mfioretti: online advertising*

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  1. Last spring, I wrote a piece attempting to apply professor Clayton Christensen’s disruption theory to digital publishing. Using that lens, the theory predicted that a tipping point was near, and the days of publishers chasing advertising scale were over. Instead, journalism was entering a new phase: the SaaS or Stories as a Service era.

    If news organizations want to regroup, mobilize, and capitalize, its leaders, myself included, need to re-educate investors about how we will achieve meaningful returns by “pivoting to readers,” as so eloquently phrased by Thompson, instead of chasing the ghosts of scale.

    By having readers pay for their journalism, and by using the corresponding readership data, publishers will have to listen to what their readers really want. Instead of catering to advertisers and the scale they demand, news organizations can focus on accountability metrics like loyalty, retention, and churn that closely resemble SaaS businesses instead of having a singular focus on CPM-driven ad businesses.

    Investors are quite willing to fund SaaS-based companies.
    https://medium.com/@dskok/publishers-...e-up-the-ghosts-of-scale-1562602daeb3
    Voting 0
  2. Digital advertising has many, many problems. You can blame ad tech. You can blame agencies. Or the Russians. Or maybe AI. But it's really all Chris Anderson's fault.

    Anderson of course is the author of the seminal 2004 Wired article-turned-book "The Long Tail," which among many themes celebrated a web driven utopian time when every single niche interest would be well served, on a gazillion different websites.

    Almost immediately, the ad industry co-opted the long tail concept, and saw it as a way to target people with super relevant ads all over the web, super cheaply. Right around that time, the concept of audience-based buying took hold. Using digital data (mostly cookies back then), you could target people with ads, wherever they went on the web, regardless of content environment or content.

    You no longer had to pay high prices to reach car-shoppers on car magazine websites. You could buy 'auto intenders' (people looking to buy cars soon) wherever they were online. For way less cash.

    Soon, ad agencies opened up 'trading desks' to buy ads this way. And programmatic advertising ushered in all sorts of ways to buy ads on thousands of sites at once using software. Advertising would become like Wall Street.

    Except it never made sense.

    People (marketers and agencies) who buy into the long tail concept just aren't honest with themselves about how they use the internet. There are numerous pieces of research on how even as people accumulate hundreds of TV channels, they only watch seven. It's rather commonly accepted that in a sea of millions of mobile apps, most people stick to half a dozen.

    unnamed 2People tend to linger on the same websites and apps.comScore

    Yet somehow the vision of the 'world wide web' is that we're all nurturing our souls on cupcake blogs and hobby sites and kitesurfing communities. Rather than just checking out Aunt Sally's Facebook posts and then reading something on Daily Mail.
    Let's be real

    To be sure, there's no doubt that there are niche publishers with passionate followings, like sites for hardcore sneaker lovers. And of course, it's remarkably easy to end up down weird internet ratholes in search of the name of the guy who played Skippy on "Family Ties," or trying to determine what happened to that person you dated 10 years ago.

    And certainly, we all spend some time on some weird dark corners of the web. You like whatever you like, I like what I like, and we'd don't need to spend a lot of time talking about it.

    The common thread with all of these internet use cases is, they're probably not the right moment for you to hear about some fun new recipes from Kraft, or how great you'd look in a 2018 Suburu. Yet marketers are sold on right audience, right time, environment be damned.

    Regardless, this isn't the kind of site you find selling ads through various programmatic channels. Have you checked out what sites are on ad exchanges lately? Mostly, they're just random at best, or obfuscated at worst.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-ad...ry-has-been-living-a-lie-2017-10?IR=T
    Voting 0
  3. Quando Facebook dichiara un miliardo di utenti, il mondo non sarà mai più come prima: ogni azienda deve esserci, attratta dall’idea di poter mandare messaggi gratis ai propri fan. Ben presto non più gratis, bensì pagando, per la gioia degli investitori.

    Il confine fra contenuti e pubblicità sembra ormai un ricordo del passato.
    Il futuro è la televisione

    Google e Facebook continuano la propria corsa, all’apparenza inarrestabili. Negli Stati Uniti, il duopolio porta a casa 3 dollari su 4 della “pubblicità” (si fa per dire: è direct marketing) su Internet, e addirittura il 99% dei nuovi investimenti sul web.

    Il problema è che questo filone aureo (si fa per dire) si è ormai esaurito.

    Google e Facebook hanno un rapporto price per earning che è il doppio di quello di altre aziende media americane, ma non hanno più praterie davanti a sé da conquistare e facili e prevedibili guadagni futuri che possano giustificare un elevato rapporto P/E.

    Per difendere il proprio titolo in Borsa, devono attaccare la pubblicità di tipo brand.
    E la pubblicità di tipo brand non va sui banner, non va sui social e non va sui video delle Mentos, bensì in televisione, su programmi come serie TV, film e sport.

    Google o Facebook dovranno reinventarsi come produttori di contenuti di qualità, come ha già iniziato a fare Netflix. Ma che vantaggio competitivo possono vantare Google o Facebook su Disney (ABC), Comcast (NBC), Viacom (CBS) o Time Warner (HBO)?
    https://www.dotcoma.it/2017/10/24/il-declino-di-google-e-facebook.html
    Voting 0
  4. For years publishers have held onto the hope that all their investments in Facebook will, at some point, pay dividends when it comes to revenue. But a new report from WAN-IFRA suggests that, for most publishers, that’s still far from the case — and they’re not happy about it.

    Surveying nearly 50 WAN-IFRA members, University of Oxford researcher (and 2016 Nieman Fellow) Grzegorz Piechota found that Facebook was responsible for an average of seven percent of digital revenue, with a median of just three percent, across all of its revenue programs. A quarter of publishers said they received no direct revenue from Facebook at all.

    In Piechota’s estimate, this puts Facebook lower than Google, YouTube, and Spotify in terms of how much revenue is shared back with publishers, though the lack of complete data makes it difficult to draw direct comparisons. Piechota concludes that, overall, “revenue shared by the leading platforms is too low to fully fund editorial operations,” even for the largest organizations.
    http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/09/are-...ource=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
    Voting 0
  5. Pressed by investigators in Congress, Facebook said Wednesday that it has found evidence that a pro-Kremlin Russian “troll farm” bought $100,000 worth of ads targeted at U.S. voters between 2015 and 2017. The finding was first reported by the Washington Post, and Facebook published its own statement Wednesday afternoon.

    A few of the roughly 3,000 ads that Facebook traced to the Russian company mentioned presidential candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton directly, according to the Post’s sources. The majority focused on stoking people’s emotions around divisive issues such as “gun rights and immigration fears, as well as gay rights and racial discrimination.”

    Facebook wouldn’t disclose the ads in question, nor exactly how the scheme worked.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_ten...olitical_ads_on_facebook_is_such.html
    Voting 0
  6. Gli editori si sono resi conto, dopo un periodo esaustivo di sperimentazione e verifica, che il gioco non valeva la candela. Con Instant Articles si lasciano nelle mani di Facebook non solo importanti ricavi pubblicitari ma anche “doti” di valore come i dati e metadati degli utenti che oggi sono l’unica moneta di scambio per il mercato dell’informazione. Certo la migliore esperienza di un caricamento rapido delle pagine aveva una sua logica per fornire un servizio più efficace ma, probabilmente, anche il progressivo miglioramento della qualità e velocità delle connessioni hanno posto la questione in secondo piano.

    La pubblicità è ancora la maggiore fonte di entrata per l’informazione online, ma le grandi testate internazionali stanno svoltando, in maniera decisa, verso entrate più sicure e meno dipendenti da fattori terzi, come l’instabilità ed il monopolio del mercato pubblicitario online.

    Gli abbonamenti in primis ma anche il modello delle memberships, adottato tra i primi proprio dal “The Guardian”, sono gli obiettivi a cui puntare e, per fare questo, è necessaria, come afferma la testata britannica, “la costruzione di rapporti più profondi con i lettori”.

    Ma la distribuzione resta nei social

    Restano comunque le piattaforme social, Facebook in primis, il luogo dove le persone leggono le notizie, e quindi invariato il rapporto di dipendenza delle testate da queste.

    La notizia è solo una parte di un processo molto più ampio e coinvolgente che è la conversazione e l’interazione sociale e, al di là delle distorsioni cognitive, filter bubble, confirmation bias e algoritmi selezionatori, è oggi forse più importante della notizia stessa il parlarne, lo scambio dei punti di vista, il confronto e la socializzazione che ne deriva.
    http://culturedigitali.blogautore.esp...t/2017/04/24/fuga-da-instant-articles
    Voting 0
  7. I have no illusions about what Facebook has figured out about me from my activity, pictures, likes, and posts. Friends have speculated about how algorithms might effectively predict hook-ups or dating patterns based on bursts of "Facebook stalking" activity (you know you are guilty of clicking through hundreds of tagged pictures of your latest crush). David Kilpatrick uncovered that Facebook "could determine with about 33 percent accuracy who a user was going to be in a relationship with a week from now." And based on extensive networks of gay friends, MIT's Gaydar claims to be able to out those who refrain from listing their sexual orientation on the network. When I first turned on Timeline, I discovered Facebook had correctly singled out that becoming friends with Nick was a significant event of 2007 (that's when we met and first started dating, and appropriately enough, part of why he joined Facebook).

    Since our engagement, there have been enough mentions of "engagement" and "wedding" in mine and my friends' comments littered throughout my profile to suggest to Facebook's keyword crawlers to deduce that we've got something big planned. The fact that he's tagged in my cover photo, we have numerous albums taken in remote locations where we're the only two people tagged, and that we both currently live in Chongqing, China, all should make it obvious to Facebook's relationship-weighing algorithms that we're pretty important to each other.

    friends 2007.png

    So shouldn't it also be obvious to Facebook that I "know him well" and he's "one of my best friends?" We wouldn't be tagged in so many pictures together (70) if it weren't true. And could there be any chance at all that "I don't know him" given these data points? Though Facebook isn't outright asking me if we're in a relationship, it sure sounds like that's what they are getting at. Moreover, why hasn't Facebook asked me the same question about someone like Jen Hudon? I share more mutual friends (121) and am tagged in almost as many photos (67) with Jen as I am with Nick, and her wall posts feature prominently in my Timeline. (Facebook might interpret these data points and suggest I choose her as one of my bridesmaids, which I have done). No, Facebook has us figured out: we went to High School together and she's "one of my best friends."

    Watson Hudon.png

    So why does Facebook care to know more about the nature of my relationship to Nick? The short answer is that Facebook wants to know as much as it can about my relationships, even though Facebook's current policy is not use information from user questions like this one for advertising.

    My response to the relationship question would act as an important input into the algorithms deciding what shows up in my feed. If I said Nick is "one of my best friends," Facebook might weight his posts more heavily than they already do. For example, my feed has recently been inundated with more posts about my cousins' wife's pregnancy now that I've confirmed him as a family member (though I hide it on my profile for security reasons).

    But what happens if I don't want these relationships to alter my feed? This is a "Filter Bubble" problem, where Facebook's personalization algorithm is opaque to us as users. I don't know what I'm missing, but I can tell that I'm seeing more of certain people as a result of declaring a certain kind of relationship to them. But there's no master switch board for us to tweak the dials on our social filters; if I'm seeing too many of a certain friend's posts, I have only the binary choice of turning them on or off, and I have to alter that detail on a person by person basis. Any other input into the algorithm requires a fair amount of proactive and clever gaming of the system (like declining family member requests to avoid filtration). And who wants to explain to Aunt Joan that's why you can't confirm she's your aunt?

    And if I did change my relationship status to engaged -- not just answer the question Facebook posed to me -- the company could then target ads based on that information. We've seen how pregnancies are a pivotal marketing opportunity for companies like Target. Marriage is another big life event where habits, loyalties, and purchasing behaviors change. And then there's the brief but highly lucrative wedding planning and purchasing period itself; it's a critical and fleeting moment that marketers are eager to pin down. It comes as no surprise that Facebook and its advertisers would want to know what stage of life I'm in right at this moment. They want to know if they could be making more money showing me engagement ring, registry, or mortgage advertisements. For the most part, that targeting is harmless, but it's gold to Facebook and advertisers to know that I've shifted demographic categories. I imagine that my literal value in terms of price per click might even go up as I enter into the "engaged" category.

    ***

    And even though the pairing of the carefully phrased question and advertising were coincidental, it's as if Facebook is saying, "I know you guys have been together for a while now, shouldn't you be thinking about getting engaged soon?" Hint hint, nudge nudge. And then it comes off as a sassy girlfriend shouting over martinis, "Girl, when's he gonna put a ring on it?" So Facebook isn't outright asking me if I'm engaged. But I find myself reading for subtext as I would an aunt's pointed but tactfully indirect question.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology...hy-is-it-asking-about-my-fianc/254479
    Voting 0
  8. While Bethany Howell napped on the couch last week, her daughter Ashlynd, 6 years old, used her mother’s thumb to unlock her phone and open the Amazon app. “$250 later, she has shopped for all her Christmas presents on Amazon,” said Ms. Howell, of Little Rock, Ark.

    After Ashlynd’s parents received 13 order confirmations for Pokémon items, they initially thought they’d been hacked, then they figured Ashlynd had bought them unintentionally. “No, Mommy, I was shopping,” Ms. Howell said her daughter told her. “But don’t worry—everything that I ordered is coming straight to the house.” Ms. Howell added: ”She is really proud of herself."

    The Howells could return only four of the items. So Ms. Howell came up with a solution and told Ashlynd, “Well, Santa found out and that is what Santa is going to bring you for Christmas.”

    Zeke Tischler, a 30-year-old social-media professional from Northridge, Calif., had the same sort of gift problem outside of the Christmas season. Ads for engagement rings began popping up in his Facebook news feed after he searched for rings online last year.

    One evening, as his girlfriend was looking over his shoulder, an ad for opal engagement rings—her favorite gemstone—popped up on his Facebook news feed. Mr. Tischler said he tried to pass it off as a glitch.

    Several weeks later, however, when he got down on one knee and presented the opal engagement ring, his girlfriend presented her own ring for him. Online ads ”ruined one of the largest surprises in my life,” Mr. Tischler said. His fiancée, he added, “thinks it’s pretty hilarious.”
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    http://www.wsj.com/articles/those-ads...rnet-are-ruining-christmas-1482507745
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  9. the trouble isn’t “shy Trump voters” which you can often detect using other indicators. It’s Trump voters who barely even get the chance to be shy, because years of declining response rates (down from 25% to 5% or so in the last 20 years) have created an entirely skewed survey-taking universe where the set of people who will take surveys at all is very different from the population. Estimating how many might be missing is pure guesswork: yes, an insurgent electorate is more right wing, but by 2 points? 5? 10? There’s no way of knowing. These people are dark matter. PS the exit polls ARE STILL POLLS this still applies.

    2) Targeting: What performed EVEN WORSE than the Polls? Clinton’s much-vaunted ground game. But not because of the efforts of any of the massive army of volunteers - I know from individual testimonies how hard they worked. What the Clinton team were using was a system for micro-modelling preference at an individual voter level to tell them who to turn out where with what message and where to allocate resources. This was supposed to give her a clear competitive edge over Trump and his rallies and big-megaphone messages. Clearly it didn’t.

    The point is though that this micro-targeting technology is also why you see the shitty Facebook ads you do, and why businesses think they can ‘serve’ you just the right video, and why web pages load so fucking slowly because they’re scraping all the data they can for better targeting. And it doesn’t work!
    http://tomewing.tumblr.com/post/152963356681/polls-etc
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  10. d (and turned down) syndication offers from two different newspaper syndicates, including one of the biggest in the business, because I wanted full control of True’s publication rights — including its online presence. And as of today, I’ve turned off Google’s “Adsense” service on this site for the same reason: to assert my control.

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    Because I’m sick and tired of Google sending me warnings that my content doesn’t “comply” with their “program policies” — such as their ban on “strategically covered nudity” (um, isn’t all clothing a strategic way to “cover up nudity”?!),“content that may be sensitive, tragic, or hurtful,” or “descriptions of sexual acts.”

    Which may sound perfectly reasonable until you realize just what kind of editorial material it is that they’re sending me these warnings about.

    First, realize that every actual story featured in This is True is a stylized, rewritten summary of an article from a “legitimate, mainstream news outlet” plus our editorial commentary — not tabloidy garbage but real news articles, mostly from daily newspapers and TV news stations reporting about real issues.

    The money Google pays out for showing their ads is just not worth it to continually go through this back-and-forth hassle. I’m giving up on these battles, but I’m declaring victory in the war by the action I took today.
    Declaring Victory

    Actual ad Google has shown on this site.Well, I’ve had it. As of today, I’ve removed all of Google’s ads from this site in favor of sponsorship from companies that have the guts to support True’s thoughtful exploration of the human condition — even if the topic is, at rare times, “sensitive” in nature.

    Note I’m not demanding that Google not have standards. It’s their product, and their name, and I’m sure there are sites trying to make money with Google’s ads on actual sexually exploitive content. But this sure as hell isn’t one of those sites, and they don’t seem capable of discerning the difference between sexual exploitation and actual editorial discussion of real-world issues, nor do they follow their own rules when they put objectionable images on my site.
    In Google’s Place: Sponsorships

    Actual ad Google has shown on this site.Rather than continue to fight this battle with an unthinking, undiscerning 800 lb. gorilla, I’m soliciting sponsorship from companies who appreciate my frank discussion of thought-provoking issues.
    http://www.thisistrue.com/blog-why_ive_removed_googles_ads.html
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