GDPR Forces NYT to Serve Better Ads

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Online media companies were forced to rethink their advertiser policies last year because of the introduction of the GDPR. The New York Times decided to stop using ad services that tracked you across the web; exactly what the GDPR was designed to do. Most people claimed that because marketers can’t spy on you that media companies like the NYT will fail. The opposite has been proven true, revenues from advertising are up due to the fact that the NYT no longer uses these sketchy advertising services.

“The fact that we are no longer offering behavioral targeting options in Europe does not seem to be in the way of what advertisers want to do with us,” he said. “The desirability of a brand may be stronger than the targeting capabilities. We have not been impacted from a revenue standpoint, and, on the contrary, our digital advertising business continues to grow nicely.”


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Planning for a Zero-Growth Economy

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The economy is sometimes referred to as an entity outside of human control – it isn’t. We control the economy through policies and practices in each nation. The last half century focussed on growing the economy at the expense of all else from social care to the environment. We’ve seen massive growth in inequality alongside easier access to consumer growth. Given the state of the planet we know this won’t work for much longer. Accordingly, it’s time to rethink what we do to support economic growth and what kind of world we want to live in.

Meanwhile we could begin to boost quality of life simply by tracking it more explicitly: instead of focusing government policy on boosting GDP (the total dollar value of all goods and services produced domestically), why not aim to increase?Gross National?Happiness?— as measured by a selected group of social indicators?
These are ways to make economic shrinkage palatable; but how would policymakers actually go about putting the brakes on growth?
One tactic would be to implement a shorter workweek. If people are working less, the economy will slow down — and meanwhile, everyone will have more time for family, rest, and cultural activities.
We could also de-financialize the economy, discouraging wasteful speculation with a financial transaction tax and a 100 percent reserve requirement for banks.

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People Who Trust News Sources More Likely to Identify Fake News

Argument analysis flowchart
Figure 1 from Cook, Ellerton, and Kinkead 2018. CC BY 3.0

A recent survey to find out who is susceptible to “fake news” found that people who hate the media were more likely to misidentify misleading information. The research studied a few thousand individuals in the USA about their thoughts on news sources and their education. In an ironic twist those that believe in fake news couldn’t identify what was fake. The findings of the research found that higher education and older age both were factors in being able to find the fake headlines.

That divide — a positive or negative reaction to “news” — mapped onto a number of other elements the researchers surveyed.

For instance, people were given three at least somewhat plausible headlines and ledes that might appear in their local newspaper. Two were real; one was fake. Those with positive attitudes fared better in figuring out which was which. In Kansas City, 82 percent of the half-glass-full types figured out which was fake, versus only 69 percent of the half-glass-empties. (The fake headline? “New study: Nearly half the nation’s scientists now reject evolution.”)

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“Hustle Porn” Losing its Appeal

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The term “hustle porn” covers all those ridiculous Youtube videos about get-rich schemes and stories by so-called hard-workers making tons of money because they “work hard”. In practice these people are selling ideological snake oil and it’s hurting vulnerable individuals. They argue that hustling all the time will automatically lead to financial success; and this attitude grew quickly in Silicon Valley. However, it’s clear that this always-be-busy approach to life is losing its appeal – and that’s a good thing.

Last week, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian called bullshiton this culture, too. “Hustle Porn is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now. This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding working every hour of every day, you’re not working hard enough.” Ohanian, a product of Y-Combinator, a California based start-up hub, argued that Silicon Valley has for too long encouraged its employees to work extremely long hours under the guise that it would lead to both a better product and them becoming better people. “It has deleterious effects not just on your business but on your well-being,” he added, referencing the death of his mother that occurred while he was building Reddit. “As entrepreneurs, we are all so busy ‘crushing it’ that physical health, let alone mental health, is an afterthought for most founders. It took me years to realize that the way I was feeling — when working on Reddit was the only therapy I had — was depression.”

Along those same lines, in a Medium post last month, Nat Eliason, founder of another startup hub, Growth Machine, wrote, “Struggle porn has normalized sustained failure. It’s made it acceptable to fly to Bali and burn through your life savings trying to launch an Amazon dropshipping business. Made it reasonable to keep living on your parents money for years after graduation while you try to become #instafamous. Made LinkedIn into a depressingly hilarious circle jerk for people who look way too excited to be having their headshot taken.”

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Watch This Anti-Palm Oil Ad Banned in the UK

Palm oil gets used in plenty of consumer goods and processed foods, as a result the demand for palm oil increases every year. The problem with using palm oil is that most sources of the plant are from unsustainable farming practices. Indeed, the cultivation of palm oil greatly contributes to deforestation. Obviously this isn’t good.

When a UK grocery store wanted to advertise their line of palm-oil free products the government said no. Instead of just letting the ad sit on the shelf they posted it on YouTube for us all to see. The ad itself is based off of work done by Greenpeace and they have gathered over 670 thousand signatures to show the ad on TV. The Streisand effect strikes again.

Read more about palm oil and the campaign here.

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