online advertising

Banning digital political ads gives extremists a distinct advantage

Jessica Alter Contributor Share on Twitter Jessica Alter is co-founder and chairman of Tech for Campaigns, an organization building the lasting tech and digital arm for Democrats and has helped over 200 campaigns on this front since 2017. Jack Dorsey’s announcement that Twitter will no longer run political ads because “political messages reach should be earned, not bought” has been welcomed as a thoughtful and statesmanlike contrast to Mark Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s greedy acceptance of “political ads that lie.” While the 240-character policy sounds compelling, it’s both flawed in principle and, I fear, counterproductive in practice.  First: like it or hate it, the U.S. political system is drowning in money. In 2018, a non-presidential year, it is estimated that over $9B was spent on the...

Google brings in BERT to improve its search results

Google today announced one of the biggest updates to its search algorithm in recent years. By using new neural networking techniques to better understand the intentions behind queries, Google says it can now offer more relevant results for about one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English (with support for other languages and locales coming later). For featured snippets, the update is already live globally. In the world of search updates, where algorithm changes are often far more subtle, an update that affects 10% of searches is a pretty big deal (and will surely keep the world’s SEO experts up at night). Google notes that this update will work best for longer, more conversational queries — and in many ways, that’s how Google would really like you to search these days, bec...

Popular app Snaptube caught serving invisible ads and charging users for premium purchases they haven’t made

A popular video downloader app for Android has been found generating fake ad clicks and unauthorized premium purchases from its users, according to a security firm. Snaptube, which boasts some 40 million users, allows users to download videos and music from YouTube, Facebook, and other major video sites. The app, developed in China, is not on Google Play because the app maker claims Google will not allow video downloader apps on the store. Some third-party app stores estimate Snaptube has been downloaded over a billion times to date. The app’s developer says that the app is “safe” to use. But researchers at London-based security firm Upstream, which shared its findings exclusively with TechCrunch, said the free app ends up costing consumers. Upstream’s chief executi...

Opera’s desktop browser gets built-in tracking protection

Browser maker Opera today announced the launch of version 68 of its flagship desktop browser. The marquee feature of the launch is the addition of a tracker blocker that will make it harder for advertisers and others to track you while you browse the web — and which has the additional benefit of speeding up your browsing session. Indeed, Opera argues that turning on both the tracking protection and the built-in ad blocker can speed up page loads by up to 23 percent. The new tracking protection feature is off by default (as is the existing ad blocker). The tracking feature uses the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List, which has been around for quite a few years now. “We consider the tracker blocker to be a browser feature which can be kept on at all times, “writes Opera PC prod...

UK Facebook users now have a tool to report scam ads

Facebook has launched a tool for UK users to report ads they suspect of being scams. The feature can be accessed by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of each ad on Facebook, then selecting ‘Report ad’, then ‘Misleading or scam ad’ and finally: ‘Send a detailed scam report’. So if you want to think of it as a reporting ‘button’ it’s a button that actually requires four presses to function as intended… Once a scam ad report has been filed, the feature will alert a dedicated internal ops team at Facebook that is tasked with handling reports — so will be reviewing reports and removing violating ads. The new consumer safety feature follows a defamation lawsuit filed in April last year by consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis, who had become exaspe...

Why commerce companies are the advertising players to watch in a privacy-centric world

Justin Choi Contributor Share on Twitter Justin Choi is the founder and CEO of Nativo, which empowers brands and publishers through its advanced platform for content. More posts by this contributor Snapchat will make Los Angeles a stronger tech hub Adtech isn’t dead, it just has a lot of dead weight The unchecked digital land grab for consumers’ personal data that has been going on for more than a decade is coming to an end, and the dominoes have begun to fall when it comes to the regulation of consumer privacy and data security. We’re witnessing the beginning of a sweeping upheaval in how companies are allowed to obtain, process, manage, use and sell consumer data, and the implications for the digital ad competitive landscape are massive. On the backdrop of evolving privacy expectat...