Hacker News: The Web Never Forgets: Persistent Tracking Mechanisms In The Wild (via The Privacy Blog)

Jeff Jarvis: No silver bullets

eason: Disconnect blocks new tracking device that makes your computer draw a unique image

Rebecca Jeschke: Stop Sneaky Online Tracking with EFF's Privacy Badger

Lauren Johnson: Half of Smartphone Owners Don't Want Their Locations Tracked

datacoup: Settling the scores: Why data brokers will destroy the advertising industry

MediaPost | Online Media Daily: Ad Exchanges Unclothed

BOB HOFFMAN: The Consumer Is In Charge. Of What?

AdNews News: Bob Garfield: Journalists, publishers, agencies and broadcasters are all fucked

brokenrhino: Wladimir Palant's notes: Which is better, Adblock or Adblock Plus? (via ReadWrite)

Fatemeh Khatibloo: The Evolution Of Consumer Attitudes On Privacy

Matt Asay: Why I Switched To Adblock Plus (And You Should, Too)

Curtis Silver: Privacy as a premium: Why it’s time to say goodbye to the free internet

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

Jamie Elden: Marketers: Don't Let Your Brand End Up on Sleazy Websites

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

Darren Herman: A Call for Trust, Transparency and User Control in Advertising

Dan Gillmor: The New Editors of the Internet (via Nieman Lab)

ronan: Are We Meeting The Privacy Challenge?

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 App

Syndicated 2014-09-06 15:56:51 from Don Marti

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