Imagine being told that you need to do something in life and you attempt to do it, but the person that’s very insistent that you do X takes his other hand and actively goes out of his/her way to prevent you from attaining X while each passing moment in time said person begins to label you as “lazy” or not trying hard enough?
I normally don’t write opinion pieces like this, but after seeing the recent news this weekend regarding AT&T instituting bandwidth “soft limits” of 150/250GB per month – it made me think of what “innovation” has become in this country. You’re familiar with the history of AT&T (Ma Bell) and the rapid progression of telephony technology in the past century. America (along with AT&T/Western Electric) led the world in innovation in this space and they continue to hold their own against the Asian and Canadian infrastructure providers.
I realize the SEC’s task is a gargantuan one, especially considering the severely constrained resources, but there’s just no excuse for things like this. The SEC’s Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation – the group created in 2009 to supposedly “enhance our capabilities and help identify developing risks and trends in the financial markets” – does not have anyone running the Office of Data & Data Analytics. How the hell is the Division supposed to do its job if there’s no one analyzing data?!?!?
A few short days ago I wrote about how I want to give the financial media a second chance. Today, I’m seriously having second thoughts. It’s 2011! Link.to.primary.documents! This is not freaking rocket science. Ugh.
Today, SIGTARP released an audit report on the bailout of Citigroup. The stalwarts of the 4th estate were all over the news, but alas, few, if any, linked to the SIGTARP website or the report itself. Here is the report(pdf). Here is the official SIGTARP website where you can find that and other audit reports.
I don’t want to read a summary a reporter had to throw together to meet a ridiculous deadline and/or some editors dumbed-down copy. For laypeople, that may be fine, but for anyone who actually cares, it’s not nearly good enough. You don’t have to write an opus, just link to the freaking source document. How hard is that????
So hard, apparently, that none of the following “authorities’ on financial news could be bothered to make the effort:
- Wall Street Journal (has hyperlink to report hosted on wsj.com, only gets partial credit)
- Fortune/CNN Money
- Bloomberg (shame on you!)
- New York Times (can’t even find any mention of the report, wtf?)
- Huffington Post (UPDATE: HuffPo’s Ryan McCarthy alerts us that they added the document to the bottom of their article shortly after they originally published it. Kudos to them for not only getting the source doc up in full but for being tied-into social media like twitter, where Ryan saw this post and responded quickly)
Strong recommendation to all of these outlets: start from scratch as blogs, and learn the best practices thereof. The web is not print, and you should not be writing on the web as if it were. Use hyperlinks, not just to internal pages but to external ones as well, ESPECIALLY source documents. Get with the freaking program already or continue the long, slow death spiral your industry has been on for the past decade+. Your call.
Firstly, yes, I read thesuperficial (not that I give a flying f*ck about Lindsay Lohan or whatever, but its a solid way to maintain a dying convo with some girls in NYC. Also, and more importantly, who DOESN’T like Bar Rafaeli in a bikini?! Exactly.)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to revisit a topic I’ve been following since late 2002/early 2003: Targeted internet advertising (or lack thereof). I’ve done a fair deal of programming and web design in my day, so I understand that in practice, delivering (with any semblance of accuracy, efficacy, consistency, etc) truly targeted ads is not as easy as it sounds. However, every now and then (I’m looking at you, Facebook) I encounter an example of an utter FAIL that I’m moved to take pen to paper (er fingers to keyboard, as it were).
Today, we’re going to examine what I think are two simple (not mutually exclusive) aspects of any high-level, rules-based ad-delivery scheme: Language and demographics. Take, for example, this screenshot from thesuperficial for McDonalds:
Why is this such a targeted advertising FAIL?
- thesuperficial.com is an English-language site. The ad, as you can clearly see, is in Spanish. The site is not published in any other languages.
- I’ve never seen a non-English ad on this site (and I’m a fairly regular reader).
- My Spanish is a little rusty, but I’m pretty sure that’s an ad for 2 for $3 Fillet-o-Fish (aka McFish) sandwiches.
- Sure, its Lent, and apparently this is the time of year when McDonald’s sells 25% (“apparently” being the key word) of the things. I haven’t found any reliable data on what % of Global annual sales the McFish represents, but I’d imagine its pretty minimal (best guess low-to-mid single digit %).
- Alexa informs us the demographics for The Superficial are as follows:
So, what we know is that relative to the rest of the web, The Superficial readers are generally 18-34, mostly Female, college-educated, accessing the site from work or home.
So, a question for the audience: What’s the demographic overlap between The Superficial’s readership and consumers of the Filet-o-Fish?
Disappointingly, I don’t have a conclusive answer, and despite wasting the past 2 hours of my life on it, can’t seem to find the underlying data I’d need to prove this FAIL beyond a shadow of a doubt, argh!
What I did find, though, is that among college graduates, those identifying themselves as Hispanic (approximately the same for both men and women) represent maybe 10% (+/- a few % points) of college graduates in the U.S. from the data I have examined. Just based-upon the facts we do know (english site,~ 90%+ non-hispanic readership, relatively unpopular food item, etc), I just can’t seem to figure out the rationale for serving the McFish ad on this website. In fairness to the technology, I went through the next 15 pages and couldn’t get the system to serve the ad again, so perhaps it was something of a fluke.
On the other hand, just Facebook, alone, serves up so many horrendously-targeted ads every day, I’m loathe to give the technology the benefit of the doubt.
Verdict: Spanish ads for tertiary menu items on English language sites with majority non-Hispanic readership? FAIL