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The Monday 6 - March 15, 2021

Kyle Petzinger
Kyle Petzinger
Hello friend,
Another Monday, another 6.
If you missed the last one, all issues will be available in perpetuity at https://monday6.kylepetzinger.com
Fair warning, #4 this week is about some deep details of digital advertising, and I may have got a bit carried away. This is a topic I follow extremely closely, not the least of which because it is quite literally my job. 😁 I don’t expect to opine on this topic every week, but I like to explain how the sausage is made a bit more, primarily because the mainstream narratives are so often misconstrued, uninformed, or flat out wrong.
While I’m here:
  • No, Facebook is not listening to you.
  • What you think about Cambridge Analytica is probably wrong.
  • Even if you think you’re not, you are influenced by advertising.
As always, please reply and send me any feedback you may have, good or bad. It’s greatly appreciated!

1. Flowchart Fun
Maybe it’s just the way my brain works, but I think a good flowchart is sometimes the best way to convey information. The problem is, creating a flowchart is usually a pain. Flowchart Fun is an entirely text-based flowchart creation tool that has virtually all the features you need. The result can be downloaded as an image (.SVG) OR shared with a unique URL (click ‘share’ on the bottom right).
Flowchart.fun - create flowcharts with just text
Flowchart.fun - create flowcharts with just text
2. Iceberger
Iceberger - Draw an iceberg and see how it will float.
Iceberger - Draw an iceberg and see how it will float.
3. Vaccination Appointment Twitter Bot
The vaccine rollout in the United States, overall, is going pretty well. On Friday, March 12, the country passed 100 million vaccine doses put into arms, and President Biden announced all adults will be eligible no later than May 1st. As of March 14, we’re averaging 2.4 million shots per day, and it’s still rising. Vaccine supply is ramping up very rapidly and will soon not be the limiting factor.
I remain flummoxed why states & localities were seemingly unprepared to distribute as much as possible on day one, but I digress. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
However, California, the land that created Google, Apple, Facebook, and more, is still plagued by a patchwork of terrible websites & systems run by local hospital systems, counties, and more to schedule vaccination appointments. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
Thankfully this Twitter bot was created and checks the official myturn.ca.gov website for open vaccination appointments. Once it finds an open slot, it tweets it out so they get filled ASAP. For those eligible, I recommend checking it out and seeing if it helps you grab an appointment.
Here’s an example:
California Vaccine Bot
(08:09 PM) Los Angeles has 322 appointments between 03-13-2021 - 03-18-2021 🙌
Book one now at https://t.co/p19vy6mLFJ! #LosAngelesAppts

Location details below 🧵
4. Google's Privacy Pivot?
I work in digital marketing, with the bulk of my experience in the online/digital advertising space. My small corner of the world was rocked by this blog post from Google, the world’s largest recipient of digital advertising dollars.
Google charts a course towards a more privacy-first web
But what does this announcement really mean?
Cookies, Explained
First, a bit of background about the technicalities of what we’re actually discussing. Cookies are small text files saved to your computer that typically persist even after you close a tab or your browser. The technology is very old (in Internet terms) but they’re still extremely pervasive and the best way to accomplish several backend functions online. Among other things, one example is cookies allow you to stay logged in to websites even after you leave.
Cookies are also an integral part of the digital advertising ecosystem.
First-Party vs Third-Party Cookies
Now that you understand cookies (at least conceptually), let’s dive into the two main types.
From Clearcode:
First-party cookies are created by the host domain – the domain the user is visiting.
This basically means the browser is able to remember key pieces of information, such as which items you add to shopping carts, your username and passwords, and language preferences.
Third-party cookies are those created by domains other than the one the user is visiting at the time, and are mainly used for tracking and online-advertising purposes. They also allow website owners to provide certain services, such as live chats.
Google, Facebook, Amazon, et. al typically use a combination of first & third-party cookies to help target digital advertising.
There’s a general narrative that seems to have taken hold:
  • First-party cookies = good
  • Third-party cookies = bad
This framing is far too simplistic, in my opinion.
“Privacy” & “tracking” are highly loaded terms that require a new framing in the Internet age. I highly encourage you to read this piece by Ben Thompson that dives into the inherent tradeoffs, dissonance, and incorrect framing of these words.
Privacy Fundamentalism – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
What Google Actually Announced
Back to the prompt for this essay: Google announced they will no longer use third-party cookies to target/track users for the purpose of digital advertising AND not create a direct replacement for that technology. They actually announced that Chrome (the most popular browser in the world, owned by Google) would stop leveraging third-party cookies a year ago, but this announcement formalizes it even further.
My Take
Sorry to spill so much ink to leave you with this conclusion: This announcement is (from most advertisers and Google’s perspective) not much of an announcement at all. However, for other advertising platforms that rely on third-party data, this is potentially an existential threat.
Google has plenty of data to offer effective targeting without third-party cookies, but they’re the 800-pound gorilla in the digital advertising market. They subsist mostly on search advertising (which doesn’t need cookies at all), while platforms not owned by Facebook, Amazon, or Microsoft will likely suffer.
In Summary
Google is signaling a change that actually isn’t that big of a deal, at least for itself. The announcement is primarily to win PR points for protecting individual’s “privacy”, where the net result will likely further entrench their dominant position in the market.
“Privacy” in the digital age is fraught with tradeoffs that most seem unwilling to admit. From the Statechery article linked above:
…this is not to say that privacy isn’t important: it is one of many things that are important. That, though, means that online privacy in particular should not be the end-all be-all but rather one part of a difficult set of trade-offs that need to be made when it comes to dealing with this new reality that is the Internet. Being an absolutist will lead to bad policy (although encryption may be the exception that proves the rule).
Said another way, Google is doing an action that almost certainly reinforces its bigness, but is also perceived as pro-privacy at the same time. What outcomes do we want? There is always a trade-off.
5. what3words
what3words is a web and mobile app with an extremely clever concept: divide the entire world into a grid of 3-meter by 3-meter squares and give them each a 3-word “address” in the format of ///word.word.word
The words are randomly assigned to each square and will always stay the same.
Examples:
The theoretical use cases are quite useful:
  • Meet at a specific spot at a Music Festival (remember those?)
  • Tell a friend exactly where you are in a giant park
  • Point to where the entrance is to a large building
The killer feature would be if the concept could be used directly in every other map app, but alas, it isn’t there yet. I still applaud the idea, however, and think it’s useful for specific use cases.
6. Oh Snap Phone Grip
I’ve long been on the hunt for a phone accessory with all of the following features:
  1. Has a grip
  2. Props up the phone to watch videos
  3. Allow for wireless charging
  4. Not be too bulky
  5. Be magnetic
The Ohsnap* (This is a dumb name. Although maybe I shouldn’t be too mean: I named this thing after a day of the week and a number.) is a phone grip that nails all the above.
I’ve had and used this for about 9 months and I’m a big fan. They offer their own wireless charger and stand* that I got for my WFH desk and it’s been great. I recommend!
Oh Snap phone grip
Oh Snap phone grip
*These links are affiliate links. I’ll get a small portion if you like and decide to buy. I only share things I like and use myself, don’t worry. 😊
That’s it! Please feel free to leave feedback for me using the buttons below.
See you next Monday.
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Kyle Petzinger
Kyle Petzinger @kylepetz

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