Instead of kicking data brokers off its platform, Facebook should empower its entire user base to be their own brokers of data.
Late last week Facebook announced it would eliminate all third-party data brokers from its platform. It framed this announcement as a response to the slow motion train wreck that is the Cambridge Analytica story. Just as it painted Cambridge as a “bad actor” for compromising its users’ data, Facebook has now vilified hundreds of companies who have provided it fuel for its core business model, a model that remains at the center of its current travails.
Why? Well, I hate to be cynical, but here’s my answer: Because Cambridge Analytica provided Facebook air cover to consolidate power over the open web. Put another way: Facebook is planning to profit from a scandal of their own making.
P&G, Unilever and others are throwing their weight around with Google and Facebook. The platforms can afford to ignore them.
The IAB annual meeting — an industry event featuring all manner of digital media and marketing folk — is in full swing right about now, and it’s managed to capture a news cycle by releasing an early draft of a speech from Keith Weed, CMO of consumer packaged goods giant Unilever. The Journalcovers the story here, and here’s the (literal) money quote: “‘We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society,’ [Weed] will say, according to prepared remarks.”
Put another way: Clean up the fake news, the addictive manipulation, and the AI-driven kid bait, or we’ll pull hundreds of millions of dollars from YouTube, Facebook, and Google. The result could be a major bonanza for huge publishers like Oath and Amazon, and perhaps for media outlets with less scale such as Vox, Axios, and Buzzfeed. Sounds like a big loss for the platforms, no?
Well, maybe. I was on the board of the IAB for many years, I helped lead its fraud efforts, and I’ve worked closely with huge advertisers like Unilever. And upon seeing this news, my only question is this: Will it even matter?
Clearly, we’re tired of politics. Bring on the escapism, please!
Was it me, or did the Super Bowl feel … less frantic than usual this year? It was as if the collective will of capitalism — because let’s face it, that’s pretty much what the Super Bowl has become — had decided to ignore the anxiety of our political climate, and instead focus on the essence of entertainment: Humor, shared values, and advertising for advertising’s sake. The point is to sell stuff, after all. And given we’ve all been addicted to a potent and poisonous political drug for the past year, it seems we’re all in the mood for some serious group rehab. The ads didn’t disappoint. (The game was damn good too, and that certainly helped immensely.)
Another major theme was corporations touting their essential goodness — Bud sending water to disaster zones, Hyundai saving kids from cancer — but these well intentioned approaches failed to truly land their punches (more on that in a second). I watched the entire five or so hours — it was strange to release my thumb from hovering over the fast forward function on my DVR remote. And while plenty of the ads elicited eye rolls, very few were out and out duds. Here are some of my picks.
By devaluing journalism, Facebook risks abandoning the public square. By becoming a true platform, it could *build* that square.
There was a time, about a decade ago, when for a brief moment I thought Facebook would become the platform underpinning the open internet. Such a platform was desperately needed — the open web was a wonderful but messy place that lacked structure and discipline. Facebook’s young CEO claimed he wanted to make the world more “open and connected,” and for a minute it seemed his company might provide the infrastructure to power a people-driven next generation of the web. I even asked him about the idea — a few times, in fact — during interviewson stage at the Web 2 Summit, an event I used to convene back in the early days of the web boom. At the time, he’d point to Facebook’s “Platform” as an initial response to my queries.
A bit of history. Ten years ago, Facebook announced “Platform,” an audacious attempt to corral the World Wide Web’s open, messy nature and funnel developer (and startup) energies into the Facebook universe. The move shook the startup world — most of which were focused on creating independent web sites. But after Facebook’s announcement, every company got busy developing a “Facebook Platform strategy.” Countless hours (and dollars) were expended by firms large and small, all attempting to create their own version of themselves in Facebook’s white and blue walled garden.
Ben Silbermann and company have built tech’s most misunderstood platform. 2018 could be the year it breaks out with a model markedly distinct from its Valley cousins.
Like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, Pinterest is a digital platform with hundreds of millions of users and an advertising-based business model. It’s also a “decacorn” — one of very few Valley companies with a massive ($12 billion+) valuation and an enviable list of highly regarded investors.
But once you dig into the company, these similarities quickly end.
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The internet giant’s stocks are based on a reality that no longer exists, argues author Rick Webb
In our latest Medium Premium story, Rick Webb examines the future revenue of digital advertising, and how the current valuations of our largest digital media companies don’t add up. Webb writes that the only thing that Google — and Facebook — have going for them in the battle for advertising dollars is their massive P/E (stock price-to-earnings ratio) ratios, which helps them acquire suddenly popular, smaller content developers. However, the high valuation of the stock prices are based in realities that are no longer applicable. Brand dollars aren’t moving to digital, and the content that attracts those dollars doesn’t obey the same economic principles as software.
Other content creators like Disney and Time Warner have stocks valued much lower than tech companies with similar business models — for a reason. Those traditional media companies are valued against the very real cost and scaling realities of high quality content creation. Will this reality catch up to Facebook and Google, who count on digital media dollars for the vast majority of their valuations? Read the entire article here: