• The Comcast Call: Part II
    The following is a transcription of a telephone call September 26, 2014 between William J. Baer, assistant attorney general, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice and Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast. The subject is the proposed $46 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
  • When You Get In This Taxi, Yugo Wherever The Driver Goes
    There are taxicab confessions and there are taxicab confessions. What if you were a passenger in a cab, and the driver was one of those talkative ones? Not the kind of talkative where he complains about the mayor, or about his sister-in-law or about the cost of gasoline. The kind who matter-of-factly tell you about his greedy landlady, and how he killed her. You know, to death.
  • It Was A Quiet Week In The Evil Empire
    We should be afraid of a company that serves 15% of mankind and treats them like lab rats...or worse. "The Wall Street Journal" reported that concurrent with the emotions experiment two years ago, Facebook -- in designing anti-fraud measures -- informed thousands of users that they would be blocked from the site unless they could prove their users were humans, not bots -- this despite knowing all along that the users were human indeed.
  • Supreme Disappointment
    Pity wretched Chet Kanojia and his martyred Aereo, a hapless victim of an out-of-touch Supreme Court that seems to think property rights and "honesty" are more important than digital progress. Here the justices were, face to face with a heroic innovator, a modern-day Robin Hood, and what do they do? Beat him down, that's what. He believes that because the broadcast signal travels over public airwaves, we have the right as individual citizens to harvest them, exactly as we have the right as taxpayers to stop trucks traveling over public highways and hijack their contents. Up until this week, federal ...
  • Told You So. Told You So. Nyah Nyah Nyah.
    YouTube isn't just bad entertainment and good entertainment and kittens and collapsing skateboard ramps and cell phone footage of police brutality. And it certainly isn't just an advertising medium. It is also the world's largest repository of video utility: tutorials, reviews, hacks, testing and so on. Which is why it is stupid for consumer marketers to treat YouTube as online TV. I've been trying to explain this for a long time, but now I can prove it.
  • No Cannes Do: How Not To Advertise Your Creativity
    It's a song I've been singing for decades: the cult of originality trumping the advertiser's need to sell things to actual consumers who are not awards jurors. I've gone so far as to assert that -- if it helps the client's business -- there's nothing all that heinous about stealing an idea or two, so long as there is no overlap of category or geography. Thanks to social media, I have sadly witnessed the other hand: a case of outright plagiarism passed along its Twitter feed by Ogilvy & Mather.
  • 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."
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