Monday, November 27, 2006

Targeted Advertising?

I just set up a MySpace account (unrelated to this blog, and I won’t identify it here). It states clearly in my profile that I’m married. So why does it keep feeding me ads for dating servies?

It’s clearly using some of the information in my profile to target the ads: it knows that I’m male; otherwise the dating service ads wouldn’t all contain pictures of women (to be specific, slutty-looking (and I mean that in a good sense) women in their early 20s, who all appear to be not just out of my league but probably out of the league of most MySpace users their own age). So why isn’t it noticing my marital status and thinking I might be interested in something other than dating services?

I can think of 3 possibilities:

1. Married men actually do patronize dating services in sufficiently large numbers to make these ads worthwhile.

2. Married men don’t actually patronize dating services much, but they do click on the ads, and MySpace gets paid by the click rather than by the actual business generated.

3. MySpace really hasn’t gotten its act together yet when it comes to targeting advertising.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Obscure Musical Thought

As Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Would Do You Good” is running through my head, it seems that a lot of the musical ideas were taken from the Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That”.

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Friday, November 24, 2006


Lately I’ve been having trouble focusing attention on this blog long enough to do a full post, because…well, you know, there’s a lot going on, etc…. To keep the blog alive, I’m going to try more quick posts, which will hopefully still be good food for thought but not so eloquent or well-reasoned.

Here’s a thought for today: the current condition of the US labor market should not be described as “weak” or “strong” but rather “quiescent.” There aren’t many layoffs going on, and there isn’t much hiring going on. There aren’t many people looking for jobs, and there aren’t many businesses looking for employees. I think most statistics bear out this view of the labor market. I’m not sure what the implications are. I do have some thoughts, which I may address in a later post.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunset over Hyannis

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I will be on vacation from tomorrow (Nov. 3) until the following Friday (Nov. 10) and probably will not be posting. But just in case I get inspired (perhaps for a post about the economics of off-season retailing in resort areas) I'm testing out posting via email using my Blackberry (hence the tag at the bottom). If you're reading this, I guess that means the test was successful.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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There is no productivity problem.

You’ve probably heard about the awful US productivity numbers for the 3rd quarter (productivity roughly flat, instead of rising as it usually does, and this on top of unimpressive productivity growth in the 3 preceding quarters). If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you shouldn’t be surprised, and if you agree with the argument I made here, you shouldn’t be upset. The 3rd quarter is part of a cyclical downturn in productivity growth. It’s perfectly normal, and in this case, even predictable, and it does not mean that the era of rapid productivity growth is coming to an end.

Let’s take a look at the numbers for the last 4 productivity cycles. And let’s stack the deck against the current cycle by measuring from peak to peak and assuming that we have not yet reached the peak. (Obviously, we are past the peak, and if we wanted to measure accurately from peak to peak, we would have to leave off the weaker numbers for the last 2 quarters.) OK. From 1986Q1 to 1990Q2, business sector productivity rose at an average annual rate of 1.4%. From 1990Q2 to 1994Q4, the rate was 1.6%. From 1994Q4 to 2000Q2 it was 2.5%. From 2000Q2 to 2006Q3 it has been 2.8%. Revisions to employment statistics might shave a tenth of a percentage point off that average and give us 2.7%. Not a rate that I would complain about.

It’s always possible that the longer-term trend of productivity growth has also slowed, just as it’s possible that the US is already in a recession. So far, though, we don’t have evidence that either of these propositions is true.

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