How can we replace ad networks with something better and saner?
If my limited edition, 250-prints-per-month 'zine isn't making money, is that the advertising industry's fault, or is there an issue with my expectations?
People ask the "how do we fix dwindling ad-based revenue" question all the time. The answer is clear, it's just not what people want to hear: metered paywalls or a subscription model (or, you know, selling an actual product / service).
The inevitable response to that is, 'but I don't make enough money off of that.'
Well, there you go! To me, that's where it should end. You don't have enough of a readership to support your website as-is. That means you can continue doing it as a labor of love, scale it down to something you can manage and that is profitable, or just, well, accept that your site isn't as great as you thought it was, and that you won't be making as much money off of it as you thought.
Isn't this basic market forces at work? I have a suspicion that even if 50% of these sites bloated with ads and deceptive, click-bait content were to die, society as a whole would actually be much better off, and the efforts of people building these kinds of sites and expecting a return would be better directed elsewhere.
ie - a "labor of love"
How do I pay for it? Well, I reach around to my back pocket for my wallet, and...
I don't have ads, I don't have a sponsorship, and I don't care - what I have and what I put on my website is strictly for myself and others to use or read as they see fit; I consider it a "giving back" to others out there for what the internet has given me over the years.
...and I am fine with that.
Other sites need to realize this too; not everything is worth money, and if you really love what you're doing, you'd give it away free. Like the internet used to be - everybody doing it for the love of networking and computing and knowledge and information transfer.
Not AOL spam making money crap.
I'm not famous, but I do love working on my own open source projects and I like writing tech posts. Last time I quit my job I lived for 11 months off my savings while travelling in over 10 countries. I got some OSS done, redid all my websites and wrote a lab manual for a friend of mine who was teaching a class based on the stuff I wrote.
My goal was to get into University and work on a PhD. I had attempted this a few years ago, but my grades for undergrand and grad school weren't all that great (2.5/3.2), and it pretty much killed my chances. I had some publications under my belt this time, but still very few professors would even talk to me about my work in sensor network research (BigSense).
I've spend over a decade in software. I do not enjoy being in industry. Even though I work remotely more now and less in the office, I still find my career choice mind numbing.
I'm going to try again soon, with more savings, so hopefully I can make it further before having to give up and having to find another software job.
To my knowledge, most people who make money on their websites are either big enough to monetise with sponsorship/subscription, or they'd run a number of smaller sites of no consequence nor unique content anyway. The latter has no real reason to exist.
I also have a personal site, and when Wordpress started shoving ads into their free blogs, I started paying a few bucks to host it ad-free. I recently published a book, and people can buy that if they want to thank me, or just keep reading my blog if they don't or can't. I will not sell out my readers (or "monetize my brand," or whatever you're supposed to call it), because I believe in the web as it used to be.
None of my favorite websites update very frequently, but I still check them all regularly. In aggregate, theres always fresh content, and it's better content because the author actually wanted to write about it.
Thumbs up man!
This doesn't make sense. It follows logically that we should all not love what we do for a living. That strikes me as an absurd conclusion.
Of course, it means one needs a day job, but such is life.
That just follows in a straightforward way. Now, this may not seem absurd to you, but I dare say it will to most people.
More specifically, market forces dictate that if a job is all sparkles and lollipops, you don't need to pay people to do it, because they'll do it for free in their spare time. Thus, every job has downsides.
I chose to switch employer and in the process got better control of the work items on my list -- to the cost of a heightened responsibility but also a better wage.
Of course that's difficult and not always possible, but it doesn't mean one wouldn't, shouldn't, or couldn't try.
> not everything is worth money, and if you really love what you're doing, you'd give it away free
That basically says the art only worth caring about is art produced by artists who produce a large, consistent volume of work.
Any one who produces small things, or infrequent things, falls under the threshold where the perceived effort to set up a subscription or pay is greater than the value of the content. They'll get nothing. Granularity and transaction size really matters, especially for the bite-sized content people consume on the web.
Your suggestion of paywalls and subscriptions is like a market that only deals in hundred dollar bills. How well would that work for your average mom-and-pop store or independent musician?
And yes, the default state of art is for nobody to care about it. The art we care about tends to be exceptional. That's why we care about it.
But I do think with today's increasingly short attention spans, the granularity of consuming creative works keeps going down, which makes the transaction friction more and more of a problem.
I know there are a couple of people working on something similar to this on HN, because I've mentioned something like it a few times and they've replied saying they're working on it. ;) There was one in particular that I was following, but I remember when they launched there was a fatal flaw in their model (maybe it was bitcoin only? I don't remember). I don't recall the name now.
I'd be very interested in reading about the life of exactly not that kind of person.
ALL THE TIME when I'm researching topics, I'll think about how there is probably someone out there for whom it's their one true passion, and they have probably put up a little website on some corner of the Internet with more research and depth than 1000 well SEOd blog sites, but it's completely impossible to find.
Edit: I found the pizza website, it was halfway down the second page of google's search results. I only clicked it because it was the only one without a picture http://www.varasanos.com/pizzarecipe.htm
You can argue that this article is a case of the system working fairly well at surfacing high quality content. When I searched for "New York Pizza Recipe" this result came half way down page one.
Sure, there are other "high domain authority" listings on that page too, but this is an example of Google listing a well researched, in depth original post from a little known site on the basis of the strength of its content, even with quite minimal on page SEO.
You can argue about whether that's the right term to be optimizing for, but it's the term the writer chose to optimize for as it's the title of the page.
If you just want a blog or simple personal website, a hundred different services will host that for you for free, including Github, Wordpress, Tumblr, and others.
And also it doesn't happen. Turns out people who want to write/paint will write/paint.
The internet was around before advertising. We had free sites back in the day. We've got free sites now. And we can fight for taxes to pay for public libraries, access points, community groups, or even philanthropists to set up free servers.
It was actually a pretty cool place (i thought). I mean, I use adblockers to try to simulate it, and am horrified every time I use the web at work without one, but even my ad blocker can't remove the influence and draw of content and material pumped out by money hungry people vs people actually interested in writing/painting/expressing its opinion for its own sake, and the way that profit motive subtly influences the ratio of content produced, and the content and style of that material as well.
Its much more liberating as an author to just say "fuck them", rather than continually go "well, it slows down the page load/breaks up the article, but it will result in 0.01% more views/might piss off my sponsors/industry".
Not so naive as to say that isn't always an issue, but its pretty clear to me what side of the line advertising is on...
I'm all right with the paywall idea succeeding or failing in a well informed marketplace of ideas.
The ability to send interesting articles to non-subscribers with a special link is pretty nice but I understand that it probably wouldn't work as a model for large websites.
I agree. Most news sites just regurgitate the same articles with their own click bait title which takes you to some adware bloated page. I think there's plenty of money in online ads but the market is too saturated.
The criticism is that someone who doesn't have a large viewer base isn't in a position to get sponsors, so this approach is literally not viable until you're big enough that sponsors would even think about it.
Most people aren't that big.
Until recently OP monetized his blog with ads. Should he have given up before his blog was popular enough to switch to sponsors?
Check out my demo (desktop only) at http://www.worldlifestyle.com/testpost
My website which you can sign up for the (free) beta at: http://pleenq.com
One suggestion: intuitively I felt like I needed to click on the popovers instead of on the underlying image. Permitting the user to move the mouse over the popover and click that as well might increase effectiveness for those who haven't seen this before.
Btw, it looks pretty cool.
The "How It Works" on second link is well-done where I can see exactly what it's supposed to do. The feature itself is nice.
The pleenq website demos the idea well though.
What I wrote was very very basic, but what you've done is far more impressive and awesome.
Edit: This is something I wouldn't block (from what I currently see) unless it attempted to know everything about me. Damn tracking.
I do about 10 million impressions a day, and the request to the server is a pretty consistent ~200ms, along with an async load that won't affect overall page load.
Have you tested this on some cheap, low-end, Chinese phones with the default browser?
> You consider 280k script lightweight? Wow.
They do not. :P
I'll be enabling the mobile version(s) of the plugin, once I finish testing them out and creating a way for each website to choose which functionality type it wants to use on its page.
Do this with HTML <map> and CSS :hover inline and it will bypass them; it would also make it work on nearly any browser.
Really, really great idea. This would be an absolutely fantastic addition to something like instagram.
Edit: same behavior on edge.
Really what it does is help define what is inside an image.
Do you do automatic image segmentation, or are these images "hand-labeled" (I can not imagine that would scale)? If it's automatic - is it calculated server-side or client-side?
His solution doesn't really scale, for the advertisers, which is why the ad networks exists.
My main issue with ad networks is that they simply aren't technically competent enough to run an internet facing business. Most of them seem to be run by good sales people and not so good IT staff. Most of those I've dealt with simply doesn't understand how the internet works.
As someone who works in Ad tech, let me be the first to say that there are a few A-players and a ton of C-players. The problem is, the C-players are so crappy that everyone associates all of ad tech with them. A good analogy is the difference between Black Hat and White Hat SEO. Most of the C-players right now don't have any incentive to invest in the tech so they can be where my employer currently is on that spectrum.
Clarification: I don't speak for my employer.
So I am certain to suffer from C-players, and my browser may never encounter an A-player.
If there were a way for me to a) believe that ad network X is non-malicious A-player, b) for me on my side of the browser to set and forget whitelisting that A-player, c) to know that the A-player hasn't been acquired by a malicious C-player, and d) that a publisher was only using non-malicious A-players, THEN I would enable (some) ads.
But it's too much work on my side. A-players need to be talking to publishers and C-players, and driving the C-players OUT. Until then, I block indiscriminately.
I'm not against ads, I'm against unnecessary risk.
Idea: Is it possible to replace ad networks with ad brokers? The broker keeps a ledger of interested parties on both sides. Someone looking to buy ad space specifies relevant market segments (data analysts, single moms, golfers, etc), and the broker connects them to relevant sites.
Metrics could be solved by passing a token when linking back to ad space buyer, or the broker still embedding, but much less intrusively than an ad network, both the blog/site and the ad space buyer tracking independently and reporting back to broker for backwards statistics, etc.
I'm sure there are other issues, but this is just off the top of my head.
I think the solution is that advertisers will just need to give up the idea of having reliable metrics on ads, since that's the source of the problem. It's kind of a tragedy of the commons situation: no one would use an ad network that simply distributes JPGs because it has no metrics (malware), but users will block ads that have metrics (malware). There are two solutions: give up metrics, or install an ad blocker on every machine. Ad networks are rapidly pushing us towards the latter.
I suspect tying payments to actual user actions, in particularly the user buying something, is the best solution. Affiliate marketing essentially. Its easy to verify and very tough to profitably game so the company running the ads can pay their ad network/publishers/marketing staff with confidence.
Ultimately the advertiser doesn't really care how many impressions (or whatever) they get. They care how many people buy their thing or take some specified action.
I suspect the big roadblock is that some ad networks, publishers and marketeers don't particularly want there to be a concrete ungameable metric that requires them to produce ads that actually move product. If you are counting views or clicks it is easier to look like you are succeeding than if you are only counting people who actually get their wallet out.
Very little trust is needed, and customers don't get crazy JS on their pages. Is something wrong with this model?
Dealing with bots, fraudulent clicks and malware is one of the things that sets some ad platforms from the really nasty ones.
So no more trust required for the advertisers?
Detecting fraudulent ad views and clicks.
- PPV ads that get stacked. That, several ads laid out on top of each other so that only one (if any at all) is visible.
- PPV ads that get served to bots. Sometimes purposely so, other times as a result of phantom users who replay sessions to build fake profiles for PPC purposes.
- Ad injection that replace legit ads or include new ones via browser toolbars or compromised devices.
- PPC fraud, of course, including some combined with all of the above.
- PPA fraud through cookie stuffing, meaning flooding browsers with cookies to make it look like the traffic originate from where it doesn't.
- PPA fraud through ad injection. Nothing converts better than a popover served via ad injection for the very site you're shopping on.
I'm sure I'm forgetting quite a few, but at a high level those are the main ones to be aware of. As an advertiser you generally cannot rely on the stats you're provided with.
On top of building more valuable fake user profiles for the latter two purposes, doing this allows to bypass click-density based ad fraud detection. See this article for an example of what you see when you can sometimes observe using the latter when detecting the less sophisticated fraudsters:
As the latter article implies, Google's team is pretty sophisticated at detecting fraud. But even then, seeing things like this suggests there are edge cases they'd like to see go away or that are hard to detect:
Advertising's tragedy of the commons isn't unique to the internet. Other media went through the same adoption cycle of over-promising followed by consumer backlash.
I'm hopeful we'll see advertisers return to the model of (mostly) blindly trusting their advertisers. It will be interesting to see how our largely ad-supported internet changes as a result.
One of the things I found incredibly annoying when I was working in this area was the fact that definitions of some metrics can be so drastically different, eg. viewable impressions, completed view impressions (in video) - these difference were so huge that a video played off screen, a video played with only 1px (or 50% height) visible - have been treated as exactly the same thing.
I heard about a company that changed their way of measuring these metrics to something more realistic than... well, a video playing off-screen, whilst increasing prices, which sounds like a decent move - they ended up losing ca. 70% of their revenue.
The problem is that it's really difficult to explain your customers that you've been potentially lying to them (or at least that's the impression they might get).
Regarding the performance footprint - I recommend taking a look at the VAST/VPAID spec. It's not uncommon for an ad to fetch 3-4 xml files containing dozens of tracking pixels coming from 10s of domains. There's also no guarantee that any if the intermediate VAST files contains the right content, how long the chain is or where it comes from.
[EDIT] disclaimer: I might've used incorrect names here, since it's been quite a long time since I've worked in this area, I hope you still get the idea.
I have some ideas about build a server-side ad-network, but
because I imagine is very hard to get customers I dismiss it, for the same reason: You need to be "famous/large" to attract customer in the ad-space.
Publishers want someone to handle monetisation of their website. If they get enough traffic, they want that someone to work in-house, but if they don't, they want some one (ad network) to do it for them.
Advertisers want impressions/clicks/performance.
A (successful) ad network needs to do both, so bootstrapping invariably looks something like matchmaking in the very beginning.
If you want to find my email address and reach out, I'm happy to talk to you more about bootstrapping: I've gotten more than one ad network off the ground.
Mine are at http://elmalabarista.com
Edit: The other problem you'll run into is the tragedy issue I mentioned. Your ads will be blocked by most ad-blockers' scorched-Earth policy, which comes from your shitty, unethical competitors. Good luck to ya ;)
Sounds like a good solution to me.
Actively boycotting the current status quo by making ads no longer viable can be a way to force the system to settle to a different optimum.
Not enough traction? Someone has to start using it, people will adapt...
But both Flattr and Patreon miss the relatively involuntary nature of ad networks. Certain things can not count on being supported by eager contributors, and need to more-or-less force themselves in to somehow earn revenue. I'm not all that perturbed by saying "then perhaps they shouldn't exist", but I don't have to take a survey to guess I'm in the very minority view on that.
To give a positive example of that where it's not just "clickbait" but is actually a useful thing: My wife and I get a lot of recipes off the internet. But of the several dozen she's pinned on Pinterest, I'd say I've only seen one or two sites repeated. Mostly we're wandering around hither and yon, not showing any site loyalty. If my use case is the common one, then patronage isn't really a solution. (Including Flattr, which to a first approximation, zero of the people visiting those recipe sites have ever heard of, and low single digits of them would use it if they had.) But ads aren't necessarily working terribly well either; I've seen some recipes so laden down with ads that I got tired of waiting for the recipe to stop jumping around on my phone as it loaded Yet Another Ad into the middle of the text, and went and got my computer, where uMatrix nuked the ads without even trying.
I agree with your main point, but to clarify: Flattr was specifically designed for this sort of one-off usage. Clicking a Flattr button doesn't subscribe to anything, it just adds that person/site to a list on your Flattr account. At the end of the month, your money is divided evenly between those on the list, then the list is cleared.
You can set up subscriptions on Flattr, which sounds more like Patreon's model, but the default mode is for one-off drive-by donations. Flattr subscriptions are just an automated way to click a Flattr button once a month.
Other than that it's great.
I mean this both straight and a bit sarcastically. I'm ideologically inclined to want to see it work. But it doesn't, it hasn't, and I see little reason to expect that to change in the future. Patreon doesn't work perfectly, and perhaps there's an even better model waiting for someone to find it, but it does work.
It does strike me as the sort of thing that would be a decent VC candidate. It is plausible to me that Flattr's core problem is an activation-energy one. But I can't run that experiment myself.
Where does patreon fail, aside from adoption and popularity?
I don't think it's a transaction cost issue; Patreon charges my credit card once per month (aggregating multiple $1-3/mo charges into a single charge), and I believe they pay the artists once per month too (aggregating hundreds or thousands of contributions).
So... the flattr model :/
I tend to agree with the comments above that the Flattr model doesn't work, but I think it would certainly be ideal for a lot of people creating content on the side if it did.
Unfortunately Flattr's mechanisms for transfering money were overly complicated when I used to use it: to keep down third-party transfer fees, each Flattr account maintained its own balance, and could be manually topped up or withdrawn from in bulk using a relatively obscure payment gateway.
This obscurity and manual intervention discouraged topping up, and made it very easy to forget. I also seem to remember those receiving Flattrs being unable to withdraw anything until they reached a certain minimum balance, which was difficult to achieve for a relatively unknown network of micropayments.
I'd probably start using it again, if I could forget about my "Flattr balance" and just have it automatically top-up by $X from my bank account via some common gateway, whenever there's not enough to cover the end-of-month payment; I could then manage it in the same way as my existing charity donations.
EDIT: The above was based on my experience in Flattr's first few years of existence. I've just logged in and there now seem to be many more payment methods, and an auto-topup option :)
When I said hundred million, I really meant hundred million paid to creators, not with the cut included.
I was thinking the same thing. He also has a relatively narrow range of content with an audience that is highly likely to be interested in what his sponsors are offering.
What is the solution for sites that have a much broader audience? It seems like the sponsorship model would become something like NPR's where you're generically trying to target "upper- and upper-middle-class" people with an opportunity for virtue signaling by providing a brief blurb about your foundation's activities or a generic description of the services you offer. Not helpful for most sites.
Would it be possible to still have a syndicated ad network, but that it would feed you articles in some structured format, that you would get on your backend, and then insert as articles into your blog/website? This way you could format them any way you want.
Of course the payment model would have to shift from displays to something like overall performance of the ads (by scanning outbound clicks and associating them with purchases) and pay by month. And some policing in order to avoid stuff like getting the ad from the network and never actually displaying it.
Or some other way to deliver ads with copy and images, but through the backend. (that way the website author has complete power on what an ad actually can do on their website)
This is the major reason ad networks put JS on publisher sites. You can't give a website author "complete power" any more than you can give an advertiser complete power.
The problem with affiliate marketing is that you must trust the advertiser in reporting conversions and paying. You can trust Amazon and some other businesses that way, but not a small business.
In most affiliate marketing programs the advertiser doesn't report the conversions - tracking and payment is handled by the affiliate network as an intermediary, which has it's own pros and cons. But they will fight for affiliates when commissions are due.
DM me if you'd like to talk more about that, I work in the industry.
Fallback URLs, location (for local businesses) and other customization options could be used to make it work better.
He's famous, creates courses for Pluralsight, is a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP who travels the world speaking at events and training technology professionals (paraphrased from the page). He also runs haveibeenpwned.com, a site that focuses on security breaches. One would think that such a person would probably not want to run any kind of ads with any ad networks in the first place.
And he argues against ad blockers in another article because someone updated EasyList with references to his ad code and states that this back-and-forth war between publishers and ad-blockers is not healthy, which is a good point. But as long as publishers use ad networks that don't care a damn about tracking, malware and other issues, I'm glad we have ad blockers and people who keep things like EasyList updated regularly. Personally, I don't like the large image on his pages right at the top stretching all the way down, with almost no readable content without scrolling down (this depends on the screen size and the browser window size).
If you can't convince people that your content is worth paying for, then you don't deserve to be paid for it. That's the way it works everywhere else, and finally the web is starting to correct the illusion that it's the one domain where supply and demand doesn't apply.
You are mostly making money if you have an insane number of visitors.
You don't need to be famous to get sponsorship, plenty of companies are willing to pay at a minimum your cost with a mailing list around 5K people.
I actually think that a sponsorship model works much better even if you aren't famous or have many users as you can most probably offset that by giving access to a much better audience.
I tried that a few years ago. In a year, I made about $1.75 from ad revenue. I'm an awful blogger. There are a lot of awful blogs out there too, though.
Paying for content like we do with physical objects, instead of expecting others to give us content for free.
Consider a not-famous person Em who writes posts. Most posts don't get enough views to be profitable anyway, but Em has ads in case one of their posts goes viral.
Viral posts are only successful while they're on the front page of HN, so Em can't wait until they have a successful post to get a sponsorship.
How can we enable Em to profit from their successful post without all the ad network code?
[Famous people can do sponsorship. Not famous people wouldn't make much money from ads anyway - maybe a hundred bucks a month. What about the sometimes famous?]
I don't make a lot of money via tips -- and some of my sites still have ads -- but I make more via tips than ads. I think as I get more traffic, I will get more tips. And I would rather have my audience support my writing than some "sponsor." At some point, I might also do Patreon.
Though great to see that there is a site less on the internet leaking their visitor information to ad networks and their affiliates....
The main issue is that to replace all advertising revenue across the board, everybody would need to pitch in something like $150/month. I like paying for things to get rid of ads, and I'm not even sure I'd make that commitment.
(There's also the fact that the utility of ads is fundamentally bounded by what they can make you spend. By their nature, the amount someone is willing to spend to remove ads and the amount of money ads can possibly be making on the person are probably held more tightly than you might expect, due to the underlying third-factor of correlation with the amount of money the person in question can spend.)
The unfortunate thing is we're already paying that money, since the money spent by companies on ads comes out of the revenue we give them for goods and services.
Hence we can afford to support things through Patreon, Flattr, etc. instead of through ads, if the existing money were shuffled around.
We probably can't do it as well as through ads, but to free up that money the sellers of goods and services would have to stop charging us for their ads, and there's no incentive for them to do that :(
There is a possible mechanism that could free up that money: without ads sellers can't rely on popularity to sell their products and have to rely more on underselling the competition.
I can't find this anymore, but did find an estimate that internet ad industry did $60 billion last year. Assuming 1 billion users ( I know more people have internet but lots probably don't interact with ad-ridden sites), you're talking $60/year. Which is pretty good overall.
I pay a buck a month to Wikipedia. I have a New York Times subscription but I would rather just pay as I go across the board. There is great content out there (I would pay for Hn using this model) but I don't want a million subscriptions
Though I find it hilarious that some people are even OK with paying him anything to begin with as the cost of running such a side project with the salary and benefits of a "Microsoft Regional Director", which has to be plenty, is pretty much coffee-to-go-like small change. Looks pretty greedy to me.
you answered this yourself, get famous. Put enough effort and quality into your work to not need ads.
Of course, it doesn't make any money because I'm no famous; but at least I can pretend and I don't need to compromise anything with unknown JS =)
The underlying content providers still get their pay per view, the ad network is still in the loop and no one needs to implement anything new - the technology is already built.
Famous people have a quality network. Are you sure its not rather because "you have a quality network" instead of "you are probably [sic] very famous"?
This, to date, has proven a tall order.
How ad networks will adapt to that? In a short or mid-term future aren't just the famous and niche content blog that will survive?
I wish more sites would arrange their own advertising like this guy, but I imagine it is a pain in the neck.
 I wrote a post expanding on this idea: https://sheep.horse/2016/6/a_website_manifesto_-_introducing...
My old wordpress blog got so few legitimate comments that I never bother to add a commenting system into my new software. Even when a post got hundreds of reads due to being linked on slashdot or whatever, very few people left comments directly. Perhaps I just have nothing interesting to say.
If you add Disqus then you are just effectively letting other people make money off your content and if anyone makes money off my writing it should be me. I figure if anyone wants to tell me something about my posts they can contact me in many other ways.
Plus, even if I loved Disqus (and it is pretty sweet if you want that functionality), who knows if they are going to be operating in 5 years time? They could go under or get bought out by someone who plasters ads everywhere. Then it is bye-bye to years worth of content in the comments.
Much better, I think, to be responsible for hosting everything your users will see, even if it means forgoing some of the nice functionality third-parties can provide.The cost-benefit ratio just isn't favorable.
I considered obfuscating my email address but I couldn't remember the last time spam actually hit my gmail inbox.
If you have access to your webserver's access log:
piwik.org is free software, can be self-hosted.
We (Oh By) did this as well - the difference being that there is probably a fair amount of money we will miss out on in the coming decade by making this decision.
It's an attack vector, it's user hostile, it's slow, it's fragile and it supports an industry that has only degraded the promise of the Internet.
It makes me happy to run a service that doesn't touch it at all.
That's what the "integrity" field is for. If the CDN tries to change the file surreptitiously, it'll have a different checksum and the browser won't run it.
Morally, absolutely, but has it been tested legally? I can see sites weaselling out by saying that they trusted their ad networks to do good, etc, etc, and nobody learning from it.
As builders of web systems, we need to be conscious of which 3rd parties are gaining access to private user data. There's no reason in hell any Google or Facebook widget should be embedded in my health care providers website, yet somehow that's a thing. Any other website is usually even worse.
I personally use NoScript with whitelisted scripts when I know I need them, else I am protected by default. This shouldn't be required, especially for users who have no idea about these scripts and what they actually do.
A quick check shows Google Analytics and Disqus (which uses an iframe), there is also some webfont stuff going on.
> As builders of web systems, we need to be conscious of which 3rd parties are gaining access to private user data. There's no reason in hell any Google or Facebook widget should be embedded in my health care providers website, yet somehow that's a thing. Any other website is usually even worse.
This is why there is no spam on self-hosted WordPress. Oh, wait.
Many big websites are hosted on IaaS services, such as AWS.
The IaaS providers know most of your activities, without your awareness.
Move fast and disregard all privacy isn't always an option, especially if you care about a certain moral hygene. But who cares in the post-truth epoch right ?
Haven't I just re-implemented an ad network at this point? Is what I've implemented objectionable now, or only later as other bloatware features are added?
For example, I'm uncomfortable serving ads from large networks because I don't know what the end-user will see and because it's nearly impossible for me to know how my users are being tracked. If your proposed solution was open-sourced and gave me full control of user data, I think that would make all the difference. With existing solutions, company A tracks users and iframes company B in so they can get in on the action. And maybe company B wants to loop company C in, too?
Many advertisers deliberately obscure these things because they're either unethical or part of their "secret sauce" -- it's less users having an issue with their view & click being recorded.
That's an assumption not a fact. Presumably if I sponsor a blog I have an idea for the value of it. Ad networks on the other hand detach the publisher from the sponsor so that all the latter has to know the effect of their campaign is bulk data from surveillance. Direct sponsoring or good networks like the Deck on the other hand don't require that.
If all advertisers looked at those metrics instead of tracking everyone on other sites they would probably have more effective advertising.
If the author were to productize his model, which isn't impossible, it would require a great deal of effort to not lose trust, and his relationships with his customers would have to look a lot like his relationships with his sponsors (tightly coupled, personalized, most control left up to the consumer).
Here's where you've broken the model - long before you get around to re0implementing an ad network.
I decided to go one step further with my personal site and eliminate all JS completely. I don't get enough traffic to make any kind of analytics or ad code worthwhile.
I did the same a little while ago; if I want stats, I'll render them from the access logs, webalizer-style[^1].
Static HTML, with inlined CSS and SVG can get ridiculously fast on today's network, so if you don't have any actual reasons for JS (there are a lot of things CSS can do these days), just leave it behind. (You can also safely leave fonts, Google Analytics and all those external monsters behind.)
Here's my summary on the experience of moving from WordPress to static HTML for longetivity and robustness:
On a related note, does anyone else see GA being wildly inaccurate? My blog was on the HN front page a while ago, and CloudFront got ~600k hits, which should translate to about ~100k uniques (I cache), yet GA only showed 8k uniques.
I'm guessing the HN crowd runs uBlock or some other blocker in its vast majority, so JS-based analytics are completely untrustworthy.
Actually, the server based access logs would be more accurate. The "only" things the JS based are giving you are tracking options and user interface data, such as resolution. And yes, due to blocking, JS based will never be the as accurate as the server logs.
A long time ago I used awstats[^1] and webalizer[^2]; those will show the traffic that your server(s) actually served. However, you'll need to log it, and if you have multiple machines, you'll need to centrally log it, and store it, which is not always simple and trivial to set up, compared inserting a JS in the HTML.
600k HTTP requests => 60k page views (if 10 requests per page).
Bots may generate lots of requests but won't hit GA.
60% of users (typical HN audience) will view pages but block GA (adblocks).
Your numbers are not surprising.
How is a number five times less than your prediction not surprising? Your "one should understand the difference" comment makes me think you didn't even read mine, as I explain the difference in it.
Check the referer. If it's viagra sites, it's referer bot spam.
.. I did however just remember I have an ad blocker installed from day one, that might have something to do with it. Forgot about that difference.
As a result of being strict about JS and keeping the CSS down my website is super snappy and tiny.
I'm close to that point. I just use it for loading a font and rendering gallery pages.
From my site's colophon:
> 1. to load the font from Adobe Typekit and
> 2. to render the gallery pages in the photography section
Once I find a suitable replacement for Proxima Nova, Adobe Typekit will go away as well. I'd like to remove it from the gallery pages as well, but I just couldn't get flexbox working properly for responsive galleries of images of different resolutions.
I still have JS from bootstrap, and I am looking at bootstrap alternatives that are CSS only.