back to article Still using e-mail? Marketers say you're part of DARK SOCIAL

E-mail and SMS hold-outs are a danger to the Internet because they foul up media giants' tracking, according to analysts with an interest in flogging social tracking services to media giants. If you're old enough, you'll remember that if you wanted to tell a friend – or a group of friends – about an interesting link, you'd e- …

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  1. channel extended
    Joke

    I thought DARK SOCIAL...

    Was when you go to a party and after a while all of the lights go out. THAT really makes for a party! ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I thought DARK SOCIAL...

      I went to a party like that once... Ended up with the keys to a fucking AA box!!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I thought DARK SOCIAL...

        Jeez, I was looking for those for years!

        I don't suppose you've still got them?

        1. davemcwish

          Re: I thought DARK SOCIAL...

          Yes I have and it's one key

  2. Persona non grata

    For added irony, on the story's page

    there are 3 trackers running:

    Google +1

    Twitter Tracker

    Facebook Tracker

    Marketers über alles!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For added irony, on this page

      Porn Mode.

      It ain't just for porn.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth

      Re: For added irony, on the story's page

      Eh? According to Ghostery, on The Registers story page, there are 21 trackers. On the brw.com.au page, there are 34. On the Registers comment page for this story, there are 49 trackers.

      1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Paris Hilton

        Re: For added irony, on the story's page

        Interesting. I am only showing four in Ghostery (with everything turned on for blocking,) on the forums:

        Data Point Media, DoubleClick, Google Analytics (obligatory), and Taboola.

        The story has 11: Data Point Media, DoubleClick, Facebook Connect, Google Analytics, Google+ Platform, LinkedIn Widgets, Outbrain, Reddit, StumbleUpon Widgets, Taboola, and Twitter Button.

        I have ABP turned off for El Reg so I can help pay my way.

        I wonder if your ISP is injecting additional trackers? Or maybe I have some being filtered up-stream. (I am posting from a hot-spot without a threat management device, so who knows.)

        1. Evan Essence

          Re: For added irony, on the story's page

          I have ABP turned off for El Reg so I can help pay my way.

          I just had a look at The Reg with ads on to see what it's like. Yep, full of blinking and animated, in other words distracting ads. Sorry, the ads stay blocked for me.

          1. Mike 16 Silver badge

            Re: For added irony, on the story's page

            I try to be a "kind reader" and leave the ads un-blocked, but any day now the new habit of auto-play video ads at full volume is going to push me over the edge. Worse, they don't just auto-play right when I load so I can turn them off. No, they spurt little bits of random audio so I'm not sure what's happening or what to silence. Even, I think, when I've shifted to another tab. FFX 29.0.1 MacBook Air, OS 10.8.5, if a Reg IT-boffin cares to check it out.

            1. Mike Flugennock

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              "I try to be a "kind reader" and leave the ads un-blocked, but any day now the new habit of auto-play video ads at full volume is going to push me over the edge..."

              I'm amazed that they're pulling that shit again, after all the hell-raising about fifteen years or so ago. About twenty years ago, when I first moved over the Web design from print work, one of the first things I learned is that auto-playing embedded media was a big, fat no-no.

              Luckily, I see pretty much none of that crap as I'm running SeaMonkey with ABP, FlashBlock, and NoScript.

        2. theModge

          Re: ABP turned off for El Reg so I can help pay my way

          I've compromised: it's off for the forums where the ads don't suck too hard, but I can't bear the adds on the main page. Given El Reg's target demographic, I do wonder if anyone actually sees their ads, presumably the fact that so few do is why they have to be so obnoxious...

          (Edit: I've always vaguely wondered why they don't have a donate button or a paid for ad free version or some such: I use the site that much I'd part with a token amount at least)

          1. Vic

            Re: ABP turned off for El Reg so I can help pay my way

            I've compromised: it's off for the forums where the ads don't suck too hard

            Except for that Microsoft Cloud one. The big blue panel that takes up most of the vertical real-estate on my laptop's screen. Bah.

            I use the site that much I'd part with a token amount at least

            As would I.

            Vic.

            1. theModge

              Re: ABP turned off for El Reg so I can help pay my way

              Vic:

              Except for that Microsoft Cloud one. The big blue panel that takes up most of the vertical real-estate on my laptop's screen. Bah.

              Assume something else of mine must be blocking that then, it's not here

          2. fruitoftheloon

            Re: ABP turned off for El Reg so I can help pay my way

            I would cough up too, £2-3 a month seems reasonable to me...

            jay

          3. Terry Cloth
            Pint

            Direct payment to El Reg

            I've always vaguely wondered why they don't have a donate button or [....]

            FWIW, maybe a year ago I e-mailed to ask where I could buy a subscription, as I do for LWN.net (the former Miss Linux Weekly News). I got a nice response saying, effectively, don't sweat it.

            I guess they're doing a good business in whitepapers? In any case, I want my micropayments, so I can still pay something for the sites I don't want to pay $15/month to. (Beer, 'cause I'd definitely buy them one.)

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: Direct payment to El Reg

              +1 for a subscription option. I enjoy El Reg, but not enough to put up with the ads (ABP, RequestPolicy, NoScript, Ghostery). I'd be happy to pay a bit to the upkeep by a direct method though.

    3. big_D Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: For added irony, on the story's page

      I just emailed the link to my friends...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: For added irony, on the story's page

        It's still trackable if you email it. Or text it on a smartphone.

        From now on, if I come across an interesting link, I'm sending it to my friends by telegram...

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: For added irony, on the story's page

          Telegrams be damned.

          Morse is the only way to go, or in extremis, semaphore...

          The one with the flags in the pocket, thanks.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Flame

            semaphore...

            I was thinking 'heliograph', but then I had a look outside

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: For added irony, on the story's page

          From now on, if I come across an interesting link, I'm sending it to my friends by telegram...

          Pfft. It's pigeon post for me. Encrypted pigeon post -- I'm giving each of my friends one-time pads the next time I see them.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: For added irony, on the story's page

            Pfft. It's pigeon post for me.

            Oh, I go the high-tech route: I prefer to share using entanglement - only with beer instead of qubits! Essentially, I use two (or more) pints of beer that became entangled in the keg to communicate with nearby mates by periodically sampling the quantum foam on the top. It's not faster than light of course, but it does prevent undetectable eavesdropping (and as a side-effect it does observably alter space-time if repeated sufficiently in a short amount of time)...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              Pah! Pigeons, morse?? Semaphore is close, but smoke signals are really the only way to chat.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: For added irony, on the story's page

            btw, how do you encrypt a pigeon?

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              btw, how do you encrypt a pigeon?

              In a blender.

              It's a one-way algorithm. You then store the resulting hash in a salted smoothie.

              I shall be abandoning coffee for choco-pigeon shakes forwthwith.

            2. Captain Queeg

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              > btw, how do you encrypt a pigeon?

              With a blender? No, actually, that may introduce a degree of latency to delivery of messages.

            3. John Bailey

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              "btw, how do you encrypt a pigeon?"

              Have you considered a shotgun?

            4. Shaha Alam

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              you paint it white and call it a baby swan.

            5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: For added irony, on the story's page

              "btw, how do you encrypt a pigeon?"

              With pastry and gravy...Mmmmmm

            6. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How do you encrypt a pigeon?

              You run it through a gargoyle who functions as an equivalent of a wrapper before the message goes to the semaphores.

              The NSA are trying to breed decrypting goshawks but those have so far produced nothing but indiscriminate poop, because of which project funding will be increased by 137% in the next Home Security budget.

          3. Whiskers
            Joke

            Re: For added irony, on the story's page

            Encrypted pigeon? Must be lunch time ...

          4. Naughtyhorse

            Re:pigeon post

            so you'll be needing this then

            http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2549

        3. Naughtyhorse

          Re: ME TOO!

          until I get these damned semaphore flags fixed

      2. Wensleydale Cheese
        Thumb Up

        Re: For added irony, on the story's page

        "I just emailed the link to my friends..."

        I got the link on Usenet, so it didn't touch my mailbox either.

  3. Shannon Jacobs
    Holmes

    Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

    This push-driven model of advertising is increasingly reminding me of the cancer-style business rules of America.

    American companies are basically legally obliged to grow as cancerously as possible. If they can't grow fast enough, then they get acquired or go bankrupt. At root, this is driven by the business model of a few extremely rich people who bribe the politicians to write the rules of the business game that way. It even makes a sick kind of sense when you consider their overwhelming problem. They "need" more money, and their problem is that there is NEVER enough money to satisfy their need.

    As it applies in the push-driven advertising world, the "need" is for more of our time and attention, and they can NEVER get enough, no matter how many intrusions and privacy invasions they devise.

    There are solutions, and some of them are obvious, but I think we need to start by rethinking economics. Money is not the only significant entity in the universe. Amazingly enough, time has a kind of fundamental equality for all of us. My 24-hour day is the same quantity as the day of Bill Gates or the Koch brothers or even a house plant. Disclaimer, I'm not equating those three (or five) entities. It's the TIME flow that is the same.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

      No. US companies are absolutely NOT legally required to do shit but follow their own rules, make their regulatory filings and not (get caught) breaking any laws. The bit about fiduciary responsibility is a generic catch all that sounds good but is completely meaningless. Don't buy into that crap. The reality is probably what you suspected though, they're just a bunch of greedy dicks. That's a personal decision though. The variable length arm of the law is not a factor.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Re: Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

      True - for once, the Beeb had an interesting magazine piece relevant to this the other day - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27517577

    3. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

      There are solutions, and some of them are obvious

      Does one of them involve nooses and lampposts?

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

        Does one of them involve nooses and lampposts?

        IMO, the most appropriate solution involves tracer ammunition.

        1. Mike Flugennock
          Mushroom

          Re: Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

          "IMO, the most appropriate solution involves tracer ammunition..."

          Naahhh. Nuke 'em from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.

    4. ItsNotMe
      WTF?

      Re: Push-driven advertising and extreme greed?

      "This push-driven model of advertising is increasingly reminding me of the cancer-style business rules of The World.

      There...fixed it for you.

  4. Notas Badoff
    Devil

    Umbral numbers unlumbered

    Well they would, wouldn't they?

    Having repeatedly claimed that their ad campaign, social wave, or latest clumsy grab for attention on behalf on clients was worth the fees charged, but with 'social' measurements showing a mere fraction of the positive effect desired, they've found an 'explanation' that makes everything better (for them).

    That campaign wasn't a borborygmal bomb, it actually generated 400% more positive comments that we couldn't measure! And as an industry expert publication, The Register, outlined, further modes of unmeasurable communication most likely enlarged the audience for your message!

    Why, we ought to have charged you more for our services. But now that we have the existing working relationship that would be unseemly, yes? Anyway, for your next campaign we were thinking "flying monkeys, but the cute kind".

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      We tried using WingedMonkies before...

      ...but then the shit started to fly & it all went downhill from there.

      That's the last time we invite Management to a Marketing meeting.

      =-)p

  5. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    ZOMG! I'm not on $TrendySocialMediaSiteOfTheNanosecond!

    Good. I don't want to be. I prefer having friends whom aren't Attention Whoring Drama Queens whom feel the need to regurgitate their every bodily function & misfired mental synapse to the world. I like going to TheBigBlueRoom, frolicking in TheEvilSunlight, and breathing unfiltered oxygen that doesn't taste of Server Refrigerants.

    So I send things via email & SMS, and that means you can't DataMine it for marketing & monetization? Oh boo-fucking-hoo. Good. I don't want your ads anyway. I use a Hosts file to block your site, deny cookies by default, and make sure to scrub those headers so the only thing you know about me is that I arrived on a Windows machine with IE. Beyond that, you don't need to know where I've been, what link I used to get there, load a billion beacons & webbugs, nor any of the other exabytes of other slimy crap you try to gather information about me without my explicit permission to do so.

    If I'm ordering something from you, then you get the data *I* feel like sharing, but even that will be given in such a way as to make identifying where it came from obscenely easy should it find it's way into your third party affiliates' hands. Or did you think my name was really "AmazonDotCom ThatBigCommerceSiteThatStartsWithA"?

    I'll stick to using Copy+Paste, dropping it into Notepad, scrubbing it for any tracking crap, then C+P'ing the results to an email. It gives me the chance to share it with my friends, and make it so they can (if they like) visit your site for more info, but NOT give you any idea of how they got there or why. And that's the way we like it.

    *Shakes a palsied fist* Now get off my Internet Lawn! =-)p

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: ZOMG! I'm not on $TrendySocialMediaSiteOfTheNanosecond!

      I'm with you in spirit - you can't beat text/plain for general communication. Encrypt or use another channel when required. The trackers and beacons are a cancer on the internet and their use somewhat shortsighted. I used to be far more tolerant of them than I am now: as a result virtually all are blocked by default.

      But when it comes to statistics - I'm not interested per se in where you've been and what browser you personally have - but there is value in the aggregate data.

    2. Yugguy

      Re: ZOMG! I'm not on $TrendySocialMediaSiteOfTheNanosecond!

      Yeah, I don't do social.

      I'll email, text, or even, dare I say it, ACTUALLY SPEAK TO SOMEONE.

  6. anatak

    encrypted mail ?

    So what is encrypted mail then ? Black hole social ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: encrypted mail ?

      No. It's anti-social behaviour and you should be locked up for it. After all, you could be a terrorist. Better not take chances. You're just too different.

      There there is voice communication, which will be termed illegal and direct human contact is reason for execution. Welcome to your future - brought you by avarice.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: encrypted mail ?

        Hmmm avarice? After Royal Mail briefly became consignia, we all knew that silly names were in. We have an Aviva, amongst other ridiculous company names.

        I'm rather taken by Avaris. I shall be registering the company today. Now to work out our business model? A hedge fund perhaps? Marketing? Perhaps a technology company that hoovers up everybody else's expensively generated online content, then attaches adverts to it. Nah, that'd never work...

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    They missed one or two things....

    They can't monetize or target those of us who have gathered round the water cooler or pub table and talk cars, clothing, music, food, etc. They can't do that either when we call a friend for a word of mouth recommendation. Marketing used to teach that word of mouth was the best advertising but the droids who make a living at this seem to ignore it. Now if they can take over our mobiles and listen in..... uh-oh... best not to give them ideas.

    I say, let them have their whine, and maybe someone will send them some cheese to go with it.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: They missed one or two things....

      "let them have their whine, and maybe someone will send them some cheese to go with it."

      I'll do it! Tastefully served in designer rat traps, of course.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: They missed one or two things....

      "They can't monetize or target those of us who have gathered round the water cooler or pub table and talk cars, clothing, music, food, etc. "

      Ah, but they soon will be able to. Your next (* or the one after ... it's only a matter of time) mobile phone contract will have smallprint to allow the operator to leave your device in listening mode all the time. The sound will be converted to text where possible and tagged with your phone number. (Actual speaker identification will come later, once technology improves still further. For now, it is just "you or one of your friends".) All that semi-anonymous speech gets poured into a big data mine run by the phone company, gets correlated with the speech sent by other phones, and sold to brand owners who want to know what "people" are saying about their latest gizmo.

      Or you can pay extra for a contract that doesn't include that option. But most people won't and you won't be able to trust that the person you are standing next to isn't one of the sheep. And because it's all automated and semi-anonymous, it doesn't count as snooping. (The NSA said so.)

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: They missed one or two things....

        Ken Hagan,

        I'm not worried by that. So long as it's only the phone companies that run the data collection. They're mostly run by finance gibbons, and so wouldn't be capable of doing it 'properly'. Of course, when Google build it into Android, they will do so competently. At which point I'll need a tin-foil phone-cosy, to go with my tin-foil hat (also coincidentally shaped like a tea-cosy).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They missed one or two things....

      "gathered round the water cooler"

      But once the water cooler obligatorily part of the Internet of Things, and Facebook's creepy listening in "feature" is running well, that's exactly what they will be doing.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: They missed one or two things....

        Yep. They'll offer a new "smart" water cooler that helpfully phones home to arrange a new delivery of their expensively bottled tap water. And it will just happen to collect key word conversation data for marketting reasons. With the NSA/MI5 and Google listening in.

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: They missed one or two things....

          Yep. They'll offer a new "smart" water cooler that helpfully phones home

          Not once I set up my Homeopathic Data Mining consultancy they wont. All of the existing water-coolers are already sucussing an imprint of the speech that happens around them. The water remembers. Underneath my tropical island-volcano I simply recover that speech from the oceans of the world using my (shock collar) trained dolphins who modulate their Freakin' LASERs to transmit it back to my data centre. "Like" my facebook page to subscribe to the resulting marketing analytics feed. "Smart" water-coolers are filled with the purest snake-oil. Don't be fooled.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: They missed one or two things....

            "Homeopathic Data Mining"

            Bastard! Nurse!! New keyboard please.

        2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Re: "smart" water cooler

          Full of this stuff for extra traceability?

          http://www.smartwater.com/products

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: They missed one or two things....

        There is something of a tradition in professional baseball of taking a bat to the water cooler to work off the frustration of striking out. When the I.o.T water cooler shows up, watch a baseball game or two for the proper technique.

  8. Don Jefe

    Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

    Did the article say up to 80% of 'sharing' isn't done through an advertising data generating medium? That's cool. It's like saying that 80% of people aren't criminals, let's pass new laws to address that problem.

    But I think this is being looked at all the wrong way. What this means is that online advertising is gratuitously overpriced; by roughly 80%. It simply isn't a valid spend to base ad targeting on data that's 80% incomplete. That's getting into casino levels of improbability and advertising sales absolutely are not presented as a blind gamble and that's exactly what 80% of uncertainty is. You could throw random ads at people and come up with better odds of a direct hit.

    That actually explains a lot though. When 'they' do hit on a winning product category they never stop showing you the same shit. That's why I've been getting ads for portable industrial lighting and portable utility buildings for the last two fucking years after I bought all that stuff. While I'm sure that some damned soul spends their days researching portable industrial lighting and portable utility buildings it sure as fuck isn't me. I suspect that most people aren't replacing shit with 5 & 10 year warranties every day either. But how could the advertisers know that? They've only got 20% visibility and they're being absolutely reamed for that 20%.

    It's that 80% that's the source and solution to this entire clusterfuck. Companies that advertise online should sue the hell out of ad agencies, marketing data agencies and every last participant in the entire online advertising industry. Something that's 80% incomplete is not what is being sold to advertisers and they're entitled to have a lot of that money back.

    Hilariously, lowering the cost of advertising is the quickest way to take the wind from the sails of online marketing. You lop 80% of revenue off of online marketing and costs and you take away the justification for ever increasingly intrusive practices.

    Jackasses.

    1. Chairo

      Re: Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

      You could throw random ads at people and come up with better odds of a direct hit.

      I absolutely agree. Often enough I read some article on El Reg about problems/failure/security cock up of product X of company Z and often enough, that product is exactly what they show in the ad box.

      Oh, and if you read El Reg over a company network, than they usually get the country wrong.

      In many cases random ads would be far more effective, for sure.

      1. MrT

        Re: Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

        Most "targeted" advertising seems very short sighted - on everyone's favourite tax-dodging South American river, it seems they only look at the last thing bought.

        For example, I got a nice Fiskars axe from them, suddenly I'm a lumberjack - do I want a wood splitting "grenade", a sharpener, another axe and a book on hanging around in bars? I order some arty toys for my girls - perhaps I want everything in pink and pastel shades. My wife orders a couple of books on my account, and things switch track again. The whole front page flips content. I'd love to see what type of person they think they're dealing with.

        Luckily, ordering another Marvel DVD or something about Bletchley Park is usually enough to put things right, but as it's happened more than a few times it does mean that I now have The Green Lantern in my collection...

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

          Mostly they ask me if I want to buy stuff I've already bought.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

            Mostly they ask me if I want to buy stuff I've already bought.

            Given the durability of most products nowadays, that's not an entirely unreasonable question.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

          For example, I got a nice Fiskars axe from them, suddenly I'm a lumberjack - do I want a wood splitting "grenade", a sharpener, another axe and a book on hanging around in bars?

          They missed the ultimate suggestion: "Survivalist Scone Baking", co-authored by Ray Mears and Julia Child.

          1. MrT

            Re: "Survivalist Scone Baking"

            It might have matched my profile better if Ray had teamed up with Lauren Child instead... ;-)

            1. Vic

              Re: "Survivalist Scone Baking"

              It might have matched my profile better if Ray had teamed up with Lauren Child instead... ;-)

              Or Julia Bradbury.

              Mmmmm...

              Vic.

              1. MrT

                Re: "Survivalist Scone Baking"

                Ah, Bradders - she's almost the spitting image of my sister-in-law... somewhere between Julia and Jennifer Aniston...

                Though not if drawn by Axel Scheffler ;-)

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: 80% of people aren't criminals...

      Of course they are!

      As any good copper will tell you.

      'everyone is guilty of something, a coppers job is just figuring out what it is that they are guilty of'

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Makes Complete Sense. I Think...

      "advertising sales absolutely are not presented as a blind gamble"

      Aren't they? I thought there was an exemption from "truth in advertising" laws for cases where the claim was so ridiculous that no reasonable person could take it as anything other than a joke.

  9. skeptical i
    Thumb Down

    I don't know why they bother ...

    ... most of the stuff advertised is shite and the quickest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it.

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Trollface

    Dark Marketing

    Do those marketing trolls still exist? They're out of my watch due to flashy thing blockers, cookie blockers, webbug blockers, and an avoidance of web pages and apps that ask for excessive personal information. Clearly not enough of the trolls went out of business at the end of the 1990s.

  11. Number6

    I guess they must hate me, I still subscribe to usenet groups too. Far superior for discussions and debate when compared to web forums, all of which have dire user interfaces. I still use email, plain text if possible, which is less of a security hazard than this dodgy HTML which might hide trackers or dubious URLs.

  12. julianh72
    Big Brother

    I'll bet that ...

    ... these "Dark Social" scum are the same free-loaders who watch TV without filling in ratings surveys, hang up on telemarketers, walk past "marketing muggers" in shopping malls without so much as making eye contact, and never fill in the survey forms at hotels where they stay.

    Anti-social vermin! Have they no concept of our shared responsibility to assist in the collection of marketing data?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: I'll bet that ...

      An author called George Saunders saw the way the world was going some years ago. If you haven't already read "My Flamboyant Grandson", I recommend it: https://scribblestrum.livejournal.com/88086.html

  13. Camilla Smythe

    Just a Moment

    Isn't the article at,

    http://www.brw.com.au/p/marketing/how_dark_social_sharing_could_upset_zrHJIS4dpkqc5nYlkhGzrK

    in effect actually saying that G-Mail is 'Dark Social'?

    "Up to 80 per cent of all “sharing” of publisher and brand content is being distributed through email and text messaging to smaller, “off-the-grid” user networks, according to figures from measurement companies such as Chartbeat and online customer prospecting network, RadiumOne."

    Pull the other one. G-Mail might be 'off the grid' to 'them' but it is hardly 'small'. Wet finger says at least 80% of the data they want to get their greasy palms on goes via G-mail.

    No Fair. Want Google to Share with us. Toys out of pram.

    Now... where's that middle finger icon?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telephone Tracking

    "Vulture South is now working on a new way to tell its contacts about things. It's called the telephone"

    Between friends, yes. Ringing companies if you get the number off the web, well now that is a different matter. What happens is the number you get served is linked to your browsing session. So when you call that number they know which web visitor you were and all the information that goes along with it. Don't think that it is much? Don't kid yourself. There are firms who's whole business model is automated aggregation of visitor information so they can serve up a LOT of pertinent info about your visitor base. Combine that with the call tracking and you are effectively pinned down.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Telephone Tracking

      "What happens is the number you get served is linked to your browsing session. So when you call that number they know which web visitor you were and all the information that goes along with it."

      Colour me skeptical, but I don't think there are enough telephone numbers to make that scheme really work.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Telephone Tracking

        You are absolutely right. I just made this crap up because I have nothing better to do. Your superior cynical powers defeated me.

        https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=call+tracking

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Telephone Tracking

          There's a deleted post you might have been replying to there, but just in case you were replying to me...

          I didn't say *you* made this crap up. I merely suggested that whoever did was exaggerating.

          I stand by my claim that there are a limited number of telephone numbers available (certainly for the sort of costs we might be considering here) and that this number is smaller than the number of visitors to a reasonably popular web site (as might be owned by the sort of person willing to shell out for thousands of pheone numbers).

          You google search appears to point at a couple of distinct offerings. In the one case, someone is offering to assign distinct phone numbers to different web pages (not visitors). That's orders of magnitude more scalable and probably feasible. In another case, someone is offering to assign a unique number to each visitor and it is obvious that this requires either a massive expenditure on phone numbers, or only works for a very small number of visitors, or is a "creative" use of the word unique. Given that marketing is involved, my vote goes for the last of these.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese

            Re: Telephone Tracking

            "I stand by my claim that there are a limited number of telephone numbers available "

            Well in 1995 my workplace had a direct dialling system where the extension number was the last 4 digits of the main number.

            That's several thousand in my book, and phone technology has advanced a wee bit since then.

            1. Vic

              Re: Telephone Tracking

              That's several thousand in my book, and phone technology has advanced a wee bit since then.

              But the availability of the *numbers* is largely unchanged.

              Creating new SIP accounts en masse is a very easy thing to do. Obtaining tens of thousands of telephone numbers isn't - nor is it without cost.

              Vic.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Telephone Tracking

        "Colour me skeptical, but I don't think there are enough telephone numbers to make that scheme really work." perhaps there are...

        A couple of years ago customer of mine discovered they had a website they didn't know about. It was a clone of the text and images on their real site dropped into a new template and with a DIFFERENT phone number.

        It was under a domain name same as the original but without the hyphen and registered to a well known "yellow pages" type directory company. Calling that number still reached my customer, so I guess it was a redirect but presumably with some kind of activity logging. My surmise is that they could track usage of the site and of the phone number and use any success as a basis for a marketing exercise. Last time I looked up the "yellow pages" company in question the share price had dropped from GBP6.00 to 0.5p. At the time they would have charged my customer GBP150 setup plus GBP20/month, 12 month minimum - not bad for doing little more than stealing the content. I just checked on the secondary domain name, it now just says "Welcome to your future website! Your website is currently under construction, please check back later." Not sure what the legal position would be, especially if the cloned site got higher ranking on Google (it didn't). It sounds like "passing off" except it was no detriment to the customer, maybe copyright infringement? A Google search finds about 500 similar instances involving the same "yellow pages" group, I don't know if any cloned sites remain.

        1. Steve Foster

          Re: Telephone Tracking

          Would that be the one with the stupid and utterly pointless "corporate whalesong" rebrand that (temporarily) went titsup recently?

          1. Richard Cranium

            Re: Telephone Tracking

            Googling for: "Your website is currently under construction, please check back later." (WITH the quotes) leaves no doubt in my mind.

      4. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Telephone Tracking

        Colour me skeptical, but I don't think there are enough telephone numbers to make that scheme really work.

        Simple enough with an Asterix box and a bunch of extension numbers. You can even reissue them to a new visitor the moment one gets used.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Telephone Tracking

          "You can even reissue them to a new visitor the moment one gets used."

          And therein lies the marketing-speak, because most will never be used and so you have to "expire" them at some point, so you have to trade off the number of numbers you are willing to juggle against the likelihood that someone writes down your number and then carries on searching for your rivals and by the time they get round to calling you the number has been dished out to several other people.

          The technique only works if you have a small number of customers who are nevertheless able to sustain a fairly large or excessively profitable business that can afford to run a PBX just to support a glorified form of caller ID.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Telephone Tracking

            excessively profitable business that can afford to run a PBX

            You missed the bit where it said "Asterix box"? Actual cost: 1 (one) phone line (required anyway), 1 (one) average-spec PC, small number of low-denomination bills to pay for 'leccy to run aforementioned PC.

            Excessively profitable, my arse.

            Expiring and reissuing might cause some data pollution, but chances are that if you haven't called within a week or so, depending on the matter marketed, you're never going to.

            1. Vic

              Re: Telephone Tracking

              Actual cost: 1 (one) phone line (required anyway)

              incorrect - one *Internet connection*.

              A phone line might be the cheapest way to provision that connection (it's what I use), but it's not the only way...

              Magrathea are rather good at dealing with the whole telephone side of things...

              Vic.

          2. Graham Cobb

            Re: Telephone Tracking

            Ken, despite your scepticism, this is indeed a real technique.

            In my experience it is not used for the big phone number that appears at the top of the page (and which you might remember or write down and call later) but for specific applications. It is routinely used for "click-to-call", where you click on a button and your phone dials a number -- in that case the number can be allocated knowing that the call is happening immediately.

            It is also used for some other cases where numbers are likely to be either called soon or not at all -- things like customer service. The re-use times are measured in minutes, and a pool of 1000 numbers are likely to be plenty.

            In all cases, the caller is queried to make sure the details automatically appearing on the agent's screen along with the call are correct -- so it isn't the end of the world if the matching doesn't work properly sometimes.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Dark" , "Off the grid" , "Underbelly"

    Interesting language. Sounds like someone's been on an "Internet for spooks" course. Or is it meant to encourage support from certain communities for their aim to free our communications?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: "Dark" , "Off the grid" , "Underbelly"

      Well "dark" is the new black. You can be sure that if they spoke of "Black Social" in negative terms then they'd live to regret it, but "Dark Social" sounds like some exciting new form of cosmological glue.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "Dark" , "Off the grid" , "Underbelly"

        So what you're saying is that Dark Energy is all the emails and texts sent between all the beings in the universe about what interesting articles they've seen in the latest editorial of the Galactic Digest. Or possibly Sidereal Record Straightener.

        Whereas Dark Matter is what happens when they send it by post.

        It's junk mail that holds the universe together.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Dark" , "Off the grid" , "Underbelly"

        Guess this means we are all dark communicators......

        As soon as everyone starts encrypting their mail... it will become even darker.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: "Dark" , "Off the grid" , "Underbelly"

      Yes, time of the subtle hints is over. Social equals modern, progressive people are actively using social & mobile, usage is skyrocketing, yada yada yada.

      Now we're into the second phase - casting shadows on those who still refuse to get the message. Language is getting stronger and darker. Effectively a public smear campaign.

  16. bill 36

    I'm a Troglodyte

    and quite happy about it. When i want to tell my friends something, i use that old fashioned e-mail thingy. And not gmail or hotmail i hasten to add.

    I've got a friend who can't leave his fondleslab alone for more than 10 seconds....ooh a Facebook update..ping ping fuckin ping. Drives me mental sitting in a bar trying to having a quiet pint!!

    So come on all Troglodytes lets stand together and eradicate this menace now before we all turn into blobs of blithering, bloated buffoons.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I'm a Troglodyte

      "I've got a friend who can't leave his fondleslab alone for more than 10 seconds....ooh a Facebook update..ping ping fuckin ping. Drives me mental sitting in a bar trying to having a quiet pint!!"

      Next time, get up and go sit at another table. If s/he asks why, tell them that it seems crowded at that table and everyone but you seems to be in on the conversation.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Kill myself first...

    Funny, but they should have solved this one some time ago, it's not even hard on either the econometric or engineering ends. It would set off an arms race though (which could be really wicked fun, for some values of fun). However, I'd kill myself first, if the people who know me didn't do me first.

    I'm with Shadow Systems, any data you actually do collect, with the exception of date-time-stamps will be a lie. Not that that really matters either. They can't handle the truth ;-)

  18. John Tserkezis

    "It's called the telephone, and we'll be interested – nay, fascinated – to see if it catches on,"

    "MR. WATSON—COME HERE—I WANT TO SEE YOU".

    Rumour has it, that Watson did come, but only because he heard the shouting from the adjacent room. Turns out Bell hooked up his ADSL filter the wrong way around...

  19. Mage Silver badge

    A good wake up call.

    Obviously we should promote this "Dark Social"

    Get BBC & RTE to promote it instead of the COMMERCIAL Twitter & Facebook they promote.

    I also share links, comments etc on Skype Text. I think only the NSA reads that apart from the intended person.

    Eventually perhaps people will catch on that Twitter & Facebook are of no value and just exploiting them. They are not free. They cost.

  20. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Happy

    Karmic Realignment

    So, my texting and emailing is causing some marketing droids pain and anguish.

    Well, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah! My, the world looks good this morning.

  21. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Virgin media

    My Virgin email was turned over to Google\Gmail some time ago.

    I have a nasty suspicion that even most email isn't safe from the data harvesters anymore.

    Ordinary users (and most techie ones ) will be using the email system they're given by the ISPs (BT Sky Virgin etc.)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The menace of shoes.

    Sneakernet is a threat to us all.

  23. cracked
    Childcatcher

    How much would you pay to Like my stuff?

    If a tool that stopped all tracking/advertising was mass adopted and so online ad revenue dried up; how much would a search on Google cost?

    And if you are thinking ... Fine, I didn't really need to know how many toes a red kangaroo has; so it won't cost me much ... then those status updates, those chats on skype, laughing at the idiots on twitter, streaming premier league football ... all of those would be gone (or cost you money) too.

    Imagine ... being unable to afford to post nonsense on here ...

    Long term the death of all those things (facebook, twitter, skype, wiziwigtv) - Because no one wants them enough to actually pay for them - May well be good for humanity. Who's to say?

    But just in case it might not be a good thing - long term and all that, for humanity - re-enable the trackers and keep telling everyone you know that its all perfectly fine.

    You will never get granny online if you have to tell her that - in addition to the bill for her internet connection - seeing her great-grandkids on skype, costs another $2 a go.

    A final thought ... Was compuserve right all along?

    1. Blitheringeejit
      Pint

      Re: Was compuserve right all along?

      IIRC they were the first subscription-funded network to avoid UK taxation by pretending they weren't doing business in the UK, when they clearly were. So in that sense, yes,

      Pint - because my preferred social network is still the pub.

      1. cracked

        Re: Was compuserve right all along?

        It's not just the fluff though, is it? Or Facebook and skyping your gran.

        The web could have been what many thought it would be, a place for nerds to buy books, compare insurance, do a spot of banking ... and for computers to communicate. The internet of thingies. That type of thing.

        Advertising made it social. Because people could dream up rubbish - and/or post cat videos - and everyone could go and look for free.

        Like I put, it's entirely possibly to argue that if the fluff went away, the system would be better; entirely so :-)

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: How much would you pay to Like my stuff?

      "If a tool that stopped all tracking/advertising was mass adopted and so online ad revenue dried up; how much would a search on Google cost?"

      I don't know. How much *did* it cost when Google started out and was just doing advertising rather than tracking?

      Your "tracking/advertising" is not a thing. It is two things. Many people are tolerant of one and intolerant of the other.

      Also, would the advertising revenue really dry up? It is impossible to measure the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns and I suspect that most providers exploit that to the hilt. If Google just punted total bollocks stats to all their customers, how many would actually notice? Given the increasingly widespread adoption of "Do Not Track" and the long-established "sizable minority" who run AdBlock or its friends, perhaps this has already happened and the answer was "no-one".

      1. Graham Cobb

        Re: How much would you pay to Like my stuff?

        If Google just punted total bollocks stats to all their customers, how many would actually notice?

        My company tracks how many visitors come from various Google adwords, so we would notice. As far as I know, we have no idea how many ads are served (if we are told that we don't use the information) but we do look at how many visits happen, month-by-month (and sometimes, for specific campaigns, day-by-day). We then decide if what we are being charged is worth continuing with (and, by the way, it generally is -- when compared with other methods of getting visitors such as email marketing or newsletter advertising).

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: How much would you pay to Like my stuff?

          I've always had a suspicion that Most online ad marketeers (Google included) rely heavily on the Forer effect when pitching themselves at companies.

      2. cracked

        Re: How much would you pay to Like my stuff?

        (thanks also Graham and the Captain for the comments)

        I was being - a bit unsuccessfully, it seems - tongue-in-cheek with my first "The Cost of Likes" post.

        The vast majority of startup business plans - even those plans that are just a couple of kids dreaming something up - rely on advertising to make them money (that's when they get around to thinking about making money ... well, the business angel guy they had to bring in gets around to it). I should note: Sometimes this revenue is planned to happen before Google buys them out, and sometimes it's after.

        I don't ever remember reading a proposal - ideas document, blue sky thinking paper, business plan, nor the scribblings of one of the founder's children - from a start up that didn't. And I was once lucky enough to read quite a few.

        I guess half of my point was that without advertising, almost none of what there is today would exist. Back in 95/96, even over in the US, no one would have given dear Sergey and Larry any cash for those servers, if the plan hadn't said $10billion a year from advertising. No one - at the time, before then, or now - would have backed them (their uni included) if the plan had said "$0.01c a search".

        There was - and probably still is somewhere - a similar thing about paying for each email you send.

        Does tracking have to come with advertising?

        Yes, I think it does. It does in the real world (TV etc). Traditional forms of advertising are still tracked - Web Advertsing's big advantage is that it can at least make clients believe they are getting richer feedback online, than elsewhere (the tracking is more precise).

        I am (I hope) a very, very long way from implying that tracking is a good thing (I am normally here, somewhere, writing that all of the web is almost certainly a very bad thing, because of these "features"). I hope I am implying that, without it (and its parent, advertising), almost none of us would be here, discussing anything much at all.

        I think I am sure that "the fluff" disappearing would, long term, benefit humanity. And so the death of advertising (by the death of tracking) would be a very good thing. However, it is entirely likely that without all of the "fuss" made over the social side of the web (which is powered by advertising) some things which have or will be created, which are truly beneficial; won't be created.

        ... But I also think the Internet as a system is - currently - only fit for posting cat videos ... so I am almost certainly very confused ;-)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “It a problem if your analytics platform can’t determine the source because it’s invisible”

    Don't worry Advertisers our plans for ads on everything will gobble-up the hold-outs...

    /Sergey & Larry ....

  25. Mike Smith
    Mushroom

    Fighting back

    I wonder if there's an opportunity here to really hit these nosy parasites where it hurts? The whole tone of the piece smacks of marketers thinking they've a God-given right to do what they want to flog everything the Zik-Zak MegaCorp churns out.

    Can't really blame them for that, but only in the sense that you can't blame a dog for suffering from rabies.

    But here's a thought - what would happen if the money spent on these marketing campaigns didn't translate into increased sales? It occurs to me that a huge concerted effort to automate clicking on ads and populating their sodding surveys and registrations of interest with crap data might have an effect if enough people did it in a concerted manner. The genuine interest could simply be drowned by a flood of noise.

    I did do something like this ages ago, in response to a phishing scam. At the time, I had access to the SilkPerformer test tool and a licence for 1,000 concurrent users. We had a little IP spoofing module as well.

    1,000 users submitting garbage over the Easter weekend at a rate carefully calculated not to trigger a denial-of-service detection translated into a LOT of rubbish written to the scammers' website.

    That was back in the day before the world of the Open Sourcerers took off. There must be plenty of free tools that could be used in a similar manner to throw the marketers' crap back in their faces? I guess the trick would be organising and co-ordinating it - and guarding against misuse.

    But it does seem to be technically feasible. And thoroughly well-deserved.

  26. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    There must be zero tolerance

    of such criminal tracks evasion and perversion of the course of adverts.

  27. Vic

    80% is an *Underbelly* ?

    They must hang out with some really fat bastards if they can't see the problem with that statement...

    Vic.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reptiles of marketing

    I applaud

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ugly image

    Every time I hear about marketing types getting frustrated or upset over something, I'm inexplicably reminded of a fatter, more repugnant version of the character in 'reefer madness' losing his marbles and climbing the walls, drooling etc. I hate to think what I'd get if facebook shut down.

    1. Blitheringeejit
      Holmes

      Re: I hate to think what I'd get if facebook shut down.

      It would be nice to think we'd all get a life.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: I hate to think what I'd get if facebook shut down.

        And the ones that don't, well, don't.

  30. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Coat

    Feh.

    Share links? I'll copy-paste the link address with as many querystring tags removed as possible, thankyou!

  31. jason 7 Silver badge

    Since I've had a smartphone...

    ....with a keyboard I've used SMS more and more. It's the default messaging service that everyone will have.

    In fact myself and my general community use SMS pretty much most of the time. Fast and simple.

    Not to 14 year old girl from 2008 levels of use but when you have 2000+ texts a month to use...

    Oh and we use full English spelling too.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Since I've had a smartphone...

      "Full English spelling"

      When I got a new smartphone recently I was delighted to find that the predictive text now predicts words. You can compose an entire message without significant use of brain cells, and the result is readable., though strangely devoid of meaning.

  32. ballist1x

    You mean people dont post CD-R's around any more?

  33. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    If 'marketing departments not knowing' means I'm dark then I hope I'm black as the depths of space. They can fuck right arf if I want them to know anything at all about me. I've read The Space Merchants and I want nothing to do with that kind of future.

    As an aside. How come a search for 'the space merchants' on Google isn't as good as 'the merchants of space' to find this story? Hmm?

  34. ItsNotMe
    Mushroom

    Very pleased to be a part of "Dark Social."

    I communicate via e-mail and telephone calls. Oh, and also by that rapidly disappearing ability to talk to someone face to face.

    My feeling is that if someone can't call me on the phone...send me an e-mail...or see me in person...then I really don't need to hear from them...ever.

    Am not...and never will be a part of any social networking sites.

    Don't text either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very pleased to be a part of "Dark Social."

      Nah, once encrypted it all becomes too hard to mine effectively......

      One day, we will all see the light... and then the marketers will have to go back to stuffing physical mailboxes with junk flyers..

      Sucks for the trees though...

  35. Mike Flugennock
    Coffee/keyboard

    "E-mail and SMS hold-outs are a danger to the Internet..."

    "...because they foul up media giants' tracking, according to analysts with an interest in flogging social tracking services to media giants..."

    BWAHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ...oops, I wet 'em.

  36. mIRCat
    Coat

    One word.

    Fuck 'em.

    Wait that's two words.

  37. Gartal

    A two word answer

    Fuck off!

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