Archive | December, 2007

Adobe & Omniture Spying On CS3 Users

31 Dec

First Adobe went the paid ad route  with Yahoo, now they are snooping on users. Sounds like Adobe is getting a bit too frisky…and Omniture is getting well…if not untrustworthy…suspicious.

From Ars Technica:

It all began with a post at UNEASYsilence titled “Lies, Lies and Adobe Spies” which caught on to the fact that Adobe CS3 apps were calling out to a suspiciously-crafted IP address. As it turns out, the IP in question— (note the capital O instead of a zero)—is not an IP at all, but rather a domain owned by statistics-tracking firm Omniture.

Criticism and conspiracy theories quickly erupted across the web, calling for an answer from Adobe over what looked like a clear invasion of privacy crafted to look like a typical local IP address. The holidays aren’t always the best time to ask a corporation as large as Adobe for an answer on issues like this, but Photoshop Product Manager John Nack came to at least a preliminary rescue. Across a couple of posts at his official Adobe blog, Nack took it upon himself to dig into the matter.

According to Nack’s investigation, Adobe’s CS3 apps call out to Omniture’s services to track a few usage statistics across Adobe products. Specifically, only three things are tracked: the news items presented in some apps’ welcome screens, Adobe-hosted content loaded in Bridge’s implementations of Opera and Flash Player (Bridge is the asset management component of Creative Suite), and Adobe online help systems like forums and the Exchange service, but only upon a user’s request.

As for the suspicious nature of Omniture’s faux-IP URL, Nack is less sure. He also agrees with users’ concerns over the matter and says he’s doing his best to find out more. It is likely, however, that Omniture is not returning Nack’s calls just as it isn’t returning Ars Technica’s, again probably due to holiday vacations. Other theories postulate that the URL crafting is both a technical and social engineering attempt to fool curious users and firewalls that might use some kind of wild card to allow 192.168.* requests. An underhanded tactic to be sure, but one that would allow Omniture to continue collecting usage statistics from many of Adobe’s users.

Adding fuel to the fire, Omniture’s own explanation of the “” domain (note the lowercase “o” in Omniture’s usage) explains absolutely nothing about the disguising of the domain its clients’ products call. Even worse, Omniture’s opt-out method only covers individual web browsers, not applications. Neither Adobe nor Omniture offer an opt-out method that covers Creative Suite 3 applications, forcing power users concerned over this issue to add the specific Omniture URL to a firewall or other monitoring utility such as ObDev’s Little Snitch. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly as user-friendly as a splash screen check box, or even an application preference.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this latest marketing and privacy snafu, and Adobe and Omniture had better be taking notes. Omniture is clearly at fault—and still owes consumers an explanation—for trying to sneak this URL into clients’ products, and Adobe can’t be short on alternatives for product statistics tracking. One of the oddest things about the whole situation is that the outcry has focused on the crafty URL and not the stats tracking, suggesting that many CS3 users are used to companies watching (anonymously) over their backs. But no one likes wool, even digital wool, being pulled over their eyes or their routers.


Mozilla PPC Campaign Results

27 Dec

From Freakonomics:

One of the ways Mozilla acquires new customers is through pay-per-click ads on search engines. The question Mozilla had is the following: if someone types “firefox” into a search engine, usually the first result they will see is the Mozilla site, so does it really do Mozilla any good to pay search engines to do featured links? Do ads actually generate more traffic, or do they just shift customers around — e.g., instead of getting the customers free, Mozilla ends up paying the search engine because of the pay-per-click ads? Without performing an experiment of some kind, this is a hard question to answer.

So over a two-week period, Mozilla experimented with turning their pay-per-click ads on and off more or less at random.

Looking at the data one way, it appears that two-thirds of the customers who normally come to Mozilla through pay-per-click ads would get there anyway. On the other hand, the absolute number of downloads was substantially higher when the paid ads were running. This suggests either that (1) their treatment and control periods were different for an unknown reason; or (2) that the pay-per-click ads lead people to download more often through other channels.

mozilla ppc 2Mozilla PPC

TV to Internet: People Watch the Ads

27 Dec

From Ars Technica:

Some welcome news for TV and NBC in particular. You know that whole Internet thing? Turns out its working out pretty good for you. People who are watching on line are watching both content AND the ads. 

Internet video watchers are 47 percent more engaged by the advertising they watched than were traditional TV viewers, according to MediaPost. The same study found that viewers were 25 percent more engaged in the content on the shows as well.

Happy Holidays All

21 Dec

xmastree1.jpgSee ya next week! I have family and friends who love me and want to see me! (believe it or not!)

Have a wonderful holiday!

Google Gets US Approval for DoubleClick Merger: EU Undecided

20 Dec

FTC has approved Google’s purchase of  ad giant DoubleClick. In its announcement today closing the investigation into the merger, the FTC concluded that the deal “is unlikely to substantially lessen competition.”

The decision is certain to generate controversy, since FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras’ refused to recuse herself after it was alleged that her husband, an antitrust lawyer at a prominent DC law firm, was helping to represent DoubleClick. Commissioner William Kovacic also chose not recuse himself even thoughhis wife works at the same law firm.

From Google:

“In its clearance opinion released today, the FTC explicitly rejected any current or potential competition concerns.  Google and DoubleClick are complementary businesses and do not compete with each other.  Google’s current business primarily involves the selling of text-based ads, while DoubleClick’s core business is delivering and reporting on display ads.  DoubleClick does not buy ads, sell ads, or buy or sell advertising space.  Rather, it provides technology to enable advertisers and publishers to deliver ads once they have agreed to terms, and to provide advertisers and publishers statistics relating to those ads.”

How Merchants Fail Online: Example 3

20 Dec

I am an online merchant’s dream customer. I buy nearly everything online, once I’ve done business with a merchant I tend to repeatedly buy from them, I am not terribly price conscious, and I am easily moved to action by merchant promotions. 

 If a product I order doesn’t meet my needs, or I misorder something, I practically NEVER return anything. I simply give it as a gift to someone who could use it. ( I accidentally bought 3 Mr Potato Heads (no not for me!) this year and simply handed the extras out to neighborhood kids.

In short, a retailer’s dream customer.

Which is why the following email thread is so unlike my usual buying behavior and experience.  After looking on Amazon (which I love) I found what I needed thru Amazon’s Merchant program (which is terrible).  In this case, I need a gift for Xmas and if it won’t arrive prior to Xmas, I would need to make other arrangements.  After reviewing the merchant’s shipping policies, it seemed as if it would arrive in plenty of time. So the order was placed, Dec 14. I received the usual reply email and I was informed it might not arrive until Dec 26th. Unlikely, but possible so I IMMEDIATELY contacted the seller to see if they could insure it would arrive by Dec 24th.

Well…I’ll let you read the email thread. I have redacted the name of the seller and edited it slightly for grammar,to remove personal info and make it easier to follow.

—–Original Message—–From: Jeff <Email address>To: <redacted>Sent: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 3:00 pmSubject: Amazon order  Hi,I saw that my order might not get to me before Dec 26. I will def need it before xmas. If I can’t get it before then I really will not need it. Please let me know when you can get it to me. Jeff B*************************************** Email addressSubject:            Re: Amazon orderDate:    Fri, 14 Dec 2007 19:38:19 -0500From:   <redacted>    Hello: Thank you for your order.   Amazon transactions typically take 5 business (Mon-Fri) days to process and 7-10 for shipping.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS Thanks again,******************************************** —–Original Message—–From: Email address <Email address>To: <redacted> <<redacted>>Sent: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 8:48 pm

Subject: Re: Amazon order


As you cannot guarantee delivery prior to Xmas, please cancel my order immediately


<sent from my IPhone>

 *********************************************—–Original Message—–From: Jeff <Email address>To: <redacted>Sent: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 2:02 pmSubject: Re: Amazon orderI have not heard from you whether or not I will be getting my order before Xmas and my request to cancel the item has not been replied to. I’ll expect to hear from you today. *************************************Email addressSubject:            Re: Amazon orderDate:    Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:14:29 -0500From:   <redacted>   Add to Address Book   Add Mobile Alert  Hello: Your order has shipped out today and you should receive it within the next few days.  It shipped via USPS and naturally given the holiday season it has been taking the post office a little longer (allow an extra couple of days.)  Don’t worry I guarantee you it will arrive soon. Thanks


  Email addressSubject:            Re: Amazon orderDate:    Wed, 19 Dec 2007 10:51:46 -0500From:   <redacted>   Add to Address Book   Add Mobile Alert   Jeff:  We want to make sure we sent the right size and color please confirm your address size and color. Thanks again ******************************************* —–Original Message—–From: Jeff <Email address>To: <redacted>Sent: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 2:19 pmSubject: Re: Amazon orderFYI It was medium and I believe the color was green.    Jeff  Email addressSubject:            Re: Amazon orderDate:    Wed, 19 Dec 2007 18:49:07 -0500From:   <redacted>   Add to Address Book   Add Mobile Alert  Hello: The suit was only offered in two colors black and pink which color do you want i size medium.   ******************************************  Thu, 20 Dec 2007 06:35:52 -0800 (PST)From:   “Jeff” <Email address>   Add to Address Book   Add Mobile Alert Subject:            Re: Amazon orderTo:       <redacted> So it is not shipped. That’s what you are telling me. Even though you said it was already. Unless you plan on overnight-ing it, I am not interested.******************************************* From: Jeff <Email address>To: <redacted>Sent: Thurs, 20 Dec 2007 9:56 amSubject: Re: Amazon order  I have requested a firm date on when it would be shipped, you have either ignored my requests, or lied.

I expect an answer to my request for immediate overnight shipping of my medium, black XXXXXX, or a formal cancellation of my order. A copy of the email thread will be sent to Amazon and will be included in your merchant feedback if this is not resolved  immediately.

 *************************************************Email addressSubject:            Re: Amazon orderDate:    Thu, 20 Dec 2007 10:50:27 -0500From:   <redacted>   Add to Address Book   Add Mobile Alert  I have replied to all of your requests.  Additionally, I pride myself on providing excellent customer service and as I stated in the listing on amazon the suit only came in two colors.  Where you came up with the color green is beyond me. Additionally, i am rather uncertain as to why you have been so abrupt in this process. As both a buyer and seller I understand your concern but I have made every effort to satisfy your needs as a customer.  That is why I confirmed with you.  If you understand Amazon then you understand that once an order is placed funds typically take a few days to process and clear. Your item will be shipped out today and you will receive a tracking number latest tomorrow morning.  The item will be upgraded to USPS Priority Shipping. Thanks***************************************** Thu, 20 Dec 2007 08:13:17 -0800 (PST)From:   “Jeff” <Email address>   Add to Address Book   Add Mobile Alert Subject:            Re: Amazon orderTo:       <redacted>  No you lied when you said it had shipped, as your earlier email indicated. Additionally, I should not have to ‘remind’ you of what I ordered both size and color. That information is communicated to you directly from Amazon.  Additionally, I have requested you cancel that order for nearly a week now; to which you have ignored and proceeded anyway.  As you have not complied with either of my very simple requests:1) overnight my order (of course if you had shipped it out when you said you had, it would not be an issue),or;2) cancel the order  I will both alert Amazon, and institute a chargeback thru Amazon and my credit card company. I will also include my feedback on your merchant account. If the order ships, I will consider it an unrequested package and under the terms of USPS, a gift. This my dear readers…is how to piss off a customer.

The Power of Marketing and the Evolution of Xmas

19 Dec

 This is freaking hilarious and at least partly true…

An excerpt from Cracked:

Christmas was not, as it turns out, miraculously handed down as a fully formed holiday, complete with wrapped gifts and blinking lights. Rather, it is a rich tapestry woven from countless inexplicable and pointless customs.

The Bible doesn’t give a lot of clues as to what time of the year the birth of Jesus happened (i.e., “… they met many travelers along the way, for it was just three days before the final game of the NFL Season…”) So, why December 25th? No one knows for sure.

One likely explanation is that early church leaders needed a holiday to distract Christians from the many pagan revelries occurring in late December. One of the revelries was The Saturnalia, a week-long festival celebrating the Romans’ favorite agricultural god, Saturn. From December 17 until December 23, tomfoolery and pagan hijinks ensued, and by hijinks we mean gluttonous feasting, drunkenness, gambling and public nudity.”

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