[Commentary] You wake up, yawn, stretch. Pick up the phone. Check Facebook. “Like.” “Like.” “Like,” again. After 10 “likes,” Michal Kosinski knows you better than your work colleagues. After 70, he knows you better than your partner does, including -- whether these things were explicitly referenced in your clicks or not -- your skin color, your sexual orientation, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, whether you smoke or do drugs… The list goes on.
Like some creepy alt-Santa, he knows how open you are. Whether you’re a perfectionist. Whether you’re considerate. Whether you’re neurotic. Kosinski isn’t a CIA agent or a spy. He isn’t even a marketer. He’s a researcher at Stanford, and he’s worked out how to turn your clicks into psychographic profiles. Kosinski’s technique is similar to the technique used by the company Cambridge Analytica to help the Brexit and Trump campaigns win.
It's "highly likely" that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will grant the ad industry's request to revisit tough broadband privacy rules, the Association of National Advertisers predicted. "Chairman Pai is a very thoughtful leader who understands the critical role advertising plays as a financial foundation for the online and media marketplace," the ANA said in hailing Pai's appointment. "Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Chairman Pai have stated forcefully that they intend to take, in Pai’s words, a 'weed-whacker' to much of the Commission’s recent regulatory actions. Therefore, as they both voted against the sweeping privacy rule, it is highly likely they will respond positively to the request ... for a full reconsideration of this recent proposal."
More than half (52%) of US adults live in households with cell phones, but no landline phones, according to new research from the GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer. The figure represents a doubling of the percentage of cell phone-only households in 2010, when it was 26%. The proportion of senior citizens (ages 65+) in cellphone-only households quadrupled over the past six years to 23%, while the figure for Millennials (born from 1977 to 1994) climbed to 71% from 47%. The findings come from GfK MRI's Fall 2016 Survey data release, which is based on interviews with approximately 24,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and above. After Millennials, Generation X (born 1965 to 1976) is the age group most likely to live in cell phone-only households, at 55%. By comparison, the figure for Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) is only four in 10 (40%).
First and foremost, lower TV spending in 2016 political advertising may simply be a function of better media buying, said Ben Angle, senior media buyer-national media research at Planning & Placement. “In terms of TV being down, I think you really have to attribute it to master negotiators beating the stations down,” said Angle. Another factor was simply leveraging the TV calendar to commit buys during softer rate-card periods -- “booking in June, July -- or even, in some cases, May -- to get the best rate.” Angle said he did not really see a fundamental shift in the political media mix, and attributed most of the dollar-share changes to more effective and efficient TV buying. “There’s more to it than just people not spending money in TV,” he explained. That said, Elizabeth Kalmbach, vice president-group media direct at KSM Media, said TV’s share of political media budgets reflects what’s going on in all categories.
Frontier, which offers both DSL and fiber-optic service, advertised that consumers could stream video and "never worry" about their connections, according to the National Advertising Division (NAD), a self-regulatory unit administered by the Better Business Bureau. But not all of Frontier's DSL service plans offer connections at fast enough speeds to stream video through Netflix (which recommends speeds of at least 3 Mbps for standard-definition streams and 5 Mbps for high-definition), according to the NAD. "Frontier offers a 1.5 Mbps plan which does not deliver the minimum speeds recommended for streaming Netflix," the NAD writes in its decision. "Even Frontier’s 3 Mbps plans would not be able to stream movies in HD. Frontier’s 6 Mbps plans would be unable to stream movies on multiple devices at one time." The decision stems from a challenge to Frontier's ads by rival provider Charter. Frontier said it had discontinued the ad claims, but the NAD said its investigation revealed that some of the ads still contained language flagged by Charter.
[Commentary] In the same way that consumer dislike of advertising online has given rise to once-unthinkable ad blockers, the prospect of “data-blockers” – while currently inconceivable – could ultimately become available to those who want at least some degree of simple control over the extent to which their data is accessed and leveraged in the marketplace.
The promise of the inclusion of consumers themselves as active participants in the data economy is already something that companies are addressing. While it seems largely contrary to how things are currently done, it wouldn’t be the most disruptive thing that digital technology and the internet has brought us. Besides, the law of unintended consequences is always there waiting to surprise us. In this case, rolling back those nasty privacy regulations could unleash a different and unanticipated set of challenges farther down the line even harder to get to grips with than any road blocks the FCC could devise.
[Mike Bloxham is Vice President, National TV & Radio at Frank N. Magid Associates]
Software corporation Oracle is asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider the sweeping broadband privacy rules passed earlier in 2016. Oracle, which spent years unsuccessfully attempting to prove that Google's Android code infringes copyright, says the FCC's recent order on privacy will give Google an unfair advantage against Internet service providers. "The Commission cannot allow the order to stand, when it hands a clear victory to Google by hamstringing ISPs while allowing Google to continue to engage in invasive data collection and aggregation techniques, bolstered by its tight control of the Android operating system," Oracle said in a petition asking the FCC to reconsider the ruling.
Google Contributor, the subscription service that allowed users to see fewer advertisements on publisher sites for a fee, will close in January and reopen in early 2017 with a new version. The service allowed site visitors to pay fractions of pennies to see fewer Google-served display advertisements when visiting publisher Web sites, but insiders said getting users to pay for a subscription was slow going.
Subscribers paid a monthly subscription fee allowing those searching the Web and visiting sites as normal from any browser and device. Each time Contributor removed an ad from a page viewed by a subscriber, Google gave a percentage to that site.
[Commentary] The prospect of AT&T acquiring Time-Warner has triggered howls from both presidential campaigns, consumer-protection groups and free-press advocates, all of whom raised fears of media concentration, diminished competition and the threat to democracy posed by consolidation in the marketplace of ideas. Well, right burning church. Wrong burning pew. This is the case of one giant company with no other prospects for growth acquiring another giant company with no prospects for growth. It's as if the Titanic survivors took refuge on the Lusitania. The dangers to the rest of us are real, but they lie elsewhere.
If you are concerned about democracy and consumer choice, direct your attention to “social distribution” -- a shift in publishing, and a threat to publishing independence, that’s advancing at a breathtaking pace and scale. When you click on a Facebook Instant Article or an item from Google Amp, somewhere an important story is dying -- because social distribution, like high school and presidential campaigns, overwhelmingly benefits the popular. Whether a given story is served to a given reader is determined not by editors or curators but by algorithms, which do not measure substance, significance or potential impact on society. They measure only what users have looked at before, what they have commented on and what they have shared. Needless to say, such algorithms do not favor statehouse coverage and investigative reporting. At this particular moment in history, how prescient of Facebook to offer us -- in addition to its iconic “like” button -- an anger button, a tears button, a surprise button and a laughter button. Just in time, I say. Now all we need is a panic button.
The Federal Trade Commission is drawing support in its battle with AT&T from other policymakers, including Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as privacy experts and advocacy groups. Sen Blumenthal, the FCC and others are asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a recent decision dismissing an enforcement action against AT&T. The FTC alleged in an October 2014 complaint that AT&T duped more than 3.5 million people by selling them unlimited data plans, but slowing their connections after they exceeded monthly allotments ranging from 3 GB to 5 GB. AT&T countered that the FTC lacks authority to bring an enforcement action against common carriers. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit recently sided with AT&T, ruling that the FTC can't sue common carriers -- even when the lawsuit centers on a non-common carrier service. (Mobile broadband wasn't considered a common carrier service when the FTC brought the case.)
Earlier in Oct, the FTC sought a new hearing in front of at least 11 of the 9th Circuit's judges. Sen Blumenthal argues in a proposed friend-of-the-court brief that the panel's ruling creates "a wide hole in FTC jurisdiction that undermines the agency’s ability to remedy deceptive acts committed by the growing range of companies that engage in common-carrier activity as well as non-common-carrier activity."