CNBC sting: most ad networks accepted fake news site full of scraped content

CNBC's Megan Graham set up a website full of scraped news from other sites. Most ad networks she submitted it to approved it for ad placement.

I only put a few hours of work into this site, but I don’t do this for a living.

Real bad actors can get a lot farther than this with only a little more work. For instance, they can set up a site with actual original content, get approved, and only then start scraping content. Or, they can easily buy an existing website that’s already monetizing with adtech partners, and just flood it with plagiarized content. They can buy fake traffic to conduct traffic arbitrage, a fancy way of saying that they pay less for traffic than they gain from the ad impressions. They can set up more automated means to keep scraping huge amounts of automated content to keep the website looking fresh.

Google appears to be the only platform that rejected her site. Implicit in this is the fact that Google would not have given her scraper site any respectable placement in search results, and would not have let it into Google News at all.

Which gets us to an important omission from the story: she made $0. Ad networks should not have approved her in the first place, but the real check happens when a check is cut. The shadyness in all this deserves a deeper dive. Read the rest

Public information film from Finland urges parents not to drink around kids

Hirviöt ("monster"), was a 2012 public service announcement from Finland in which the adults have been day drinking. It asks: how different are you drunk? The ad was quite effective, as you can see; there's an article about it at CBS News.

A 2009 study found alcohol to be the number one killer of Finnish adults, responsible for 17 percent of all deaths among 15- to 64-year-old men - surpassing heart disease for the first time - and causing more than 10.5 percent of all deaths in adult women, similar to breast cancer rates.

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That time a ninja turtle starred in pickle advertisement

This ad features Raphael, the teenage mutant ninja turtle, brandishing pickles. It's not a perfectly on-model Raph — one commenter at YouTube describes it as "my sleep paralysis demon" — but he's perfect for the mood of the scene.

This is also a good entry in the history of advertisements described as "banned" that obviously haven't been banned. Read the rest

Major brands' ads are showing up on climate deniers' Youtube videos

Update: an earlier version of this article had the relationship between the ads and the videos reversed. We regret the error

Some of Youtube's most expensive advertising is being run against climate denial conspiracy videos, with ads from major brands like "Samsung, Uber, Nintendo, Showtime, Harley Davidson, and Warner Bros" as well as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund showing up on videos promoting conspiracy theories that deny climate change. Read the rest

The State of South Dakota wants you to know that it's on meth

South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi L. Noem spent $449,000 (more that $0.50 per resident of South Dakota!) on a campaign to educate state residents about the state's program to address its methamphetamine epidemic. That campaign's slogan? "Meth: I'm On It." Read the rest

Facebook's 2016 election billboards: Buy all your elections with us!

As former MEP Marietje Schaake (previously) writes, "Can we please stop calling Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc ‘The online public square’? They’re ad companies. It is like calling a billboard ad a ’vertical public message’.... Pay for play, social media & search engines have created an online marketplace of ideas. Money talks." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Greatest-ever shredding company slogan: "The Future Is Here And Everything Needs To Be Destroyed."

I know nothing about the quality of Allegheny Shredders' machines (though I do take some interest in field), but I'm certain that they have the greatest slogan in shredding company history: "The Future Is Here And Everything Needs To Be Destroyed." Read the rest

Dior launches racist Native American-themed ad campaign for "The New Sauvage"

https://youtu.be/Gt8L9J9Co7M

You can explain it to them. They can sense the damage, and they can perceive that they have made a mistake. They can pretend to be contrite, and maybe for a brief moment they can even understand what it is they have done wrong. But as soon as the voices of complaint fade away and the crisis subsides, they'll go right back to doing it again, because the truth is they don't care and they are completely indifferent to everything about you that they cannot take and sell.

UPDATE: Here's the amazing full-length version; Johnny Depp is involved.

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Podcast: Adblocking: How About Nah?

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay Adblocking: How About Nah?, published last week on EFF's Deeplinks; it's the latest installment in my series about "adversarial interoperability," and the role it has historically played in keeping tech open and competitive, and how that role is changing now that yesterday's scrappy startups have become today's bloated incumbents, determined to prevent anyone from disrupting them they way they disrupted tech in their early days.

At the height of the pop-up wars, it seemed like there was no end in sight: the future of the Web would be one where humans adapted to pop-ups, then pop-ups found new, obnoxious ways to command humans' attention, which would wane, until pop-ups got even more obnoxious.

But that's not how it happened. Instead, browser vendors (beginning with Opera) started to ship on-by-default pop-up blockers. What's more, users—who hated pop-up ads—started to choose browsers that blocked pop-ups, marginalizing holdouts like Microsoft's Internet Explorer, until they, too, added pop-up blockers.

Chances are, those blockers are in your browser today. But here's a funny thing: if you turn them off, you won't see a million pop-up ads that have been lurking unseen for all these years.

Because once pop-up ads became invisible by default to an ever-larger swathe of Internet users, advertisers stopped demanding that publishers serve pop-up ads. The point of pop-ups was to get people's attention, but something that is never seen in the first place can't possibly do that.

MP3

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Google's API changes mean only paid enterprise users of Chrome will be able to access full adblock

Since January, Google has been pushing for a change to its extensions handling in Chrome; one casualty of that change is ability to block unwanted content before its loads, something that would effectively kill privacy tools and ad-blockers. Read the rest

AT&T's dystopian advertising vision perfectly illustrates the relationship between surveillance and monopoly

AT&T has come a long way from the supernormative, feel-good messages of its You Will ads; now CEO Randall Stephenson predicts a future where his company will dynamically alter your TV ads based on what it thinks you will buy; and chase you with that ad from your TV to your computer to your phone, and then spy on your location to see whether you go to a retailer to buy the thing you've had advertised to you; and use that intelligence to command high advertising rates from advertisers. Read the rest

Pepsi won't put a billboard in space after all

Pepsi's plan to pay a Russian company called Startrocket to loft an artificial constellation of cubesats with mylar sails to advertise a "nonalcoholic energy beverage" has been cancelled for unspecified reasons (the company says its prototype launch using high-altitude balloons was a "one-time event"). Read the rest

Citing terms of service and "bad actors," Facebook locks out tools that catalog ads and ad targeting

Propublica is one of many organizations, mainly nonprofits, whose "ad transparency" tools scrape Facebook ads and catalog them, along with the targeting data that exposes who is paying for which messages to be shown to whom. Read the rest

7 minutes of Tommy Lee Jones' fabulous Japanese coffee commercials

Tommy Lee Jones does ads for Boss Coffee's Rainbow Mountain brand of iced coffee, most of which feature him as a fish-out-of-water immigrant observing and enjoying Japanese life, taking odd jobs (cab driver, train station guard, astronaut, etc) and occasionally using his magical powers. It's like a series of clips from an early-90s science fiction show set in a parralel universe. Which it is. Read the rest

Humorous ad about South African explorer discovering Europe in 1650

https://youtu.be/pBI_3vyUfdc

This funny South African ad depicts an African explorer discovering Europe in the 1650s, a counterfactual to the 1652 arrival in South Africa of the Dutch. But it's upsetting people there and fast food chain Chicken Licken has withdrawn it due to the complaints.

South African Sandile Cele lodged a complaint with the Advertising Regulatory Board, arguing that the commercial made a "mockery of the struggles of the African people against the colonisation by the Europeans in general, and the persecutions suffered at the hands of the Dutch in particular".

Upholding the complaint, the board said: "While the commercial seeks to turn the colonisation story on its head with Big John travelling to Europe, it is well-known that many Africans were in fact forced to travel to Europe in the course of the colonisation of Africa.

"They did not leave their countries and villages wilfully. They starved to death during those trips to Europe and arrived there under harsh and inhumane conditions."

Chicken Licken said it wanted to show that South Africa had "all the potential to conquer the world and rewrite history from an African perspective". Read the rest

The best Christmas computer and electronics ads of 1980

Australia's Paleotronic is celebrating Christmas with twelve posts celebrating the best seasonal computer ads of the years between 1980 and 1992; today is day 1: 1980, in all its Coleco gloriousness. (Thanks, Gnat!) Read the rest

Street artists subvertise Facebook bus stop ads in London

Thanks to the members of a street art project, some bus shelter adverts for Facebook in London were improved by a good ol' fashioned culture jam.

The Protest Stencil is taking credit for these subvertising efforts which altered Facebook's messaging to say, "Fake news is not our friend, it’s a great revenue source," and "Data misuse is not our friend, it’s our business model."

They refer to their work as "honest Facebook ads," writing, "To facebook, you’re not a ‘friend’, you’re the product on sale." Preach it!

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those honest facebook ads are really getting around... . . . #facebookads #adhack #londonstreets #adtakeover #advertisingshitsinyourhead #acab #fakenews

A post shared by Protest Stencil (@proteststencil) on Aug 15, 2018 at 6:02am PDT

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TFW you realise that *you* are the product that’s on sale... . . . #facebookads #adhack #adtakeover

A post shared by Protest Stencil (@proteststencil) on Aug 13, 2018 at 8:36am PDT

(Design You Trust)

image via Protest Stencil Read the rest

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