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
Name: Don Marti
Member since: 2000-04-21 19:59:46
Last Login: 2007-08-14 04:08:08
No haiku patents
means I've no incentive to
When a site tries to violate users' common-sense expectation of privacy, it should be the system administrator's responsibility to protect the user unless the user requests otherwise. Web ad banners are a security hole.
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.
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.
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
All right, have some links.
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 Kremlin
Treasuring clicks, trashing content
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.
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