Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The use of fake news scams is the topic of the year in the media industry. There are many victims in this crime that include advertisers, content distributors and readers who think they are true. Check out this NY Times story on how fake news is created. The IAB at their leadership conference on January 29 revealed that the digital supply chain needs to rid the system of these bad actors. Marc Pritchard, global chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, delivered a keynote at this conference stated the media supply chain as murky at best, and fraudulent at worst, Pritchard said it’s time to get tough and delivered four key actions to the industry for 2017: adopt one viewability standard; implement accredited third-party measurement verification; get transparent agency contracts; and prevent ad fraud.

It all starts with Facebook and Google as they need step up (They are victims too) as these scams targeted their networks because they are the biggest. These digital gamers manipulated the key word search, landing pages and user behavior to break through the content firewalls on these networks. Google has just announced in a blog on January 25, 2017 that they took action against 340 websites and 200 publishers were banned, but in my opinion they only did this because they were caught letting this happen. It is nice that they are cleaning house, but what about the advertisers that paid for the ads that went on these fake sites, should they not get a refund for this criminal behavior, nobody talks about that. Check out this story that says Google is magnifying Fake news

Facebook used to have fact checkers, but they went instead with an algorithm to solve this with the mis-guided belief that technology will do the job better (plus save money). They are trying to automate this process and we all know there are some pretty smart scammers that will find holes in their system eventually. These actions are just a hollow attempt to shield themselves as crooks are always smarter, just ask the malware and virus cybercriminals. They let stuff like this go on until somebody complains and have a more reactionary attitude versus preemptive. Their comeback has always been they are technology companies and not responsible for the content is just some lawyer speak to shield them from civil liability lawsuits.

Emarketer reports that advertisers are starting to realized they have been scammed and we may see a shift of ad dollars into more trustworthy mediums like newspaper, magazine and tv station websites as they are considered premium websites that are not sold on ad networks where fraud is prevalent. This is a problem that plagues programmatic ad networks  as they deliver a lot of junks ads and the advertisers has no control of the media selection in the network. Just ask as the advertisers that showed up on the Breitbart.com website unknowingly. This Globe and Mail story tells it all

The next emerging issue are the use of social media influencers or brand ambassadors as they are, in my opinion, borders on deceptive advertising as they are paid endorsements but appear as arm’s length ones that fools the reader that they real. The Advertising Standards Canada has established guidelines for their use on disclosure that is required in order for a testimonial, endorsement, review or other representation (in any medium) to comply with Clause 7 of the Code.

1  A testimonial, endorsement, review or other representation must disclose any "material connection" between the endorser, reviewer, influencer or person making the representation and the "entity" (as defined in the Code) that makes the product or service available to the endorser, reviewer, influencer or person making the representation, except when that material connection is one that consumers would reasonably expect to exist, such as when a celebrity publicly endorses a product or service.

2  If such a material connection exists, that fact and the nature of the material connection must be clearly and prominently disclosed in close proximity to the representation about the product or service.

At the end of the day the online medium is becoming more untrustworthy and is shooting themselves in the foot and need to clean up their act and step up and be accountable for their actions or lack of action. So I am going to say for all the advertisers that have been scammed. I want a refund for all the times I have been scammed on your website or ad network.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The race for the next killer app that will have the same success as the Apple iPhone that is 10 years old now is the carrot that drives innovation in the Tech industry. But not all these companies will succeed. But the industry is hoping for the Apple Halo effect for their product just the same. The latest in smartphones, computers, car technology, drones, home tech, medical tech, wearable technology were unveiled at CES 2017 that has just finished in Las Vegas.

I have selected the Best of CES stories from some of the  leading magazines in the industry to show you what is out there. One caveat like all technology while they may look good on paper, I want to remind you of the experience of the hype of nuclear technology and how it is out vogue now. This may apply in the future for auto-driving cars when the technology fails to meet expectations from the hype.

Best of CES 2017: the most impressive products from the show

CES 2017: The final word

CES 2017: The Best Of The Best

Presenting the Best of CES 2017 winners!

Consumer Electronics Show: 50 years of unveiling ground-breaking technology

The 10 Best Gadgets of CES 2017

The Best of CES 2017

CES 2017: Popular Mechanics Editors' Choice Awards


Thursday, December 08, 2016

In my end of year blog I want to talk about what is creeping me out is all the sinful behavior out there in the chase for the ad dollar. Sooner or later this will backfire on the people that are doing this and I am determined to expose these tactics for what they are. I call them digital gamers, tactics that are used to exploit the system to generate eyeballs and thus potentially ad dollars so they think. I wrote a story about it in 2011 -  Marty’s Top 10 - How to irritate and repel your readers and some of the industry is still doing this. You better read this one again as a refresher.



1. Video that starts automatically when I read an article
This was on my list in 2011 and it is still happening today. The only reason I see websites doing this is to inflate the numbers of times a video is seen so when the reports go back to the advertiser they can tell them how many  times their ad was shown. I just shut the video off, but if I want to I will turn it on. There is nothing more irritating for sound to start when it is not requested as I may be in a office environment and the sound will come on and disturb my co-workers.

2. POP-UP ads on my Smartphone
Yes everybody has a smartphone, but what the digital operators don’t get is that ads are uninvited guests and you need to be tasteful and respectful. I thought pop-ups were extinct, but they are making a comeback on my smartphone in the latest websites I have been reading. The chase for clicks (accidental ones by the way as I try to get rid of them) to inflate response for advertisers does not mean I want to buy that product.

3. Ads that have no editorial fit with the website I am reading
The use of click bait is so irritating they are the cockroach of the Internet now. You just can’t get rid it. The chase for ad dollars is so desperate now some sites subscribe to native ad networks and the ads are just plain irritating and I just skip over them now. The issue also plagues the programmatic ad market as one publisher I know has turn off the feed  as it takes away from the brand experience.

4. Planned Obsolesence
To meet greedy Wall Street objectives, public companies have adopted a product strategy that you must buy a new product every 2-3 years that contributes to growing e-waste problem. This happens everywhere as they want you to by a new model to keep sales going. One of the biggest sinners is Apple. I have an Ipad1 and a lot of the new apps will not work on it as the OS is stuck at version 5.0 and the latest apps need 9.0 and the Safarai web browser crashes when I visit websites. I refuse to be sucked into this and will not buy another tablet as this one still works albeit with a limited range. If this was a car manufacturer there would be a product recall and a major uproar as it is like the engine not working.

5. Tabloid Journalism is out of control with fake stories
I know that everybody likes to read about a train wreck as negative stories get the most attention. But this new breed of websites now have fake news to get people's attention now and it is a big issue right now on Facebook as some sinful operators are doing this to generate traffic so they can game the ad networks for revenue on their ad farm.

6. Online Whiners
There has been a lot of online whining by so-called journalists about the real estate market, especially in Vancouver, where they blamed foreigners for the high real estate prices (Yeah they blamed the Chinese, but any seller wants a Chinese buyer for their home). What is this the dark ages where you blame your misfortune on somebody else? The CMHC has gone on record that this is not true and now all the money that flowed into the market has gone to Toronto and Seattle and the whiners still cannot afford to buy a home in Vancouver.

7. Lets stop racism in stories and treat people with respect
This is more personal as the First Nations community is subject to a lot negative reporting. My first beef is that they are called Indigenous, which I find insulting. Some bureaucrat or scientist gave this group this name like they are some native species, like come on they are people and deserve respect. Let’s call them Cree of Objiway people don’t describe then like some species of floral. We need to inspire the community and not create stereotypes that they are drunks, drug addicts and don’t like to work.

Yeah I know I am whining too in this month’s blog too, but these are my pet peeves of the sinful behavior I see online all the time. On a lighter note I am slowly becoming a social media star on YouTube. I was an extra in a movie 30 years ago –The Case of the Shooting Star, a Perry Mason movie and it recently was posted on YouTube. I started my career as a Chinese goon and I am in the opening scene that you want to check out. It has 361 views and climbing fast. So for all the sinners out there you can repent your sins by making a donation to the Salvation Army this Christmas at this link. Have a great Holiday Season.
Thursday, November 24, 2016

While we are seeing consolidation in the media industry with recent changes made by the corporate bean counters at Rogers Media, TVA Publications, Post Media and Toronto Star. it is not all doom and gloom in the publishing industry in Canada as we see a new crop of winners at this year COPAs held at the sold out event at the Double Tree Hilton in Toronto on November 7. 
Some of the new rising stars include Independent media brands National Observer from Vancouver and Planet F Magazine in Montreal a French language family magazine. Vice Canada another new winner is a partnership with Rogers Media that includes a cable TV station. This month’s blog will showcase the gold medal entries from these rising stars in the digital media scene in Canada.

National Observer
National Observer is an independent media outlet that focuses on climate, political and finance news and is published in English and French. It has a team of award-winning journalists that are based all over Canada and delivers ground breaking news and investigative reports about those in power. The National Observer won 3 Gold and 1 Silver this year including Independent Publisher of the year. This Vancouver base publication has traffic of over 500K visitors per month on their website with 32% in Ontario, 31% in BC, 14% in Alberta and 7% in Quebec



Sandy Garossino’s biting columns have attracted over one million unique visits to National Observer in the last 12 months. The former Crown prosecutor pulls no punches as she calls the powerful to account for exploitation and manipulation, and exposes links between big money, stardom and a culture of irresponsibility that often comes with both.

In SHAMELESS, Garossino exposes questionable tax subsidies afforded to wealthy parents of private school students — a real slap in the face, she writes, for average taxpayers as budget cuts force public school closures across the country. Her column, YELLOW STAIN, further calls out Postmedia for wrapping a yellow paper endorsement around its publications across Canada. Her stinging analysis of the Ghomeshi trial, which attracted a knockout 240,000 page views, was a unique synthesis of legal, feminist, journalistic, and political perspectives.

In conclusion, Garossino leverages her legal expertise, personal experience, and addictive style of snarky writing to boldly go where no other columnists have gone. Each of her contributions winds up a smash-hit, and many have landed her spots as a commentator on TV programs and radio shows across Canada.


Sandy Garossino Associate Editor, columnist

Planète F Magazine

Planète F is Quebec based french language wesbite that has over 15,000 visitors. You won't find cupcakes recipes or ideas for Halloween costumes as it  takes a different approach for parents that addresses controversial issues, to stimulate discussion and debate on social issues that affects the family. The web based magazine is not about parenting, it’s about parenthood and this approach was recognized as Planète F Magazine won  2 gold and 2 silver at tis year’s COPA’s including Best Article.


Work-life balance is the topic of the 21st century for families. If fathers become more involved with children, mothers are more active in the labor market. But institutions still expect a traditional model where the mother is at home. In this case, we used social networks to involve people with questions about their family situation. This file was presented to the National Assembly during a parliamentary committee on equality between women and men that include a dossier of 9 articles on parental equality.

La conciliation travail-famille est LE sujet du 21e siècle pour les familles. Si les pères s'impliquent davantage auprès des enfants, les mères sont plus présentes sur le marché du travail. Mais les institutions s'attendent encore à un modèle traditionnel où la mère est à la maison. Et si l'égalité était une question culturelle... Dans ce dossier, nous avons utilisé les réseaux sociaux pour faire participer les gens avec des questions sur leur situation familiale. Ce dossier a été présenté à l'Assemblée nationale lors d'une commission parlementaire sur l'égalité entre les femmes et les hommes. Un dossier de 9 articles sur l'égalité des parents.


Mariève Paradis, Editor, Publisher
Bruno Geoffroy, Marilyse Hamelin, Sarah Poulin-Chartrand, Writers

Vice News Canada

VICE News Canada produces youth (18-34) oriented content to a Canadian audience, in both official languages, reaching 30 million readers a month worldwide with a large USA readership.  VICE's provocative content is available across multiple platforms including, digital verticals, mobile apps, television, print and a suite of YouTube channels. Vice News Canada won gold for Best Continuing Coverage of a story at this year’s COPA’s beating out some of the big guys.


Through immersive reporting, VICE News Canada looked at the problem of rampant boil water advisories on First Nations across Canada. In a two-part documentary, we visited two First Nations reserves, Shoal Lake 40 and Neskantaga, each with longstanding boil water advisories. During a VICE Canada-hosted town hall ahead of election day, VICE News Canada pinned Prime Minister-to-be Justin Trudeau to a promise of ending boil water advisories within five years—a promise he had not previously made.

We examined what the federal government would need to do to solve the issue, and looked at how a new program is empowering young Indigenous people to end boil water advisories on their reserves.


Hilary Beaumont Staff Reporter
Allya Davidson. Producer
Natalie Alcoba. Managing Editor
Rachel Browne Staff Reporter
Ksenia Yurganova Associate Producer

(BTW the calling of the communities as First Nations is an appropriate description versus calling them Indigenous, which I feel is derogatory. These are people and are not a type of floral and not deserving of a scientific description. This has to change and is not politically correct in my opinion)


Tuesday, October 04, 2016
This is my sixth year writing my tech blog for Masthead, my goodness how time flies. If it wasn't for all the congratulations I received on Linkedin I would have let this moment pass me by. It has been four years since (click here to read this archived post) I wrote a post on all the tech terms that are being used in the industry to bring you up to date. I even invented one myself, so you heard it here first.
Ad tech firms are the digital ad companies that have been created since the dotcom boom of the late 90’s. These firms include Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ad Networks and Native Advertising. Some of these companies started as tech firms but are now in the advertising business as they sell display ads on their ad networks. These companies are tech/media hybrids and they typically deploy free user generated content as part of their model. Yahoo however generates original content on their website. Some of the industry is in a state of denial, as they do not consider themselves as media companies, but tech firms, so they can avoid taking responsibility for the content on their websites.
Native advertising is built around the concept of advertorial content matching the editorial environment of the website. The premise is that people prefer articles over ads and thus will have a higher click-rate. The problem with this logic is it assumes the reader can be fooled with these ads as editorial content, which shows the ignorance of the ad tech community on how media and advertising work together. The need for authenticity and third party creditability has been a criticism of the industry through the growing use of tabloid style content to get people’s attention.
Click bait is the use of tabloid style headlines to get people to click on a link and is used on websites like buzzfeed.com. This is tabloid-style journalism, where stories can be posted with no fact checking criteria and border on sensationalism. Clickhole.com create a parody of this type of journalism as you can see below.  The 7 places you can vomit in the Jungle is a funny one. 
Bots are web robots that do a single task repetitively at computer speed. This can be in the form of a SEO web spiders that index content on a website, a web scraper that copies content from websites, and clicks bots, which are designed to click on ads as part of an ad fraud model. The next generation of bots will have artificial intelligence as part of their model and they are being marketed as customer service bots that can handle pizza orders online for example and enable companies to a have an automated 24/7 sales support presence.
These websites are designed to harvest ad dollars from the ad networks by generating traffic to the website using click bait. This is a brilliant idea as the web design is to maximize the number of clicks and ad impressions for each story posted. When I clicked on the story below I had to click on it 30 times to read the whole article and each time I clicked 5 ads show up. So to read the single story you are exposed to 150 ads plus the layout is set up for accidental clicks on the ads to boost response. The fraudulent ones use automated traffic/click generating techniques to scam the system. A growing problem according to industry sources in the tech community to fool the security protocols thinking there is real people, IP addresses (computer ID) are being stolen and used in the black market.
Click farms was a market response to the growing belief that Facebook likes and Twitter followers were early indicators of purchase intent of products and services as it generated a positive online profile. This belief led to the growth of companies that will provide fake social media identities to customers to generate likes and followers. The companies’ use tools like identity generators and cell phone Sim cards to by-pass security protocols. It has been ball parked that 10-20% of social media accounts are fake. The companies that provide this service are located in jurisdictions outside of USA law enforcement. This perhaps explains how some politicians gained 100,000 Twitter followers in a weekend.
Finally, I thought I'd create my own word to describe my approach on how content marketing will work in the future. It is called Bobber Marketing, just like fishing (I did not want use a farm one) where you cast a bobber in the water and wait for the fish to bite. The bobber is an article. This content must have something useful to say or it will just be click bait and can’t be too salesy or it will turn off readers. The number of times the article is read will reflect the responsiveness of the article and awareness benchmarks. 
To learn more about what is in store for the digital world going forward you might want to attend our State of Digital Seminar we are producing as part of the COPA’s festivities. The seminar will be a panel format that will include Google (Ad tech), Indie 88 (Publishing), Nielson, (Analytics) and Calexis Advertising (Advertisers) to provide a broad perspective on the future of digital and what works. The event will also be a webcast for people that cannot attend it live. It will be on Nov 7 at 4pm EST.

About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners digital publishing, event management and ad sales help. His media expertise also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor, magazine and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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