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Tumblr Follows Instagram - Reveals Plan For More Ads

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the share-this-tired-memevertisement dept.

Advertising 75

cagraham writes "Following close on the heels of Instagram's advertising announcement last week, Tumblr has signed an agreement with analytics firm DataSift to provide info to advertisers on user behavior. According to Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who oversaw the recent $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr, advertising on the site will become increasingly prevalent throughout 2014. DataSift will provide advertisers with info on the 5.5 billion interactions that occur on the site each day. This makes Tumblr the latest in a slew of recent tech companies to turn towards targeted ads in an attempt to generate revenue." Twitter is another customer of DataSift.

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Sigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868059)

I'm too old to care about tumblr or Instagram... Or what people share on them.
And I don't get why people find it interesting?

Now get of my lawn. :D

Re:Sigh (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#44868095)

And nothing of value was corrupted.

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868281)

Texting replaced email because texting is much more transient in nature and the younger crowd have the attention span of a goldfish.

Instagram is 'texting' for image sharing. I can't remember the name of the 6 second video clip platform that's popular right now, but it's very transient in nature too.

Facebook is so "permanent" and these youngin's don't want to remember what they did last week let along see their entire timeline.

Of course this whole "done and gone" mentality does not bode well for things in 10 years when this group has responsibilities and commitments.

Abe Simpson: We're doomed I tells ya! Dooooooooomed!!

Re:Sigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868593)

tl;dr

Re:Sigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869407)

tl

Re:Sigh (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#44871501)

I can't remember the name of the 6 second video clip platform that's popular right now

Vine

D: D: D: (3)

pseudofrog (570061) | about a year ago | (#44868065)

my feels! i can't...

targetted ads (2)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#44868103)

Does this mean we'll start seeing something semi-worthwhile on Radar rather than what American Apparel mistakenly thinks kids should buy or the latest flash-in-the-pan Fox TV drama?

Gay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868075)

Gay

Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868115)

I've really been missing out on targeted ads for <insert bizarre sub-culture> porn.

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869875)

gerontophlia? zoophilia? fisting? ass ramming with a drive shaft? raped by bear? some continue please.

You call that "bizarre subculture porn"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44870007)

I'd expect more like human^Wpony-centipede fursuits, Lego SM and vintage typography porn.

Now that'd be fitting for Tumblr. And it certainly exists, and I'm not going to look for it because I value what's still left of my sanity.

Re:You call that "bizarre subculture porn"? (1)

eek_the_kat (249620) | about a year ago | (#44873765)

rule 34

Allow me to reveal my plan for Tumblr use (2)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#44868123)

The plan is to use it less. So let's call it a wash.

Re:Allow me to reveal my plan for Tumblr use (3, Interesting)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about a year ago | (#44868241)

There are many things about tumblr that are nice from the interface that is ideal way to present those things. But the ads will kill it. Somebody will reproduce it if it is that good, or forget it if alternatives come.

Re:Allow me to reveal my plan for Tumblr use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868563)

I've noticed the ads on Tumblr a while now, and I have to say that the people making ads for Tumblr actually get the Tumblr culture. We're not talking about flash banner ads like what we find everywhere, but stylish, funny attention-grabbing animated gifs and posts that are in line with the way people on Tumblr act. It's really been a welcomed experience. I've look at ads because of how good they were, and normally I just ignore them.

Re:Allow me to reveal my plan for Tumblr use (1)

neverwhere9 (2597405) | about a year ago | (#44872111)

Really? They annoy me. I can see they try to get the Tumblr crowd, but normally I find the efforts kind of embarrassing, like an old person in a Lana del Rey T-Shirt trying to talk to a group of young hipsters.

Re:Allow me to reveal my plan for Tumblr use (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44868835)

Aw, but now where am I going to go for porn?

Oh, right, the rest of the internet. Never mind.

Re:Allow me to reveal my plan for Tumblr use (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44871613)

Just install AdBlock and the usual privacy enhancing add-ons for your browser.

I wonder if they try to detect the number of users blocking ads and factor it into their decision to increase advertising or not.

the irony (5, Interesting)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#44868135)

Yahoo getting targetted ads on Tumblr to find out what its users want... then ignoring when users on Flickr try to tell Yahoo what they want.

Re:the irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869923)

Yeah, it's almost 4 months now since the Flickr May 20th changes, and despite tens of thousands of complaints, there has been *no* response from management whatsoever. Nothing!

And the compaints are from the small percentage of people who can find the "help" forum there, the link to which is placed at the bottom of the endless-scroll page!

Anyone who complains there gets harassed by a small group of trolls (less than 10 people). The trolls have posted many tens of thousands of abusive messages there, and the staff never does anything about that either.

Uploads are up though, so that's good! Well, except for that it's about 90% copied pics from facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. A million recopied memes and "like if you agree" pictures every day. Basically a flood of crap.

Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868165)

Sounds like it will be going away sooner rather than later.

driving the coffin nails (2)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#44868221)

The moment we heard Marissa was buying Tumblr, we all knew death was imminent. Flickr's the test case to prove it.

Re:driving the coffin nails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44870237)

Just deleted my Tumblr account. Yaaaahooooo!!!!

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (2)

_merlin (160982) | about a year ago | (#44868287)

How do you expect it to survive without a revenue model? People won't keep throwing capital at it forever. It needs to become profitable somehow or it'll be going away soon anyway.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#44868375)

They are trying to monetize something that should be almost free. They are injecting ads to make money off something that should cost almost nothing to run. Its parasitic. They arent injecting ads to improve the service, but to leech cash. Its an economic model that should be mocked and derided at every turn.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (4, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | about a year ago | (#44868467)

It requires server hardware, data centre space, storage media, backups, power, bandwidth, system administrator time, and at least some development time for maintenance and bug fixes. Online advertising generates very little revenue because of low conversion from impressions to sales, so it's not like they're going to be making a fortune out of it.

Honestly, how do you expect this to be funded? Would you be prepared to sign up for a paid subscription to read it? That never seems to go over well either. Should the writers pay some fee depending on readership? If it's close enough to free that advertising on it is immoral, why don't you set up a competing service for free?

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#44869237)

It requires server hardware, data centre space, storage media, backups, power, bandwidth, system administrator time, and at least some development time for maintenance and bug fixes.

The reality is that the price per user really is ALMOST FREE. But no, its not quite, and will never be completely free.

However, 50 million users paying 50 cents per year? Do you think you could run it for $2 million+ per month? I'm thinking that's likely to be very doable.

If we could get a decent micro-payments infrastructure together we would easily fund these things "ad-free" and "tracking-free". Who out there would REALLY balk at 50 cents a year for that?

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

_merlin (160982) | about a year ago | (#44869549)

If we could get a decent micro-payments infrastructure together we would easily fund these things "ad-free" and "tracking-free". Who out there would REALLY balk at 50 cents a year for that?

That's a very big "if" and no-one's managed to do it so far. Meanwhile they still need money to operate while waiting for this ubiquitous micropayment system to become accepted. It would be nice if you could run things this way, but it doesn't seem to work in real life.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year ago | (#44870437)

Actually it would make sense to have the users pay a one-time signup fee of $10-$15. That's over two years of 50 cents a month membership, minus the monthly administration. Should be both possible and a good idea.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#44874007)

pay a one-time signup fee of $10-$15. That's over two years of 50 cents a month membership

Take Facebook, which is one of the largest and most complicated products out there -- compared to say twitter or tumblr which are a lot simpler.

It's got about $6B in annual revenue, and claims 1.15B monthly active users. FB claims ~25% profit margins. Meaning it needs $4.50/user/year to break even. So yeah, $10-$15 for two year memberships would ABSOLUTELY fund a facebook without facial recognition, profiling, advertising, data mining etc.

I think we could get a FB style platform down to $2/year/user. I believe an awful lot of money is going into data mining and advertising related tech.

(And facebook would be a much simpler product without all that crap so the costs would drop even further.)

And for an instagram or a tumblr or a slashdot, those are FAR simpler products, and I think the annual cost per user drops down to sub 1$ per YEAR for image hosting or discussion forums, down even to 50 cents per user per year. $10 will buy you 2 decades.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44871683)

However, 50 million users paying 50 cents per year? Do you think you could run it for $2 million+ per month? I'm thinking that's likely to be very doable.

If we could get a decent micro-payments infrastructure together we would easily fund these things "ad-free" and "tracking-free". Who out there would REALLY balk at 50 cents a year for that?

50 cents per year sounds awesome on paper, until you factor in all of the kids under 18 on the site without access to mommy and daddy's credit cards.

The system of payment would have to be very quick and simple and offer a way for kids with cash to pay it without jumping through hoops.

Best I can think of is having two plans: an ad-support free plan and an ad-free version with a cost of very-cheap per month.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44868489)

Why don't you run it then? Hosting that much content, accessed by that many people takes some serious resources. You can't just spend $10 a month on a shared host and call it a day.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44869903)

You can, but it will suck badly. Over time it gets cheaper and cheaper to operate such simple services.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869251)

Just because your mom's basement is free doesn't mean the rest of the world is too.

C'mon mods admit it, you know it's most likely true...

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868775)

How do you expect it to survive without a revenue model?

I expect them to make a value proposition that attracts a sufficient number of users to their service.

Perhaps, adding ads is that proposition. I don't want to see ads, no matter how masterfully targeted. Ads are simply a non-starter as far as paying for a service that someone hopes I will use.

Even if Tumblr was somehow vital to me, if viewing ads were the only means of supporting it, I would find an alternative to using Tumblr.

It could be that enough Tumblr users do not mind ads, and Tumblr will do just fine. I guess Tumblr will find out. . .

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (1)

_merlin (160982) | about a year ago | (#44868893)

How do you expect it to survive without a revenue model?

I expect them to make a value proposition that attracts a sufficient number of users to their service.

But once they have the "sufficient number of users" how do they make money out of them to pay for provision of the service, and provide some kind of return on investment? Users alone don't represent ROI.

Perhaps, adding ads is that proposition. I don't want to see ads, no matter how masterfully targeted. Ads are simply a non-starter as far as paying for a service that someone hopes I will use.

The trouble is, the business model for these startups seems to be:

  1. Get venture capital
  2. Create cool new web site
  3. Get lots of users
  4. Bleed cash
  5. Sell out to Google/Yahoo/AOL/whatever
  6. ???
  7. Return on investment!

No-one seems to have come up with a ??? that doesn't involve selling personal data or selling ads. If you try to charge users (whether content producers or consumers) they just move on to the next start-up who's still providing it for free on the back of venture capital.

Re:Sick of hearing about Tumblr. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869635)

No-one seems to have come up with a ??? that doesn't involve selling personal data or selling ads.

... and yet, usenet flourished for the better part of 15+ years until a flood of AOLers ruined it by injecting too much stupidity starting in the mid 90's, and it had no ads and did not sell or collect personal data.

A distributed model could exist with people hosting their own content + popular content being cached in many places, without needing a centralized mass scale data center susceptible to censorship and private violations. Granted many ISPs don't let people run servers, so that's something that need to get fixed, and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. The entire concept of the internet was a network of peers resistant to censorship and all (potentially) on equal footing. It's a new development that we've given so much control of everything to a few megagalactic scale corporations. People didn't used to think the internet could be taken over by commercial interests like it has, but well here we are yes? Time to take it back many of us think.

It'd need lots of work, and easy to use software that anyone could install without needing lots of arcane knowledge. It'd need to get past the "network effect" where everyone's on FB because everyone else is on FB, but that's been done before - once, everybody was on usenet, and then something or another, and then myspace. Nothing is impossible, even if there are difficult barriers in the way. The internet could be taken back, if enough people wanted it to be.

Selling data to advertisers? (3, Informative)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44868275)

I really, really dislike that model for targeted advertising, and I'm surprised Mayer would sign up for it, rather than using the Google model of keeping the data in house and doing the targeting themselves, so that advertisers never see it. At least that way you only have to keep your eye on one possible misuser of your data (well, plus government agencies who decide to target you for their user data requests).

I suppose making effective use of the data yourself is a lot harder than selling it. But, as I understand it, Google's ability to use the data more effectively than advertisers themselves would is a big part of Google's success. I guess Mayer doesn't think Yahoo! has the know-how to do it as well.

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, which may bias me here. I don't think it does, because I felt the same way before I started working for Google, but it's possible.)

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868601)

Yahoo hasn't done anything well in house for a while now and that's essentially the nucleus of its dysfunction.

Google does a lot of good work in house and the sad thing is that Marissa Mayer isn't showing any signs of bringing that over to Yahoo. So far her management has shown signs of being superficial. As CEOs go, superficial management is about par. You can do worse, but Yahoo needs better than average to come out of its malaise.

Google's Stephen Elop? (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year ago | (#44870843)

Well the superficial changes she's made so far makes Yahoo more and more like Google that I'm beginning to think Mayer is Google's equivalent of Stephen Elop. She's not exactly running Yahoo to the ground the way Elop did but then again Google tend to have more finesse than Microsoft's embrace and extinguish approach to the competition. Google's fine with coop-tition so long as you don't threaten their bread-and-butter ad-nalytics business. So there you have Google happily funding Mozilla's yearly operations while pushing its own Chrome browser and making practically no moves to further eat into Safari's dominance of the Apple browser space.

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44871031)

Google's ability to use the data more effectively than advertisers themselves would is a big part of Google's success.

The only big part of googles success was buying Doubleclick.

BTW How much do you people get paid to post on slashdot? I'd imagine an advertising company like google has special employees for "social media outreach".

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44872987)

Google's ability to use the data more effectively than advertisers themselves would is a big part of Google's success.

The only big part of googles success was buying Doubleclick.

Google was hugely successful long before buying Doubleclick, and the impression ads business is still much smaller than the click ad business.

BTW How much do you people get paid to post on slashdot? I'd imagine an advertising company like google has special employees for "social media outreach".

Google does have PR people, but I'm not aware of anyone who does "social media outreach". Of course, I hardly know about everything. Personally, I get paid to write code. I do post on /. during business hours, but, just like the rest of you, it's time taken away from what I'm supposed to be doing.

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | about a year ago | (#44872757)

Google model of keeping the data in house and doing the targeting themselves

FYI: You guys share Google Analytics data with "others" (Whoever pays Google I guess) after supposedly anonymizing it. I wonder how many people are actually aware of it. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1011397?hl=en [google.com]

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44872975)

Yes, aggregated, anonymized trend data is sold. It's a minor, but not trivial, revenue source for Google. I don't think that's what DataSift is doing though. They appear to be selling individual user information.

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | about a year ago | (#44873307)

Yes, aggregated, anonymized trend data is sold. It's a minor, but not trivial, revenue source for Google.

Well I don't really know about other divisions. I just happened to run into this because I setup a google adwords account recently for our company and managed to catch this setting and turn it off. More importantly, the terms of service allows google to sell any data to anyone.

For e.g.

----------------
Your TOS states:

"When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."

And your privacy policy states:

We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances apply:

        We provide personal information to our affiliates or other trusted businesses or persons to process it for us, based on our instructions and in compliance with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.

        We may share aggregated, non-personally identifiable information publicly and with our partners – like publishers, advertisers or connected sites. For example, we may share information publicly to show trends about the general use of our services.
----------------

Not exactly comforting. Though I suppose for any online advertising company, such things are boiler plate legalese stuff to avoid future lawsuits. When things are going good user privacy is important from a PR perspective but when things go bad and wall street/investors/other idiot MBA types turn on the pressure, most companies fold and will sell out to make money.

I don't think that's what DataSift is doing though. They appear to be selling individual user information.

Maybe but why would individual user information be useful to anyone? I mean .. if I was trying to sell a product, I'd want to target an entire class of people conforming to certain criteria rather than specifically Bob or Sally.

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44874749)

And your privacy policy states:

We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances apply:

We provide personal information to our affiliates or other trusted businesses or persons to process it for us, based on our instructions and in compliance with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.

We may share aggregated, non-personally identifiable information publicly and with our partners – like publishers, advertisers or connected sites. For example, we may share information publicly to show trends about the general use of our services. ----------------

Not exactly comforting.

No? Perhaps we have different standards of comfort, but it seems pretty good to me. The first clause says that Google may outsource data processing, but that whoever they outsource to must follow the same rules as Google. The second says Google will only sell aggregated, anonymized data.

When things are going good user privacy is important from a PR perspective but when things go bad and wall street/investors/other idiot MBA types turn on the pressure, most companies fold and will sell out to make money.

Well, at least as long as Page, Brin and Schmidt are in charge, Wall Street and other MBAs don't have much say. Those three outvote the rest of the shareholders combined. And Google is pretty light on MBAs in general, especially in managerial and executive positions. It's very engineer-heavy all the way up to (and including) the top :-)

I don't think that's what DataSift is doing though. They appear to be selling individual user information.

Maybe but why would individual user information be useful to anyone? I mean .. if I was trying to sell a product, I'd want to target an entire class of people conforming to certain criteria rather than specifically Bob or Sally.

What you really want is the contact details for all of the individuals in that class, so that you can advertise to them directly.

Frankly, if that were all that was done, I wouldn't care. Given that I have to see ads (or find some other way of paying for content), I'd rather see targeted ads than shotgun ads. The problem is that once the data has been sold, there's no way to call it back, and no way to keep track of what was done with it. I also don't have a lot of confidence in the security practices of, well, most everyone. I was a security consultant for 15 years, working with all kinds of fortune 500 companies -- mostly financial institutions! -- and security practices are generally appalling.

So, I'd much rather the data stay in house at Google, who does a good job of securing it, is willing to fight back against government intrusion, and even gives me the option of seeing what data they have collected (through the privacy dashboard) and allowing me to opt out and/or have my data deleted. And I'd rather that Yahoo! promise to keep what they collect on me in-house as well, rather than selling it, even if I don't have quite as much confidence in their integrity.

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | about a year ago | (#44876103)

No? Perhaps we have different standards of comfort, but it seems pretty good to me. The first clause says that Google may outsource data processing, but that whoever they outsource to must follow the same rules as Google. The second says Google will only sell aggregated, anonymized data.

I wanted to contrast the language difference between TOS and Privacy Policy. A TOS is something "I Agree" to whereas a Privacy Policy is just something Google tells me it might or might not do with my data. A huge difference. It is evident in the language too, TOS allows Google to sell personally identifiable data, while privacy policy states they wont. Privacy Policies are not legally binding - so its merely a PR thing. TOS gives Google rights - for e.g. to kick a user out of their service whenever they want - without giving the *user* any rights - other than what the privacy policy states they might do.

Well, at least as long as Page, Brin and Schmidt are in charge, Wall Street and other MBAs don't have much say. Those three outvote the rest of the shareholders combined. And Google is pretty light on MBAs in general, especially in managerial and executive positions. It's very engineer-heavy all the way up to (and including) the top :-)

Given the amount of personal info Google has, I hope that's true for everyone's sake.

The problem is that once the data has been sold, there's no way to call it back, and no way to keep track of what was done with it. I also don't have a lot of confidence in the security practices of, well, most everyone. I was a security consultant for 15 years, working with all kinds of fortune 500 companies -- mostly financial institutions! -- and security practices are generally appalling.

Well, nothing stops individual employees from leaking/spying on data anyway. And it has happened .. at Google [wired.com] /Facebook [digitaljournal.com] /etc, so all the security in the world will only stop external script-kiddies and other low-level information hackers but cant stop anyone who is motivated enough.

So, I'd much rather the data stay in house at Google, who does a good job of securing it, is willing to fight back against government intrusion, and even gives me the option of seeing what data they have collected (through the privacy dashboard) and allowing me to opt out and/or have my data deleted. And I'd rather that Yahoo! promise to keep what they collect on me in-house as well, rather than selling it, even if I don't have quite as much confidence in their integrity.

Your statement contains an implicit assumption that data *must* be collected. I am of the opposite view. Personal data should never be automatically collected, even in an anonymous fashion. All data collection must be done through a specific means (e.g. user submitted form) via an explicit opt-in event - not just clicking "I Agree" on some large wall of text that nobody can understand.

and even gives me the option of seeing what data they have collected (through the privacy dashboard) and allowing me to opt out and/or have my data deleted.

I have never seen any option of permanently deleting data. I assume deleted just means hidden from the user. One reason being google cant guarentee that the data is deleted from all the backups, and another reason is - even deleted data is valuable for targeting ads.

I'm sure we disagree on most of the above since you work for Google :)

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44880069)

Privacy Policies are not legally binding - so its merely a PR thing. TOS gives Google rights - for e.g. to kick a user out of their service whenever they want - without giving the *user* any rights - other than what the privacy policy states they might do.

I think privacy policies are more meaningful than you imply. I believe they create promissory estoppel.

Well, nothing stops individual employees from leaking/spying on data anyway. And it has happened .. at Google [wired.com] /Facebook [digitaljournal.com] /etc, so all the security in the world will only stop external script-kiddies and other low-level information hackers but cant stop anyone who is motivated enough.

Actually, there is a lot that stops individual employees from leaking/spying. The article you mentioned was three years old, and it described things that happened earlier. There is a lot of infrastructure in place today to prevent unauthorized employee access that wasn't there 3-4 years ago. I happen to know that very well, because I design and build a lot of it -- and 95% of all of my effort is devoted to internal threats. Not because we believe that there are a lot of malicious Googlers, but because if you can guarantee that insiders can't get at the data, outsiders have no chance -- and to prevent examples like the one you cited (which AFAIK was the last such case).

Of course, you'll note that the preceding paragraph was just reassurances with no details. Unfortunately, that's because I can't provide details -- which I actually think is a mistake on Google's part, and something I regularly bring up with management. Google has a really excellent security story, and I think we should be telling it. But since we aren't all I can say is: It's awesome, trust me :-)

So, I'd much rather the data stay in house at Google, who does a good job of securing it, is willing to fight back against government intrusion, and even gives me the option of seeing what data they have collected (through the privacy dashboard) and allowing me to opt out and/or have my data deleted. And I'd rather that Yahoo! promise to keep what they collect on me in-house as well, rather than selling it, even if I don't have quite as much confidence in their integrity.

Your statement contains an implicit assumption that data *must* be collected. I am of the opposite view. Personal data should never be automatically collected, even in an anonymous fashion. All data collection must be done through a specific means (e.g. user submitted form) via an explicit opt-in event - not just clicking "I Agree" on some large wall of text that nobody can understand.

We disagree on the need for an explicit opt-in, and I do think that Google's business model is a reasonable one, and one that's good for users. Google can provide the array of great services that it does because of the trade it makes with users: You allow Google to collect data and use it to target ads to you, and in exchange you get all this stuff. You are free to opt out of this deal, but, frankly, Google wants to make it such a great deal that you don't want to -- and being responsible with your data, ensuring that you know that it won't be used for any other purposes and won't leak, is an important part of the deal.

and even gives me the option of seeing what data they have collected (through the privacy dashboard) and allowing me to opt out and/or have my data deleted.

I have never seen any option of permanently deleting data. I assume deleted just means hidden from the user. One reason being google cant guarentee that the data is deleted from all the backups, and another reason is - even deleted data is valuable for targeting ads.

No, deleted means deleted. I don't think Google is going to go scour all the old backup tapes to make sure that every last copy is wiped, or to ensure that all free disk blocks are thoroughly erased, but it's certainly gone from any normal method of recovery. Some teams also use per-user encryption keys, and I expect that to be the general state of affairs in the future. The great thing about that is that deleting all of your data then requires only deleting a single key. Actually freeing up the data blocks then becomes a storage optimization issue, not a user privacy concern.

I'm sure we disagree on most of the above since you work for Google :)

Maybe, maybe not. I've never been one to let my employer set my opinions. Hell, I have a hard time even shutting up when I'm told to.

(FYI, official policy is that I shouldn't be posting this stuff. It's a kind of a soft policy, though, more of a suggestion. One time I posted about something and got a call from legal telling me to STFU, but even then the attorney was extremely apologetic and not threatening in the least. I did, however, STFU.)

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

0ld_d0g (923931) | about a year ago | (#44882127)

I think we've gotten fairly off-topic here so I'll just let this be my last response.
--

I think privacy policies are more meaningful than you imply. I believe they create promissory estoppel.

Its never been tested so we'll never know. Besides, the point is moot since nobody can expect an average user to sue giant corporations - given their army of lawyers.

Google has a really excellent security story, and I think we should be telling it. But since we aren't all I can say is: It's awesome, trust me :-)

Okay. I'll take that at face value.

We disagree on the need for an explicit opt-in, and I do think that Google's business model is a reasonable one, and one that's good for users.

When I type google.com into a browser, I am not expressing any intent for Google to track me. Google is simply assuming that the fact that any packets are routed through their networks gives them the right to inspect and track/save them. What if every single internet backbone provider starting mining data packets? After all, when you go the route of implicit-authorization anyone can do anything. In my opinion recording data without permission should be illegal before companies really start testing the boundaries (and they will eventually). I've been online since 1996 and I remember the days when setting cookies or recording visitor IP addresses was considered invasion of privacy !

What if Google decides that people who click on ads should have their traffic/service prioritized? I'm sure it makes great business sense - in fact - it makes perfect sense to simply do it without telling anyone. Once you create a successful business which relies primarily on user data/clicks/impressions - the only way to grow in a saturated market is to give the 1-2% "paying customers" who click on ads something extra.

And I'm not even getting to what can happen if data is used to manipulate peoples psychology. Google can enable really evil advertising. e.g. If I was exchanging emails with my family regarding any personal health problems, Google is the perfect platform to show me an ad for some anti-depressant or some other pill especially if some automated algorithm determined I was in a vulnerable frame of mind.

Ofcource it wont start out that way. Maybe some geek will come up with an automated algorithm to map the user into N-personality/mood dimensions and you can even run some kind of genetic algorithm to determine which category ads are successful for which state of mind.

There could be some perfectly "nice" use case where I'm more likely to order a pizza online when I come home late and Google detects a change using some android gps location data or IP or what have you.

I have simply too many fears of user exploitation.Its not restricted to only Google. I doubt I can be comfortable with any business that charges no money upfront for their products.

Re:Selling data to advertisers? (1)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#44882779)

Besides, the point is moot since nobody can expect an average user to sue giant corporations - given their army of lawyers.

Class action. Or, alternatively, legislative action. Google is fully cognizant of both of those possibilities, and that at Google's size and public visibility one or both would happen.

When I type google.com into a browser, I am not expressing any intent for Google to track me.

Intent, no, permission yes.

Google is simply assuming that the fact that any packets are routed through their networks gives them the right to inspect and track/save them.

Do your packets get routed through Google's network? Not unless you're on Google Fiber, and if you are Google doesn't assume any such right.

But you're not talking about packets which you're sending somewhere else which happen to flow through Google, you're talking about packets that you send to Google's data centers, expecting those data centers to do some useful work for you. The price for that useful work is targeted advertising and the tracking which supports it. Though, of course, Google being Google, the company does provide you with tools to opt out of that (aside: do you use the Google opt outs? I think you should, based on your expressed philosophy).

What if every single internet backbone provider starting mining data packets?

Sorry, but I think this is a red herring. That's a completely different situation. And, personally, I think you should encrypt all of your traffic to make it impossible for middlemen to see anything.

What if Google decides that people who click on ads should have their traffic/service prioritized?

Conceptually I don't see any problem with that. In practice it wouldn't gain Google anything, since any motivation to click other than interest in potentially buying the advertised product ultimately does Google no good. It increases clicks, but decreases the value of those clicks to advertisers, which in turn causes them to bid less. There's a good reason that Wall Street pays a lot of attention to Google's "cost per click" metric; higher values mean advertisers are bidding higher, which means that Google is providing more effective advertising.

Another point to consider is that Google isn't an advertising company. Google is a technology company which has historically found that the easiest way to monetize its technology is through advertising. But Google's non-advertising revenues have been growing far faster than its ad revenues for some time now. They still only constitute 10% of total revenues, but that's up from 4% a couple of years ago.

Once you create a successful business which relies primarily on user data/clicks/impressions - the only way to grow in a saturated market is to give the 1-2% "paying customers" who click on ads something extra.

Actually, Google's advertising market is far from saturated. Google owns a big chunk of online advertising, but online advertising is still small potatoes compared to total advertising. There's lots of room for growth.

And I'm not even getting to what can happen if data is used to manipulate peoples psychology.

Interestingly enough, while I disagree with you on this point, because I'm a cold-eyed libertarian who thinks people should be responsible for themselves, the vast majority of Googlers, including Google management, agree with you, that Google could but absolutely should not do anything like that. Not that my reassurances that Google is a bunch of bleeding hearts will really give you any comfort, because that could change.

I doubt I can be comfortable with any business that charges no money upfront for their products.

Suppose Google offered an alternative, a way that you could choose to make micropayments in lieu of seeing ads. Would you sign up? The idea would be to set the price you pay at exactly what an advertiser would have paid -- meaning to run the same real-time advertising ranking and auction algorithms to determine what ads to show, what price to charge per click and what the probability of clicking is, and then to charge you the expected value of the result, but not actually show the ads. Oh, and for AdSense, the idea would also include the same split of your payments between Google and the site hosting the ads, so your payments would go to support the sites you frequent.

Would you do that? Suppose also that the system gave you the ability to control the payout rate, so you don't have to be concerned about running up a big tab. In fact, I'd probably structure it as a pre-pay system where ads (non-ads?) get charged against a pre-paid balance until it's gone, at which point you start seeing ads again.

Do you pay not to see ads on /.? Since /. has a similar system.

The more ads people place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868501)

the more I block them. Ads continue to represent a danget to users through tracking and malware-infected ad servers. No thanks. I truly miss the simpler, largely ad-free Internet of the 90s.

Re:The more ads people place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869687)

I truly miss the simpler, largely ad-free Internet of the 80s.

I'd put it that way. By the 90's, the place was already starting to go downhill quite noticeably. The quality of online discussions had plummeted, spam started in the early/mid 90's, commercialization started to take over (slowly at first, but still...). The 80's was really the golden era, before all that crap. I wasn't around for the 70's era of the internet, but from what I know, it was too small to be very useful yet. By the 80's, especially the mid to late 80's, it had more than enough content to be a fantastic resource, but you could still trust that a product review was written by a real person, not a commercial astroturfer, there were no ads or spam to speak of, yet there were discussions about everything under the sun, fantastic technical help forums for anything you could imagine, and so on.

I miss the 80's internet more than the 90's internet by a long shot. Plenty of content, no crap. The ratio started to invert around 93-ish.

Re:The more ads people place (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44869937)

Internet became available to the general population instead of being restrained to the scholars and researchers. I say it is not a bad thing. Maybe its time to create a new slashdot without the AC shit.

Re:The more ads people place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44870367)

I say it is not a bad thing.

I say it was.

Before: no spam, no malware laden commercial ads, no mass data harvesting, no ME TOO idiocy, no commercial control, no astroturfing, no NSA monitoring...
After: spam, malware laden commercial ads, mass data harvesting, pervasive stupidity, mass commercial control, mass astroturfing, mass NSA monitoring...

Yeah. Better before.

Re:The more ads people place (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44870417)

And roads were better too before cars became commonplace.

Before: no dust, no smoke, no risk of getting every bone broken by someone losing control at 120mph, nice wide sidewalks with trees and flowers alongside...
After: choking with dust and smoke, lots of sidewalks two people can barely walk side by side, dead grass and dusty bushes, reckless drivers, drunk drivers...

Yeah. Better before.

Everything was better before! Now git off mah lawn *shakes walking stick*

Good ads vs Bad ads (1)

rueger (210566) | about a year ago | (#44868521)

It still makes me wonder: how come Google ads just don't irritate me*, and even actually interest me enough to click though on regular basis, but Facebook, Flickr, and everyone else seem to handle advertising in ways that just plain irritate me?

Or that apparently waste advertisers' money because they're flinging ads at people who have utterly no interest in them.

Kind of the same way that I can drop back into Amazon.com after a year or so, and it just feels good and somehow makes it really easy to buy stuff, yet 95% of e-commerce sites suck terribly.

I guess it's that geeky drive to invent something brand new every time instead of just copying (or licencing) what already works well.

*OK, YouTube ads are the exception

Metastatic snooping (4, Informative)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year ago | (#44868535)

If it were just Tumbler, or Twitter, or Facebook or Google following their users, that might be at least people going there and knowing their every click was being monitored.

Here's a little experiment. Y'all do have NoScript running right? rIght? Reset it to defaults. Prepare for an onslaught.

Yahoo home page:

go.com, fwmrm.net, facebook.net,media.net,sitescout.com, yieldmanager.com, interclick.com, yldmgirng.net .

Now I thought Yahoo was bad - but wait, there's more

Did a web search on "New York Times" on yahoo went to their site their site....

adsafeprotected.com, googlesyndication.com, nyt.com, moatads.com, serving-sys.com, nytimes.com

Now on the same page, I'll temporarily allow all those. Now we have more friends running scripts on the same page:

Facebook.net, chartbeat.com, revsci.net, krxd.net, scorecardresearch.com, brightcove.com

So Let's allow all those once again. Huh... another script:

facebook.com

So for just the NYT home page, there are 13 scripts hard at work.

Going through some other pages on the same site, we get typekit.com, stats.com, ticketnetwork.com, insightexpressai.com, buzzfeed.com, doubleclick.net, google-analytics.com, pointroll.com, dl-rms.com, questionmarket.com

Typekit.com, brightcove.com, and ticketnetwork.com are the only ones not specifically looking you over and tracking and or generating what you see by what you clickk on.

But just on one website, we have at least 22 scripts designed to follow you around.

I know a lot of people here use noscript, and this might be old news to them. But newcomers might benefit from what is happening.

Re:Metastatic snooping (4, Interesting)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year ago | (#44869005)

For Firefox users, Stanford research discovered recently [stanford.edu] that using a script-blocking extension actually isn't as effective at privacy protection as using privacy & ad-blocking lists with an ad-blocking extension (I use AdBlock Plus). I double-checked the domains you listed, and all of them appeared in at least one of the blocklists, either blocking everything from their sites or blocking things from being executed from another domain.

If you're in Firefox (and have a *lot* of patience/time), you might like another whitelisting-based extension they labeled extremely effective, though:
"Request Policy [requestpolicy.com] , a Firefox extension, takes the opposite approach: all requests to third-party domains are blocked, save those the user explicitly allows. While Request Policy offers nearly comprehensive protection from third-party tracking, properly configuring it requires substantially greater patience and expertise than the average user can reasonably be expected to possess."

Re:Metastatic snooping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869263)

Except Request Policy is funded by the ad networks themselves. Giving the benefit of the doubt, there might be noble intentions behind it...lol, nevermind, I didn't just say that.

Re:Metastatic snooping (1)

chihowa (366380) | about a year ago | (#44877701)

Except Request Policy is funded by the ad networks themselves. Giving the benefit of the doubt, there might be noble intentions behind it...lol, nevermind, I didn't just say that.

Do you have any evidence for that? It seems like RequestPolicy is just some guy [requestpolicy.com] and searching doesn't find any clear documentation of nefarious funding.

Are you thinking of Ghostery, by chance? (Even Ghostery claim that their tracking is opt-in and sold anonymized, though I understand some skepticism there.)

AdBlock/Ghostery/RequestPolicy = inferior (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869327)

Hosts do more w/ less (1 file) @ a faster level (ring 0) vs redundant browser addons (that slow up already slower ring 3 browsers) as a filter for the IP stack (coded in C & load w/ OS + 1st net request resolver queried w\ 45++ yrs.of optimization):

---

APK Hosts File Engine 9.0++ 32/64-bit:

http://start64.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5851:apk-hosts-file-engine-64bit-version&catid=26:64bit-security-software&Itemid=74 [start64.com]

(Benefits hosts files provide on numerous levels for speed, security, reliability, & anonymity = in link above)

---

* Cutting out ads saves me up to 40% per website page on average via the above!

---

A.) Hosts do more than AdBlock ("souled-out" 2 GOOGLE & crippled by default) + Ghostery (Advertiser owned) - "Foxes guarding the henhouse", or Request Policy -> http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4127345&cid=44701775 [slashdot.org]

B.) Hosts add reliability vs. downed DNS & protect vs redirected DNS + secure vs. known malicious domains also -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3985079&cid=44310431 [slashdot.org] w/ less added "moving parts" complexity + room for breakdown,

C.) Hosts files yield more speed (blocks ads & hardcodes fav sites - faster than remote DNS), security (vs. malicious domains serving mal-content + block spam/phish links), reliability (vs. downed DNS or vs. Kaminsky vulnerable DNS, 99% = unpatched vs. it & worst @ ISP level + weak vs FastFlux + DynDNS botnets), & anonymity (vs. dns request logs + DNSBL's).

---

("Less is more" = GOOD engineering - va, slowing down already SLOWER usermode browsers layering on MORE in addons which are known to slow them down more? I work w/ what you already have in kernelmode, via hosts: A tightly integrated PART of the IP stack itself)

APK

P.S.=> "The premise is, quite simple: Take something designed by nature & reprogram it to make it work FOR the body, rather than against it..." - Dr. Alice Krippen "I AM LEGEND"

...apk

Re:AdBlock/Ghostery/RequestPolicy = inferior (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44870413)

The power of AdBlock Plus is that it can block conditionally. Get it?

Let me explain, just to be sure.

(*.)twitter.com: It's everywhere. With AdBlock you can block it as a third party site but you allow it when you're actually on twitter.com. So, no tracking across the web but usable twitter.

11 things AdBlock can't do that hosts can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44871345)

1.) Blocking rogue DNS servers malware makers use
2.) Blocking known sites/servers that serve up malware... like known sites/servers/hosts-domains that serve up malicious scripts
3.) Speeding up your FAVORITE SITES that hosts can speed up via hardcoded line item entries properly resolved by a reverse DNS ping
4.) AdBlock works on Mozilla products (browser & email), hosts work on ANY webbound app AND are multiplatform.
5.) AdBlock can't protect external to FireFox email programs, hosts can (think OUTLOOK, Eudora, & others)
6.) AdBlock can't help you blow past DNSBL's (DNS block lists)
7.) AdBlock can't help you avoid DNS request logs (hosts can via hardcoded favorites)
8.) AdBlock can't protect you vs. TRACKERS (hosts can)
9.) AdBlock can't protect you vs. DOWNED or "DNS-poisoned" redirected DNS servers (hosts can by hardcodes)
10.) Protection vs. "FastFlux" botnets (where the IP address of a particular hostname/domainname & URL link correspond to changing IP addresses in a botnet)
11.) Hosts are EASIER to manage, they're just a text file (adblock means you had BEST know your javascript, perl, & python + regular expressions (iirc as to what languages are used to make it from source)).

Adblock Plus To Offer 'Acceptable Ads' Option

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/12/12/2213233/adblock-plus-to-offer-acceptable-ads-option [slashdot.org]

Since hosts (via tcpip.sys, a driver in ring 0/rpl 0/kernelmode) load first, from a far, Far, FAR FASTER MODE OF OPERATION (vs. usermode plus layering in over the top of browsers, slowing them down more (firefox addons are KNOWN for doing that mind you)) & know what is blocked out already?

Hosts are referenced BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE IS for IP address resolution from host-domain names for ANY & ALL processes that are webbound -> http://support.microsoft.com/kb/172218 [microsoft.com] ??

Hosts Files make ADBLOCK REDUNDANT (& adblock doesn't block all ads anymore by default either)...

APK

Damn this is going to suck! :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868569)

Erm, my bad! I forgot that I've not saw an ad since 1998.

However for sites I surf a lot I allow them but customize the page layout so the view counts and I see nothing. I admit it's a dick move, but I hate ads and if I can rip them off out of a view I do it with a giant troll grin on my face.

Media corporation seeks profit from advertising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868589)

How young would the average hu-man have to be for this to be news to them? Rule of Acquisition 168: Whisper your way to success.

The Myspace problem. (4, Interesting)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year ago | (#44868625)

I wonder occasionally if advertising is the next overinflated bubble fit to burst.

Companies or investors are buying into these vast userbases (which is essentially what is being sold) on the broad assumption that somehow advertising revenue will return the investment. Yet in almost every case this has proved spurious as the trends are so volatile.

Tumblr has never made a profit and yet is worth over $1 billion simply because people believe that advertising is worth that much. It seems to be an act of faith in much the same way as people believed that housing was an investment that always grew, or you couldn't lose buying technology stock in the late 90's.

The foundations of this advertising collossus seem no more secure than those of the financial one, and we all know how well that ended up.

Re:The Myspace problem. (1)

stevez67 (2374822) | about a year ago | (#44868787)

There's nothing to wonder about; ads on websites only make sense to the companies that sell them.

Re:The Myspace problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44869295)

the lifecycle of an online service.

1. create a new free online service, don't worry about making money. it's not about making money, it's about attracting investors to survive until step 4.
2. create media hype to increase userbase and traffic
3 ???
4. (sell-out and) profit.

who is surprised by this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868729)

Absurdly overvalued internet hype of the moment that doesn't make enough money to justify its' valuation announces plan to make money through advertising......

Knock me over with a feather, it's just amazing that literally nobody has had this idea before, give the "CIO" a few million for his insight.

Voltage analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868863)

Wow! The ball of that Van de Graf generator is charged at 40,000 Volts. We can hook a motor up to it and power our fans. (hooks up fan, which rotates ever so slightly, then stops). Hey, what happened to that 40,000 Volts?

Nothing's free. (1)

Steve Goldsby (3105743) | about a year ago | (#44869815)

Figure out what tax you're willing to pay for "free" stuff. The human brain is good at ignoring ads.

Re:Nothing's free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884817)

Too true.

To the impoverished masses, barely online as a diversion to their humdrum lives, once their physiological needs are met (see Maslow's 'Need Pyramid' [wikipedia.org] ), everything else online is just 'buy me' persuasion and can be ignored. The savvy ones use the HOSTS file and supplementary software to block as much advertising out as possible, thus saving them bandwidth and speeding up their internet connection. They know they don't need ads to buy stuff--they'll seek out the best solutions to their problems online and buy them instead as needed.

No (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44869885)

Hulu makes me watch 6 30-second commercials several times an hour like normal TV. Haven't done Hulu in a year and a half.

If tumblr does anything besides the occasional in-line ad as part of the tumbling scroll wall, forcing me to stop and watch, bye bye.

Just stop.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44875853)

Don't use it and show Marissa she is a failure of a CEO.

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