Author Topic: And! Amazon rank-stripped me  (Read 14417 times)  

Online JRTomlin

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #150 on: November 23, 2017, 10:35:42 AM »
Yes, it's evident that the Cinderella (KU) is treated much more leniently than the rest. However, the next quote explains the system perfectly.

and yet authors still try to 'spike' the system instead of accepting a more natural progressive growth of sales on the back of actual popularity of the book and organic take-up. Which I believe would not warrant any reaction at all by Amazon's 'spike bots'
Nonsense. Businesses advertise and that includes publishing businesses. It is part of any business progression. Saying you should publish your novels and then cross your fingers that thousands of people 'naturally' discover it is absurd.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 10:39:08 AM by JRTomlin »

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #151 on: November 23, 2017, 10:41:37 AM »
Nonsense. Businesses advertise and that includes publishing businesses. It is part of any business progression. Saying you should publish you novels and then cross your fingers that thousands of people 'naturally' discover it is absurd.

You're entitled to your opinion. I won't hold it against you in any way, shape or form :D The fact that Amazon appears to agree with me because they terminate spikes abruptly (fairly, unfairly, right or wrong) would negate your view.

I have seen 'ramping' of products and services in many areas in my business career. There is a big difference between that and organic/dynamic growth. One is a 'bubble' the other is stable and has legs.


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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #152 on: November 23, 2017, 10:45:30 AM »
Dunno. It doesn't really make sense to me outside the no-competition-leads-to-a-bad-product explanation. There's just no one out there pushing KDP to up its game, so why should Amazon bother funding improvements?
To me, that's the heart of the problem. Customers aren't much affected by the problems we see. Despite all the glitches, Amazon can keep them supplied with books. The fact that it doesn't deal with some of its vendors well is an issue only for those vendors.

If competitors were strong enough to offer us incentives not to be exclusive with Amazon--or even perhaps to be exclusively non-Amazon--then Amazon would do more. It upped the royalty rate when Apple raised theirs, and Apple was doing quite a bit of showcasing indie books at the time, but Apple has since done very little to make publishing with them more appealing. Barnes and Noble occasionally does things, like making a hardcover option available to Nook Press writers--and then kills the whole thing by not giving it distribution channels. Kobo's ads appear promising right now, so maybe something will come of that, but probably not enough to make Amazon really take notice. Of course, Rakuten is another massive company like Amazon that might also lose interest in ebooks when it has so many irons in the fire. The same is probably true of Google, which might also have had the clout to compete more with Amazon if it had really wanted to.

In last five years, Amazon has moved from 60% of the US ebook market to over 83%. It's even higher than that in the UK, despite all the Amazon boycott activities a few years ago. Even in places like Canada and Australia, where the Amazon presence was a lot lower five years ago, Amazon has something like 60%. Authors can go wide--but it would be pretty hard to make a living from all the other outlets without Amazon.


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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #153 on: November 23, 2017, 10:54:20 AM »
Nonsense. Businesses advertise and that includes publishing businesses. It is part of any business progression. Saying you should publish your novels and then cross your fingers that thousands of people 'naturally' discover it is absurd.
I think the issue is not so much advertise vs. not advertise as it is how to advertise. I'm not sure Tobias is saying just cross your fingers. I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what he was saying was that big bursts of advertising aimed at producing huge spikes may not be the way to go.

It does seem as if Amazon, whether deliberately or accidentally, is making it more difficult for spikes to have a long-term benefit. It used to be easier to ride that tail, which has now shrunken considerably, has it not? Unless one is shooting for a bestseller list, it seems as if having lots of little ads over time is better. Of course, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive, but if Amazon is going to keep raining on the parade for at least some people, for me that shifts the balance in terms of how I'd want to advertise. Of course, never having gotten a BookBub, I may have a very different view from those of you who've seen enormous benefits from them in the past. :)


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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #154 on: November 23, 2017, 11:06:35 AM »
I think the issue is not so much advertise vs. not advertise as it is how to advertise. I'm not sure Tobias is saying just cross your fingers. I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what he was saying was that big bursts of advertising aimed at producing huge spikes may not be the way to go.

Correct! Think of it like this.
Author A does a BB on Monday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author B does a BB on Tuesday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author C does a BB on Wednesday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author D does a BB on Thursday, gets a spike and rides the tail.

Fill in the blanks, then multiply it by as many promotions as you tend to use in the course of a campaign.

Now, look at it from Amazon's point of view. They want to give their readers/buyers customers a good experience, so they try to create a system that rewards the products that are steadily selling good numbers of items on a week in week out basis, then they come across these spikes, thousands of them which upset Amazon's attempts at presenting a cogent and reputable system for putting good material in front of the reader. Just because it spikes on a free, or 99 cent offer doesn't mean its good material or worthy of high rank. Yet Amazon WANTS the reader to have that good experience so trips the spike over to keep the rankings meaningful. You have one objective, but it's not Amazon's. They are doing whatever they have to in the interest of the reader/customer.

AMS might be more acceptable to Amazon because they can control the reader/customer experience. External forces creating unknown results doesn't suit their world because it distorts everything. Which has been my argument from the outset nearly two years ago. Flogging something to death isn;t marketing and promotion - it's ramping or spiking and Amazon don't appear to like it.


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Online JRTomlin

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #155 on: November 23, 2017, 11:17:22 AM »
You're entitled to your opinion. I won't hold it against you in any way, shape or form :D The fact that Amazon appears to agree with me because they terminate spikes abruptly (fairly, unfairly, right or wrong) would negate your view.

I have seen 'ramping' of products and services in many areas in my business career. There is a big difference between that and organic/dynamic growth. One is a 'bubble' the other is stable and has legs.
Which is why, of course, NO businesses advertise, including Amazon. Amazon spending around $7.2 billion on marketing in 2016 is absolute proof they don't believe in advertising, isn't it?  ::)

Their dominance of so many markets is purely 'organic', right?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 11:23:10 AM by JRTomlin »

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Offline It's A Mystery

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #156 on: November 23, 2017, 11:24:10 AM »
I extract some hope from this, because Jeff Bezos, whatever else he may be, is intelligent. At some point, he's going to realize that there are some things that can't be automated, and detecting scam books may well be one of them.

Realistically, we're also reaching a point at which further automation won't be sustainable. Driverless cars could well eventually replace taxi drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers, etc. Plans are afoot to automate most fast food jobs and eventually even restaurants. The list goes on. The problem is that our economy doesn't work unless there are enough consumers to keep buying the products served to us by automatons. Drive enough people into unemployment, and the customer bases begins to wither.

Elon Musk has already proposed a steep tax on machines that take the place of people. That's an idea that probably isn't going to catch on right away but could eventually.

Universal basic income, shorter working weeks and more job shares help to solve that.

We need to start focusing on social time rather than working constantly all our lives. We should be embracing it, not smashing the machines. :D

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #157 on: November 23, 2017, 11:27:25 AM »
Universal basic income, shorter working weeks and more job shares help to solve that.

We need to start focusing on social time rather than working constantly all our lives. We should be embracing it, not smashing the machines. :D

Absolutely! More time to read :D


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Offline Nate Hoffelder

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #158 on: November 23, 2017, 11:28:37 AM »
Correct! Think of it like this.
Author A does a BB on Monday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author B does a BB on Tuesday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author C does a BB on Wednesday, gets a spike and rides the tail.
Author D does a BB on Thursday, gets a spike and rides the tail.

Fill in the blanks, then multiply it by as many promotions as you tend to use in the course of a campaign.

Now, look at it from Amazon's point of view. They want to give their readers/buyers customers a good experience, so they try to create a system that rewards the products that are steadily selling good numbers of items on a week in week out basis, then they come across these spikes, thousands of them which upset Amazon's attempts at presenting a cogent and reputable system for putting good material in front of the reader. Just because it spikes on a free, or 99 cent offer doesn't mean its good material or worthy of high rank. Yet Amazon WANTS the reader to have that good experience so trips the spike over to keep the rankings meaningful. You have one objective, but it's not Amazon's. They are doing whatever they have to in the interest of the reader/customer.

AMS might be more acceptable to Amazon because they can control the reader/customer experience. External forces creating unknown results doesn't suit their world because it distorts everything. Which has been my argument from the outset nearly two years ago. Flogging something to death isn;t marketing and promotion - it's ramping or spiking and Amazon don't appear to like it.
If Amazon doesn't like sales spikes then why does it offer some of its titles - free - to Amazon Prime members each month? This causes the titles to jump up the best-seller list.

If Amazon doesn't like sales spikes then why does it have its own spike-making email promotions (Goodreads, but also a several newsletters)?

i think you are trying so hard to excuse Amazon's actions here that you overlooked the fact that Amazon could have lessened the impact of sales spikes by quietly changing their ranking algorithms. There was no need to take a drastic and obvious step of rank-yanking.
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Offline It's A Mystery

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #159 on: November 23, 2017, 11:40:07 AM »
Absolutely! More time to read :D

Ha! Exactly! These could be boom years for authors with no one working! :D

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #160 on: November 23, 2017, 11:40:15 AM »


i think you are trying so hard to excuse Amazon's actions here that you overlooked the fact that Amazon could have lessened the impact of sales spikes by quietly changing their ranking algorithms.

Oh! I don't think I'm trying to excuse Amazon here. I think I'm trying to explain why the spiking is being blunted. If amazon chooses to manage its own marketing to gain impact in it's own way and external forces are interfering with that you will get the same result. In the end the authors 'en masse' are all trying to 'spike' or 'game' the Amazon system. Amazon will fight back in whatever way it deems applicable to ensure that it remains in control of its own platform. If you cannot see the massive impact that all of these very powerful promotions are having, then you're not going to see it from Amazon's perspective at all.

In the end, like everyone here, I would like my books to be bestsellers. I'm not on Amazon's side, but I do pick my battles. I don't think they like these spikes and they are, at the moment, experimenting with stopping them. They may keep doing it, they may, as you say alter the algorithms. I just think the more people apply themselves to this form of mass exposure marketing, the more Amazon is going to attempt to control its effect on their business model.


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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #161 on: November 23, 2017, 11:50:52 AM »
To me, that's the heart of the problem. Customers aren't much affected by the problems we see. Despite all the glitches, Amazon can keep them supplied with books. The fact that it doesn't deal with some of its vendors well is an issue only for those vendors.

If competitors were strong enough to offer us incentives not to be exclusive with Amazon--or even perhaps to be exclusively non-Amazon--then Amazon would do more. It upped the royalty rate when Apple raised theirs, and Apple was doing quite a bit of showcasing indie books at the time, but Apple has since done very little to make publishing with them more appealing. Barnes and Noble occasionally does things, like making a hardcover option available to Nook Press writers--and then kills the whole thing by not giving it distribution channels. Kobo's ads appear promising right now, so maybe something will come of that, but probably not enough to make Amazon really take notice. Of course, Rakuten is another massive company like Amazon that might also lose interest in ebooks when it has so many irons in the fire. The same is probably true of Google, which might also have had the clout to compete more with Amazon if it had really wanted to.

In last five years, Amazon has moved from 60% of the US ebook market to over 83%. It's even higher than that in the UK, despite all the Amazon boycott activities a few years ago. Even in places like Canada and Australia, where the Amazon presence was a lot lower five years ago, Amazon has something like 60%. Authors can go wide--but it would be pretty hard to make a living from all the other outlets without Amazon.

Absolutely, Bill -- we're in agreement. It's extra frustrating that the companies that really want to compete with Amazon (such as Kobo and B&N) are way out of Amazon's league when it comes to resources, while the two companies that might be able to bury Amazon when it comes to ebooks (Apple and Google, because they power the devices people read on and run the stores those devices automatically connect to) aren't interested in competing in any significant way. Such a bummer.

Offline jaehaerys

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #162 on: November 23, 2017, 01:03:04 PM »
Absolutely, Bill -- we're in agreement. It's extra frustrating that the companies that really want to compete with Amazon (such as Kobo and B&N) are way out of Amazon's league when it comes to resources, while the two companies that might be able to bury Amazon when it comes to ebooks (Apple and Google, because they power the devices people read on and run the stores those devices automatically connect to) aren't interested in competing in any significant way. Such a bummer.


You never know, Becca. Amazon may come to dominate so much that they'll be broken up under anti-trust legislation. Here's hoping.  :)


Offline David VanDyke

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #163 on: November 23, 2017, 04:54:41 PM »
I'm officially coining the phrase "rank yank."

noun
1. the removal of one's sales rank
"Patty recently suffered a rank yank."



verb
1. remove one's sales rank
"If you promote a book, Amazon might rank yank it."



My grammar-gut says the verb should be rank-yank.


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Offline TellNotShow

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #164 on: November 23, 2017, 11:39:43 PM »
I keep repeating this:

I've had direct reports of something like 40 different authors who were ranked stripped. Most shared comprehensive details of what promo was involved.

1. Some were in KU.
2. Some were wide.
3. Some used BookBub.
4. Some did not use BookBub.
5. Some were free.
6. Some were paid.
7. Some used other ad sites.
8. Some used no ad sites.
9. Some only used FB ads.
10. Some only used AMS ads.
11. Some only hit their list.

So for anyone who thinks this is a potshot at BookBub, an attack on non-KU authors, Amazon undermining all ad sites, or forcing people to only use AMS, or whatever, the evidence simply does not support those claims.

Please stop repeating them and causing undue panic.

I can't spot any real commonalities in these cases after examining all the information provided, other than perhaps they were all (or almost all) very visible in the free or paid charts when rank-stripped, and almost all cases are clumped together. That to me indicates *possible* manual/deliberate targeting but only Amazon will know for sure. It could also be a malfunctioning fraud detection system. There is a little evidence for both theories (and they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive either). I don't see much evidence for these other claims, and plenty discounting them outright.

This seems a fairly comprehensive list. And it's been added to by others during the thread, for instance even new releases can be rank stripped.

Also, someone (can't find it now, sorry, but it was a great point) noted that even Amazon Imprint authors have had their self-pubbed books rank stripped.

So it seems that the only books that aren't subject to rank stripping are those from actual Amazon imprints.

Hmmmm.
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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #165 on: November 24, 2017, 12:58:34 AM »
and I wasn't rank-stripped on my International BookBub despite getting to No.1 in UK and CA. So, go figure.


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #166 on: November 24, 2017, 07:31:57 AM »
and I wasn't rank-stripped on my International BookBub despite getting to No.1 in UK and CA. So, go figure.

Was that #1 overall in UK/CA or a sub-category?

Also... I thought you were against inorganic spikes? How does applying for a BookBub jive with that? It's the most inorganic spike of all.
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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #167 on: November 24, 2017, 07:51:09 AM »

Also... I thought you were against inorganic spikes? How does applying for a BookBub jive with that? It's the most inorganic spike of all.

Who said I wasn't interested in advertising. Difference is I'm in it to sell books, not gain rank. I don't usually bother with rank at all and was only monitoring it [because of this thread and a few others] to see if I was 'spiked'. As it was I'm very pleased with book sales of Mutant Hunter and I didn't see any 'spike' issues at all. So, maybe there's something else going on here?


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #168 on: November 24, 2017, 08:02:18 AM »
Who said I wasn't interested in advertising.

Literally nobody. I said you were against inorganic spikes, based on your repeated statements here and the nudge nuge comments that something fishy must be at play.

And yet here you are advertising on BookBub, which generates the most inorganic spike of all. Just trying to understand that apparent contradiction. Seems pretty strange to be advancing a theory that Amazon hates paid advertising and big promotions and "inorganic spikes" and then seek to generate one yourself by placing an ad on the biggest ad platform in the industry.

(To avoid confusion: I think this theory is ludicrous. Amazon doesn't want people to promote their books? LOL.)
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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #169 on: November 24, 2017, 08:24:26 AM »
I think this theory is ludicrous. Amazon doesn't want people to promote their books? LOL

Your entitled to your opinion (I hate repeating myself).  Where did I say Amazon didn't want you to promote your books? I put forward some ideas about why people were being spiked along with a few theories about what's occurring. :D What you think is none of my concern.


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #170 on: November 24, 2017, 08:42:22 AM »
Where did I say Amazon didn't want you to promote your books?

Here.

In the end the authors 'en masse' are all trying to 'spike' or 'game' the Amazon system. Amazon will fight back in whatever way it deems applicable to ensure that it remains in control of its own platform. If you cannot see the massive impact that all of these very powerful promotions are having, then you're not going to see it from Amazon's perspective at all.

Here.

it's ramping or spiking and Amazon don't appear to like it.

Here.

Now, look at it from Amazon's point of view. They want to give their readers/buyers customers a good experience, so they try to create a system that rewards the products that are steadily selling good numbers of items on a week in week out basis, then they come across these spikes, thousands of them which upset Amazon's attempts at presenting a cogent and reputable system for putting good material in front of the reader.

Here.

and yet authors still try to 'spike' the system instead of accepting a more natural progressive growth of sales on the back of actual popularity of the book and organic take-up. Which I believe would not warrant any reaction at all by Amazon's 'spike bots'

You don't seem to understand what the basic terms mean.

The punishment is "rank-stripping" not "spiking" (Amazon refers to it internally as rank stopping).

A "spike" is a "sales spike" - i.e. a large one-off increase of sales, like a BookBub ad.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2017, 08:44:36 AM by dgaughran »
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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #171 on: November 24, 2017, 08:55:28 AM »
I think I proposed that they rank strip to stop the rank from spiking. And I don't think they DO like it. Hence my comments. Anyway, it's Friday night here, and I'm a social animal so have to go out and enjoy myself. Have a Great Thanksgiving weekend for those of you who enjoy that feast. :D


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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #172 on: November 24, 2017, 09:32:47 AM »
I think I proposed that they rank strip to stop the rank from spiking. And I don't think they DO like it. Hence my comments. Anyway, it's Friday night here, and I'm a social animal so have to go out and enjoy myself. Have a Great Thanksgiving weekend for those of you who enjoy that feast. :D

If that's what you think, why would you advertise on BookBub? That seems an odd contradiction. Not that I think much of the theory that Amazon doesn't want people to advertise their books in ways that drive people to the Amazon storefront.

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #173 on: November 24, 2017, 11:09:52 AM »
If that's what you think, why would you advertise on BookBub? That seems an odd contradiction. Not that I think much of the theory that Amazon doesn't want people to advertise their books in ways that drive people to the Amazon storefront.

A person could have a hypothesis for why something is happening and still think it's worth the risk for the benefit to the individual despite the rank stripping.

Amazon might be all fine and dandy with the advertising. That still doesn't mean it's not possible someone, in one division, isn't trying to mitigate those spikes for some internal reason. In fact, that's exactly what's happening. Unless it's all a glitch. I'm just not convinced the thing's a glitch.


Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« Reply #174 on: November 24, 2017, 12:03:16 PM »
A person could have a hypothesis for why something is happening and still think it's worth the risk for the benefit to the individual despite the rank stripping.

As David Gaughran documented above, the poster has gone on the record as being hostile toward "rank spiking" (aka "advertising"), and thinks that the only kind of sales growth the matters is the organic kind, whatever that means. That he then is running paid advertising on the biggest, best-known advertising platform of all seems logically inconsistent, if not downright hypocritical.