Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th May 2016 22:52 UTC
Microsoft

Update: it happened again today. Here's the ad, and here's the "proof" it's coming from Word (when you long-press the notification and tap 'i').


It's been a bit of a running theme lately: advertising in (mobile) operating systems. Today, I was surprised by what I consider a new low, involving incompetence on both Microsoft's and Google's end. This new low has been eating away at me all day.

Let's give a bit of background first. On my smartphone, a Nexus 6P, I have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint installed. I have these installed for my work - I run my translation company, and when new work comes in through e-mail when I'm out and about, I like being able to quickly look at a document before accepting it. Microsoft Office for Android fulfills this role for me. This means I don't actually use them very often - maybe a few times a week.

Imagine my surprise, then, when this happened. Yes, I'm linking to the full screenshot in its full, glorious, Nexus 6P 1440x2560 brilliance.

I have a few questions. First, why is Microsoft sending me an advertisement in my notification tray? Second, why is Word sending me an advertisement for Excel? Third, why is this allowed by Google, even though the Play Store rules prohibit it? Fourth A, why is Microsoft sending me advertisements for products I already have installed? Fourth B, why is Microsoft sending me advertisements for products I already use? Fourth C, why is Microsoft sending me advertisements for products I already pay for because I have an Office 365 subscription? Fifth, who in their right mind at Microsoft thought this was not a 100%, utterly, completely, deeply, ridiculously, unequivocally, endlessly, exquisitely invasive, stupid, aggravating, off-putting, infuriating, and pointless thing to do?

I know both Android and iOS suffer from scummy applications abusing the notification tray for advertising, and I know both Google and Apple have rules that prohibit this that they do not enforce, but I didn't think I'd run into it because... Well, I use only proper, honest applications, right? I don't use the scummy ones? I pay for my applications?

Right?

I think it's time to start enforcing these rules.

Oh, and Microsoft? I haven't forgotten about BeOS. It's not like you have a lot of goodwill to mess around with here.

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Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Different, sure. But both are bad. I can like drinking big-name-soda, but that doesn't mean I want the can yelling ads for more big-name-soda as I drink it, or literally calling me from the fridge to drink it.

But yeah at least its not trying to give me to subscribe to a financial investment service? Or reporting on my cheese preference to its twitter feed.

Reply Parent Score: 3

ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

Different, sure. But both are bad. I can like drinking big-name-soda, but that doesn't mean I want the can yelling ads for more big-name-soda as I drink it, or literally calling me from the fridge to drink it.

But yeah at least its not trying to give me to subscribe to a financial investment service? Or reporting on my cheese preference to its twitter feed.


Correct. And one is much worse than the other.

A -- The screaming can of cola can only help/hurt it's own chances of success. I either love that promo and buy more or hate it and find another brand of cola. It's contained to marketing itself.

B -- Every time I touch that cola it reports on it's location, surroundings, amount, and whatever data it can deduce, then contacts a server, loads a pre-built hook to thousands of ads from outside parties that spent money to advertise to specific types of cola drinkers, and for the rest of time sends me any number of customized ads based on that data, well this is far more than scenario A.

A is benign. It's blind marketing.

B is malicious and exploitative.

Only a google apologist and a free-software lover in complete denial would think they are even close to being the same.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I think I agree, but B isn't that bad. Targeted ads based on my preferences I don't mind. I'd call that "Benign " No possible maliciousness or loss of privacy if done correctly.

But blindly giving ( or allowing the third party to obtain) them personally identifying information is still worse and completely unacceptable. That would be " malicious and exploitative. ", IMHO.

Your B would be like " Hey try some big-chip-brand chips to go with that big-name-soda! They go great together!"

My example was from big-name-soda's twitter feed " Hey look at spiderbill! He drinks big-name-cola at the end of his day to unwind after a long day spent at the docs! He sure does visit a lot of taverns on the bad side of town... When will he learn that true refreshment is waiting for him in his fridge!"

Reply Parent Score: 2