The Incredible Lie Of Internet Advertising
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
2017-08-03 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 330 references Ignore this thread
The Incredible Lie Of Internet Advertising
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There has been a lot of micro focus on Internet advertising -- the prevalence of "bots" (robotic "readers" that click ads), second, third, fourth and sixth accounts that belong to cats, dogs and mice, measurement problems (such as counting a video "viewed" if 50% of the pixels could have been seen for 2 seconds) and more.

But nobody has, as far as I know, talked about the real, underlying issue behind all of the above and more: Incentives, the mismatch thereof, and thus the outrageous enabling of worthless advertising which the consumer directly pays to have sent to them by the venues in question.

Think about the advertising world ex-Internet.  A television station has to air content people want to watch and that either informs or entertains.  It also generally has to differentiate between the two: News .vs. entertainment.  The running of commercials (advertising) is something that is distinct from either of the other two types of programming and is pretty easy for the consumer to differentiate.  The more entertaining or informing the ordinary content is the more people watch it and are engaged with a positive view toward said station and thus the more-receptive they are to advertising, in addition to the number of viewers growing.  In other words the incentives are aligned between the station owner and the advertiser.

This is exactly backward in the Internet space.

The Internet is consumed with "eyeballs", metrics such as daily active users and monthly active users.  None of these properties care if you are either entertained or informed, and in fact they actively seek to blur the boundary between entertainment, opinion and fact, never mind intentionally dishonest or outrageous content.  Why?  Because doing so drives daily active users.

Facebook, for example, began with being a place where the primary content was you sharing pictures of your cute pussy (cat, you dirty-minded fool.)  But it didn't stay that way for long, because your actual circle of friends is not that large.  So today a huge percentage of "posts" are from either 'affiliated sites' that make it easy to put their "stuff" on Facebook with the intent to drive traffic to them where they can obtain an advertising flow (e.g. Godin World, Viral threads, etc -- the myriad "look at this test result" posts) or are pure clickbait themselves (e.g. "onlyinyourstate", "upworthy", etc.)

A quick look through a typical feed page shows that the majority of items displayed are in one of these two categories.  Facebook could stop them instantly since identifying them as "clickbait" or "affiliated crap" (e.g. let me see your profile so I can spam you -- oh, and tell you what your name means in Springlashdeshi) is so trivial even a robot could do it.

If Facebook did that their "engagement" would fall by an enormous amount.

The problem is that not doing it makes Facebook worse than the National Enquirer in terms of being a "real place to go to either be entertained or informed."

Now remember something important: Facebook sells ads based on their claimed "active user" counts and "engagement." Not only does it not matter that "what you name means in Swahili" is posted on your timeline through some "affiliated site", a meaningless and inane sop to get you to give away personal data on yourself and everyone who has you listed as a friend without telling you in advance or compensating anyone for same Facebook the company has every incentive to cooperate with these firms screwing you by taking and selling that data because it drives up their "active user" and "engagement" numbers.  In other words "clickbait" is just fine with Facebook (despite what they say in public) so long as people keep clicking instead of forming a posse to stake out Zuckerpig's residence in Silicon Valley while demanding his head on a pike and the more surveillance Facebook can conduct on you and sell without provoking said posse to form the better -- for them.

Further, Facebook does not care how outrageous the claims are that are made through those sites even though they're displayed on their pages.

Why not?

Because they're not the ones making the claims.

Consider email spam.  We all hate it.  But how much would your ISP "hate it" if they billed you to transport it, that is, if they made money either directly or indirectly because you got spammed?  They'd love it!  Oh they might say otherwise, but there's utterly no reason in that situation for them to do anything to block it and in fact they'd probably act in ways to make it hard for you to block it.

Do you need to ask again why Google and Apple won't permit direct access to their "hosts" files by user programs for both IOS and Android which can, by doing so, implement an easy-to-use advertising blacklist?  The all claim it's for 'security reasons' but it would be trivial to force all such redirects to 127.0.0.1 which is intrinsically safe.  They know this and thus their "it's for security reasons" claim is fraudulent. Further, why do not the cell companies implement an easy-to-use option switch on your account to elect DNS servers that blackball known advertising domains?  I could have, and were I still running an ISP would have, done this years ago as it's literally a few hours worth of time to code it up and test it.  The effect of implementing such, in addition to eliminating the ads, is that your user-perceived performance improves markedly because page and app data load times go way down.

The answer in both cases is the same: The phone OS makers and cell carriers only care about volume since that's how they get paid and the cost is not on them -- it's on you.

Further, none of these firms care if bots, "cats", "dogs" and similar click ads and use their systems.  All of the above drive up their "engagement" numbers, their "daily active users" and traffic levels which the folks transporting the data to you bill you for.  They only care if they are caught intentionally ignoring or actively promoting such garbage because then advertisers could sue them.

The incentives for AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Google, Apple, Facebook, SNAP and similar, in other words, are exactly opposed to an advertiser's incentives.  In fact as long as you tolerate the additional cost in both time and money to transmit all that spam to your screen they love it since it drives up the numbers they use to sell ads and, in the case of the transport firms, the direct revenue from you as a customer!

An advertiser only gets a good deal in buying advertising if he or she earns more in profit than the ad costs to run.  Not revenue folks, profit.  Every incentive the carriers, OS sellers and social media firms have is directly dilutive if not actively opposed to the interests of said advertisers!

Eventually advertisers are going to figure this out.  P&G already has to some small extent; they cut $100 million off their digital ad spend last quarter and saw no decrease in revenue growth.  While $100 million isn't a large percentage of the total advertising budget for a company like P&G it underlines the point; that money was literally a cash bonfire handed to the people running the ads as it bought them exactly zero increase in business.

If and when the stock market figures this out Facebook is a literal ghost.  So is SNAP.  So are all the other properties that have these lofty valuations.  Oh sure, sites like The Market Ticker, which actually offer up something that I'd like to think of as insightful editorial content continue to have some value in the advertising space but the majority of that which is not a photo of your dog or plate of food on Facebook or SNAP is in fact clickbait or some scheme to get your information and in turn that means their so-called "MAUs" and "DAUs", along with their "engagement" figures are worthless.  Google, while having a real property in Adsense probably finds itself with half or three-quarters of the business it generates today while internet properties like Facebook and SNAP have perhaps has 10% of today's useful ad load and a literal zero stock price.

Further, if the regulators were to get their **** together and forbid carriers from billing you for data used to carry advertising, forcing it to be tagged and back-billed to the advertiser, you'd instantly see options show up to elect to block that data from all the cell carriers in an afternoon.

Were just one of them to do that the "value" of said mobile advertising would fall to an immediate zero and they'd gain all the customers.

"Uncarrier" eh?  Uh, no.

Legere could do this in a day with T-Mobile, for example, if he decided to.

You'd never put up with being billed by the minute for television time that included ads, as that would effectively force you to pay for the delivery of advertising into your living room.  Why do you tolerate cell companies billing you for the data used to carry said advertising to your phone?  Remember that this is essentially all of Facebook's ad revenue today.  This is an outrageous and fraudulent practice as it carries negative value to you and yet the industry has managed to evade both consumer protection laws and the consumer's torches and pitchforks thus far.

For how much longer will that evasion continue to work?

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Kroyl
Posts: 20
Incept: 2015-11-12

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I made a habit of clicking the ads I disapprove of, just to accelerate the demise of this faux "ad economy".

Yes, the offending websites do make a quick buck because of that, but I don't really care.

If I am shoved a video ad in my face (especially if with sound) - I'm going to click on it.
If I see a column of paid "sponsored story" links with obvious clickbait titles - I'm clicking on a few of them.
If I see a big fat green fake "Download" button, or any other obvious scam ad - I'm clicking on it.

Of course, there is a little bit of risk involved - you have to be sure that you are not vulnerable to known browser exploits.
And you shouldn't be logged into any social networks if you do this - because even if your browser is not vulnerable, your privacy/security could be compromised by XSS/XSRF exploits.
Many of the scam ads specifically target known social networks.

If even 10% of people adopt such behavior, maybe this madness will stop.
Ktrosper
Posts: 3280
Incept: 2010-04-06

ft collins co
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TG wrote..
An advertiseronly gets a good dealin buying advertisingif he or she earns more inprofit than the ad costs to run. Not revenue folks, profit. Every incentive the carriers, OS sellersand social mediafirms have isdirectly dilutiveif notactively opposedto the interests of said advertisers!
Yep. I bet a lot of the big spenders are paying attention to P&G and will follow suit. Beginning of the end for Zuckerpig maybe?

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The unexamined life is not worth living.-Socrates
The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.-Aristotle
Liberty exists now in the spaces government has not yet chosen to occupy.-Doc Zero
I anticipate that 10 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will blow me this evening.-K.D

Flappingeagle
Posts: 2642
Incept: 2011-04-14

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Quote:
I bet a lot of the big spenders are paying attention to P&G and will follow suit.


I was thinking the same thing myself. Musing a little, is it possible that P&G publicly announced their reduction in internet advertising and its lack of effect because they are upset with some internet companies? Think of it this way, discovering that internet advertising is worthless is actually a competitive advantage, let the competition continue to burn cash on internet advertising while you either save your cash or advertise where you actually get some benefit. Instead of doing that though, they told everyone as in "hey everybody, don't waste your money on internet advertising."

I do not have a lot of knowledge on the inner workings of the internet so I'm asking this. What, if its possible, is the easiest way to get some box to connect between my cable modem and my home switch so that I can block internet ads?

Flap

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Tickerguy
Posts: 149426
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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It's very possible and not even slightly difficult.

Much depends on the speed necessary. I happen to REALLY like the PcEngines units as they're very fast, fanless and reasonably cheap (about $100.) They can trivially run unbound with a local override file for known advertising domains, providing your network in the house with DNS -- and by doing so blocking more than 90% of advertising over the web.

I have a standing offer to put a bootable image on an SD card for anyone who sends me one with a SASE with a card or two in the envelope; a few people have taken me up on it. As a nice bonus in addition to having two Gigabit ethernet interfaces on them they also have AES instructions in the CPU which means they can serve as a very nice VPN endpoint as well.

You still would have to configure unbound -- the code itself is in the base operating system, but you'd have to set up the "grab the ad domains and make the override file" stuff, which is basically just a perl or sed script as there are places around the net to get the blackball list from.

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Winding it down.

Bceaglejoe
Posts: 4
Incept: 2017-08-03

Massachusetts
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Regarding mobile advertising - I found that a combination of two steps helped to reduce the data load on my phone.

- Install pi-hole (DNS-level ad blocking) on my Raspberry Pi and point my cable modem's DNS settings at it
- Install a VPN client on the pi that my phone uses whenever I'm off the home network. (I do have to remember to turn VPN on every time, but it's just a click or two.)

Performance is up, and mobile ads are way down. I have even found improved battery life by doing it because I'm not trying to load ads on my phone and taking up processing time.
Tickerguy
Posts: 149426
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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Yep -- the only objection that I have with using a Pi for this (rather than using something like the PcEngines chassis) is the performance available with one is rather poor due to its USB port connected ethernet interface. It's not horrible by any means but most "modern" cable connections are materially faster than the Pi can handle.

The Pi also has no AES instructions in the CPU which materially impacts VPN performance.

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Winding it down.

Whitehat
Posts: 95
Incept: 2017-06-27

New York City
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Karl, we already know your philosophy and reasons for limiting income earning, but you just described a product that you could make into a user friendly plug and play device. It would probably go viral and generate an amazing amount of if not money, discussion. Additionally you would have to learn to sleep with your eyes open and have someone open your mail in a controlled environment. But it is still worth considering.

This advertising **** has really ruined a lot of things even for the websites that must use it. High-speed internet, powerful computer with SSD, wired direct to the router, you name it, websites are painfully slow. All of these disparate server hits with differing latency mess up the whole experience. I wonder how much broadband people are paying for that they do not need due to this crap. And, the extra speed, hardware and internet connection, does not do anything about all of the outside server latency from the ad services. I went broadband late, 2007, and was fine on my excellent dialup by blocking these. In fact you do not need much of a broadband to stream video as i have tested it. The website slowness factor is helping sell higher speeds than necessary. Unless you do what I do and run NoScript and Adguard. The later is for when I have to permit scripts to do something. I can keep some older machines that I like in use doing this. Some sites I whitelist in the scripts or portions thereof. What really used to burn me was visiting a shopping portal to do business, give them money, and they slowdown their site with all of this adcrap. I could see for a site not making money any other way, but this is a merchant allowing unvetted access to his customers. have a friend who stopped this crap on his site by vetting his advertisers and placing static ads on his site with better returns. he also made television style ads for some of his advertisers of his videos not relying on goggle.

A lot of the really fun and interesting web 1.0 sites made no money and were labors of love. However this illustrates that without this model a lot might go away and be left with the marketable content and labors of love. Might be better. It is interesting to note that some information and news purveyors on the internet treat their paying customers equally ****ty. One news website is a total bear to load and surf. Since I need access to all of their content I pay a subscription, yet I get the same experience and have called them on it. Well would not a better model be to not bog down paying customers with all of this adcrap. It is there for non-paying customers. This could be seem as an incentive, but no they are a shill source and would not dare go against the equities markets and firms invested in them. So much for independent journalism.

It is not part of your argument in this article, but one thing that many of us noted is that the audience for ads, many of the people surfing the web, do not have the money or interest to be worthwhile customers. A good portion of the internet is the new daytime TV and that audience is not often middle-class with disposable income. This is why running forums or comments sections can be so much of a bear as these are people with too much time and are often ****ed up in other ways. The remaining middle-class are killing time at work or when they are too tired to do anything else after work. And they are often too broke to make purchases other than necessities so the most you can do with their advertising is transfer spending, growth by attrition.

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There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.
Nomullet
Posts: 7746
Incept: 2007-11-11

SW
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A few months ago I started using a MVPS hosts file to block advertisers and it was a real eye opener. I never realized that google provides links that are ads but they make it hard to tell what they are. So I type 'Home Depot' into google and they provide a link to Home Depot as an ad! If I was paying for Google advertising I would be angry as hell at this behavior. Same thing happens if you type Home Depot in your url thing on the top. So they have basically hijacked the normal linking mechanism of your browser.

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A bad day of programming is better than a good day of management.
Aztrader
Posts: 7806
Incept: 2007-09-10

Scottsdale, AZ
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Google is worthless for product searches. They direct everything towards their ads and you rarely find the best vendors using them. I went to Yahoo and Bing in product searches.
Aztrader
Posts: 7806
Incept: 2007-09-10

Scottsdale, AZ
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Did you ever notice that when an ad pops up, you try to X out of it and instead end up opening the ad instead? What percentage of these clicks are by accident?
Aquapura
Posts: 635
Incept: 2012-04-19

South of Canada
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Quote:
Did you ever notice that when an ad pops up, you try to X out of it and instead end up opening the ad instead? What percentage of these clicks are by accident?


Ha! We used to call that the porn site trap. Every window you tried to close would open another and another and another.

Yes, I've noticed so-called legitimate websites using some of the pop-up tactics that the porn sites rely on.
Als
Posts: 535
Incept: 2010-03-12

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I told you I did some advertising through Yelp over the winter and it was a total waste of money. I must get emails from Yelp every two weeks offering up $300 in free ads if I resign back up with them. Sorry no deal I wasted $1600 for four customers and it wasn't even close being worth it. Second benefit was, the number of sales calls dropped like 90% with in a month after I drop the Yelp advertising.

I have a different view of internet ads, if you interrupt my video experience on YouTube with your advertisement I automatically boycott your product. Second I've never ever had a pop up ad that I would be interested in anyway. It is almost like we have this worthless product lets see if we can get stupid people on the internet to buy it.
Bceaglejoe
Posts: 4
Incept: 2017-08-03

Massachusetts
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Whitehat - I believe there are such ad-blocking devices at the DNS level sold commercially, but they don't get a lot of advertising play for obvious reasons. The one I saw was $129, but for less than $50 (Raspberry Pi, case, power supply) and a little elbow grease, one can do the same thing. And you can hack to your heart's content on other things you might wish to do with it.

The VPN I described is basically a bonus for the same level of protection when I'm out and about. It's rather useful when using a weather app that is ad-supported. The ads simply don't appear, and you can get the radar data and other images that you need so much faster.
Tickerguy
Posts: 149426
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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Here: http://www.pcengines.ch/newshop.php?c=4

apu2c0 and a case (case1d1blku) + 12v power supply (ac12vus2)

Stick an SD card in a SASE addressed to me, 8Gb or larger, and I'll toss the image on it and stick it back in the SASE. Plug a serial cable into the console port, insert the card, insert power and off you go.

It'll autoconfigure via DHCP on the first Ethernet port. In addition since it's a standard AMD64 CPU and the FreeBSD load is standard the "pkg" tool can be used to load whatever else you'd like -- just make sure you save the config before you power cycle or reboot it, as the image in question runs entirely out of RAM (as such the SD card should last basically forever, since other than manual syncs there are no writes to it at all.)

The hardware is a little over $100.

Oh, and if you want it will also take a standard mSATA SSD -- completely inside the case. It'll boot off that if you want as well, which means you could also put one of those in there, stick a USB CDROM drive on it to boot from and load a literal *full* FreeBSD distribution on it if you prefer. That of course means you have a config that is perfectly-suitable to rebuild itself, port software to it, etc.

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Winding it down.

Nadavegan
Posts: 23
Incept: 2017-05-03

The South
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I had a similar discussion a few weeks ago at work regarding the value proposition of internet ads, data collection, and the insane valuations of tech stocks. I said it just CANNOT be worth that much money to someone to know that a household prefers green beans to lima beans. The reply was "BUT IT IS!!" No it isn't. There is either something else going on (ie government funding for warrantless surveillance) or the scam is in broad daylight and no one wants to see it.
Tickerguy
Posts: 149426
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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Quote:
or the scam is in broad daylight and no one wants to see it.

There it is right there.

The same thing happened in 1998-1999. It was patently obvious that if you claim forward expectations of sales that are collectively 10X GLOBAL GDP you're smoking crack. Yet the Internet firms did, and NOT ONE person called bull**** on it in the so-called "financial media", nor was ANYONE arrested for it.

I was raising hell about this for NEARLY TWO YEARS before it blew up and during that time the Naz more than DOUBLED.

Same deal going on here.

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Winding it down.
Advise01
Posts: 96
Incept: 2011-08-02

I thought I was in the USA?
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I use internet explorer 11 and what has helped me decrease my viewed ads was to go into internet options and under security tab click the restricted sites and added the following domain which stops 80-90% of the ads I see:

doubleclick.net
facebook.com
facebook.net
getclicky.com
google.com
google-analytics.com
googlesyndication.com
grllopa.com
investingchannel.com
kxcdn.com
linkendin.com
netseet.com
pubmatic.com
quantserve.com
recontent.com
rewardsbrandsurveys.com
scorecardsearch.com
taboola.com
taboola.net
twitter.com
zergnet.com
zergnet.net

Some of the trade offs of doing this is sometimes you cannot watch the cute cat videos but the sites load faster.

If someone knows how to stop videos from automatically playing that would be great information.

This is the poor/cheap mans fix

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"Few political gifts are more richly rewarded, than the ability to convince parasites that they are victims." - Dr. Thomas Sowell
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
Bodhi
Posts: 113
Incept: 2008-02-23

Georgia
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I make use of the Windows hosts file along with a javascript blocker add-on to my browsers. The script blocker is rather a pain at first until you whitelist the sites that you trust.
Nonsensical
Posts: 111
Incept: 2017-06-16

Los Angeles, Ca
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Unilever has threatened to pull ads from Google and Facebook recently https://thefly.com/landingPageNews.php?i....

Also, there is a budding boycott of Google because of Ad misplacement http://www.businessinsider.com/why-adver....

Of course Google can do a much better job in preventing ad misplacement, but what they don't want to cite are the sub category numbers. When they say how many searches were made in a day, how many of those searches though are related to let's say possible terrorist activity, child pornography, and so on. So it definitely appears they've dragged their feet on this issue.

In January 2016, in an effort to curtail ISIS's use of YouTube, the Obama administration sent its top national security team to Silicon Valley (or Surveillance Valley if you prefer) to try to get Google and other tech giants to use their pornography-filtering tools to block terrorist videos. And this is what came out of it: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2.....

Beheading people and recruitment videos with the stated intent to initiate violence is not a first amendment right. These were closed door maetings (of course), but basically Silicon Valley told the Obama Administration to beat it. Which Obama did. Oh, but he was back in person just the following month, Feb 2016, asking for handouts: http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/02/11/ob....

However, the real problem that companies are having isn't so much the false clicks, but is it even being exposed to eyeballs at all.

This really started to cut into TV ad revenue once DVR appeared as well as Youtube. On Youtube people not only pirated a show, but they edited all the commercials out (or you can skip past them). In the 2000s, NBC, especially after GE's acquisition, was performing poorly (to put it nicely, they were barely hanging on as a network at times). Of course this hurt their ad revenue, but then in 2003-4, cable companies began to offer DVR services and that really began to eat into their ad revenue. The only time slots making them consistent money were the morning shows and late night shows (Leno followed by O'Brien) because these shows were topic they were DVR "proof" (which is why ultimately NBC brought Leno back causing the debacle with Leno and O'Brien).

So with DVR, even a highly rated show could be a tough sale because companies wanted to know when was it being watched--this really wrecked havoc on the 10pm slot, and then cascaded into the 11pm local news (which Affiliates lean heavily on for revenue--and again, shifting Leno to 10pm wrecked havoc on NBC).

This is beginning now to be the real issue with Internet advertising: Ad blocking. Companies have always been suspicious of the clicks, but many times they shrugged it off to gain the exposure at least (typically advertisers prefer an unconscious effect over a conscious effect, so they were weary of getting "clicks" anyways as they weren't sure whether this was a positive or negative thing).

This is the data companies really want to see, and this is where the tech companies are really being obtuse. However, the companies engaged in Ad blocking do like to show their data (of course to generate sales), which of course is by nature contrary to the tech advertisers. It's this ad blocking data, not just secretly blocking ads, that is giving companies cold feet.

A worry, and a preemptive step some consumer watchdog nonprofit groups have taken is to prepare to block Google from simply acquiring the most effective ad blocking companies as an attempt to use their monopolistic status to thwart innovation and competition. Google has always hid behind their use of Vickrey auctions to say they don't manipulate pricing but that isn't true since they don't employ a true Vickrey auction because they set a minimum bid.

It's expensive to place a banner up on the sidelines of the Superbowl, but how much would you be willing to pay if the viewer could easily activate software that washed it out--and without much intrusion to viewing.

A few things the tech companies didn't and possibly still don't get with advertising:

1. It was to be placed in advertising "friendly" environment, basically where is goes unnoticed consciously, but not unseen unconsciously (think product placement). Their data driven analytics not only can't perform this duty, but many times it guides the placement to be more obtrusive.

2. You have to cut the content providers in on the profit. Instead with their pirating they cut the content providers throats.

Supposedly the tech giants are doing some things to address these things, but their leadership (Page, Brin, Schmidt, Zuckerberg, etc) are totally clueless about how these things work.

So, it may just be the time that the free lunch, basically, these tech giants have been eating from online advertising is running out. We can only hope. And the good thing about this is, if they suffer massive revenue decline, these companies are poorly managed. Google is notoriously badly managed. One, they're adverse in even hiring managers and wanting to keep it engineering driven (but those engineers don't care about expenditure). And secondly, when they did try to hire well known capable managers, those managers inevitably quit and went elsewhere because they couldn't get anything organized or done.

So it'll be interesting if Google does suffer massively declining revenue as they'll likely won't have the management in place to react to it. They've never had to face declining or even stagnant revenue growth.
Flappingeagle
Posts: 2642
Incept: 2011-04-14

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Well, I fired up IE 11 and tried Advise01's list. It makes Zerohedge load so much faster and smoother that it is like going to a different website.

Bottom line, it makes me want to spend the $150 for the PcEngines board, box, and power supply. Now I just have to convince myself that I can set it up with Karl's software.

Quote:
Stick an SD card in a SASE addressed to me, 8Gb or larger, and I'll toss the image on it and stick it back in the SASE. Plug a serial cable into the console port, insert the card, insert power and off you go.


Now for the real newbie question. Why would I plug a serial cable into the box and what would be on the other end of the cable? I thought that it would use a cat-5 from my cable modem as input and then two other cat-5s out to my two home switches.

Call me clueless,

Flap


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Here are my predictions for everyone to see:
S&P 500 at 320, DOW at 2200, Gold $300/oz, and Corn $2/bu.
No sign that housing, equities, or farmland are in a bubble- Yellen 11/14/13
Trying to leave the Rat Race to the rats...
Tickerguy
Posts: 149426
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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The serial port is the console for the system. It can be signed into as "root" or as the user that's configured on it (which will be on a piece of paper I send with the SD card.)

The first ethernet port will attempt to get an address from whatever it is plugged into (e.g. cable modem.) The other ethernet port will start a DHCP server and provide addresses from 192.168.10.x to anything plugged into it, with 192.168.10.200 being the router's address. It will also attempt to get an IPv6 address if the upstream will hand one out and will try to set up an address on the second address as well from which it can hand IPv6 addresses to clients. The config may need to be changed for that as some upstream providers will only give you ONE IPv6 address block (a /64, which is rude, but it is what it is) and similar. It tries to autoconfigure in a way that works with MOST (but not all) cable providers when it comes to IPv6.

You can "ssh" to the box of course off the LAN side but you CANNOT sign into it as root -- only as the user configured, and then use "su" to gain root privileges. Obviously, the first thing you should do is (1) set a root password, (2) change the account password that's on the piece of paper, and (3) save that config so the next time the unit boots the changes are not erased. This will also save the generated SSH keys, which uniquely identify the box and are generated on first boot.

The serial port will let you interrupt the boot (so you can boot to single-user if you need to), etc. Left unmolested these units "as delivered" out of the box will boot the SD card (eventually, it tries other things first) so if you don't have a serial terminal program and null modem cable you CAN sign into it from the SECOND ethernet interface -- but it takes 3-4 minutes to come up fully on a cold start and will appear (from the network side) to be doing nothing during most of that time. From the serial console you can see the boot and startup process, of course.

Basically the serial interface is there in case you **** yourself in some fashion. The SD card won't get written to unless you tell it explicitly to save the config, so it's safe to play with it and if you screw yourself, yank the power cord and plug it back in. Of course once you tell it to save, well, then it has to be right otherwise you need that serial console to get back into the box.

The SD image is a full running FreeBSD install out-of-box with a handful of useful packages already installed, including the StrongSwan VPN code and configured to make it reasonably easy to plug it into a cable modem or similar connection, plug in your network to the other end, and have it gateway the two. The firewall is configured and set up but you will probably want to change it to suit, unbound is set up and running (but you will need to generate or obtain an overlay file for adblocking and set that up in the unbound config), etc.

Beyond the basics it's on you but all the tools necessary are there, the basics are configured, running and should come up and "just work", and if there's something you want that isn't already there you can mount the root directory read/write and use the "pkg" interface to grab whatever from the FreeBSD servers, save the config and reboot -- it will come back up "safely." The way I built the SD card it runs the "NanoBSD" setup (intended for embedded systems and similar), which leaves the card read-only, creates a couple of ramdisks on boot and copies the config parts of the system to them. This makes the device power-fail safe as the volume is never left writeable in normal operation so it cannot be corrupted, but it can be explicitly told to save changes back.

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Winding it down.

Flappingeagle
Posts: 2642
Incept: 2011-04-14

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Quote:
The first ethernet port will attempt to get an address from whatever it is plugged into (e.g. cable modem.) The other ethernet port will start a DHCP server and provide addresses from 192.168.10.x to anything plugged into it, with 192.168.10.200 being the router's address.


Ok, this is my last question and then I will place my order.

I have two switches in my house that I connect to my cable modem. One runs upstairs (TV for Netflix) and provides wireless for the house, the other direct connects my office computers. If I buy the computer with three ethernet ports can it be configured so that I can connect my two switches to ports two and three? By doing so I would not need an extra piece of hardware adjacent to my cable modem.

Thanks,

Flap

----------
Here are my predictions for everyone to see:
S&P 500 at 320, DOW at 2200, Gold $300/oz, and Corn $2/bu.
No sign that housing, equities, or farmland are in a bubble- Yellen 11/14/13
Trying to leave the Rat Race to the rats...
Tickerguy
Posts: 149426
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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Yes. However, you'll have to modify the configuration (which is not hard to do) because the SD image I built only sets up the first two ports. The third one will be recognized but /etc/rc.conf will have to be set up to handle it, and the DHCP configuration file will also have to be set up to listen on it and define a subnet to issue addresses.

You will probably also have to change the firewall configuration since it has no knowledge of the third port or the address(es) you put on there, and thus you'll have to set up the NAT for that so it can "get outside."

The config files I set up are reasonably well-commented and of course the FreeBSD mailing lists are out there too if you need to ask question that aren't covered in the handbook.

None of this is difficult; there's an example in the firewall config and the config, in fact, for a VLAN on the second port (which is how I do the same thing; I have one physical network but multiple logical VLANs defined on my switch, so I can change what network a port is on without moving cables.) At my place I have a "dirty" VLAN that is both available for guests that visit (it can get outside but can't see any of the internal resources on my "work" network) and part of it is also a "DMZ" for things like webcams that I do not trust to have the ability to probe around on internal devices, plus I block certain target addresses from being reached from that network (so said webcams can't "phone home", etc.)

If you have a switch that knows what a VLAN is you might want to go that way (in which case you only need the two-port version) but if you're using a "dumb" ethernet switch then yes, you want the three-port version if you have two inside networks.

Expect a ~2 week time to get one of these from Switzerland; they ship immediately if they have the stuff in stock but the USPS has a habit of sending the package all over hell and back before it gets to you. That may be due to them sending it registered mail, but in any event the path it took to get to me pretty-much was the definition of government inefficiency with it literally passing through the same place twice.

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Winding it down.

Krzelune
Posts: 5756
Incept: 2007-10-08

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I ordered mine yesterday and they are shipping it today. They will send you a PDF with the final price after the initial acknowledgment of your order. When you get the PDF with final price and order number, go to the cart and click the link in "More info on ordering from us can be found here". Then click on "Send your payment" and you will see the paypal section for US orders. I had a hard time figure out how to pay for it, so hope that helps for people as dumb as me.
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