WW 762: Diagonal Shards

One thing I will add, everybody goes “oh, but the advertising industry will lose information and be less able to target users,” as if it is a God-given right.

No company has such a right to exist. If the business area goes away, the companies in that space need to adapt and find new ways to earn money, or they will have to close down. It happens all the time, just look at @Leo 's old stand-by the Buggy-Whip manufacturers, they aren’t still around in the same numbers they were in the 19th Century (there are probably a few crafts businesses that can still make them, but they are no longer a mass market product). The market disappeared, they had no right to make money selling whips to people who didn’t need them, they adapted or died.

The same should be true for any business. If the original area for a business dries up, they have to look else where. And, to me, tracking people across the Internet is not a legitimate business, so they should try and find a legitimate way to make money. If they can’t adapt, and that includes the likes of Google and Facebook, that is their problem.

The writing has been on the wall for intrusive business practices for several years now, if the businesses are too slow to adjust and find a better way of making money that doesn’t offend its product (the web users) they should whine about it, they only have themselves to blame.

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You won’t hear any dissent from me on that point. :slight_smile:


Now I’m going to play a bit of devil’s advocate. Let’s pretend that internet ads only get .5% of viewers to click through, but targeting triples the figure to 1.5%. Targeting may not appear to work for 98.5% of the population even when it is extremely effective. The main point is that we can’t know about the effectiveness on a population level based on individual experiences.

Targeting itself is just prediction based on additional information. The context like you mentioned is also additional information which is respectful. I contend that (1) advertisers have no clue how to summarize all of that information they collect, (2) Google most certainly can, but (3) it’s not going to be much less creepy if Google ultimately becomes the middleman ad consultant through Topics.

I think we can find a balance of information to trickle out that can help both advertisers and consumers. We just need a non-conflicted system in place to do so. (Blockchain! Immutable ledgers! Web 3!, the people cry.)

That targeting profile I mentioned above came from Google/YouTube. It has now started throwing protein powder into the mix - we eat mainly organics and hardly anything pre-packaged, let alone protein powders…

If I were working on recommender systems for Google and my manager brought up this concern, I would agree that it is a poor experience, but I’d say

It isn’t about individual users; rather, it’s about population-level predictions. The old system without targeting was even worse: you just broadcast ads to the whole world with most of them being irrelevant. If we really wanted a world where the ads were perfectly aligned, the answer world be more data! We would be able to target the ads better if you weren’t blocking our ads and cookies!

But the less devil’s advocate response is that we can’t understand the population efficacy of targeting without population-level information.

And you can’t have that without population level buy-in, and more and more people are turning against being followed everywhere.

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