A problematic feature of the world in 2018 is that the social networks we have built seem to spread misinformation faster and wider than its more accurate counterpart, and this can lead authors to make decisions counter to their interests. One of the enduring myths surrounds “The Amazon Algorithm.”
That phrase alone is a red flag to me because anyone who has a good idea about how Amazon works knows there is more than one algorithm — for example there are separate algorithms which determine how books are ranked in the bests seller charts, in the popularity list, plus which books appear in search for a given term and what order they appear in. And that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg.
That’s not the only thing about the phrase “the Amazon algorithm” which sets me on edge — speaking about it in such a way betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what algorithms are, and what they can do. Read More…
I’m pretty experienced with digital advertising at this point but when I got my interview for Google AdWords back in 2003 I had to… Google it to figure out what they did. And I still got it wrong!
I was quite lucky that I first interviewed with Overture (the former name of the digital advertising division of Google’s one-time rival, Yahoo) because I had absolutely no idea how these kind of ad platforms worked, let alone best practices. But I learned fast—Google’s training was excellent.
One thing that was drilled into us constantly was the importance of granular targeting. It might be a little more obvious in 2018, but back then the only really familiar advertising model was the broadcast one. Put your message in giant letters on the billboard. Flood the airwaves with ad spots. Take out full page ads in newspapers and magazines (for the kids: these are paper versions of websites that used to be popular). The basic strategy was a simple, brute force one; if the signal is strong enough, the right people will hear it. Read More…