Tue, 28 Jun 2016 05:14:59 -0700When a big industry is wrong about important things, that's an opportunity. adfraud is a problem for everybody. Making ads "better" will fix ad blocking. The first one is wrong because adfraud is priced in. Advertisers see a fraud-adjusted price, and intermediaries get paid, fraud or no fraud. The people who pay for adfraud are legit sites that compete with fraudulent ones, users who bear the costs of adfraud malware, and the copyright holders of work that shows up on ad-supported pirate sites. (The "publisher share" of online ad revenue includes undetected fraud.) The second one is wrong because there are no "bad" ads. The same annoying and intrusive practices that get high response rates also provoke ad blocking. Anyway, big opportunity. More on that later. For now, here's some background reading. Mark Duffy: Copyranter: The biggest digital dumbasses of 2015 Ethan Zuckerman: Will 2016 be the year web advertisers realise we don’t want to be monitored? Paul Muller, Adjust: Install fraud is threatening the app economy BOB HOFFMAN: 5 Questions For The New Year Jim Spanfeller: Opinion: The big lies of ad tech Mikko: EIGHT AD FRAUD PREDICTIONS NOBODY IN ADTECH WANTS TO MAKE — part 1, EIGHT AD FRAUD PREDICTIONS NOBODY IN ADTECH WANTS TO MAKE — part 2 Dawn Chmielewski: How ‘Do Not Track’ Ended Up Going Nowhere Ricardo Bilton: Digital publishers face a winter of discontent (via Nieman Lab) Adam Kleinberg: Why Ad Tech Is the Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Advertising kevinmarks: Paul Graham has accidentally explained everything wrong with Silicon Valley’s world view - Quartz Top News & Analysis: Inside Yahoo's troubled advertising business Violet Blue: You say advertising, I say block that malware VB Staff: Digital advertising forecast for 2016: Brands cut back, agencies double down Allison Schiff: The Consumer POV On Cross-Device Tracking: ‘No, Thanks’ Scripting News: It's time to care about the open web Steven Englehardt: Do privacy studies help? A Retrospective look at Canvas Fingerprinting Michael Eisenberg: 2016 Prediction! David Chavern: Opinion: Ad blocking threatens democracy Lewis DVorkin, Forbes Staff: Inside Forbes: Our Ad Block Test Stirs Up Emotions, Then Brings Learnings and New Data Frédéric Filloux: Google’s AMP Poised To Take The Lead From Facebook’s And Apple’s Walled Gardens James Warren: Newspaper bosses ‘paralyzed’ by change, clueless about paid content, says Steve Brill Robinson Meyer: Will More Newspapers Go Nonprofit? Lubomir Rintel: NetworkManger and tracking protection in Wi-Fi networks Doc Searls: Rethinking John Wanamaker Laura Hautala: You'd say 'no' to your Android phone, if only you could, study finds - CNET José Sáenz: Whitelist: Permission Based Marketing for the Web Cog Blog: Just Because We Can… MediaPost.com: MediaDailyNews: Little Progress In War On Ad Fraud Heather West: Prioritizing privacy: Good for business Corey Layton: Podcast Pioneers: Where Audiences Choose to Listen to the Ads Garett Sloane: What Apple’s iAd changes mean for the industry Krux Digital: Data’s Role in Combatting Ad Blockers Dave Carroll: One-Click Adblocking Peace Treaty Matt Kapko: Why the ad industry will never win the war on ad blockers Ben Thompson: The FANG Playbook (via Stratechery by Ben Thompson) Digg Top Stories: The Secrets I Learned Writing Clickbait Stephanie Hobson: Google Analytics, Privacy, and Event Tracking Media Briefing TheMediaBriefing Analysis: Last chance to save US newspapers BOB HOFFMAN: Advertising's Comedy Bitchfight Cog Blog: The Advertiser Agency Battle Rumbles On Erica Berger: The next generation of journalism students have no idea what they’re getting into BOB HOFFMAN: Native Advertising - Just More Online Corruption Andrea Peterson: The massive new privacy deal between U.S. and Europe, explained Lindsay Rowntree: Failure to Act Against Ad F[...]
Sun, 22 May 2016 10:22:15 -0700
But we were seated next to the head of this
advertising company, who said to me something like,
'Well, I really always liked AllThingsD and in your
first week I think Recode's produced some really
interesting stuff.' And I said, 'Great, so you're going
to advertise there, right? Or place ads there.' And he
said, 'Well, let me just tell you the truth. We're
going to place ads there for a little bit, we're going
to drop cookies, we're going to figure out who your
readers are, we're going to find out what other
websites they go to that are way cheaper than your
website and then we're gonna pull our ads from your
website and move them there.'
Sun, 01 May 2016 05:51:53 -0700
I think I understand what George F. Will is going through right now.
I wish I didn't.
I thought I was writing for readers who wanted to restore civilized norms.
I didn't think they just wanted an oversized angry personality who would violate those norms, but take on the establishment.
I didn't think that the readers would want to go for easy answers and bling over hard work and building a movement.
I was wrong.
The desktop Linux audience, which I thought was out there, went the same way as George F. Will's principled conservative audience.
I want the desktop Linux users back, and I want George F. Will to get his principled conservatives back. But maybe people were never who we thought they were to begin with.
Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:52:31 -0800
So far it has 15 users and one review -- five stars. It doesn't do much, or for very many people, but what it does do it does with five-star quality.
Sun, 10 Jan 2016 09:22:15 -0800
I feel that the evil part of programmatic
advertising is that we are now monetizing the
Thu, 31 Dec 2015 07:42:56 -0800No, 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 f[...]
Thu, 22 Oct 2015 08:14:17 -0700
Internet meetings are a pain in the behind. (Clearly online meeting software is controlled by the fossil fuel industry, and designed to be just flaky enough to make people drive to work instead.)
Here's a work in progress to get an MSIE VM running on Fedora. (Will edit as I check these steps a few times. Suggestions welcome.)
Download: Download virtual machines.
Untar the OVA
tar xvf IE10\ -\ Win8.ova
You should end up with a .vmdk file.
Convert the OVA to qcow2
qemu-img convert \ IE10\ -\ Win8-disk1.vmdk \ -O qcow2 msie.qcow2
Import the qcow2 file using virt-manager.
Select Browse, then Browse Local, then select the .qcow2 file.
That's it. Now looking at a virtual MS-Windows guest that I can use for those troublesome web conferences (and for testing web sites under MSIE. If you try the tracking test, it should take you to a protection page that prompts you to turn on the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List. That's a quick and easy way to speed up your web browsing experience on MSIE.)
Sun, 18 Oct 2015 07:00:50 -0700
Users who recognize your brand will now see your advertisements displayed across thousands of websites, creating the impression of a large-scale advertising campaign, but for a fraction of the budget.
That's unrealistic. Users have figured out retargeting, and it's already motivating them to block ads.
As David Ogilvy once wrote,
The consumer is not
a moron, she is your wife. If retargeting is
something that you can explain in a blog post,
users who see it every day already have it figured out.
Users still aren't morons.
Following a user around the Internet with an ad creates the impression of following a user around the Internet with an ad. And that's about it.
Too often, adtech overcomplicates the technical side, but oversimplifies the human side. People who participate in markets are good applied behavioral economists, because they have to be. That goes for buyers as well as sellers.
The adtech scene assumes that we're in some kind of controlled experiment, where adtech people are the experimenters and users are the subjects. In fact, we're all market participants, everyone is an active player, and ignoring or blocking potentially deceptive information like retargeting is a reasonable move.
Sat, 25 Jul 2015 07:14:40 -0700In case you missed these the first time. Corey Weiner: The Real Victims of Ad Fraud Might Surprise You Mark Duffy: Copyranter: Native advertising is killing ad creativity (via Digiday) Michael Sebastian: Publishers Stare Down an 'Oh Sh*t' Mobile Moment cks: Web ads considered as a security exposure Alex Kantrowitz: Tensions Run High as Advertisers, Publishers Discuss Fraud at IAB Meeting Sell! Sell!: Advertisers Are Like Prison Cafeteria Cooks Hacker News: The Law of Shitty Clickthroughs Alex Kantrowitz: Ad Tech's Rough Ride on Wall Street Continues With Latest IPO Mathew: Thoughts on media business models jbat: A Few Questions For Publishers Contemplating Facebook As A Platform Brendon Lynch: An update on Microsoft’s approach to Do Not Track MediaPost | RTB Insider: How Agencies Can Win The Battle Against Ad-Tech Companies Sell! Sell!: TellUsYourStoryItis BOB HOFFMAN: Bob's Keynote To NAB Radio Show Christian Sandvig: The Facebook “It’s Not Our Fault” Study John Herrman: Notes on the Surrender at Menlo Park Jason Kint, CEO—DCN: Bad Ads: Research Shows They May Cost More Than They’re Worth Ken Doctor: Newsonomics: Razor-thin profits are cutting into newspapers’ chances at innovation BOB HOFFMAN: Take The Refrigerator Test Owen Williams: You should be using these browser extensions to keep yourself safe online Alex Kantrowitz: Inside Google's Secret War Against Ad Fraud (via Google Online Security Blog) Jack Marshall: Major Advertisers Are Still Funding Online Piracy Friedrich Geiger: Facebook Like Button Lands German Sites in Hot Water Monica Chew: Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Security and Privacy 2015 Research Team—DCN: Content Pirates and Ad Hijackers Earn $200 million a Year MediaPost | Online Media Daily: Useful Vs. Creepy: The Jury Is Still Out Internal exile: Quantifying quislings Cog Blog: Contracts and Enquiries; Rebates and Dark Pools Rick Waghorn: Wall Street and it’s minions set their sights on a media futures market where the hedge funds get to play with advertising’s future. Cost + Complexity = Collapse Frederic Lardinois: Chrome Now Automatically Pauses Flash Content That Isn’t ‘Central’ To A Web Page Baldur Bjarnason: iOS 9 content blocking extensions are not a mobile advertising armageddon Massimo: The Problem With Targeting Alex Hern: I read all the small print on the internet and it made me want to die Mark Duffy: Copyranter: It’s time to kill Cannes Joshua Benton: How big a deal will adblocking on iPhones and iPads be for publishers? Martin Beck: Snapchat CEO Promises Better, Non-“Creepy” Digital Advertising SamuelScott: The Alleged $7.5 Billion Fraud in Online Advertising SC Magazine: Study: Click-fraud malware often leads to more dire infections Reuters: Business News: Ad executives cautious about growth, gear up for contract battle Eric Picard: Fixing online advertising's privacy woes Mark Duffy: Copyranter: Everybody’s definition of ‘branded content’ is wrong Deeplinks: XKeyscore Exposé Reaffirms the Need to Rid the Web of Tracking Cookies (via WhiteHat Security Blog) Mindi Chahal: Consumers are ‘dirtying’ databases with false details Dean Takahashi: Facebook’s planned customer-data change called ‘land grab’ by publishers (via Marketing Land » Marketing Day) Jason Cooper, Integral Ad Science: Mobile advertisers need a cookie-crumb trail to follow Jim Edwards: I used the software that people are worrying will destroy the web — and now I think they might be right The Tech Block: Google’s ad system has become too big to control Frédéric Filloux: News Sites Are Fatter and Slower Than Ever (vi[...]
Mon, 29 Jun 2015 07:07:54 -0700
Bob Hoffman wants to see broadcasters standing up against adtech. He writes,
They are being taken to the cleaners by hyper-motivated digital evangelists who understand what predatory thinking means.
Here's a screenshot of a radio station site.
The purple bar on the right is a Ghostery list of all the trackers that are data-leaking the KFOG audience to the "adtech ecosystem."
So if a media buyer wants to reach radio listeners in the Bay Area, he or she can buy a radio commercial on KFOG (good for KFOG), buy an ad or sponsorship on the KFOG site (also good for KFOG), or just leech off the data leakage and use adtech to reach the same listeners on another site entirely (not so good for KFOG).
The radio station builds an audience, and the third-party trackers leak it away.
At the same time, a radio station can't unilaterally drop all the third-party trackers from the site. Protecting the audience is hard. That's where a radio station can use a tracking protection plan. Get the audience protected, stop data leakage, get more advertisers coming to you instead of sneaking around.
On air, when someone interferes with your signal you can call the FCC. On the Internet, well, this is getting too long, so just call Bob.
Related: news sites and the tracking game
Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:25:36 -0700
Random idea for how to make some cash from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Step 1: Buy a piece of real estate in a city with a severe NIMBY problem. (See How Strong Property Rights Promote Social Equality for more info.) Sell an ownership interest in the property to a foreign company.
Step 2: Get an architect to design a building for the site that is technically 100% legal, but that will provoke a severe NIMBY reaction. Something like "Section 8 housing for TaskRabbit workers and tech bus drivers." Put up posters and buy some newspaper ads, to get the local NIMBYs fired up.
Step 3: When the local government starts giving you grief about the building plans, don't even go to the City Council meeting. Take it straight to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and get the US Federal government to pay the foreign company for its investment loss.
Buy back the foreign company's share of the property and repeat. Do this enough times and a vacant lot could be more profitable than a luxury condo development. (Sucks to be a person actually looking for an apartment, but hey, are we going to do Free Trade or what?)
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 19:50:55 -0700"Don, it looks like you lost weight," someone said to me last week. That is true. Since December 2013 I have lost about 15% of my body weight. Not a rapid decrease, but sustainable so far. I'm not at my ideal weight yet, but I have made some progress, including having to buy new pants. The main change that I had to make was to get some kind of personal Hawthorne effect going. If I keep track of how much food I eat, and make rules for myself about when I eat food, then I'm more likely to eat the right amount. Think of it as a kind of mindful consumption thing. I have zero claim to be an expert on this subject. I just think of it like IT spending within a company. If my "inner CIO" is doing his job, the overall level of stuff coming in the door should be manageable, even as the users keep asking for more. Sometimes, some extra stuff will get in, over the CIO's objections, but in general, the IT department can handle it and things keep working. So let's look at today's surveillance marketing news. Can Mondelez, Facebook Sell More Cookies Online? The new arrangement also covers 52 countries and will "focus on creating and delivering creative video content and driving impulse snack purchasing online," according to a statement issued on Tuesday. Hold on a minute. "impulse snack purchasing" ? I'm not allowed to do impulse snack purchasing. My inner CIO has a snack approval policy, and my inner impulsive cookie-eater has to fill out a form and wait. So, if you want to sell me food, you have to come in the front door and pitch the mindful eating department. Or my inner CIO will set up the filters to block you. If you want to rely on Facebook's power to manipulate emotions instead, and try to get around the CIO, you just lost your access. David Ogilvy once wrote, The customer is not a moron. She's your wife. That's being generous. The customer is a little of both. An inner moron and an inner non-moron who comes home and yells, What the hell did you eat all those cookies for, you moron? In an environment where advertisers are trying to "engage" my inner moron, information diet is a prerequisite for food diet. I don't have Facebook on my phone, and I have the web site as a mostly write-only medium (thanks to dlvr.it for gatewaying this blog). But Facebook does have an online behavioral advertising operation. In order to protect myself from that kind of thing, I have tracking protection turned on in my browser. So if you're reading this blog for the weight loss tip, here it is. Take the tracking protection test and get protected. Bonus tip: How can I break the Facebook habit? I'm fortunate. For me, the consequences of impulse buying are low. Yes, I like Oreo cookies, and no, I don't trust myself not to be manipulated into eating more Oreo cookies than are good for me. But it's not that big of a deal. I'm not being targeted for predatory lending or gambling. My inner CIO could have a lot worse problems. (If anyone has a blog about mindful eating, I should probably read it to learn more about this stuff, so let me know where to find it, please.) Photo: Balfabio for Wikimedia Commons [...]
Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:46:30 -0700
Jason Kint writes, in "5 Ways Industry Leaders Need To Step Up",
Needless to say I found myself shaking my head at a recent publisher event where sites were discussing how they could block Facebook from tracking their users. How on earth did this become a responsibility of the publisher to hack together a short-term solution?
It's not all the publisher's responsibility, but it's a fact of the Internet that (1) stuff keeps getting broken, often on purpose, and (2) in order for things to keep working, everyone has to keep his or her own piece safe. If you want to run a mailing list or email newsletter, you have to understand the current state of spam filtering and work on deliverability. And if you want to be on the web, you have to think about protecting your users from the problem of third-party tracking.
Do the short-term solutions right, and they don't take too much effort individually, but they turn into continuous improvement. And nobody has to wait for big, slow-moving companies to change, or worse, cooperate.
So here are five, count'em, five, quick ways to step up and make a difference in the problems of tracking-based fraud, users seeing ads as untrustworthy and blocking them, and data leakage. Should take five minutes each on a basic site, longer if you have a big hairy professional CMS.
Provide tracking warnings in page footers, to let users know when a browser is misconfigured.
Replace stock social buttons with safe versions, to avoid leaking your site's data.
Put some bonus pages behind a reverse tracking wall, to give users an incentive to get protected.
It's not the responsibility of an individual site to fix the whole problem, but there are plenty of small tweaks that can help slow down data leaks, encourage users to adopt site-friendly alternatives to ad blocking, and otherwise push things in the right direction.
Sat, 06 Jun 2015 08:48:16 -0700
Academics tend to put the conversation about the targeted advertising problem in terms of companies on one side, and users on the other. A good recent example is Turow et al:
New Annenberg survey results indicate that marketers are misrepresenting a large majority of Americans by claiming that Americans give out information about themselves as a tradeoff for benefits they receive. To the contrary, the survey reveals most Americans do not believe that ‘data for discounts’ is a square deal.
Our findings, instead, support a new explanation: a majority of Americans are resigned to giving up their data—and that is why many appear to be engaging in tradeoffs.
From that point of view, the privacy paradox has an almost-too-easy answer: privacy is hard. Most users aren't seeking privacy, for the same reason that they're not training for the World Series of Poker. They would prefer winning a large poker game to not winning, but they rationally expect that unless they get really good, poker playing will result in a net loss of time and money.
But the academic model that puts all businesses opposite all users is probably an oversimplification. Advertisers, agencies, publishers, and intermediaries all have different and competing interests. Businesses are not all on the same side.
In most cases, brand advertisers, high-reputation publishers, and users have a shared interest in signaling that tends to put them into an adversarial relationship with the surveillance marketing complex. The kinds of media that are good for direct response and behavioral techniques are terrible for signaling, and vice versa.
The natural dividing line is not between users and companies, but between Team Signal and Team Targeting. Team Signal includes users, legit publishers, and reputable brands—everyone who wins from honest signaling. Team Targeting is mostly adtech intermediaries, fraud hackers, low-reputation sites, and low-quality brands.
For the business members of Team Signal, the privacy poker game has a positive expected value. Which is why independent web sites can benefit by helping their users get started with tracking protection. Users, resigned or not, are not alone.
What about the agencies?
Required reading if you're into this stuff: Pitch Mania by Brian Jacobs.
Agency managers have been quick to herald this flood of pitches as proof positive that advertisers have finally recognised what they (the agencies) have been preaching for years. Their future-gazing is they say finally coming to pass. This they contend is the dawn of a new model, based around integration, joined-up thinking, big data analytics and the rest.
Are large advertisers really just looking to switch between brands of adtech/adfraud as usual? Or will an agency that wants to keep the prospective clients awake (instead of boring them with the same Big Data woo-woo as all the other agencies) do better with a tracking protection component to its pitch?