Episode 108

Microtargeting Warfare and Other Ad Tech Nightmares


April 22nd, 2022

1 hr 2 mins 46 secs

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About this Episode

Doc Searls and Katherine Druckman talk to Don Marti about ad tech and its many consequences, as well as recent efforts to reform it.


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Episode Links

  • IAB Tech Lab — Today, IAB Tech Lab, the digital advertising technical standards-setting body, announced an update to the widely adopted ads.txt specification which they have opened for public comment for 60 days. The update includes two new values for publishers to declare within their ads.txt files, “ownerdomain” and “managerdomain” which helps  increase the transparency into seller relationships via sellers.json and further strengthens ads.txt as a tool to reduce fraud in buying and selling of advertisements on websites, mobile apps and connected TV.
  • IAB Tech Lab — Real-time Bidding (RTB) is a way of selling media that enables an individual advertising opportunity (ad impression) to be put up for bidding in real-time. OpenRTB is the communication protocol that enables real-time bidding. It was designed to spur growth in RTB marketplaces by providing an open industry standard for communication and interoperability between buyers and sellers in the digital advertising industry.
  • banning surveillance advertising — New bill in Congress: the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act of 2022. Ambitious goal. May not get far this Congress, but it’s good to have a destination in mind. As Allison Schiff wrote on AdExchanger, Even If Targeted Online Advertising Isn’t Banned – Take Note Of Which Way The Wind Is Blowing. Remember, it took the EPA 23 years to get to the (almost) Final Step in Phaseout of Leaded Gasoline.
  • taxing surveillance marketing — Putting a tax on surveillance marketing is sometimes suggested as a solution to a classic externalities problem—firms benefit from surveillance marketing, but the costs and risks are paid for by the people surveilled. A Pigovian tax is the go-to fix for this situation.
  • Europe Is Building a Huge International Facial Recognition System | WIRED UK — Lawmakers advance proposals to let police forces across the EU link their photo databases—which include millions of pictures of people’s faces.
  • Microtargeting as Information Warfare — F oreign influence operations are an acknowledged threat to national security. Less understood is the data that enables that influence. This article argues that governments must recognize microtargeting—data informed individualized targeted advertising—and the current advertising economy as enabling and profiting from foreign and domestic information warfare being waged on its citizens. The Department of Defense must place greater emphasis on defending servicemembers’ digital privacy as a national security risk. Without the ability to defend this vulnerable attack space, our adversaries will continue to target it for exploitation.

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