When is Advertising Contextual? (ALWAYS)

Some people refer to “contextual advertising” as if that were a special or specific kind of advertising. Yet over the past several weeks [1], I wrote a series of articles which now lead me to the conclusion that all advertising is contextual.

I started writing this series without any particular overarching topic — indeed, what motivated me were several interconnected topics. I am not done with the series yet. Next week I intend to turn towards market forces in the publishing industry.

If you would like to follow this new line of thinking, now seems like a good time to begin with the three installments mentioned. If you want to get more background of the entire “Social Business” project, the “wiki” link provides a quick list of the entire table of contents (to date).

Wishing you a happy & easy summer — whether with or without lazy days, and a funny summer reading list to check out & check off before moseying on down into autumn.

[1] See “A Deep Dive Behind the Editorial Wall“, “Publishing Without Walls” and “With or Without Advertising

Is medium a platform (or not)?

While not exactly surfing, but rather more like paddling (but at least not drowning) as I was navigating the web via my daily morning read of feeds washing up on the shore of my laptop, a post by medium user “Sophia Sunwoo” floated up among the bubbles landing on my screen. Actually, NOT. I don’t use medium — neither medium, nor twitter. Both seem meaningless to me. The thought bubble I saw was created by wordpress user “Thao Huong” (username “draonguyen” — oops, correction, “blog title/url” #context-is-complicated 😉 ) — namely: “🏆 Episode 187: Why Your Business Has No Future On A Marketplace” (which is a short “abstract” of the article posted by the medium user, including a link to the source). The reason why I prefer using wordpress rather than medium is not so much due to wordpress’ unparalleled global popularity, but rather it’s more a matter of my preference of its “open source” business ethics. In my opinion, “wordpress” is a meaningless brand name — but what about “medium” or “twitter”?

When twitter first start well over a decade ago, I said to my friends that “this thing is going to be big!” — because at that time “twitter” was a (more or less) meaningful concept (there was — and maybe there still is — a definition of this concept in most dictionaries). But its meaning is actually quite amorphous — akin to things like “babble” or “bull” or other such descriptors… all of which (including “medium”) don’t really describe anything specific, but rather are genres for fora (or platforms) for spreading different kinds of hot air. Hot air is not very interesting — at least not in my humble opinion.

Sophia Sunwoo — if this is indeed the real and correct spelling of a real person (mind you, there are quite a few people on Earth whose birth certificates are written in languages that do not use the roman alphabet) — does something quite ironic: she (?) writes an article warning against the overuse of what she refers to as “platforms”… and posts that article on what may very well be a platform. The crux of her argument is based on the following insight:

Even if the algorithm is benefitting you now, when the time comes (and it always does), the algorithm will transition to benefit the platform’s profits first.

https://medium.com/swlh/why-your-business-has-no-future-on-a-marketplace-platform-fb3e29896a3e

Even the link to the article on medium itself seems to be a profit-making scheme — you might think that leaving off the gobbledygook string at the end of the URL would nonetheless display the article, but nada! That code probably tracks some kind of information — and my hunch is: it’s crucial for selling something (and the thing it’s probably selling is you). Another reason not to use “medium”.

Yet even if medium were not spying on you, the fact is that the string is, after all, pretty much meaningless — it provides little or no context whatsoever. Why should I become a member of a “medium” community? Because I can pitch my story to some amorphous mob of users? Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it.

So I will go out on a limb, and say that medium is “distrustworthy” — much like most platforms, including the brand names Google and Facebook, it is worthy of distrust. The article may still be worth reading for you, especially if you have any question at all concerning the meaninglessness of these so-called “platforms” … which turn their users into huge masses of nondescripts, leading online lives of quiet desparation (of course most of their twitter or babble or whatever will simply scroll off the screen and become completely insignificant to the meaning of life).