Alternatives to Facebook

Facebook Alternatives
Facebook has been under relentless attack since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018. Broadcasters and news publishers have declared open season on Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and other senior executives at the company. And while not quite ubiquitous, #deletefacebook pops up every time there’s a story about data privacy. The EU has fined them, the US is trying to figure out how to regulate them, and the notion that free services should be absolutely free (as opposed to checking a box on a terms and conditions page that allows the free service to use your data as payment) is gaining traction. Whether or not Facebook deserves the scrutiny it is under is a great topic for another article. Today, I want to have a look at alternatives. If you don’t like Facebook, what might work for you? Is the time right for the reemergence of focused social networks? Continue Reading →

What MeToo Is Teaching AI

AI Bias
The coincidental emergence of the #MeToo hashtag and self-training, self-replicating AI systems got me thinking. How will a self-training AI system be biased when learning from the #MeToo hashtagged posts? And how would the advent of self-training AI affect the systems that control our news feeds and other curated content presented to us? Continue Reading →
Blue Flatline
When you analyze the effects of fraud, viewability and ad blocking on the digital display advertising business, then add the ever-increasing abilities of the traffic launderers to game the system, you reach an inevitable conclusion: ad tech has evolved into a toxic ecosystem that is killing itself, and it is taking digital advertising with it. Continue Reading →
Bot Traffic
Bots generate more than half the traffic on the public Internet. This is indisputable. In fact, the Association of National Advertisers believes that advertisers will lose $6.3 billion globally to bots in 2015. This will not stop until someone (the marketers, the government, the justice department) makes it stop because everyone – the ad networks, the traffic sellers, the bot creators, the publishers, the ad agencies, the trading desks, the DMPs, the SSPs, everyone – except the marketers – is making money. Continue Reading →

The Root of Ad Evil

Money
Every crisis needs a villain. The advertising crisis is no exception. Some want to blame ad networks, others want to blame programmatic pricing tools, and still others believe that bad coding is at fault. Page load times are an obvious villain, but maybe we should blame the evildoers who clutter our world with massive amounts of interruptive, unwanted ad fodder. In practice, there are a number of easily identifiable tactical and executional factors contributing to the industry's existential crisis. Sadly, even if the industry could solve all of them, the effort would do very little, if anything, to correct the misalignment of outcomes and incentives that are the root of ad evil. Continue Reading →
iPhone 6s
Apple's iOS 9 (the new iPhone operating system) contains a very special feature that enables third-party app developers to develop Ad Blocking tools. These tools, which have been around for PC-based web browsers for years, are probably better described as "content blocking" because they allow you to block all kinds of noncommercial stuff (also because there is a heated debate as to whether or not ads are "content"). Pundits and students of the commercial advertising business have identified this technological achievement as the beginning of the end of days. Others cite history and say the industry will get past the problem. After all, content blocking is not new; it's just newly relevant. Right? Continue Reading →