Sunday, July 15, 2018

We all know fake profiles on the internet exist, but how do we spot them. So I thought I take I look at the “Matchmaker” market for people to meet online to see if they exist and if I can spot one. I am new to the older single scene now so I thought I give Match.com a try, since it is one of the top sites online and my friends say they met people there. I found some interesting things in my one week experiment for this story. I found this service, in my opinion, is littered with fake engagement from women.

 

 

 

The Matchmaking Industry has grown to a $2.5 billion+ market in the USA and Canada is estimated at $150 million.  A Pew 2013 Survey of 2,000 people in the USA showed that 15% of adults use an online dating website or app, with 22% of 18-24 the top adopters The industry had to face the challenges of limited trust of online dating services, fake online profiles, fraudulent traffic, database breaches, background checks, and privacy safeguards to protect personal information of users. To get users in a crowded market requires success or the possibility of success for love, romance and companionship, a pretty tall order. So I guess some have had to resort to some interesting hacker marketing techniques to meet their user targets and keep them happy.

 

Here are the series of events that led me to this conclusion that Match.com may have a problem with fake profiles somewhere in their system.

 

DAY 1: July 7, 2018

Upon my email subscription notification at 12:20pm I received a series of emails that ladies were interested at 12:39, 3:33, 4:32, 5:18, 5:21, 8:04, 8:36, 10:42 and 11:51. So on the first day I received 9 message of interest and one 9 minutes after I signed up. I replied to them all and heard back from two but they were both brief conversations. The screen names were Goodcare121 (36yrs), Shelly (56yrs), Activethrulife (62yrs), Westendgirl (54yrs), Shaw8 (61yrs), Natureluvr2 (55yrs), Smartdj (54yrs), Silly62 (55yrs) and Stairway (52 yrs). Activethulife and Stairway were real people I think. I did not reply to Goodcare121, from Texas who was the first one to send me a message. After that all I got that were interested were from older woman closer to my age.

 

DAY 2: July 8

I received 2 replies from ladies that I was interested in but they were not a match. So perhaps there are real people on Match.com, but my doubts still lingered. Their names were Latinssima and Lori. I did receive a message at 12:33am from Fatchance a 55 year old that was interested. I replied and did not hear back. One of the clues of fake profiles is that they do not respond.

 

DAY 3: July 9

Today I received 4 notifications that ladies were interested in me at 10:10 am, 9:41, 10:45 and 11:15 pm. There names were Alyssum333 (58 yrs), Susan321 (51 yrs), Anxiousflower (52 yrs) and Happiness (52 yrs). Again I sent a courtesy reply and did not hear back. I did receive a reply from Junegoos that she was not interested. So today I suspected I had 4 fake people and 1 real one. But I did consider an upgrade of what they call " Guaranteed Email Reply" since I did not get many replies from the ladies that expressed interest in me.

 

DAY 4: July 10

Today was a quiet day and I received an email that I had 24 matches to look at 5:09pm. At this point my suspicions of fake profiles and engagement have grown to the point that I do not trust what is happening on Match.com

 

 

DAY 5: July 11

On Day 5 I received two notifications of interest at 5:45 and 11:49p from FXCVTALA9802 (34 yrs) and Aangeleyez07 299 (37 yrs). It was on this day that I felt for sure that some profiles are fake on the system as the names used is the same pattern I have seen used by comment sections spammers (HAM) using letter and numbers in sequence patterns.

 

 

DAY 6: July 12

I cancelled the subscription today (it will be cancelled at the end of the month) at 6:28am and I received two notifications of interest with the first one at 6:29, 3 minutes after I cancelled. There were from Hinnymick0 (36yrs) at 6:29p and Contrysmile33 (33yrs) at 6:51. This finally proved to me (in my opinion) there is fake engagement on Match.com as the time of the “interest notification” coincides with my cancellation.

 

DAY 7: July 13

Today I received a reply from a real person Kyss at 11:15p that she was not interested. So far there were 7 people that communicated to me but only one were from the 17 “interested in you” notifications, the other six came from the  women that I sent emails to that Match.com thought I was a 85% match for. So six real people out of  23 that I engaged with suggests that something is fishy going on here. In addition I received emails promoting their events, webinars and other singles sites. So during the 7 day period I received a total of 43 emails or 6 per day filling my inbox. Talk about corporate spam.

 

Knowing that there are maybe fake profiles created by Match.com plus the use of fake profile by users online I will be staying away from this type of digital service in the future. My feeling is that there were too many fake people to sort through and is a waste of my time. According to the system 200 women have checked my profile on line, with a very high percentage of very beautiful ladies. but how many of those people are real. In comparison, I have been using Kijiji the past week to rent a house and I had over 400 views of the ad plus 11 responses that I knew that were real people and it will be rented shortly and it is a free ad.

 

The clues for spotting fake identities on the internet are the screen name, lack of photo or a photo that looks like it was scraped off the internet like glamour shots. The timing of the emails was also a big red flag for me as they were grouped around dinner time and late nights or just after I registered/cancelled my subscription. This suggests that this is not a 3rd party hacker phishing for contact info or other things hackers want, as it was generated by the Match.com system. What do you think, what conclusion can you draw from that? Are these profiles fake?
 

 
 
Monday, June 18, 2018

The tragedy of the internet is that it is available to anyone. On the plus side, being available to everyone is that information is now available to anyone that wants it. This observation can be best described by this economic concept the “Tragedy of the Commons”.
 

 

 

“The tragedy of the commons is an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits.”

 

The best examples of this is overfishing, global warming, traffic congestion and the plastic bottle island the size of Texas in the South Pacific. The internet is overrun with bad actors looking to make a score for some unsuspecting victim through a click on a email that delivers malware to infect your computer systems or a phishing exercise to get your contact info for identity theft and email scams. This unfettered access by bad actors to the internet is the “Tragedy of the Commons” and is a digital plague that needs to be exterminated,

 

I just got this scam in one of my email accounts. Hey! I just won $1.5 Million from Google and Microsoft. I bet Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are not too happy with being mentioned in this obvious scam. The best way to see if it is a scam is to ask yourself “ Is this too good to be true”,  then check the sender email address, reply address and location for authenticity. This one appears  to be from the UK but has Spanish writing in it are obvious clues of a scam. The use of the Google logo in the masthead gives an aura of authenticity for a glancing moment to get you to read it.
 

 

 

Other ways you can get scammed is with FREE offers on the internet when you are searching, but in order to get the free info you must register and give your credit card info. I call this a watering hole scam. I saw this when I was searching for a service manual for a outboard motor for the used boat I just bought. I hope eventually these types of scams are eventually filtered out by the search engines. I still remember the time I bought something online from a site that I did not know that was offering a great deal. I later discovered that this was the source of the theft of my credit card. So please shop only on sites that you trust.

 

But this heighten sense of security has caused a snowball effect of other problems for legitimate publishers. If your domain (website address) gets a bad reputation on the internet from the email spam filters, emails service providers will block you or shut you down. This may be of no fault of your own as a hacker can secretly now spoof your domain name and use it for “ Black Hat” (Criminal hacker) activities to fool the spam filters thinking it is legitimate, just like the scam I showed you above. Make sure you test all your email with a spam checker to see if it is classified as spam on various spam software platforms to gauge your reputation on the internet.

 

Government intervention to this digital plague has been legislation like Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws and the European Union’s digital privacy law that went into effect May 25, 2018. Unfortunately, this is a global problem as the bad actors always find a way to side step the rules as they operate in jurisdictions outside the reach of the law. So tough laws are toothless for these crooks, but legitimate players pay the price with more rules that tend to overreact and create more red tape. But on the plus side, ad tech companies enthusiasm for marketing surveillance for personalized marketing and ad delivery without a person's consent will stop.

 

Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) on the internet is a required skill for everyone and the best way to fight back is to expose people to their scams so we can recognize one. This is the new normal on the internet and it is not going to change anytime soon.

 
Tuesday, May 08, 2018

I have been on a hiatus in writing my blog, but during this time this topic kept coming in me head, “The Rise and fall of the Digital Titans” - Is it coming?. History has shown tech companies do not stay on top forever and there is always somebody new to come along to disrupt the market to take away first place in the minds of investors and consumers.

 

If we go back to the origins of the dot-com boom the big players were AOL, My Space, Yahoo and Blackberry. Where are they today? The are all smaller in size and have become niche players. We all know of Apple’s rise and fall and rise story in tech history lore, the landscape is littered with them. So these digital titans will eventually fall, it is a question of when is it going to happen. This is the price all companies pay when they yield too much power in the marketplace, just ask Google and their battle with the European Union.

 

The digital world reminds me of the fads and trends in the kids toy market. Rarely do toys have staying power beyond a few years and this is happening with digital software toys that can be used on your smartphone. No digital company so far has the staying power of Mickey Mouse that help build the Disney Empire, but even Disney had its own roller coaster experience in its history.

 

The secret to long-term success is that companies need to grow to stay competitive and not fade away by getting bought out and then disappear. I had a look at 16 different market segments that these digital titans have products in, 14 of these products I considered mainstream (i.e.: mass appeal) with 2 - Car GPS and Virtual Reality the next mainstream products. Amazon entering the ad market to support sales on their website, entry into steaming video with Fire TV cannot be underestimated as the next big player to enter the game. Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world and they want to grow too!
 

 
 

We all know in the digital ad space Facebook and Google dominate, but when is this ride going to end. Both companies are now facing new threats as they get bigger and become a target of critics, hackers and now litigation lawyers looking for a quick score. Who has the title of the Big Bad Empire now, that used to be Microsoft’s crown. It seems it changes monthly between Google and Facebook now as they are co-champions based on the latest scandal or lawsuit .

 

Can Facebook recover from all the scandals that they have weathered the past few years like the distribution fake news, political propaganda and now the Facebook account information problem. It looks like the bigger they get the more problems they have to deal with through no fault of their own (perhaps). The European Union has challenged Google a few times about privacy rights, but perhaps Google is too big to take down.

 

There is a growing “ Consumer Tech “ movement in the marketplace to protect individuals right to privacy. No one wants to be tracked. Did you know that Twitter has 40 different ways a tweet can be tracked and this data is sold to corporations. The digital programmatic ad network space according to P&G in 2017 is wrought with fraud and bad actors with fake news sites, ad farms and email phishing, so law and order in the digital space is sometimes non existent. There is growing evidence that web display ads are not an effective ad tool and there is a growing confidence for pre-roll video for web ads instead. This development is perhaps the catalyst of the fall of ad networks, ads that don’t work and a source of ad fraud. So maybe the fall has already begun. 
 

 

 
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Just when you though we have enough digital channels, the market is going to get even more fragmented with the next generation of car technology. Car technology is changing as they are now connected to the internet that means you will be able to deliver ad messages to the user. Radio and billboards have a new player in town to compete for the car advertising dollar. Waze is doing this now for their GPS App and on-demand music steaming services like Pandora and Spotify will be part of this new digital ad eco-system.

 

The race to create the first driverless car is a development worth watching as the technology developed for it will create an innovation, we just don’t know what that will be yet. GM states that they will have a driverless car ready for the market in 2019 so it coming very soon. Uber is testing a self driving fleet of Ford Fusions in Pittsburg right now. (photo below)
 

 Source: MIT TEchnolgy Review

 Personally, the paper claims of passenger safety and convenience are over stated as computers have never achieved 100% availability, as sooner or later they crash or have to shut down for maintenance. They will also be subject to constant hacker attacks as a security concern. That’s right a hacker can now remotely steal your car in this future path. Nevertheless the connected car is here to stay, it is just a question of how far we go as a society to trust artificial technology vs. humans control. This MIT Technology Review article has some thoughts on this technolgy's potential . 

 

On the advertising side, this posting on Adweek by Thomas Bloch, an Asscoate Director at media agency PHD on the future impact it may have. 

 

“This opportunity will open up in two ways: first, as a precision marketing tool, using all the data the car will soon produce; secondly, as mass-reaching vehicle (pardon the pun), as self-driving cars become mini entertainment centres.

In the near future, autonomous cars will process staggering amounts of data: current and past destinations, speed of travel, demographics and biometrics of the riders, present and future weather, traffic conditions, and nearby landmarks and commercial locations—all of which marketers could access to achieve an unprecedented level of precision in consumer messaging.

 

Let’s consider what might soon be possible from a marketing perspective in this new channel for say, a coffee chain.

 

A passenger in a smart car passes a chain coffee shop on the way to work every morning. They have the coffee brand’s app. When they’re close, we programmatically target the rider, asking if they’d like to stop to pick up a medium soy latte—their preferred order at this time of day. If the rider says yes, their car is directed to the store, where their coffee is ready to be picked up at the counter,”

This type of consumer interaction is one future scenario that publisher’s must consider in their publishng roadmap. But, what can we get today and what is the experience now, I want to explore this new emerging channel where there is convergence of the smartphone and the car computer/stereo.

 

This year my wife and I exchanged our Christmas wishes and I told her I wanted to get a new car stereo as my old factory one is now obsolete with the latest changes in technology. I wanted to get one with a touch screen, GPS navigation and stereo. The slot in my vehicle for the device is a 7” w x 4” h,  a standard size.

 

In my search, I noticed that Android as an operating system is forever expanding its footprint in all devices; we see it in TV streamers (Oct blog) and now in car stereos. Android for the uninitiated is an open source software that was created by the developers of Google and they made it free to use, just like Linux.
 

 7” Android Car Player from EinCar


This is what I end up getting for $228 Cdn from a company called EinCar based in China, a 7” Android Car Player. This car stereo is part Android tablet, GPS navigation and stereo, just what I was looking for. This computer/stereo system includes a rear camera, USB and SD Card slots, Bluetooth, 3G wifi, video player and mp3 playback. It has 1G of ram and 8G storage powered by a Quad-Core 2GHz CPU. Because it is Android, I will have access to the Google Play store for their library of apps including games.

 

 

The smartphones are connected to the Android Car Player via Bluetooth to enable hands free dialling and talking and it comes with a phone keypad in the tablet’s software. The smartphone can also be used as an external device for music and video that can be played on the system through the USB port. You can use the SD card slot for your music as another option. The system suport both Android and Apple smartphones.

 
I will post my experience on this device later as part of a product review in  the ever-expanding footprint of Android devices in the “Internet of Things” marketplace that now includes smart fridges. I hope you have a great Christmas holiday season and enjoy peace and joy during this festive time. 

 
Monday, November 27, 2017

In the book written by Ryan Holiday, Growth Hacker Marketing he chronicles the use of hacker marketing tactics that has become part of the foundation of digital marketing today both the good and bad. 
 

 Source: Omega Seeds

 

What is Hacker Marketing? 

 

Lets start from the beginning, these are marketing techniques created by programmers to build a user base for their free technology. This tech start-up business model was inspired by the story of Netscape who built one of the first widely used browsers for the internet. It was released on October 13,1994 and the browser was so popular it captured 75% of users in 4 months. Then on August 9, 1995, the company had an IPO and after the first day of trading the company was valued at US$2.9 billion.

 

Give it away for free, become popular and then sell the company was the dot-com boom model. Companies with no revenues can become a billion dollar company based on the valuation of the user base. What a great business model.

 

http://growthhackermarketing.net/ 

The hacker growth marketing model is to create a self perpetuating marketing machine that reaches millions that focuses on user sign-ups not brand awareness. Ryan talks about the story of Hotmail that launched in 1996 on how how they used an email signature to help get new users. They used the signature “ Sent by Hotmail”, acquired 10 million users and then was sold to MIcrosoft for $400 million in 1997. The growth after 30 months was 30 million users of the free email service.

This viral marketing technique was one of the first digital marketing innovations and “Going Viral” meant something different now. This model and techniques has been used by Gmail, DropBox, Uber, Twitter, SnapChat. Skype Instrgragm, Pinterest, Linkedin to help build their companies. 

 

The goal of these dot-com companies was to build a superior product, create hype, be popular and sell company. They used emails, pay per click, blogs, social, publicity and platform APIs in their digital toolbox. This new breed of tech start-ups did not follow conventional rules to create hype for their products and some resorted with sinful behavior like fake social media profiles, hacking websites and make offensive or fake comments. Unfortunately, the challenge to minimize the impact of bad actors in the digital ecosystem will not go away as it s a global issue and all we can do is try to keep up. 
 

 

All the digital marketing activity in Ryan’s book though are linked to an offer/incentive such as free trial, free account or refer a friend to gain users that follows direct marketing principles. Ryan makes the point that traditional advertising was expensive and wasteful and hacker marketing was the way to go for marketers. He makes a point, but the techniques used for tech start-up does not translate well into other products at different stages of their life cycle. I see how this work for a free app, but not for the launch of a new gardening tool. Perhaps I am wrong.

 

Fast forward today there is a plethora of digital ad options that has been unleashed in this chase for the buy-out. According to an IPSO survey of CMA members there are 14 digital tools to choose from, some I call core digital, social media essentials and the third category leading edge. I put mobile in the leading edge as it a relatively young channel and the ad models are still evolving.  But today tech start-ups need revenue to attract a buyers attention now and that is advertising.

 
Future online ad competition will come from unlikely sources  like the Waze GPS Driving Navigation app that has 90 millions users that serves ads when you are at stop sign. This tidal wave of digital advertising is taking its toll though as the use of ad blockers is rising and the growing concerns of online security in a world without borders. The digital ad ecosystem is incredibly cluttered and its ad effectiveness must be considered. 

 

The next generation of Google Chrome (2018) browser will have ad blockers built into them and Safari released changes to their browser that deletes browser cookies from the website you visit to prevent surveillance marketing when you surf the web, so ads do not follow you. As with any live organic ecosystem changes will always happen, new threats will surface , but in the end Caveat Emptor – “Buyer Beware” is still the golden rule on the internet since the its beginning.

 
About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners digital publishing, event management and ad sales help. His media expertise also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor, magazine and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

Most Recent Blog Comment
nick says:
Nice post,I brought android tv box on https://www.dd4.com last month,it's cheap and useful....
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