Bancroft Family: Take the $ and Journalism Be Damned

While we know there are so reasons why the majority of the Bancroft family would agree to a takeover by Murdoch (the share price premium, it’s the market at work, etc.), the truth is that they have now stained the family name and legacy. Whenever the name Bancroft is mentioned, it will evoke already well-to-do individuals who have abandoned the public trust for narrow private gain.

Our thoughts are with the dedicated and serious journalism minded employees of Dow Jones. There’s life after Rupert–but it won’t be at the Wall Street Journal.

The 700 MHz Auction: It’s about Online Advertising, Mobile Targeting, Commercialism and Threats to Privacy

We are glad Google is pushing a more open system for wireless. Cable and the phone monopoly want to run a closed shop. But we also believe that Google ultimately has the same business model in mind for wireless. Google wants access to more mobile spectrum so it can advance online advertising via data collection, profiling and one-to-one targeting. Missing in most of the debate about wireless is how can we ensure the U.S. public has access to non-commercial and community-oriented (and privacy-respectful) applications and services. There should be well-developed plans simultaneously advanced with the auction that will ensure the spectrum really serves the public interest (we see some have made such proposals). Such spectrum should be community-run and help stimulate a new generation of broadband public interest content and network services. But we fear that all that will happen is that Google and others will further transform what should be public property into a crazy maze of interactive [pdf] advertising-based content. This will further fuel a culture where personal consumption takes further precedence over the needs of civil society.

Bancroft Family: Don’t Let Your Legacy–and Your Heirs– Be the Undermining of U.S. Journalism

We know money is important–and Mr. Murdoch has put a lot of it on the table. We also know that such funds will make the lives of the family and their future generations even more comfortable. But we call on the family to consider its historic role here. It has helped shepherd a publication with a important journalistic culture–one where many of their employees have embraced a mission essential to our democracy. We need serious-minded journalists more than ever–and Dow Jones has many. The Wall Street Journal can play a leading role over the next decade helping the U.S. address so many crucial issues related to the fate of the Republic, such as the environment, health care, public & private accountability. Mr. Murdoch has shown that independent and serious-minded journalism isn’t what he’s about. All you have to do is turn on Fox News. Is that the legacy you wish to leave?

I hope you confound the cynics who believe that everyone is for sale in our society, and make a statement that concern about democracy is more important.

excerpt from a Q and A on online ad exchanges:

“8. How can advertisers target their ads?
The DoubleClick Advertising Exchange service has one of the most
sophisticated and broad set of targeting options available. The exchange
supports standard online targeting elements including time of day, day of
week, user location, et cetera. In addition, buyers can target using
DoubleClick’s proprietary solutions including a three-tier content
categorization, site genre and site maturity. Buyers can target
participating sites by name or, alternately by using IDs, target sites
that are participating anonymously. The exchange also allows buyers to
leverage their own data by targeting based on their own user information.

9. What differentiates your ad exchange from other ad exchanges?

* Seamless integration: DoubleClick Advertising Exchange is tightly
integrated with DoubleClick’s existing DART ad management platform,
enabling yield maximization across sales channels for sellers, as well
as shared creatives, advertisers, Spotlight Tags and audience
targeting for buyers…

12. Can your ad exchange service be integrated with other ad management
DoubleClick Advertising Exchange is tightly integrated with DoubleClick’s
existing solutions. Integration with DoubleClick’s ad management platforms
— including DART® for Publishers and DART® Enterprise — enables it to
deliver unique benefits such as dynamic allocation, which helps publishers
automatically determine how to generate the highest return for every
impression. In addition, DoubleClick Advertising Exchange is integrated
with DART® for Advertisers, allowing for shared campaign management
elements including creative, advertisers, user-lists and spotlight
tracking tags.”

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excerpt: “Google continues to garner a much larger percentage of media
spend than its percentage of searches, and thanks to a recent algorithm tweak,
now extracts greater revenue per search than any engine. (Specifically, to
reduce spam in its listings, Google made a significant change in June
regarding landing page relevancy.)

“Google’s second quarter algorithm change continued to propel its
leadership in monetizing search for large brand marketers, surpassing
Microsoft, who has historically been able to monetize search very well,
albeit with fewer eyeballs,” explained Roger Barnette, president of

In June, Google received 76% of media spend but only 60% of searches
across its network. During the same time period, Yahoo earned just 18.3%
of media spend while receiving 34% of searches across its network.”

from: “Search Spending Flat, With Google Disproportionate.” Gavin O’Malley, Jul 18, 2007. Mediapost.

What Google should have said about “Why we’re buying Doubleclick”

Why can’t Google admit to its real reasons for acquiring Doubleclick? It’s not truly candid recent post (by Group Product Manager Alex Kimmier) dodges the key issues. If Google can’t be more honest—and at least admit to real public policy concerns—it’s a strategic blunder (let alone an example of a corporate culture where candor isn’t truly valued). So first, this “official” Google blog should have admitted that there are real privacy concerns with the merger. When you merge the number one online ad search firm (Google) with a leading provider of cookies for display advertising (Doubleclick), in a medium where revenue generation is all based on the collection and targeted use of personal information, the deal rings five-alarm privacy alarm bells. It’s unbelievable—and frankly disquieting—that Google can’t admit this is an serious issue with its proposed $3.1 b takeover of Doubleclick.

Google is also being disingenuous when it discusses the online ad business. For example, in the post it lumps itself together with Yahoo! and MSN when discussing the 40% market share search ads have in the overall online ad market. But the official blog should admit that it’s far and above the dominant force in the search market, both in the U.S. and abroad (with a 64% market share in US search, leaving Yahoo and MSN trailing at 22% and 9% respectively.) It should acknowledge that the one part of the online ad market they don’t yet dominate is display advertising. Through it’s acquisition of Doubleclick, Google will be able to quickly expand its dominance to the rest of the market. It’s not about, as its blog suggests, creating a more “open” platform that can “improve online advertising for consumers, advertisers and publishers.” It’s about tapping into Doubleclick’s blue-blooded client list of Fortune-type companies so Google can better digest that vital part of the online ad market.

But beyond online ad consolidation, we wish to return to privacy and targeting. No matter how useful Google is helping to identify key sources of information, it’s not in the best interests of a democracy to permit a private gatekeeper of so much (continually updated) personal data. Google’s business is advertising: it will do what it must to collect information about each of us so it can personally target us wherever we are. Online advertising is a very powerful medium, utilizing technologies designed to affect our behaviors [pdf] in a variety of ways (including so-called immersive targeting). Google’s expansion—and its apparent inability to acknowledge key civil society concerns—should be part of the media reform debate.

Google Has Lobbyists in "at least" 10 European capitals

[we are now back from vacation. Expect a larger post soon].

excerpt: “In a preemptive move, Google in 2005 opened an office in Washington, and in March 2006, it hired lobbying firms. It recently also has recruited lobbyists in at least 10 European capitals. A company blog recently was launched devoted exclusively to public policy issues.”

from: If Trust Is Lost, Google Will Crumble. Oxford Analytica 07.04.07.