Masthead Blogs
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
As a news junkie that gets all his news and sports info on his smartphone, I noticed that tabloid style headlines have been creeping into the news cycle and are getting  my attention. What use to be the domain of grocery cart checkouts has now spread like wildfire on the internet to get the attention of the reader. These are being used in native advertising ad networks to generate traffic to ad farms. Ad farms are websites that use these ads as click bait so they can deliver 10+ ad impressions in one page view that they get paid for by ad networks, generating a 30% ROI in some cases.  Some of these ad farms are legitimate and some are not and participate in ad fraud by using automating traffic generating techniques.

This is tabloid journalism today envisioned by the ad tech community to make money and has been packaged as content marketing. A lot of this content is scraped off other websites so they get it for free, or some are just fake content. We will talk about this in a later blog as I could not resist the urge to have some fun with my own version of tabloid journalism in this posting and take a fun poke at American politics and their use of shock publicity tactics that is part of today’s news cycle.
10 Reason Why I admire Donald Trump

1. Donald is senior citizen at age 70 and is still going for it—it being the biggest job in the world. He is an inspiration to all the under-employed baby boomers out there.  But his campaign team should keep a nametag on him in case he forgets his name as Alzheimer’s disease can show up in people Donald’s age at any moment. There are other things that they will need keep handy, like Viagra to keep his libido working to keep up with is young wife and adult diapers for those long meetings for those frequent trips to the loo. I can see the ad now “Trump Self Cleaning Adult Diapers” that last for 4 hours.

2. Donald’s days as a TV celebrity has taught him all the tricks of Hollywood to generate free publicity with tabloid style comments to control the news cycle.
I heard Justin Bieber’s publicist is secretly working on the campaign. At least he did not get arrested at the Mexican border or was caught smoking pot yet. Perhaps, all the fights were staged at is campaign rally to generate Hollywood style publicity, he is a master showman.

3. Donald is not afraid to use the sex card and has a hot younger wife
. Donald’s wife’s nude picture was splashed on the front pages of the New York Post for the world to see during the campaign. My guess Donald secretly sent them to change the news cycle that day to him away from his opponents as we all know sex and scandal sells.  

4. He is a self–made billionaire (so he says), but he did start with a few million of Dad’s money. What is there is not to like about him? He his the epitome of the American dream including all his warts. This guy has done it all, successful businessman, real estate magnate, best selling author, Hollywood celebrity and his name is an over-exposed brand.

5. Critics say Donald does not like immigrants, but he hires a lot of them at his construction sites, casinos and hotels around the world, as they are a cheap source of labour, just like any good capitalist. So you can say he is an old fashion American when it come to new immigrants as he travels by private jet to manage his empire.

6. Donald likes to put his foot in his mouth to generate free publicity and has been accused of being a redneck.
But in Canada we have the same person of the same cloth and he is a national icon and he is another Donald, that’s right our own Don Cherry. Imagine Don Cherry being Trump’s campaign manager. There would be a tidal wave of inflammatory remarks as there are a lot people in America that like the Donald.

7. Donald is a smoke and mirrors salesperson from his early days as a developer (read his book the Art of the Deal and you will learn a few) and is using that same approach today in a political campaign, which is driving some naive people nuts. The world is full of snake oil salesmen with hidden agendas, who better to keep you safe, as you know you can’t out-con a con artist.

8. Critics claim that Donald is a bad businessman and as he has gone bankrupt a few times. I think this is good thing as Donald knows all the backroom shenanigans of the financial sector and knows how to handle adversity. Who better to keep Wall Street in check than somebody that knows all the tricks and done a few himself to get a deal done. I bet he could have prevented the real estate bust in 2008 as he would have kept all the players honest.

9. Donald appears frugal and is running a campaign with spending at least as possible using his own money
. I guess this is a good thing to have, versus a spendthrift politician with a big war chest, who spends foolishly with other’s people money to win. Conspiracy rumours has it that though, there are secret multiple offshore accounts that is funding his PAC activities via Russia and his pal Putin.

10. Donald is fearless, has thick skin, receding hairline, can’t see his feet and is a big bully.
Who is better to fight for America than a scrappy, street-smart man who is not afraid in telling his version of the truth versus sanitized press releases and cover-ups. Who do you want in your corner to challenge the powerful NRA to keeps guns off the streets in America and Canada, as other administrations are a bunch of wimps.

Now these are my 10 reasons, why I like Donald Trump for President, but is the world ready for Donald Trump as President of the USA? Expect more fear mongering and a couple more scandals by Nov 8 when we will find out who wins the most powerful job in the world.
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The 2016 Swimsuit Issue from Sports Illustrated went on sale February 22, 2016. It seems that every year the bikinis get smaller and smaller, and yet so do the sales, at least in Canada.

The 2016 issue sold 29,699 copies at a 29.2% sell-thru, compared to 33,059 copies at a 28.7% sell-thru in 2015. That’s a drop of 3,360 copies or 10% less. The draw was cut by 13,720 copies or 12%. Looks like cutting the draw resulted in cutting the sale.

The cover price is $8.99 in Canada. It was $7.99 back in 2013.
  • The 2014 issue sold 50,800 copies, on a draw of 132,861, for a 38.3% sell-thru.
  • The 2013 issue sold 48,012 copies, on a draw of 147,173 copies, for a 32.6% sell-thru.
  • The 2012 issue sold 57,734 copies, on a draw of 156,543 copies, for a 36.9% sell-thru.


Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The August 2016 issue of Adbusters is one to watch. While the traditional newsweeklies have been selling more copies than usual featuring Donald Trump as their cover boy, Adbusters is having some fun with a Trump cover of their own.

Adbusters can always be counted on for some very interesting, entertaining, and creative covers.

This one uses a classic black & white image of Trump, frowning, and let’s the UPC code make the point/joke. Clever. It’s a powerful cover. And fun.

I expect that this one will resonate quite strongly with their readers and should sell well. Great job!


Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
Publishers and marketers have to deal with all the non-human traffic (bots) on their websites that act a like a real person for the long-term sustainability of the medium.The first evidence of this was the “ Comment Bots” that invaded any website with a comments feature with fake comments or product pitches. It has been estimated that 51.5% of traffic on the Internet are by humans with Good bots at 19.5% and Bad bots at 29% in the 2015 Global Bot Traffic Report, published by Imperva Incapsula, an Internet security company. The reports boast that this is the first time human traffic was higher than bot traffic, which suggests that bot traffic was more than 50% in the past, which is a red flag, especially if your are in the business of selling or buying ad impressions.


A bot is a web robot on the internet that does a specific task that is completed faster than humans can do manually and is done repetitively at computer speed. The Good Bots (White Hats) can be a web spider that comes by and indexes all your content for the search engines or a web scrapper that takes your content and republishes it on their website like shopping comparison sites. It has been estimated by Imperva Incapsula that Google Bots visit a website 187 times a day and account for 60% of all search engine spider traffic.


The Bad Bots (Black Hats) can be one that generates fake traffic and links on websites as part of a click fraud business model or they can be sniffers/spiders looking for security gaps (old code) to loot credit card numbers or email addresses. It appears a lot of this Black Hat activity are scammers in online ad networks and exchanges that have fake websites or legitimate ones that have been hijacked. You can buy millions of bot visitors on the Internet from traffic generating companies disguised as web site testing solutions. Check out this search for “ Traffic Generator Bot,” it was an eye-opener for me.


In the media business all this bot traffic is not good as the expectation is that all web traffic on a site is a real person. You will never get repeat advertising business if the click on your ad was from a computer as it will not generate the expected outcome, which is a sale of your client’s products. How are the web analytics companies dealing with this issue? Google Analytics which most publishers use (because its free), introduced a Bot filter in their analytics software in July, 2014. This filter, which is a checkbox option in the Analytics dashboard, will exclude all hits from IP address on the IAB/ABC International Bots and Spiders List.  This list is available for subscription and includes a White Hat (Good Bots) and Black Hat (Bad Bots) list that can be incorporated into the web analytics software.

comScore, another digital media measurement company, announced in August of the same year that they acquired MdotLabs a software solution that fights against Bad Bots on publishers websites that uses cyber-security methodologies to identify a variety of Black Hat activities including bots, click farms  and traffic generation techniques. This software was incorporated into comScore’s Media Metrix solution. and this solution when used saw a 35% decrease in web traffic. This 35% is almost the same as the 29% Bad Bot traffic estimate stated earlier for validation of the data.

Then, in October 2015, the Media Ratings Council (MRC), an organization for the media measurement industry, released their Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines as part of their mandate to provide standardized industry best practices to root out non-human traffic and to combat ad fraud.  So it seems the controls are in pace in the industry, but as anybody knows in cyber security it is an endless cat and mouse game with no finish line in sight.

Richard Murphy, Sr. VP of Auditing at the BPA suggests the following recommendations for publishers to minimize their exposure to unwanted activity on your website:

1) Know your traffic sources. Most of the invalid traffic comes from sourced or purchased traffic. Organic traffic is generally pretty clean;

2) Know your partners. Use partners you know and trust. There are many links in the online transaction chain and you are only as strong as your weakest link;

3) When possible use certified technology platforms and solutions (MRC, IAB, TAG, CCAB/BPA , AAM). These companies have voluntarily opened up their operations to independent third-party review of industry best practice compliance.

The problem I find with all the web analytics data is I need to sort through all the data that is relevant to achieve the expected marketing outcome of generating sales for my brand and I can sometimes waste my time with irrelevant data. Are Facebook likes and clicks true indicators of campaign performance or should we rely on trusted methods like of managing the response through actual customer contact through a variety of entry points: in-person, on the phone, mail, email, contact forms on the website and social media.

Brian Gillett of Target Audience Management Inc. (TAMI) an audience circulation expert suggests publishers to focus on these metrics - address change requests, email newsletter sign-up, subscriber sign-up and request for more information. All other statistics should be taken as a relative measure as the growing use of privacy software (ad blocking), permission base use of cookies, traffic/click fraud generations techniques and technical flaws are part of the data that goes into the analytics.  Brian also goes on to say that open rates of newsletter is sometimes blocked at the destination due to privacy software or opens are recorded that are not really opens due to technical issues in the tracking software.

Bots are evolving into virtual people now, they no longer do simple repetitive tasks, the tech community is hyping a bot that will have artificial intelligence as part of its make-up. There is a race to create the bot that automates order taking, customer service or conversations through Messaging Bots on smartphones. That’s right the next time you order take-out you will be talking with a Message Bot with artificial intelligence plus machine learning. Facebook in April of this year released a beta version of their Message Bot and now is receiving applications for bot apps for the messaging system. The movement towards a personal one-on-one relationship with customers with mass market scale is happening in the digital world as the technology is coming, but unfortunately it looks like the only real person in this future relationship is you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The Oct/Nov 2016 issue of Canada’s History is scheduled to hit newsstands on September 26, 2016.

This concept cover is bright, clean and uncluttered, and features a bold type treatment, and a vibrant sky bar.

The art director, James Gillespie, worked hard to get it right. There was concern that we avoid falling into the trap of doing a cliched image, that might be considered insensitive.

The solution was to focus on the artistry of the items, rather than the shooter on horseback.