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Poof! When Google extended the cookie deadline, urgency behind testing publishers’ new ad products subsided

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Poof! When Google extended the cookie deadline, urgency behind testing publishers’ new ad products subsided

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a 10-part series that examines life after the third-party cookie. Visit this interactive graphic outlining the full series here.

When Marilois Snowman, the founder and CEO of independent media planning and buying agency Mediastruction, first heard two months ago that Google would hold off on killing third-party cookies in its Chrome browser until the end of 2023, she expected her advertiser clients might decrease testing on cookieless ad alternatives as a result. Now, two months since Google gave the industry a reprieve, the air is slowly seeping out of the cookieless balloon.

“I have not had a client ask about cookie deprecation again,” said Snowman who works with clients ranging from car dealer groups to regional banks.

Already, publishers said they are feeling the lack of momentum behind cookieless ad products and tech they’ve spent the last year or more building. “I don’t think we’re losing steam as much as there’s less urgency to migrate to them,” said Blair Tapper, senior vice president at The Independent U.S. regarding the publisher’s new contextual audience segments built from its first-party data.

“There is a question as to whether or not advertisers are going to pull back.”

Rebeca Solórzano, svp of programmatic operations and strategy at Forbes

Publishers, in general, took a deep sigh when Google pushed the deadline for killing off the cookies they’ve relied on to bring behavioral ad dollars to their sites. Indeed, many publishers said they just were not ready to wean themselves from cookies entirely, and there was a great deal of confusion about how Google’s cookie-replacing targeting methods would work in conjunction with their ad businesses. 

Now, though publishers said advertisers remain interested in the contextual and first-party products they’ve built — and they themselves are committed to staying the course in offering them — some worry advertisers could shy away from plans to spend on cookieless advertising. “There is a question as to whether or not advertisers are going to pull back,” said Rebeca Solórzano, svp of programmatic operations and strategy at Forbes, regarding the general conversation among publishers.

“You might see agencies and brands kicking the can [because] it’s going to affect your cost [key performance indicators] like cost per acquisition,” said Snowman, whose agency works with midmarket clients who are always concerned with quarterly business results.

Testing will wane ’till they’re backed into a corner again’



With the pressure off, publishers said advertisers have been less aggressive in terms of testing ad tech that doesn’t use third-party cookies. “It’s been more test-and-learn whereas it may have all been test,” said Tapper. 

According to one large publisher who asked not to be named, before the Google extension, marketers were spending to test cookieless ad targeting, but since then, “They’ve let loose on the throttle,” and there’s been little movement beyond the “pretty low test-and-learn budgets” that advertisers had already been planning. “We continue to see widespread interest in our cookieless solutions from marketers and agencies along with requests for test and learn frameworks,” said the exec. “However, actual spend coordinated with us directly has been minimal. It remains an information-gathering process.” The exec did not provide details on actual spending amounts.

Snowman said she’s seeing low test budgets from her advertiser clients, too, despite having expected that spending to have picked up to 30% to 50% when the original cookie deadline of early 2022 had neared. “We still aren’t anywhere close to 50% cookieless testing, in general,” Snowman said.

“We’re probably only at 10% and, really, the analysis is only interesting to the trading team and account manager,” she added, noting her clients “right now seem more concerned with general business results.”

“If they had a test and it was ready, they’re doing it. The difference is that people might actually finish their test.”

Scott Messer, svp media at Leaf Group

The testing pullback doesn’t necessarily result in an overall ad budget pullback, though, said Tapper. She said the majority of spending by advertisers on The Independent U.S. has remained constant, although some advertisers have asked to adjust the amount of money allocated to testing cookieless audience targeting, so it is “a line item as part of a bigger solution.”

Scott Messer, svp media at Leaf Group, which owns publications including Livestrong and eHow, agreed that marketers who had already planned to test new targeting methods won’t shut it down. “If they had a test and it was ready, they’re doing it,” he said. “The difference is that people might actually finish their test.”

While her clients have not reduced test budgets, Snowman said many have delayed tests until next year. She said cookieless approaches involving techniques — such as targeting people in a specific geography who over-index in relation to a particular brand’s product, in contrast with targeting a third-party cookie-based audience segment — will take longer to deliver return-on-investment. “It’s going to take a longer time to see the results against that cohort audience,” she said. “It won’t be till they’re backed into a corner again that they’re willing to accept the cost inefficiencies of testing.”

Shoring up data and measurement

Testing goes hand-in-hand with reliable measurement, of course. And now that publishers are not forced to transition away from third-party cookies immediately, some, such as the large publishing exec interviewed for this story, are making sure measurement capabilities associated with new ad products are dialed in.

While standard metrics like clicks might suffice, said the exec, the added time will help the publisher develop internal metrics or work with third-party measurement vendors to gauge things like brand lift and sales. Those metrics can “show that your ROI is still going to be solid in order to demonstrate the efficacy of the data,” said the exec.

Tapper and other publishers said the cookie extension has given them more time to improve the products they had in development and add enhancements that could help convince advertisers to spend on them in the future. For instance, The Independent is “working more closely” with Integral Ad Science, in the hopes of satisfying U.S. advertiser demand for ad fraud protection and brand safety features, she said. “It’s given us more flexibility in terms of our priorities,” said Tapper, who added, “We’re able to allocate more resources to other elements.”

At Forbes, the extension gives more time to strengthen audience segments the business publisher has been constructing from its first-party data, said Solórzano. “We can build more robust look-alike models and say, ‘This is what a c-level audience reads,” she said. “That’s a great thing that comes out of this extension,” Solórzano concluded: “being able not just to collect the data but to interpret the data and make it meaningful.”

https://digiday.com/?p=423852

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Leaked Alder Lake prices strike at Ryzen’s CPU dominance

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Leaked Alder Lake prices strike at Ryzen’s CPU dominance

Here’s what leaked retailer pricing tells us about the performance of Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake S CPUs.

6core vs 8core cpus

Intel / AMD / janniwet / Shutterstock

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Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake processors aren’t upon us yet, but another price leak indicates they might indeed compete with AMD’s best CPUs, unlike current top-end Core offerings.

The latest oopsie comes from retail IT vendor Provantage, which puts the top-end Core i9-12900K at $605. The IT vendor also lists the Core i7-12700K at $420, as well as a Core i5-12600K for $283.

After news reports of the part numbers and prices surfaced, Provantage removed the listings. The latest leak follows reports two weeks ago—supposedly from European retailers—that placed the Core i9-12900K at $705, the Core i7-12700K at $495, and the Core i5-12600 at $343.

Before you jump to any conclusions, we want to point out that as reliable as a leaked retail price might seem, they can very unreliable too. Often times stores prep for impending launches by using placeholder prices and specs. Those listings are then updated when the stores receive the final information.

The leaked info itself from Provantage would indicate it’s not quite baked yet. For example, we know the top-end Alder Lake S chip will feature 8 performance cores and 8 efficient cores (Intel’s Alder Lake chips feature a radical new mixture of big and little cores), yet the listing at Provantage lists the top-end chip as an 8-core design. 

alder lake provantage Provantage via Hothardware.com

Hothardware.com snapped this image of Intel’s 12th gen Alder Lake CPUs at retailer Provantage. that has since been removed.

Still, both combined retail leaks reinforce what we’ve already come to conclude so far: Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake S will at least suit up with the intent to take on AMD’s 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X.

That’s a marked change from the $550 8-core 11th gen Rocket Lake CPU, which lost badly to AMD’s $550 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X chip. With the 11th-gen desktop chips, Intel didn’t even try to field a CPU against AMD’s $750 Ryzen 9 5950X.

With its increased core efficiency, newer manufacturing process, and physically more cores than previous Intel consumer desktop CPUs, it’s entirely possible Intel’s 12th Core i9 will actually end up being somewhere between $604 and $705 when it comes out.

intel alder lake performance core benchmark Intel

Intel is touting a marked increase in core efficiency with its 12th gen Alder Lake CPUs.

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One of founding fathers of hardcore tech reporting, Gordon has been covering PCs and components since 1998.

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The best Windows backup software

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The best Windows backup software

Updated

The best programs for keeping your data and Windows safely backed up.

Rob Schultz/IDG

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We need backup software for our PCs because our storage drives won’t last forever. Backup software ensures we’re covered when the day comes that our primary drive up and dies.

It would be nice if Microsoft itself provided Windows users with something like Apple’s Time Machine: an effective, set-it-and-forget-it, total system recovery and backup solution that requires little interaction or thought on the user’s part. 

Instead, Microsoft delivers a mishmash of restore points, recovery discs, file backup, and even the un-retired System Backup (Windows 7), which was probably originally put out to pasture for its propensity to choke on dissimilar hardware. Online backup services are another option, but desktop clients tend to offer far more flexibility. 

Plenty of vendors have stepped in with worthy alternatives, and while none are quite as slick or transparent as Time Machine, some come darn close—and many are free. Read on for our top picks. 

Updated on 9/15/21 to include our review of the newest version of Aomei Backupper 6. It remains our favorite free backup software for Windows because it provides a near-total backup solution, with a generous number of features. As a paid program, however, there are better options. Read more about it below. And scroll to the bottom of this article to see links to all our backup software reviews.

Best overall backup software

There’s a reason True Image is renowned in the world of backup software. It’s capable, flexible, and rock-solid reliable. Indeed, it’s easily the most comprehensive data safety package on the planet.

Besides offering unparalleled backup functionality that’s both robust and easy to navigate, True Image integrates security apps as well, which protect against malware, malicious websites, and other threats using real-time monitoring. Read our full review.

Best free backup software

Among the free programs we tested, Backupper Standard wins primarily because it has the most features, including imaging, file backup, disk cloning, and plain file syncing, plus multiple scheduling options (see our full review). This was the case with Backupper 4, and the latest version has only added more options, making it a surprisingly well-rounded free offering. We hit a few performance snags with less-conventional system setups, but for the average user, it should perform as expected.

What to look for in backup software

As with most things—don’t over-buy. Features you don’t need add complexity and may slow down your system. Additionally, if you intend to back up to a newly purchased external hard drive, check out the software that ships with it. Seagate, WD, and others provide backup utilities that are adequate for the average user.

File backup: If you want to back up only your data (operating systems and programs can be reinstalled, though it’s mildly time- and effort-consuming), a program that backs up just the files you select is a major time-saver. Some programs automatically select the appropriate files if you use the Windows library folders (Documents, Photos, Videos, etc.).

Image backup/Imaging: Images are byte-for-byte snapshots of your entire hard drive (normally without the empty sectors) or partition, and can be used to restore both the operating system and data. Imaging is the most convenient to restore in case of a system crash, and also ensures you don’t miss anything important.

Boot media:  Should your system crash completely, you need an alternate way to boot and run the recovery software. Any backup program should be able to create a bootable optical disc or USB thumb drive. Some will also create a restore partition on your hard drive, which can be used instead if the hard drive is still operational.

Scheduling: If you’re going to back up effectively, you need to do it on a regular basis. Any backup program worth its salt allows you to schedule backups.

Versioning: If you’re overwriting previous files, that’s not backup, it’s one-way syncing or mirroring. Any backup program you use should allow you to retain several previous backups, or with file backup, previous versions of the file. The better software will retain and cull older backups according to criteria you establish.

Optical support: Every backup program supports hard drives, but as obsolescent as they may seem, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are great archive media. If you’re worried about optical media’s reliability, M-Disc claims its discs are reliable for a thousand years, claims that are backed up by Department of Defense testing.

Online support: An offsite copy of your data is a hedge against physical disasters such as flood, fire, and power surges. Online storage services are a great way to maintain an offsite copy of your data. Backup to Dropbox and the like is a nice feature to have.

FTP and SMB/AFP: Backing up to other computers or NAS boxes on your network or in remote locations (say, your parent’s house) is another way of physically safeguarding your data with an offsite, or at least physically discrete copy. FTP can be used for offsite, while SMB (Windows and most OS’s) and AFP (Apple) are good for other PCs or NAS on your local network.

Real time: Real-time backup means that files are backed up whenever they change, usually upon creation or save. It’s also called mirroring and is handy for keeping an immediately available copy of rapidly changing data sets. For less volatile data sets, the payoff doesn’t compensate for the drain on system resources. Instead, scheduling should be used.

Continuous backup: In this case, ‘continuous’ simply means backing up on a tight schedule, generally every 5 to 15 minutes, instead of every day or weekly. Use continuous backup for rapidly changing data sets where transfer rates are too slow, or computing power is too precious for real-time backup.

Performance: Most backups proceed in the background or during dead time, so performance isn’t a huge issue in the consumer space. However, if you’re backing up multiple machines or to multiple destinations, or dealing with very large data sets, speed is a consideration.

How we test

We run each program through the various types of backups it’s capable of. This is largely to test reliability and hardware compatibility, but we time two: an approximately 115GB system image (two partitions), and a roughly 50GB image created from a set of smaller files and folders. We then mount the images and test their integrity via the program’s restore functions. We also test the USB boot drives created by the programs.

All of our reviews

If you’d like to learn more about our top picks as well as other options, you can find links below to all of our backup software reviews. We’ll keep evaluating new programs and re-evaluating existing software on a regular basis, so be sure to check back for our current impressions.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Jon is a Juilliard-trained musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time (late 70s) computer enthusiast living in the San Francisco bay area. [email protected]

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Razer just made gamer thimbles

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Razer just made gamer thimbles

Or maybe they’re yoga pants for your thumbs?

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Razer has never been afraid to take a shot on products that seem unusual at first glance. Witness its RGB-infused N95 mask, the now-defunct Razer Game Store with its own zVault currency, or the first-gen Firefly mousepad, which has evolved into something special but originally prompted us to review it against a ripped-up piece of cardboard. The company’s latest offering might just take the cake though. This week, Razer introduced gamer thimbles.

Yes, thimbles. You know, like the Monopoly piece (or the sewing accessory for more worldly folks out there). Seriously.

Well, not quite. If you simply can’t abide sweaty palms and greasy fingerprints interfering with your marathon mobile Fortnite sessions, the new Razer gaming finger sleeve may be up your alley. “Slip on and never slip up with Razer Gaming Finger Sleeve that will seal your mobile victory,” Razer’s site breathlessly boasts.  “Woven with high-sensitivity silver fiber for enhanced aim and control, our breathable sleeves keep your fingers deadly cool in the heat of battle, so you’ll always have a grip on the game.”

Razer says the 0.8mm-thick sleeves are sweat absorbent, and that they’re made from nylon and spandex. So maybe they’re more like gamer yoga pants? But you know, for your fingers?

Either way it’s ludicrous. And unlike most of Razer’s gear, the gamer thimbles understandably (yet sadly) lack RGB lighting. But if you want to wear your dedication to the Cult of Razer on your slee…thumb, or maybe just look snazzier when you’re passing Go and collecting $200, you can pick up a pair of Razer gaming finger sleeves on the company’s website for $10. The truly dedicated can double down to look especially gamer:

razer gamer thimbles 2 Razer

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