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State Dept. Bureau Spent $630k On Facebook 'Likes' 99

schwit1 writes with this excerpt from the Washington Examiner: "State Department officials spent $630,000 to get more Facebook 'likes,' prompting employees to complain to a government watchdog that the bureau was 'buying fans' in social media, the agency's inspector general says. 'Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as "buying fans" who may have once clicked on an ad or "liked" a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further,' the inspector general reported. The effort failed to reach the bureau's target audience, which is largely older and more influential than the people liking its pages. Only about 2 percent of fans actually engage with the pages by liking, sharing or commenting. In September 2012 Facebook also changed its approach to users' news feeds, and the expensive 'fan' campaigns became much less valuable. The bureau now must constantly pay for sponsored ads to keep its content visible even to people who have already liked its pages."

Comment Such ignorance here... (Score 1, Insightful) 290

It always amazes me how such an educated group of individuals as exists on /. always makes such irrational statements evertime an article like this comes around.

Full Disclosure: I've been in digital media for several years and am currently a fairly high-level individual on the more technical analytics/strategy side of things at a top digital media agency.

Now, despite my background, I want to preface this by saying that since I was very young, I've always been very paranoid about my privacy, and still remain paranoid to this day. I used to react to these sorts of things by spewing vitriol without knowing enough technical details to truly be qualified to comment. I would venture that is the case for the vast majority of people here. You know how to code, but I doubt you know how these systems actually work, what they actually collect, or how that data is actually used in the real world (not whatever scare story you are reading this week).

If you knew these things, you wouldn't be so disgusted by online advertising tracking practices. Do I dislike intrusive advertising? Yes. Do I think there is a lot of shitty advertising out there? The vast majority of it is. But just as there are bad coders who give the rest a negative reputation, the same is true for online advertising.

Beyond that, the end user of the tracking data does not give a shit about the special unique snowflake that you are. I know--I used to be one of those end users and now I managed a relatively large group of them. Do we have IP-level data? Technically, yes. Although to be honest, the only time I've actually looked at that was when trying to figure out a tracking bug with discrepancies between analytics platforms when I needed to compare timestamps.

Could the big bad evil government know what you are browsing? Yeah--but they could have done that anyway. Encrypt your traffic if you care.

The reality is, you guys are in the minority, and despite a lot of people being vocal about this, they are still in the minority. The reason this stuff keeps being made and actively pursued is BECAUSE IT WORKS AND PRODUCES BETTER RESULTS. Digital is all about the data, and I can tell you that retargeting, RTB inventory that uses audience data, etc. are all incredibly effective because they are SO well targeted that people click more, and more importantly, convert at higher rates. This means people find the ads more relevant, and are purchasing because of it. Period. End of story. They can think it is evil all they want--it still works and nobody forced them to click the fucking ad or make the purchase.

So get off your high horses and realize that this wouldn't exist if it weren't effective, and nobody is holding a gun to your head to click an ad. Don't like ads? Use ad block.

Now, with that rant out of the way, I will say that I am just as in favor of DoNotTrack measures as the rest of you. I think a user's data is theirs to own and do with as they please, and that if they don't want it collected, that is their right. I also think that sites have the right to withhold content from those who do not make their info available because the content is provided in exchange for it. Don't like it? Go elsewhere--maybe the impact will be such that the site will find another revenue source. But unless you are in the majority, that will likely not happen.

Bottom line...get educated about this topic if you want to have a real world discussion about it instead of just throwing out false statements and vague statements that anybody in the industry would laugh at because of how uneducated you sound. This is no different than when creationists attack science because they don't understand it and it scares them.


Genome Researchers Wants Your Genes 165

An anonymous reader writes "The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) is looking for smart volunteers to donate their genes for analysis. They are seeking subjects with high intelligence; you can only qualify if you got a high score in SAT/ACT/GRE or got awards in competitions like Math/Physics Olympiads or TopCoder. They're also launching a drive to recruit US participants. Their first stop (PDF) appears to have been Google, which has run into trouble with the Chinese government. Also worth noting: BGI is registered in China as an 'Institutional Organization,' which by law requires it to report to a supervising governmental office or agency."

House Panel Approves Bill Forcing ISPs To Log Users 277

skids writes "Under the guise of fighting child pornography, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would require internet service providers to collect and retain records about Internet users' activity. The 19 to 10 vote represents a victory for conservative Republicans, who made data retention their first major technology initiative after last fall's elections. A last-minute rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses. Per dissenting Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): 'The bill is mislabeled... This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.'"

Comment Re:Increases keyword bids, not click rates (Score 1) 250

Interesting hypothesis. I have some other observations... I work at a paid search ad agency (one of the bigger ones) and directly manage several million in annual PPC spend. The day this rolled out we saw a big spike in impressions and a big drop in CTR and several days later that trend reversed, and then a few days after that it we saw a slight uptick in impressions and a 40% drop in CTR (with no optimizations having been made at that time).

Whether this is due to Google Instant or some other thing remains to be determined but SOMETHING had an impact on our data. We'll have to watch closely.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

"No, no it's not. Advertisers and marketers get paid to lie, to push a specific point of view without regard to facts. Developers get paid to write code. These are not the same thing at all. One is being deceptive and unethical for pay. The other is writing code for pay. You say that you do your own design and development. Well then, please, please, please, stop doing marketing and switch to that full time. We'll all be better off."

Let me be clear. You do not know me. You do not know the details of my job or even my industry as clearly illustrated by your ignorant posts. I do not lie and and I am a marketer. Putting up an add for a vet saying "Get veterinary help 24/7" is not lying and I really find it troubling that you are unable to see that. Additionally, you say "without regard to facts" which shows you have zero knowledge of truth in advertising laws which apply to all marketers and advertisers who promote within the US

To your second point...if I designed and developed full time and did not market what I made, nobody would find out about it, and I would not be able to afford to continue doing it. You are very naive if you believe the "build it and they will come" mantra. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you are an under-appreciated developer for a company that has a marketing and sales department that may look down on you, but without whom you would be out of a job because your company would go out of business. I am NOT saying marketing folks are better than developers or anything like that. I believe in respecting people for their skills, and treating them as I would like to be treated. But on the flip side, I certainly don't think developers deserve to be put up on a pedestal like you are doing.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 3, Insightful) 344

"some people click on them. usually feeble old grannies, young kids who don't know (yet) any better and imbeciles who will never learn and the odd republican here and there."

What about all your fellow slashdotters? You realize this site survives because of ads right? SOMEBODY must be clicking on those ads about servers, geek toys, etc.

And what about ads on sites like Ars Technica, or any industry website? Are those people all feeble old grannies and young kids who don't know any better? Also, what does someone's political affiliation have to do with anything?

Man, when /. posts a story on advertising all the whackos come out of the woodwork.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

Trolls amuse me sometimes with their completely lack of understanding of the thing they are trolling about.

Legally, Amazon is allowed to send you email once YOU PROVIDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO THEM. Don't provide it? No email. Once you get one, all you have to do is click the unsubscribe link at the bottom, confirm your unsubscription on the resulting page and THAT IS IT. After that they are not allowed to legally email you again as they have to add your email address to their suppression list.

Your claim about the process makes it evident you have never attempted to unsubscribe and have absolutely zero understanding of the laws and best practices around email marketing.

Oh, and I'd really like you to explain how being open to learning about new products/services that exist in the world makes me a sheep. I am positive you would be unable to 100% guarantee that you've never made a purchasing decision in your entire life where your initial awareness of the product/offering was sparked by an ad. To claim otherwise is just not believable.

But I'm done with this argument as I have a life and a job you obviously have too much time on your hands if you are sitting their agonizing about advertising that is very easy for you to avoid without having to complicate things as much as you have.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

I called it out first thing as a disclaimer because I may be biased. That said, I also pointed it out because it means I am also MUCH more informed about the technical, legal, and ethical details around this area of advertising compared to most others.

Now you say that the only people that like them are people in advertising, but guess what...we're not stupid. We do things by the numbers and if people overwhelmingly didn't like them and respond, we wouldn't be wasting our money. People who ignore ads in general are not people we want to target anyway--we want nothing to do with you since you are a waste of marketing dollars.

Oh, and while I'm not personally a fan of the adblock detector scripts, I think the bigger question you should pose is why the site in question cannot find a better business model or offer something of significant enough value where they can charge for their content rather than rely on advertising.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

I'm sure the thousands of people that are employed at my particular Client's company are very upset that they have jobs in part due to me successfully marketing their company's services--which, and here's the kicker, is veterinary care. Real evil there.

Why do you want me to stop making people aware that they should have their pet checked for fleas and get their shots? Do you hate puppies? Personally, I can sleep well at night because for example...I've helped a couple who just adopted a kitten from a shelter get the appropriate healthcare for that kitten to ensure it has a happy, healthy life. Or that I've helped someone whose dog was just hit by a car find the nearest animal hospital to save their pet's life.

Oh, and I'd warrant that there are plenty of people on Slashdot who click ads and take action based on them (as proven by the fact that /. has survived this long on mostly advertising). That's pretty ballsy of you to call all those fellow slashdotters knuckle-draggers but I'm sure they appreciate it because you know what is best for everyone. Really--crawl back under your bridge troll.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

I'm not going to pretend that some less-savvy or possibly unethical marketers try to be sneaky and "trick" people into clicking their ads, but I'm not going to generalize based off that small percentage just like I wouldn't generalize based on the small percentage of developers that write malicious code.

People who write ads that trick people into clicking are doing so in the hope that their offer is general enough where they just need eyeballs. Smart marketers don't want to waste their dollars and only try to show their stuff to people who are interested. By nature of what it is, display marketing does just that.

There are many brilliant people who find these ads interesting enough to click and then convert into a sale or a lead. It is unfortunate that you would call so many smart people (many of whom I'm sure are fellow slashdotters) stupid and gullible. Don't be so childish and narrow in your viewpoints. You don't speak for everybody on Slashdot and you sure as hell don't speak for the rest of the consumer population.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

As someone who spent 30 years in the software field, it is unfortunate you do not have a better understanding of statistics--more specifically sample sizes.

I'd REALLY like to know why you feel that the the handful of marketing/sales guys you've met in your particular niche of the industry is sufficient enough in size to be able to make a blanket statement that all people in that profession are untrustworthy ethical people.

And to your point about doing versus selling--I actually do both. I do my own design and development for my own sites and then promote them. It is the epitome of immature thinking to generalize people in that manner and to put yourself on a pedestal because you create software or something equivalent. We are all simply cogs in the machine of humanity and yours is simply a different cog--no better or worse than anything else.

Oh, and if you want to generalize, how about I say that all developers are deceptive, unethical people because there are a handful (comparatively) who write malicious code? Think I'm stupid for making that kind of assumption? Well that's what you just did.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 1) 344

Wow, you sure showed them by blacklisting them. Actually you didn't. You prevented them from getting information that actually tells them that you do not like what they are doing. If you had simply clicked unsubscribe, they would A. not legally be able to send you anything in the future (and if they did you could sue) and B. they would know you clicked unsubscribe and that if enough people did as well, then they were doing something wrong. So you're actually fueling their behavior.

And what is with this ridiculous habit of uninformed, emotionally-charged attacks calling people sheep? I handle some VERY advanced online marketing for my Clients for a living and then for my own personal stuff as well. You think I have to be told what to buy via automated email? Are you REALLY stupid enough to make that accusation? It's about convenience and relevancy. I'd venture I research casual purchases at a more in-depth level than 99.9% of online consumers because I know all the tricks with affiliate review sites, fake customer reviews, etc. I don't have to be told anything. I LIKE it because it makes me aware of something I might not have otherwise been aware of and if I want to pursue it further, I can. Amazon is not holding a gun to my head.

I have a very busy life and automating recommendations is a powerful tool for me to become aware of new things that I don't otherwise have time to become aware of on my own.

Your comments are completely baseless, uninformed, and frankly, unintelligent. Go back to your conspiracy theory sites where I can remarket tinfoil hats to you.

Comment Re: Not that scary (Score 2, Interesting) 344

You have the ability to opt out of emails from Amazon quite easily. No third party tools needed. They are not being obnoxious dicks, they are being smart marketers. They only do it because it works, which means people respond and LIKE it. I get those emails all the time, and guess what? They make me aware of products that I am interested in that I might otherwise not have been aware of.

Don't like it? Don't be an ass and whine--just opt out at the bottom of the email. Really. Not. That. Difficult.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (4) How many times do we have to tell you, "No prior art!"