Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

If people like Brave's ad model, all the power to them. I would personally never touch it. I'm not philosophically on board with the idea that paying people to look at ads is a pragmatic way forward. It doesn't matter if it's opt-in, free-to-play games with loot crates are opt-in, but the decision to go down that road will effect their decision making process when designing new features and I don't want to be part of it even indirectly.



The Brave approach seems to be the same as the infamous Adblock Plus, i.e. insert themselves as a middle-man between websites & ad networks on the one side and the user on the other and under the guise of "ethical ad blocking" extract a ransom.


The difference with Brave is they also provide a mechanism to contribute those earned funds to sites you visit directly.


That doesn't make it more ethical. Presumably if the sites wanted to operate under that model they would be already.

In any case, Brave's effective CPM that they pay out to publishers it complete shit even compared to bottom-of-the-barrel ad exchanges. It's objectively a bad deal for publishers.


> Presumably if the sites wanted to operate under that model they would be already.

Not if the economics don't work out. I earnestly thing the Internet would be vastly different if microtransactions were feasible 20 years ago. I was hoping Paypal would enable this because credit card companies seemed to have no interest since their per-transaction fees are so profitable.


It does make it more ethical. There is no easy way to set up an own advertising network for every website, ads are pennies.

> Brave's effective CPM

You will find that everyone except google has terrible CPMs. I like the fact that they are exploring new delivery technologies though


>There is no easy way to set up an own advertising network for every website

Huh? This is trivially easy with DFP or if you're smaller AdGlare/AdZerk/etc

> You will find that everyone except google has terrible CPMs.

This is objectively false. OpenX, Amazon, Rubicon, AppNexus, Pubmatic, etc all pay better than Google for large pockets of inventory. Google has the largest distribution, but their CPMs are awful for a very large percentage of that inventory, even in typically high-CPM markets.


It might be trivially easy for you, as you seem to have experience, but I don’t think it’s easy for your average joe who wants to set up a blog, local news site, forum, etc.


It's not easy for many people to set up a blog, local news site, or forum. Does that make those things unethical too?


I don’t think either Brave or a custom advertising solution are unethical. It just seems like the barrier to entry to getting your own advertising solution up is a lot higher than setting up a site on squarespace, and that most small site owners can’t roll their own advertising solution.


setup DFP and find advertisers where? The ad networks you mention either exclude 95% of websites or pay worse than adsense for long-tail websites. You can find testimonials about them in tons of sites


You're absolutely right that they aren't a feasible option for long-tail sites (as you mention, most of the time you won't even get approved). However, long-tail sites don't monetize poorly because Google is screwing them. Long-tail sites monetize poorly because because the value of the content on long-tail sites isn't worth the Trust & Safety overhead for anyone except for Google.


I'm skeptical of the model too, and have no intention of using Brave.

But: you can also not enable ads and buy BATs yourself. This gives you a single system to distribute donations to content you enjoy.

Which is actually quite an interesting concept, since it is low effort/automatic for the user and yet allows small contributions.

Of course it also gives Brave a potentially huge position of power, which is my biggest problem.

If the BAT system was run by a independent non-profit and not browser specific it would be more appealing.


> gives Brave a potentially huge position of power

But since BAT is an ERC token, how can they control who gives money to whom, and indeed do they even know that?


> If the BAT system was run by a independent non-profit

Wasn't that the concept behind Flattr (minus the non-profit)


Brave is unethical. The key problem is they insert themselves into the revenue stream without the consent of the web publishers. It's fine to block ads entirely, but substituting your own ads and collecting money from that is wrong.


I'm not sure I see the clear cut ethical dilemma you do.

Option 1. block all ads, publishers receive no revenue.

Option 2. block all ads, user opts in to unrelated ads, user can choose to give some of the proceeds of seeing those ads to publishers they utilize.

How can (2) possibly be worse than (1)?


There's also:

Option 0. block no ads, publishers receive all of the applicable revenue from their preferred network

It isn't clear to me from the website what happens if the publisher is unaware or unable or unwilling to claim revenue generated through this fringe browser's alternative revenue mechanism. Who ends up with that money? Is advertising even shown? Is the user aware of whether or not the publisher is in a position to claim revenues of the ads they're seeing?

Depending on the answers to those questions, the addition of (2) could be worse for these publishers if it makes some users who otherwise would've (begrudgingly or otherwise) chosen option (0) feel morally justified in switching over to (2), converting their real (0)-derived revenues into unrealised (2)-derived theoretical revenues.


> Option 0. block no ads, publishers receive all of the applicable revenue from their preferred network

Unfortunately, that is likely not an optimally ethical reference state for the browser. Navigating with no ad blocker leaves the user open to all kinds of nasty tracking, auto-loading, and general trickery. When taken together that shady behavior can be seen by a reasonable person to outweigh the benefits of maximizing revenue for the user's favorite sites.

Case in point: if I want to open a pdf music score from IMSLP, IMSLP displays an ad with the prominent text "Download PDF" in it. If I follow the ad it eventually prompts me to install a Chrome extension. Do you think it's wise to install that extension?

In general I trust that IMSLP is an ethical site-- after all, they've spent a lot of effort to ensure that nobody downloads a score that is still under copyright in the country where the user is located. Did they forget to check a box to disallow misleading ads for their site? If there's no such checkbox "preferred network" is quite a euphemism and the correct/ethical reference state for browsers is with ublock origin installed.

Edit: just to be clear-- 2 could still be worse than 1 depending on how Brave browser behaves. But for most practical uses of the web by non-technical users, your 0 is almost always a worse ethical choice than 1.


Option 0 is no longer an option because ads are no longer just ads. They are malicious trackers that collect as much data about you as possible and sell it all over the place. It's unethical for a site to even host such "ads" as a method of monetization.


Because it inserts a middleman who takes a cut that the publisher did not enter into an agreement with. If it was just users giving to publishers, that would be fine. Having a middleman hold the publisher's monetization hostage is ethically dubious for the middleman.

Consider that I could pirate a movie, or I could pirate it and pay the creators directly, leaving out the distributors the creators contracted with. I fully agree that the second is slightly more ethical than the first, even though the creator agreed to neither. The problem occurs when some Tube site distributes the videos without the creators' consent, collects money from the viewers, takes a cut, and passes the rest to the creator. The Tube site is ethically wrong.


But nobody is holding anything hostage. When you use Brave, you can opt-in to display ads on your Browser, and while doing so still get ads from Brave. So the choice to cut-off ads from the content publisher is yours. If you think it's unethical - just do not block the ads.


Brave is holding the publisher's monetization hostage. Again, my issue is not with the user but with Brave.


But... they're not though.

Ad-blocking in Brave (as it already exists in every other browser via plugins) is optional.

Brave ads (a paradigm which doesn't exist in any other browser) are optional.

You can disable both, enable both, or disable one and not the other. The choice is absolutely on the user and Brave isn't holding anything hostage.


Using a piracy tube is also optional. That doesn't make the people running the privacy tube any more ethical. Brave is replacing a monetization scheme that the publisher willingly entered into with one where Brave inserts itself into the existing monetization flow and stops the monetization completely unless the publisher deals with Brave. Similarly, the tube sites stop monetization for its users unless the creators deal with them.

You're still confusing who is at fault here.


> Having a middleman hold the publisher's monetization hostage is ethically dubious for the middleman.

I think that's why they went with a cryptocurrency for payment. Brave isn't a middleman, or at least there's no technical reason why they have to be. Users pay publishers directly, using tokens that they earn from Brave in exchange for viewing ads.


Tokens only go to verified publishers. Signing up to receive them is basically that consent. Otherwise (site or channel not verified), the transaction never leaves the user's browser

wikipedia.org, slashdot.org, and other sites that show a purple checkmark in the URL bar have gone through that verification process


"I blocked your source of revenue, now I'm holding some money which you can either sign up to receive a fraction of, or don't and you won't get any" doesn't sound like "consent" to me.


Setting aside the rewards program, people can and will use ad-blockers. Even if those were illegal for some reason, there are lists available (such as hosts, https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts) where you can make known tracking/advertising/etc hostnames non-routable

Are you saying that site owners should feel violated by folks installing ad-blockers (or using host files)?


No one believes that ad blockers are good for content creators.

Brave, however, positions itself as being good for creators with its rewards program. A user may be forgiven for thinking that this is actually better for creators: "Earn rewards and give back to your favorite Creators. Support your favorite sites with micropayments."

If Brave takes away revenue from the creators, and offers them a fraction of that revenue back, that's one thing. BUT you can't turn around and say that a creator accepting that fraction is "consent" to the whole program.

That's what I was saying.


I think you have a point, but the Brave Rewards program can also be seen as a redistribution system. For the sites that one wishes to support, one can choose to disable the ad-blocking system in Brave and see the standard ads. For the sites that are distributing bad advertisements, the ad-blocking system is useful and might be wise to enable. The in-browser ads then give a small funding to the user who sends it back to the sites that were unblocked, further increasing their revenue.


The idea is to nudge advertisers and publishers towards a more transparent model without middlemen. Unethical is what's happening today, with middlemen making obscene profits. It's more like civil disobedience than unethical.


Middlemen are not ipso facto unethical.

The publishers have voluntarily opted-in to ad exchanges because those exchanges provide value by aggregating demand in a way that would be difficult for all but the largest publishers to do themselves (and the largest publishers do, which is why FB/Google/Snap/Twitter/etc all sell their own ads).

It's not as if anyone is forcing publishers to not deal directly with buyers. The exchanges certainly don't have the market power to do so.


e.g. when facebook took the page followers that people worked to acquire, and made them pay for users who intently subscribed to them, that was undestandable from a revenue-generating side, but unethical. Also when google forces people to pay the google tax.


I've been using Brave for a few months and I've never seen it substitute it's own ads within any applications or websites.

It instead uses MacOS notifications to show ads which open new browser tabs when you click on them. So it does block ads entirely and then shows it's own ads through a separate channel.


Modern online advertising is more unethical, so shrug


In all honesty, I'm not sure how I feel about this model? I'm one of those people who has been out saying that the web needs a new business model. Well, here one is, and yet I find myself a bit hesitant to embrace it? It's probably just a matter of needing more information to fill in the blanks and explain the contradictions.

That said, my mind tends to automatically start strategizing the long game, and I'm uncertain how valuable people who have to be paid to look at ads are to advertisers? I mean, Certainly some advertisers would still be interested. But enough to displace the current model? I'm just not sure.


> my mind tends to automatically start strategizing the long game

Ditto. The long game seems to be to become an alternative Google of sorts. In the sense that Brave becomes the ad delivery middle man to every web user like Google and FB currently is.

With regards to the current business model, I don't think it's broken at all. What is broken is the expectation that because users find most internet content so worthless that they wouldn't ever consider paying for it that some alternative revenue modal surely exists to keep the current system afloat. It's a flawed assumption. These new ad modals are just lipstick on a pig. The underlining product is already not valued enough to charge for (like crappy news articles and hastily written blog posts). No new monetisation modal will fix it.


Another perspective is that people don't want to pay for content, because we've been brainwashed to get content for free.

For example in the press high quality investigative journalism is dying because people would rather get stuff for free and it's much cheaper to pick up stories from somewhere else and give it a sensationalist title.

It's why online newspapers are struggling because people would rather read shitty blogs written by quacks promoting alt-truths, for free, than pay $2 per month.


> the web needs a new business model

Business model for whom? For Brave? Or for the website owner?

If the website owner isn't involved in this choice, then this is racketeering. And racketeering is an old business model.


If people aren't willing to look at ads, what will news articles become? ads. What will HN comments become? Ads (many blog posts already are). Advertising covers a need


I know advertising covers a need, there's nothing inherently wrong with advertising in an academic sense.

News organisations do not offer anything of consistent high quality that people are willing to pay for though. I have no faith that quality will improve if only we all switched off our adblockers and clicked some ads. People's propensity to read clickbait will not decline as a result of higher revenue from advertising. Most people aren't willing to pay for news because most news is worthless.

> what will news articles become? ads

This has already been the case for a while. I hope ad-blockers push them so far from legitimacy that they actually die off somewhat. When they had ad revenue bottom of the barrel "news" could survive regardless of the market not wanting to give them any money directly.


>there's nothing inherently wrong with advertising in an academic sense.

There is so much wrong with advertising in an academic sense.

- They distort the product market as they favour those players with the highest marketing budget, rather than with the best product.

- They distort the media market as getting people to look in your direction is the only thing that has value. Clickbait and fake-news are a direct result of advertising, and wouldn't exist without it.

- They are an attempt at manipulation. People have to constantly expend the energy to counteract that manipulation. I also believe this to be a big factor in the decrease in trust in media. Since the stuff that is meant to inform you is always surrounded by stuff trying to manipulate you, how could you ever build trust to it?


I'm talking about the basic principles of advertising. A simple sign in the street is advertising, as is a static graphic on a niche hobby website advertising products from a company people within that community respect. There's nothing wrong with letting people know your products exist. The problem is always in the execution.

> They distort the product market as they favour those players with the highest marketing budget, rather than with the best product.

I don't see any alternative to letting people make claims and making laws to stop them blatantly lying. What is the "best" product in any category? How does the best product surface in front of me without advertising in any context?

> Clickbait and fake-news are a direct result of advertising

Advertising is a part of it, sure, but it's not the whole picture.

> They are an attempt at manipulation. People have to constantly expend the energy to counteract that manipulation

100% agree, which is why I promote adblockers. But I don't think this is a problem with the principle of advertising, it's an execution problem. Like many others mention if a website had a small sidebar with static graphic ads that weren't invasive I wouldn't block them as they wouldn't be requiring me to expend energy to counteract them and I would still think it would be ethical to block them if someone wished to. It's never unethical to choose what code runs on my machine after being sent to me, if you don't want me to have free content then don't send me content for free.

I think we're mostly on the same page, I just don't have a problem with ads at the bottom end of the manipulation and annoyance scale.


>I don't see any alternative to letting people make claims and making laws to stop them blatantly lying. What is the "best" product in any category? How does the best product surface in front of me without advertising in any context?

Are you aware of the concept of independent product reviews that you can build trust to and seek out on your own if you are interested in them?

>Advertising is a part of it, sure, but it's not the whole picture.

There is no direct financial incentive for them without advertising.

A political actor might sponsor fake news, so it wouldn't disappear, but most of it gets made because it's a cheap way to generate highly engaging content that gets shared a lot.


> concept of independent product reviews

How did these original purchasers find out about these products in order to buy and review them? How do I know they aren't receiving products for free or more subtly being specific in what products they will or won't review in order to spin a narrative. I'm a big fan of good product reviews but this doesn't solve advertisings problems it just introduces new ones.

I'm not really sure how businesses survive in a world where they are not allowed to advertise their products or where they are located? It feels very artificially prescribed in how you think people should discover something.

Like you I don't even like ads, and I would rather not see them but I don't advocate for them not to be able to exist, just for my right to block them or in the real world for them to no intrude unnecessarily.

What solution do you envisage to the problem of ads as you see it? to ban them entirely?


>How did these original purchasers find out about these products in order to buy and review them?

Professional reviewers already find out directly fron the product creators. They want to be contacted by them and even seek out contact. This problem is already solved. In general, they certainly don't learn about products from advertising.

>How do I know they aren't receiving products for free or more subtly being specific in what products they will or won't review in order to spin a narrative. I'm a big fan of good product reviews but this doesn't solve advertisings problems it just introduces new ones.

I generally don't have a problem with professional reviewers recieving products for free to review them. If they get paid to push a certain product, while pretending they are a neutral source of information, I would consider this fraud.

>What solution do you envisage to the problem of ads as you see it? to ban them entirely?

Yes, I advocate banning advertising and I hope to contribute to support to put that measure into place.


> quality that people are willing to pay for though

You 're only talking about news sites. While they are the loudest to complain, most of the web traffic is not news sites, but sites with immense amounts of valuable information, most of which is not compensated well. The only one who gets compensated well is Google, and we should change that.

Businesses are constantly willing to give money for advertising, and they will do that even if 100% of users use adblocking. That is a 0.5 trillion industry which is a great fit for attention-grabbing media, from printed press to the internet. It's not going away. It's just broken, largely because of centralized tracking, and we have to fix that.


I didn't just mean news sites, they are a good example though.

There is a lot of sites out there with very valuable information, I'm not convinced that they inherently need compensating though? but I might be mis-interpreting what you mean. More specifically I don't think encouraging these valuable sites to survive on new ad driven or donation modals is pragmatic, especially one backed by a crypto like BAT.

If I create high value content and put it online for free I don't think it's fair I then complain that it doesn't generate enough revenue through ads. I would rather the content not be given to me for free in the first place.


> I'm not convinced that they inherently need compensating though?

I am. I find some excellent Youtube channels, and i m sure google is not compensating them enough. I find interesting comments here or on reddit which are never compensated. For small audiences, there is just no way to be compensated. IF people take the time to provide value to me, simple logic says there should be a way to compensate them (but there isn't). It seems like we have the technology to transform the way we live and we don't use it.

> create high value content and put it online for free

Most people do that with the expectation that once they hit a popularity threshold, they 'll be able to monetize it. At least that's what Google promises them (thats how blogs and youtube took off), and after they bait they switch and start starving creators of income. We can do better than that, imho


> I am. I find some excellent Youtube channels, and i m sure google is not compensating them enough.

Depending upon youtube ads for your revenue is not a good model anyway. Many channel owners have their own monetization through sponsors ("this video was sponsored by..."), patreon, affiliate links, merchandise, etc.

For others, they may either produce the content for pleasure (i.e. without intent to monetize) or as a way of driving attention toward their real business (e.g. if they are a consultant or book author).

> I find interesting comments here or on reddit which are never compensated. For small audiences, there is just no way to be compensated. IF people take the time to provide value to me, simple logic says there should be a way to compensate them (but there isn't).

There are incentives that motivate people aside from money, such as reputation. That aside, I think the reason many participate in sites like this is that ultimately they intend to gain knowledge as well. There's not an explicit exchange, but by all of us willing to share our knowledge and experience, we all end up more educated than we started out.

> Most people do that with the expectation that once they hit a popularity threshold, they 'll be able to monetize it. At least that's what Google promises them (thats how blogs and youtube took off), and after they bait they switch and start starving creators of income. We can do better than that, imho

Again, depending upon a platform provider (and one that is often secretive and unaccountable with it's decisions) for your main source of income is a bad bet. For content creators, the hard truth is that you have to put a lot of work into connecting directly with your customers and finding ways to disintermediate the publishing platforms and diversify your revenue streams.


> aside from money

obviously people do, but considering that the tech exists, why not have an option? Also, consider that many blog posts are essentially blogvertisements anyway, and there is apparenty a market for buying upvotes here.

> you have to put a lot of work into connecting directly

That is a lot harder because people's attention is limited and the big tech cos have a stronghold on it. E.g. it's very hard to pull people away from youtube.


> I find some excellent Youtube channels, and i m sure google is not compensating them enough.

What is "enough" if not determined by the market?

Presumably these channel creators could leave YouTube and create their own websites and sell their own ads. If they're being grossly underpaid vs. the value that YouTube provides (largely in distribution and monetization) presumably they'd be doing that, but they're not. Why not?


> if not determined by the market?

Exactly that, the market is skewed by monopolies. You can easily setup an ad server, but good luck getting the attention of an advertiser. Google has a stronghold on display ads, almost a monopoly.


That's a demand problem not a monopoly problem. You can't get advertiser attention because advertisers have limited interest in advertising on small scale properties because it's not a scalable way to do business.

If anything Google provides more opportunity because the alternative to AdSense existing would probably be no revenue at all for small web properties.


There are a decent number of us that don't object to ads, we object to tracking and surveillance.

I'd probably use a browser that blocked all trackers and ad networks that do tracking/user profiling but did allow other kinds of ads. If enough people did that, the ad tech companies would have to evolve and target the producer and content rather than the consumer. That would be a big step forward IMO.


AdNauseam has a setting to allow non-tracking ads (the list of which I believe is maintained by the EFF).


>what will news articles become?

there will be fewer of them which is a good thing because the signal to noise ratio of journalism is about one to two magnitudes too high, they will be smaller and funded by communities who have authentic interest in keeping them alive rather than be incentivised to maximise engagement, and I'd wager they'd be more responsive to the needs of their readers and members.


> funded by communities who have authentic interest in keeping them alive

That's naive. Traditional media were always coopted to serve interests


yes, traditional media is for the most part ad-funded and that's why it suffers from the same problem. There is plenty of non-traditional or local media that functions perfectly fine based on subscriptions. Diminishing or better destroying the ad model will be good for them.


> traditional media is for the most part ad-funded

Traditional media were often bankrupt , but kept alive for political influence. Subscripptions don't solve the problem, they only work for major publications , and they give them an incentive to coddle their hardcore audience , creating a bubble. If anything ad-supported media can afford to be more unbiased (but still 'safe' enough for their advertisers).


This has already happened.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: