Company Tracks Iowa Caucusgoers by their Cell Phones

When you open an app or look at a browser page, there’s a very fast auction that happens where different advertisers bid to get to show you an ad. Their bid is based on how valuable they think you are, and to decide that, your phone sends them information about you, including, in many cases, an identifying code (that they’ve built a profile around) and your location information, down to your latitude and longitude.

Source: Company Tracks Iowa Caucusgoers by their Cell Phones – Schneier on Security

Windows 10 lock screen ads begin with Rise of the Tomb Raider push

The lock screen is one of several ways that Windows 10 isn’t exactly free. From Start menu promotions to subscription-based games to personalized ads in Bing and the Edge browser, Microsoft has plenty of money-making hooks built into its latest OS.

Source: Windows 10 lock screen ads begin with Rise of the Tomb Raider push | PCWorld

Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Security and Privacy 2015

You can read the paper here.

This paper is the last artifact of my work at Mozilla, since I left employment there at the beginning of April. I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable “free” content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns — and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.

Source: Monica at Mozilla: Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Security and Privacy 2015

The FTC’s internal memo on Google teaches companies a terrible lesson

FTC staffers spent enormous time pouring through Google’s business practices and documents as well as interviewing executives and rivals. They came to the conclusion that Google was acting in anti-competitive ways, such as restricting advertisers’ from working with rival search engines. But commissioners balked at the prospect of a lengthy and protracted legal fight, former FTC officials said.

via The FTC’s internal memo on Google teaches companies a terrible lesson – The Washington Post.

Turning Customers Into Cultists

A number of Bay Area companies have come to incorporate this insight into their marketing strategies. In 2004, shortly after launching the restaurant-review site Yelp, the founders were struggling to grow the company. They decided to convene a gathering of about 100 power-users. The get-together “was a big success,” Ligaya Tichy, who later served as Yelp’s senior community manager, told me. “Bringing users together to share what they loved about the site led to a huge spike in activity. What we realized is that people aren’t really motivated by companies. They’re motivated by other people. We needed to get the message across: you are what makes this product cool.” The number of reviewers on the site grew from 12,000 in 2005 to 100,000 in 2006.

via Turning Customers Into Cultists – The Atlantic.

Service Drains Competitors’ Online Ad Budget

The service, which appears to have been in the offering since at least January 2012, provides customers both a la carte and subscription rates. The prices range from $100 to block between three to ten ad units for 24 hours to $80 for 15 to 30 ad units. For a flat fee of $1,000, small businesses can use GoodGoogle’s software and service to sideline a handful of competitors’s ads indefinitely. Fees are paid up-front and in virtual currencies (WebMoney, e.g.), and the seller offers support and a warranty for his work for the first three weeks.

via Service Drains Competitors’ Online Ad Budget — Krebs on Security.

Gowex, the Spanish wi-fi firm, admits to false accounts for four years

The Madrid-based company supplies free wi-fi services in major cities across the world – including Madrid, London, Shanghai and Buenos Aires.

via BBC News – Gowex, the Spanish wi-fi firm, admits to false accounts for four years.

This company recently came to Chicago.

From: Free Wi-Fi service Gowex arrives in Chicago on June 3, 2014.

Gowex, a Madrid-based telecommunications company, launched a local network this week with 450 Wi-Fi hot spots, covering neighborhoods from the Loop to Lakeview with its ad-supported service.

WhatsApp, Bought by Facebook for $19 Billion, Promotes a Radical Anti-Corporate Message

The eye-popping price tag—about one-tenth the entire value of Facebook—is the shocker that’s drawn much media notice. But there’s another element to the story that is astounding: Koum and Acton have published a manifesto that radically critiques the foundation of modern capitalism—advertising—and denounces materialism. Facebook’s business model, of course, depends upon both.

via WhatsApp, Bought by Facebook for $19 Billion, Promotes a Radical Anti-Corporate Message | Mother Jones.

Will Koum and Acton become part of the Borg they so eloquently decried? The first rule of Fight Club was “You do not talk about fight club.” The second rule was “You do not talk about fight club.” Now that Koum and Acton are billionaires and über-players on the tech scene, will they continue to spread their anti-consumerism, tech-is-for-the-people gospel? Will they change Facebook, or will Facebook change them?

Ad blockers: A solution or a problem?

Existing users of ad blocking software may be a lost cause. Once consumers decide to block ads and experience the cleaner Web pages and faster load times that ad blocking delivers as it filters out bandwidth-hungry animations, video and other advertising content, they’re less likely to want to give it up.

But will mainstream consumers in the U.S. turn to ad blockers in a big way? “The numbers have not reached the point where publishers are panicked,” says Chapell. “But if those products were on 80% of computers, we’d be having a very different conversation.”

via Ad blockers: A solution or a problem? – Computerworld.

When Will Google Try to Make Android More Profitable?

Despite Android’s size, do advertisers and developers really see the OS as the most effective platform for their (monetary) needs? A new study by ad-buyer Nanigans suggests that Facebook ads on the iPhone generate 1,790 percent more return than equivalent advertising on Google Android (hat tip to VentureBeat for the link). “Retailers are realizing significantly greater return from audiences on iOS than audiences on Android,” that study reported.

via When Will Google Try to Make Android More Profitable?.