Category Archives: Marketing

Diatribes about marketing, advertising, and other media-related topics.

Facebook and Google

I’ve bitched a lot about Facebook the past year, primarily because I disagree with the way that Facebook assumes that everything you do wants to be public information.

You’re opted by default into Facebook Places, allowing people to broadcast to anyone where you are.
Photos, people can tag you doing stupid things, all without your permission unless your carefull modify your settings.
Facebook started using your name and photo in ads, unless you opted out.
Facebook has been found to be publicly sharing user data with advertisers and other developers.

You post everything on Facebook. You tell it what you like. What you’re doing. Where you’re doing it and who with. This is your life. It is your timeline (I love the design, for the record).  Now, don’t you think you should be able to choose which information you share and with whom (including developers, partners, advertisers,etc.)

Let me explain why this gets me so worked up…

I work at Google. One of my responsibilities is to ensure that all of the advertisers running on our AdSense partner sites (the Google Display Network) are respecting your right to Internet privacy. The team I manage ensures that  our advertisers are not storing any data about you and that they fully declare how they use it by way of the advertiser’s privacy policy. We ensure that advertisers are not stealing your online identity, allowing them to thus target you without your express knowledge and agreement.

We review every ad that is served on our network to ensure that it is not dropping any tracking cookies from shady advertisers, ad networks or other online entities. For the select vendor tracking cookies we allow, we carefully screen them for data collection practices, malware protection and require that they each include a method in their privacy policy to allow you to opt out from being tracked.

Google collects behavioral data about which sites you visit, to put them into categories for advertisers to target. We tell you this information up front and allow you to delete or change what we know about you. Hmmm.. Google thinks I’m 35-44 years old. I’m kind of offended.

We tell you exactly what we know about you and how we use it.

Now let’s talk about Facebook. You tell Facebook everything. Facebook is your online identity. If an someone could take a snapshot of your life (your books, conversations, interests) and put it in one massive database, it’d be Facebook. All this information is then shared with advertisers, research companies its partners.  For example, the marketing research company Nielsen has a new product known as OCR, which will report back to advertisers which ads you’ve seen, on which pages of the internet, how you responded to the ad and compare that with your Facebook profile. You can’t choose what information is shared with Nielsen and what’s not. But that’s ok, right?

They’ve now allowing applications and partners to post directly to your stream and share everything you do, with or without your permission. I’m not sure how you feel about that, but I’d rather not tell everyone what movies I’m watching, reading, or listening to without me saying so. Do I want people to know that I a closet Real Housewives fan (I’m not)? Or that I’ve been listening to an unhealthy amount of Vitamin String Orchestra? I’d rather choose tell that to people, not assume that what I do in my private life is up for public consumption.

Spotify! I love it. Greatest app ever. I am a paying user for $9.99 a month. I get an email from them last week, with the subject line “Ron Bailer is listening to ____.” I open it up and it’s a promotional email from Spotify, who has a list of all my friends and is allowing the use of their names in promotional emails. I don’t want my name showing up in anyone else’s promotional email. Even if I love a product, I don’t want them to assume they can use my name in their advertisements. What is Ron hates Spotify?  I asked Spotify about this, and they told me:

The email you are referring too comes from Spotify Social and occurs when you link your Spotify account to Facebook. It will send out these emails occasionally to other users within your social network, so it is possible that from time to time your Facebook friends who have also linked their accounts to Spotify will receive similar emails with your information in.

There is no “opt in” or “opt out” option for this as it is part of the social experience. If you do not wish for information to be shared in this way you will need to disconnect your Facebook account from Spotify.

I like using Spotify and I want to share my playlists with other people. Why must I give up my right to privacy in order to get the convenience of sharing a song or a playlist with someone else. I know what you’re going to say.. this is Spotify’s problem (not Facebook’s). I disagree.

Google would never allow a partner or advertiser to do this to you, without your permission (or at least a way to opt out).

Advertisers on Facebook can target any demographic or profile term they want and hit you with a display ad. These ads can then drop cookies (and flash cookies) on you that can tag you as having specific qualities. You can’t opt out of it. You don’t even know it’s happening or when. The Facebook Privacy policy doesn’t offer any opt-outs for these sorts of things.

The information you share online is information about you. Think about it this way. If you have a secret or a personal story that you want to tell someone in real life. Who would you rather trust? The person that will keep your secret and allow you to say with whom they can and cannot share it? Or someone who thinks that “the age of privacy is over” and is willing to tell it to anyone that’s willing to listen?

Google’s Display Campaign

There’s a great write-up in tomorrow’s New York Times about Google’s display advertising business and it’s new ad campaign “Watch this Space” designed to celebrate and advertiser it’s seriousness in the space.

For me, as someone who has been on this team for the past 3 years, it’s exciting to see that our efforts are paying off. I’m excited to see this covered in The Times and even more excited to see how everything shakes out over the next few years.

Fly The Friendly Skies

On Monday afternoon, somewhere over Colorado, I was watching television in seat 17F aboard a JetBlue flight from San Francisco to Boston when I happened to flip by a news channel that was covering a breaking news story out of JFK. With the camera panning around airport and then stopping at a plane with the JetBlue logo on the tail, I started to pay extra careful attention. As I listened to the story being told by the newscaster, the story caught the eye of my row-mate who was quickly scrambling to find the story on his own headrest-top box.

I soon found myself in hysterics, as they recounted a tale of flight attendant that berated a passenger over the intercom, grabbed some beer and used the emergency slide to exit the plane. At this point my row-mate finally found the channel, but only managed to hear the second half — leaving him fairly baffled.

Moments later, one of our own flight attendants walks by and noticed that a few people were watching this story on the news, so she had stopped to ask what was going on. The gentleman in row 16 re-told the story to the crew, to which they couldn’t believe it.

Continue reading Fly The Friendly Skies

Extra Strength

While at work yesterday, I went to our medicine cabinet (yes, we have a medicine cabinets on each floor filled with an assortment of medical supplies) in search of a pain reliever for my headache. Looking through my options, I was faced with the choice of:

  • Extra Strength Acetominaphen (Tylenol)
  • Extra Strength Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)
  • Advanced Strength Ibuprofen (Advil)

I grabbed a small packet of the Aleve and began to ask myself why everything is labeled extra strength — if that’s become the standard. I understand that this is just a small sampling of the world’s drug supplies (being my office medicine cabinet and all) but the OTC medicine aisle at your local drug store is really no different.

Thinking about it even more, I thought it was some kind of ploy to charge more for the extra strength pills. Price the original strength pills at $5.00 and then tack on an additional dollar if you want the extra strength variety. This leaves the decision up to the shopper to ask “Why would I buy the original strength, if the stronger ones are just a dollar more?” But in reality, they don’t sell an original strength for a lot of the pain relievers.

Take Tylenol for example. A quick search at shows that every single package is marked “Extra Strength.” Wouldn’t this indicate that they should perhaps upgrade the strength threshold?

At the end of the day, I still think it’s some kind of marketing ploy — to make their product look stronger or more effective. If you ask me, it’s a little silly. Especially when it comes to the sample size generic medicinal offerings in my medicine cabinet.

A Lonelygirl on the Internet

It was only a few days ago that I first heard about , but I’ve already become fascinated by the concept. Let me explain.

In last week’s edition of , there was a piece talking about “The lonelygirl15 Phenomena” that has is this summer’s . To summarize, lonelygirl15 is a video blogger that uploads periodic posts to YouTube for the internet to watch. In her blog, she portrays herself as a normal 16 year old girl, who has typicaly teenage problems.. but something’s just not right. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but she doesn’t “seem” to be only 16 years old.

That’s where the plot begins to thicken. There are a number of clues and various tidbits of information that are slowly leaked throughout her many video posts, which takes on a “Lost”-esque appeal. Then, today, there was an article in the LA Times about the lonelygirl15 mystery. According to the LA Times:

No one has publicly come forward to lay claim to her work, but she is starting to look as connected in Hollywood as any starlet. Three lonelygirl15-obsessed amateur Web sleuths set up a sting using tracking software that appears to show that e-mails sent from a lonelygirl15 account came from inside the offices of the Beverly Hills-based talent agency Creative Artists Agency.

It’s an interesting concept that might develop, if this is in fact a movie in the making.. stemming out of a user-generated content idea, it created such a buzz and viral marketing effect, that it seems like a clever way to promote a new product or film.. though, it certainly does blur the lines between advertising and content.. it’ll be interesting to see what happens with our friend Lonelygirl15..

We get no respect

I don’t write about my job — neither current nor past employers. I feel as though there’s enough things to write about that I don’t need to get into any trouble writing about a specific company or organization. So with that in mind, I’m going to take a second to write about my career.

First off, I work in Internet Advertising. Let me take this a little bit further and say that my department (Advertising Operations) is responsible for developing new advertising models for publishers as well as putting these ads online. Now, before you start booing and hissing, hear me out.

The Advertising Operations departmnent for most online publishers has the same primary role — to support the sales team in developing successful advertising strategies, implement the ads that have been sold across the site, but at the same time (and most importantly) developing and adhering to advertising standards.

It’s this last part that I think most people don’t quite understand. When I think about the Ad Ops department, I feel as though we kind of get a bum rap by just about everyone. Editorial or Content dislikes us because we’re pro-advertising (that’s a given). Sales dislikes us because (even though we help them out tremendously) we’re always shooting down their ideas or trying to hold some sort of line. We’re not that good friends with the tech department either, as they typically view us as the troublesome pro-advertising department that is always looking for help to implement another cockamamie advertising intiative dreamed up by the sales team.
Continue reading We get no respect

They got a lot, a lot of culture there

What is the deal with this four-year-long advertising blitz pushing Philadelphia as the new hot vacation destination???  I admit, the only time I’ve been to Philly was when I flew in and prompty took a cab to Delaware.  I don’t have a frame of reference, but I’m pretty sure Philly is not more fun when you sleep over. 

First, we had to deal with the same commercial for at least three years.  You know the one – the spiffy little ad where the only exciting aspects Philadelphia residents could tell us was that Philly has culture, preztels, the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks, and restaurants.  A “baby New York,” is it?  Really? 

I’ll probably check out Philadelphia sometime, but it’s far down on my list.  I’m pretty sure I can get pretzels, Cheez Wiz, and culture in Boston.  After a few years, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce finally rolled out a new ad and I already miss the toothless cabbie sputtering about Philly’s culture.  How is a pudgy guy who’s light in the loafers and prancing around in his pajamas while channeling the spirit of Judy Garland supposed to attract more visitors to Philadelphia?

If anyone has the data to back up this marketing blitz, then prove me wrong.  Until then, I’ll be on line making my vacation plans to Flint, Michigan.


So, you might notice something a little different about The Diatribe today. That’s right, I’ve gone and added some ads to the site. Now, I’m not trying to make a profit, it’s actually a research project that I’m working on.

Frankly, I don’t intend to make more than a few cents here or there, but what I actually find more entertaining is the fact that all of the ads are for Jesus Christ or some such nonsense. That’s more entertaining than anything, I think.

In any event… I don’t expect them to be around for too long (though you never can tell) — so please don’t start bashing me about them. Over the next few weeks or so, you might see them move about.. don’t panic. I’m just playing around trying to see what can and can’t be done, and how their tags work.

I hereby openly promise to share the revenues made with all of the authors on The Diatribe — I’m not trying to run away with a profit.