Howler of the Week

At right is Wendy Clark, “senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities” at the Coca-Cola corporation. Ms. Clark has weighed in on behalf of her employer in the controversy over Microsoft’s plan to respect overwhelmingly clear public preferences and make “do not track” the default setting in its next version of Internet Explorer. Clark, according to Advertising Age,

said brands, including Microsoft, shouldn’t be assuming choices for consumers. “All we want is an opportunity for consumers to make their own choice rather than have the choice made for them.”

Friends, it doesn’t get more Orwellian than that.

It Only Gets Worse

eye spy Remember when Google was supposedly all about cutting-edge math and decent places to work?

Take a look at the website Adweek.  Without signing in, try to read one of their stories.  Pick any one.  It won’t matter.

What you get after clicking a headline there is undoubtedly a sign of what’s clearly next in the evolution of the commercially-run internet — compulsory data disclosure.

Clicking any AdWeek story now lands you on a page where you get an opening sentence or two, then must choose between answering a marketing question or “liking” the story page on a so-called social marketing platform.

The culprit here is Google, which is now pushing its “Google Consumer Surveys” onto “content providers.”

Why am I being asked this question?

The website you are visiting is using a survey, powered by Google, to enable access to its paid content. Answering a quick question here gives you immediate access to the content you want without having to pull out your wallet or sign in. These surveys contain questions written and provided by survey creators that want to conduct market research. The website you’re visiting earns money from the surveys that appear. This service makes market research fast, accurate, and affordable, helps to fund great web content and enables you easily and quickly get access to it.

Your answer is anonymous and is aggregated with all other anonymous answers to the question. It’s not connected with any information about you, and is not used to develop a profile or to deliver ads. Once the survey is complete, an aggregated report is provided to the survey creator about the specific question it asked. Like ads on the web, some surveys may be delivered to you based on the interests and inferred demographics associated with your browser. You can click here to review or edit these, or to opt-out.

This new level of coercion is both an obvious affront to the fading dream of an open, democratic internet and a new source of revenue and targeting knowledge for both Google and the most money-oriented websites.

TCT urges everybody to take all possible steps to combat this ridiculous maneuver. Opt out, give wrong answers, use ad blockers, boycott sites that adopt GCS, and, most importantly, advocate creation of a public, not-for-profit internet that leaves the Facebook and Google pirates, as well as the overclass manipulators for whom they whore, in the dust.

Internet as Fief

arthur In today’s Advertising Age, Patrick Moorhead, senior VP, group management director, mobile platforms for Draftfcb Chicago, makes an apt and important point about how the corporation-dominated internet works:

We live in a kind of digital feudal economy these days. We live on land we don’t own, and we provide the masters of the realm (Facebook, Google, etc.) with unlimited free access to our data and behavior, which they monetize for billions of dollars. We get to keep our little plots of digital land for free and are otherwise pretty much at the whim of the feudal masters.

Of course, the masters are actually corporate capitalists, and the corporate capitalists at Facebook and Google are, as their founders now admit, 100 percent in the advertising business, meaning their product is both harvesting data and delivering eyeballs, eardrums, and mindshares to other corporate capitalists, who use those products to plan and execute marketing campaigns.

Nonetheless, the analogy to feudalism is apt. Surrendering corvée to exploiting overlords is the price of admission to almost all internet activities in the United States, including the basic search engine services mediated by Google.

Of course, there is no technical reason why the internet could not include first-class, not-for-profit, data-secure search engines and other services. It’s just that the overclass won’t permit such possibilities to be discussed, let alone implemented.

The Basis of “Private”/”Free” Enterprise

wizard History shows that, stunning as the thought is, state legislatures in the USA are more, not less, dominated by business lobbying than is the federal government.  And that dominance is certainly even greater in the South, where white people remain staggering deluded about themselves and the realities of their society and world.

So, it’s really not very surprising that North Carolina legislators are presently strangling public, not-for-profit provision of internet services.  Clearly, the reason is that such services are a mortal threat to corporate revenue streams.  The simple fact is that telecommunications services can be more efficiently, effectively, and cheaply provided by the public than by capitalists.

So, the North Carolina legislature is simply going to pass a law that artificially imposes all the irrationalities — and more — of the private sector on the public sector.

Remember this the next time you see some wanker talking about the supposed naturalness and glory of “private enterprise.”

Why No Uprising?

potato Answer:

Viewing of video on television, Internet and mobile devices — the Three Screens — continues to increase and has hit record levels.  Nielsen’s fourth quarter A2/M2 Three Screen Report reports that the average American watches more than 151 hours of TV per month, an all-time high.  They are also watching several hours of video on other devices: those who watch it on the Internet consume another 3 hours of online video per month, and those who use mobile video watch nearly 4 hours per month on mobile phones and other devices.

This un-discussed deepening addiction, a cardinal aim, requirement, and symptom of core-country corporate capitalism/market totalitarianism, also explains why most Obama voters haven’t begun to realize how massively and completely baited-and-switched they’ve been.

Toleration Research

Noam Chomsky once said this to Bill Moyers:

MOYERS: Corporations? [Isn’t] the capitalist business system’s first priority profit-making for the general welfare, as its defenders say?

CHOMSKY: The chairman of the board will always tell you that he spends his every waking hour laboring so that people will get the best possible products at the cheapest possible price and work in the best possible conditions. But it’s an institutional fact, independent of who the chairman of the board is, that he’d better be trying to maximize profit and market share, and if he doesn’t do that, he’s not going to be chairman of the board any more. If he were ever to succumb to the delusions he expresses, he’d be out.

The same fiction-fact relation applies in marketing research.  Question any big business marketer in public, and s/he will swear marketing research is all about discovering people’s true wants and needs.

That’s a howling lie, of course.  In the real world, marketing research is about finding buttons to push and then ascertaining how much force, in what forms, can be applied to the found buttons.

Consider this important Advertising Age bulletin about the ongoing overclass push to finish subordinating the internet to corporate broadcasting/big business marketing/market totalitarianism:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — The web is about to get a little more like TV — minus the ad-skipping. ABC.com has started to peddle research that shows online viewers will tolerate shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” with ads from multiple sponsors, much like TV.

Albert Cheng, exec VP of Disney-ABC TV digital media group, talked about ABC’s research, conducted by Nielsen Media Research, on a panel at this year’s National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Las Vegas. ABC spokesperson Karen Hobson said the network is showing the data to agencies in hopes of getting them to buy into the concept.

Network programming on the web, whether on ABC.com, CBS.com, TV.com, Hulu or any other distributor, has typically had a single sponsor. Sometimes ABC has featured one national advertiser and one local advertiser. Online programs have also generally had one ad per break, in part to keep viewers from clicking away, and in part to lure marketers to try what was once a new concept.

As a bonus, the networks disable the fast-forward button, so ads can’t be skipped, and since ad recall is higher, they’ve been able to charge higher cost-per-thousand rates than TV. But because there are many fewer ads, online revenue per viewer for the networks is still far below that on TV.

Boosting ad loads
ABC.com has been making noise for some time about boosting ad loads to bring the amount of revenue earned from viewers more in line with TV, and started conducting research early in 2008. “We can actually increase deliver, reach and frequency by looking at a model that will have more sponsors and more ads,” Cheng said at NATPE, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The ABC/Nielsen research concluded that adding multiple sponsors per ad break had “a minimal effect” on recall and did not affect purchase consideration or ad attentiveness. ABC said the data show that doubling the number of ads within a show from four to eight “did not affect the viewers’ overall experience with the ABC.com player.”

If ABC.com is successful, expect other online players to follow, since demand for online spots in network shows generally outstrips supply. The danger, as MediaVest Worldwide’s Donna Speciale so aptly put it, is finding “that very fine line and balance before we push them over the edge of being pissed.”

The title of this report?

“ABC Says Web Viewers Will Tolerate Twice the Ads”

Nuff said.