XKEYSCORE: NSA’s Google for the World’s Private Communications

In case you want to know what NSA’s data pipe looks like:

The NSA’s XKEYSCORE program, first revealed by The Guardian, sweeps up countless people’s Internet searches, emails, documents, usernames and passwords, and other private communications. XKEYSCORE is fed a constant flow of Internet traffic from fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the world’s communication network, among other sources, for processing. As of 2008, the surveillance system boasted approximately 150 field sites in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, as well as many other countries, consisting of over 700 servers.

via XKEYSCORE: NSA’s Google for the World’s Private Communications.

This is the right move by Microsoft– Microsoft Ads Autopsy

I can’t disagree with anything here but I do have some separate thoughts on this:

Microsoft’s foray into advertising can be called a misstep if you’re feeling charitable and a major strategic blunder if not. The company was long thought a sleeping giant of the ad business, constantly making big pronouncements, seemingly having every advantage to serve as a counterweight to the growing power of Google, and even garnering the goodwill of advertisers and publishers alike wary of Google’s growing might. And yet, with a whimper this week, Microsoft beat a

via Autopsy: Why Microsoft’s ad business withered.

As much as they bet on a dying platform, Microsoft advertising would still be relevant today if they had made one good bet.  Mobile.  Apps.  Installs. Data. Marketing. Automation.  You get the picture.  One bet that was right was search, but they were going up against Google. So that’s that.

Microsoft embraced the idea of having time and resources on their side.  The “X year strategy” where X is a number around 10.  The issue is that this race turned out to be the 1500 meters instead of a marathon.  They were competing to stay relevant against Google but then Google is potentially on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

The advertising landscape has change where it’s dominated by the owners of large owned and operated properties.  Again, if Microsoft had made the right bet on that front, things would be different.  Otherwise, with mobile the landscape has changed dramatically.  There’s something newer and bigger in software on the horizon that’s a better fit for Microsoft as an organization. Satya is positioning the firm the ride that wave.  That’s why ditching advertising is the right move for Microsoft.


‘Bout that first party data, boss


you really have to get serious as a publisher about data and algorithms — having the technical capabilities to capture a lot of first-party data, and then to set up a series of agile and flexible algorithms that could help increase the audience experience and increase the advertiser’s contextual experience.

via Business.com CEO on How Data Is Transforming Publishing | BtoB – Advertising Age.

But what if everyone is wrong about ads?

Valid point made here:

Here’s how Harvard-educated math wunderkind Jeff Hammerbacher summed it up in 2011: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

But what if everyone is wrong about ads? What if ads, in a fairly direct way, are responsible for much of what is magical, automated and “smart” about our gadgets and the Internet today?

There’s the simple argument that without ads, there would be no Gmail, no Facebook, no countless other services on which we all rely every day, but that isn’t what I’m talking about.

If we were to write a sort of People’s History of the Internet from the perspective of the ones who built it, a common theme would arise again and again: Many of those behind the curtain building the things we rely on cut their teeth in the ad tech world. Since the debut of the Web banner ad in 1994, ad tech has been a finishing school for some of the greatest minds in tech history, from unsung engineers to Sheryl Sandberg, who headed Google ’s ad products for seven years before becoming chief operating officer of Facebook.

via Hats Off to Web Advertising. No, Really. – WSJ.

New Info On The Value Of Amazon Prime Members

The difference is amazing when you can segment away your best customers:

We know that, on average, Prime members spend more on Amazon than non-Prime members (which is expected), but we don’t know how much those Prime members are converting searches to purchases. Well, a new report from Millward Brown Digital estimates that when compared to non-Prime members, Amazon’s most “Prime” customers are converting those purchases 74 percent of the time, Internet Retailer reported.

In contrast, that compares to non-Prime member estimated conversion rates of 13 percent, according to Millward Brown Digital, which is a website traffic measurement firm. Its most recent research also suggests that Prime member’s conversion rate is 22 times higher than the typical eCommerce conversion rate in the U.S.

via New Info On The Value Of Amazon Prime Members | PYMNTS.com.

Inventory quality: Snapchat – Tap to View

Interesting comment I saw was that advertisers liked users having to press and hold (good proxy for paying attention) so this is your run of the mill increase scale while lowering quality move:

Today marks a pretty big change for Snapchat — you no longer have to press and hold the screen to view a Snap or Story — instead, simply Tap to View!

via Snapchat – Tap to View.


AOL Takes Over Majority of Microsoft’s Ad Business, Swaps Google Search For Bing

Where you were the day Microsoft gave up on ads?

tldr: Essentially, with the exception of search, this deal marks Microsoft’s exit from the ad sales business.

AOL and Microsoft MSFT struck a new partnership that will result in AOL taking over ad sales responsibilities for display, mobile and video ads across Microsoft properties in the U.S. and eight other markets.

In addition, as part of the deal, Microsoft’s Bing will power search results and search advertising on AOL’s properties for the next 10 years. Bing is displacing Google GOOGL , which had long provided search technology for AOL.

As part of the new arrangement, all of Microsoft’s roughly 1,200 advertising employees — from engineering to sales — will be getting offer letters to join AOL, according to a person familiar with the matter.

via AOL Takes Over Majority of Microsoft’s Ad Business, Swaps Google Search For Bing – CMO Today – WSJ.

When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too

Remember, this was a big deal with Radio Shack and Apple stepped up to try and block it:

Provisions like that act as a sort of data fire sale clause. They are becoming standard among the most popular sites, according to a recent analysis by The New York Times of the top 100 websites in the United States as ranked by Alexa, an Internet analytics firm.

Of the 99 sites with English-language terms of service or privacy policies, 85 said they might transfer users’ information if a merger, acquisition, bankruptcy, asset sale or other transaction occurred, The Times’s analysis found. The sites with these provisions include prominent consumer technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, in addition to Hulu.

via When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too – The New York Times.