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This post is very confused. If one entity generates the page and the ads, then they can already reasonably easily randomize URLs and circumvent ad blockers. Facebook does this. On the other hand, if one entity generates the page and another handles the ads (the typical situation where a publisher uses an ad network to put ads on their page) then web bundles don't do anything to resolve any of the coordination problems that make url randomization and ad blocker circumvention difficult.

I'm currently exploring using WebBundles to serve multiple ads in response to a single ad request, because it allows ads to be served more efficiently while keeping them secure and private, but ad blockers would still prevent the ad js from loading before the ad request was ever sent.

(Disclosure: I work on ads at Google)




> I'm currently exploring using WebBundles to serve multiple ads in response to a single ad request, because it allows ads to be served more efficiently while keeping them secure and private, but ad blockers would still prevent the ad js from loading before the ad request was ever sent.

Why is this a use-case that I as a web user should care about? Frankly, I don't find it very comforting that an article raises privacy concerns, and an engineer working on ads at Google responds with "these concerns are misguided; I'm exploring this technology to make ads better."


> Why is this a use-case that I as a web user should care about?

If you block ads, then my work will have no effect on you. If you do not block ads, then my work decreases bandwidth usage and makes it harder for ads to deface each other.

> I don't find it very comforting that an article raises privacy concerns, and an engineer working on ads at Google responds with...

The article describes privacy concerns, but those concerns are based on a misunderstanding of what WebBundles make easier. Specifically, they're concerned about URL randomization, which is no easier with bundles.


This is just super wrong. With WebBundles I can call 2 different things, in two different WebBundles https://example.org/good.js, and that can be different from what the wider web sees as https://example.org/good.js.

Random URLs are just an example of the capability they are not the fundamental problem


> With WebBundles I can call 2 different things, in two different WebBundles https://example.org/good.js, and that can be different from what the wider web sees as https://example.org/good.js.

I can also do that on my server based on whatever criteria I want, just by returning different content. How is this significantly different than the problem you've brought up?


Based on the example at [0], my understanding is that no, you can control and serve up "/good.js" from your domain, but webbundles allow you to override "https://example.com/good.js" while within the context of your bundle - a totally different domain you don't control.

[0] https://www.npmjs.com/package/wbn


The criteria are well-known and basically restricted to what is contained in an HTTP request. With web-bundles (like with service workers) the logic which actual resource the URL resolves to is instead deeply embedded into the browser.

At least, that's my understanding.


We're talking about what the server decides to put in the initial HTML file you request. Since those are almost never served cacheable to the client, the server can just randomize the URLs it produces.


If the bundles are different than the bundles themselves will have different URLs.

If they're served by a 3rd-party then you block on domain or address to the bundle just like today. If it's 1st-party then they can already randomize every URL.


And now they have another option to randomize urls.


Sigh. About time GPT-3 is put to use for content-blocking.


why is it no easier with bundles? If I have a template with `<script src="{adtrackername}.js"/>` that I render into a web bundle on each request (relatively cheap), then each bundle can have random url names with no issues.


How is that different from having a template with `<script src="{adtrackername}.js"/>` that you render into your HTML on each request?


It's no easier with bundles because you can do the exact same thing with non-bundled resources, cheaply too.


Who would ever not want to block ads? The only people watching ads are likely those unable to figure out how to block them.


I don't block ads, and didn't block them even before I decided to start working in advertising. The ads are what fund most sites I visit; I like the sites and I wouldn't want to freeload. If a site's ads are too annoying I leave.


Funding a site by mind pollution, which is what push advertising is, is antisocial behaviour. The onus is on the site publisher to find an ethical source of revenue (just as with any business model). Putting up content on the web and funding that publishing are two different things. It's fine to be interested in and read the content while blocking an antisocial means of funding and that is not freeloading. It's protecting yourself from abuse.


I wanted to write a snarky response to this and went to look for some ad hominem seasoning for my zinger on www.jefftk.com. But I got played. It's hard to hold malice against someone who donates over 50% of their income every year [0]. Good on you. I'm going to keep using my adblocker, though.

0. https://www.jefftk.com/donations


From that page:

> Julia and I believe that one of the best ways to make the world better is to donate to effective charities.

I would argue that the best way to make the world better is to First do no harm. Making a large income by pushing ads at Google doesn't uphold that rule, in my opinion. And perhaps this person's sensitivity around their job is why they feel the need to publicly list their donations, rather than giving quietly. Public philanthropy has often been used as a way to try to deflect criticism from how the money was first made.


Public philanthropy by billionaires of what for them is actually a miniscule portion of their wealth is suspect. But this is not that.

I can't speak for Mr. Kaufman, but I imagine he shares this information publicly not to brag, but to encourage a new norm of publically donating a significant portion of one's income to effective charity.

He and his partner may have literally saved hundreds of lives with their contributions over the last few years alone[0].

What have you done for the world lately? For myself, the answer is: not enough.

0.https://www.givewell.org/how-we-work/our-criteria/cost-effec...


> Making a large income by pushing ads at Google doesn't uphold that rule

If I thought my work in advertising was harmful I would stop. I think it's probably slightly positive: https://www.jefftk.com/p/value-of-working-in-ads

> perhaps this person's sensitivity around their job is why they feel the need to publicly list their donations, rather than giving quietly

I've been listing my donations publicly since before I started working in ads. I wrote https://www.jefftk.com/p/make-your-giving-public when I was working on open source software that rewrote web pages so they would load faster.


Actually the post says that we won't be able to block ads and read the rest of the page anymore. I can understand how Google benefits from that but I hope you understand why I wish that this standard will fail and you start working on something else, maybe in a different company.


> the post says that we won't be able to block ads and read the rest of the page anymore

Right, I'm claiming the post is wrong, and that this is not something WebBundling makes (newly) possible or makes easier.


FWIW I trust Brave a lot more on privacy than Google. Almost anyone who knows both companies would. The only less reputable source for privacy information is probably something from Facebook.


It's better to trust the spec and code itself than what either company says about it.


After experiencing the UX disaster that is AMP, I'd just prefer Google stop throwing its weight around "innovating" on the core web standards and stick to what it's good at: giving me what I ask for in the search bar. No, I don't trust the company that first monopolized search, then the browser, then manufacturer-neutral mobile phone OS to maintain a level playing field. Google has plenty of cash to throw at developers to dream up new schemes to bend the internet to their will in subtle ways. The rest of us don't have the resources to play that game, and we shouldn't have to. No one is more eager to have a well-reasoned, thoughtful debate Monday to Sunday than a lawyer paid by the hour. I suppose engineers, too.


Might I suggest you watch some videos by the late great comedian Bill Hicks


If only society treated advertising like it treats pornography - require people viewing it to be 18, require that they opt in to it, and allow them to block it voluntarily without stigma.

This message brought to you by Subway: Eat Fresh.


If only society valued paying for most of the content they consume. Reality is the money has to come from somewhere.


Society did. Publishing bought into the whole ad network model and shot themselves in the foot thinking they can sell an ad for each view.


Why can't they sell an ad for each view? They've been doing it just fine.


Ads OR payment? Cute theory. Here's the reality: if I pay for a subscription to the NYtimes, I still get ads. If I pay for CNN, I still get ads. If I pay for a movie ticket, I get ads and probably product placement as well (just another form of ad.)

So fuck that argument.


Either the payments aren't enough to cover everything or the service wants to make more.

Anyways, the only "theory" is that costs need to be paid, and you can't have no ads and no payments and expect that to work.


How much money do I have to give the NYTimes before they give me a newpaper without ads? The answer seems to be that it's not something they're selling. I don't think they ever have, and I don't really expect they ever will.

Hence ad blockers, without a shred of remorse.


If they don't provide it then you can opt to just not read it. Not paying and not viewing ads is clearly expecting free content, the very same expectation that pushed so many ads online in the first place.


Or I can use an adblocker and give such businesses the finger. I will continue to do this. If they don't like it, the ball is in their court. Let them try to stop me, ruining their site in the process for anybody who pays for a subscription while blocking their ads, or offer an ad-free service to people who pay. Either way, using an adblocker is a clear win for me and nobody can provide me with a compelling reason to stop. Whining about how I'm being unfair to the poor w'ittle corporation isn't persuasive. It was never my intention to follow the rules of the game they want me to play.


This is what I do - if you won't give me an ad free version then I'm not interested.

My local newspaper is dying and I don't feel sorry for them.


I pay for YouTube Premium and don't get ads. Other than sponsorships in the videos, but they're not nearly as annoying as external ads. Oh and some channels cross-post their videos to a paid platform called Nebula – there you can often find non-sponsored versions even.


"But first, a word from our sponsor!" is now the lead-in to more than half of the content I've consumed from YouTube in the last year.

Why exactly am I paying Google for again? Remind me: Is it so that I don't see ads, or so that the artists are properly compensated?

I'm asking because my bank account is lighter, Google has made records profits, but neither of the two outcomes above has occurred...


It's user generated content. What is Google supposed to do about sponsors in videos?

Technically the Youtube subscription is for the platform itself and extra features, and a little bit of the money is shared with creators in return for removing the ads. They actually make less with Youtube premium users, and if you paid them the same as their ad revenue then your total subscription would be much higher.


Not give a slice of the paid subscription pie to videos containing ads.


That's not currently possible. They can barely keep up with moderation, even with all the automation.


"Content costs money to make so companies need money to make it" is a true statement.

"Companies therefore must run advertisements to make content because a significant portion of the target audience does not want to pay for it" does not follow from that.

There are many industries that typically do not run advertisements for their content - book publishing comes to mind here - and they seem to get by just fine.

90% of everything is crap, so 90% of entertainment disappearing because production houses and producers stop whoring themselves out to Madison Ave and big brands is a net positive for society. Make the 10% of things you can get funded by the target audience without having to mentally and emotionally manipulate them (which is what advertising is) and you'll still have too much content for the average person to consume.

Advertising is immoral, and advertising to children is both immoral and explicitly evil.


> "significant portion of the target audience does not want to pay for it"

This is true for most online content. For various reasons, content that's not music or video has an assumption of being free. Book publishing is not comparable.

> "90% of everything is crap"

Maybe, but everyone has a different 90% so there's no "average". Content is made to match demand and there's something for everyone.

> "mentally and emotionally manipulate them ... Advertising is immoral"

Everything is manipulation and influence. Recommending something to your friends is a form of advertising (and even officially called "word of mouth marketing"). I agree that advertising should have better safeguards since it's influence for a price, but calling it immoral gets into some strange philosophical territory that doesn't accomplish anything productive.




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