Author Topic: Online advertising  (Read 7203 times)

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Offline iago

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Online advertising
« on: January 02, 2014, 11:08:48 AM »
Living in the Bay, working at the Google.

Wow, I'm surprised!  I didn't think you would leave Canada, or work at a huge monopoly corporation. It's probably a nice place to work though.

Yeah, I didn't think I'd leave Canada either, but here I am!

I wouldn't call it a 'monopoly'. On one hand, I feel bad that 99.9% of my salary comes from ad revenue; on the other hand, they're constantly changing the world for the better, and they have really good policies regading privacy (privacy is SUPER important to them, because people will jump on anything) and lock-in (it's important that every app lets you view, manage, and export all your data). So that's a plus, at least. :)

Offline Sidoh

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 03:14:04 PM »
Living in the Bay, working at the Google.

Wow, I'm surprised!  I didn't think you would leave Canada, or work at a huge monopoly corporation. It's probably a nice place to work though.

Yeah, I didn't think I'd leave Canada either, but here I am!

I wouldn't call it a 'monopoly'. On one hand, I feel bad that 99.9% of my salary comes from ad revenue; on the other hand, they're constantly changing the world for the better, and they have really good policies regading privacy (privacy is SUPER important to them, because people will jump on anything) and lock-in (it's important that every app lets you view, manage, and export all your data). So that's a plus, at least. :)

I dunno -- I actually like their business model significantly more than just about any other tech company. It's much more conducive to innovation. Ads enable free stuff on the Internet. Of course there are alternatives, but I think ads are really the only thing lucrative enough to enable the kinds of crazy awesome things Google does without a ton of capital.

Offline nslay

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 01:14:38 AM »
Living in the Bay, working at the Google.

Wow, I'm surprised!  I didn't think you would leave Canada, or work at a huge monopoly corporation. It's probably a nice place to work though.

Yeah, I didn't think I'd leave Canada either, but here I am!

I wouldn't call it a 'monopoly'. On one hand, I feel bad that 99.9% of my salary comes from ad revenue; on the other hand, they're constantly changing the world for the better, and they have really good policies regading privacy (privacy is SUPER important to them, because people will jump on anything) and lock-in (it's important that every app lets you view, manage, and export all your data). So that's a plus, at least. :)

I dunno -- I actually like their business model significantly more than just about any other tech company. It's much more conducive to innovation. Ads enable free stuff on the Internet. Of course there are alternatives, but I think ads are really the only thing lucrative enough to enable the kinds of crazy awesome things Google does without a ton of capital.

Ads were never a bad thing. Nobody is complaining about advertising itself but the data harvesting aspect that has become almost synonymous with advertising. Google's (among others) vision of the future is aligned with its business model: full and total annihilation of privacy (Larry Page has said this repeatedly over the past decade). It's that kind of point of view that people don't like ... not advertising.

EDIT:
Happy new year.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 01:22:48 AM by nslay »
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Offline Sidoh

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 03:28:52 AM »
Living in the Bay, working at the Google.

Wow, I'm surprised!  I didn't think you would leave Canada, or work at a huge monopoly corporation. It's probably a nice place to work though.

Yeah, I didn't think I'd leave Canada either, but here I am!

I wouldn't call it a 'monopoly'. On one hand, I feel bad that 99.9% of my salary comes from ad revenue; on the other hand, they're constantly changing the world for the better, and they have really good policies regading privacy (privacy is SUPER important to them, because people will jump on anything) and lock-in (it's important that every app lets you view, manage, and export all your data). So that's a plus, at least. :)

I dunno -- I actually like their business model significantly more than just about any other tech company. It's much more conducive to innovation. Ads enable free stuff on the Internet. Of course there are alternatives, but I think ads are really the only thing lucrative enough to enable the kinds of crazy awesome things Google does without a ton of capital.

Ads were never a bad thing. Nobody is complaining about advertising itself but the data harvesting aspect that has become almost synonymous with advertising. Google's (among others) vision of the future is aligned with its business model: full and total annihilation of privacy (Larry Page has said this repeatedly over the past decade). It's that kind of point of view that people don't like ... not advertising.

EDIT:
Happy new year.

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone here is complaining, but it's something I constantly hear about from people in tech, and it seemed like a reasonably interesting topic. I do disagree with this, though:

Quote
It's that kind of point of view that people don't like ... not advertising.

I'm sure that's how you and plenty of other intelligent people feel, but I've met many people I have a lot of respect for that say pretty thoughtless things about advertising.

I don't want to discredit concerns about privacy, but I don't think I share the zeal for them that my peers seem to.

It's also important to recognize that the types of "data mining" that occur in much of advertising today isn't nearly as creepy as it seems. When you see ads all over the web for that gizmo you were looking at on Amazon, it's not because everyone knows you as a person are interested in that gizmo. It's just a cookie that's sent to ad networks that says "show me more ads for gizmos plz." Of course there are some slightly creepier targeting techniques, but even the ones that involve consumer data are anonymized pretty thoroughly. I'm probably not saying anything people here don't already know, but it's worth mentioning.

Happy new year!

Offline nslay

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 03:51:00 AM »
Anonymous data isn't as anonymous as you think. The most obvious example is the insurance information debacle in Massachusetts ... (an MIT student cross referenced anonymous medical information with voter information and was able to infer the governor's prescriptions and doctor visits).

The creepy aspect of the data mining is that it's often without anyone's knowledge or consent and no one knows how that data is used.

Sorry to go off topic.
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Offline iago

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 03:04:53 PM »
The thing about Google is, you have pretty good control over what they collect and how they use it. https://google.com/dashboard will list all your data / account / linkages, you can find out what google has 'learned' about you based on where you visit, and you can modify / remove / tell it not to collect it at all. It actually thought I was interested in 'new jersey' before I disabled it, for some odd reason. :)

I'm not saying I *like* being tracked or ads or anything. I just think that as far as ad companies go, Google is in a position where they don't have to (or even want to) care a hell of a lot about you. They'll do their best to give both you and the ad creators the best possible experience, and allow you to customize it from there as you see fit.

Offline nslay

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 05:45:57 PM »
Yeah yeah, I saw that. Here's another example:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/05/google_gmail_calendar_export/

They don't let your control the really valuable data such as search history and location information. With Google giving away all it's cool tech, it has to pay the bills somehow!

We're all worth at least $50. This is the price to update a Garmin GPS' maps.

EDIT:
AT&T Fiber will charge you $30/month less for 300Mbps up/down if you let them snoop on your connection.

Snooping is big business. A lot more than either you (@iago) and @Sidoh give it credit.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 07:11:45 PM by nslay »
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Offline Sidoh

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 11:21:40 AM »
Anonymous data isn't as anonymous as you think. The most obvious example is the insurance information debacle in Massachusetts ... (an MIT student cross referenced anonymous medical information with voter information and was able to infer the governor's prescriptions and doctor visits).

The creepy aspect of the data mining is that it's often without anyone's knowledge or consent and no one knows how that data is used.

Sorry to go off topic.

I think it's silly to assume the shittiest things that happen in advertising/marketing are the norm (mostly since they're not).

Most advertising companies are pretty serious about privacy, and this includes ensuring that promises about data being anonymous are kept. It's not as simple as removing fields that are clearly identifiers. No one wants to touch a field that's even close to uniquely identifying.

I'm pretty aware of the shitty things that have happened, and that there are costs and risks involved with all of this. Despite all of that, I embrace advertising (and many of the "creepy" things that enable effective advertising) because it allows for awesome things to exist for free.

Like I said before, I'm aware that advertising isn't the only way for awesome things to exist for free.

Snooping is big business. A lot more than either you (@iago) and @Sidoh give it credit.

"Snooping" is inaccurate in the majority of cases, I think.

"Big business" as in there's lots of money to be made? Of course.

"Big business" as in it's a super big deal and it's going to make the world a shittier place? I'd disagree.

Offline iago

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 12:15:27 PM »
They don't let your control the really valuable data such as search history and location information. With Google giving away all it's cool tech, it has to pay the bills somehow!
I'm not entirely sure that that data's kept in a meaningful way (ie, linked to the user) for an extended period of time. I know that the ads and stuff you're served aren't based on the URLs you visited and the searches you made, but on your "interests" gleaned from those URLs and your current search/location.

I could go check the source, of course, but then I couldn't discuss it. ;)

Offline while1

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 05:03:07 PM »
The thing about Google is, you have pretty good control over what they collect and how they use it. https://google.com/dashboard will list all your data / account / linkages, you can find out what google has 'learned' about you based on where you visit, and you can modify / remove / tell it not to collect it at all.

LIES!  That link results in a 404 error!


Anyways, the shit that annoys me the most (recently) about Google is the obnoxiousness of their real name policy.  I've stopped going to YouTube because every goddamn time it asks me whether I want to associated my real name or not with my YouTube account.  It does not respect my decision or privacy because I of course select NO, but it asks me to associated my real name every fucking login session (or something like that).  Ask me ONE TIME, and then don't ask me again unless I dig around into a profile settings/ option.  There have been a couple times where I have almost accidentally hit YES because it pops up when I'm not expecting it to... Very sleazy and sketch practice.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 05:12:42 PM by while1 »
I tend to edit my topics and replies frequently.

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Offline iago

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2014, 12:25:40 PM »
LIES!  That link results in a 404 error!
Whoops! https://www.google.com/dashboard and http://google.com/dashboard work, but not the one I posted. :)

Anyways, the shit that annoys me the most (recently) about Google is the obnoxiousness of their real name policy.  I've stopped going to YouTube because every goddamn time it asks me whether I want to associated my real name or not with my YouTube account.  It does not respect my decision or privacy because I of course select NO, but it asks me to associated my real name every fucking login session (or something like that).  Ask me ONE TIME, and then don't ask me again unless I dig around into a profile settings/ option.  There have been a couple times where I have almost accidentally hit YES because it pops up when I'm not expecting it to... Very sleazy and sketch practice.
Yeah, a lot of people internally dislike that policy too. "yes or ask me later"

Offline nslay

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2014, 06:24:44 PM »
I guess you're right. It wouldn't be snooping in the case of AT&T Fiber since it is disclosing its monitoring practices directly to the customer.

The same cannot be said of some advertising firms that bait computer illiterate users into using free software and/or services and either bury their policies in long ToS agreements or just not at all (e.g. Google Ads will track me when I visit sites that host Google Ads without my knowledge or consent and independent of whether I use Google services or not ... I would call this snooping).

My impression is that these practices are either obfuscated or hidden from users for fear that users may not actually agree with those practices. That's just a guess though.

And how do you actually know that these types of companies take privacy seriously? Facebook is a reputable company that has repeatedly violated its own privacy policy in the past (that we know of). And Google's executive staff are outright hostile toward privacy. So yes, I generally take a pessimistic point-of-view. On top of that, there are numerous obscure advertising agencies that appear all over the web that most people have probably never even heard of. What could you say of these? Who would even notice privacy violations from obscure advertising agencies no one has ever heard of?

At the least, I think more transparency is needed.






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Offline iago

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2014, 02:19:02 AM »
(e.g. Google Ads will track me when I visit sites that host Google Ads without my knowledge or consent and independent of whether I use Google services or not ... I would call this snooping).
I don't think that's true, depending on what you mean by 'snooping'. They might trigger that somebody has been there, but I don't think they keep information about you.

And Google's executive staff are outright hostile toward privacy.
How do you mean? I've only been there a month or two, but I haven't gotten that feeling at all.

Offline Sidoh

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2014, 02:24:41 AM »
I guess you're right. It wouldn't be snooping in the case of AT&T Fiber since it is disclosing its monitoring practices directly to the customer.

I guess I'm more referring to advertising companies, because I think their reputation tends to be a lot worse than it should be. I think a lot of what goes on in the advertising community is fairly benign. Of course there are exceptions, and those are to be abhorred, but I'm not going to allow those exceptions dominate my perception of the industry that allows the development of awesome things that are available to me for free.

The same cannot be said of some advertising firms that bait computer illiterate users into using free software and/or services and either bury their policies in long ToS agreements or just not at all (e.g. Google Ads will track me when I visit sites that host Google Ads without my knowledge or consent and independent of whether I use Google services or not ... I would call this snooping).

Yep, those companies are shitty and I wish they didn't exist.

I guess you and I have different definitions of snooping. I think it's probably inaccurate to say that Google is building a profile of you and running complicated algorithms on that profile to decide which ads to show you. If you see an ad for a website you recently visited, it's almost certainly the result of a retargeting/remarketing campaign. The website you visited specifically asked Google to place a cookie on your browser. They then bid a premium to display ads to browsers with that cookie. It's still quite anonymous -- there's nowhere that says "nslay visited website X." It's just a cookie in your browser that tells Google when you request an ad "this browser visited website X", and Google does with that information whatever is most profitable.

My impression is that these practices are either obfuscated or hidden from users for fear that users may not actually agree with those practices. That's just a guess though.

Buried in legal jargon is possible, but I don't even think it's that common in the case of most reputable advertising companies. I think a blast of bad PR is enough to kill a smaller company, so they're generally very concerned with being honest about what they do.

And how do you actually know that these types of companies take privacy seriously?

I work for a company that's pretty heavily involved with the adtech community. We don't like to brand ourselves as an adtech company, but we work closely with dozens of advertising companies, and we have very strict privacy requirements of our partners. I feel like I'm probably close enough to issue to have a reasonably accurate measurement of the culture.

Facebook is a reputable company that has repeatedly violated its own privacy policy in the past (that we know of). And Google's executive staff are outright hostile toward privacy. So yes, I generally take a pessimistic point-of-view. On top of that, there are numerous obscure advertising agencies that appear all over the web that most people have probably never even heard of. What could you say of these? Who would even notice privacy violations from obscure advertising agencies no one has ever heard of?

At the least, I think more transparency is needed.

I understand your point of view. I don't care much for these things either, but in my mind, the benefits outweigh the costs. Yeah, I don't generally agree with Google's attitude on privacy, but I tend to think almost all of what they do is pretty uncreepy. I think stuff like retargeting feel really creepy because it seems like some entity is following you around and watching what you're doing, but that's not how it actually works.

Offline nslay

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Re: Online advertising
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2014, 09:18:51 PM »
The problem I have is that the cost isn't well known. Nobody thinks about how the advertising agencies work, or how Google and Facebook make their money. And they certainly don't directly disclose their business practices to the users. Instead, users see free software and services thinking that they're free (and they're not). That's pretty deceptive.

Why not directly disclose the cost to the user if it's so great? Why is it secretive? Maybe advertising agencies really suspect that users wouldn't appreciate the cost at all or maybe they think users wouldn't care.  Either way, a price tag is nice.

And by the way, Google is among many that buries its policies in lengthy legal jargon too. At least it makes users aware of policy changes.

I can only speculate what kinds of information advertising agencies collect and how they use the data. Whether it can identify me as nslay, my Google ID, a cookie number, an IP address, or a behavior pattern is irrelevant. I don't like the idea that Google, for example, can build (and probably does) an almost complete profile of my web surfing history (since many sites host Google Ads). I personally don't want to be tracked and I am opted-in by default. I have to 1) know that I am being tracked (which is generally kept hidden), 2) Find a way to opt-out (if any).

And again, as I pointed out: Anonymous data isn't necessarily anonymous. Once you cross reference data, you could, for example, build a statistical model and accurately predict the identities* of users. It's been done before and I imagine advertisers do this too (predicting someone's identity* by their web surfing behavior would be an interesting learning task).

* : By identity, I mean some abstract server-side representation of a user (which is not limited to something like a unique number for example).

You want my support for Google: Be upfront and direct about the costs and practices. Otherwise, I think you're a bunch of hypocrites to your own motto "don't be evil." Surely Larry Page and Schmidt have nothing to hide from us, the unsuspecting user ... right?

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