Your Facebook Rebate

Q2 2018 Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 7.17.50 AMis in the books. Plenty of time for advertisers and their agencies to true up Q1 and really start work on the second half of the year.

As a reminder, in Q1 Facebook removed:

  • 583MM fake accounts.
  • 21MM pieces of content featuring sex or nudity
  • 2.5MM pieces of hate speech (I don’t think they were looking hard enough here)

and added 10,000 low paid and poorly-trained contractors moderators to help remove bad content.

So how big was the rebate that you received from Facebook for showing ads to all those bots and in front of that hate speech?

Thought so.

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Talent > Systems

“Any industry that values systems and processes over talent is an industry in decay.”

Wrote Bob Hoffman today, reminding us that the adtech, martech, …aaS, and whatever other stuff we’ve cobbled into a tech stack isn’t our secret sauce.

Like the Warriors, it is the talent and experience that makes the difference.

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Default Power

switch_offFacebook recently said that most of the 2 billion people on their platform had their personal data scraped. The reason, aside from Facebook’s appallingly sloppy controls over access to data, is defaults.

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that most people kept their privacy settings in the default configuration, allowing almost anybody to scrape their data. Facebook set up the defaults that way to allow them to sell more advertising. They just set things up in an incredibly stupid and careless fashion.

Dan Ariely and other behavioral economists have done much research on the power of defaults. Pre-checking boxes works, sometimes in ways that are unintended, as Facebook has learned. As marketers, we use defaults for things like ship-till-forbid and negative option sales systems. Those tools will have to be rethought in the EU when GDPR goes into effect in May.

I hope that Facebook’s irresponsible data protection policies will result in something like GDPR in the U.S. although that probably won’t happen in today’s regulatory regime. I believe that EU has done the right thing with consent under GDPR.

An interesting talk on defaults from Dan Ariely:

Posted in Behavioral economics, Data, digital marketing, Security | Tagged , , , ,

The Forgotten Boolean NOT

Reef-KnotI spent last week in Glasgow and London, with a UK SIM card temporarily in my phone. As part of my daily routine of checking Twitter, I learned that many social media advertisers and agencies have forgotten how to use Boolean operators, specifically NOT.

I saw a huge array of poorly-targeted “audiences” used by UK companies within 48 hours of activating my Three phone number. And notice that it took a full 48 hours for the magical, real-time capabilities of adtech to start wasting advertiser dollars. Consider that the next time you hear “real-time” in some pitch from a middleman or clueless agency.

For want of a Boolean operator, lots of advertiser dollars are being wasted. Some examples:

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Posted in Data, digital marketing, Direct Response, Media, Social Media Marketing, Tactics | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Were You the Same in 2014?

Facebook is pumping out a lot of spin these days. They’re trying to make us forget they ran (and continue to run) a massive, unregulated surveillance operation. They’re trying to distance themselves from Cambridge Analytica in any way possible, before the orange jumpsuits get passed out.

One of the things you’ll notice is the constant inclusion of “2014” in all messaging.  That’s the date the Facebook Graph API was changed to reduce the amount of PII leaked out through their Custom Audience creation tool. They’re using 2014 because it sounds like a long, long time ago. Practically a lifetime in Internet years. So really, nothing to see here.

Four year old data couldn’t possibly be useful, right? Except at the time, it was only two years old. Now how much have you really changed in the last four years? I’ll bet that aside from the age of the kids, your spring break photos on Facebook look pretty much the same this year as they did last year and the year before. You may have moved or purchased a new car. But your fundamental beliefs and values, as indicated by the Big 5 personality traits, probably have not changed.

I think Facebook is running a little scared right now. Everything they say is spin and should be treated with extreme skepticism. Unfortunately, I also believe they’ll probably wriggle out of most of the fines and jail time. Just like they did anything they wanted with our data, they’ll do anything to squirm out of this. There’s nothing a Silicon Valley billionaire fears more than a little time in the big house, next to his or her suckers users.


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Algorithms: Recipes for Disaster

When we purchase digital advertising, we place our faith in the algorithms–a fancy word for “recipes”–used to determine things like the final price of the inventory, which creative is shown, and the frequency at which those impressions are shown. There’s additional recipes to figure out if there’s a real person on the other end of the impression and whether they might be interested in the products we’re selling.

It’s comforting to believe that the recipes are neutral and unbiased. We are told constantly that they are a fair system, void of irrational human biases, where only the cream rises to the top. A meritocracy, in other words. After all, how could pure mathematics be wrong?

I’m often the one questioning the recipe and the recipe-makers themselves. I’m constantly told that “we’ve never been asked that question before.” I used to think that comment was hyperbole. I know there’s lots of smarter people than me out there. Surely somebody must have asked that question before, right?

I now think the recipe-makers are telling the truth. I think they’re often faced with skepticism, which they usually wave off with a version of the “you don’t get it, man” that’s been used since before the first dotcom crash. But I believe that they’re almost never faced with the specific questions about how exactly they arrived at the recipe. The blind faith in math by untrained digital “marketers” (who can’t do math themselves) has resulted in a dearth of common-sense questions.

Do you want to know what the impact of lousy recipes looks like? Read this article about how crummy algorithms, that nobody understands, are literally putting people’s lives at risk. Maybe these recipes aren’t being written by the best of the best, sure. After all, the best of the best are trying to make a quick buck at Facebook. But at least they let anybody with a sack of rubles pilfer our PII for nefarious purposes take good care of the data.

Algorithms are built by people. People are flawed. The algorithms are flawed.

Takeaway: Stop blindly trusting algorithms–they are being used to siphon off your advertising dollars. Start with strategy. Segment-Target-Position. Fight the Philistines. Don’t be a magpie. And win.

Posted in Data, digital marketing, Education, Leadership, Media, Strategy | Tagged , , , ,

Attacking You With Retargeting

torches-and-pitchforksWebKit recently updated WebKit to address

“An attacker seeking to track site visitors can take advantage of the user’s HSTS cache to store one bit of information on that user’s device.”

in an interesting and understandable technical blog post by Brent Fulgham.

It’s the same loophole used by Criteo and possibly other retargeters.

Said another way, your retargeting vendors are probably more akin to malicious attackers than they are to traditional agencies.

It pains me to see that the profession of marketing has devolved to the state where many advertisers have resorted to hacking customer and prospect computers.

Are you attacking your own customers with your retargeting efforts? And if you are, are you doing business in the EU or targeting EU citizens? Are you sure?

Bonus question: If you’re using Criteo or another retargeting vendor (not “partner”), do they contractually indemnify you for transgressions of GDPR? I’d read that contract today. May 28 is fast approaching.

Posted in digital marketing, fraud, Leadership, Privacy, Security | Tagged , , , ,

Who’s Viewing Your Ads? Maybe Your IoT Security Camera.

Another day, another case of IoT security lapses. When buying digital media, you should always ask “how many humans are viewing my ads, and how can you prove it to me?” This article from Threatpost describes the extreme lack of security in security cameras made by Hanwha Techwin, which feature the Samsung brand name, among others.

Maybe strangers on the Internet want to watch you undress. It’s definite that strangers on the internet want to use your network and the devices on it to commit ad fraud or mine for cryptocurrency.

You should assume the media you’re buying is being viewed, at least in part, by compromised IoT devices unless proven otherwise.

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Reduce Spend, Increase Reach? Wait, This Can’t Be Right…

P&G eliminated 20% of their most ineffective spend and generated 10% more reach, according to this article in AdWeek.

Wait, that doesn’t fit the narrative about digital media. It’s all supposed to be about good, cheap media, reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Could it be that a lot of what we’ve been fed about digital marketing is a crock?


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Programmatic: Buying or Media?

Young hipster man making a good-bad signI’ve been asked a couple of times if I’m pro- or anti-programmatic. My answer, sometimes to the asker’s frustration, is “it depends.”

Whether or not a medium works for you depends on many things. The first, and most fundamental question to ask before purchasing any media is “does the target audience use that medium?” That’s forgotten a lot these days, particularly in the world of cheap digital media. Just because a medium has a lot of reach, doesn’t mean you want to buy it, regardless of the price.

Here’s how I think of “programmatic.”
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