Blovember #17 – Not Anymore, Lord Levermore

But it’s not, it’s an intentional typo to get  the title to have a bit of zing. Lord Leverhulme  is the fellow’s name and he is reputed to have said he knew half of his advertising was wasted, but didn’t know which half.

The  bit of the digital revolution that seems to pass people by is just how this has been kicked into the long grass.  All these cool services and all for “free”.  Facebook, Google, Nectar Cards and so on and so forth. They are buying your personal data from you so, as they would put it, they can tailor their specific offerings to you.

Bollocks:  if you’re spending money on advertising you can now get a very granular view of where the money is generating a return. I used to run very efficient Google AdWords. You give data for free, they package it and sell it to me, the business owner, as a product. It’s like being sold a .50 cal sniper rifle. It can do far more than you can ever imagine. My issue was having the time to use the power of the tool amongst all the shag and hassle of running a business. I could tell a huge amount about the users of the site, what pages worked, the route through the site to purchase etc. I could tailor my web offering – how we sold – so much more effectively. And that didn’t rely on me harvesting personal data as you’d already given it to Google. Thanks.

When you participate in a Loyalty Card style scheme you are just doing their job for them. Give it 50y and we’ll all have an implanted chip that we can (you hope) choose who gets to read. Very sci-fi and paranoid sounding I realise. Nonetheless, imagine if your chip can register your physiological reactions to certain stimuli as well as your easily observable habits and send them to a computer?  How saleable is that?

I am not anti all this ever increasing intrusiveness because I believe that in my lifetime at least I’ll get to choose who I give the crown jewels of my personal info to. If I pimp out my data then I expect to know what I am getting. Compelling offers, unique content, personalised marketing, ad spend tracking are all ways the free market operates to sell more for less. Caveat emptor – don’t blame the companies. If you don’t like it then don’t play.

As one Mr Shadbolt Esq put it once:  “If you’re not the customer, you’re the product”.

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Blovember #16 – Friday Bits’n’Pieces

So it’s Friday. So don’t expect even a flailing stab at literary competence. A round-up of the week is what’s needed with some fun and illuminative trivia thrown in.

  • I am possibly the most easily distracted and idle person I know. A friend saw a cartoon yesterday and fell about laughing. “That’s you” they choked out between gales of laughter. “That’s so you.” I gave a careful and considered response of, “piss off”, and then started laughing as well.
  • Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: If I had a dollar for everytime I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.
  • You can’t tell but I was just distracted my Mrs S. Sadly she wasn’t offering ice-cream though.
  • Now my whole thread of the wretched post is gone from my head.
  • Check email again.
  • Oh yes, Idle. When I work I really work and in between I am a master time-waster. There ought to be a Guild of Master Time Wasters. I wish I knew how to make myself into a tightly  focused and driven individual.
  • Just connected two people via LinkedIn. Think it is v. cool that technology has made so easy something that was previously nearly impossible.
  • Speak to one of said people. Talk for 20 minutes.
  • I prefer to think of it as multi-tasking with a slight random element.
  • My new helicopter arrives today or tomorrow. Am sure that won’t divert me from planning.
  • Planning – oh yeah, I am starting a business. That’ll have it’s own site and blog so ’nuff said here.
  • Looking forward to collecting my free Calamari from Lou’s between Christmas and New Year. Thank you Facebook.
  • Food, mmmmm.
  • Very modern dilemma – am speaking to my domain name provider to merge all my various domains under one roof and register a few new ones.
  • Dilemma – just been to Wikipedia to ascertain that I have indeed been spelling it incorrectly for many years. Two “m’s”, go figure.
  • Bought some bike rollers this week as I hate turbo-trainers. They turned up yesterday. Slippery buggers. Will take some mastering. In the meantime my friends have not been helpful. See Blovember 13. Bastards.
  • It was my dad’s birthday a few weeks ago – 75, time to get a Honda Jazz as I may have mentioned – and he is rubbish at asking for pressies. Finally we get an answer…floor mats for the Jazz please.
  • I feel a bit dirty writing the search term “Jazz Mats” into Google.

Gotta run. I hear an ice-cream van.

Context is Everything

Contextualising data with software is making me ponder. Doing this well has got to be the Holy Grail at the moment and I have yet to see someone shout from the rooftops that they have a good algorithm for doing so. If I had sussed it I’d be keeping schtum as well though.

“You’ve taken my remark out of context” is an often heard device used when arguing. By making this challenge you are implying that whomever is challenging your statement fails to understand the fundamentals, making it a powerful form of rebuttal. By taking a piece of data out of context when the user is web browsing or shopping is an opportunity that has been wasted forever. It feels intrusive and annoying and at best is just ignored. Just imagine being able to get it right more often than not. £££

When serving ads or upselling to people by using an offering that is timely, relevant and not intrusive , by accurately contextualising the data you hold, is a very tricky process because there is more than one type of context. Personal, cultural, political, social and so on and so forth. it’s a minefield. Presently this is a practise in it’s infancy and what the end user gets is pretty generic. I don’t think it’ll be that long before we see software trying to address the challenge of determining how to contextualise a piece of data by using one or a combination of the types of context.

Trying to do some research using – what else? – Google I typed in “software for contextualising data and serving ads” and was just presented with Ad’s for ad serving software and “experts” to help you (spend your hard earned I daresay). The interesting thing was the images that lead me further in. The point is that w. Google dominating the search market (65% of all searches apparently) then Google are big influencers of context. Cultural, political, social etc. I know of the famous Do No Evil statement. What about unconscious bias thought?  This is an interesting paper by Christian Fuchs in Fast Capitalism – albeit a bit too Marxist for me it raises some interesting points.

Now that’s got me wondering about something entirely different. Hmm, my brain is aching.