Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Breaking News: Facebook Ads Work

Facebook is under scrutiny for (among other things) allegedly selling political ads to the Russians, allowing people to set up fake accounts, and not properly monitoring the content posted by “fake” profiles. Wait. What?

The Meta-Country of Facebook

With a population of over 2 billion registered users, the meta-country of Facebook is the largest assemblage of digital citizens on earth. But make no mistake, Facebook is not a democracy; it is a for-profit corporation with a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. To that end, the proletariat is lorded over by an all-powerful algorithm that is continuously tuned to keep Facebook users inside their comfort zones.

The aphorism “The greatest minds of our time are busy figuring out the best way to get us to click on an ad” is objectively true. You will find some of the world’s smartest people working at Facebook.

In practice, there are far too many things happening on Facebook for humans to deal with, so the company has designed sophisticated machine learning and AI systems to keep you engaged, scrolling, and clicking. If you like or click on something, Facebook’s algorithms learn to feed you more of the same. It is Facebook’s singular mission. The more you engage with content on Facebook, the more likely you are to do something that will earn the company money.

The 21st-Century Cold War

The Russian Federation and the United States have been engaged in a Cold War since the end of World War II. Information warfare (propaganda) is not new, but weaponized social media is (relatively speaking), and the general public is just starting to understand its potential.

There is an apocryphal story that tells of NASA engineers spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that would work in zero gravity. Faced with the same problem, Russian engineers gave their cosmonauts pencils. This tale is not true, but it is oracular. Technically hacking Facebook would be exceptionally hard to accomplish, but social engineering a targeted propaganda campaign using Facebook and other social media platforms is as simple as using a pencil. This kind of social engineering has another name: Advertising.

Either Advertising Works or It Doesn’t

Department store and advertising pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” This was absolutely true when he said it back in the late 1870s. It is not true today.

Today, MarTech (Marketing Technology) has all but replaced traditional advertising as the best way to get your message to a targeted audience. In most cases, campaign results can be accurately measured. And you guessed it: Google and Facebook are the two premier providers of paid targeted messaging.

Socially Engineered Social Media Weapons

Everything you need to influence an election is available online. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Understand the demographic makeup of your target audience.
  2. Design targeted content and post it on blogs and websites.
  3. Design targeted messaging (IAB standard digital ad units, Google keyphrase-based copy, etc.) Test, fail and learn until you get your messaging right.
  4. Create a significant number of social media accounts to use to propagate your propaganda.
  5. Program some bots to post your propaganda from the hundreds or thousands of “fake” social media accounts you set up or purchased (yes, there are companies that make a living doing this).
  6. Design and purchase a geo-targeted messaging campaign.
  7. Evaluate the results of your efforts with the analytics provided by the digital platforms you have purchased your media from.
  8. Test, fail and learn. Revise your messaging and adjust your digital media budget accordingly.
  9. Go back to step 2 and repeat until the desired results have been achieved.

This is about as straight forward as a digital media buy gets. If you do a good job, the only way anyone will know if you or your content are real or fake is if they spend significant resources analyzing what’s going on. You can easily tell if you agree or disagree with the content, but once real people start sharing, commenting on, and reposting content, it is exceptionally hard to tell where it came from or whether it is real or fake.

Critically, this type of campaign is paid for. No one can get this type of content to reach its target audience organically (free) in 2017. Facebook and Google charge for their services. For this to work, you need a significant budget.

Google? Yes, Google’s in this too. Properly search engine optimized (SEO) content, real or fake, can be easily searched for and found. Give it a try. Do an advanced search on a controversial keyphrase about your candidate and limit your dates to pre-election. (After you enter your search term click Settings > Advanced Search and set your search parameters.) Most of the objectionable stuff has already been removed, but you’ll still get an up close, personal view of the issue.

Facebook Has Offered to Help

I’m not suggesting that Facebook can’t create tools to help surface problematic content or bad actors, but it would be naive for anyone to think that Facebook will be 100 percent successful ferreting out objectionable content.

Facebook and Google make a living by selling messaging opportunities through relatively unregulated, machine monitored private auctions. Legitimate advertisers (however you define them) set targeting parameters using software and, unless the budget is huge or the account is flagged, a machine accepts the media purchase and charges a credit card.

Assuming you could get agreement on what exactly objectionable content looks like (which is harder than you think), most paid advertising will just flow unnoticed through the automated processes.

From a cynical point of view, the companies involved will do what they can to avoid government regulation, but it is not in their best interest to do more. The court of public opinion doesn’t matter here. There are no alternatives to Google and Facebook.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

Next Steps

Determining what is real and what is fake is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. My assumption is that Congress will now do the thinkable and try to regulate political advertising on digital platforms as stringently as they have regulated traditional media. I will also assume that political strategists and campaign managers will become better versed in weaponized social media and start using it even more.

What really needs to happen is that we (you and I) need to become critical readers and critical viewers of content. We need to get out of our comfort zones, start listening to opposing points of view, and, most importantly, start questioning sources. We have the power to expose “fake news.” We have the power to use social media to propagate the messages we want propagated.

So here’s the Breaking News: Social media messaging is the new Cold War weapon of choice because advertising works.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

Other Articles You May Enjoy

iPhone X: Imitation Is Not Innovation

Chipping People: Are You Ready?

ICOs: What You Need to Know

CMOs Shouldn’t Buy Tech, Ever!

How Do You See the Future?

The Five Jobs Robots Will Take First

The Five Jobs Robots Will Take Last

Just How Dangerous Is Alexa?

Machine Learning & AI: When to Start?

Artificial Intelligence: 5 Things Every CEO Should Know

The post Breaking News: Facebook Ads Work originally appeared here on Shelly Palmer

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, will describe how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launchi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, will provide a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. Together we will solve a machine learning problem and find an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intellige...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.