Don't punch the monkey. Embrace the Badger.
One of the main reactions I get
to Targeted Advertising Considered
is: why are you always on about saving
advertising? Advertising? Really? Wouldn't it
be better to have a world where you don't need
Even when I do point out
how non-targeted ads are good for
the obvious question is,
why should I care?
As a member of the audience, or a regular citizen,
why does advertising matter? And what's all this
about the thankless task of saving online advertising
from itself? I didn't sign up for that.
The answer is: Because
Some advertising has positive externalities.
The biggest positive externality is ad-supported
content that later becomes available for other uses.
For example, short story readers today are benefitting
from magazine ad budgets of the 19th-20th centuries.
Every time you binge-watch an old TV show, you're a
positive externality winner, using a cultural good
originally funded by advertising.
I agree with the people who want ad-supported content
for free, or at a subsidized price. I'm not going
to condemn all advertising as The Internet's Original
I just think that we need to fix the bugs that
make Internet advertising less valuable than ads in older
Some advertising has negative externalities.
On the negative side, the biggest externality is the
identity theft risks inherent in large databases of
(And it's all
Anonymization is bogus.) The costs of identity theft
fall on the people whose information is compromised,
not on the companies that chose to collect it.
In 20 years, people will look
back at John Battelle's surveillance marketing
the way we now watch those 1950s industrial films
that praise PCBs, or asbestos, or some other God-awful
substance that we're still spending billions to clean
up. PII is informational haszmat.
The French Task Force on Taxation of the
Digital Economy suggests a unit charge per user
to address the
dangers that uncontrolled practices
regarding the use of these data are likely to raise
for the protection of public freedoms.
But although that kind of thing might fly in
in the USA we have to use technology. And that's where
regular people come in.
What you can do
Your choice to protect your privacy by blocking those
ads that everyone
is not a selfish one. You're helping to re-shape the
economy. You're helping to move ad spending away from
ads that target you, and have negative externalities,
and towards ads that are tied to content, and have
positive externalities. It's unlikely that Internet
ads will ever be all positive, or all negative, but
privacy-enabled users can shift the balance in a good
Don't punch the monkey. Embrace the
Syndicated 2014-08-29 13:16:08 from Don Marti