Mobile Diary: successful online ads and other imaginary creatures

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read, I recommend The Ad Contrarian, a blog about all things advertising from ad industry veteran Bob Hoffman. This is a great place to read contrarian opinions about online and mobile advertising, and the tendency of advertisers and other marketing types to focus on “youth” markets instead of other demographics (who may have more money to spend).

Here’s a recent post about the lack of real data about any aspect of online advertising. I thought about this after checking out a new feature in Facebook that claims to allow you to opt out of some targeted ads on that service. FB links you to a service (still in beta) that lets you see which companies use behavioral techniques to target ads to you, and opt out of those services.

The fun part for me, especially in the context of the above article (and the related Slate piece it quotes) was visiting the web sites of a bunch of behavioral advertising companies, and seeing how they spin their services and technologies. There seem to be an awful lot of smart (or at least well-educated) people out there applying all sorts of sophisticated computer models to delivering the right ad to you at the right time, all in hopes of increasing click-through rates from negligible to almost-negligible (as I remember, one company trumpeted its success in increasing CTR to 0.42%).

I suppose that as an advertiser, you have to spend your budget on something, but it’s amazing to see how little benefit seems to come from all that analysis.

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Yes to the stylus!

Farhad Manjoo thinks that it makes sense to use a stylus with smart touchscreen devices, and I agree. I keep one with my Kindle Fire, and find that the stylus makes the experience of using that device much better and more efficient. Despite the advantages that Manjoo outlines (and the added benefit of keeping finger smudges off the screen), the stylus has been out of fashion since the days of the Palm Pilot. This is in part because, as Manjoo notes, Steve Jobs hated the stylus. As a result, he made sure that his iProducts worked very well without one.

There’s another big advantage of the stylus; when it’s cold outside, do you really want to take off your gloves to use your phone? I expect that this may not have occurred to Steve Jobs. After all, when he looked around his office he saw something like this:

Do you think it’s possible that Jobs would have thought differently if he had to use his iPhone here?