#advertising

Charles Cooper and Seth Rosenblatt:

Microsoft went through a blogger’s private Hotmail account in order to trace the identity of a source who allegedly leaked trade secrets.

Technically legal or not, this is absolutely insane. And awkward — here’s the copy from Microsoft’s "Scroogled" Gmail campaign:

Outlook.com is different—we don’t go through your email to sell ads.

Nope, we just go through it to get information we need to use in lawsuits. You literally cannot make this up.

And if users needed even more reasons to ditch Hotmail today — beyond the fact that it’s 2014 — Google has a nearly opposite announcement today:

Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email. Gmail has supported HTTPS since the day it launched, and in 2010 we made HTTPS the default. Today’s change means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you’re using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.

In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100 percent of them—is encrypted while moving internally. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail’s servers, but also as they move between Google’s data centers—something we made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.

Where’s Mark Penn when you need him?

Yiren Lu:

On the other hand, the continued success of companies like Apple, which are old guard yet somehow don’t seem out of date, implies that there is still another force at work. It is possible, albeit difficult, for a large, established company to stay relevant — but it requires recognition that to a software engineer in his 20s, with endless opportunities, what matters most is not salary, or stability, or job security, but cool. Cool exists at the ineffable confluence of smart people, big money and compelling product. You can buy it, but only up to a point. For example, Microsoft, while perpetually cast as an industry dinosaur, is in fact in very good financial shape. Starting salaries are competitive with those at Google and Facebook; top talent is promoted rapidly. Last year, every Microsoft intern was given a Surface tablet; in July, they were flown to Seattle for an all-expenses-paid week whose activities included a concert headlined by Macklemore and deadmau5.

Despite these efforts, Microsoft’s cool feels coerced. One reason might be its sheer size — with a market cap of $315 billion, Microsoft will never enjoy the headlong rush of a company with nothing to lose, the bite of the underdog. But I think a more important reason is that so many of its products came up short for so long that its offerings now, however well packaged, are greeted with skepticism. About two years ago, I started noticing an advertisement for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 on YouTube. Internet Explorer was the dominant web browser for nearly a decade and is still used by about a fifth of all Internet goers, according to StatCounter, but it has fallen out of favor with the tech savvy. Many websites are not compatible with Internet Explorer; its development tools are thin compared with those of Chrome and Firefox. The commercial, however, was excellent — sleek and sophisticated and featuring a dubstep remix of “Too Close” by Alex Clare; I distinctly remember watching it through to the end, watching it again and then thinking, That commercial almost made me want to use Internet Explorer. Of course, I never did switch to Internet Explorer.

Great advertising mixed with a great product, works. Great advertising mixed with a shitty product is a waste of money.

Dina Bass:

Microsoft’s Corp.’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, in an effort to reignite growth, is shuffling management and putting former political operative Mark Penn in the new role of chief strategy officer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Nadella’s mistake number one: not firing this joker.1

Here’s Nadella’s memo confirming this move and the rest of the shakeups on the executive team. And here’s more on Penn within Microsoft.


  1. Though his new role isn’t necessarily a promotion — it’s a shame he’s sticking around at all. 

Verses

A few days ago, I was watching football when an ad came on that seemed both familiar and foreign. The music was familiar. The devices were familiar. And then came the voice.

"We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute…"

I knew I had heard both that voice and those words before. In fact, I knew I had heard that voice reading those words before.

"We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion."

Then it hit me: Robin Williams. This must be some sort of trailer for a new film. This looks like a movie trailer. And again, the music is so familiar. And Hollywood loves to use the same songs in trailers over and over again.

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