Issues with pushing ads down my throat are as follows:
1. I don't want to buy another Sony XM3 headphones. I just fucking bought them and I am seeing more ads of the same thing.
2. Even if I saw ads for relevant accessories, say, I bought an iPhone and I am seeing ads for phone cases; I don't want to see them when I am browsing Instagram or a lecture video on YT about how to meditate.
3. Say the timing is right and the ad is relevant, I still am repulsed by advertisers. I don't like salesmen. I find them sleezy and annoying. It is like walking into Radioshack and a platoon of salesmen are trying to sell you Sprint cell phone and I am here to buy a goddamn electrolytic capacitor.
However, when I am searching for a pressure cooker, it would be great to go to a centralized repository of ads and look through who markets this sort of thing the best and may be have some objective reviews along with it. May be have a standardized ad template and guidelines so the marketing dickheads don't go overboard with flashing lights and sparkles. Have a standardized page full of pressure cooker ads, let them fight over my business in a level playing field. No psychological tricks, no sleezy techniques, I want to see increased competition based on value they provide to consumers. Not weak anti-competitive deceitful marketing.
I love going to trade-shows. They're all salesmen but there is something about serendipitous discovery of new stuff, seeing things that you may not need immediately but it goes in the back of your mind and you remember it at some obscure situation (especially in hardware engineering, I run a lab that serves 50 engineers). Most importantly, I am in the mindset when I visit a trade-show. That mindset is different than when I am desperately looking for a tire shop nearby to fix my flat tire.
Fuck advertisement. It is the worst thing modern society is plagued with.
We need yellow pages, not 60 second interruptions during a cooking show. YC folks are reading this - there is a huge gap for a "pull" advertisement model. AdTech guys can still collect data and be assholes about it, but at least you won't be bothering me when I need not.
Now you see ads for blenders because you bought one or looked at one last week. Ads are not context sensitive anymore.
I would have no problem if HN made some money with advertising for dev tools. It makes sense. Personalized ads are creepy and annoying.
When I was blogging a decade ago I would write almost exclusively about finance because it paid the best. With this system, I could write about other topics and still capture some of that finance-context revenue.
The Wirecutter used to be pretty good for this, until the NYT bought it. It's still OK now, but it feels like that the pool of products being reviewed in each category is smaller than it once was. The whole site is basically a giant ad/referral scheme, but as long as you're aware of that then it's not bad as a starting point for research.
I used to just do a search on Amazon and start from there. Now it's 1 or 2 big brands followed by 20 pages of the same identical Chinese clone product with names like "Wootoo" and "Yungoo".
Look at Japanese restaurant review site called Tabelog. Anything above 3 is good. 3.5 is excelltent. 4.0 is rare, probably expensive. 4.5 is michelin star category, mostly sushi places. I've never seen a 5.0 rated restaurant on Tabelog.
We publish office design projects and the advertising is based on the content which usually ends up being office furniture, products, and services. We also sell and host our own advertising to make sure they are high quality and that they load quickly.
Your digital trade show note is interesting too as we work with furniture manufacturers who can have a digital presence on the site to highlight their products.
Here is a popular phone booth company's page for reference: https://officesnapshots.com/brands/framery/
> Fuck advertisement. It is the worst thing modern society is plagued with.
Advertisement is literally as old as civilization.
In modern society, we have INSANE...I mean insane amount of deceit, psychological tricks, store smells, layout optimization, there is a huge industry built around deceiving people and not playing by level rules. Instead of focusing on quality, businesses are spending money on marketing.
> Advertisement is literally as old as civilization.
or rather evolved into a monstrous industry worth billions of dollars if not trillion+ dollars. You didn't have Aztec farmers shot by an arrow every 5 mins that had a note attached to it "BUY THIS NEW FUCKING PLOUGH" in ancient times.
Thinking of newspapers for example the problem is that the dynamics are very complex.
A few years ago, many sites started splitting in maybe dozens of weirdly specific topics just to artificially inflate the number of readers (if one user visit ten site it can be counted as 10 users) or even just buying click.
A billboard owner can do similar trick, but usually on a smaller scale.
If you're worried about the well-being of these people or believe their service is a public good that should exist regardless of profitability on the market, you should allocate public funding for them.
It's wrong to talk about how a market is "supposed to work" because markets aren't a Platonic ideal; they're how people get together and deal with scarcity in aggregate. Some markets can be highly competitive, some are monopolies or monopsonies, some are more or less regulated, and so on.
Capitalism is an ideology so it has a way it's supposed to work, but I think they'd broadly agree that banning a category of volunatry transactions is not capitalist.
> Without advertising, these people would be forced to implement a profitable monetization strategy, or they would fail.
Very true, if the government intervened, businesses would be forced to work around it. That may wind up being worse than what you started with. If ads weren't allowed, you'd probably have more people recruited to do direct sales, for instance.
More likely, though, they would lobby the government and point out the massive human cost of large numbers of businesses failing.
People give away their brain-seconds of attention based on interest, and the interest-providers are profiting on the difference in interestingness between advertisements and their own content. If they maintain interestingness above the boredom threshold, they can dilute their product with ads and pocket the difference.
If the advertisements were interesting in themselves, the advertisers wouldn't need to pay to get views.
Ad-tech is currently trying to shave ever closer to the boredom threshold. But people who value their own time are trying to maximize their interest-per-brain-second ratios. So they block ads, or multiplex their attention so they can switch to a different interesting thing while an ad is pre-empting another interesting thing.
So ad-tech should instead be focusing on making exposure to and information about the product on the market more interesting and useful.
Nothing stands out in my mind more as an example of doing things not just wrongly, but as the perfect antipode of correct, than the network-dependent insert-ad-here spots currently on DirecTV Now streaming video channels, that is literally nothing more than three static images paired with LOUDNESS-ENHANCED boring annoying synthetic music. It's the same ad, in every commercial break, on every channel, and it was boring and annoying to begin with. It only gets more boring and annoying with every repetition. It eventually generates antipathy in the viewer, toward the advertised products AND the advertiser. The natural reaction, of course, is to hit the mute button and switch to another attention sink until interesting content returns, or long-term to cancel DirecTV Now and switch to something with fewer or less-intrusive ads, or no ads at all.
The attention-reseller has to be aware that giving up control to someone else can possibly lead to a hostile advertiser that pushes negative-interest, such as audio of multiple babies screaming, over a video of Adolf Hitler shoveling kittens into a sausage grinder, or perhaps something else with less hyperbole. If the reseller cannot establish a minimum standard of interestingness, they risk a rogue advertiser killing off their audience. Again, the answer is more interesting ads, tailored to the channel audience--and not the individual viewer, because that's creepy and intrusive, which is anti-interesting.
In short, the advertisers are being too lazy, and too greedy. Pay the content creators to advertise the products themselves, in a way that they know will be above the boredom-threshold for their audience. Stop trying to figure out how to match prepackaged ads--that the attention-resellers have never had the chance to review--to audience members using tracking, profiling, and spyware.
Modern advertising is as old as Edward Bernays and the 1920s - https://intercontinentalcry.org/the-century-of-the-self-happ... and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnPmg0R1M04 [The Century of the Self - Part 1: "Happiness Machines" documentary]
That money comes out of the pocket of customers. Without advertising, products would be cheaper because their producers would not have to spend money on adverts.
So? That doesn't make it any less despicable.
At the beginning the money comes from the product owner, who without any visibility will not have (as many) costumers
Isn't this similar to what Amazon Marketplace does? Of course, they do allow advertisers to promote their stuff, but apart from a top few sponsored content, rest all are ranked by reviews (or so they say).
Of course there are also brands and products I know and like, which appear in these ads, but I see them as an exception, as a shining pearl in a sea of mediocrity, and continue to regard sponsored content as a strong indicator for lacking quality.
On that note: https://twitter.com/kibblesmith/status/724817086309142529
To be a devil's advocate, doesn't that mean that advertisers should get MORE of your personal data, so they know every product you own and won't suggest you buy something you already have?
Whenever you see a bad ad, it means whatever privacy precautions you're taking are working. The advertiser would love to not spend money advertising their thingie to someone that already has it. But you didn't let them. That sounds like a success to me.
Facebook does purchase credit card usage information but it's not nearly as perfect as having a conversion pixel on the site.
Future laws should really focus on cross-site / app tracking and the legality of purchasing third-party data.
And so, I think that advertising is not the root cause, its consumerism, which has been anointed as this engine that drives positive economic growth under capitalism. And like any other macroeconomic theory it falls in this contradicting category of 'thats bullshit' and 'that totally makes sense'. "Studies show X" whoop-de-doo. Advertising simply enables consumerism, and the people who you're calling dickheads actually enable a TON of software developers to even have jobs. Where is all the tech we're building being used? To build websites to sell stuff. To build databases to store all this info, to build entertainment platforms to sell you more stuff, to build logistic systems to organize this useless selling of stuff, etc, etc. Unless you're somehow connected with selling things or otherwise generating economic activity, why would anyone pay you to build it?
Sorta off topic, but our little conversation reminded me of a quote from Lord Of War.
>Yuri Orlov : I don't want people dead, Agent Valentine. I don't put a gun to anybody's head and make them shoot. But shooting is better for business. But, I prefer people to fire my guns and miss. Just as long as they are firing. Can I go now?
- much less CO2 production
- much less chance of malware / virus spreading
- much higher accuracy
- the web would be usable again without ad filters
Less people pulling ads = less demand on ad servers = less energy consumption?
Less people pulling ads = less people consuming crappy products = less products being manufactured in poluty factories?
Perhaps it's just the industries I've worked in, which tend to be highly regulated, but I have such a hard time seeing why this idea isn't more intuitive to people. Every single scrap of sensitive information you have laying around is something that has the potential to fuel a very expensive, possibly even existential, crisis for your company.
Even for the non-sensitive stuff, keeping it around "just in case" increases the risk that somebody who has taken a couple classes in how to use R or Pandas and is still a bit starry-eyed about Big Data starts making questionable business decisions based on unskeptical interpretations of biased results drawn from convenience-sampled data of uncertain provenance.
The default shouldn't be collecting and warehousing everything, the default should be, "when in doubt, throw it out."
Obviously much smarter people than me would need to figure out those regulations though.
Leaking data has little consequences.
Generally it's better to put the horse in front of the cart: Figure out what kinds of questions you want to be answering, and then design a way to collect the data you need to answer those questions.
This isn't far off from the lesson that medical science somewhat recently had to learn the hard way, about how just dragnet collecting heaps data and then figuring out what to do with it after the fact will yield far more incorrect conclusions than correct ones.
In terms of security breaches, this maybe SHOULD be true, but isn't.
In terms of bad feature development, it's a little melodramatic. I'm not saying you can't misinterpret something so bad it causes something catastrophic, just that it's more likely to be a couple percent drop in some subset of traffic for some cohort. Not the worst thing.
> The default shouldn't be collecting and warehousing everything, the default should be, "when in doubt, throw it out."
We have a lot of things where I work that I wish we were collecting now, not because we could use it now, but because we could use it later. And you can't go back in time and get it (usually).
Throwing data away is easy.
I wish I could have the foresight, the prescience to only store what I know I'll need.
One can argue that advertising cars to person without one make some sense.
At least it's better then advertising vacuum cleaners to person who bought one on amazon 1 week ago.
I use Google products extensively and Google most definitely knows I don't speak Thai. I mean it's almost ridiculous the number of Thai ads I've seen on Youtube. For a company that sophisticated with AdTech, I'm shocked how bad they are with this.
Are they doing this on purpose just to sell more ads? The companies spending the money to show me those videos are practically throwing money down the drain if I don't even understand them.
Edit: to clarify, even though Google makes targeting pretty easy, you still have to know what you're doing to set up a good ad campaign. Lots of businesses don't realize that ad buying actually requires some knowledge to avoid wasting money, so they just get the in-house "power user" to take care of it.
We're on vacation in northern italy. Why did my 2 year old daughter just get served two consecutive ads, one for a razor blade, in german, and one for the Italian Amazon website; all while watching Dutch songs for toddlers on YouTube?
She sure as hell doesnt speak german or italian, and I don't think she needs a razor....
And I think my opinion on that is probably obvious, but I think the simplest answer is that Google simply doesn't care about mistargeting ads to a consumer who wouldn't conceivably click on them. They gain no benefit from reducing an advertisers spend that way.
To the larger point of pull vs. push, I would embrace such a market place. Google shopping sort of does this. Good article. Thank you.
Google has paid thousands of engineers billions of dollars over 20 years and somehow they have failed on this very simple optimisation!
Even with vacuum cleaners, you're a magnitude more likely to purchase one again if you've purchased one in the past. From there it's just a math equation for a vacuum seller involving their cost per acquisition and re-targeting spend.
People credit adtech for knowing everything about them, but it's really not as smart or all-knowing as some give it credit for.
The question is not really asking about reducing ad spend, it's asking about reducing advertiser costs per outcome. It's pretty obvious that if you decrease costs per outcome, return on ad spend will rise, and advertisers will spend more. In fact, more advertisers will want to get in on the game (as costs decrease, ads become profitable for more and more advertisers), and this pushes costs up. This eventually creates an equilibrium, but even at that point, it is still the case that decreasing costs increases revenues for ad networks.
Attribution is a really, really hard problem. Ideally you want to do a Lift test, and ideally you want to do it across all your ad spend channels. To do this, you still need the attribution mechanisms ("tracking" in the article).
So I don't find the article coherent. It points out deficiencies in the system (which there are many), it falsely claims that big players have no incentive to improve, and it makes it sounds like all these advertisers are just burning their money. It makes it sound like pervasive tracking is a problem, which it might be for other reasons (privacy, unintended consequences), but certainly is not making ad tech worse.
The "attribution mechanisms" you mention are precisely one of the drivers for the pervasive data collection that is in AdTech.
Google and Facebook have an incentive to use up advertisers' budgets. But they also have an incentive to keep advertisers happy by providing good returns so that they will keep spending / increase spending in the long run. Advertisers are not always perfectly rational, but I don't think they're as dumb as the article makes them out to be.
The simpler explanation for poor ad targeting is the bidding component. If it was the case that you were shown whichever ad had the highest predicted CTR, I'm pretty sure you'd be seeing some damn relevant ads. But instead you're seeing whichever ad has the highest (bid per click * ctr). Or worse, advertisers can also bid per impression, in which case there might be no relevancy component at all.
My guess is the car ads on YouTube mentioned in the article are that last case. Both of those components (YouTube and car companies) are notable for skewing towards "brand" advertising rather than "performance" advertising. They're not trying to get you to buy a car right then. They're trying to get you to feel good about their company in the long run so that five years from now you're more likely to buy their car.
Sadly, there's a huge conflict of interest between user privacy and relevant ads targeting here; we currently cannot accurately measure ads performance even with the current privacy-invasive practices and this will get even worse without them.
This is why I think user-tracking needs to be standardized in a more explicit way; more accurate and reliable tracking can significantly improve ads relevance while it can give some level of user control and transparency by default. Of course, I'm 100% sure that this won't come anytime soon.
X is just the content of the ad and is usually entirely advertiser-defined. Some ad networks will allow you to do some fancy stuff to help determine the best phrasing or arrangement or whatever of your ad.
Z can be in dollars per impression, per click, or per conversion. An impression is one person being shown an ad one time. A click is a person clicking an ad. And a conversion is advertiser-defined but is usually someone buying the product being advertised. Bidding per click is the most common.
Then when a user loads a page with an ad on it, the ad network finds all campaigns that are eligible - meeting the criteria defined in Y. It then runs an "auction". It has to calculate which eligible advertiser is willing to pay the most for that potential impression. But not all advertisers are bidding per impression, so some prediction comes into play. If an advertiser bid per click, then the expected amount they will pay is the probability the user will click multiplied by the price if they do click. Their probability of clicking is often called CTR which stands for "click-through-rate" so that's where the bid * CTR comes from. Usually an ML model takes what is known about the user, the ad, and the page, and predicts CTR. Similarly for conversion-based bids, it's bid * CTR * CVR, where CVR is "conversion rate". Whichever ad comes out with the highest result of this calculation is shown.
One follow up question - is the "bid per impression" sort of the campaign of last resort then? In other words its the cheapest type of campaign for an advertiser to run as well as the least profitable for the ad network?
As for the network, it's also not as clear what's profitable. Bidding per click or conversion probably gives them more opportunity to do well with good targeting. But high per-impression bids are also useful for the users the network knows very little about.
Having worked for an ad network: it doesn't matter how good your recommendation algorithms are if all you have in your ad campaign pool is shitty diet and car ads.
Nota bene, weak effects does not mean ads are necessarily profitable. Profitability depends on many factors including margin, retention, ad cost, etc.
If you are a developer in AdTech, you will NEVER hear about interaction, or see contract, with most of the companies listed...other than a handful (maybe FB, maybe Yahoo, maybe Instagram). I've worked for Experian (the US Company) and talking about them in the AdTech space is the same as talking about HN in the cooking recipe space. There's a tiny bit of overlap, but it's largely pointing to shoehorned third parties because that isn't something Experian's existing infrastructure performs.
AdTech is fun, it pays well, and you get to be at the ground level of these moral compass debates. I have refused some pieces of work and AdTech is tolerant to negotiating concerns. I think most developers would benefit from experience in AdTech, even if it's just a short time.
Is this a euphemism for "test your moral fibre"? I had a similar experience with a company that later turned patent-troll - not sure I'd wish that on anyone (high stress, not rewarding).
That's the most generous way of phrasing it that I've ever heard... ;)
At the point in time I joined that company, I was explicitly looking for a job with interesting technical challenges. However, over the course of a couple of years, the tech mattered less and less, and the human component mattered more and more. I quit the job to get out of the industry.
I'm still not sure how to feel about my tenure there. I grew as an engineer and team lead, but I question if I made the world a little worse by helping companies improve their targeting abilities in social media.
I'm genuinely intrigued by AdTech. It exists, but no one likes it -- i.e. before internet ads --> TiVo, internet ads --> ad blockers. I understand it can attract talent due to profits and the engineering + data problems, but is that the main attraction for developers? If you worked in adTech, what attracted you to it? Is there a hope you could make more ethical or privacy aware or (<insert positive idea here>) ad tech systems?
Does adTech even work? Is there an active campaign somewhere / grassroots movement to "boycott" recruitment to ad tech companies?
(Just trying to get a better understanding here, ad tech has become symbiotic with the current state of the internet, so I would like to better understand it.)
I was attracted by the money, but also the exciting technical challenges. AdTech had all the largest datasets! At the time I entered the industry I wasn't really thinking about the ethical concerns. I just didn't think those issues would bother me as much as they ended up bothering me.
The industry is filled with hugely interesting technical challenges even if you're not at FAANG scale. Trivial things like building a cost efficient delivery infrastructure to reducing the number of steps between receiving that first page load to ad delivery and then on to analytics. A lot of it is just math and it's fun when you structure your challenges that way. It's like inverse Pinky and the Brain everyday. We're not scheming to erode everyone's privacy, we're just lab rats looking for the shortest route from one end of the maze to the other.
I also left after a few years because all that maze running got boring eventually and I decided I'd like something with a little bit more meaning. Or, from another point of view, those years eroding everyone's privacy has enabled me to climb high enough up on Maslow's pyramid such that I now have the comfort to worry about self actualisation.
There were a few people that totally drank the kool aid, and believed that what we were doing was enabling people to gain a livelihood by running a popular website. Usually the really young ones or those at management level.
Those from a developed country were mostly interested in the technical problems and improving their engineering skills.
Those from developing countries were most definitely in it for the money.
Like Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
More likely, at the risk of overgeneralizing, I suspect a lot of the people going into adtech aren't really the philosophical-type (I think those probably tend to avoid marketing in general), a lot of them are young, and probably excited just to get a job offer in such a well-paying, high-profile industry.
I think you're right, that a lot of the people going into AdTech, and just marketing in general, aren't philosophical. But, you saying that made me chuckle, because I have a BA in Philosophy, and no computing qualification.
The pay was only average for the area, but the company clearly had money and was experiencing rapid growth which is always exciting.
As you mention, massive data sets, tens of billions of HTTP requests per day, etc, are simply not challenges you get outside of FAANG, so there was a lot of interesting work.
The really shady stuff only came to light once you'd worked there a while, and realised the entire industry is basically built on fraud and money laundering with almost nobody incentivised to stop it.
I definitely miss being able to work on such a large volume of data but at least I don't have to worry about PagerDuty anymore.
Could you elaborate? Seems very high, even for ad impressions.
The thing that attracted me to it was the technology and scale of data involved. From a purely engineering perspective, it was highly attractive. It was a small company, and as a small company in ad tech that still meant rapid and 0-downtime deploys, deeply-ingrained devops culture, rapidly evolving technology, and indexing/reporting/decision-making on thousands of events events every second. During peak seasons, every day we'd have another terabyte of data in the database.
AdTech also affords a lot more transparency into company finances than you would in other companies. You're building the tools used for reporting on revenue and costs that the entire business uses for almost all decision-making. Engineers don't live in a silo from that perspective.
From a product perspective, it was much less rewarding. You know how often times internal-facing applications have the worst UX? Everything we built felt like that because ultimately it was. There is also a lot of pressure that comes with the points above -- every second our system takes to throttle an ad campaign that has reached their budget, encounters an unavoidable AWS downtime, or exposes a reporting bug is company dollars down the drain.
To be honest, a large part of my ethical discomfort was not only about implicitly contributing to the surveillance state, but about the waste of the use of computing power and time and work. Even if we succeed, and deliver the perfect recommendation to every single shopper, then <Large Client> might make X% more ROI from their website. Maybe a yay for <Large Client>'s stockholders? Unless you know, Twitter talks about them this week... How is the world a better place because I'm working at my job today?
I don't make my senior software engineer salary working for myself, but I've "digitized" 4 separate businesses since I left. It feels good to build tangible products and write software that make someone's life easier.
AdTech absolutely works in some sense. Advertisers are fairly savvy about being able track improvements in sales of the things they are advertising and they have seen improvements using digital advertising. Does all the tracking/segmentation/attribution voodoo work? Does it make up for all the fraud and middlemen? I think those are open questions.
As for a privacy aware ad tech system, I think it’s fairly trivial to do that with something like RTB/open ecosystems. The problem there is that its a low margin business and the race to the bottom doesn’t incentivize it. People operating in that space are competing with Facebook and Google who obliterate the privacy veil & dominate the landscape.
My second venture into Ad industry came rather unexpected. In 2016, when I had to leave Canada because my employer was denied LMIA (a paper "certifying" that you are not stealing a job from locals.) I called up all my friends with whomever I had working relationship before I moved out of Russia.
A man who once was a guy behind of Russia's biggest ad farming group back in mid-naughties called me back. Unbeknown to me, he worked day and night to up his profile for 10 years, and became a "big name man" in Ad industry, moved to USA, and opened one of the biggest DSP on the market today.
What shocked me, is that the nature of the industry and attitudes to the client hasn't changed a dime since 2005. The slang for F500 clients there is still a "whale" (the term itself originally came from either "ad farming" circles or banking)
After passing through shock coming back to Russia after 8 years and coming back to my senses, I said *ck with that and left. Been happily working in OEM electronics again since.
Lets be real - when you’re in this position, the consultants say a lot of words to you that you don’t understand and then you say yes to a contract because the PowerPoint looks good. Not only do you get to mention your huge new budget on your resume, thanks to the huge invoice, but you also get to mention you implemented MACHINE LEARNING at your company. But what’s next?
I have been working in advertising industry (background in software engineering) for 3+ years as an engineer (for one of the four biggest agencies). I think the author overestimates how much data we can/do collect, and how much we leverage on it. But the excerpt above is absolutely spot on. I'm a mid-level manager and I sometimes baffled at how much bullshit some companies try to sell to our clients (e.g., some big CPG companies), and how much the management folks from our clients and our advertising agency/company alike buy into that bullshit. "ML/AI" and "Media attribution" are really big now. But I believe almost 99% of the people who are leading these efforts (at least in my company) have no clue as to how to do it--thus, the snake oil salesmen are taking advantage of this.
I worked at a Telecom for most of my time in AdTech so I think I might have had a close encounter with some particularly high overcollection of data there.
I've been screaming about this for years, but everyone thinks I'm crazy. Here's an interesting point of frustration: one one likes to give out phone numbers in the context of online dating anymore. Usually the request is to move from, say, tinder, to an app like Snapchat. People don't understand why I'm hesitant, especially when they want to discuss relatively personal, indirectly or directly politically charged politics on a platform built to harvest literally everything you write, photograph, and send.
On some level I start to feel like society is deserving of the dystopia it is building, because the average person simply doesn't care to understand the dangers of anything they do when everyone else is doing it. But maybe that's just vindictiveness brought on by jealousy of their blissful ignorance.
From another active thread concerning the ad industry:
> Using Google retargeting ads, less than 5% of desktop traffic goes on to click anywhere on my website. And it's worse for mobile than on desktops.
You have to diagnose what could be off on your end before making extreme blanket statements.
These ad systems are tools, and tools only work as well as how you use them.
My only expectations is being able to believe real people are actually clicking the ads.
Which I don't.
What is your website/landing page URL and what did your ad say?
And considering the pervasiveness of tracking, why isn't the fraud better tracked?
Because the people who are best-positioned to do something about click fraud also make heaps of money off of click fraud.
For example, browser extensions like AdNauseam that randomly "click" on ad links are maybe meant to be a middle finger aimed at the ad networks, but, realistically, if you, the person doing the advertising, are paying for clicks, then the main effect of such extensions is to transfer money from your pocket to the ad network's.
On the advertiser side, fraud has a small impact due to idiot brands bidding up prices and also another small impact due to the fact that you need to cull all the worst placements/domains when you first start using a network or launch a campaign.
On the publisher side, each fraud penny earned is a penny directly taken away from legitimate publishers.
Fraud is much more a problem for publishers than for advertisers.
>There's a lot of fraud
Makes no sense.
Everytime AdTech comes up on HN, there's inevitably people who defend advertising with "you're not doing it right". Sorry, but the industry is a cesspool.
Are you retargeting someone immediately after they purchased? Before their purchase even arrived? Is it a good targeting list?
We have 3 buckets of customers, based on historical buying cycle: 0-30, 31-60, 61-90. We run retargeting within their purchase cycle, which is friendly and relevant.
Customers get churned out of retargeting if not within their buying cycle, which saves us money, and saves them irritation.
I'm not referring to real conversions, where yes, skills in marketing and using the tools does make all the difference.
All I'm saying is that I paid for 200 clicks that appear to not even have real people clicking anywhere at all.
What you need to do is to exclude bad placements/websites from your campaign. But even before that, you have to see if your ads + landing page are compelling, or you'll just waste a ton of money.
And how do you determine that, ex ante?
At the end of the day we're still talking about sales, just in a new form, in a multi-dimensional bazaar called the Internet.
That is, people that have visited my site in the past(with separate ad groups to test "expanded audiences"), currently visiting another site with the target keywords, from a targeted location.
And ads are generic branding and go to the homepage.
Conversion goal: simply clicking anything at all.
Depends on the type of site. If I follow a link to read something, I'll probably read it and leave. If the site tries to make me click something, I'll probably just leave.
Virtually 100% of my clicks on ads are accidental - either the touchpad registered a tap when I didn't intend it, or, in the ever-increasing case of ads moving around on the page, because the ad popped in front of what I actually intended to click on.
To tell the truth, the ads may be working, insofar as sometimes I will go to find out more based on an ad. But you won't see it in your click-through rates. I'll get to your website by opening a new tab and searching in DDG, because at this point I'm so annoyed by adtech and all their scumminess that I'm not willing to give them any additional data if I can possibly avoid it.
Eventually I got to lead several different project like building ad servers and real time bidder from scratch and scale them to the 100K+ requests per second while maintaining single digit ms avg response times. I also had a head start in the "big" data space because of AdTech.
I will always be thankful for the knowledge I got because of the nature of AdTech, it positioned me really well in the market and just made me a much better engineer.
After 5+ years working in AdTech is was time for a change, I was feeling dragged down by similar reasons, I had a high leadership position and a lot of domain knowledge so a lot to lose, but I made a change to mobile F2P gaming and have been doing that for over 3 years, it's been a great change.
People have been dismissing it as being unfriendly to startups. As a software developer I totally get the complaints, but as an Internet user I couldn't care less.
You could say that the free market will adjust itself when consumers will figure out the damage and learn to protect themselves by choosing better alternatives. But there's no way to protect oneself. For example in the pizza delivery case, there's often no way to know that your address and phone will be sold to third parties, unless it's against the law to do so without you giving explicit consent.
I think, like you say, it demonstrates how hard it is to protect yourself. Thanks for reading :)
Otherwise they can collect data on you with other means, if they find it publicly available, for instance.
But if you give your data to a pizza place without consent to sell it, or share it with vendors, it is illegal for them to sell it share it.
But I'd argue it is very hard, if not possible, to know if a company has shared your data.
The damage of regulations like this may be greater than the benefit.
We will see how the weak European innovation will take these changes.
I say weak innovation bc VC money is not flowing there as it does in US.
And the idea that GDPR is damaging to innovation is really just a fiction at best and deregulation agitprop at worst. Europe has not competed with tech giants before GDPR, and more importantly, even other US companies cannot compete with Facebook or Google. You can measure the lack of competition in feet as you walk away from the Google and Facebook HQs. VC money in the US is geographically concentrated in an area that doesn't even cover 1% of the map, the law has nothing to do with it.
Europe hasn't been creating as much as the US before GDPR, I would think it gets worse after it.
I am pretty sure some other reason for the decline will pop up, if not the alright denial you displayed.
I solemnly swear that my website has no tracking installed on it (that I know of, welp). Cheers.
What is the downside ? My email spammed ? not that much of issue, gmail spam filter work reasonably well.
My phone being spammed by robocall ? smart app can filter those out too.
Ads on the web ? adblocker solve that.
True that people can use information to judge me, but it can be both positive and negative.
Right now, having "dirt" is not without its trade off and inconvenient, you have to make effort to conceal it, hide it.