This is your periodic reminder that personalized advertising, which is a gigantic invasion of all our privacy and makes the entire web significantly slower and shittier to use, is often less effective then simple situational advertising (on a blog about ponies, advertise pony stuff).

We are losing so much of our privacy for what is essentially a scam all the way around. The best sales pitch made by advertisers is the one they made for themselves. They fuck us, and the people that buy the ads.

@kingannoy i know right.

Am working in a software company and I always get ads from competing products as if I would be interested in buying this type of product

@kingannoy It's basically the new spam as far as unnecessary infrastructure load is concerned.

@lispi314 @kingannoy

what ended up being inadvertantly hilarious was trying to read an article on the Autocar about a VW ID3 on my mobile phone (which is harder to adblock) and the whole thing was repeatedly obscured by ads for other VW models (that I wasn't as interested in, so Wolfsburg are shooting themselves in the foot paying for these ads)

@lispi314 @kingannoy trolling, flame wars and spam - the biggest three things that the data-algorithm industrial complex expanded beyond anyone's wildest dreams

@kingannoy Ads are all cancer. Waste of our time, and resources. Period. And targeted ads are a natural evolution of a system of trade. Trade this for that, this is the game that we play on a global scale. Ads are a way to "advertise" the traded goods and services. I agree with you but I will encompass all ads. And all trades for that matter.

@kingannoy while working at an advertising company I remember realising that the people manufacturing the advertising were the best consumers the market could hope for

@kingannoy I've become convinced that nobody cares whether the ads help move merchandise. Their purpose is only to serve as a value-subtracted feature to prod ppl into an "upgrade" to paid.

@kingannoy cold take: the only personalized ads we need are situational ads, which are personalized in that only people interested in the situation are gonna see ads related to it

@minervissa @kingannoy Frigid take: the only ads we need are first-party descriptions of one's own product since we know those are inherently biased anyway.

@Seirdy @kingannoy first-party description says the product is terrible and please don't buy it but all the reviews are stellar and your friends are raving about it

(flappy bird)

@kingannoy if it was less effective than why are record breaking amounts of money being spent on it? There are endless dashboards and reports of numbers proving the effectiveness of these campaigns, measurements that can only be done with the internet as a medium.

We lose so much more than our privacy. Most people think that they are unaffected by ads, but these people end up being the ones that are unknowingly influenced to vote against their own interest, or buy things they don't need, etc.

@jaryl @kingannoy
There's the case of the Dutch public broadcaster NPO, who saw their revenue rise after they ditched tracking ads. Not sure how the math works out, maybe they also compared the legal cost of GDPR compliance. I'd post a link, but the first article I tried to read got blocked by my browser because of excessive tracking. 😕
Anyway, this does not disprove your main point. With less ads, we could have less planet-wrecking consumerism and more democracy.

@stdh @jaryl
Not to mention that if you make a deal directly with the company advertising on your website, you will cut out the middle man.

Want to know how much you can save? Look at how much Google makes.

@kingannoy @jaryl
Well, not all of that comes from ads and their ad market, but presumably most of it does. So let's take a moment to reflect on the junk we *didn't* buy recently, and if we can afford it, put a portion of the savings in better alternatives. I'll support a non-commercial news website reporting on global issues.

@stdh @kingannoy I'm fairly anti-consumption, so I already don't buy most crap out there. I think that the financial system is also crap.

More money is being printed than ever, and most of it goes to already rich individuals and institutions which use it to buy housing and land, which is conveniently left off the CPI, but is your most important purchase (you will own nothing, etc).

Money is a force for violence, to control people, and to restrict your right to live free (always has been).

@kingannoy @stdh I take issue with almost all ads, but think that online advertising is particularly insidious because of the way you can personalise, tweak, optimise things to achieve your goals (especially nefarious ones).

Even if a few isolated examples prove otherwise, what such a platform enables is that the entity with the most financial will at its disposal gets to win in a disinformation war.

This is what happened then with radio, and it's what's happening today with the internet.

@kingannoy @stdh my point is far simpler actually, if you start a campaign with x dollars, and it yields y conversions, you have a mathematically proven effect on z population.

It could well be that non tracking ads, or hell even radio could be more cost-"effective", but people with these budgets don't care about cost as much as they care about having the intended effect.

Have a look at for example this post by @pluralistic about why targeted ads aren't as good as they claim to be:

Relevant snippet:
The ad industry's core competency isn't selling advertisers' products to consumers: it's selling advertising services to advertisers. Moving product is a good way to do that, but so is bullshitting in ways that drive up payments.


not only are we not the customer, we aren't even the product: We're the commodified complement of the product.

@jaryl @pluralistic

@idlestate @kingannoy @pluralistic exactly, with advertising the top bidders buys our consent, our choices. Buy this unnecessary thing, hate this group of people, support this (profitable) war, believe this outright lie, are but some examples of what the actual product is.

We're coppertops. We just power the product; our motivons under their direction.
@kingannoy @jaryl @pluralistic


Commodification means something else; I’m assuming you’re referring to “commoditize”, as in “commoditize your complement”. Although in this context the words have some really interesting overlap, which is why I brought it up. See "Commodified vs. Commoditized by Douglas Rushkoff.

We are first commodified by being made a complement to a product, then gradually commoditized as complements ideally are.

@kingannoy @jaryl @pluralistic #POSSE note from
@idlestate wait i just realized you replied about this very distinction already 🤦🏾‍♂️.

@kingannoy @jaryl @pluralistic Not to mention targeting one for disinformation - whose purpose is often to overwhelm, and sell nothing.

@kingannoy @jaryl @pluralistic Vital context is Facebook's "pivot to video" disaster: they lied about the effectiveness of a type of content that benefited their ad business, and it levelled an entire industry. And they weren't even really punished for it! That was the moment it should've been clear to everyone that this entire ad tech economy was built on lies and should be completely dismantled via regulation.

@kingannoy @jaryl I believe you are confusing targeted advertisement (like Facebook showing an ad to a specific subset of users) which is effective and generally harmful but not a particular privacy concern and personalized advertisement (like you getting ads "relevant to you" no matter the website you are visiting) which is ineffective and a privacy nightmare.
@jaryl @kingannoy That's marketing. An important selling point is you don't have to do anything as a site owner. Selling advertisements is hard work (Especially because Google and Facebook are your competition)

@kingannoy And how many times do we need to see ads for the thing we literally just bought? The horse has bolted at that point @amberage

@ada @amberage
The "best" example I've seen of this, is a bit of an outlier since it's in the physical space, but it's just so deliciously dumb and absurd.

A ad-tech company wanted to install cameras in billboards, and use facial recognition to do things like track if people were looking at the billboard. People didn't like the facial recognition stuff, because you are supposed to be able to walk around without being tracked.

The company then said they wouldn't identify people, only track where they are looking, and maybe some other features they could use for personalisation. Like they could see if you were wearing sunglasses and show you a ad for sunglasses, or they could see if you had a beard and show you a ad for razors.

In other words, they wanted to sell you something you already have or something you clearly aren't using.

These are the geniuses tracking our every move online, so they can make genius level sales pitches like this, based on that information. Infuriating.

@kingannoy @ada "We see you've bought a hoover, something most people only own one of. Can we interest you in more hoovers?"

@amberage @kingannoy @ada Probably yes, because the hoover you bought probably sucks. Most non-industrial hoovers do

@waweic @kingannoy @ada well yeah, sucking is what I want it to do. If I want it to blow, I'll get a leafblower.

@kingannoy @amberage @ada Hello, we see you bought a refrigerator. Would you like 10 more refrigerators?

@kingannoy "hi, we saw you bought a sandwich grill the other day? Maybe you would like to buy 20 more of those?"

@VileLasagna @kingannoy Probably yes, because sandwich grills tend to break every 10 minutes of use

@kingannoy I'm afraid it stopped being about ads a long time ago, now it's just about manipulation, and not only about what you chose to buy.


@kingannoy it just makes more sense.

If I'm reading articles about music production hardware and I get an ad for a product that I did not know yet, the ad may even be helpful to me because now I know of another option to do what I want to.
If I had the money, I'd be likely to actually buy the advertised product in this case.

If I'm reading news about how everything is terrible and I get some ad telling me about cool music production hardware, I'm not gonna care because I'm not in a music making mindset.

If I ever had anything to run ads for, I would exclusively do situational advertisement

@kingannoy While I agree, that kind of ads doesn't work that great in a world where most of the content is published in 4-5 platforms that copy said content from each other.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok... don't have real situational awareness.

@kingannoy The tracking ad industry is also unable to stop financing disinformation and extremists.

Targeting visitors rather than sites makes any page with eyeballs equally valuable to advertisers. Fake outrage is cheaper to make and gets more clicks than researched nuanced content.

Individual advertisers can't do anything about it. Fake news sites register shell companies and create fake intermediary ad publishers that let them simply lie about what kind of sites the ads are on.

@kingannoy and you'd think that someone is going to check these companies, their sites, and ad sales they claim, right? There are tons of "brand safety" companies, but it turns out it's cheaper and more profitable to be very bad at this job. The less you look, the bigger "inventory" of sites you have, plus the disinformation industry pays well for looking the other way too.

@kornel @kingannoy

> it's cheaper and more profitable to be very bad at this job.

There should be a name for this kind of phenomenon (if there isn't already).

I’m not familiar w/brand safety companies but there are cases where a liberal or apolitical company was told by a concerned citizen that their ads appeared on #Breitbart, which was both a surprise & embarrassment to the business.

I #boycott companies that sponsor bad shit. If more ppl did that this idea of brand safety would be taken more seriously.


In the case I read about, the concerned citizen (or researcher or activist) spotted many ads on Breitbart that promoted otherwise neutral companies & got all of them to remove their ads, which allegedly crippled Breitbart.

Perhaps it’s a game of whack-a-mole to some extent but I don’t see an alternative.

@koherecoWatchdog @kingannoy See Sleeping Giants ->

No one except the gop pillow guy wants to advertise with Bannon, so Bannon launders traffic through complicit intermediaries (Unruly, Perf One Media) and not-overtly-republican outlets like a weather channel to trick brands into advertising with him.

He can create corrupt intermediaries faster than brands can block them.

@kornel @kingannoy do think they way you mentioning is a bit of a "ah shucks the system does this", whereas probably it's not entirely unintentional and a bunch of the ad-buys are politically motivated.

@kingannoy I’d say mostly true. But die-hards like myself aren’t giving up privacy -- we are giving up options.

E.g. I boycott #Amazon so I give up the option to get things fastly & cheaply.

I boycott Google & Microsoft to the point where I will not even email someone (or even give them my email address) if their account traces to a Google or MS server. So I can’t even contact some people or businesses.

Boycotting Facebook means I’m excluded from some universities.

Die-hards like yourself, admirable as they may be, are nothing more then a rounding error in the bigger picture. When I talk about "we" I'm talking about the overwhelming majority of people.

I think it's good to be conscious about this, and I try to make the right choices in my personal life too. IF everyone did that it would make a serious impact. But that is a very, VERY big IF.

I think it's unrealistic to try to fix this problem, or any global problem, through our individual actions. And I'm not alone in that, just look at the climate problem and who coined the "carbon footprint" concept. That's right, it's BP. They are so confident that individual action won't solve the problem that they actively encourage it.

All the time we spend lowering our (personal) carbon footprint is time we are not spending on tackling issues outside ourself, like demanding better public transport, and a greener electric grid.

To make this more personal, if you had been a little less die-hard, and went to that university that uses Google, how many students could you have influenced into making more conscious choices? Wouldn't your impact have been bigger that way?

@kingannoy I ditched my car for public transport, then ditched public transport for a bicycle. I don’t think that move to reduce my personal carbon footprint was time wasted. I think I recovered time (I spend less time looking for parking & I need not spend time working to afford the total cost of car ownership).

It’s also critically important to lead by example thus individual actions are indispensible. If a climate activist arrives at a rally by car people lose confidence in their leadership.

If the leader of a climate org arrives at the rally in a polluting car. That may seem a bit hypocritical, and you should make sure they hear that. But if you then make the entire rally about discussing this, and only address how everybody at the rally isn't doing everything perfectly yet. Then you are doing your enemies work for them.

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