September 5, 2018

GENERAL

Are you curious about how WHAT THE AFF came to be?

It was a dark lonely summer’s eve, on the streets of Vienna… 

OK, no, no, that’s too dramatic.

The project came about from many other failed ideas like most things do.

But, it’s easiest to get the details if you check out the interview Matuloo did with our founder, Manu.

It’s probably the most detailed breakdown of how WHAT THE AFF came to be, including why this name specifically.

“A billion dollars isn’t cool… you know what’s cool? ONE TRILLION!”

Just a few weeks after Apple hit the magic milestone, Amazon quickly followed.

Even though the stock dropped a little and the valuation is slightly below the mark, it will likely go past it again.

Amazon has been on an insane run, and Bezos is far ahead as the world’s richest person, sitting over $160 billion, followed by Bill Gates with “only” $95 billion.

We’re not even sure what lessons you can draw from Amazon and Bezos…

Perhaps the biggest one is that reinvesting your profits into growth is important if you want to create a mega-sized company.

Watch the hearings of Twitter and FB

Summer vacations are over so hearings are back. Not really correlated but just roll with it.

We do hope to see some “Senator, we run ads” replies but it’s unlikely this time.

Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg will represent their companies, Twitter and Facebook, before Congress starting today at 9:30 AM ET.

The topic of the hearing is fighting coordinated efforts to influence US politics… Not exactly affiliate marketing, but when you work with these companies on a regular basis, you probably want to know more than just their latest advertising features.

If you want to see it live, check out this YouTube livestream link.

And if you miss it, don’t worry – we’ll bring you any relevant points tomorrow.

Does your data belong to you, really?

Now that companies have had a few months to get ready for GDPR, Engadget went on to see how popular companies treat user data.

What a group of reporters from the website did was simply request their personal information from about a dozen of the most popular companies.

Companies like Netflix, Spotify and Instagram are all on their list. Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are there.

Spoiler: Not all of them do a good job.

If you use any of those and want to know how they treat your data, you should check out this piece by Engadget.

Just a fair warning, it’s a rather long read – probably 15-20 minutes if you want to cover it all.


GOOGLE

Happy birthday, Google!

Google has just turned 20. The company was first incorporated on September 4th, 1998.

In these 20 years, it has become almost synonymous with the Internet and their tools and services are what a lot of affiliates use to make their livelihood.

To mark this date, we thought we’d take a look at Google’s darker side. The company motto is (or maybe just was by now?) “Don’t be evil.”

But not so long ago, a pretty disturbing video leaked, called The Selfish Ledger… Here’s our piece on it.

Google – The Selfish Ledger

Total data collection. That’s the ultimate goal of Google, according to a video leaked earlier this year. The internally shared video titled The Selfish Ledger emerged from X, formerly known as Google X. A futuristic branch of Google that aims to radically solve the world’s problems.

But the problem and the solution they present in the video obtained by the Verge feels more like a Black Mirror episode. Nice background music, a monotone narrator and a lot of technical and sophisticated words. Behind this wall of sweetness lies a bitter ending.

Google imagines each user as a ledger of data in their database. Every choice they make on the internet, or on their device, defines them. 

If we look at this ledger the same way Richard Dawkins looked on the Selfish Gene, then we are only carriers of our data. And this data is passed to our children. Google imagines defining the ledger.


By collecting enough data and guiding the ledger towards its goals, Google can change the ledger in any way possible. With a big enough impact, Google could help us better ourselves and make decisions ahead of us.

But perhaps we didn’t give all of our data to Google. Something is missing. 

The video takes the weight of the user as an example. Google doesn’t know our weight, so the ledger begins to drive us towards giving it that information, searching for devices that give that information to it and offering it to us.

And this is a big game changer. Ad targeting defined not only by the user’s actions but all of their information. Every ad you would see would be perfect for you. No more ads for washing machines when you just bought one. Google knows it already.

In the video, the narrator talks about how with enough data cycled, we could make a “species level of understanding of complex issues like depression, health and poverty”. But then again, why tell us what to buy, what to think and perhaps even what to feel?

Ad targeting, behavioural sequencing, personalized ads. All of this automated, directly driven towards the user. Click through rates would increase dramatically. What more could an advertiser wish for?

What could the user wish for? Privacy. A humble request relative to what Google is asking for. Even after all these years, no real action has been taken. Telling you “oh yeah we get this data, but opt-out if you want” is not that much of a step towards more privacy. Let’s just pray Google wasn’t that serious about it.

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POOLSIDE CHAT

Cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all the other things affiliates like to chat about while sipping cocktails by the pool.

blankEfficient charity, even if you’re not Jeff Bezos

Since today we talked about the richest of the rich, and we know that all of them have charitable activities, we thought we’d also bring you a rational thought process into how you, as less-than-mega-rich can also have a significant contribution.

Meet Michael, a hypothetical, high earning lawyer. He makes $1000/hour and wants to do some good. He volunteers and helps clean litter from the beach. He has a warm feeling in his heart, he did something good. But he feels he could’ve done more. And he’s right.

Because with the volunteering, he lost $1000. If he rather worked overtime and donated those $1000 to hire 10 volunteers, each earning $10 an hour, the beach would look perfect. If he wanted to enjoy the sun and the fresh air, it’s okay. At least he had a great time.

But there is one problem. 

He doesn’t have that warm feeling in his heart. He knows he did the best he could, but it wasn’t him who cleaned the beach. He wants more to look good than do good.

This is only one example from a LessWrong article, a blog about human rationality which we mentioned in a past newsletter.

You see, maximizing how much good you do is important, and just donating to a charity, volunteering or raising awareness without further thought is not efficient. You may look good in other people’s eyes, but is that so important to you?

GiveWell helps you decide to which charity to donate, and they even have some “Top picks”. If you are interested to donate to a charity, or only raise awareness about an issue, their guides and recommendations will help you decide which to choose.

There are also local opportunities to donate. Perhaps there is a hospital near you which needs new instruments for their oncology.

There are countless opportunities to do good. Just make sure to be as efficient as possible. The LessWrong article will help you in the thought process, GiveWell in the action part.

Michael wasn’t smart like you. He wasn’t subscribed to our newsletter and never got the advice he needed. But you do now, and the lives of countless people are in your hands. The only thing left to do is for you to take action.

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