mfioretti: google analytics*

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  1. Running TPM absent Google’s various services is almost unthinkable. Like I literally would need to give it a lot of thought how we’d do without all of them. Some of them are critical and I wouldn’t know where to start for replacing them. In many cases, alternatives don’t exist because no business can get a footing with a product Google lets people use for free.

    But here’s where the rubber really meets the road. The publishers use DoubleClick. The big advertisers use DoubleClick. The big global advertising holding companies use Doubleclick. Everybody at every point in the industry is wired into DoubleClick. Here’s how they all play together. The adserving (Doubleclick) is like the road. (Adexchange) is the biggest car on the road. But only AdExchange gets full visibility into what’s available. (There’s lot of details here and argument about just what Google does and doesn’t know. But trust me on this. They keep the key information to themselves. This isn’t a suspicion. It’s the model.) So Google owns the road and gets first look at what’s on the road. Not only does Google own the road and makes the rules for the road, it has special privileges on the road. One of the ways it has special privileges is that it has all the data it gets from search, Google Analytics and Gmail. It also gets to make the first bid on every bit of inventory. Of course that’s critical. First dibs with more information than anyone else has access to. (Some exceptions to this. But that’s the big picture.) It’s good to be the king. It’s good to be a Google.

    There’s more I’ll get to in a moment but the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is so vastly important to the entirety of the web, digital publishing and the entire ad industry that it is almost impossible to overstate. Again. They own the road. They make the rules for the road. They get special privileges on the road with every new iteration of rules.

    ow Google can say – and they are absolutely right – that every month they send checks for thousands and millions of dollars to countless publishers that make their journalism possible. And in general Google tends to be a relatively benign overlord. But as someone who a) knows the industry inside and out – down to the most nuts and bolts mechanics – b) someone who understands at least the rudiments of anti-trust law and monopoly economics and c) can write for a sizable audience, I can tell you this.: Google’s monopoly control is almost comically great. It’s a monopoly at every conceivable turn and consistently uses that market power to deepen its hold and increase its profits. Just the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is textbook anti-competitive practices.

    There’s one way that Google is better than Facebook. When Facebook is getting a bigger and bigger share of the advertising pie, that money is almost all going to Facebook. There are some small exceptions but that’s basically the case. When Google is making insane amounts of money on advertising, it’s not really the same since a huge amount of that advertising is running on websites which are getting a cut. Still, the big story is that Google and Facebook now have a dominant position in the entirety of the advertising ecosystem and are using their monopoly power to take more and more of the money for themselves.

    We’re basically too small for Google to care about. So I wouldn’t say we’ve had any bad experiences with Google in the sense of Google trying to injure us or use its power against us. What we’ve experienced is a little different. Google is so big and so powerful that even when it’s trying to do something good, it can be dangerous and frightening.

    Now in practice all this meant was that two or three old stories about Dylann Roof could no longer run ads purchased through Google. I’d say it’s unlikely that loss to TPM amounted to even a cent a month. Totally meaningless. But here’s the catch. The way these warnings work and the way these particular warnings were worded, you get penalized enough times and then you’re blacklisted.

    Now, certainly you’re figuring we could contact someone at Google and explain that we’re not publishing hate speech and racist violence. We’re reporting on it. Not really. We tried that. We got back a message from our rep not really understanding the distinction and cheerily telling us to try to operate within the no hate speech rules. And how many warnings until we’re blacklisted? Who knows?

    If we were cut off, would that be Adexchange (the ads) or DoubleClick for Publishers (the road) or both? Who knows?

    If the first stopped we’d lose a big chunk of money that wouldn’t put us out of business but would likely force us to retrench. If we were kicked off the road more than half of our total revenue would disappear instantly and would stay disappeared until we found a new road – i.e., a new ad serving service or technology. At a minimum that would be a devastating blow that would require us to find a totally different ad serving system, make major technical changes to the site to accommodate the new system and likely not be able to make as much from ads ever again. That’s not including some unknown period of time – certainly weeks at least – in which we went with literally no ad revenue.

    Needless to say, the impact of this would be cataclysmic and could easily drive us out of business.

    Now, that’s never happened. And this whole scenario stems from what is at least a well-intentioned effort not to subsidize hate speech and racist groups. Again, it hasn’t happened. So in some sense the cataclysmic scenario I’m describing is as much a product of my paranoia as something Google could or might do. But when an outside player has that much power, often acts arbitrarily (even when well-intentioned) and is almost impossible to communicate with, a significant amount of paranoia is healthy and inevitable.
    Voting 0
  2. In realtà i problemi sono molti, perché il provvedimento del Garante è lacunoso, qualcuno direbbe “scritto con i piedi” o peggio. Sorgono dunque molti dubbi sull’efficacia dei chiarimenti successivi, che non sono stati adottati con le formalità previste per i provvedimenti a efficacia generale del Garante (pubblicazione sulla Gazzetta Ufficiale, per dirne una) e che non sono affatto dei chiarimenti, sono piuttosto integrazioni che richiedono adempimenti più stringenti di quelli che almeno in apparenza erano richiesti nel provvedimento iniziale. Siccome accompagnate dal provvedimento vengono sanzioni amministrative e penali, il principio di legalità (nessun reo se non dietro legge scritta, e chiara!) farebbe ritenere quanto meno illegittimi provvedimenti presi nel vigore dell’interpretazione più restrittiva.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2015-06-15)
    Voting 0
  3. We've set up a whole lot of stuff over the past eight articles, but we haven't focused much at all on the monitoring and reporting side of things. It's one thing to have your Web server happily spitting out pages to anyone who visits, but how do you get a handle on who's actually doing the visiting?

    Modern Web analytics is a highly refined science, and there are tons of vendors that will help you get a handle on who your visitors are and what they're looking at on your site. The most prominent analytics tool is the aptly named Google Analytics. It's both highly functional and free. You sign up for an account, tell Google some basic information about your site, and you're given a tracking code—a snippet of JavaScript that you embed in each of your website's pages. When visitors browse your site, the code is downloaded by their browsers, and their own browsers report back to Google what actions they're taking. Google then aggregates the data in nice charts and graphs.

    Google's offering is free and it works very well, but it comes with the obvious downside of you not being in control of your tracking results. You're leaning on Google to host the analytics service, and you're also turning all of your data over to Google for it to use (remember the old adage that if an Internet service is free to you, you're probably not the service's real customer).
    Piwik for self-hosted analytics

    There are alternatives to Google Analytics, and in the DIY spirit of "Web Served," I recommend downloading and setting up one of those alternatives—specifically, Piwik.
    Voting 0

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