Big Tech, Big Fakes, Bigger Money: What Will AI Kill?

December 7, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I don’t read The Hollywood Reporter. I did one job for a Hollywood big wheel. That was enough for me. I don’t drink. I don’t take drugs unless prescribed by my comic book addicted medical doctor in rural Kentucky. I don’t dress up and wear skin bronzers in the hope that my mobile will buzz. I don’t stay out late. I don’t fancy doing things which make my ethical compass buzz more angrily than my mobile phone. Therefore, The Hollywood Reporter does not speak to me.

One of my research team sent me a link to “The Rise of AI-Powered Stars: Big Money and Risks.” I scanned the write up and then I went through it again. By golly, The Hollywood Reporter hit on an “AI will kill us” angle not getting as much publicity as Sam AI-Man’s minimal substance interview.


Can a techno feudalist generate new content using what looks like “stars” or “well known” people? Probably. A payoff has to be within sight. Otherwise, move on to the next next big thing. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough cartoon.

Please, read the original and complete article in The Hollywood Reporter. Here’s the passage which rang the insight bell for me:

tech firms are using the power of celebrities to introduce the underlying technology to the masses. “There’s a huge possible business there and I think that’s what YouTube and the music companies see, for better or for worse

Let’s think about these statements.

First, the idea of consumerizing AI for the masses is interesting. However, I interpret the insight as having several force vectors:

  1. Become the plumbing for the next wave of user generated content (USG)
  2. Get paid by users AND impose an advertising tax on the USG
  3. Obtain real-time data about the efficacy of specific smart generation features so that resources can be directed to maintain a “moat” from would-be attackers.

Second, by signing deals with people who to me are essentially unknown, the techno giants are digging some trenches and putting somewhat crude asparagus obstacles where the competitors are like to drive their AI machines. The benefits include:

  1. First hand experience with the stars’ ego system responds
  2. The data regarding cost of signing up a star, payouts, and selling ads against the content
  3. Determining what push back exists [a] among fans and [b] the historical middlemen who have just been put on notice that they can find their future elsewhere.

Finally, the idea of the upside and the downside for particular entities and companies is interesting. There will be winners and losers. Right now, Hollywood is a loser. TikTok is a winner. The companies identified in The Hollywood Reporter want to be winners — big winners.

I may have to start paying more attention to this publication and its stories. Good stuff. What will AI kill? The cost of some human “talent”?

Stephen E Arnold, December 7, 2023

Google and X: Shall We Again Love These Bad Dogs?

November 30, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Two stories popped out of my blah newsfeed this morning (Thursday, November 30, 2023). I want to highlight each and offer a handful of observations. Why? I am a dinobaby, and I remember the adults who influenced me telling me to behave, use common sense, and follow the rules of “good” behavior. Dull? Yes. A license to cut corners and do crazy stuff? No.

The first story, if it is indeed accurate, is startling. “Google Caught Placing Big-Brand Ads on Hardcore Porn Sites, Report Says” includes a number of statements about the Google which make me uncomfortable. For instance:

advertisers who feel there’s no way to truly know if Google is meeting their brand safety standards are demanding more transparency from Google. Ideally, moving forward, they’d like access to data confirming where exactly their search ads have been displayed.

Where are big brand ads allegedly appearing? How about “undesirable sites.” What comes to mind for me is adult content. There are some quite sporty ads on certain sites that would make a Methodist Sunday school teacher blush.


These two big dogs are having a heck of a time ruining the living room sofa. Neither dog knows that the family will not be happy. These are dogs, not the mental heirs of Immanuel Kant. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. The stuffing looks like soap bubbles, but you are “good enough,” the benchmark for excellence today.

But the shocking factoid is that Google does not provide a way for advertisers to know where their ads have been displayed. Also, there is a possibility that Google shared ad revenue with entities which may be hostile to the interests of the US. Let’s hope that the assertions reported in the article are inaccurate. But if the display of big brand ads on sites with content which could conceivably erode brand value, what exactly is Google’s system doing? I will return to this question in the observations section of this essay.

The second article is equally shocking to me.

Elon Musk Tells Advertisers: ‘Go F*** Yourself’” reports that the EV and rocket man with a big hole digging machine allegedly said about advertisers who purchase promotions on (Twitter?):

Don’t advertise,” … “If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go f*** yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.” … ” If advertisers don’t return, Musk said, “what this advertising boycott is gonna do is it’s gonna kill the company.”

The cited story concludes with this statement:

The full interview was meandering and at times devolved into stream of consciousness responses; Musk spoke for triple the time most other interviewees did. But the questions around Musk’s own actions, and the resulting advertiser exodus — the things that could materially impact X — seemed to garner the most nonchalant answers. He doesn’t seem to care.

Two stories. Two large and successful companies. What can a person like myself conclude, recognizing that there is a possibility that both stories may have some gaps and flaws:

  1. There is a disdain for old-fashioned “values” related to acceptable business practices
  2. The thread of pornography and foul language runs through the reports. The notion of well-crafted statements and behaviors is not part of the Google and X game plan in my view
  3. The indifference of the senior managers at both companies seeps through the descriptions of how Google and X operate strikes me as intentional.

Now why?

I think that both companies are pushing the edge of business behavior. Google obviously is distributing ad inventory anywhere it can to try and create a market for more ads. Instead of telling advertisers where their ads are displayed or giving an advertiser control over where ads should appear, Google just displays the ads. The staggering irrelevance of the ads I see when I view a YouTube video is evidence that Google knows zero about me despite my being logged in and using some Google services. I don’t need feminine undergarments, concealed weapons products, or bogus health products.

With the dismissive attitude of the firm’s senior management reeks of disdain. Why would someone advertise on a system which  promotes behaviors that are detrimental to one’s mental set up?

The two companies are different, but in a way they are similar in their approach to users, customers, and advertisers. Something has gone off the rails in my opinion at both companies. It is generally a good idea to avoid riding trains which are known to run on bad tracks, ignore safety signals, and demonstrate remarkably questionable behavior.

What if the write ups are incorrect? Wow, both companies are paragons. What if both write ups are dead accurate? Wow, wow, the big dogs are tearing up the living room sofa. More than “bad dog” is needed to repair the furniture for living.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2023

Who Benefits from Advertising Tracking Technology? Teens, Bad Actors, You?

November 23, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love advertising. When I click to Sling’s or Tubi’s free TV, a YouTube video about an innovation in physics, or visit the UK’s Daily Mail — I see just a little bit of content. The rest, it seems to this dinobaby, to be advertising. For some reason, YouTube this morning (November 17, 2023) is showing me ads for a video game or undergarments for a female-oriented person before I can watch an update on the solemnity of Judge Engoran’s courtroom.

However, there are some people who are not “into” advertising. I want to point out that these individuals are in the minority; otherwise, people flooded with advertising would not disconnect or navigate to a somewhat less mercantile souk. Yes, a few exist; for example, government Web sites. (I acknowledge that some governments’ Web sites are advertising, but there’s not much I can do about that fusion of pitches and objective information about the location of a nation’s embassy.)

But to the matter at hand. I read a PDF titled “Europe’s Hidden Security Crisis.” The document is a position paper, a white paper, or a special report. The terminology varies depending on the entities involved in the assembly of the information. The group apparently nudging the intrepid authors to reveal the “hidden security crisis” could be the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. I know zero about the group, and I know even less about the authors, Dr. Johnny Ryan and Wolfie Christl. Dr. Ryan has written for the newspaper which looks like a magazine, and Mr. Christl is a principal of Cracked Labs.

So what’s the “hidden security crisis”? There is a special operation underway in Ukraine. The open source information crowd is documenting assorted facts and developments on We have the public Telegram channels outputting a wealth of information about the special operation and the other unhappy circumstances in Europe. We have the Europol reports about cyber crime, takedowns, and multi-nation operations. I receive in my newsfeed pointers to “real” news about a wide range of illegal activities. In short, what’s hidden?


An evil Web bug is capturing information about a computer user. She is not afraid. She is unaware… apparently. Thanks Microsoft Bing. Ooops. Strike that. Thanks, Copilot. Good Grinch. Did you accidentally replicate a beloved character or just think it up?

The report focuses on what I have identified as my first love — commercial messaging aka advertising.

The “hidden”, I think, refers to data collected when people navigate to a Web site and click, drag a cursor, or hover on a particular region. Those data along with date, time, browser used, and similar information are knitted together into a tidy bundle. These data can be used to have other commercial messages follow a person to another Web site, trigger an email urging the surfer to buy more or just buy something, or populate one of the cross tabulation companies’ databases.

The write up uses the lingo RTB or real time bidding to describe the data collection. The report states:

Our investigation highlights a widespread trade in data about sensitive European personnel and leaders that exposes them to blackmail, hacking and compromise, and undermines the security of their organizations and institutions.  These data flow from Real-Time Bidding (RTB), an advertising technology that is active on almost all websites and apps. RTB involves the broadcasting of sensitive data about people using those websites and apps to large numbers of other entities, without security measures to protect the data. This occurs billions of times a day. Our examination of tens of thousands of pages of RTB data reveals that EU military personnel and political decision makers are targeted using RTB.

In the US, the sale of data gathered via advertising cookies, beacons, and related technologies is a business with nearly 1,000 vendors offering data. I am not sure about the “hidden” idea, however. If the term applies to an average Web user, most of those folks do not know about changing defaults. That is not a hidden function; that is an indication of the knowledge the user has about a specific software.

If you are interested in the report, navigate to this link. You may find the “security crisis” interesting. If not, keep in mind that one can eliminate such tracking with fairly straightforward preventative measures. For me, I love advertising. I know the beacons and bugs want to do the right thing: Capture and profile me to the nth degree. Advertising! It is wonderful and its data exhaust informative and useful.

Stephen E Arnold, November 23, 2023

Mr. Musk Knows Best When It Comes to Online Ads

November 9, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Other than the eye-catching and underwhelming name change, X (formerly Twitter) has remained quiet. Users still aren’t paying for the check mark that verifies their identity and Elon Musk hasn’t garnered any ire. Mashable has the most exciting news about X and it relates to ads: “X Rolls Out New Ad Format That Can’t Be Reported, Blocked.”

X might be a social media platform but it is also a business that needs to make a profit. X has failed to attract new advertisers but the social platform is experimenting with a new type of ad. X users report act the new ads don’t allow them to like tweet them. What is even stranger is that the ads do not disclose that they are advertisements or any other disclosure.

The ads consist of a photo, a fake avatar, and vague yet interesting text. They are disguised as a regular tweet. The new ads are of the “chumbox” quality, meaning they are low quality, spammy aka those clickbait ads at the bottom of articles on content farm Web sites. They’re similar to the ads in the back of magazines or comic books that advertised for drawing schools, mail order gadget scams, and sea monkeys.

Chumbox ads point to X’s failing profitability. Advertisers lost interest in X after Musk acquired the platform. X is partnering with third-party advertisers in the ad tech industry to sell available ad inventory. Google also announced a partnership with X to sell programmatic advertising.

Musk made another change that isn’t sitting well with users:

“The new ad format arrives to X around the same time the company made another decision that makes the platform less transparent. Earlier this week, under a directive from Musk himself, X removed headlines and other context from links shared to the platform. Instead of seeing the title of an article or other link posted to X, users now simply see an embed of the header image with the corresponding domain name displayed like a watermark-like overlay in the corner of the photo. Musk said he made the change to how links were displayed because he didn’t like the way it previously looked.”

X as an advertising platform is doing a bang up job. Lots of advertisers. Lots of money. Lots of opportunity. I, however, am not sure I see X as does Mr. M.

Whitney Grace, November 9, 2023

How Generative Graphics AI Might Be Used to Embed Hidden Messages

November 3, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software required.

Subliminal advertising is back, now with an AI boost. At least that is the conclusion of one Tweeter (X-er?) who posted a few examples of the allegedly frightful possibilities. The Creative Bloq considers, “Should We Be Scared of Hidden Messages in AI Optical Illusions?” Writer Joseph Foley tells us:

“Some of the AI optical illusions we’ve seen recently have been slightly mesmerizing, but some people are concerned that they could also be dangerous. ‘Many talk about the dangers of “AGI” taking over humans. But you should worry more about humans using AI to control other humans,’ Cocktail Peanut wrote in a post on Twitter, providing the example of the McDonald’s logo embedded in an anime-style AI-generated illustration. The first example wasn’t very subtle. But Peanut followed up with less obvious optical illusions, all made using a Stable Diffusion-powered Hugging Face space called Diffusion Illusion HQ created by Angry PenguinPNG. The workflow for making the illusions, using Monster Labs QR Control Net, was apparently discovered by accident. The ControlNet technique allows users to specify inputs, for example specific images or words, to gain more control over AI image generations. Monster Labs’ tool was created to allow QR codes to be used as input so the AI would generate usable but artistic QR codes as an output, but users discovered that it could also be used to hide patterns or words in AI-generated scenes.”

Hidden messages in ads have been around since 1957, though they are officially banned as “deceptive advertising” in the US. The concern here is that AI will make the technique much, much cheaper and easier. Interesting but not really surprising. Should we be concerned? Foley thinks not. He notes the few studies on subliminal advertising suggest it is not very effective. Will companies, and even some governments, try it anyway? Probably.

Cynthia Murrell, November 3, 2023

Publishers and Remora: Choose the Right Host and Stop Complaining, Please

October 20, 2023

dino-10-19-timeline-333-fix-4_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb humanoid. No smart software involved.

Today, let’s reflect on the suckerfish or remora. The fish attaches itself to a shark and feeds on scraps of the host’s meals or nibbles on the other parasites living on their food truck. Why think about a fish with a sucking disk on its head?

Navigate to “Silicon Valley Ditches News, Shaking an Unstable Industry.” The article reports as “real” news:

Many news companies have struggled to survive after the tech companies threw the industry’s business model into upheaval more than a decade ago. One lifeline was the traffic — and, by extension, advertising — that came from sites like Facebook and Twitter. Now that traffic is disappearing.

Translation: No traffic, no clicks. No clicks and no traffic mean reduced revenue. Why? The days of printed newspapers and magazines are over. Forget the costs of printing and distributing. Think about people visiting a Web site. No traffic means that advertisers will go where the readers are. Want news? Fire up a mobile phone and graze on the information available. Sure, some sites want money, but most people find free services. I like, but there are options galore.

Wikipedia provides a snap of a remora attached to a scuba diver. Smart remora hook on to a fish with presence.

The shift in content behavior has left traditional publishing companies with a challenge: Generating revenue. Newspapers specialized news services have tried a number tactics over the years. The problem is that the number of people who will pay for content is large, but finding those people and getting them to spit out a credit card is expensive. At the same time, the cost of generating “real” news is expensive as well.

In 1992, James B. Twitchell published Carnival Culture: The Trashing of Taste in America. The book offered insight into how America has embraced showmanship information. Dr. Twitchell’s book appeared 30 years ago. Today Google, Meta, and TikTok (among other digital first outfits) amplify the lowest common denominator of information. “Real” publishing aimed higher.

The reluctant adjustment by “white shoe” publishing outfits was to accept traffic and advertising revenue from users who relied on portable surveillance devices. Now the traffic generators have realized that “attention magnet” information is where the action is. Plus smart software operated by do-it-yourself experts provides a flow of information which the digital services can monetize. A digital “mom” will block the most egregious outputs. The goal is good enough.

The optimization of content shaping now emerging from high-technology giants is further marginalizing the “real” publishers.

Almost 45 years ago, the president of a company with a high revenue online business database asked me, “Do you think we could pull our service off the timesharing vendors and survive?” The idea was that a product popular on an intermediary service could be equally popular as a standalone commercial digital product.

I said, “No way.”

The reasons were obvious to me because my team had analyzed this question over the hill and around the barn several times. The intermediary aggregated information. Aggregated information acts like a magnet. A single online information resource does not have the same magnetic pull. Therefore, the cost to build traffic would exceed the financial capabilities of the standalone product. That’s why commercial database products were rolled up by large outfits like Reed Elsevier and a handful of other companies.

Maybe the fix for the plight of the New York Times and other “real” publishers anchored in print is to merge and fast. However, further consolidation of newspapers and book publishers takes time. As the New York Times “our hair is on fire” article points out:

Privately, a number of publishers have discussed what a post-Google traffic future may look like, and how to better prepare if Google’s A.I. products become more popular and further bury links to news publications… “Direct connections to your readership are obviously important,” Ms. LaFrance [Adrienne LaFrance, the executive editor of The Atlantic] said. “We as humans and readers should not be going only to three all-powerful, attention-consuming mega platforms to make us curious and informed.” She added: “In a way, this decline of the social web — it’s extraordinarily liberating.”

Yep, liberating. “Real” journalists can do TikToks and YouTube videos. A tiny percentage will become big stars and make big money until they don’t. The senior managers of “shaky” “real” publishing companies will innovate. Unfortunately start ups spawned by “real” publishing companies face the same daunting odds of any start up: A brutal attrition rate.

Net net: What will take the place of the old school approach to newspapers, magazines, and books. My suggestion is to examine smart software and the popular content on YouTube. One example is the MeidasTouch “network” on YouTube. Professional publishers take note. Newspaper and magazine publishers may also want to look at what Ben Meiselas and cohorts have achieved. Want a less intellectual approach to information dominance, ask a teenager about TikTok.

Yep, liberating because some of those in publishing will have to adapt because when or another high technology alleged monopoly changes direction, the sucker fish has to go along for the ride or face a somewhat inhospitable environment, hunger, and probably a hungry predator from a bottom feeding investment group.

Stephen E Arnold, October 20, 2023

The Google: Dribs and Drabs of Information Suggest a Frisky Outfit

October 10, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I have been catching up since I returned from a law enforcement conference. One of the items in my “read” file concerned Google’s alleged demonstrations of the firm’s cleverness. Clever is often valued more than intelligence in some organization  in my experience. I picked up on an item describing the system and method for tweaking a Google query to enhance the results with some special content.

 How Google Alters Search Queries to Get at Your Wallet” appeared on October 2, 2023. By October 6, 2023, the article was disappeared. I want to point out for you open source intelligence professionals, the original article remains online.


Two serious and bright knowledge workers look confused when asked about alleged cleverness. One says, “I don’t understand. We are here to help you.” Thanks, Microsoft Bing. Highly original art and diverse too.

Nope. I won’t reveal where or provide a link to it. I read it and formulated three notions in my dinobaby brain:

  1. The author is making darned certain that he/she/it will not be hired by the Google.
  2. The system and method described in the write up is little more than a variation on themes which thread through a number of Google patent documents. I demonstrated in my monograph Google Version 2.0: The Calculating Predator that clever methods work for profiling users and building comprehensive data sets about products.
  3. The idea of editorial curation is alive, just not particularly effective at the “begging for dollars” outfit doing business as Wired Magazine.

Those are my opinions, and I urge you to formulate your own.

I noted several interesting comments on Hacker News about this publish and disappear event. Let me highlight several. You can find the posts at this link, but keep in mind, these also can vaporize without warning. Isn’t being a sysadmin fun?

  1. judge2020: “It’s obvious that they design for you to click ads, but it was fairly rocky suggesting that the backend reaches out to the ad system. This wouldn’t just destroy results, but also run afoul of FCC Ad disclosure requirements….”
  2. techdragon: “I notice it seems like Google had gotten more and more willing to assume unrelated words/concepts are sufficiently interchangeable that it can happily return both in a search query for either … and I’ll be honest here… single behavior is the number one reason I’m on the edge of leaving google search forever…”
  3. TourcanLoucan: “Increasingly the Internet is not for us, it is certainly not by us, it is simply where you go when you are bored, the only remaining third place that people reliably have access to, and in true free market fashion, it is wall-to-wall exploitation.”

I want to point out that online services operate like droplets of mercury. They merge and one has a giant blob of potentially lethal mercury. Is Google a blob of mercury? The disappearing content is interesting as are the comments about the incident. But some kids play with mercury; others use it in industrial processes; and some consume it (willingly or unwillingly) like sailors of yore with a certain disease. They did not know. You know or could know.

Stephen E Arnold, October 10, 2023

    YouTube and Click Fraud: A Warning Light Flashing?

    September 13, 2023

    Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

    I spotted a link to a 16 minute YouTube long form, old-fashioned video from Lon.TV titled YouTube Invalid Traffic. The person who does Lon.TV usually reviews gadgets, but this video identifies a demonetization procedure apparently used by the non-monopoly Google. (Of course, I believe Google’s assertion that almost everyone uses Google because it is just better.)

    9 13 bogus explanation

    The creator reads an explanation of an administrative action and says, “What does this mean?” Would a non-monopoly provide a non explanation? Probably a non not. Thanks, MidJourney, the quality continues to slip. Great work.

    Lon.TV explains that the channel received a notice of fraudulent clicks. The “fix”, which YouTube seems to implement unilaterally and without warning, decreases a YouTuber’s income. The normal Google “help” process results in words which do not explain the details of the Google-identified problem.

    Click fraud has been a tricky issue for ad-supported Google for many years. About a decade ago, a conference organizer wanted me to do a talk about click fraud, a topic I did not address in my three Google monographs. The reports for a commercial company footing the bill for my research did get information about click fraud. My attorney at the time (may he rest in peace) advised me to omit that information from the monographs published by a now defunct publisher in the UK. I am no legal eagle, but I do listen to them, particularly when it costs me several hundred dollars an hour.

    Click fraud is pretty simple. One can have a human click on a link.l If one is serious, one can enlist a bunch of humans using an ad in A more enterprising click fraud player would write a script and blast through a target’s ad budget, rack up lots of popularity points, or make a so-so video into the hottest sauce pan on the camp fire.

    Lon.TV’s point is that most of his site’s traffic originates from Google searches. A person looking for a camera review runs a query on Google. The Google results point to a Lon.TV video. The person clicks on the Google generated link, and the video plays. The non-monopoly explains, as I understand it, that the fraudulent clicks are the fault of the YouTuber. So, the bad actor is the gadget guy at Lon.TV.

    I think there is some useful information or signals in this video. I shall share my observations:

    1. Click fraud, based on my research a decade ago, was indeed a problem for the non-monopoly. In fact, the estimable company was trying to figure out how to identify fraudulent clicks and block them. The work was not a path to glory, so turnover often plagued those charged with stamping out click fraud. Plus, the problem was “hard.” Simple fixes like identifying lots of clicks in a short time were easily circumvented. More sophisticated ones like figuring out blocks of IP addresses responsible for lots of time spaced clicks were okay until the fraudsters figured out another approach. Thus, cat-and-mouse games began.
    2. The entire point of is to attract traffic. Therefore, it is important to recognize what is a valid new trend like videos of females wearing transparent clothing is recognized and clicks on dull stuff like streaming videos of a view of an erupting volcano are less magnetic. With more clicks, many algorithmic beavers jump in the river. More clicks means more ads pushed. The more ads pushed means more clicks on those ads and, hence, more money. It does not take much thought to figure out that a tension exists between lots of clicks Googlers and block those clicks Googlers. In short, progress is slow and money generation wins.
    3. TikTok has caused Google to undermine its long form videos to deal with the threat of the China-linked competitor. The result has been an erosion of clicks because one cannot inject as many ads into short videos as big boy videos. Oh, oh. Revenue gradient decline. Bad. Quick fix. Legitimize keeping more ad revenue? Would a non monopoly do that?
    4. The signals emitted by Lon.TV indicate that Google’s policy identified by the gadget guy is to blame the creator. Like many of Google’s psycho-cognitive methods used to shift blame, the hapless creator is punished for the alleged false clicks. The tactic works well because what’s the creator supposed to do? Explain the problem in a video which is not pushed?

    Net net: Click fraud is a perfect cover to demonetized certain videos. What happens to the ad money? Does Google return it to the advertiser? Does Google keep it? Does Google credit the money back to the advertiser’s account and add a modest “handling fee”? I don’t know, and I am pretty sure the Lon.TV fellow does not either. Furthermore, I am not sure Google “knows” what its different units are doing about click fraud. What’s a non-monopoly supposed to do? I think the answer is, “Make money.” More of these methods are likely to surface in the future.

    Stephen E Arnold, September 13, 2023

    Google: An Ad Crisis Looms from the Cancer of Short Videos

    September 7, 2023

    The weird orange newspaper ran a story which I found important. To read the article, you will need to pony up cash; I suggest you consider doing that. I want to highlight a couple of key points in the news story and offer a couple of observations.

    9 3 sick ads

    An online advertising expert looks out his hospital window and asks, “I wonder if the cancer in my liver will be cured before the cancer is removed from my employer’s corporate body?” The answer may be, “Liver cancer can be has a five year survival rate between 13 to 43 percent (give or take a few percentage points).” Will the patient get back to Foosball and off-site meetings? Is that computer capable of displaying TikTok videos? Thanks, Mother MJ. No annoying red appeal this banners today.

    The article “Shorts Risks Cannibalising Core YouTube Business, Say Senior Staff” contains an interesting (although one must take with a dollop of mustard and some Dead Sea salt):

    Recent YouTube strategy meetings have discussed the risk that long-form videos, which produce more revenue for the company, are “dying out” as a format, according to these people.

    I am suspicious of quotes from “these people.” Nevertheless, let’s assume that the concern at the Google is real like news from “these people.”

    The idea is that Google has been asleep at the switch as TikTok (the China linked short video service) became a go-to destination for people seeking information. Yep, some young people search TikTok for information, not just tips on self-harm and body dysmorphia. Google’s reaction was slow and predictable: Me too me too me too. Thus, Google rolled out “Shorts,” a TikTok clone and began pushing it to its YouTube faithful.

    The party was rolling along until “these people” sat down and looked at viewing time for longer videos and the ad revenue from shorter videos. Another red alert siren began spinning up.

    The orange newspaper story asserted:

    In October last year, YouTube reported its first-ever quarterly decline in ad revenue since the company started giving its performance separately in 2020. In the following two quarters, the platform reported further falls compared with the same periods the previous year.

    With a decline in longer videos, the Google cannot insert as many ads. If people watch shorter videos, Google has reduced ad opportunities. Although Google would love to pump ads into 30 second videos, viewers (users) might decide to feed their habit elsewhere. And where one may ask? How about TikTok or the would be cage fighter’s Meta service?

    Several observations:

    1. Any decline in ad revenue is a force multiplier at the Google. The costs of running the outfit are difficult to control. Google has not been the best outfit in the world in creating new, non ad revenue streams in the last 25 years. That original pay-to-play inspiration has had legs, but with age, knees and hips wear out. Googzilla is not as spry as it used to be and its bright idea department has not found sustainable new revenue able to make up for a decline in traditional Google ad revenue… yet.
    2. The cost of video is tough to weasel out of Google’s financial statements. The murky “cloud” makes it easy to shift some costs to the enabler of the magical artificial intelligence push at the company. In reality, video is a black hole of costs. Storage, bandwidth, legal compliance, creator hassles, and overhead translate to more ads. Long videos are one place to put ads every few minutes. But when the videos are short like those cutting shapes dance lessons, the “short” is a killer proposition.
    3. YouTube is a big deal. Depending on whose silly traffic estimates one believes, YouTube is as big a fish in terms of eyeballs as search. Google search is under fire from numerous directions. Prabhakar Raghavan has not mounted much of a defense to the criticisms directed at Google search’s genuine inability to deliver relevant search results. Now the YouTube ad money flow is drying up like streams near Moab.

    Net net: YouTube has become a golden goose. But short videos are a cancer and who can make fois gras out of a cancerous liver?

    Stephen E Arnold, September 7, 2023

    An Existential Question: When Everything Is Advertising, What Is Advertising?

    August 21, 2023

    Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

    A goldfish in a fish bowl lives in a constrained environment. Most fish — with the exception of the fish able to climb out of the water and draw a bead on a French bulldog — stay in the fish bowl. In a world in which information flows in streams, waves, and geysers, what constitutes advertising.

    8 21 fish in bowl

    The fish understands only that the bowl defines the world. The outside-the-bowl world is not well understood. What does this say about the fish? What if an advertising professional does not understand the world outside of the ad deal? How much can the fish or the advertising professional be able to understand? Thanks for the fish, MidJourney.

    The LinkedIn user promoting one’s past achievements in order to get a job is advertising in my book. The local bar providing data to Google Local is advertising. The posts on BlueSky, Threads, and X are advertising as well. For example, search for #osint on and you see posts similar to this one:


    The Cyber Detective is advertising expertise in performing or advising individuals about reverse face image look ups. Why? Presumably it is to advertise the skill and knowledge of the individual. I believe if that anonymous Cyber Detective were asked, “Why are you posting high value information for free?” the answer might be a statement like this: “I want to help the community.” I accept this rationalization, but I recall a college lecture about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the top was something to do with the “self.” Therefore, the do-good argument is secondary to the action for the benefit of the person doing the posting.

    Made-for-Advertising Sites Lack a Clear Definition, Causing Confusion among the Advertising Industry” makes clear that those who are advertising professionals are struggling to define advertising in a world which is chock full of messaging, self-promotions, influencer TikToks which Amazon is desperate to add to its shopping service, and the old chestnut, the LinkedIn post with the little phrase “OpenToWork.”

    The article explains:

    Marketers say they’re concerned about made-for-advertising (MFA) sites, but the industry lacks a clear consensus on what an MFA actually is. Consider this response when Digiday asked one media buyer for their stance on including MFAs in clients’ programmatic campaigns: “My mind immediately goes to clickbait. Am I using that in the right context?”

    I interpret this as an signal that the world is essentially advertising. Consider advertising in an environment increasingly populated by messages generated by smart software (AI). Are these messages non-advertising? Certainly not. A person instructed a system to generate messages presumably to cause a change in thought or action. When we consider the motive of self-interest, the blurring of “factual” with “marketing” is understandable.

    Consider this statement about the Web sites which exist to accept advertising. The quote allegedly is from Chris Kane, founder of Jounce Media. (“Jounce” means to move in an up-and-down manner. Link to definition.) He states:

    “It’s all about the advertising experience. If the advertising experience is ridiculous, that’s made-for-advertising.

    Okay, I think I understand.

    Do advertisers know that everything is now advertising? Apparently not. Is YouTube now made for advertising? Is made for advertising? Is made for advertising? I get the advertising angle. I am worrying about the weaponizing of information on a global scale.

    Stephen E Arnold, August 21, 2023

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