dmarti is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Don Marti
Member since: 2000-04-21 19:59:46
Last Login: 2007-08-14 04:08:08

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Homepage: http://zgp.org/~dmarti/

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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.

Information wants to be $6.95.

This 5-minute DNS tweak

protects you and the users who depend on you from the evil, intrusive tracking of doubleclick.net.

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Why ad blockers don't have to do content marketing

From the Condé Nast "User Agreement & Privacy Policy" page:

The use of Tracking Technologies by third parties is subject to their own privacy policies, not this Privacy Policy, and we have no responsibility or liability in connection therewith. If you do not want the services that Tracking Technologies provide, you may be able to opt-out by visiting http://www.aboutads.info.

Sounds like checking into a hotel and getting this...

Feeding by third-party insects in guest rooms is subject to their own policies, and we have no responsibility or liability in connection therewith. If you wish to opt out of feeding by third party insects, here is the card of a really lousy exterminator we know, who only gets some of them but that's your problem.

Ad blockers don't have to do content marketing, because publishers are doing it for them.

But there's a way for publishers to opt out of the whole tracking vs. blocking race to the bottom, and neither surveillance marketers nor conventional ad blockers have it. More: Ad blocking, bullshit and a point of order

Syndicated 2015-04-19 13:49:00 from Don Marti

The end of Please Turn Off Your Ad Blocker

More news from the ongoing malvertising outbreak.

These aren't skeevy ads on low-reputation pirate sites. These attacks are coming in on big-budget sites such as AOL's Huffington Post, and included in fake ads for real brands such as Hugo Boss. They're using A-list adtech companies. Read the articles. Nasty stuff. The ongoing web ad fraud problem is hitting users now, not just advertisers.

So far the response from the ad networks has been a few whacks at the problem accounts. So I can make the safest kind of prediction: someone made money doing something not very risky, not much has changed, so they'll do it again and others will copy them. Want to bet against me?

Users already trust web ads less than any other ad medium. Malvertising takes a form of advertising that's a bad deal for the user and makes it worse. (If sewer rats are coming out of the commode, users are going to put a brick on the lid. If the rats have rabies, make that two bricks.)

The more malvertising that comes along, the more that the "please turn off your ad blocker" message on web sites is going to look not just silly, but irresponsible or just plain scary. "Turn off your ad blocker" sounds like the web version of "If you can't open lottery-winner-wire-transfer.zip, turn off your antivirus."

Time to rewrite the "turn off your ad blocker" messages and talk about a sensible alternative. Instead of running a general ad blocker (and encouraging the "acceptable ads" racket) or running entirely unprotected, the hard part is just starting: how to educate users about third-party content protection that works for everyone: users, sites, and responsible advertisers.

Bonus links

Sherwin Siy: IP Rights Aren’t a License to Kill Devices (And No, Fine Print Doesn’t Make It OK)

Planet Debian: Joey Hess: a programmable alarm clock using systemd

Calvin Spealman: The Curl Pipe

@feedly: Why we retired the feedly URL shortener

James Gingell: Where Did Soul-Sucking Office-Speak Come From?

Glyn Moody: China Turns From 'Pirate' Nation To Giant Patent Troll

Joe Wein: Disclaimers by spammers

SMBlog -- Steve Bellovin's Blog: If it Doesn't Exist, it Can't be Abused

phobos: Partnering with Mozilla

Eryn Paul: Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More: A Study In Culture

The Tech Block: The tech worker shortage doesn’t really exist

Heidi Moore: The readers we can’t friend

Lary Wallace: Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever devised

Steven Sinofsky: Why Remote Engineering Is So Difficult!?#@%

SysAdmin1138: Application firewalls for your phone

Syndicated 2015-04-18 14:57:06 from Don Marti

It's not about freedom

Doc Searls writes:

We hold as self-evident that personal agency and independence matter utterly, that free customers are more valuable than captive ones, that personal data belongs more to persons themselves than to those gathering it, that conscious signaling of intent by individuals is more valuable than the inferential kind that can only be guessed at, that spying on people when they don’t know about it or like it is wrong, and so on.

I'm going to agree with Doc that these are all good and important principles.

But then I'm going to totally ignore them.

Yes, it is "self-evident" that it's important to behave as a decent human being in online interactions, and in marketing projects. (Complexity dilutes understanding of a system but not moral responsibility for participating in a system. Just because you don't understand how your marketing budget gets diverted to fraud does not mean that you aren't ultimately responsible when you end up funding malware and scams.) Thinking about user rights is important. 30 years ago, Richard Stallman released the GNU Manifesto, which got people thinking about the ethical aspects of software licensing, and we need that kind of work about information in markets, too.

But that's not what I'm on about here. Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful is just background reading for a marketing meeting. And I've been to enough marketing meetings to know that, no matter how rat-holed and digressed the discussion gets, Freedom is never on the agenda.

So I'm going to totally ignore the Freedom side of discussing the targeted ad problem. You don't have to worry about some marketing person clicking through to this site and saying, WTF is this freedom woo-woo? It's all pure, unadulterated, 100% marketing-meeting-compatible business material, with some impressive-looking citations to Economics papers to give it some class.

Big Data proponents like to talk about "co-creating value," so let's apply that expression to advertising. The advertiser offers signal, and the reader offers attention. The value is in the exchange. Here's the point that we need to pick up on, and the point that ad blocker stats are shoving in our face until we get it. When one side's ability to offer value goes away—when a targeted ad ceases to carry signal and becomes just a windshield flyer—there's no incentive for the other side to participate in the exchange. Freedom or no freedom. Homo economicus himself would run a spam filter, or hang up on a cold call, or block targeted ads.

The big problem for web sites now is to get users onto a publisher-friendly tracking protection tool that facilitates advertising's exchange of value for value, before web advertising turns into a mess of crappy targeted ads vs. general filters, the way email spam has.

Syndicated 2015-03-30 14:33:29 from Don Marti

QoTD: Julie Fleischer

Kraft is reinventing marketing around data, infrastructure and content to be more informed, addressable, personal and meaningful. We have invested significant resources in building a proprietary data platform that allows us to know, serve and engage our consumers uniquely and at scale. We have trained our marketers on data literacy and reshaped our agency relationships to capitalize on our infrastructure and the opportunities that exist in today's media landscape to act with agility and purpose. We're creating new capabilities in content creation so that we can tell personal stories and launch experiences that attract and delight our next generation of consumers.

Julie Fleischer

My macaroni and cheese has an awesome surveillance bunker, which fills me with delight.

—nobody, ever

Syndicated 2015-03-08 18:37:20 from Don Marti

Digital dimes in St. Louis

From Jason Kint at Digital Content Next, here's all the third-party web tracking that comes with browsing the St. Louis Post-Dispatch web site.

Read the whole thing. (via Darren Herman, on Twitter)

So, not much of a surprise, people don't trust web ads, because creepy tracking. Kint writes,

This problem is only getting worse and the consumer tools that counter it are getting less effective and more and more damaging to those who respect the consumer’s right to understand when and why their activities are being tracked. Transparency and providing the consumer with adequate control over their online privacy are vital—not harmful—to businesses that are built on a solid foundation of trust.

But he's only got part of the solution. Transparency is unworkable. How can regular people read every privacy policy for the third-party trackers they run into, when nobody at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch seems to be able to read the privacy policies for the trackers the paper uses on its own site? Here's what the Post-Dispatch site has to say about their third-party ads:

These companies may employ cookies and clear GIFs to measure advertising effectiveness. Any information that these third parties collect via cookies and clear GIFs is generally not personally identifiable.... We encourage you to read these businesses' privacy policies if you should have any concerns about how they will care for your personal information.

In other words, "third party tracking? That's a thing on the Internet now. We have no idea what's going on with it, so you're on your own." No wonder, as Kint points out, Online advertising is trusted less than any other form of advertising.

The result of all this tracking isn't just wigged-out users and ever-increasing ad blocker installs. The real problem for newspaper sites is data leakage. All those trackers that Kint points out are busily digesting the paper's audience like flies on potato salad, breaking the readership down into database records, and feeding the "print dollars to digital dimes" problem by breaking signaling.

When it comes to data leakage, publishers aren't bringing a knife to a gun fight, they're bringing a white paper about a knife to a gun fight. Terry Heaton, in “Local” is Losing to Outsiders: In 2015, [non-local] independent companies will account for nearly three-fourths of all digital advertising, elbowing out local-media competitors who have tried for two decades to use their existing sales forces to also sell digital advertising. Why is it that when a St. Louis business wants to advertise to a St. Louis newspaper reader, three-quarters of the money goes to intermediaries in New York and Palo Alto?

The problem, though, isn't so much that the adtech firms are taking 3/4 of the advertising pie, it's that they're making the pie smaller than it could be, by building the least trustworthy form of advertising since email spam.

So how do we keep the local papers, the people who are doing the hard nation-protecting work of Journalism, going? Kint says the "consumer tools" are getting worse, and if you're just looking at the best-known ad blocker, I'd have to agree. The "acceptable ads" racket doesn't address the tracking problems that matter. Meanwhile, it's not practical to browse the web with no protection at all, because who's going to read all those "transparent" explanations of exactly how some company you've never heard of sells some information you didn't know you were revealing?

Fortunately, though, we have publisher-friendly alternatives to ad blocking such as Tracking Protection on Firefox, the Disconnect extension, and Microsoft's Tracking Protection Lists. Instead of focusing on the two bad alternatives: unaccountable tracking or misdirected ad blocking, why not focus on the tracking protection that works?

Don't worry, interesting stuff remains to be done. To start with, hey, where are all the ads on stltoday.com? Just because I want to get protected from creepy tracking doesn't mean I'm against advertising in general. I like to look at the ads in local papers when I'm going there, because it gives me a sense of business in the town. (The New York Times is showing me Saks Fifth Avenue ads, and I have tracking protection on.) St. Louis, please, make your newspaper site work with tracking protection, and show me some ads.

Syndicated 2015-03-03 03:39:32 from Don Marti

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