But these companies are intentionally blurring the lines between advertisement and digital surveillance. You don't need to collect everything about my operating system, browser, monitors, GPU, every click I make on every website I visit, etc.
That's crossing a line of what "advertisement" means. So the more these "advertisers" work to blur those lines the more their "ads" will be blocked under the umbrella of those who don't want this level of pervasive tracking and surveillance.
Maybe a new <ad /> tag which points to a resource which can only serve an image, video or text. Absolutely no scripting. Pass along only the advertiser ID and the bare minimum.
The problem is it’s not in Google or Microsoft’s interest to implement this. This has to come from legislation at US gov level. So it’ll never happen.
I’ll continue ad blocking.
I do this on my iOS device. It's a bit of a pain to not have JS enabled in safari, but I can always share a page from Safari --> Duckduckgo's browser which i have installed for just such occasions.
It’s completely obnoxious and there is no way to stop it. Safari takes control of sound even if the video does not have audio toggled on and pauses your Spotify. Then if you use control center to start it again, it plays iTunes. I can’t believe this hasn’t been fixed.
EDIT: Just tried Brave Browser and this is pretty great so far. Seems to be the best compromise. Thanks!
Either way, do you find that the Adblock detection / nags are less reliable when you do it DNS based instead of the client?
* * *
How would fraud detection work in this model? How do advertisers know the requests are coming from real users and not bots? Without assurance there, advertisers would pay much less, and publishers would earn much less.
(Disclosure: I work on ads at Google, speaking only for myself.)
And before you say that the content creators need to get paid, just looks at the situation on Youtube, where Google makes a fortune and the content creators make fuck all, and big companies can take what little ad revenue the creators would have got for copyright claiming over 5 seconds of audio that falls under fair use. Many content creators now rely either on sponsorship or direct support through things like Patreon. Sorry, but Google can go suck it.
(I’ve also started just not consuming content from hostile sites. It’s mostly trash anyway.)
On the flip side, many creators have tried to go towards the subscription/patronage angle and far fewer are ever successful at that, with many making what amounts to a tiny trickle of supporting income while being burdened with much more responsibility to deliver. It's a hard bargain.
But besides that, i am all for more competition. Better user interfaces, better conditions, less censorship, i am for all of it.
And to me it earns a lot of respect, that i can upload my 8k video to youtube, they distribute it potentially to millions of people, and i dont have to pay a dime. And that they are still able to make it a platform, where i get a lot of interesting things to see. And it is somehow sustainable.
Ah. I see for example netflix. And now it splits up into many sites again, who offer their own things. The technology is now there, maybe it becomes more and more a commodity, organizing payment is easy, maybe it all gets more diversified again. Does no one remember, how popular internet shops once were? But then amazon became way more convenient.
Ah, iam ranting :>
This was never in dispute. If a website owner chooses to do so, it is their own choice.
Not everything is about the almighty dollar. Did you get paid for participating in this discussion?
Exaggerating only slightly for argument, YouTube is presently a great force for evil, actively chipping away at collective privacy and promoting the creation and dissemination of Worthless Garbage so that they can sneak in ten second promotions for Even-More-Worthless Garbage like Grammarly, whatever horror movie's coming out soon, etc.
This won't be the case forever, I hear more and more people (creators and viewers alike) complaining about Youtube, its monetisation and it recommendation algorithms.
I've personally made much more money producing content (YouTube and podcasts) by directly working with brands than I ever have from Adsense anyway so I'm not convinced that the advertisers "paying more" is helping content creators much to begin with. Patreon seems to be a symptom of that.
Edit: Also, on the subject of advertisers paying less. Isn't part of the problem the fact that adtech giants like Google are saying "look, we have this awesome tracking and targeting tech so you can pay less for ads to reach your target audience". Thus reducing the potential ad money that those people would pay into potential revenue for content creators to reach their audience?
Patron seems to be a symptom of that
I hate English sometimes, and its my native language.
Google might not be too happy about an outcome like that, but I'm not overly concerned about Google's wellbeing. :)
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this since you work on ads: are ads actually essential in the software industry, or could we do just fine without them?
Perhaps justifiably so, but we have to keep in mind that any producable "value" will have to "hurt" in some way. We have to give something in exchange for "free" services. Yet the focus is only on the price paid instead of the fairness of the transaction (or lack thereof).
Either we give up the "free" model alltogether and shift back to paid services only, or we choose the lesser evil and live with it.
Of course that's going to be met with the same hostility. It's 99.9% the same thing.
> crypto mining in the browser
Of course that's going to be met with similar hostility. Climate change is even more present in the public consciousness.
This is true in a specific way, and it is sometimes useful to use this frame. But in this case, I think the frame obscures more than it focuses.
"We" aren't getting together and voting or bidding or whatever. I think the closest thing to a choke point for decision making about some of this is in Google's hands, with Chrome. At least until the browser monopoly wheel spins again.
> We have to give something in exchange for "free" services
Eh? No. The requirement is that services need resources to exist. If you immediately extrapolate to pseudo-moralistic finger-wagging at "consumers", you're ignoring a lot of ways various organizations have found to exist. It is either self-blinding or a heavy thumb on the scale.
This mutual hostility has worked for the entire life of the internet and probably has another decade of life if not more.
Regarding usability of ads, in 20 years I never bought anything shown. When I need something I search for relevant product solving my need and I buy it. And trying very hard to avoid fake reviews. If your product type showed on ads is what I need, I will still do my best to check the market and find best product type for me with lowest price I can get. Which is typically not what is shown on ad. At the end they dont change anything for me.
Now the question is - would internet without ads really be that bad?
That was probably NPR.
Text version: https://text.npr.org/
(Disclosure: I read book each week and I am thrilled by anything new I learn. I dislike pictures of cute animals and I do all communication with friends over the phone or going out.)
The industry would definitely adapt, but I don't think it would be more favorable to society. Here's what I would expect to happen if we stopped letting third party ad networks detect ad fraud:
* Facebook, Youtube, Reddit, etc and other huge sites are already big enough to run their own ad serving, and keep doing that. They are still in a position to detect fraud as a first party, and they're big enough that advertisers trust them.
* Current ad networks build first-party integrations, where to the browser everything comes from the publisher's site. This could be designed as a newspaper licensing an ad serving system. This would provide high levels of trust, but not as high as the current system because you lose the protection of cross-origin iframes.
* Ad networks don't find it worth it to integrate with long-tail sites, the sites make less money, we have fewer of them.
If we went far enough to functionally remove ads from the internet, either by banning them or by ads losing the adblocker-blocker-blocker-blocker arms race, then I'd expect a different pattern:
* Everyone moves to subscriptions of various kinds, probably with slightly porous paywalls.
* Right now ads are effectively a progressive tax: the publisher makes more money from you in proportion to how valuable it is to advertise to you, which is roughly in proportion to how much money you have. To raise the same amount of money from subscriptions you need to charge more than what people can afford to pay at the low end, so some people get cut off.
* There's a massive drive to consolidation: people don't want to have a lot of subscriptions to manage, so we get things where one subscription covers many people. The economics of how small sites get included in this are complicated, and I suspect this also hoses the long tail.
* Free sites are popular, making money through some combination of product placement, charitable funding, and funding to push worldviews. The latter worries me a lot.
This is already happening in the advertisement world of today, where certain topics—some political but some not—are not "friendly to advertising", and so get demonetized on various platforms. How is that different from the scenario you worry so much about?
I think they're pretty different. If you look at the AdSense prohibited content policy  or the ones for other general-interest networks they don't allow their ads on sites about porn, drugs, gambling, etc. If you run a standard newspaper, for example, covering the full breadth of what a newspaper typically covers, you should be able to put ads on ~every story.
In a world without ads, the newspaper would probably be a subscription site, and would be competing with non-subscription sites that are funded by people who want to push a perspective. The current dynamic effectively prioritizes perspectives in terms of how much people want to read them (because that's where the advertising money is) while in this new dynamic there would be more prioritization based on how much money the people with that perspective have (because that's where the funding is). I think that's probably worse for the world?
Imo subscriptions aren't viable at all. For me to subscribe to something I need strong evidence that I will use it enough.
Automatic micropayments with a daily allowance seem like a much superior solution. They remove the friction of making the subscribe decision and keep the content creators in check by only paying for interesting content. Subscriptions can be easily forgotten or aren't annoying enough to bother to cancel them even if the provided content isn't worth it anymore.
I like the idea, and I do use their service. They have plenty of room to improve- the articles they pick tend to almost always have a certain political slant, and I find more puff than meat more often than I think a curated service should offer.
But. It's a real attempt at a new model, and they're trying. I do get enough value out of it to keep using them to the few-dollars-a-month level, and I hope they improve their system over time.
Which is precisely why companies prefer the subscription model. See gyms, cable TV, and insurance companies.
How do you ensure some content quality that goes beyond a headline and a catchy teaser paragraph?
Kindle Unlimited had this problem when they started distributing payouts based on pages read, which led to a proliferation of books with catchy first page, instructions to skip to the last page and a bunch of junk in between.
How about a simple button that makes a view/visit not count?
> instructions to skip to the last page
That happened because it didn't count pages read or time spent.
I’ve managed to find value from Kindle Unlimited, but pretty much nobody but self published authors (which I have no problem with, but there’s effectively zero bar to entry meaning quality is over the place) is available on the service because of the KDP Select issue. It doesn’t seem to be evenly enforced either, since the Harry Potter books are available via Kindle Unlimited yet are available for sale on other eBook stores, for example.
That is great, but who are the people paying you? Are they end users, or are you selling a service to other web companies that DO rely on ad dollars to make money?
It's all well and good to say that you hate ads because you can afford to pay to remove them. Many can't, and we should think very carefully before we remove services they need.
Anecdotally, the advertisement-supported content is mostly garbage.
If one looks at the history of the HBO cable channel vs. broadcast channels (i.e. ABC, NBC, and CBS), and also Netflix, I think one can see there are similar dynamics at play.
The chaos of freedom is a beautiful thing, but using the government to enforce your version of utopia is scary.
I'm not sure I understand the point of saying you listen to non-ad-supported podcast, and not mentioning how they are supported or if it's pure hobbyist stuff you listen to.
Advertising comes in many forms (i.e. native content), and unless you link your .opml file, I can't ascertain the value of your statement. I do not recommend doing so, but young tech people think it's OK to put your real name on the internet (which is contrary to the ideas I was taught in the 90s; the use of pseudonyms has proven sound given our current circumstances).
The current allocation of human productivity enablement is not the only one possible (and an "is" is not an "ought to be" as per Hume).
Vimeo requires the person creating the content to pay, yes? So if I want to do a series of videos on Kibana, or Active Directory, or astrophysics, I need to pay Vimeo in addition to the effort of creating my content.
Basically no one outside a philosophy lecture has ever suggested that the current state of anything is the only possible one, that's a meaningless strawman. Please avoid the condescending suggestion that others can't imagine things being different, it's as patronizing as it is pointless.
I don’t really see problems here outside of encouraging an entire industry to move on from tracking and/or DRM the way an entire nascent industry moved on from the popup and pop-under ad, or invasive screen takeover and annoying animated ads.
Ultimately the world did everything it does now without internet marketing and ultimately could do so again.
A sizable share of a smaller pie is better than all of nothing. Essentially your concern is both correct and irrelevant.
Nobody cares if Google has to make less money to have a less crappy internet the same way nobody cares if the newspaper industry makes less money.
Honest but blunt answer: We (my businesses acting as advertisers) don't rely on your (Google's, or any other ad network's) claims anyway. The only thing that matters is the metrics we measure on our own sites, and we're going to be able to separate those by ad campaign anyway. We don't care about getting more Facebook likes or how many Instagram views some image gets or how many impressions Google claims to have shown on third party sites. We only care whether a given campaign gave a good return on investment in terms of direct benefits and/or actionable leads.
The thing is, only a very small fraction of the ads ecosystem works this way. Coke wants to show ads to people to position their brand, not to get people to buy soda over the internet, which means they're not able to measure the efficacy of channels on a per-publisher basis and figure out if they're being cheated. Brand advertisers typically use third-party fraud detection services like Moat to inspect the environment their ads are running in and see if they look legitimate.
Then there's a large range of people doing things where you could measure the effect of channels, but the site just isn't that sophisticated. Some pizza place somewhere buys some ads, they don't have the tech staff to measure conversions and optimize their channels, instead they trust the ad network to make sure they're not being cheated.
Even sophisticated performance advertisers rely on ad network fraud detection, just indirectly. Yes, you run your ad campaign, and you bid what the traffic is worth to you based on your measurements. But the existence of that traffic stream comes from fraud detection. Imagine some publishers on an ad network start spamming it, and the ad network isn't able to detect the fraud. The money from advertisers now isn't going to publishers in proportion to the value of their traffic, but instead in proportion to how much they're cheating. The publishers that were the source of your good traffic go out of business, and the ad network collapses because it doesn't have valuable traffic to send to anyone.
We're talking about a built-in feature to safely and transparently include ad content from a third party in your own site. It seems possible that advertisers could set up standardised content to work with that feature. Then the kinds of hosts who make enough from advertising to be worth keeping it anyway could either delegate to an advertiser's own server or self-host. Payment could be either a direct transfer or use some new, simpler and more transparent service just to handle that aspect.
Is this like intrusive DRM in PC games, where all the studies show that it increases producer costs and complexity, annoys consumers, and doesn’t actually improve sales revenue, but some companies do it anyway because “what about piracy?”
I have heard the opposite. Every day you can stop a game from being pirated is quite a lot of sales earned back.
Dunovo has been quite effective at this in the past.
If you can stop your game from being pirated for a week a lot of people who want the game right now will switch to buying instead.
After it’s been cracked a lot of publishers will then patch out the DRM since it doesn’t matter anymore.
This does not happen nearly as much as you think.
For advertising however, you can first of all incur a cost to an advertiser (since costs are calculated per click, view, etc), but furthermore, pirates can even profit from it by having a website and generating fake clicks for that website. If you would not try to prevent this ad fraud you would have bad actors siphoning off complete company advertising budgets to their accounts.
You still need to measure your audience to get advertisers to pay the price, but this is decoupled from the individual ad buys so it can be done differently.
the people buying the pirated software would not have otherwise spent the money on the official/real version. This is the stickler - counting "loss" from this kind of sale is at best immaterial and at worst fraudulent.
I think people like me who argue that web advertising should return to dumb/static/contextual ads also accept that it might kill a huge fraction of web revenue/jobs/content.
The downside is that advertisers move to the walled gardens of a few big players, and to native advertising. I’m still more ok with that than with the way the ad industry works now.
Advertiser: dont block my ads because the business depends on it
Consumer: here's a solution that works for me
Advertiser: but then that solution doesn't work for me
Consumer: i don't care, im still blocking all ads until I feel like i don't have to
Publisher: Don't block ads or I will go out of business.
Consumer: Then please allow me to contribute in some other way (subscription, Patreon, microtransactions).
Publisher: Hm, I dunno, that sounds like work.
But I also see a lot of people saying they'd like to contribute to the sites they visit frequently. I built a proof of concept website to let everyone do just that:
There are several similar concepts (Mozilla with Scroll, quid, even patreon et al), but I think mine reduces friction because signing up is as easy as on HN. Oh, and there's absolutely no tracking or selling of information to third parties.
Any feedback is welcome.
The internet has seemingly decided that without tracking ads don't work. No. Serve your static ad or I will continue to see nothing. :)
Those older mediums were also just inefficient and create a lot of wasted spend, whereas the internet has allowed far more businesses to start and thrive by lowering their customer acquisition costs. These companies would never survive if they had to still rely on older ad models.
Once you're at the point where you are buying traffic to meet goals, you're not going to scrutinize the origin of that traffic beyone anything that would appear to be flagrant fraud to your customers.
Leaving aside that this isn't the problem of end users:
Link to a site, use an ID for that campaign (analogous to an affiliate ID), and don't pay unless a purchase takes place. Bots can't fake that.
I have put an ad on your site, it took up space for some time. The ad was bad and nobody bought anything even though a hundred thousand people saw it. The publisher is still owed money because they did their part.
That massively increases the barrier to entry. Right now you can make a new site, sign up with an ad network, and start showing ads. No one involved needs to trust you (much) since the ad network is in a good position to detect cheating. Remove that, and big trusted publishers (NYT, FB, Google) are still fine, but smaller ones wouldn't be able to demonstrate to the ad network or advertiser that they should be trusted.
> Or just charge flat rates.
Adverse selection will kill you.
With the tiny payout you get from Adsense, unless your site is really popular to begin with, you're not going to make much of anything. Pennies maybe (which you won't receive until hitting a threshold anyway). So I don't see how it helps with entry.
By the time your service is popular enough to make real money you could approach smaller brands and advertisers to get better deals than Adsense.
Adsense exists to make ads cheaper for the advertisers and there's no way around the fact that that means content producers will be making less money as a whole. You can't have it both ways. It's lowering the amount that advertisers are willing to pay content creators by giving them the perception that their money stretches further, aided by online tracking and targeting. Meanwhile Google caches in on their cut of the deal and all of the piles of data they collect with their monopoly while content producers get shafted.
My understanding of your argument is that no publisher should be using Adsense etc today, and they should all be negotiating direct deals instead, is that right? What would you say to publishers (and I've talked to many) who are happy to have the "collect bids from people who want to advertise on my site" portion automated for them so they can focus on running their sites?
(Still speaking only for myself)
My experience, especially with media content producers, is that those ad platforms are never sufficient and it's always advisable to rely on partnerships or Patreon. Because, yeah, it's more work to create those relationships, but the alternative is relying on a low-revenue platform where a small update from the whims of Google might destroy you without warning.
and spend the next two weeks delivering explanation after explanation to the ad networks and Google that you are indeed a real person/company and indeed created a site with unique content and indeed plan to generate leads, etc, etc.
After two weeks of back and forth you are approved by Google only to be indefinitely temporarily blocked for "additional traffic verification" in a couple of days despite purchasing only the best traffic for start of the site.
> smaller ones wouldn't be able to demonstrate to the ad network or advertiser that they should be trusted
It is already very, very complicated and is rapidly getting close to impossible.
Maybe the dominant adops model was a mistake? To throw back to an older, simpler time: what would thinking outside the box look like for this?
This way you also avoid the arms race between ad networks, ad blockers and clickbot farms.
Your business model is not our problem.
It has been a cat and mouse game. The tech changes, but the game goes on.
Hell at that stage Mozilla could probably justify rolling ad blocking lists in as a default as long as they allow the labeled ads through.
As you say the game will go on but maybe it the will be a more pleasant one to play.
The more worrying ones I've seen don't rely on JS but are just links to bad sites. Downloading software can be a bit ridiculous these days with alongside the main download button about five ads saying "Download Now" linking to god knows what iffy software.
I don’t suppose there’s a config setting in Chrome that discriminates between the website’s JS and the JS from my extensions?
If I could wear a pair of contact lenses that blocked out billboards and other kinds of non-digital advertising, I would do so in a heartbeat.
I believe undisclosed ads should be illegal, I would ban music in ads, I would ban color in ads, I would ban sexuality in advertisement, I would ban appeals to emotions in ads.
If a product truly makes the life of the purchaser better, then no gimmicks are needed to sell it.
It's maddening that advertisers can be allowed to destroy culture like that.
Imagine reading something about, say, a particular lawnmower and the article has a link to that lawnmower at the top as an ad from Flymo with a discount. No tracking just a link to buy it with a tracking Id in the URL or something.
Can someone answer me this: Are there studies, not funded by those who benefit from mass-tracking, that show the benefit of all this data-gathering to show ads? Or that show it doesn't work perhaps?
My gut tells me the difference in success rate is minimal and couldn't possibly justify the data collection but I'd love to be proven wrong.
At this time, I believe the whole scheme to be a con. (there, I said it!)
Why do you feel like your attention should be for sale? There should be no advertising on the web. Content should be free or cost money, and the cost should be transparent. Advertisements are just socially accepted psychological manipulation. We can do better.
Bringing it to a physical example, if I walk into a store and see a product placement or physical sign advertisement, I'm not that offended by it. But if they started fingerprinting me and taking my picture under the premise of selling me more stuff... I'm offended by that.
But, yeah, I'm still offended by that. It doesn't justify the widespread behavior on the internet to me, they're both bad.
Source: I set up this tracking for a retailer.
Anything that remembers anything about me or my behavior is distinctly off limits. I don’t care if your site or business depends on it. If you use a an ad network that uses tracking cookies to show ads, you’d business model is flawed and your business should die.
This is not the case. I have visited thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of websites in which the content was not valuable to me, and I blocked those ads, too.
When I block ads, I send the signal that my attention is not for sale, and moreover, the content creators' business model is not my concern. Eventually, if they get the enough of these signals, they'll find a new way to make money.
But as the article points out, we acclimate to stimulus, so any ad that's welcomed and successful will lose engagement over time. Which is why we get either very creative compelling advertising or advertising that attempts to trick us.
The entire thing is fundamentally broken, of course, and nobody seems to have a monetization strategy beyond subscriptions or the perpetual cat and mouse game of blockers, blocker-blockers, blocker-blocker-blockers and so on.
In an industry full of innovation the monetization aspect is stuck in the newspaper model created 150 years ago.
Relevant (and somewhat humorously self-aware) take on the matter from youtube channel Wisecrack-which is a channel that likes to look at the deeply classically philosophical aspects of how we react and inform ourselves through the lens of modern media.
But the line started to blur when they decided to remove that yellow background that tells me the result is an ad. Now, it's a 11px font that spells ad. That's the only indicator.
For myself, I created a single use extension that turns google ads background to yellow. I'm fine with ads on Google search, as long as I know they are ads.
It's clear Google removed the previously obvious demarcation between ads and results specifically to make it less obvious.
I'd prefer a different background colour (like the parent's extension), but it would also help a bit if it said "Advertisement" instead of "Ad".
And now I have the tools to do so.
I imagine folks serving up the JS have figured out ways around whatever simple blocking tech I have. If their JS wouldn’t eat up so much battery, I’d mind a lot less, since I leave tons of tabs open.
All it takes is one of these tech giants pulling a Equifax and who knows how much data spills over.
Designing secure APIs that can’t be misused by a Cambridge Analytica or similar is a hard problem. Google Plus was “breached”.
I just hope ALPR/facial recognition/etc doesn't get combined with digital billboards to bring internet ads into physical locations.
I decided a few years ago to disable ad blocking for awhile. The result was frankly, a parade of shit. Google was probably best at showing the occasional relevant ad, mostly in GMail.
Beyond that, the automated crap that does the targeting tends to hit the lowest common denominator topic. What I actually do online barely registered, but if my kid used my laptop, it would immediately take over the ad experience.
Heh, do you really think that static ads would be a small portion of the page?
Look at small local newspapers for what a business driven by revenue from non-targetable ads looks like. The ads take up more than half the page!
I'd be happy to not use an adblocker, but the abuse of ads for tracking users and as a potential attack vector for malicious content means I'm leaving my adblocker up, no matter how much sites might beg.
Often they use the strategy of widespread name recognition, which is why you can probably think of a mattress brand, and a recruiting platform off the top of your head. That's effective advertisement without tracking.
I would be more than happy to accept that and I do see it from time to time. But I still won't be disabling my adblocker - allowing ads served from DoubleClick et el is just far too dangerous from both a security and privacy perspective. Even if they're not responsible for the actual ad content they're at the very least complicit in all of it.
I went and disabled personalized advertising, and for the first time in years I started seeing ads that tempted me to click through, ads from tech companies about tech. Why the difference? Because YouTube started showing me ads related to the content I'm actually watching rather than based on their faulty neural network profile of me.
Obviously this is just one anecdote, but it's illustrative of the point: don't try to advertise either beer or iPhone covers on a car maintenance site. If I'm on a car maintenance site, you know all you need to know about where my interests are at that exact moment. Why try to hijack my attention (difficult when I'm trying to solve a car problem) when you could instead subtly redirect my attention to an ad for a local mechanic?
If there's only space for one ad, do they show you an ad for tools, exterior mechanic, engine mechanic, or a new car ad? All are valid options for both you and the advertiser.
This is where invasively tracking your online behavior can help you.
Edit: ok endless is hyperbole, but content targeting is hardly useless.
For years I allowed google text ads because of non invasion and distracting they were. However the of amount tracking taking place forced me to also disable them.
That's what I've been harping on. I'm not blocking ads, I'm trying to protect my privacy and keep ad companies from effectively DoSing my browser.
Nothing about 'ad blockers' prevent advertisers from showing ordinary magazine style ads.
Having more data about you allows them to pick out 'better' ads and make more money. Wether this money goes to ad networks or content creators depends on how much leverage one has over the other.
This is the first step to reducing fingerprinting, remove distinctions between different browsers and only have the level of web version or timestamp they can support.