Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why Is the Sound-Effects Guy From “Police Academy” Talking About Robots and Web Ads?

Sure, Solve Media could put out a blog post about robots, fake clicks and their effect on the Internet advertising business.

And they have! A bunch! Here’s an example.

But it would be much more fun for the startup, and for us, if they wrote a kids’ book about the topic. And then hired Michael Winslow, the sound-effects guy from the “Police Academy” movies, to read it to a bunch of kids, with a camera rolling.

You can read “Bot or Not” for yourself, or watch Winslow doing it here:

Reminder: Solve Media are the guys who are trying to turn annoying “captchas” into ad opportunities for Web publishers. Since captchas are in large part supposed to cut down on fake robot/spider/zombie “traffic,” Solve has been banging the drum for a while about bots, which it has said account for anywhere from 10 percent to 29 percent of Web traffic.

Some of that stuff is benign, and includes Google’s Web-crawling army, while other stuff is more malicious. In any case, Solve’s argument is that all of it inflates publishers’ traffic counts, and dupes advertisers into paying for stuff no one ever sees, and ultimately undermines the Web display ad business, which is precarious enough as it is.

What’s that? You just clicked on this because of “Police Academy”? Okay. Remember, this was a huge hit in 1984.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik