Social Shopping Shills

Ad arbitrage at its finest. But nothing for the consumer.

Yesterday evening I hit the web searching for a product – something along the lines of the tried and true (and cheap) I already have. One page in, and of course I run into an ad. I click that ad, and I wind up at a site that supposedly is all about “social shopping.” Hmm…maybe I’m about to get a good recommendation.

I look closely and what do I see? A whole bunch more ads, and a bunch of category listings that supposedly contain results for what I’m looking for. Besides the fact that half the categories are completely irrelevant to my inquiry, I click on the closest to.

What do I find this time? A pile of listings that barely represent my need and…a boatload more ads. All of those ads are specifically worded to make me believe they will direct me to what I’m searching for, but by now I’ve shut down. Someone paid for the first ad click, and now they want me to click on more ads. They did nothing for me, and some ad distributor just made fifty cents.

I can’t help but think this is where an unreasonable proportion of the online ad money is really going (literally down the tubes), as I seem to see this same thing all the time. I’m not sure advertisers realize this, and I doubt they ever wonder why when it comes to site-based ad blocking, the onus is entirely on them to manage it.

I’m also glad that cash isn’t coming out of my pocket.

I didn’t link to the site in question, as I’m sure they’re private and see no benefit in hammering them. It’s just the concept that hurts.

UPDATE: All wrong. As it turns out, all that ad money is being put to good use.

OpenID is picking up steam

Now, a word from your sponsor.

I found some interesting discussions here and here on the topic. Anyone interested would be wise to spend some time in the comment threads.

While adoption/service by the AOLs, Yahoo!s and Diggs of the world is nice, I believe a larger piece of the puzzle is the trickle-down of both consumers (in the sense of login boxes on every site imaginable) and consumers (as in people actually getting one). The posts linked to above cover both of these, but please read carefully.

I’m not in agreement on a few points mentioned including the dire need for browser integration or selective choices in login boxes…

First, the point of OpenID is to have one identity from one provider that everyone accepts. If I have so many OpenID accounts that I need browser tools to manage them, then I’m back to square one. As for the latter, I think that is opening up a pandora’s box – the method is supposed to be open, and if you subject your particular login box to a certain selection of providers, you are going to wind up with the richest provider managing all the accounts. Then, if they fail, everyone goes down.

In summary, energies need directing at the distribution of consumers, and favored provision should be awarded to the server that delivers the cleanest, most reliable user experience (as determined by said user).

UPDATE: Simon Willison pointed out the opportunity of selecting providers. I’ll reiterate that I don’t think this is a good idea…users reaching a site with such a list, who have not been exposed to OpenID, could easily conclude they need to have an account at one of these places and opt-out immediately. The “smart” building of URLs from known lists without pre-selection criteria, however, could have merits.