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broadstuff"broadstuff" - 5 new articles

  1. Peeple has been here for years, just in many other forms
  2. Corbynetics
  3. Ads for fake people
  4. Ad Blocking Arms Race
  5. Facebook "Dislike" button - more tracked transactions?
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search broadstuff
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

Peeple has been here for years, just in many other forms

The 72 hour brouhaha over Peeple has been fascinating to watch, in that everyone seems to hate the idea of being rated by others online.

And yet most of these selfsame people are being rated, every day and in every way, by a myriad of apps and websights and bots for all sorts of aspects of their online activity - financial, reputational, physical, attitudinal, activities....

Wake up people - Peeple is just the obvious endgame of what is being done already all over, every day.

Update - just had to add this quoute by @fakeBaldur re all the hoo-ha

"The #peeple law: a badly thought out app startup will be indistinguishable from performance art."


Fascinating snippet from the Grauniad about how Jeremy Corbyn's campaign used online tech to outmanouevre les autres:

Soffa [Corbyn campaign digital operatiomns head] created an app – using the American political organising software NationBuilder – that allowed volunteers to make calls to potential supporters from their own homes. The app provided information about an individual’s Labour membership, which constituency they lived in and its electoral history. Volunteers would follow a series of questions, with the answers fed back to Soffa’s team through the app.

The data coming back to Soffa showed a clear pattern by the end of June: Corbyn was garnering surprising levels of support from across the party, especially from the so-called “three pounders” – people who had signed up to vote as “registered supporters”. The figures were so good that the Corbyn camp assumed they must be incorrect. “The numbers are amazing, but it must just be that we’re finding all of Jeremy’s core supporters,” Soffa told Smith towards the end of June.

Another coup by the Corbyn camp was the prescient decision to embed the £3 registration process directly into the campaign’s website – ensuring that thousands of people who visited the website were easily able to sign up. “It was just an obvious, natural thing to do,” Soffa recalled – but the other campaigns did not think to do it, an oversight they all now regret.

If you ever read Nate Silver's book on predicting the last US presidential election (Silver got it right, many didn't), or the results of the post mortem of the last UK election polling, you will know that the critical thing is to know what voters are really thinking, not what they tell pollsters etc. Corbyn had an early insight.

Knowledge is power.....

The £3 thing was blindingly obvious - in hindsight, of course :-)

Another thing we picked up was that the overdone and increasingly frantic attacks on Corbyn by the supporters (including those in the mainstream media) of the Blairite/Tory Lite wing of the party had the opposite effect to what was intended, they were increasingly lampooned on social media and in fact created sympathy for Corbyn among neutrals, as well as fulfilling the Wildean maxim that the only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about.


Ads for fake people

Image courtesy Bloomberg

To no one's great surprise, there is much less to the online Ad industry than meets the eye. A new Bloomberg report puts into black and white what we have suspected for a while - some quotes:

Digital’s return on investment was around 2 to 1, a $2 increase in revenue for every $1 of ad spending, compared with at least 6 to 1 for TV. The most startling finding: Only 20 percent of the campaign’s “ad impressions”—ads that appear on a computer or smartphone screen—were even seen by actual people.


"in the digital world, you’re just paying for the ad to be served, and there’s no guarantee who will see it, or whether a human will see it at all.”

Increasingly, digital ad viewers aren’t human. A study done last year in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers embedded billions of digital ads with code designed to determine who or what was seeing them. Eleven percent of display ads and almost a quarter of video ads were “viewed” by software, not people.


Fake traffic has become a commodity. There’s malware for generating it and brokers who sell it.


“Nobody knows the exact number,...but probably about 50 percent of what you’re spending online is being stolen from you.”

There is a certain delicious irony in that Ads - fake content if ever there was - are being sent to fake people, but what to do for the Ad supported businesses out there?

As in all things, quality costs - if you want humans to see Ads, it costs money (see chart above).

This will also become yet another move in the Ad Industry Arms Race, one can imagine bot scrubbers and audience checkers etc, but all they really serve to do is add more friction to a system that is already corrupted, the temptation to use bots won't go away easily or quickly.

Ad Blocking Arms Race

There seems to be a lot more harrumphing about Ad Blocking these days by those whose business models are impacted by it, even though a minority of people (c 20% globally) use them. Today there is more wailing than usual as Apple released 2 Ad Blockers for the new iOS 9 that shot to the top od Apple Apps hit parade - re/code:

After the inaugural day of Apple’s latest operating system version, which permits new extensions for blocking content in Safari browsers, two apps that do just that shot to the top of the paid downloads.

The big panic is this means Ad blocking is now possible on Apple phones and Tablets - Mobile up to now has been Adspamzone supreme.

It doesn't hurt sites like Facebook that place Ads in their own streams but it may hurt Google (who pays for its Ads to show through AdBlock Plus). It’s not clear if Google has worked out a similar "fix" for these new iOS apps.

Anyway, there is great wailing and rending and gnashing by the Ad industry, and ever more ludicrous suggestions of what the advertised-to customers need to do to help keep those Ads rolling past their eyeballs - I saw one today that suggested people run Adblockers disabled by default, requiring them to blacklist the bad plays instead of "punishing the entire web".

The fundamental problem with Advertising as a business model thoiugh, is that customers don't like it unless it is very unobtrusive, and the industry is largely incapable of self control in that respect (did you know that most people install Ad blockers due to worry about use of their data to "personalise" them). It is a "tragedy of the commons" problem in that it is always to the advantage of the "ad-overgrazer", so cheaters prosper - so it's always just easier to assume the endgame, i.e. they are all acting in bad faith - and block the lot.

A more useful model would be spam killers, who do the work themselves, but of course that would require the Ad industry to do something else - be reasonable about it's advertising - which so far it has never been able to do since Pop Ups 15 years ago, hence Ad-Blockers in the first place (see Tragedy of Commans Game theory above).

Or maybe a whitelisting system - a certificate that says one conforms to a "minimum obtrusivneness" standard, and then Adblockers let it through. Odds of 1:2 though that it won't be 6 months before the lobbying and other attempts to expand the definition of "minimum unobtrusiveness" reaches "untrustworthy" status, and up go the shields again.

Interestingly, its better educated (aka wealthier) people who are the heavier users of Adblockers today, but use is growing rapidly (41% last year) so the Advertiised-to total spend will devcline faster than the number of people seeing Ads.

Anyway the current system dynamic is an Arms Race game - more and more intrusive Ads breeds more and more people trying to evade them, and ever better Ad Blockers. It's a Zero Sum game, in that the sum of revenue falls to near zero at game end.

Update - 1 day later, and the best selling Ad Blocker has been pulled from the Apple Store by its Maker:

Peace [the App] required that all ads be treated the same — all-or-nothing enforcement for decisions that aren’t black and white. This approach is too blunt, and Ghostery and I have both decided that it doesn’t serve our goals or beliefs well enough

What he doesn't say in his post was that a social media sh*tstorm was waged against him, I'd bet you can only see the half of the pressure on the public channels too. I suppose that's one way of winning the Arms Race - unleash a social media campaign and force the Adblockers off the market - but its short term, if one person can make one, and there is a demand, guess what....


Facebook "Dislike" button - more tracked transactions?

Twitter full of the perils of downvoting. Facebook says that's not what it's for, it's to "express empathy"

Perish the thought that people could use Emojis or even Smileys, an old and well loved tech, to emote.

Aha! I hear you call - People used to use smileye to like things - the point of the Like button is for FB to track transaction reactions, and right now FB can't track any sentiments except "Like" very easily. So why does FB want to record stuff other than likes? Added granularity for Ad-serving is my starter for 10

BTW - re Dislike as Mob Rule Tool, it'll all be in the execution, haterz love to find new aways to hate.

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