• Hyman Roth, Eat Your Heart Out
    A combined Comcast and Time Warner, hitherto mere CRM bad boys who overcharged for inferior service, would now control one-third of the Internet in this country -- one-third of the information, one-third of the economy, and one-third of the culture -- and have their financial way with us all the while. Our nation's most strategic infrastructure asset in these rapacious hands? Why not just turn our domestic airspace over to Jeff Bezos for his drones? Or store the gold at Fort Trump? As history tragically records, there is a misleading banality to the most dangerous actors.
  • The Crusades Lasted 200 Years. I'm Just Getting Started
    What you are reading is sponsored content, because this is an advertising-supported publication. If you were to put a little yellow label above this piece that says "Sponsored Content" you would be conveying exactly zero information. But what if this were not a column but an advertorial -- so-called native advertising? Putting that label above it would convey... zero information because, once again, all the material contained herein is sponsored. Only the illusion of disclosure would have taken place. Which is why publishers have alighted on "Sponsored Content" and the equally unilluminating "From around the web" as the terminology for ...
  • When Is An Ad An Ad? Only Time Will Tell
    Even as the industry expresses shock at advertiser-supported publications selling advertising space to advertisers, magazines and newspapers are tripping over one another to actually, openly, shamelessly put editorial for sale. They call it "native advertising." The mechanism is that the publications' credibility -- and the readers' trust -- transfers to the masquerading advertiser. It is scandalous and ruinous, yet regarded with a shrug throughout the media and ad industries, because -- after all -- we need the money.
  • The Times, It Is A-Changin'
    It is remarkable how much certainty there is in the world. For instance, consider the conventional wisdom of Jill Abramson's sudden departure from "The New York Times": Abramson was fired because there is a gender double standard that rewards tyrannical men and punishes "brusque" women. The first three words of the sentence are true. So are the last 14. The one word that may not be true -- and I certainly don't know -- is "because."
  • Out Not With A Big Bang But A Whimper
    It would be pointless to gather the CEOS of Publicis and Omnicom to discuss their broken engagement, or their chief competitor at WPP. Why go through the nuisance of getting them in the same room if they can't be trusted to say what they are really thinking? So I offer an exclusive interview with John Wren and Maurice Levy -- plus one special-guest knight -- conducted without, technically, "speaking to them."
  • Red Carpet, White House And Journalism Blues
    In the annual ritual of news organizations hosting celebrities and government officials for a let-your-hair-down evening of entertainment and self-importance, it was super fun to see which journalists were passing the butter to which Hollywood stars and senior officials who otherwise wouldn't give them the time of day.
  • Truth Or Consequences
    Sometimes, due to boastfulness or inattention or just plain guilelessness, the truth just slips out. Such as when Chad Gallagher, director of mobile at AOL Platforms, informed InformationWeek about the allure of native advertising, freely acknowledging the ethical -- and we hope soon illegal -- tactic of camouflaging advertising to look like editorial. Not sure what brought out this rare burst of candor from a publishing executive. For once, however, someone called a thing by its name.
  • I Could Write A Sonnet About Your Easter Bonnet, But Instead How About These Little Items?
    It is spring, when a man's fancies turn to media and marketing. Tra la. So much to be fascinated about. So let's start by talking about heroin dealers and Facebook. Same thing. They both give you a free taste till you're hooked.
  • PR Wild Pitches - Spring 2014 Edition
    When people talk about the dystopian aspects of the Internet, they get it all wrong. Identity theft? Big deal. Cyberbullying? Pfft. Hate speech, snooping, piracy, porn? Bring it on. What we need to eradicate is the emailed press release.
  • Shades of 'Fatal Attraction'
    In a few days, my new Persol sunglasses will arrive. They are merely obscenely expensive -- as opposed to immorally expensive -- because I shopped for them very hard. It was an expedition across the Internet, touching down in five countries on three continents and focusing on at least five of the brand's 100-plus styles. Let's just say it was an experience that will never leave me. No. Really...never. Because everyplace I go on the World Wide Web, the sunglasses are following me.
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