Category Archives: Advertising

Against SOPA and PIPA, for an open Internet

If you haven’t heard of SOPA and PIPA, you will today, as reddit, Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist, Free Software Foundation, and many other websites protest those Internet censorship bills today. The so-called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a House bill (H.R.3261) and the so-called PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is a Senate bill (S.968) (most recently renamed Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011). Both have nothing to do with promoting creativity and everything to do with giving a few large copyright holders priority over the Internet, requiring censorship of links to entire domains. Have you heard of the Great Firewall of China? That’s where the Chinese government censors entire domains such as facebook, youtube, and twitter because they contain some content that the Chinese government doesn’t want distributed. SOPA and PIPA would do the same thing, except putting Hollywood in charge of what would be censored. In a perfect example of the DC lobbying revolving door, former Senator Chris Dodd, now Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the anti-SOPA blackout an “abuse of power”. Funny how it’s only an abuse of power when we fight back.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Mythbuster Adam Savage.

Here’s a technical explanation. And here’s a letter of objection many of the engineers who built the Internet.

Here’s where the anti-SOPA blackout started: Continue reading

Clemons: Advertising Doomed Online, Too

clemons_eric.jpg U. Penn. professor Eric K. Clemons, who researches strategic and competitive information technology, writes:
The expected drop in internet advertising revenues this year was neither unpredictable nor unpredicted, nor was it caused solely by the general recession and the decline in retail sales. Internet advertising will rapidly lose its value and its impact, for reasons that can easily be understood. Traditional advertising simply cannot be carried over to the internet, replacing full-page ads on the back of The New York Times or 30-second spots on the Super Bowl broadcast with pop-ups, banners, click-throughs on side bars. This might be a subject where considerable disagreement is possible, if indeed, pushed ads were still working in traditional media. Mostly they have failed. One newspaper after another is going out of business across the United States, and the ad revenues of traditional print media, even of highly respected magazines, is declining. The ultimate failure of broadcast media advertising is likewise becoming clear.
So a newspaper that wants to survive needs to find a way to do it without depending on traditional broadcast advertising.

Amnesty Foes 2.0: SenatorObama-PleaseVoteAgainstFISA

obamafisa.jpg I’ve been waiting for this to hit the bigtime, and it has, it’s been slashdotted:
ya really notes a blog posting up at Wired reporting that foes of the Telecom Amnesty Bill have mounted a campaign on Barack Obama’s own website. Though the group was created only days ago, on June 25, it has grown to be the fifth largest among 7,000 such groups, just short of Women for Obama. Although it is widely known that Obama changed his stance from opposing telecom immunity to supporting it, many have not given up hope of getting him to switch once again.

Telecom Amnesty Foes On the Move, Posted by kdawson, slashdot, on Tuesday July 01, @08:02AM from the one-week-and-counting dept.

And today the group has more than 9,000 members and is #2 among all MyBO groups.

It’s everywhere else, too, Time, WSJ, Wired, Huffington Post, TPM, DailyKos, MyDD, OpenLeft, digg, reddit, and of course facebook. Read all about it on the wiki.

(Yes, I’m a member of the group, since about the second day, and here’s what I think about the issue.)

This group is a goldmine of information about which telecoms gave what money to whom.

The most significant part to me is that people are using a candidate’s own organizing tools to attempt to organize the candidate. Not stopping there, either, attempting to organize allies for the candidate. Obama claims to be people-powered. Let him say that while other politicians follow money from lobbyists, he listens to the people who give him money, who are the people, and when they said think again he did, and discovered the bogus House FISA “compromise” bill is no such thing, and now he’s against it. We’ll see.


FaceBook Beacon Bulb Changed: Online Mall Changes Due to Users’ Privacy Concerns

minority_gap.jpg One problem with outfits like MySpace and Facebook is the same as that with shopping malls: they feel sort of like public space, but they’re not. They’re privately owned and operated, and you never know what the private cops are doing with their security camera information, or the stores are doing with all that purchase information. In the case of Facebook, when Facebook announced (to advertising executives, not to its own users) its Beacon system to provide its users information to companies for targetted ads, and that Coca-Cola, Sony, and Verizon had already signed up, Om Malik told Facebook’s users (and the Internet at large), and the users didn’t like it.

Facebook tried ignoring Malik, tried painting him as an elitist pundit, and finally announced users will be explicitly asked whether they want to publish the information that Beacon uses. Facebook didn’t do this until after got involved and turned it into a political issue. Malik is chortling over bringing about this Facebook about-face in only three weeks: from 7 to 29 November.

The moral here seems obvious, and twofold:

  1. Internet users do expect some modicum of privacy.
  2. An Internet company can’t announce something to somebody else that affects its users without the users finding out about it.



apparatchik.jpg From London, it appears the emperor’s apparatchik has no clothes:
The commission, under Mr Martin, has turned US media policy into mere political theatre, while technology marches on apace, revolutionising media markets without any serious input from the regulators in the public debate about the implications.

Big Media control of the airwaves is simply not the threat to democracy and choice that it once was (in the days before cable or, for that matter, bloggers and MySpace). This is yesterday’s battle. It is time to move on to the tougher challenge: how to ensure that quality news survives the YouTube era.

New rules for yesterday’s problem, Editorial, Financial Times, Published: November 14 2007 19:15 | Last updated: November 14 2007 19:15

Well, the first step would be to ensure that people get to look at it, for example that they are able to view the Financial Times. Economic models would be good, too. Some traditional news media seem to be developing those.
But it is not clear how one troubled industry (newspapers) can be helped by grafting it on to another one (the broadcast media), when both have essentially the same problem: the internet is stealing their advertising revenues.
Well, the New York Times has discovered can make more money by advertising if they don’t charge for articles. And that didn’t involve merging with a TV station. With real ISP competition, somebody would also develop a real first-mile ISP business plan.


Political Blocking by MySpace?

A self-described anti-war website alleges MySpace blocks it:
Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace has been caught in another act of alternative media censorship after it was revealed that bulletin posts containing links to Prison were being hijacked and forwarded to MySpace’s home page. MySpace has placed Prison Planet on a list of blocked websites supposedly reserved for spam, phishing scams or virus trojans.

MySpace Censors Anti-War Websites, Prison Planet blocked as the model for government regulated Internet 2 gets a dry run, Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet, Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Prison Planet says it’s certain this is deliberate, because it observed it going on for more than two weeks and multiple people have observed it. However, it doesn’t give any evidence that MySpace is blocking this particular site because it’s anti-war, nor of any other anti-war sites being blocked by MySpace. Nor for that matter that Rupert Murdoch had anything directly to do with it.

Now I wouldn’t be surpised if MySpace or some other social networking site took it upon itself to block anti-war sites, but I don’t see this case proven, and it’s the only one (the article mentioned InfoWars, but that’s a Prison Planet affiliate). For that matter, is being against the Iraq war even controversial anymore? Continue reading


Photograph by
Martynka Wawrzyniak
Ashley Qualls, aged 17, builds a myspace site, Whateverlife, earns $70,000/month, quits school, buys house, refuses $1.5 million buy out.
Her MySpace page layouts are available for the bargain price of…nothing. They’re free for the taking. Her only significant source of revenue so far is advertising.

Girl Power, by Chuck Salter, Fast Company, Issue 118, September 2007, Page 104

Ads by ValueClick Media, not DoubleClick.

Now imagine her doing this on a properly commoditized and monetized broadcast content duopoly-controled Internet. She wouldn’t be able to get approval, and if she did, she wouldn’t be able to afford the broadcast fees.

Internet freedom? Whatever!


PS: Seen on

Merger Mania

cleland.jpg Interesting post here on Scott Cleland’s Percursor Blog:
A major reason why the stakes are so high in the FTC’s review of the Google-DoubleClick merger is how remarkably fast online advertising is overtaking other advertising industry segments that have been around for decades.

Online ad trends show the huge stakes in the Google-Doubleclick merger, by Scott Cleland, Precursor Blog, Wed, 2007-09-05 17:38.

Interesting especially in that I don’t recall him having any similar trepidations about the AT&T-Bellsouth merger.

He quotes eMarketer as saying that:

a recent report from equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson predicts that the Internet will displace television as the No. 1 ad medium by 2011.” [bold added]
Cleland did not provide a link to eMarketer or to VSS.

A little googling finds the VSS press release about its report, which actually says:

Internet advertising is expected to become the largest ad segment in 2011, surpassing newspapers.

New Veronis Suhler Stevenson Forecast: Shift to Alternative Media Strategies Will Drive U.S. Communications Spending Growth in 2007-2011 Period; Consumer Media Usage Expected to Level Off Going Forward, Press Release, Veronis Suhler Stevenson, 7 Aug 2007

VSS says newspapers: not television. Looks like somebody had television on the brain. Continue reading

Exogenous Technological Change

Here’s a good backgrounder video on where the Internet came from and where it may be going: Humanity Lobotomy. See especially the part by Larry Lessig about how printing presses in the early days cost about $10,000 in 2007 dollars, and lots of people had one and published books and pamphlets.

What did the telephone companies have to do with inventing the Internet?
The browser?
The World Wide Web?
What have they had to do with the Internet from the beginning of time?

–Bob Kahn

What did they invent? Continue reading