How much Spam will $945 million buy?

Facebook's triumph last month over the notorious spammer, Sanford Wallace, secured a judgment of $711 million for the company .... money it will never see. What appeared to be a hollow victory, however, has set the stage for Wallace's referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office with a request by the judge that he be prosecuted for criminal contempt charges and possible jail time.

Facebook will be standing in line for a long while before it recoups a penny. MySpace won a judgment against Wallace in 2008 for $230 million following a $4 million fine by the FTC in 2006 for running excessive pop-up ads.

Today, the self proclaimed "Godfather of Spam", Alan Ralsky, was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Ralsky's appetite for spam started back in 1997 when he began sending out 70 million messages a day. In 2004 his operation began sending out billions of illegal e-mail ads pitching penny stocks in a pump and dump scheme that grossed millions.

Other indictments are pending as conspirators are facing jail time as well.

Kudos to the companies and law enforcement agencies for diligently tracking down illegal mailers.

Do they serve Spam in prison?


A U.S. senate hearing today could put in jeopardy the issue of self regulation of consumer privacy. The press release by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation can be found

In a nutshell, the practice of post transaction marketing has impacted millions of consumers with what is considered to be a "scam" engaged in by over 450 websites and their rev-share partners, Affinion, Vertrue and Webloyalty.

The committee is investigating over 1.4 billion dollars in recurring revenues charged by these companies and shared with their partner sites. Shockingly, some of the most respected companies are on the list of offenders. The lead story by the Huffington Post can be found here along with a list of the top offenders.

In the face of FTC hearings next month on the issue of privacy concerns and self regulation by the industry, these actions do nothing to instill consumer confidence.

How can we possibly self regulate our own when major players participate in questionable practices?


By now we are all more than aware of the debate and controversy surrounding the issue of ad impression attribution and “last click” which tends to favor search (and therefore Google) as the most effective form of a digital marketing placement.

“Last click” attribution, however, oversimplifies the stream of consciousness (or unconsciousness) always ignoring the contribution of campaign impression delivery before the last click …. which leads to a purchase or action. Weaving the impact of offline impressions into the equation adds to the confusion as media vendors jockey for credit. The landscape is littered with land mines that are confounding both marketers and vendors into “paralysis-analysis”.

In an effort to help “solve” the problem of overlapping exposures across digital media channels, Atlas and DoubleClick have enabled Universal Action Tags and Floodlight Tags leading to conversion mapping and event tracking through attribution logic. The problem is not yet solved, however, as the application of values to all considered campaign impressions is always debatable.

When did the controversy begin? When will it end? Are marketers looking for deeper insights into the effectiveness of their online media investments and placements? Or, are media vendors across participating campaign channels looking for a larger piece of the media investment pie?

Both parties are, naturally, catering to their own agendas. Marketers and their agencies want deeper insights into ad effectiveness, while the media vendors want credit leading to shared payments for their CPA placements. In the case of CPA campaigns it is not uncommon (although wrong!) for marketers to pay vendors more than once for the same sale. It’s a slippery slope that can only lead to more backroom payment headaches for the agencies and marketers playing the CPA game. Contrary to the machinations and plotting of vendors I have worked with, it is my guess that shared payment scenarios will never happen and the thought of ever securing monetary credit for “view through” assignments are as far off as the colonization of Mars.

For those vendors hawking CPM campaigns, the real benefits derived from attribution technologies will ultimately lead to higher markups for targeted and optimized inventory as it is considered premium …. higher CPMs, less waste and better returns.

Having had the opportunity to debate both sides of the controversy with vendors and agencies, it is the agencies and marketers, in my opinion, that wish to provide a clearer perspective into the ultimate value of attribution technologies.

The controversy will continue until such time that better research initiatives, with proper test and control groups, is conducted in order to provide more clarity. Under the aegis of independent industry associations (Internet Advertising Bureau and Advertising Research Foundation) marketers and agencies eager to gain better insight into attribution models should be encouraged to petition and subsidize qualitative research in this arena. The time for development, sharing and adoption of best business practices for attribution logic has been too long coming.


A recent Huffington Post headline declared a thirty percent unemployment rate in a Michigan town dominated by one large employer that was hit hard by the economic downturn.

The folks in these rural towns are hurting badly. As plants close and jobs are lost the local economies lose the momentum to keep going. Purchasing power drops, inventories for everything imaginable become restricted, transportation slows. The ripple effect of thousands of small towns shakes the core of our economy.

These small towns, the backbone of the American economy, ripped apart and dismantled by Wall Street behemoths that could care less about their plight will eventually make a comeback.

The economy will survive and we will have learned many lessons. Lessons about trust, integrity and compassion. Hopefully, the failings of previous administrations to protect the flock will be corrected. We are a resilient people.

Our own town, that of the ad community, has also been hit hard. I have seen many jobs disappear as smart, valuable people become discouraged and move on to other career choices. Yet I am confident that we will see a reversal of fortunes and encourage those of us in the industry to hang on.

The words to the song below, sung by James Taylor, say it best.


A move towards greater regulation for privacy comes as surveys in the United States and Europe show that a majority of consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are against corporations monitoring their Internet use for marketing purposes.

According to one of the first independent surveys carried out by the University of California and University of Pennsylvania, two thirds of Americans object to targeted online ads.

A proposed amendment to an EU privacy directive states that national governments should "ensure that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned has given his/her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information."

The amendment, if approved, would have negative implications for the online advertising community, which relies on the placement of cookies on hard drives to enhance the relevance of online ads.

Is the US next in line for government regulation? Recent session debates at AdTech and OMMA suggest that self-regulation may not be enough to stem rising criticism against the harvesting of consumer data.

In the coming weeks, this blog will initiate a debate on platforms that may provide alternatives to government regulation. Stay tuned.


Nothing else needs to be said. This is one of their THREE DAY WORK WEEKS that we all pay for. I am ready to start from the beginning by voting out all elected officials and not letting any of them stay in office for more than two terms. No more lifelong healthcare, retirement, voting in their own pay raises, taking perks on our taxes, etc.

Click on the photo to enlarge for a full view

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, pictured standing, far right, speaks while colleagues Rep. Barbara Lambert, D-Milford and Rep. Jack F. Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, play solitaire Monday night as the House convened to vote on a new budget. (AP)

The guy sitting in the row in front of these two... he's on Facebook, and the guy behind Hennessy is checking out the baseball scores.

These are the folks that could not get the budget out by Oct. 1,.... Seriously!

And these yo-yo’s will still be playing SOLITAIRE!!

With thanks for the forward of this photo to me by my reader, M. Morris.


If the attendance at this week's AdTech conference at the Javits Center is an indicator of the resilience and staying power of the ad business, it's full speed ahead!

Attendance at the three day event surpassed 9300, rising to almost record levels. There was no lack of exhibitors either; over 250 of them commanding eleven full aisles packed with attendees.

The keynote address by WPP's Martin Sorrell noted a strong focus by clients on costs leading to more intensive procurement sessions. This in light of a "less worse" economy he notes that in thirty three years "I have never known more clients focused on costs".

Sixty six breakout sessions and no less than seven keynotes filled three days with a variety of content.

Both attendees and exhibitors preferred the Javits Center to a more central hotel location. The tone was positive and upbeat for a recovering economy and I saw little room for improvement ... with the exception of the boxed lunches for the full conference delegates.

No less noticeable, Casale Media and a newcomer, Elephant Traffic, were the hands down winners for promotional awareness. I was especially impressed with Elephant Traffic's use of a fleet of ten Mini Coopers to provide rides to any point in Manhattan during the event.


OMMA's AdNets conference was one event you should have elected to go to on Election Day.

A well attended event at New York's Crowne Plaza kicked off with a keynote address by OMG's Digital CEO, Matt Spiegel. Focus of Matt's address and the conference was the audience ... not the one in the room, but the one on the other side of a computer screen surfing the web.

Finding your audience requires three layers of discipline ... the trading platform, the technology on top of the platform that automates, educates and learns,
and the data .... "the currency that matters". Matt's takeaway was to stop selling reach ... sell audience.

His "E-Platform" : To Evangelize, Educate, Embrace and Enjoy the Ride.

One of the livelier panels focusing on the audience chase was moderated by Mediapost's
Editor-in-Chief, Joe Mandese. Challenging his panel of agency contenders, Joe charted a course to find the reality under the hype for On Demand platforms.

Are they chasing their own tails to provide similar service offerings with no point of difference? The general consensus was that they are still very early to the game with a long way to go before they have an impact as agency pla

Who are the technology players? There are many (unmentioned by the agencies) to include Invite, Turn, Collective,
Media Math, and X Plus One among others that, for the most part, drive the ad agency platforms.

Yet another panel moderated by Alan Chapell, President, Chapell & Associates questioned the efficacy of trading platforms and their ability to trump effectiveness defined by engagement and results.

The jury is still out.

Joe Mandese, Mediapost


Like some sort of post Halloween joke I am tired of having my TV viewing interrupted by pharma ads that suggest the use of a prescribed drug may cause any number of horrific side effects and, in some cases, death.

Why am I constantly bombarded with disclaimers for drugs that only a physician can prescribe .... and would it not be his responsibility to disclose possible side effects?

The drug companies are not to blame. The Food and Drug Administration maintains oversight of required disclaimers. It's about time that the FDA review its policy to keep the public "informed" when it's the physician's responsibility to review and discuss side effects and contraindications with a patient.

If the FDA wants to police disclaimers and educate the public, it should centralize information distribution with a simple toll free number for consumer access. We would then be free from the drone of visual, audio and mouse-type magazine and newspaper disclaimers that clutter our senses.

This link from the FDA to Sanofi-Aventis is typical of the bureaucratic hoops the drug companies need to jump through to satisfy a government body that seeks to "inform and confuse" rather than focus on the problem at the physician level.