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      Effective behavioural advertising requires hods of data, and nobody can gather sufficient data enough to compete against Google’s “superprofiles”

      I doubt if it’s effective. I see completely unrelated ads all the time, mostly for mainstream things that I hate (mobile games, Hollywood movies, cars). Also I see lots of ads for cosmetics and local nail coloring services despite I’m male. Sometimes I think collected data is completely unused (or used to fit very primitive models) and data collection is just for deceiving advertisers that their ad networks are highly targeted and hi-tech, and for data hoarding.

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        For the most part, when it comes to these sorts of ads, you’re looking at either pricing at a keyword/slot level or in”real-time bidding” with blind auction. Basically, despite having all this data to target (which honestly could happen way better with Google’s dataset) most of it gets destroyed by the heavily-skewed financial incentives of advertising.

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        Some of the misfires I’ve seen:

        • “He searches a lot about programming and reads a lot of programming stuff… let’s advertise coding bootcamps!”
        • “He just wrote a case study of how his employers use X and the pros and cons of that. I know, let’s send him ads for X!”
        • “He JUST bought Spotify. Let’s advertise Spotify more. And Google Play.”

        A few years ago I did a bunch of research into various robo-advisors and in the end decided to stick with Vanguard. I still get robo-advisor ads (and payday loan ads…) to this day.

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          I get similar ads too, but usually for no longer that 1-2 days after searching/visiting sites. This means that they are really using collected data but algorithms are very far from understanding this data.

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        For professional reasons I want at least some awareness of the current state of advertising, so I will occasionally disable my adblocker. When doing so, I am always shocked at how irrelevant the ads are. Similar to @hwayne, many of them are for things I have already purchased, and for which a near-term repeat purchase does not make sense.

        Funniest of all is YouTube, where I consistently get ads in five languages, only two of which I could be said to understand.

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        Absolutely! This probably is the biggest secret in the world kept in plain sight. To this day, I’ve never really observed two searches with the same terms from two different google accounts differing in any meaningful way.

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      I agree pretty whole-heartedly that a break up or some sort of regulation is needed to reign in the monopoly, but have yet to see a viable proposal for how that could happen. Anyone have some ideas on what it might look like?

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        When this topic came up on HN about 6 months ago, someone suggested a solution that is sort of like how AT&T was dealt with in the 70s. They were required to let other companies use their copper. For the big tech companies that would mean requiring them to open up APIs and license them to all comers, provide access to social graphs, etc.

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          In the case of Facebook, that’s about the last thing I want. We already have a limited version of that, where every other web site and service wants to link accounts. I refuse to do that, but it’s very obvious some of my friends have. It’s annoying as hell. I want the walls to be higher, much higher.

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            maybe a better idea would be to force facebook to federate with e.g. gnu social and mastodon. so you can have competing services, rather than having one service which 90% of people must be members of in order to connect with the majority of others. linkedin is another one, where it forces people to subscribe to their service in order to get a job, and using an alternative network is not feasible because it’s a totally closed service.

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      I think the same could be said about Amazon both in the area of online retailing and cloud computing.

      My personal thought is that a lot of how patents and economy has been structured doesn’t work anymore and that it might not be just big companies. While laws usually should be structured for the generic use case and not be overly focused on edge/extreme cases people now pretty much are taught what those are and how to exploit them. And especially bigger companies with armies of lawyers over time optimize for those cases.

      The result is that the energy and money goes not into the areas of innovation in the area of technology, but to innovate in other areas to for example create and optimize the Double Irish arrangement, since this often creates more profit.

      Something similar happens in the area of demand and supply. Something one sees with very big companies is that they switch from supplying for a given demand to creating demand, be it via advertising or lobbying for laws. And it’s a logical step to do so, yet this doesn’t really fit many ideas one has in mind, like “there will always be enough food”.

      In other words I think it would be important to not think so much about splitting up, but to look at what the goals of various laws are and whether they are still working. If not, maybe the can be fixed, purged or newly designed, based on the experiences taken from it. However, as always one has to be careful that experts aren’t (just) drawn by the interests of the company they own or work for. It’s usually not their fault that laws making up the economy systems are the way they are. However, maybe looking at ways to gain some more independent experts would be a reasonable first step, be it very fixed position/career ladder in the government or simply making sure experts have a greater variety of interests and positions.