Understanding targeted ads through a prank

Well, if I ever found the most layman way to understand how something works - it’s through a prank. 

Brian Swichkow pranked his roommate in one of the more elaborate and soul sucking way possible - through Facebook targeted ads. His post is a good read to understand HOW Facebook targeting ads works too. 

It’s been proven time and time again that Facebook knows more about you than you know about you. While advertisers are able to use that data in their targeting, it’s often poorly executed (which is why I, a Jew-ish guy, often see ads for Christian dating sites), but as a Facebook user you’re never able to see WHY you’re being targeted. This was exactly what I planned to use to exact my revenge. I was going to target him with highly personalized messages that were focused on things Facebook truly shouldn’t know about his personal life – things that weren’t even online, let alone on Facebook. The goal, to make him unbelievably paranoid.

See: The Ultimate Retaliation: Pranking my roommate with targeted Facebook ads.

Minecraft for Every Generation

K and I have talked a lot about how we will be raising our future children (which is some time in the far far future). Mostly about how I would like to work and he would like to be a stay at home father. However, he has this preconceived notion that he will be teaching our child video games at a very early age. Hmm.

One game I see a lot of kids playing and really don’t mind is Minecraft. K is a huge fan of it, and I really did try to get into it but couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the pixelated design. 

But I see the merits of it. The imagination that we used to have with Legos and other toys where we had to build something out of nothing. The possibilities. The way you get to build with other people. Despite that fact that I don’t like the design for myself, I actually LIKE the fact that my kid might be enjoying a design that we used to have to face every day. It’s kind of a weird cross generational satisfaction.

Anyway, on the news that Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion dollars, I am glad to see Minecraft be able to expand, have support and be the next cool-learning-but-gaming tool for kids and it is naturally becoming to be. 

See: Why Parents are raising their kids on Minecraft

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30…What I learned about bombing as a writer at Saturday Night is that you can’t be too worried about your “permanent record.” Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets. But you’re also going to write some real shit nuggets. And unfortunately, sometimes the shit nuggets will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.

– Tina Fey “Bossypants” - her book is like the ultimate guide for modern millennial women. 

Buzzfeed presents - How much sugar do people eat around the world?

I’m not really surprised with America (I mean, who is?) But it is interesting to see that most of the other countries are developing nations, with a growing appetite for soft drinks and candies. 

Except for maybe India…whose desserts are THE SWEETEST that I have ever had in my life.

Buzzfeed: Not just celebrity quizzes and gifs of cats anymore

Buzzfeed - the media source for humour, creator of lists, and aggregator of pop culture news is getting a serious side.

Benny Johnson, an ex-editor at Buzzfeed, was found plagiarizing from Wikipedia. Bringing an interesting question of, “does it matter? It’s Buzzfeed. They make lists!!! It’s not NYTimes.”

But as I see more of my peers, and other much younger youngins, link to Buzzfeed articles for their breaking news, I have to finally come to the realisation that yes - in the end, no matter what triviality they post and usage of pop culture terminology, they are still held accountable for what they write. 

And I have to admit, since Ben Smith (ex-Politico reporter)’s appointment as Editor-in-Chief of Buzzfeed, I’m excited to see how they will present their news. Will it be written in a more layman way? Will there be more pictures? Will I understand what ISIS stands for in gifs? 

Peter Lauria on why Buzzfeed should matter as a news outlet: 

if you are looking at emerging markets for your company to expand to, you should also be looking at emerging media outlets to help spread that word to new audiences. Millennials are a huge market, with lots of current and future buying power, that invest and consume much differently than previous generations. We understand them better than most.

I also play up our ability to get news in front of more people faster than anyone else. The network effects of social media and mobile consumption allow us to reach readers more efficiently with breaking news than any news outlet I’ve ever been a part of. We can literally reach millions of people within seconds of putting something up.

And if none of that works, I just use the old Jon Steinberg [BuzzFeed’s former COO] trick, which is to ask an executive if they have teenage kids and, if so, to text them and ask if they’ve heard of BuzzFeed and if they should work with us. That has an almost 100 percent success rate — there’s nothing parents want more than to seem cool to their kids.

See: Buzzfeed wants to beef up its business news

The Business Where Women Earn More than Men

I never thought of it this way - but porn (and modeling) IS one of the only industries where women make more than men. 

A bit sad, if you think about who the target audience of both industries target.

Kayden Kross, very eloquently, talks about being in porn.

Porn is a business of surprising contradictions. Many of the roles women play are submissive and subservient: We are the bored housewife, the penniless pizza customer (who must pay her bill in other ways) and the vulnerable secretary. But unlike in the real world, women in porn usually make more money than men for the same work, and with that can come a liberating power, both financially and sexually.

I’m going to do the pretentious hipster thing and say that I was a huge fan of Sia from when I was in college. I only know of her album Colour Me the Small One, and was quite surprised when I started seeing her on the Top 40 circuit in the past few years, with hits for Rihanna and David Guetta. Well deserved certainly. 

Her song "Chandelier" debuted this past summer and along came the promotion. Or rather, anti-promotion. 

In rare performances on Ellen and Late Night with Seth Meyers, she is there singing live, but never showing her face. Her whole album concept is simply her with a blonde wig. 

Yeah, maybe it’s so she can keep her face away from the public…but I have to say that in the era of Justin Bieber and Ariane Grande’s usual promotion of being everywhere and taking selfies every hour, Sia’s anti-promotion really fits her mysterious-unique sound/voice. 

I can’t see this same tactic working for every artist though. Certainly not Taylor Swift.

See also: Sia’s performance on Ellen, Sia and Lena Dunham on Late Night with Seth Meyers

As K and I think about where to get our engagement photos taken, I wish places like this would exist: a town called Chefchaouen in northern Morocco is painted blue. 

But alas, we’re in Boston, so we’ll stick with the usual nature and water. 

See: Chefchaouen, Morocco

Cell phones have made people flaky as shit.

I haven’t nodded my way through a video in such a long time. Something about talking about your pet peeves really riles me up. 

Cell phones have effectively made people less confrontational, less committed, lazier. 

1. It’s easier to hide behind screens and hum and haw, rather than give an honest answer. Words are easier to type than actually going to a bar (plus, adding an emoji makes being flaky ok right?)

2. It’s making people less committed. I’ve adopted the “tough love” method with my friends - you’re either in or you’re out. I will delete you from the group e-mails if you “don’t know until that day”. I will not reserve a seat for you because you never RSVP’d.

3. The “optimizer” persona is the worst. I went through a phase where I was a so-called “optimizer”, but I realised that committing and getting excited about something is far better than having a few flaky alternatives. 

Best part about this video though? The abrupt and definitive ending had me laugh.