Remembering Loni Ding: Indie Filmmaker, Community and Media Advocate, Professor, Co-founder of ITVS

Loni Ding was a remarkable person.  A highly dedicated award winning independent filmmaker, Loni made a wonderful series of films over the decades.  Her work on the Asian American experience leaves a rich legacy of creative and moving documentaries, including on the immigration of Chinese to America [“Ancestors in the Americas”] and the Japanese Americans who served in World War II [“Nisei Soldier” and “The Color of Honor”].  She also produced the pioneering public TV children’s series Bean Sprouts.  Loni played an important role in the early history of public television, including her work for “Open Studio” at San Francisco station KQED.  Loni saw the unfulfilled promise of public television to serve the public interest and the arts, and she did everything in her power to make PBS a more responsible programming service.

Loni just passed away after a long illness I was told.  One of her most important accomplishments was the work to establish the Independent Television Service (ITVS) during the 1980’s. She was one of our most important congressional witnesses, and lobbied tirelessly.  Loni always had time to help organize and convince people that public TV needed a structural change in its funding system.  The result was a unique funding organization for independent producers that has supported many important films over the years.  I know Loni was also a wonderful wife and parent of two children she loved dearly.  She was also a friend.

Loni Ding’s creative work–especially her films–and her political efforts–the ITVS and more–will help serve as a living memorial to a remarkable life.

When Privacy Groups Raise Money from Facebook, Google, and the companies they are supposed to hold accountable

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg is the industry draw for CDT’s 2010 fundraising event.  “Gold” sponsors of the “host committee” include Facebook, Google, Microsoft and AT&T.  “Silver” sponsors (and there’s a long list) include Adobe, NCTA, eBay, Verizon, Intel, AOL, Time Warner Cable, News Corp., Visa, Yahoo, Comcast and a bevy of law firms that work on privacy and related issues.  They include Manatt Phelps, Wilmer Cutler, Wilson Sonsoni, and Arnold and Porter.

It’s troubling–to say the least–when any consumer/public interest group takes funding from the industry/industries it is supposed to hold accountable.  Conflict of interest questions and concerns need to be posed whenever the group takes a position and has funding from parties connected to the issue (think about Facebook and Google’s recent privacy problems, let alone legislation and policies now before Congress and the FTC).  It’s great to have extra money.  But we suggest groups “just say no” to such special interest relationships.

Interactive Ad Bureau boasts it “Lobbied extensively and proactively against” FTC Consumer Protection Proposals

In its annual report for 2009, the Interactive Advertising Bureau [IAB] cites as a accomplishment that it “Lobbied extensively and proactively against several proposals— including the FTC Reauthorization Act—that would grant broad newn rulemaking powers to the Federal Trade Commission.“  It also notes that the “IAB PAC had an active year supporting many key Congressional champions of the interactive advertising industry and was able to host the first ever IAB fundraiser.  The PAC begins 2010 with a healthy balance of over $55,000 cash on hand.

Those who gain access to our consumer data: “will be the new kingmakers”

As we have explained all along, the ability to collect and analyze data about us and our social networks is the “DNA” of contemporary advertising and marketing.  There is a very thoughtful piece in Metrics Insider, and I hope you will look at this excerpt:

“The future of advertising is not about social, not about viral videos, not about mobile, not about any new medium or any new ad unit — but about data. Those who know what to do with this will be the new kingmakers, the new rulers of Madison Avenue — or the creators of a new Avenue of media…The critical component that makes this new world work is data — not simply general research data, but data about you. This goes far beyond just behavioral targeting, to your preferences, your interests, your actions — all of the signals you send as you move through the grand stage of life. The revelation is that this new world is no longer the far-off land on the horizon — we’ve hit the beach.”

 from:  Death Of The Impression/Rise Of The Data Economy.  Michael D. Andrews.  Mediapost.  February 18, 2010.

Microsoft Taps Academics to Help its Lobbying in DC

Microsoft “launched an online forum January 6 for the academic community to participate in a dialogue about policy issues relating to the technology industry,” according to PR Week.  The so-called “Technology Academic Policy” [TAP] group “is aimed at journalists, Capitol Hill staffers, think tanks, and other decision makers,” explained Kathryn Neal, academic relations director for Microsoft. Academic institutions that are participating include UC Berkeley, Harvard University, Northwestern University, and Stanford Law School.  Microsoft, which hired Adfero Group in summer 2009 to support the program, also created a presence for TAP on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Digg, and Facebook. Academic participants can engage in each medium, including posting videos to YouTube, noted Neal.” Adfero Group says that it helps clients “persuade the powerful.”

Microsoft is playing a game of academic catch-up to Google, which funds scholars and research to help advance it’s own interests.  But there should be real independence between the academy and powerful special interests.  One will have to examine closely Microsoft’s relationship with the following academic institutions aligned with the new TAP program:

“TAP Centers – The following institutions currently contribute to TAP:

  • The Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC Berkeley
  • The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
  • The George Washington University Law School
  • The John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School
  • The Program in the Law & Economics of Intellectual Property and Antitrust at Stanford Law School
  • The Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth at Northwestern University
  • Silicon Flatirons — A Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado
  • The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)
  • The Toulouse Network for Information Technology, hosted by the Institut d’Economie Industrielle at Toulouse University
  • The Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition at The University of Pennsylvania Law School (CTIC)”

Buzz and all that Social Media Data `Jazz’

As we explained to reporters, the larger issue to be addressed when discussing Google’s Buzz is the  role of social media marketing and our privacy.  There’s a race to “monetize” our relationships and connections–the so-called social graph.  It wasn’t a coincidence that at the same time Google launched books it acquired social media marketing company Aardvark.    Here is an insightful excerpt from this week’s Search Insider:

” …by building its own social tools into the growing user base for Gmail, Apps and iGoogle, Google’s algorithms will be able to see what sorts of conversations, questions or responses you offer not only through email correspondence or in a collaborative exchange on Wave, but also via Aardvark and, by extension, Facebook and Twitter.  Which represents an opportunity to serve highly targeted, extremely relevant ads in ways that go well beyond the keyword search.”

MicroHoo & Digital Data Consolidation: Despite DoJ okay, FTC Needs to Act and Protect Consumer Privacy

Today’s announcement that Microsoft and Yahoo have received clearance from the DoJ and EU to proceed with its partnership continues the global trend towards online marketing consolidation.  Given Google’s dominance in search, the Microsoft `helps save Yahoo deal’ creates what some hope will be more robust competition in the search market.  But the real issue with the deal is data privacy.  That’s why the Federal Trade Commission needs to dig into this new partnership and ensure consumer privacy is protected.

AOL: “we live and breathe data,” inc. Behavioral Targeting & Retargeting

Here’s what AOL says it can do for marketers who want to target users [excerpt]:
You wouldn’t order pizza from a bank. So why would you try to sell a luxury travel package to a high school student?…

Behavioral targeting
Target consumers based on what they read – and where they click.

Audience behaviors: Hit your audience sweet spot. AOL Advertising observes consumer behavior (anonymously) across thousands of websites, then organizes people into groups based on their interests. Choose from over 350 pre-packaged audiences…With our LeadBack suite, you can retarget consumers who have… – Visited your website (Advertiser LeadBack)
– Seen or clicked on your ad creative (Creative LeadBack)
– Visited a webpage that you’re sponsoring (Sponsorship LeadBack)
– NOT visited your website – a great way to reach more unique visitors (Reverse LeadBack)…Demographic/Household: Target individuals, households or sites based on user registration data.
– Survey-Based: Target users based on their responses to consumer survey questions (e.g., MRI).
– Purchase-Based: Target users based on products they’ve purchased…Look-Alike Modeling: Target users who exhibit similar characteristics to your customers (or other valuable audiences).


and AOL Advertising also says that “we live and breathe data…AOL’s new content management system, Seed, uses advanced algorithms to measure consumer demand and determine the next hot topics.”

Facebook to Users: Don’t Expect Payment when You Give us Your Data. After all, users get “egotistical value”

At a discussion on social media in London last week on “Understanding Social Graph Optimisation,” [meaning how to better target and monetize users], one of the topics was whether users should be financially compensated when their data is harvested for commercial exploit (such as for marketing).  What did Facebook’s executive on the panel say?  According to one post covering the event, ”
Trevor Johnson, Head of Strategy and Planning, EMEA at Facebook made it clear that Facebook users get enough value back simply from the user experience gained by being on Facebook.  He described how users gain “egotistical value”.

Microsoft to Advertisers: “Behavioural targeting is transforming the capabilities of online advertising”

In a recent post, Microsoft extolled the virtues of using its behavioral targeting service profiling mobile phone users.  It explained that “campaigns can target individuals based on their online behaviour, including the sites that they visit, the actions they take and the terms they enter into search engines. In the US behavioural targeting on mobiles has already delivered increases in click-through rate of 215% for the fashion and beauty sector, 97% for airlines and 76% for auto advertisers.”