Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 7th Mar 2014 22:30 UTC
Microsoft

Microsoft is trying to convince politicians to take out targeted ads on Xbox Live, Skype, MSN and other company platforms as midterm elections begin heating up around the country. To plug the idea, Microsoft officials handed out promotional materials Thursday at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives.

It's the latest move by tech companies to seize a piece of the lucrative political ad market. The ads, which would appear on the Xbox Live dashboard and other Microsoft products, combine Microsoft user IDs and other public data to build a profile of Xbox users. Campaigns can then blast ads to selected demographic categories, or to specific congressional districts. And if the campaign brings its own list of voter e-mail addresses, Microsoft can match the additional data with individual customer accounts for even more accurate voter targeting.

This from the company behind "Scroogled".

On a more general note, hypocrite company behaviour like this should be illegal. A company should not be able to say "leave company Abc behind because they do xyz, and come join us!", only to then turn around and do xyz as well. This is lying, and should be punishable in some way.

Order by: Score:
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

I don't know how bad ads are in your country Thom. But they are the lowest, scummiest version of ads you will ever see here in the US.

Not coincidentally, the guy who came up with the whole scroogled campaign, was himself a former political ad guy ( created the famous 3am commercial for Hillary Clinton during the run up to 2008)

Reply Score: 8

RE: Best reason yet to avoid xbox.
by saso on Sat 8th Mar 2014 07:48 UTC in reply to "Best reason yet to avoid xbox. "
saso Member since:
2007-04-18

In the European countries where I've lived I've yet to see the kind of aggressive smear job kind of ads that run regularly in the US. Here it's generally considered very poor manners to badmouth your opponents in ads. You can certainly point out what you consider poor moves by your opposition in debates, but ads are rarely used to anything but tooting your own horn. The only thing people here do when they see an ad badmouthing somebody is ask what corpses the speaker must have in *their* basement - after all, if you can only succeed by talking smack about your opposition, you probably don't have many ideas to improve things anyway.

Reply Score: 8

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Well, you Brits are special and are you even part of Europe? ;)
That said, I'm pretty sure smear campaigns aren't rare in, say, Italy. They're pretty rare in Scandinavia though.

Reply Score: 2

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Well lets face it, most of Europe basically sees the English people as sun-burn't lager louts that like a punch up.

Reply Score: 2

BushLin Member since:
2011-01-26

Well, if all the English people they've met were on a summer holiday you can't blame them for that impression.

Reply Score: 2

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Well we aren't much better at home.

Edited 2014-03-12 14:37 UTC

Reply Score: 2

This is crazy
by WorknMan on Fri 7th Mar 2014 23:13 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I guess Thom posted this article thinking people would be outraged about MS using customer data to target ads. However, if there's gonna be ads, I'd rather them be targeted. But the REAL pisser is that they're charging $500 for the console, charging a monthly fee to access services on it (many of which are free on other platforms), and then including ads on top of that. If there's anything for customers to be outraged about, that would be it, regardless of whether the ads are targeted or not.

Edited 2014-03-07 23:22 UTC

Reply Score: 12

RE: This is crazy
by ddc_ on Fri 7th Mar 2014 23:54 UTC in reply to "This is crazy"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

However, if there's gonna be ads, I'd rather them be targeted.

When ads are targeted as in "From your profile we see you might prefer Mr. X, so here go his ads", it's OK, but if they are targeted as "We will only show the ads about Mr. X where his position is in line with yours, and hide away his ads you might not approve of", it is not, IMO.

Edited 2014-03-07 23:54 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: This is crazy
by computrius on Mon 10th Mar 2014 15:46 UTC in reply to "RE: This is crazy"
computrius Member since:
2006-03-26

If you already approve of that opinion, what would be the profit in showing you an ad to convince you of what you are already convinced of?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: This is crazy
by Alfman on Mon 10th Mar 2014 20:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is crazy"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

computrius,

If you already approve of that opinion, what would be the profit in showing you an ad to convince you of what you are already convinced of?


I think what ddc_ was suggesting was to show ALL ads from candidates whom might be most relevant to you, but not to give candidates the option of sending different ads to different demographics, which certainly crosses ethical boundaries. I'm not personally comfortable with a model where media companies (or their sponsors) get to choose the algorithms deciding which candidates/ads the public will get exposed to.

I guess one could argue that traditional television and newspaper media is not so different because they can say & censor whatever they want to about the candidates. However it's less worrisome to me because these outlets must target the public collectively. Extremely biased viewpoints are bound to be challenged & ridiculed by others reading the same paper/etc. With highly targeted media, everyone gets classified into a segmented mono-culture where the group only sees what they already like, and noone in the group will really challenge it because nobody outside of the demographic are exposed to the ads. DRM might even make it difficult for most people to share targeted ads outside of the group. Therefor targeted ads don't give the public a holistic picture of the candidates.


For example, assuming a candidate were able to target me, they'd say something about cutting out software patents, supporting open initiatives, closing tax loopholes, bolstering the middle class, etc.

For somebody else, the ads might talk about hiring lolcats.com to redo whitehouse.gov, replacing presidents on US currency with disney characters, passing a measure to accept food stamps at tattoo parlors, and scheduling episodes of Pawn Stars on Nasa TV, etc.

Edited 2014-03-10 20:23 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: This is crazy
by computrius on Mon 10th Mar 2014 21:01 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: This is crazy"
computrius Member since:
2006-03-26

I am in agreement. I think any kind of targeting is wrong. If they have enough information to know what I prefer to see then they have too much information.

One would think they would be shooting themselves in the foot with this kind of targeting. How can they ever expand their audience if they are only targeting their audience? No one who doesn't know about a new or existing type of product could be targeted because they aren't looking for it (no data would be generated suggesting that they should see a type of ad).

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: This is crazy
by ddc_ on Mon 10th Mar 2014 21:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is crazy"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

To show you that candidate X shares your opinion?

Reply Score: 2

RE: This is crazy
by darknexus on Sat 8th Mar 2014 03:11 UTC in reply to "This is crazy"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

You'd think that, but remember most of these customers also pay for cable or satellite television. They're used to getting fucked in the ass with advertising even when they pay up. Hell, some of these people pay well over $100 for the privilege.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: This is crazy
by Morgan on Sat 8th Mar 2014 13:12 UTC in reply to "RE: This is crazy"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Imagine if they didn't show ads though; subscribers would likely pay five to ten times that per month to make up the difference. I'm not defending the media companies either; I think since they do show ads, they should charge no more than $10 per month for service. They certainly make enough money via advertising.

Reply Score: 4

RE: This is crazy
by oskeladden on Sat 8th Mar 2014 14:03 UTC in reply to "This is crazy"
oskeladden Member since:
2009-08-05

But the REAL pisser is that they're charging $500 for the console, charging a monthly fee to access services on it (many of which are free on other platforms), and then including ads on top of that.


This also gives the lie to that old canard, "If the service is free, then you're the product." As this shows, it's got nothing to do with whether the service is free or not. Even if you're paying a hefty sum for the service, you're still the product.

Reply Score: 5

Blocking ads on Xbox 360
by WorknMan on Fri 7th Mar 2014 23:26 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13
Comment by ddc_
by ddc_ on Fri 7th Mar 2014 23:49 UTC
ddc_
Member since:
2006-12-05

Targetted ads are market standard now, and these are not exception. Frankly, I don't see how this type of targetting is better or worse then any other. And hypocricy... Well, surely this kind of behavior is unethical, but neither it is unusual.

When children grow older, they learn that there is no Santa, and that companies aren't ethical entities.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by ddc_
by Vanders on Fri 7th Mar 2014 23:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by ddc_"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

The problem is that it insulates people into a bubble. Inside that bubble, their opinion and preferences are never challenged. Because of that, they never leave their bubble, and the loop completes. Their preferences and opinions become amplified, in some form of giant echo chamber.

This is one of the primary reasons why Tumblr is such a cesspool, for example.

Reply Score: 9

RE[2]: Comment by ddc_
by ddc_ on Sat 8th Mar 2014 08:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ddc_"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

I know that. I only mean that it is ordinary practice these days – you expect this behavior from every SaaS provider.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Sat 8th Mar 2014 04:44 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

Targeted ads based on public data?

That doesn't sound nearly as bad as Thom is trying to make it. I find that less offensive than scrubbing private emails for targeted ads, which itself isn't terribly bad.

It's only tracking that bugs me. Just because I was bored once and decided to look up some argyle socks doesn't mean I want to see argyle sock ads for weeks.

Same applies to ads for squattypotty.com

Reply Score: 5

Gee, Thom
by fossil on Sat 8th Mar 2014 17:54 UTC
fossil
Member since:
2009-05-29

If you are really outraged about Microsoft's practices, don't buy or recommend Microsoft products. Microsoft does care about it's bottom line. Full Stop.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Gee, Thom
by Alfman on Sat 8th Mar 2014 18:38 UTC in reply to "Gee, Thom"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

fossil,

If you are really outraged about Microsoft's practices, don't buy or recommend Microsoft products. Microsoft does care about it's bottom line. Full Stop.


Depends. Of course I do appreciate the hypocrisy of those who don't (or can't) boycott. But boycotts aren't always a silver bullet. Firstly you need a massive scale to even show up on the radar, MS would not notice that Thom & friends were boycotting MS products. Secondly Boycotts are such a blunt instrument, sales could go up & down for any number of reasons. Negative press with sustained widespread public coverage can be effective even without a boycott.

Boycotts are probably most effective against companies with a physical presence because protesters are directly visible to potential customers, and loss of sales are immediately evident. Companies without a physical presence are harder to protest this way and it could be months before the effects are felt up the supply chain.

Anyways like others, I think it's unethical to encourage the use of targeted ads on voters. The potential for "playing both fields" just to get elected in the campaign is too risky. All voters should get the same information.

Edited 2014-03-08 18:56 UTC

Reply Score: 3

analysis is not accurate, hyperbolic
by kristoph on Sun 9th Mar 2014 02:26 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

I think your over reaching as usual Thom.

The whole Scroogled/targeted advertising thing is about how Google is scanning your email to determine ads it should target to you. You can bet Google will have algorithms to try to match your concerns to political ads.

So if you express a concern in email to a friend about healthcare Google will, for example, show you an anti-Obama ad focusing on healthcare. That's seriously creepy, right?

All Microsoft is doing here is looking up your name/email against public political affiliation information (or the party's/candidates email list) and showing you an ad that is specific to that affiliation (mostly for raising funds I imagine). That is way less creepy because, well, this is all either public already (it's the law in the US to disclose this stuff) or their using data you already gave to a politician or party.

I am not defending Scroogled by they way, I am just saying in this case what your comparing is Apples to Oranges.

Reply Score: 2