Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Contenture - an anti-ad network? (contenture.com)
22 points by sadiq on May 14, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

I got an advertisement from these folks in my inbox this morning because I pay for Clicky. (Totally worth it, by the way.)

Here's the fundamental problem with this advertising venture: everybody in the ecosystem freeloads on the site that makes the "sale". (Convinces a user to pay $X for access to the content on that site "and by the way get access to all these other sites, too!") This makes a lot of sense for, e.g., Paypal.

Quick aside on how Paypal works: everybody else in the ecosystem freeloads on eBay, because eBay is far and away the #1 source of Paypal accounts and every marginal Paypal account helps every other Paypal merchant. However, a user signing up for a Paypal account in your checkout funnel sucks for conversion. Ideally, you'd want to get new accounts generated by other businesses but never have to pay the "new account" tax yourself. However, since Paypal makes a cut of all transactions and eBay makes a huge direct profit for every additional account they sign up, it makes sense for eBay to grossly subsidize the rest of the ecosystem. (Plus, they can control it such that you can't play in their ecosystem without paying the new account tax.)

OK, now take this to content businesses: remember, everyone freeloads off the site that wins the account -- you don't have to convince an existing account to open their wallet again, you merely need to attract their eyeball. But users don't perceive value from "Get access to X... and, by the way, a bunch of other sites you might not care about and we won't list right now". They're willing to pay for X. If you're X, where X is presumably something massive like the New York Times or deeply meaningful to users like, I don't know, HN would be, and you know people will pay you money for your content, why the heck would you offer to split that money with other people who are not sharing appreciable amounts of money with you? (Because you're massively bigger and better monetized than them, you directly generate far more accounts in the system -- losing money, brand value, and user attention on each -- than you receive from, e.g., my site which has 50k visits a month.)

Ecosystems based on freeloading don't work unless the equilibrium is such that all players benefit from the freeloading. In this system, the players which you need to enable the freeloading are greatly disadvantaged by it. Sucks to be them. Accordingly, they won't sign up, and without them there is no ecosystem to speak of.

The idea is that you get paid based on how many people visit your site. There should probably be significant bonuses based on sign ups coming from/through your site.

So imagine I'm the New York Times. OK, I can charge people $1 to read the NYT. If I was Joe Shmoe, my revenue share from that $1 would have been fifty cents. However, since I'm the freaking NYT and generating more accounts than everyone else on the system, the network bumps my payout to 80 cents. Whee!

Wait, absense of whee. Its my content that was worth the dollar to the user. Why should I give twenty cents to Joe Shmoe?

And without the NYT on board, Joe Shmoe's Blog About Things You're Not Quite Willing To Pay For But Are Glad Exist On The Internet is screwed.

Aren't forgetting the page view element of contenture? I think payment is driven by page views not sharing.

I think their strongest conversion point would be getting rid of adds. If I realized that a few of the sites I visit almost daily and get linked to me regularly would all magically have no adds if I signed up for a service, I might do it. It's not that I'm paying for a service from a website, I'm paying to get rid of an anti-service: the ads.

All that said, I have NoScript, AdBlockPlus, and RemoveItPermanently installed on almost all my computers.

I honestly don't see the point of browsing with NoScript in this day and age. Don't you get tired of every website having broken features? Without javascript, for example, you wouldn't even be able to see the comments on my blog. On my businesses' website, we've made an assumption that if you're browsing with NoScript, you're probably one of the 2% of users who's going to scream and shout about Flash too, so we don't consider you part of the market of potential users.

Javascript is essential to the web experience in 2009.

  Your post advocates a
  ( ) technical ( ) legislative (X) market-based ( ) vigilante
  approach to "fixing" advertising. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't
  work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may
  have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law
  was passed.)

  (X) Advertisers will not stand for it
  (X) The advertising industry will not go away anytime soon
  (X) Unintrusive, legitimate advertising would be affected
  ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
  (X) It won't reach critical mass
  ( ) It will make things better for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
  (X) Google will not put up with it
  ( ) The police will not put up with it
  ( ) Requires too much cooperation from advertisers
  ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
  (X) Many existing sites cannot afford to lose existing deals
  (X) Users won't pay for it
  ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business
  Specifically, your plan fails to account for

  ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
  ( ) Lack of a centrally controlling authority
  ( ) People who will ignore it
  ( ) Asshats
  ( ) Jurisdictional problems
  ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of advertising
  (X) Huge existing software investment in advertising
  (X) All the other sites that will still have advertising
  (X) Extreme profitability of regular advertising
  (X) Trustworthiness of provider
  ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
  (X) Extreme stupidity on the part of webmasters
  (X) Dishonesty on the part of webmasters themselves
  and the following philosophical objections may also apply:
  (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
  (X) Paying for stuff sucks
  ( ) Not paying for stuff sucks
  ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
  (X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
  ( ) Incompatiblity with existing business models
  ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
  (X) I don't want a third-party tracking my site visits
  Furthermore, this is what I think about you:
  (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
  ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
  ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
      house down!

Your main issues seem to be privacy and that advertisers "won't stand for it". The privacy angle makes no sense given the context, as ad networks are already tracking your site visits. Plus, the average user doesn't care. As far as advertisers, what are they going to do? There's already tons of websites that offer the ability to remove ads for users who purchase a premium subscription...this is basically the same thing, just that your subscription amount is effectively based on pageviews, rather than a fixed price.

All that said, my biggest concerns would be that it's a huge chicken-and-egg problem, plus the difficulty of getting users to pay for content they're used to getting for free.

Oh, and you come across sounding like a real asshole.

I posted some poor humor about a company. You respond with personal name-calling. That is unfortunate. It's a real shame on you for stooping to a personal attack, but I'll get over it :)

Glad to hear it.

I'm sorry this is necessary, but yes, it's a bad attempt at humor based on the "why your anti-spam proposal won't work" meme of many years ago: http://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt

This is a very bad attempt at humor and is not in the spirit of HN. From what I have seen, we are all about encouraging innovation, new ideas, and discussion. The GP simply discourages them.

I make a point not to spend time around the pessimistic downer crowd, and it ticks me off when someone shoots down an idea offhandedly. I sincerely hope HN does not move in this direction.

"Pessimistic downer crowd"? I thought we were above personal attacks here. This is more of a "downer" action than engaging in a little poorly placed humor. I was poking fun at an idea, whereas you're making a bunch of personal judgments which is rather disappointing and unfortunate.

Did you miss my post where I said it was a bad attempt at humor? Shame on you for trying to make me personally feel bad.

You don't think your callous attempt at a humorous put-down of someone's business concept could make them personally feel bad? I love that because you're railing on someone's idea, it's all fun and games, but if someone calls you on it, you play the victim card. Stop defending yourself for your immature and dismissive comment and just apologize.

You are missing the difference between disparaging an idea versus a person. They are totally different situations.

Shame on you for thinking that disparaging people is valid revenge for people who merely poke fun at ideas. Talk about making it personal.

HN is not the place to regurgitate stupid old slashdot memes that add little or nothing to the conversation.

There are a number of ways that you could have phrased your response that would have stimulated real discussion instead of "har har lolz anti-spam newbz"

I disagree. This "form style" response may be a meme, may be in a humourous vein, but it serves the important purpose of ramming home to the inventor the well-known difficulties of implementing their scheme and the long, long history of similar inventions in the past.

I don't even have to look at this new scheme to know it won't work. It won't work because it relies on a critical mass, and until it gets that critical mass sites won't switch, and until they do users won't sign up, so there's no critical mass .. your classic chicken and egg problem. No-one is going to pay unless everyone else has to pay. There is nothing to force everyone to move at once. See: history of "penny stamp" email anti-spam ideas.

The form style helps ram these notions home; it's a welcome reality check in situations like these.

(updated to stay on topic)

Wow! How long did it take you to type up all that?

People want to support the sites they depend on. Contenture makes this possible. Contenture users pay into the system, their money is distributed to the Contenture-enabled sites that they visit.

Anyone who thought ad revenues were low as they are should wait to see how really low tip revenues can get.

Disclaimer: I run an ad network :-)

What's your ad network?

Use the email in my profile, Luke! :-)

(I had to choose between keeping a "corporate" image while shilling my company left and right, and being honest and true to myself among my hacker peers. I am doing traditional advertising with nothing "startupy" about it; and if we're doing anything new/different I don't intend to "share" it, so you guys are stuck with my closet Real-Self ;-)

To pull this off, several great sites will have to launch as Contenture-enablers/providers all at once, or it will go down as a flop (imagine a console launching without games!)

This is pretty much as hard as making sure multiple startups launch successfully simultaneously. It would probably help if they had a VC working with them. Either way, I wish them luck.

We've got access to the people who run the 100,000 web sites being monitored by getclicky.com (same team). We shouldn't have a problem there.

Having access doesn't mean they'll all sign up to it. Case in point, I'm a Clicky user (and I love it), but I'm not going to be signing up to this until I see evidence that it's worth the hassle. So there's a typical chicken and egg problem there, basically.

Am I the only one who thinks the comic book superhero motif for the intro pitch on the homepage is way too cheesy?

Clean that up to something a lot more professional (and attractive) and it can be a big boost in getting people to sign up.

Love the idea... hate the name; hope they can transition to another. The name is crucial because this needs to become a movement: responsible readers and publishers who agree that ads alone are not enough, or not appropriate for all kinds of content.

There are lots of ways paid users could get enhanced service: no interstitials, no ads, enhanced comment privileges, access to new content before an embargo expires, automatic single-page-views, badges to show on their other sites, etc.

FYI, Contenture is about a lot more than ads. It's also the dead simplest way to create premium features for your site with very very little work.

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