Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One of my 2014 resolutions is ...

... to read more things that Don Marti writes.

If you're not already reading Don Marti, you might not know about the fascinating topics he covers on his irregularly-updated blog.

He spends most of his time writing deeply about the online advertising industry, an important subject given that it's probably the most important part of the high-tech industry nowadays, but he occasionally posts on other topics, too. His essays often pursue the man behind the curtain, the lesser-known ways in which big money and large organizations manipulate the world in the search for Better Advertising.

Here's a few recent samplers of his work:

  • Surveillance marketing meets sales norms
    I had an interesting conversation with a California resident a few days ago. A door-to-door sales rep had just come by, and as soon as he left, she called the police. The non-emergency police number, but still.

    It turns out that other people in the neighborhood had also called. We've gone from a society in which door-to-door sales was totally normal, even the subject of underground NSFW comics, to something that regular people call the police about.

  • Privacy snake oil
    Schneier's snake oilers were always trying to re-use one-time pads. You can't do that. Likewise, you can't collect and store PII—and it's all PII—and not have it come back to bite the people that it's about.
  • An argument for targeted advertising
    Non-creepy advertising isn't perfect, and doesn't solve all the customer/vendor match-up problems in the world. We have a lot of non-advertising tools for that. But it's a fallacy to say that just because non-creepy ads have a problem doing something, creepy ads are any better.
  • Hijacking the Internet
    It's an example of the Internet making an industry less efficient. Which should be in an Economics paper somewhere, but really, we need to find honest work for software developers now stuck in adtech. And for real advertisers to quit the adtech-captured IAB, but you knew that.
  • Internet trend: unexplained value of print ads
    Print continues to command an unreasonably large share of advertising budgets. Spending is down, but proportionally not as much as time.

    With the trendiness and bubblyness of digital, we'd expect it to go the other way.

    Something deeper than click fraud is going on here. Print is inherently more valuable because it's less trackable, and carries a better signal, and we keep seeing that in these Internet Trends reports.

If you like Don Marti, you might find Bob Hoffman's writings interesting, too.

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