That's a Back Button
(to the cadence of "That's a Paddlin'" from "The Simpsons")
Login button below the fold? That's a back button.
Animated ads? That's a back button.
Shifting content? That's a back button.
More than 2 pages? That's a back button.
Need to be logged in to Facebook. That's a back button.
Unexpected video? That's a back button.
Unexpected sound? That's a back button.
Overlapping ads & text in my browser? That's a back button.
Overlapping ads & text at 800 x 600? That's a back button.
No horizontal scroll bar to get beyond right fold? That's a back button.
Flash? That's a back button.
pdf? That's a back button.
Slideshow? Oooh, you better believe that's a back button.
Freezes my computer? That's a battery removal.
Disable the back button.
Well, that should be a "Read Later" button (or, at the very least, looking for a "Print" button).
No horizontal scroll bar at 800 x 600? That's a back button.
I'm not sure how content fitting nicely in 800px is a drawback.
"No horizontal scroll bar at 800 x 600?"
"No horizontal scroll bar to get beyond right fold?"
Do people even realize that some of their content becomes unavailable on certain browsers and at certain resolutions.
Break my back button? That's a, uh...
Unfortunately, the primary impact of putting up a paywall for premium content seems to be to raise huge arguments about why "information wants to be free", not the reality of what happens without one.
Even if I just had the option of outbidding the advertiser I'd be happy.
What I'd really like to see is a "real" news website that supplies non-biased news written by real investigative journalists with no advertisements. I'd pay handsomely for that.
+1, I'd definitely pay for that. Right now I don't trust news media by definition, and I believe only what I get from articles featured on HN - because I can be sure that when I click on "comments", I'll find it thoroughly analyzed and debunked by people who actually know and care about what they read. </rant>
You need to solve micropayments to make paywalls work.
The New York Times paywall seems to be earning them a fair bit of revenue, and they're more than happy to give you the three or four articles a month you'd read there for free-- you're not their target market segment.
I don't know how true that premise is, but it's definitely a simpler solution for them than coming up with a solution to micropayments (which you're absolutely right, does need to get solved).
For instance, I've already tipped the original article 20¢ :-) (see my Tip stream at http://tiptheweb.org/tipstream/patg6vy3pyb62/ )
If publishers can get direct financial support from their audience, they wouldn't need to overdo things with ads, and they'd focus more on providing the best possible experience for that audience. Better for everyone.
I don't think I would be inclined to ever tip unless I knew that the author has a presence on the tipping service so I knew they were actually going to claim the tips. Wonder to if a reverse model, similar to a kickstarter would work, as in an author proposes a piece of content they will put some time into a produce if they get some upfront commitment of tips.
If Time magazine no longer needs to print and mail their product, should't they be making MORE money?
One of the fundamental problems that no one mentions is that advertisers have been grossly overpaying for print ads for decades. They had no measure of the effectiveness or reach of their ads except "X magazine has Y subscribers".
With digital targeted advertising, we know exactly how many views, clicks, length of view, not to mention tons of demographic data on the reader. That's worth something. It's worth a lot more than an untargeted ad on a page in a magazine that might go straight from the mailbox into the garbage.
I'm not claiming to know what will happen in digital advertising, but I really don't think paywalls or micropayments are the future. My guess is something like major media companies will get rid of their entire ad sales staff, outsource advertising to Facebook/Google, and deliver their content through multiple channels/feeds/API which can been interpreted by various apps or devices to be viewed in the way the consumer likes.
(I know there are already a couple of offerings and people working on new ad networks.)
Their entire network does ~100m monthly impressions, that's nothing.
To effect wider change what's necessary is for users to start to value content and be willing to pay for it. If the major pubs could make money from the readers than they would be inclined to improve their experience. However, mass-market readers have never really been willing to pay the full cost of quality content, so don't hold your breath.
Amusingly the mobile experience is actually better in some ways - a double tap to zoom often fits the actual content postage-stamp-sized region to the screen, and I don't see the rest of the page...
Personally, as annoying as ads are, I still prefer them being there to the content not being available at all.
The issue is (primarily for me) the new wave of popup ads that don't let you view the content until you find the 30x30 pixel close area. And secondly the sites where ads have become more important than content (reflected in the design.) And thirdly the dozen social media buttons on every single page.
Non-horrid advertising should be possible for any respectable website. Advertising that abuses your users is only going to be tolerated for so long, and pushes more people to use adblock.
But unfortunately, while I agree that some of the advertising is annoying, I don't necessarily agree with the premise that there's a better option for these sites right now, or that I see examples of better options under development.
Look at the two basic types of adds that you're upset with:
First is the interstitial ad - something you have to view (or at least start to view until you cancel it) - before you can read what you want to read. I generally see these ads on newspaper or magazine sites - or at least a business that used to rely on dead trees to get their content out to people. These ads are more or less equivalent to the full page ads you used to see. Often they aren't really relevant to the content because they don't want to suggest that the contents of the article have been influenced by advertisers.
The second form, where there are more advertisements than content on a page, is quite horrible, and let's be honest, part of the goal of this is to just get some sort of advertisement out there that users will click on. Those ads will possibly me more relevant to you (or at least be somewhat based on the content of the page). But unless you're seeing ads based on the most expensive keywords, the site isn't earning much money. There was a decent article published a while back about what keywords were worth the most money: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2011/07/18/most-expensive-...
So in the end, I understand your annoyance, but it's also sort of hard for me to dislike companies for trying to make sure they can pay the authors of the site's content.
You mean the "Like" / "+1" / "Tweet" buttons under articles? What's wrong with these?
I personally want them to be on websites and I actively seek them after reading an article, because clicking on two or three buttons is so much easier and less distracting than having to copy the URL and paste it into every social website I use.
It seems a simple browser plugin could still allow Facebookers and Diggers and whomever else the ability to poop back and forth as much as they like while not polluting the web for the rest of us.
As it is now we have to pray that some of these sites don't make it...imagine how many buttons there will be in 50 years!
EDIT: Just wanted to point out this was not a personal attack. I was just trying to raise awareness that not everyone has the same interests.
Don't worry, it didn't sound like one :).
Thanks for explaining your point of view. I just realized I didn't really stop and think about people who, like you, don't like Facebook et al. Personally, I think I'd be happy to use a browser plugin or whatever, just like I use e.g. Instapaper. Hell, in browser like Conkeror it would be even more convenient (for Instapaper I now just press "C-x i", it's even easier than pressing a button on the address bar).
As it is now we'll eventually run out of real estate on the screen for 'like' buttons.
I leave ads turned on. There are some ads that just make me close the tab even if I haven't got the content - almost anything with sound will cause an instant tab close.
At the same time, many things require feet (and equipment) on the ground, on location, and that, again, costs money.
Yours is an interesting quality comment that I can read for free in a site without advertisement. The same goes for the rest of my news readings online. The links lead me to other pages that Privoxy makes bearable.
I read (paid) books, soon eBooks, for anything but news. I guess the question is what kind of content people consume.
9 out of 10 will take the ads, because the ads are beautiful and part of the content, but they are still ads.
That aspect of print advertising has not yet made the transition to digital. People love ads for stuff they like, are interesting, or/and funny.
The solution will not be to remove ads, it will be to improve ads.
The problem is measuring response. The tools for measuring response to printed ads lead to better printed ads. The tools for measuring response to online ads lead to intrusive and misleading ads.
We should try to find better tools for measuring responses to online ads.
If ad blocker users were more than a minority, then I would have to shut my websites down, but thankfully most people allow the ads.
The recent (and potentially upcoming recession) means ad revenue is very weak, so that's why we are seeing/using more aggressive advertising.
The ads you see on websites right now are remnants from the newspaper, nearly identical to their print counterparts.
Creating a "prettier ad network" or "other way to be profitable" is only patchwork. We need to completely rework the execution of "I have something to sell and I'd like to tell your readers / customers about it".
Solving this requires something larger.
The better thing to solve is "how can websites make money without ads"? How did TV networks stay on the air before commercial breaks? Maybe a similar model can be applied.
I was more alluding to the idea of "this website sponsored by ___" being inserted into the content in a tasteful, subdued way - kind of like how "Beat the Clock" was actually "Calgon's Beat the Clock".
It's gotten so bad I've created a web site that gives me plain headlines of all the tech, science, world, sports, and political stories I might want to read. Phase 2 is walking the links and using something like Readability to make those readable as well. http://newspaper23.com
I didn't do this as a for-profit startup kind of thing -- it's for my own sanity. Everywhere you go folks are screwing with you instead of just giving you content. I wanted a place I could go to just catch up quickly on the opinion of the day. No bullshit.
I also feel like it is a mistake to blame this on SEO. SEO has nothing to do with it. I have a few sites optimized for SEO myself, and the only thing I want to do is present plain, simple, easy-to-understand text. How else would people easily consume it and recommend it to others?
Nope, the problem is stickiness. Everybody wants their site to be sticky and entertaining -- to the point of popping up email sign-ups, ads, social crap, you name it. SEO just means getting people to visit. Believe me, the last thing you want to do is annoy them. It's the folks who already have large audiences that are crapping all over the net. And they're not doing that for new eyeballs, they're doing that to keep the eyeballs they already have -- it's called engagement. Content providers make a clear and decisive design statement when they decide to screw over readability for stickiness. (Yes, some small-traffic sites do this, but only because they could care less about the audience in the first place. Any visitor for them is a mark. These are the guys who are never going to grow and stay big and simply don't care.)
Add one more promo spot for a few extra bucks. I guess. OK.
Make the header banner larger. OK.
Boss wants a Send To Friend feature because they heard about someone using one, once.
Maybe trial an interstitial because it will cover the costs of the new SEO guy.
I don't know the solution but I'm (we're) trying with our startup.
Penalizing other people for advertising rather than relevance when they themselves make their money through advertising is going to be a problem.
If your going to force me to have a fullscreen ad before reading your content then at least allow me to dismiss it easily with a single click on the ad and not having to hunt for a close button (if there even is one).
The amount of times I've had a fullscreen ad completely block a page with no way to remove it..
Regards content, I think this is partly just a function of so many people now reading stuff online.
With more people reading things on smartphones/tablets on their way to work on the bus etc there is a market for more "tabloid" style writing that can be consumed quickly.
There are still plenty of people writing high quality content and lots of it gets linked to here on HN.
People will just be more discerning about the content portals they use.
AFAIK he gets a lot more from the weekly feed-sponsorships, The Deck ads, and Amazon referrals.
out of curiosity: is there anybody out-there who thinks swipeware on blogs is a great idea/experience?
"The question for reddit isn't whether or not people enjoy it and want to spend time on it, but whether or not the owners can make money selling those people's attention. The traffic to reddit - while admirably large - is relatively unattractive to most advertisers.
"Reach" (impressions/eyeballs) are only important insofar as you're talking to someone who might buy what you're selling (see "relevancy"). The sub-reddit system could theoretically segment the audience in interesting ways, but other than r/gaming, there aren't many natural industry fits amongst popular sub-reddits.
Anecdotally, the audience would also seem to be advertisement-averse. An advertiser should be willing to pay network prices for the audience (i.e. pennies CPM), which makes it a nice living for a small group of folks living off their passion, but pretty useless to a Condé Nast trying to run a media empire.
I think the business model in a reddit-like site could be selling curated content in other media, e.g. a meme-series of coffee table books. Think Harry Potter, not Oprah.
If you're in the content game, your business's value is in having the attention of a group of people. Your first attempt to monetize that asset needn't be to sell your audience's attention to someone else, in this case undermining your ability to keep their attention. Instead, you should focus on bringing things your audience wants - and would pay for - to them. Sometimes that means you need to make the things they want to buy instead of shilling them for someone else, because no one sells what your people want.
Condé Nast isn't built to do this."
Via - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2966628
Even if these interstitials weren't there, I'd much rather hit tilde without even thinking, than have to read a page that's even 90% as nice as Readability is with my consistent settings. I do it all the time on blogs without ads or pages that are already very readable like bostonglobe.com.
It's like an office coffee pot, nobody complains that the coffee isn't already sweetened or creamed, they're fine doing the little extra step so that everyone has it the way they want it.
(The one-click send-to-kindle is a time/productivity saver that offsets the cost of that extra click, as it isn't even an option on most sites, and certainly not without hoops to jump through.)
A better paradigm has to come.
It took a long time before I was convinced to try it - but it's sweet.
So there is a concept, that you can't tell people about, they have to experience it, then they "get it."
Small anecdote, when I left Sun in 1995 I went to a startup called "GolfWeb" which was publishing an online magazine about Golf. I saw the web as the new world of publishing (I was waaaaaaaaay early :-)) and had plans for a micropayments type Java wallet applet that would allow you read articles and consume content like you did with a regular magazine only better since you only paid for the articles you read, and you didn't have to store back issues they were always online. There were three problems with this vision:
1) Technical users of the time were chanting "information wants to be free" and were rabidly opposed to paying for content.
2) Nearly nobody had Java in their browser yet, so supporting this meant a very small market to work from.
3) DigiCash and David Chaum had a bunch of patents on electronic versions of cash transactions and they didn't have a clue about 'reasonable' licensing.
[Trust me, in 2015 after all that crap expires, we're going to have some really useful tools available.]
So Golfweb, like others, turned to putting banner ads on the pages and using that to pay the bills.
Information has value. This may seem obvious but for a number of people it is not. The question is how do you convert 'demand' type value into something fungible like cash.
The easiest way has been selling people who want to contact people who would want to consume this particular information, an opportunity to make their case. Sort of like giving lions a seat at the watering hole where gazelles come to drink. The lions pay more for seats near a good quality watering hole. But the nature of watering holes is that the gazelles, despite their thirst, will not frequent watering holes that are saturated with lions. No gazelles, and the lions lose interest. That is the value transaction of most web sites, selling your 'demographic' to advertisers for a spot on the page. And like our eponymous watering hole, you can screw it up by over doing it. So at the tipping point, the value of the information is higher to the reader, than having access to the reader is to the advertiser. So you switch from selling access to lions to selling gazelles access to a fenced watering hole where there are no lions.
To date however that switch has been limited by our gazelles ability to express a preference. Some sites are experimenting with memberships, others like Kachingle are providing a way to pay authors of good sites (less reliable income that advertising). What is needed will be something which is part payment system, part rights clearinghouse, and part web framework.
I of course bowed out of this particular game until 2015 :-) but its going to come to pass. I pay $12/yr to get a magazine, why not $1/month to a web site to access the new content there? Especially if it means the ad farms are tapered down to something less egregious than the examples given in OP's article. Because it isn't that advertisements are bad 'per se' (I used to get BYTE magazine in part for the advertisements), it is the egregious nature in which publishers try to force them into your face which changes the value proposition negative for the reader. So some content publisher growth, some additional understanding in the advertising world what to expect, and voila we'll have moved off paper for this kind of stuff.
You have all the problems of an asymmetrical information market and you also have to break a cultural gap.
Honestly, I don't subscribe to magazines anymore. I just can't get consistently satisfied with any single source. The only subscription I pay is the broadband contract itself. I don't consistently watch TV or follow any sports for me to consider paying. I know there is a market for that, but it's a really difficult one.
I still subscribe to several magazines, but by far my favorite in terms of understanding this new reality is The Economist. If you subscribe you get your content digitally for no additional cost. Presentation is good and not overwhelming with ads (of course the magazine isn't either so perhaps its more cultural to the publisher as well). One magazine I subscribe to but don't pay for as an 'app' is Popular Mechanics. Their presentation is less useful in digital form than their printed form sadly.
In the old days you paid for a newspaper or magazine with money, now you pay for it with advertising (or you pay money to remove the advertising) - nothing new there, nothing surprising, good content is still good content, and the shit is still there in abundance also ...
Leaving me with 3 or 4 thin sheets of local news.
Q: Do you want to see ads while reading content on the web?
Q: Do you want everything to be free all the time but maintain a capitalistic society?
Parent: Just use Readability.
In short, not very helpful as comments go.
Most of the time I just close the window - the web is big enough that if you're desperate enough to use such scummy ads (or beg for survey results?!?) then your content likely isn't worth reading.