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Om Malik on the Blog Post Bribe Scandal

He writes:

The chase for cheap page views to arbitrage against advertising dollars is the real reason everyone at this mega page view factories willingly embraced this trend towards free content, which in turn left the whole experiment open to abuse. If you generate a lot of page views for these sites, you aren’t going away, because, in the end, it is all about page views.

On my other, professional, site I regularly receive requests from marketers to publish their content for some sort of payment. Many are outlandish in their requests whereas others have clearly done their homework and identified a range of posts the given brand wants to be associated with.

Some of the payment rates or product offerings are outlandish, others churlish, but none of them have ever overcome my baseline position: I own my professional web presence in order to build my reputation and brand. That brand is worth more than a few hundred or thousand dollars; it represents, at least in part, my ability to earn money over the span of the coming decades.

While there’s been some comic back and forth about charging marketers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to post other parties’ branded content, I think there is legitimately something to the idea. If you view your web presence as a long-term part of your career, and damaging that presence could potentially cost you in terms of future employment opportunities or consulting prospects, then that kind of valuation starts to make some sense.

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Manufacturing Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Nasim Mansurow at Photography Life:

Don’t be a victim of The Hype. Don’t be a cameraholic and a brainless consumer. Stop yourself from the Internet hysteria that surrounds cameras, lenses and other gear. Instead, spend time learning about photography techniques and improving your skills. Travel more, see more, shoot more. And when I review a piece of camera gear, don’t buy it because I praised it. Only buy what you truly need, not what you want. That’s all I have to say for today.

Mansurov’s article spends a lot of time explaining the economics that drive individual ‘influencers’ and websites to get people excited about buying the new ‘best’ camera equipment. By drawing on Photography Life’s website analytics and the marketing material that he receives, he lays bare the economic incentives to focus of gear instead of techniques, skills, and neat locations to visit. In the process he also makes it very clear how the commercial aspects of selling equipment work in a way that most people may think or believe is happening but don’t have evidence or data to substantiate those thoughts or beliefs. It’s not a shocking read but does serve as a reminder that companies are actively attempting to manipulate consumers into buying the newest lenses or body with the hope or dream that it will turn us all into master photographers.

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How to market Justin Trudeau

How to market Justin Trudeau:

In academic terms, the coziness built by these efforts is called parasocial interaction—it’s the one-sided attachment people develop for media figures, and the reason why, when we meet a celebrity, we feel like we already know them. The big problem with this in a political context is the bread-and-circuses effect, where citizens get distracted by a personality they like and stop paying attention to issues and policies. But Marland and Goodyear-Grant both point out, with resigned ruefulness, that reams of research in their shared discipline suggests very few people think about those things anyway. Citizens generally form broad impressions of their political leaders, decide whether they like and trust them, and then leave them to handle the details if they do. “Most people are just not paying attention to this stuff. They just don’t care,” Marland says. “So it gives them probably a sense of pride that their Prime Minister seems to be well respected on the international stage.”

The entire article is excellent: Shannon Proudfoot has masterfully accounted for how the Trudeau campaign (and Prime Minister’s Office) has branded and marketed him. But the part that I quoted from the article is something that more people need to appreciate and understand, especially those who are involved in politics. Canadians generally are removed from politics and simply don’t care about them. This isn’t to say that political parties’ positions and actions don’t matter. But few people are actually paying attention to the minutia or day-to-day of federal, provincial, or municipal politics.

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But perhaps the most important recent development at Facebook is one that has no immediate bearing on the company’s finances. In October, Brad Smallwood, Facebook’s head of monetization analytics—a convoluted, five-dollar title that obscures his importance at the company—took to the stage at a marketers’ conference to announce that Facebook had formed a partnership with Datalogix, a market-analytics firm with purchasing information on about 70 million American homes. Under the agreement between the companies, Facebook would be able to measure whether a user’s exposure to an ad on the site was correlated with that person’s making a purchase at a store.

That type of information is essential for Facebook. Put simply, many corporations are still mired in click-through data, a standard of analysis that fails to fully reflect purchasing activity generated by online advertising. “The click is a terrible predictor of off-line sales,” Smallwood says. “Every research company knows that’s true.”

Still, Smallwood acknowledges, Wall Street continues to view clicks as the critical measure of online-ad performance. “At some level, people have gotten used to the click, and they still want to see the click when they deal with online,” he says. “It’s kind of our job to explain that that is not necessarily the best measure.”

The numbers from the early studies are powerful. Some 70 percent of the campaigns that were measured showed sales equal to three times or more the amount spent for the ads; 49 percent brought in at least five times what the ad had cost.

* Kurt Eichenwald, “Facebook Leans In