As Biden Looks To Ban Targeted Ads, Activists Look To Use Them To Get News To The Russian People
from the be-careful-what-you-wish-for dept
At Tuesday’s State of the Union address, one of President Joe Biden’s pledges regarding the internet, was that he wanted to ban targeted advertising. Lots of people cheered this on, because lots of people absolutely loathe targeted advertising — which is sometimes, misleadingly, referred to as “surveillance capitalism.” My own opinion on this is that basically all of it is overrated. I don’t think that targeted advertising even works that well, and think we’d be better off if companies didn’t rely so heavily on it — but also think that even if we got rid of it, people would still be mad over something else these companies did. Also, part of the reason why people hate targeted advertising so much is because it’s just not that good. If it actually worked, I’m not so sure people would be so mad about it.
That said, I really don’t see how effective or useful a ban on targeted advertising would be. And, at the very least, it would bar creative uses of targeted advertising like a bunch of activists who are looking to use targeted advertising to get around the Russian government’s desire to block all news of its invasion of Ukraine from the Russian citizenry.
Vladimir Putin is scared of the truth. That’s why he’s shut down independent media and social media.
The Russian people deserve better. Yet they struggle to get unbiased news.
But it’s very hard for Putin to shut down online advertising. So we’re going to use digital ads to show Russians independent news about Ukraine.
These ads will be shown to people in Russia, and Russian-occupied Ukraine. We’ll use modern digital advertising to show real news about what is happening in Ukraine, from high quality sources.
The Russian people can make up their own minds about what is going on in Ukraine. And when they see it, we are confident that Putin will be weakened.
We’ve built a team of digital campaign experts, who can get around Russian government restrictions. We’ve already run some test advertising today – showing people news from independent news websites.
See? That seems like a pretty powerful and (dare I say it?) useful application of targeted advertising. But under the Biden administration’s plan, it would be banned.
At some point people do need to realize that not all targeted advertising is problematic. The real problem is that nobody really knows what information companies have on them, or how it’s being shared and used. The issue is not so much the targeting, but the data itself and the lack of transparency and lack of control by end users. Calling for an outright ban on targeted advertising, once again, misdiagnoses the “problem” and comes up with an overly broad solution that seems less than helpful.
Filed Under: activism, advertising, censorship, joe biden, news, russia, state of the union, targeted ads, targeted advertising, ukraine
Comments on “As Biden Looks To Ban Targeted Ads, Activists Look To Use Them To Get News To The Russian People”
Why hate targeted ads?
because it means that some mystery company out there has a profile on you, and that causes people to be very concerned about what that company knows about you, and who they share it with for a quick buck.
Re: Why hate targeted ads?
Yes, and they build it up by tracking me all over the place. What sites I surf, what videos I watch, and my meatspace location are none of their business unless I actively want to share it with them.
The targeted ads I’ve noticed are dumber than a box of rocks simply because they parrot whatever thing I last looked at on amazon/clicked on. If I didn’t buy it the first time, showing it to me 5 more times won’t make me want to buy it, dummies.
And the most stupid part is that when you actually bought something you will get targeted ads for that type of product for several weeks afterwards.
Re: RE: Why hate targeted ads?
Having looked into all the data from breaches in the last 20 years, companies know more about you than you think. They know your addresses, your fetlife activities, friends (from shared IP addresses), your phone numbers, sometimes your dark secrets(passwords). Targeted advertising is just the tip. They have already have your data from Facebook, ADP salary histories, cookies, breaches, credit reports and the new consumer credit reports. Nothing is being protected, that’s why they’re shocked when we get mad about targeted advertising.
“If only they only knew.” – Corporations
The scarier part is governments getting a hold of aggregated and parsed data. If you think targeted advertising is a problem wait till you see the enforcement of thought crimes.
Desktop load of an advertising-supported site I visit:
with full NoScript: 410kb 325ms
with all scripts permitted: 18 MB after 1.5 minutes.
The portion of the site which I was interested in did not change.
Targeted, not targeted, not my issue. Maybe they view advertising as a necessary evil. Maybe they cannot get by with just a “tip jar”. But if I had no options other than “view all the ads” or “don’t go there”, I would swiftly decide to Not Go There.
TL;DR – the First Amendment to the COTUS has a propensity to deny any restrictions on our rights of expression, true or not, ethical or not, political or not. That’s why that guy from last year can keep lying about the election; that other guy can say he wasn’t the first guy’s DoJ stooge, and I can say what I like about that war-criminal running Russia.
So, first of all, please don’t hate on me because I come from an industry that relies on marketing. If we can’t sell new stuff and get moare monies… then we die on the branch.
The Internet is a communication medium, and nothing more. How it’s used is what the discussion should be about. I have the legal right in these United States to “publish” my thoughts, and that can include advertisements. Sometimes those advertisements are of a value to the people who choose to visit my “publication” (website). Sometimes they are not. In neither case do I have a moral or ethical requirement to ensure that the “publication” (advertisement) fits the viewer’s immediate or long-term needs, nor that it is any way relevant. We could make some argument that it must be “lawful” but I think 1AM trumps advertising CBD or ED drugs without Rx or whatever. I’m not a lawyer, so skip ahead:
When we offer “political speech” vs “advertising” that’s definitely protected speech, and with all due respect to Uncle Joe (FD: voted for him), he and the US Congress do not yet have the power to stifle, limit, enjoin, or prevent political speech. I hope they never do.
The Russian people (FD: have some in my bloodline) don’t choose to come to https://www.myehud.com on a general basis, nor do I “advertise to them”. I make my site “available” should they somehow happen upon it, and they are welcome to read my opinions. Frankly, I think they’d get more food for thought from TechDirt and ArsTechnica than my site, but still they are welcome.
It’s Friday. Happy weekend, everyone.
P.S. Paul T – Happy birthday!
I posted a long 1AM comment … which is not showing up.
TL;DR – the US government doesn’t have the privilege of removing my 1st Amendment right to post my political opinions. If the Russian people choose to visit my site and read them, so much the better.
(I was more eloquent the first time… but these things happen.)
The comment system since the change-over seems inconsistent on when your post shows up. It does, however, register it – as witnessed by a “duplicate comment detected” response.
That’s so true. Targeted advertizing, when done well, is useful. When car dealerships go through the motor vehicle registry to mail me offers of service for my car that’s good. Much better than everyone spamming me ads for cars I don’t even have.
What I and most people object to is a bazillion unknown companies spying on everything we do 24/7 to build some kind of speculative profiles to sell to the highest bidder. That’s neither necessary nor (in my opinion) particularly useful for delivering ads people could be interested in.
Uhh… only if you gave the motor vehicle registry permission to share that information. Otherwise, it would be considered a serious privacy invasion anywhere but the USA. I suppose limited spam is better than unlimited spam, but it’s still spam.
Targeted vs behavioral
There’s a big difference between targeted ads and behavioral ads, and I hope the Biden administration sees that and acts accordingly.
Targeted ads simply change what ads you see based on some criteria. If you’re viewing a motoring news site, it makes sense to show you ads related to cars. Forums for new parents might show ads for nappies.
Behavioral ads are the ones that track you around the internet. They look at what does you visit, what you buy, which social media feeds you look at. They build up a profile and use that to decide what ads you see. It’s targeted ads on steroids.
I would be very happy to see behavioral advertising go extinct. It’s too invasive, and there’s no evidence it’s any better than dumb targeted advertising.
Dumb targeted ads would work plenty fine for Russia. Just target any IP address on the counter that’s not owned by the government. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
As I posted below, it sounds like that’s exactly what they’re proposing to do (possibly without the government-IP exclusion). I don’t understand why Mike seems to think otherwise, or possibly thinks Biden’s idea would cover that.
That’s not what is usually meant by “targeted advertising”, at least not in my experience.
“Targeted advertising is a type of Internet advertising that delivers promotional messages to a customer according to their specific traits, interests, and preferences. Brands get this information by tracking consumer profiles and activity on the Internet.”
“Targeted advertising is a form of advertising, including online advertising, that is directed towards an audience with certain traits, based on the product or person the advertiser is promoting. These traits can either be demographic with a focus on race, economic status, sex, age, generation, level of education, income level, and employment, or psychographic focused on the consumer values, personality, attitude, opinion, lifestyle and interest.”
“Targeted advertising is a way for marketers to present consumers with ads that reflect their specific traits, interests, and shopping behavior. This is generally done by using customer data to segment audiences by factors such as basic demographics, shopping interests, or browsing behavior, and then creating unique advertisements tailored to each audience segment. ”
In other words, what you call “behavioral advertising”.
Re: Re: targeted
Nasch has it perfect.
With all the cookies and cross site tracking on, it can generally be accurate.
As an apple owner and fan, I get adverts for apple accessories. For instance.
I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen an ad for an android phone except on sites that use generic/fixed adverts.
When I buy new shoes I see ads for socks and pants for a few days.
Buy a new SSD and get ads for cables and nas boxes. Etc.
When I click the advert the site usually gets a bit of money. If I buy the product they occasionally get a referral fee too.
The link doesn’t say that. It says he asked Congress to ban targeted advertising to children. It could be difficult in general, though some companies like Facebook have a very good idea of which users are children.
Further on, the article says Ed Markey proposed banning behavioral ad targeting of minors, not even all ad targeting for them. I don’t imagine Biden intends to ban all targeted advertising to children either; likely only those that rely on data collection.
What plan? I see only an idea from Biden, and any plan would almost certainly have exceptions. Markey has more of a plan, and even that wouldn’t ban it.
There’s no need to track people to do a target ad campaign like this. Indeed, the article says “These ads will be shown to people in Russia, and Russian-occupied Ukraine”. That requires only IP-based targeting, which neither Biden nor Markey has complained about to my knowledge. One could also target people looking for or at Russian topics, Russian-language content, etc., with the potential side-benefit of informing expatriates too.
Even if some anti-child-targeting law goes through, one could still surveil and datamine those known to be adults to figure out which are from Russia. But why?
Hmm, but doesn’t targeted advertising to children fall under COPPA? Or is the law written in such a way that advertising is outside its scope?
No, that only applies to children under 13 years of age, and mostly just when parental consent hasn’t been obtained.
I see two main problems with targeted advertising:
1) Political (and quasi-political) advertising. It used to be that politicians had to craft a stories that appealed to the broadest swath of voters without offending other smaller voter groups too much. Their attempts at persuasion were more or less transparent – resulting in some level of accountability, and, relatively speaking, honesty. The ability to opaquely tell stories (lies) customized for any particular group, appealing to their prejudices, without other groups knowing about it, encourages greater cynicism and dishonesty in political communication. This erodes political discourse and diminishes the polity as a whole. The question of how effective targeted ads can be for mobilizing fringe groups remains unanswered – but the possibilities there also do merit some serious reflection.
2) Targeted advertising is the main incentive companies have to collect massive amounts of behavioral user data. Governments use this data collection to bypass constitutional protections and collect data on their citizens. Surveillance capitalism is an unholy alliance between corporations and the state. Patriot Act etc means that we should never consider Facebook data as being owned and controlled by Facebook. We must assume that the state has access to all of it too. I would explain why this is a problem – but I don’t think that I need to do that here.
As Mike points out; start with the fact this likely won’t work in reality.
Add to that the issue that some people actually like targeting advertising. From Dark Reading to Advertising Daily, the numbers vary. But there is zero doubt there are a large-enough actual-public minority who like the idea.
One only needs to look at the various browser plugins to see there’s some public support.
The IDontCareAbout (cookies, tracking etc) extensions.
The override-default extensions to turn on cross site tracking.
Yes, I’m one.
As a fan of being “properly” targeted I’m the first to say it doesn’t work well. I don’t need tampons. I’m male.
But I haven’t given up. And neither has the industry.
Some of us are willing to support our choice sites via adverts.
The problem is they have rather poor consistency. For every one that works, 10 don’t.
And those buzz fucks, to hell with digital bees!
The solution isn’t bans!
It’s better regulation and fines for non-compliance.
Dismembering The system will return is to 1997 where every other advert is some noise making screen blocking mess.
Not silent unobtrusive and often-enough relevant support options.
Choice is always the best choice!
The public, not the government, should decide what it consumes.
The government should make sure consumer choice is put into action.
No means no and violations should carry penalties.