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The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads (niemanlab.org)
494 points by IBM on June 10, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 409 comments

I posted this on an earlier thread about the morality of AdBlock, but it seem relevant to the discussion:

There is a huge irony in that fact that AdBlock's function of keeping ads away from our content will eventually do the opposite. The alternative to ads alongside my content is ads inside my content.

Let's face it: paywalls don't work. The alternative on the horizon is native advertising. Buzzfeed is now famously refusing to host ads. Instead they sustain themselves by publishing content that subtly supports the agenda of any company with deep enough pockets to pay for it. A viewer's ability to distinguish between native ads and regular articles is small and quickly vanishing. If separate ads stop reaching people, the path to monetization remaining is to change your content to reflect someone else's agenda.

I keep AdBlock off by default because I prefer a world where creators can make a meaningful articles and a useful apps without caring about who they are supporting, and can, as the price tag, separately attach an ad.

I do see it as a moral issue. There are good people making content that's being sustained by ads. I am never going to remember to give them my modicum of support if I don't consider them innocent until proven guilty. It's worth the small annoyance. It's worth the 2 seconds it takes to turn it on for the problematic pages. Hell, you can even map it to a shortcut[1]. It sucks, but the alternative is positively bleak.


TL;DR: The bathroom may be dirty, but at least no one's taking a shit in my kitchen.

[1] https://adblockplus.org/en/faq_customization#shortcuts

Non-consented advertisement has had their click and buy rate diminish each year, and customers are only getting more dissatisfied by each attempt to squeeze more and more from them. Blocks are the natural step when you have somewhere around less than 0.1% success rate per customer. Mail Spam as advertisements can be seen as the warning sign, and spam protection is today a critical feature that all mail programs must have to be considered functional.

Consented advertisement, on the other hand, is having a great time. More stores are now using club memberships for advertisements, and when Facebook started to only send out a fraction of news letters, some customers went and asked where their news letters has gone. People are actively seeking where their consented advertisement are when it is being blocked.

I find taking a moral stand in the name of non-consented advertisement to be a bit sad. They had their chance with do-not-track and they collectively decided to ignore consent. Instead of taking a step back, they doubled down on being more intrusive and anti-consumer. Now they've got to live with the consequences, while companies reroute money to consented advertisements.

> The alternative to ads alongside my content is ads inside my content.

A false dichotomy if ever there was one. "Paywals" worked in literally every single other sector of the economy for all of recorded human history (I know, I know, who can remember that brief ~6000 year interlude between the Sumerians and the Internet!) The continue to work at your local dry cleaner, grocery store, Home Depot, etc. Really everything that doesn't require a browser. There are all sorts of moral, social, economic, and environmental reasons to be opposed to advertising. I keep AdBlock on by default because I dream of a day when I can pay Google a decent sum of money each month in return for their service.

The issue with Home Depot is that if I buy a dishwasher from there, I get one dishwasher. If I give that dishwasher away, I have no dishwasher. With online content, that doesn't hold. If I give away a copy of an article I just read in the New York Times, I still have a copy.

It goes even further than that. Content I can share with my friends is MORE valuable than content I keep all to myself, in some cases. (Paywalls are most successful where that isn't true -- where there's some advantage to having information that other people don't.)

Don't copy that floppy!

Did it though? Is music "better" or "worse" now?

What do you mean by "better" or "worse"? Music is certainly alive and well and I am absolutely spoiled for choice. My musician/dj/producer friends are all busy, happy people.

The recording industry's "good old days" were mostly before my time but producer and musician Steve Albini, who was around back then, called the record industry out in 1993 in an essay succinctly titled The Problem With Music http://www.negativland.com/news/?page_id=17

Here he talks "about the advantages of the internet, the death of the major label system, copyright law and that ‘purple dwarf in assless chaps'" http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/17/steve-albinis-k...

Article and video here... http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/17/steve-albini-at...

An excerpt: In contrast to what almost anyone else will tell you, Albini believes there has never been a better time to be involved in music – as a fan and as a musician (excluding, perhaps, the megastars): “I see more bands and I hear more music than ever before in my life. There are more gigs, more songs available than ever before, bands are being treated with more respect, and are more in control of their careers and destinies.

“I see them continuing as a constellation of enterprises: some big, some small, most small but all of them with a more immediate response from their audience and a greater chance to succeed. It is genuinely exciting.”

Yes I would agree it has never been a better time! I was just asking to see if home taping really did affect it like people believe.

For one thing, the quality of recording interfaces and the accessibility of such hardware is really really great at the moment. I play in a few bands and being able to record practices in clear quality and listen back to them would have been unheard of 15 years ago.

As for the quality of that music, that's entirely subjective.

Justin Bieber and Nicky Manaj vs Sly and The Family Stone and Marvin Gaye.

I was around for Sly and The Family Stone and Marvin Gaye, and your comparison is biased. You can always take any two periods of time and compare the worst of X to the best of Y.

When looking backwards, you have an especial temptation to compare whatever is popular right-this-instant to whatever from back then has stood the test of time, even if it wasn’t the most popular thing in the world.

I’d compare Justin Bieber to The Monkees, personally.

>You can always take any two periods of time and compare the worst of X to the best of Y.

Yeah, but both were in the top charts.

Not that good stuff in the charts nowadays.

>I’d compare Justin Bieber to The Monkees, personally.

That comparison would also make my point, though. Bieber is for teenage girls, period, and bad at that.

60's music for teenage girls were the Beatles or at worse Petula Clark and the like.

Mainstream music sure does suck now, but music in general is better today than it ever was.

Music in itself, probably.

But the "mainstreamity" (connecting a society and being a central cultural focus) is also a desirable attribute from music (from art in general), that is lacking today.

That is, there's music that's great but not mainstream and music that's mainstream but not great. The sixties and seventies (up to the nineties maybe) had both.

Modern good music has lost that, and everyone listens to good or even excellent music oblivious on his own little world and niche.

(Oh, and I'm not waxing because I'm some Beatles-loving older guy -- I'm much younger and in fact I listen to tons of new music most people wouldn't even touch, from Nobukazu Takemura to Mount Erie, Four Tet, etc.).

For me it's like great modern music is like some excellent Social Media site, with tons of features, great layout, speedy backends, nice UI et al, but where there are very few people using it. Yeah, in itself it might be a great web app, but where's the conversation and the social aspect?

Obviously, copyright owners need to be able to control the distribution of their IP for this model to work. But that is as separate issue which is not mitigated by the ad-supported model. E.g. there are whole sites devoted to blatantly ripping off content from NY Times, WSJ, etc. and slapping their own ads on top.

It's not about being able to control the distribution of their IP, it's that allowing users to redistribute their IP makes that IP more valuable for users. This isn't a universal truth of all content, but it's certainly a truth for stuff like news articles. Look at this very website. It's premised around sharing articles, blog posts, and such and allowing users to add their own commentary and see what others think about the same article. Every time a paywalled article comes up on the front page Hacker News, half the posts in the first 10 minutes are about how to get around the paywall or complaints about the paywall.

The point is, for a user of Hacker News, an article he or she can post on this site and share with other HN users is simply more valuable than an article he or she cannot. And that's not just a local phenomenon, it's part of Twitter, Facebook and a bunch of other smaller (sometimes ad hoc) online communities.

But isn't it great that HN lets us know which articles are worth paying for?

Its a deeply interrelated issue. Personally, "copyright owners need to be able to control the distribution of their IP" is far more frightening to hear to me than anything about ads. Every "advancement" made for IP holders is usually incredibly customer hostile. We've seen international trade deals over this issue, we've seen fundamental rights degraded over this issue. I personally would prefer it not boil down to legal means of ensuring content owners get their content not ripped off (a last resort that rarely works), as opposed to a natural solution where the distribution method matches the natural inclinations of the users (people generally DON'T feel bad about stealing "content", but DO feel bad about stealing washing machines).

For the record, ads existed before the internet too. Remember the radio? Remember PHYSICAL newspapers. Remember TV? Its kind of nice that the lower economic stratus of society has SOME access to all these services without being blocked by a paywall. In a paywall world, you walk into a library to use the internet because you don't have a computer, then are turned away from every site because you also don't have a credit card.

Ok with your first paragraph and free TV with ads predates the Internet, ok. But free newspapers with ads are a 2000's invention, at least in my part of the world. Newspapers used to be protected by a paywall, currently some hundreds of Euro per year. Problem is: people usually read only one physical newspaper so even one Euro per day would be ok, but they read articles on random websites linked by Google News. Either you micro-pay each article (0.01?) or you won't afford news anymore, unless you read them on only one website again.

Maybe that kind of world would be great for aggregators. Think Flipboard. They could buy content from newspapers and resell it with a subscription. That would work for Blogger and Wordpress.com too: pay for access to all the blogs on the site. Maybe this is the first step of an Apple's strategy to become a news/blog aggregator. Damage the competition and take over.

That's a very different Internet from the one we live on today. I don't think most people want to pay per page view even if the system were relatively cheap and well implemented. I like that I can link to a page and typically trust that if the other person is on the Internet, they can view it.

What if it were a flat fee? Google makes on the order of $60/user/year. I'd personally be happy to pay $5/month to Google things.

Grandparent poster has me intrigued. It's common knowledge that you can't make money off consumers on the Internet, but I wonder if this is just a function of the newness of the Internet and intensity of competition when the main business models that support it were invented. I wonder, if Google were to offer a $5/month plan where they wouldn't show you any ads and didn't collect any personal data on you, how many people would take it.

You can pay Google monthly https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/

Wow, that's actually really neat. Thank you for posting that.

I would even pay double this if I had the assurance Google stopped recording my every move.

The stuff they make is fantastic, their services are great and I'd be happy to pay for them. But not on top of them selling my data.

> But not on top of them selling my data.

I have good news for you, Google (and Facebook) are not selling your data, they keep it to themselves. They sell ads display, selling your data would be very bad for their business as customers wouldn't need them then. It's like saying coca cola is making money selling their recipe instead of the prepared soda. Can we just stop repeating this misinformation? I'd expect better from HN.

Counterpoint(s): A lot of the stuff they make is fantastic (and works fantastically) because their analytics help determine what that website ought to display or what you probably meant by that search query.

I get an email from a friend inviting me to a workshop Friday evening. When I open the invite it asks me if I am going. I click "yes" and it adds the event to my calendar. After work on Friday I use Maps to find the quickest way home through rush hour traffic. Since I have typed in my destination and run the mapping app, Google's algorithms can tell when I get home. Later in the evening, my watch buzzes and I see a notification that tells me that I'll need to leave by 7:34pm to make it to the workshop at 8:00pm in the current traffic. I swipe away the notification and get ready to leave. Once I leave, my Nest thermostat switches over to "away" mode since I don't need to run the a/c nearly as cool while I'm away. Thankfully, since it's 94 degrees today, it will use the weather info in my area as well as the indoor thermometer to calculate the most efficient time to start cooling again when I fire up Maps to head back home.

This is a scenario that I run into just about every day. I may not use all of those things every single day but I do on some. Other times it's more basic (calendar reminders or HVAC auto-tweaking for energy efficiency). Either way, none of it works without analysis of the data I choose to feed it during the course of daily life.

And as far as I can tell, they haven't "sold" my data to anyone. What they have done is use it to make educated guesses about where I live and what may be of interest to me. That way when they sell ad space on the Youtube videos I watch later this evening or on the sidebar of a web search, they can sell that ad space to others who will pay more in the knowledge that their ad budget will be more useful than just a guess.

I certainly remember the web before this sort of thing. Ad space was worth even less than it is now since the only way to stand out was to make your banners more annoying and more abundant. It was worse than cable/tv where a quarter (or more) of every hour is filled by advertising. The advertising is almost never relevant to my interests. It's loud and stupid and on top of it, I still have to pay for cable. To complete the analogy, if Google started a cable network, they could charge $15/mo, show only 10 minutes of ads during an hour-long program, and the ads would at least be for things I would conceivably buy much of the time.

There's plenty of down sides to targeted advertising but the selling of access to my eyeballs is not the same thing as selling my data. It may not seem like much but it makes all the difference to me. In one scenario I consent to one company using the info I give them to enable the services I use. In the other, I'm giving consent for a company to sell my actual info to unknown and undisclosed third parties.

I would be tempted too!

Most people would not pay if the cost was fifty cents. But what if it was 0.1 cents? My desktop computer burns 0.1 cents in electricity every ten minutes.

i would still not ever visit the site, and i would do everything in my power to rip the content and distribute it freely.

I keep adblock on all the time now, only adding a few exceptions which i deem worthy. My problem is that i can not stand to have so much BS ads added to the text of the page. Sometimes i even use adblock to remove part of the webpages so i only get the content, when the author has made the page to messy.

However, its not that hard to make a page acceptable, just don't add 10 ad boxes around and inside you article. Also don't add ads inside the text I'm reading, that is going to get blocked in seconds. Flash and image ads (especially ones that try to imitate page functions) are atrocities that a lot of times makes me leave a page and not visit it until months later when i forget why i was not visiting it.

The only ads i approve are small, text based ads that are clearly marked as such and that don't interrupt the flow of information from the page. The moment i have to halt and reason if something is and ad or not, you get automatically blacklisted, and heavily so.

On my home network i redirect several abusive ad networks DNS entries to an internal server that hijacks the ads and replaces them with jolly rogers :P

Its really fun to see some pages with 8 jolly rogers smiling back at you giving me a evil grin thinking of the cents the page is loosing.

[Edit: fixed spelling]

If you are ripping content and distributing it, aren't you engaging in copyright infringement?

The argument for infringing copyright has never stood up. "Music wants to be free" etc. etc. is all a load of rubbish. "Food wants to be free" is another slogan we could all adopt but nobody would accept it because food has a cost, the same way that creating content has a cost.

I see people posting that link over and over, as it it made some kind of valuable point. Do you realize that for this to work, you need to be permanently tracked by Google?

Er, yes. What is your proposed alternative? Ads have the advantage of being anonymous and the "tracking" is optional (you can block cookies and see worse ads, if you like). The alternative is to pay for things. On the internet paying for things requires an account and (modulo bitcoin) a credit card, neither of which are anonymous or private.

So far we cannot have our cake AND eat it. So you have to pick.

Ah, isn't Google (among others) one of the "problems"?

* The lack of quality control of their ads displays a "download" button next to real download links and trick casual users to download malware.

* Ads that follow you around and are so creepy that's certainly the number one reason to block ads.

* Pay little money for ad impressions to the website owners. They prefer clicks over impressions, which leads to a lose-lose.

They could improve the situation by doing the opposite of what they do at the moment.

And Apple with its iAds is not much better, they would profit if more websites would cease to provide a mobile version and provide an iAs funded iOS app in their walled garden app store.

I may be in the minority, but I actually like the fact that when I look at cameras on amazon, I see adverts for lenses and tripods and cool flashes.

It's nicer (imho) than just seeing "get this weight loss pill and lose pounds!" ads, which I am never going to even be vaguely interested in.

Exactly. And in addition, the companies that pay to advertise will pay more when their ads have a better chance of reaching potential customers. This leads to fewer ads needed to generate the same revenue, less wasted ad budget by people who sell the products advertised, and less irrelevant stuff cluttering up your browser window.

And with all that tracking, they also can look if poeple price check items and than rise the price if they come back. Because now they know the customer already decided to buy. Happened with collaborating Flight booking sites.

That's kind of a different thing. You do not pay google for their service (search). Instead you pay for content using google. Google sits in their favorite position of the all-tracking middleman and uses gathered information for serving you more and more creepy ads.

It's not tenable for the user to create and maintain a subscription for every site they want to read on the internet. People may pay a central broker to manage these subscriptions, like they do with cable companies, but they won't create tens of individual subscriptions for the sites they like to read.

> I dream of a day when I can pay Google a decent sum of money each month in return for their service

The wait over https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/

Know what site I do not see participating there? Google.

I see your point, but the the alternative is we need a better solution; blocking ads doesn't mean the writing becomes corrupt and we give up and that's it. Adblocking will lead to content creators finding a better revenue source; there are a lot of people that don't want to compromise themselves by being a paid voice for corporate interests.

Buzzfeed is a poor example; it's just garbage content that is being re-circulated by many different places. There are TONS of sites that have paywalls and/or ads on their sites and their writing is still compromised. So I think paying for content and getting advertisements out of good content is the solution to restore independence, but the price point needs to be right.

I hate blocking ads (I whitelist sites I visit frequently with reasonable ads) but ads have become obnoxious, so AdBlock is a natural reaction to site owners treating users like shit. Sadly, a lot of reasonable sites with unobtrusive ads have gotten caught up in blacklists.

I would pay for good news content if I could pay for a bundle of good content at a fair price. Even something like the NY Times is a hard sell; it feels weird given the wealth of sources and information we have access to these days. NY Times is a great source, but I don't want to only read a single source. And it quickly becomes unaffordable if you want to pay for a lot of sources of information.

Spotify and similar providers solved this with music and I still think a better solution will come out eventually for news. There are a lot of people that want to pay a fair price for good content, but the current options are not very good.

Spotify isn't profitable. I don't know any subscription-based pure-play internet media company that's profitable. (Maybe Netflix? But we'll have to see how profitable they are now that other subscription services have recently launched.)

The NYTimes is probably the highest-end as far as content quality is concerned, but if you're not going to pay for that, why would you pay for anything else?

Absolutely no one is paying for content online. People pay for art. They don't pay for commodity, and everything online is information commodity. There's just too much low-value competing sources that are "good enough" for consumer interests.

Given that, I think ad-blocking has largely been overstated as a concern for media sites. Among my own friends, I only know one person that uses ad-blockers. Ads aren't a problem that people worry about. In fact, for a good media property, ads are a draw. People buy fashion magazines and Sunday newspapers for the ads, for example.

> Absolutely no one is paying for content online

"The Financial Times saw a sharp increase in profits in 2014, driven by growth in subscription and digital revenues and a record high circulation.

The FT’s total circulation grew 10% year-on-year to nearly 720,000 across print and online. FT.com subscriptions grew 21% to almost 504,000, with digital now representing 70% of the FT’s total paying audience."


right. And about 320,000 people pay $24,000/year for a Bloomberg terminal. I still see them (FT, WSJ, BB, etc..) as a niche trade-specific media properties, with no relevance to people outside of the industry.

Or to put it another way, you're saying "Sure, subscriptions on the internet can work.. all you need is everyone to be a banker!"

Absolutely no one is paying for content online.

Techpinions, the Information, and Ben Thompson would all disagree.

Those are industry sites, for professionals to use for their jobs. They're equivalent to academic journals. Bankers can pay Bloomberg $24,000/year for their terminal.

OK, how about Lynda.com?

In other words, people who think the information will pay for itself, or is valuable in some other way, are willing to pay for it. That's a far cry from absolutely nobody.

> Adblocking will lead to content creators finding a better revenue source;

Is this true though? If you throw a child into the water and thereby force them to either sink or swim, it does not actually force them to swim.

If you throw a bunch of children into the water and thereby force them to either sink or swim, those that know how to swim will and those that don't will sink.

This will filter out those that can't produce content that people are willing to pay for. Hopefully this will kill low quality content. Those producing high-quality valuable content will be recognized by those that know how to make money from quality content those partnerships will be the ones that learn to swim.

Advertising supported content has increased the noise and drowned out the quality. It will be nice to once again hear more of the people with something worth saying.

> Those producing high-quality valuable content will be recognized by those that know how to make money from quality content those partnerships will be the ones that learn to swim.

And they will be constantly fighting against those who know how to write software to get access to the content without paying.

Sounds like a great way for extremely specialized, niche content to die.

Most of the extremely specialized niche content I enjoy is written by people who write about things because they like to write about things they care about regardless of revenue. For those that need to get paid, if their content is worth it, they will be able to charge.

goodbye, niche content

The crucial difference is that this is not a child but more like a robot specifically designed to operate in a certain way for profit. Sadly this robot cannot swim, and its owners are scrambling to make swimming illegal, keeping their robot afloat with ugly floaters, or <insert other analogy>.

Meanwhile, if we were to let the robot sink to the bottom, the actual creators of the robot, who have a passion for robotics, will find ways to create a robot that swims, and will love doing it.

Might it hurt them in the short run? Yes, and I'm all for working hard at solutions to that problem (basic income perhaps? But that's a whole other issue). But in the long run these creators can and have found ways around these problems. We see some of this in music and gaming, and it's already happening in 'publishing' (individual journalists and writers finding ways to get profit/donations, blendle.com, certain paywalled publications, etc.)

But I for one am tired of working hard at a beautiful site for an 'owner' and then working even harder at turning the end result into a slow, ad-infested, privacy-invading mess. The sooner that solutions are 'forced' into existence, the more likely it will be that I can build profitable things that are not crap.

And I've spoken to many journalists and musicians who feel the same way.

So far that hasn't been the case for newspapers, which have never really recovered from the decline in ad rates over the past few decades. Many smaller papers have gone out of business. Larger ones have cut back on expensive foreign correspondents and beat reporters.

Horrible analogy, but a percentage will, and a percentage will sink.

It's not going to change over night, but neither did music.

Is music better for mundane artists to be able to make a living now than it was in the 90s?

I am going to guess half of the people who uses Adblock is because it brings much better experience in browsing. And that is mostly because the web loads much faster, and the browser is much more responsive.

We change from 2 - 6 Mbps ADSL to 10s / 100s or even Gigabit Fibre, we moved from Single to Quad Core / Thread, 2GB to now mostly 4/8GB Memory, and order of magnitude faster with SSD. Software improvements, much better OS etc...

And yet the web is still slow, very slow compared to the technological improvement we have.

So how would a normal user do / think, Anything that is moving, distracting, or have a sense of constantly running, i.e Ads, they blame those. And Since there are likely many of those running, what else to blame that is slowing down the web?

> Anything that is moving, distracting

This. It's really hard to stay focused on an article or piece of text longer than a few sentences with flickering images, autoplaying videos (with sound), and recently those pesky javascript overlay popups.

Blocking ads doesn't just make for a faster web experience, it also allows you to have proper attention spans necessary to read and digest two pages of text, and that's true for any kind of audience, tech-savvy or not.

Obviously, privacy invasion, constant and pervasive tracking, malware distribution, profiling and exploitation of personal data in jurisdictions with poor consumer protection laws and over which you have no control or say are all alarming and dangerous.

When people started raising concerns and calling this out a few years back, ad networks (and the tech industry they are living on) came forward with DNT, "voluntary opt outs", privacy policies and "personalized contents and ads".

Most people would probably agree that all these options are equally laughable as they merely try to appease concerns rather than addressing them.

Regardless of my personal opinion, is it really surprising to see people of all kinds start using tools making their experience better? For most people, the web is merely a medium, just like paper books.

> The alternative to ads alongside my content is ads inside my content.

I love ads "inside" my content when they are done right.

The most effective advertising for me is when an author I like to read recommends a product by directly writing about it because they were paid to do so and they like to use the product. Ad blockers don't block these because they aren't ads, they show up inline with the rest of the author's content (and the author acknowledges it was a sponsored posting).

I am completely happy with this model. The whole reason I read an author is because I like her style and opinion. So a recommendation from her, as long as she genuinely likes the product, is actually interesting to me.

The same goes for video: algorithmically determined video ads at the start or within video content are rubbish and I will block them. But the presenters themselves recommending something in-line I am totally open to watching.

> The most effective advertising for me is when an author I like to read recommends a product by directly writing about it because they were paid to do so and they like to use the product.

You're very careful to specify that the author must genuinely like the product. How do you know that they like to use the product? There's a reason that the responsible disclosure and the distinction between content and advertising has existed as an ethical guideline for decades longer than the Web has, and that's because "content creators should get paid by the subject of their content but be uninfluenced by the money" is a horrendously childish view of the world.

Trust. When I see Daring Fireball advertise something, I know it's approved by Gruber. And he makes it clear that it's a paid advert anyway.

Works great for me; it'd never occur to me to even want to block those adverts.

>Trust. When I see Daring Fireball advertise something, I know it's approved by Gruber.

It's very easy to convince yourself you "approve" something if money coming your way depends on that approval.

Generally if you like the author you get a good feeling of what they like. You read them because you have similar taste to them, you have used and enjoyed their recommendations in the past.

If they start recommending bad products just for the money, I imagine they will very soon lose their integrity and your trust.

Goodbye ads. We won't miss you. If you have content, and it is worth it, people may pay for it. Otherwise, natural selection, survival of the fittest etc. Excellent move by Apple. They managed to kill Flash, and now Ads.. fantastic!

People won't pay for anything but highly specialized content. First-class integration of ad blockers will eventually just drive down the amount of actual content available; people will put fluff content that is actually an ad or they'll have to go do something else with their time. Maybe this is a good thing or maybe it's a bad thing, but one thing is for sure: people are not going to be taking special action to pay for content that isn't highly specialized.

One potential non-ad route for monetization would be an extension for the browser that opens your bitcoin wallet and sends a tip to a page's creator based on how much of your time was spent on that site that day. That'd be better than ads if we could get widespread adoption, as the site's owners wouldn't feel compelled to make deals with entities that may force them to compromise their content. Maybe Firefox can integrate it to counteract Safari.

But why is that a bad thing? The already bad, native-ad-infested content would get worse, and people will actually start paying for the good content. The state of publishing is already pretty bad as it is, and any void left behind will be and is being filled up by better alternatives.

It's like arguing for big music labels because otherwise music would disappear. It won't, and it didn't!

I read lots of great ad supported content every day.

I hope you realize the frustration and consternation of the gp poster. It's really hard to identify where the monitization happens. Right now, i sort of default to comments like this as well meaning at worst.

Now, i sort of wonder, did you get paid for this?

That's not necessarily bad. I can imagine a scheme were advertisers do sentiment analysis on comments, and reimburse users for positive emotions in response to a brand. I think it would be hard to sustain discourse int that environment, but i'd hope you at least got paid.

Everyone is an astroturfer would be a strange world. Real communication would be to subtle for the SA to detect. Interesting indeed.

There are other alternatives to "ads alongside my content" that don't involve "more obnoxious ads".

I make a webcomic. Historically, that's very much an ad-supported medium. I also block ads aggressively; it's one of the reasons I hassle with jailbreaking my iThings.

I put my adblocking mouth where my money is: as long as I'm getting enough money per new page of comics on Patreon, I don't have any ads on my current project. It's been great to not have anything trying to distract people from reading my content. Sometime next year, as the Patreon income rises, I'll turn off ads on all my comics, new or old. There's no paywall; anyone who wants to read my comic can do this for free, with no ads thanks to the generosity of my supporters.

Obviously it's easier for one person to make enough money via the donation box than it is for a large company; this does not necessarily scale. But it's an option worth considering. And hell, it can work on a larger scale - if you're old enough to remember a time before cable, or if you listen to the radio in the car, you may be familiar with the yearly donation drives on your local public tv/radio station; you may even be a supporter. Or hell: last year when an algorithm change at Google resulted in a lot less drive-by traffic to Metafilter, they started taking donations from their regular userbase. It has ended up being a significant portion of their income; https://metatalk.metafilter.com/23721/State-of-Metafilter-an...

(Yes, I am also aware that I am arguably stealing from all the people whose ads I block without supporting them. I've made my peace with that moral quandary. I fast-forwarded over the commercials when I used to watch stuff on TV, too.)

    I make a webcomic...  I also block ads aggressively...  I put
    my adblocking mouth where my money is: as long as I'm getting
    enough money per new page of comics on Patreon, I don't have any
    ads on my current project.  It's been great to not have anything
    trying to distract people from reading my content.  Sometime
    next year, as the Patreon income rises, I'll turn off ads on
    all my comics, new or old.
Sorry to simplify, but I'm not familiar with your work: Is it safe to say that you

1. show exactly enough advertisements to earn what you subjectively feel is a salary commensurate with your investment -- time investment or otherwise

2. block all ads from other sites?

(Disclaimer: I make a portion of my income from ads.)

I show no ads on my comic. All of the money I make from it comes from Patreon.

When I browse the web, I use adblockers.

The problem are not ads, but certain kinds of ads.

Bad ads: CPU intensive ads and privacy inversive "personalised" ads that follow you around

Solution: Show us simple text or picture based banner ads with ad content related to the website topic and pay the website owner a reasonable money per 1000 views/impressions called CPM.

AdBlocker should block only the bad ads, and keep the static non inversive ads. Remember as soon as browser vendors blocked the annoying popups the ads industry had to change their ads format. It's time that browser vendors initiate another such forced change. Though blocking all ads is a bad solution, as an internet without ads means probably a bad web walled garden paywall experience - a lose lose situation.

"Personalized" ads can actually be kind of nice. I like seeing ads that are for things I care about, instead of for things that "people who visit this site" care about.

There's hazards, it's true, but I feel like I have seen the future where ads are helpful and don't feel like ads as we have come to know them, and I like it.

Personalised ads show what I just bought or viewed and never will buy as I bought something else. Non-personalized ads shouldn't show things what other people bought but it should show me things about the current page content or or the site topic. Show me pictures with links to amazon books about the programming language the article is about, etc.

I know a lot of (startup) companies are in that market and try to be helpful by big data grinding. But neither Google ads, nor any other personalised ads were useful at all to me. Ads that follow me around just because I visited a site two times is just very creepy and "forces" users to investigate how to block ads in the first place. If you work on a ads network please pivot to a "better ads" that allow website owners to install the ads service on their website - this is the only solution that will work despite an adblocker! So write an ad network in Go/Rust, be it a single executable, and website owners can simply add it to their website.

Only the information on Amazon.com below the product page that shows what other people who bought this product also bought works.

Like the Amazon suggestions system that after buying one bicycle pump tries to sell me more of the same because obviously collecting bicycle pumps is a hobby of mine. Exchange bicycle pump with vibrator for an even less welcome example.

Even worse: the social graph mining derived suggestion systems that recommend wares based on the bad taste of my friends instead of my bad taste.

If ads weren't as intrusive as they can be (ie pop-ups, pop unders, auto-played video adverts with audio enable etc) I wouldn't mind them, but when you impose on my expectancy of what a website should work like or behave like then I need to block your advertisements. Otherwise, I would happily allow your ads. Some websites ruin my experience overall, not only do I now have to go out of my way to scour the screen but now I'm ignoring whatever it was I came to your website to begin with, usually at that point I close the website never to return.

I'm all for non-intrusive advertisements.

I agree.

But advertisers abuse

Maybe it's time for 'ad toning down' instead of blocking all of them, block animated gifs, block big images, etc (though in mobile this is not so bad)

Isn't that the entire point of AdBlock's default allowing of non-intrusive ads? People like to rant about them "selling out," but IMO it's a reasonable approach to allow decent sites to make a living, is a good monetization strategy, and they seem to have reasonable and global requirements for what constitutes a "non-intrusive" ad. (i.e.: It's not just a case of "pay us enough to blast loud popup videos in the user's face.")

"Allowing non-intrusive ads" seems like a fine goal to help users and advertisers alike. If a community of users maintained the whitelist, it would be a non-issue.

The fact that the list is managed privately and that whether a company pays them influences whether they're blocked does muddy the waters quite a bit.


Not all ad blockers do this. Eg: https://getadblock.com/ doesn't (disclosure: creator is a friend of mine and I once worked a bit on the product). uBlock also doesn't do this: https://www.ublock.org/

And I'm sure there are others.

This is precisely why I run adblock plus is non-intrusive ad only mode.

In mobile? I've shut so many sites down in the last two weeks because I couldn't read on my iphone over the ad. It happens less to me in this period on android devices I notice.

you add "tracking ads" to this list, and I'm all for it.

>I'm all for non-intrusive advertisements.

I'm pretty sure that the ad companies measure what kind of ads work, and which doesn't and what you're asking is that they leave the ineffective ads in place and remove the ones you can't ignore.

Honestly I don't believe that online ads work very well, they are a waste of money, but it's pretty hard to prove, so companies keeps buying them, just to be sure.

What's the solution then, regulation? Imagine how bad our public spaces and television advertising would be if there were no regulation whatsoever. If we're walking towards that eventuality online, something needs to be done to arrest that very soon.

"I'm all for non-intrusive advertisements."

Is that really true though? Do you want "news" articles to be written by advertisers? Instead of journalism, you have an ad that blurs the line between reporting facts and advertising content. As John Oliver pointed out (and I'm sure others), even the New York Times has done some of these types of articles[1]. Is that the future you want? If an article on juice being sold in schools is really written by Snapple, but you can't tell, do you trust the advertiser to write an article with relevant facts?

[1] http://adage.com/article/media/york-times-runs-native-ad-ora...

I find the current state of ad services to be morally wrong; therefore, I do not feel bad about using an adblocker. I wouldn't be opposed to tasteful, cookie-less ads that don't attempt to track people around the internet and mine their data. I realize that people need to be paid for their time and content, but maybe there is a better way to manage, serve, and present the ads.

It would also be nice if people could decided on a sane and logical system of standard ad sizes, because the current standards are ridiculous and awkward.

Without tracking there also wouldn't be ad fraud detection and that would hurt the group of honest publishers financially.

And the malware distributors! Won't someone please think of them - how will they survive if the ads are gone! They have an HN approved business model too! /s

Then maybe those honest publishers need to find a revenue source that doesn't potentially support the sale of their viewers' private information (ad-based or not). People made money and sold products before internet ad-networks existed.

If they don't track you they have no way to serve you relevant ads, and I would much rather want relevant ads than ads which promote useless products to me.

"Relevant ads" my arse.

They don't want to show me ads for things I'm already interested in, they want to make me interested in things I didn't know about, or more interested in things I knew about but wasn't going to buy.

They don't care about relevant, they want successfully manipulative ads.

Then they should make them relevant to the context of the page, rather than me individually. How am I supposed to trust the opinion of an ad network that is selling my information for their profit? They aren't just using that information to serve me relevant ads. They are selling that data, making more money off my data than they are off of my non-existent purchases.

It is extremely rare that I ever see an ad that is actually relevant to me, with tracking or not. When I do see ads that are relevant to me they are completely useless (ex: showing me the exact product that I just looked at a few minutes ago and nothing new). Furthermore, I have been conditioned to completely ignore anything that might even look like an ad. I can't think of anytime that I have ever bought something because I saw an internet ad for it. I have purchased things that were recommended and/or reviewed by a trusted source online. Context and qualifications are much more convincing and influential than a box telling me to buy something.

That's not true. TV, radio, printed newspapers, ... has done it for decades. It's content based. They are tracking because they can make more money out of the tracked data.

Can you explain end-to-end what you mean about advertisers making money out of the tracked data? (eg. what you think they track, what they do with the data, how they make money from the data, etc.)

I think it's very easy for different people to mean different things when having conversations on this topic, so it's good to spell it all out.

Google/Facebook knows my friends, my searches, the websites I visit, what pages/product I look at, ...

They sell this data(even if it's anonymized).

This is already a problem with old media; The Daily Telegraph newspaper here in the Uk recently ignored a story about fraud and corruption at HSBC because of commercial interests (although they claim otherwise).

You assert that paywalls aren't working; as someone who has worked for two online publishing businesses whose models rely on a paywall, I disagree. There IS an issue with general interest content, but even that, I believe, is being resolved, albeit slowly. I think the market (or at least part of it) is slowly adjusting to the idea of paying for quality content. When micropayments eventually become a thing, this will only accelerate.

There are alternatives to bot those models. Bear in mind that not every website needs to make a huge profit. Many in the early days took no income whatsoever. Donations and merchandising are popular small income streams for many blogs. Not all advertising is objectionable; The Deck ad network, for example, provides advertising that is tasteful and unobtrusive (much like a polished version of Google AdWords).

Finally, content-based advertising CAN work, providing it's clearly demarcated, highly relevant, and entertaining in its own right. I must've listened to many hours of advertising via TWIT podcasts, and I don't really resent any of it.

>I do see it as a moral issue.

The moral issue is on the other side as well: Most malware comes from hacked ad servers and the ad industry doesn't really seem to care.

Until that changes, ads stay blocked and I won't even bother evaluating the other reasons (invasiveness, bandwidth/battery usage).

Malware is my #1 reason for blocking ads. Unless you as the website owner are willing to vet every single advertiser on your platform (or alternatively: commit to ads with zero active content), and compensate people if/when you let something through, the ads stay blocked.

My hourly rate is many times more than the few hundredths of a cent you get for the impression.

Absolutely, I've been saying this for years. The line between advertisement and content is one that's been around for decades longer than the Web, and for good reason. And yet for some reason, those who defend ad-blockers as 'good for the web' are either too ignorant or too apathetic to understand that if increasing adblocker usage makes it intractable to provide free content when ads are easily distinguishable from content, then the majority of content that survives will break down that barrier. The collateral damage of rendering adblockers useless is skewing every webpage towards the content that the interested party with the deepest pockets wants.

It's particularly ridiculous when you consider that there's easy analogies to this that even the most clueless of adblocker users should be able to understand: if Google stopped distinguishing between ads and organic results, there would (rightly) be a huge outcry. One would have to be a fool not to understand that pushing the entire Web in that direction would be correspondingly more devastating.

Can you hear that? It's the sound of the ad-slingers crying into their breakfast. Can you hear that? It's the sound of users cheering for a faster, sleeker, less malware drived web experience. I would say go cry me a ad river, but it doesn't matter - my browser blocks it!

I'm assuming you're a bot, or at the very least some sort of reverse-Turing test performance art in which you send generic and irrelevant replies to comments that match certain substrings. That's very cute, but adults are trying to have a conversation here, so shoo.

Magazines and newspapers have been disguising advertisements as articles for as longs as they have existed. Why is this one restaurant, album, book reviewed and not the other? How are the list of cool and hot fashion articles curated?

Just because codes of ethics are sometimes violated doesn't make them not useful. Consider the outcry that happens whenever a serious publication has even a minor failure to disclose (Stephanopoulous, Olbermann, etc). Now consider what kind of deterrent that must have on journalists for taking cash for favorable news coverage.

Plenty of content makers manage to sustain themselves without annoying ads. Just because it's so common doesn't mean we need to just accept it, or that it's somehow "immoral" for content consumers to avoid ads.

Imagine if all content sites funded themselves via spam. When you viewed a site for the first time you'd have to verify your email address, which would then be spammed to oblivion. Would we tolerate that? Would we think it was immoral for people to do an end run around the spam?

Well, there always the possibility of people paying for content voluntarily. Lots of niche creators seem to support themselves fairly well with non-DRM media and various forms of touring. Patreon seems to work for a fair number of creators.

I'm happy to support creators that I connect to. If we can figure out how to better enable this sort of connection I think there's hope.

As of right now you are literally the only person in the thread mentioning Patreon. Yet, it seems that Patreon-like services are one way to solve a lot of the problems.

> "The alternative to ads alongside my content is ads inside my content."

The alternative to ads is no ads.

I keep various ad- and tracker- blockers on because I prefer a world that is not polluted by advertising, and in which privacy is respected.

Advertising versus no content is a false dichotomy, just like advertising versus no sport, or copyright versus no music.

It is this sheer propoganda the systematically prevents us from having a meaningful debate on the subject.

I do see it as a moral issue: I find advertising in all its current forms unethical. If you disagree, please have the courtesy of allowing for an honest discussion instead of spreading FUD about how horrific the world would be without advertising.

Also, the advertising industry is not going to draw the line at "native advertising", regardless. It won't stop until it has plastered the planet with advertising. Only the law and countermeasures have ever limited advertising.

tl;dr: There is already shit all over the house, it's naive to think they will stop at the kitchen.

Serious question, how do you propose creators are to be paid? Paywall? Paid for content? Internet tax?

It's not a serious question, it's cheap rhetoric.

Just because I'm against the pollution caused by chemical plants dumping unprocessed waste into rivers, doesn't mean I have to come up with solutions that allows the chemical industry to retain the same profit margins.

Personally, if I want to get paid for something I create, I ask for something in return, usually money. I could be wrong, but afaik that's the way we have done things for a very long time.

"If you want this, you also have to swallow this pile of shit, hell, if you even so much as glance in the general direction we'll start throwing shit at you" is a relatively recent business model, and I have a problem with it.

The onus is not on me to come up with alternatives for people who don't like the effort and/or profit margins involved in the way we've traded and bartered goods and services for millennia and prefer to throw shit at people.

I have an issue with people who want to consume content but offer nothing in return. Why do you think you're entitled to read the New York Times without paying for it either with money (paywall) or attention (ads). That's why I think the blanket use of ad lockers is unethical.

Note I'm not saying the way we currently deal with ads is great or anything. They violate the users malware, are often infected with malware and sometimes make site plain unusable (usually not something intended by the site's owner)

Since you seem to prefer the paywall, let me ask how many paid subscriptions do you have for websites which are otherwise supported via ads? (e.g. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ArsTechnica, etc.)

I suppose the difficulty is that servers on the Internet are available publicly and therefore people expect free content from them. The problem is that people put content on there for £0.00 and we have expected it to be that cost (ie, nothing) ever since.

It is obvious, however, that hosting servers is not without cost, nor is creating content without cost.

The solution would therefore be to: a. not offer content free, b. attempt to support it with adverts

Since option B is disliked by so many, the only logical option is A.

I believe we should probably have a reintroduction/introduction of HTTP 402. I think that would make sense.

Serious answer: if you value a creator's work, you should pay them for it.

But if I don't value it (e.g. Buzfeed) I should still be free to consume it without paying?

I don't want to single out Buzzfeed, but if ads are able to sustain an industry that nobody values - then that's not for the good of mankind.

The people employed in that field are not doing something valuable.

> I keep AdBlock off by default because I prefer a world where creators can make a meaningful articles and a useful apps without caring about who they are supporting, and can, as the price tag, separately attach an ad.

And you don't care about Ad Pushers Tracking what you see and where you go ? You have no morality problem there?

I disagree with your assertion that "paywalls don't work", which is fundamentally not true. Content produces need to raise revenue to pay for their costs and make a profit. One excellent way to raise this revenue is by raising pay walls. It works for companies like The Times (London), The FT and The Economist. Will you retract this false statement?

What I think you're saying is that "worthless ramblings on the internet aren't (inherently) worth anything and thus no one wants to give them their money willingly", which of course isn't the fault of the paywall but the content.

It comes down to content creation and paying for it. If nobody wants to pay for it then it doesn't get created (unless you're a blogger, or meet your costs in some other way). We shouldn't have any time for people who want to get content for free.

I'm in the unusual position of actually paying for content and use AdBlockers, however I use it because I disagree with tracking on the grounds of consent and privacy. (That said, I will happily disable adblocking for websites who only want to show me banners and not track me.)

Blendle(http://blendle.com) is trying to be the 'micro'-paywall for content providers. After launching in The Netherlands, they have contracts with major German publishers now as well.

Micro-payment system which actually works.

Disclaimer: Dutch

Thanks for the link. Interesting company! Nice summary here: https://medium.com/on-blendle/one-website-all-newspapers-and....

I like the idea of micro-payments for interesting, long-form content because there are various journalists I like who work for newspapers I don't subscribe to. I would happily pay for in-depth analysis pieces. I remain hopeful about non-click-bait journalism.

> A viewer's ability to distinguish between native ads and regular articles is small and quickly vanishing.

Thankfully, the FTC is helping in that regard. http://adexchanger.com/publishers/ftc-publishers-will-be-hel...

I don't think morality has anything to do with this, unless you want to bring a marketing issue onto a high-ground that it frankly doesn't deserve. What body of ethics has anything to say about this?

I think part of the issue is that most of these services that base themselves on ads are inessential.

I don't care if reddit or gmail or last.fm goes down, I can always get another service that will step up and fill the niche. Grooveshark funded their service by ads, then it got taken down by a lawyer army, now I pay for a Spotify subscription.

When ads are present, they're part of the experience. And that means the experience, for some people, is shitty. People will prefer not to have shitty experiences. Some people decide to start out with the premise that they will make money off of ads, good luck to them. But it's not my moral obligation to accept it.

Sorry but I am buying it. There certain websites that explicitly tell you to disable adblock to browse their websites. They make sure you can't get to their content without you blocking adblock. It never works. If new york times websites ask to disable adblock will I look at it. Sorry I and most people won't bother. The bigger problem here is companies haven't figured out how to monetize their content better.

According to the NYT, they are monetizing pretty well from the paywall. For most of their articles they are the primary source. So, whether you buy a subscription directly or one of their affiliates pays for the content (and then tries to monetize it through ads) they are still getting paid.

They don't care if you don't want to pay for it or read it you are not their intended audience.

What's the better way? I hear this a lot but nobody has any other solutions. The two models that work are paid access or free for ads.

> If separate ads stop reaching people, the path to monetization remaining is to change your content to reflect someone else's agenda.

That said, non-web advertising agencies exert their influence over content too, regardless of whether or not there are separate ads or product placement. Why would the internet be different? Pretty sure you can't run AdSense on a porn site.

the more walls are put up, the more ad consumption becomes a deliberate choice and not something that is snuck by people as they use social media.

it's a good organic balance we're working towards, the optimum amount of gatekeeping and profit-sharing.

as I said in an earlier post, the amount of money regular people lose bc of ads > the amount of people in the ad business pay out to "content creators"

>> Those families are indirectly paying that price today, through their ad-influenced purchases.

>> Not only are they paying for the end-product, but they're paying for the arms-race between advertisers as well, and that's a huge industry.

>> The amount of money the ad industry deals out to "content providers" must necessarily be less than the amount they get paid by their clients, which in turn must be less than the amount people paid to those clients.

>> If the distribution is not uniform, and some people benefit from the ad-influenced overspending of others, the business is then predatory.

> The alternative to ads alongside my content is ads inside my content.

You are assuming an invariable quantity of ads, which it is false.

This banning makes advertisement more difficult; and more difficult, or less effective, advertising would push towards giving less valuable "for free* (*advertised)". So it pushes towards having to pay for more things, which is good for Apple.

It's also valuable for us, in the sense that our customers are accustomed to get huge amounts of value for free. That's good for us creators.

The issue is that we are also consumers, and that's bad for us - we will need to pay more.

All in all, I believe too many people in this forum are risking their professional lifes a lot, and having a somewhat safer environment can end up being good for the economy. If there is less risk in entrepreneurship, more people will jump into putting effort into creating something good, as it is easier to sell.

It also works against productizing users information, which might be good for our privacy, too.

I never click on Ads so from advertisers point of view I am using AdBlock. But that AdBlock is in my brain. When I use AdBlock on a browser it helps my brain. Advertisers don't care whether ad is on the side on inside the content, all they care is their ROI, so unless I start clicking on Ads I already run risk of getting ads in my content.

Actually some of the biggest spenders are content with your brain just seeing the ad. It builds awareness (as in: you know that they exist, that they are still in business, that they are relevant). It's all they need to "help you" make a decision next time you're in a store and deciding between buying something from them or from their less-known competitor.

Which is why I make a point of noting advertising and specifically weighing against them in any relevant purchasing mental calculus. They're definitely helping make a decision, but not in the direction they'd like.

That's not really true. There's a misconception that publishers only get paid for clicks, when actually many (perhaps even most for certain types) ads are sold by impression. And that's never going to fully go away; if you sell luxury cars you just want to do a branding campaign. You want to get your logo in front of NYTimes.com readers. You don't care how many click.

tl;dr it's much better for publishers if you see ads but never click them vs blocking them.

You can easily check if a person has adblock installed or not (check https://wordpress.org/plugins/anti-adblock/). And say, due to a prominent survey or report or other means it just becomes a widely known & accepted fact that most users are now using AdBlock, the tilt towards running ads in content will only accelerate.

It's actually really hard to detect adblockers -- they go out of their way to avoid detection and are constantly updating whitelists of test scripts. I haven't tried this particular plugin, but I doubt it detects modern extensions.

A big, high-profile publisher would find it nearly impossible. As soon as they roll out code to lock out adblock uesrs, it would be circumvented in a filter update.

Ads should be paid by 1000 views/impressions and be served from the website itself. A pivoted ad network could provide a single Go/Rust binary for website owners. The ad network would scan the website with different IPs to make sure the ads are served to the user and the binary on the website itself sends statistics back to the ad network. Such ads cannot be blocked and would be great for the users privacy. So it would be a win win.

Such ads cannot be blocked

Sure they can. How does the ad network know the ads are being served? It needs some sort of ad detection mechanism, so the ad blocker can implement it too.

No. The ad picture can use the same URL scheme as the normal pictures of the website. The ad binary app can inform the ad network server which Url links serve the ads, so only the website owner and the ad network know which URLs are ad pics. The same for links. The URLs could also change every few hours. Adblockers work with regex based on URL and usually block third party files (different domain) from ad networks.

I would also encourage new "good ad blockers" that only block bad ads (CPU/memory intense ads that crash your browser on iipad)

The ad binary app can inform the ad network server which Url links serve the ads, so only the website owner and the ad network know which URLs are ad pics.

How does the ad network confirm the images being served are actually ads and not blank rectangles? It needs to visually confirm their content, which means there's some algorithm the blocker can use to identify ads.

(Why would a site serve blank rectangles? Simple: it'd allow them to serve ads from dozens of ad networks without making the site an unreadable mess)

Adblockers work with regex based on URL and usually block third party files (different domain) from ad networks.

Current adblockers work that way, since it's easier. They'd adapt. For example, Brand Killer[1] (aka Adblock for Real Life) already works by visual detection, and it would certainly be easier to do that online.

[1] http://challengepost.com/software/brand-killer

Heard about file hashing? (CRC32/MD5/etc) - problem solved.

Your OpenCV prototype is simply too expensive (CPU, GPU, battery resources) on consumer hardware many more years.

It's just a question of thinking about it. For example, having an easy way for users to mark an image as "ad" coupled with a shared DB of URLs (many users marked this as ad → auto-hide for everyone).

That's a very interesting point that I never fully considered. Of course, there is no doubt that some content providers already are taking money to reflect someone else's agenda, but it's definitely worth considering what happens if advertising fails as a business model for the majority...

I think you raise very valid point. Historically it just made business sense for content creators to put up some ads. It works like a feedback loop: you put some ads -> you can offset your production costs and lower the price or produce more content -> you increase your audience -> you put more ads. And unfortunately for content consumers the equilibrium is near the point when they are irked by the ads but just not enough to leave in droves.

So now when general dissatisfaction with ads seems to rise the choice for content creators is to install paywalls/raise prices (public won't like it either) or accept more surreptitious kinds of ads (morally dubious). Or maybe go freemium?

> TL;DR: The bathroom may be dirty, but at least no one's taking a shit in my kitchen.

This is a fallacy. All news agencies are already producing advertorial copy, and have been since before the web: this is nothing new.

They didn't start doing it because ads stopped working. Someone who is willing to show intrusive ads is already willing to plumb any depth for an additional income stream.

> A viewer's ability to distinguish between native ads and regular articles is small and quickly vanishing.

I would suggest that the viewer's ability to distinguish is increasing, since we are more aware of the problem, and we don't have to face the cognitive load of ad-ignoring elsewhere.

> I do see it as a moral issue.

Your ability to get rich is not my moral concern.

So irony is responsible for "punch the monkey" ?

Traveling in Europe on a limited and expensive 3G connection, I'm acutely aware I'm paying more for the bandwidth these ads consume than the advertiser is paying to display them. The ads consume 20x more bandwidth than the content.

I'm subsidizing the ads! You say ads are moral, I say as implemented, that's immoral.

Do you find it equally immoral not to pay/donate for all the open source that you use?

There is also the sourceforge example. Since they can not make enough money with ads on the site to survive, they put them in the archives. They will die also at the end, but a lot of projects with them.

Like you said, product placement is already here.

As long as people broadcast content, consumers are free to modify it for personal consumption.

The next level filter might filter all brand names from an article or movie.

It hasn't just arrived. It's been here for years already.


I think the only major recent change is what we call them. I could be wrong but today people refer to it as 'native' advertising.

It will not hurt the content producers who publish their content in apps. Like the just announced Apple News or the Facebook thing I can't remember the name of.

>Let's face it: paywalls don't work.

Citation needed.

You might very well be right that this is what will happen.

And yes, it would be bad if native advertising increases dramatically because everyone has adblockers.

However, the problem I have with your argument is that it rests on preserving something bad and to keep something worse from happening. I think that's generally not the best approach, which is why I'm not 'conservative' in most of my views.

Let's say web content suddenly becomes infested with native ads. Those of us who care, might actually start paying for paywalled content. Those of us who don't, happily read advertising dressed up as proper content.

Or maybe the bigger publishers will not be able to exist anymore, and content becomes either really shitty, or really good with little middle ground. Perhaps we'll finally start paying those individual journalists and writers through donations and crowd funding.

I think a good comparison is music. People started ripping their music, so the industry replied with DRM. People cirsumvrented this, and the DRM became increasingly intrusive. Then downloads and torrents happened. All seems lost. And what do you know? 'Paywalled' music actually starts sort-of working. This may very well happen to video and text once companies get their act together and go with the tide rather than swim against it.

I've been a pretty extreme 'modern', tech-savvy consumer for most of my life. And yet, now that I reached my thirties, and now that I have disposable income:

1. I pay for The Correspondent, a Dutch, pay-walled web-only publication that has been doing well and produces great content by great authors, including some of 'celebrity' journalists here (and soon to be released in English, too). 2. I occasionally buy single articles from any of the newspapers in Holland through Blendle, at prices of around 20/30 eurocents, with the option of a refund that I rarely use. 3. I pay for Spotify, not just because it's convenient, but because it offers (or used to offer) a really nice interface for discovery and curated playlists. 4. I buy ScreenCasts and (e)books direct from programmers/writers in my communities. 5. I've donated to a number of arts/journalistic crowdfunding projects.

While there are many bad things that could happen, I'd argue that the current state of production, consumption, and accompanying advertising is already pretty bad. I'm fine with either: 1) the current models crumbling, and new models coming up that might be worse, so that it might get better quicker, or 2) fighting the fundamental problems and actively working towards a better alternative, or 3) hoping that the changes will end up better altogether.

But preserving a situation that is already pretty shitty just out of fear for something shittier seems like the worse possible approach.

I do realize that I'm leaving out the moral arguments in favor or against bypassing DRM, pirating content, or blocking ads. That's a difficult and perhaps important issue too, but I'd say judging by current behavior it's largely irrelevant to what actually happens.

In what way do you think paywalled music is working?

Artists are getting screwed, while a few middlemen and labels are still making decent money. The whole payment model, forced by the major labels, absolutely fucks smaller artists over - meaning that they get only a tiny fraction of the subscription fees, even those from users who only listen to their content.

It does not work.

Pay walled news sites are always going to lose out compared to more open ones, as it's useless to link to them on twitter etc.

One very popular paywalled news site I use allows you to freely share links to individual pages. For now, that seems to work for them.

As for paywalled music: artists were getting screwed before. Maybe more so, maybe less so, but many were getting screwed. Either way, maintaining the status quo doesn't seem like a good solution, so why try and maintain that. I'd rather see the whole deal collapse so that new things can be tried.

I personally find plenty of great free content in StackExchange, Github, Coursera, etc.

The rest is not really content, it's entertainment.

The entertainers choose how will they get paid.

The reality is that they work is not valuable enough to be paid directly, so they opt-in for a revenue from adverts.

And I choose to opt-out from paying them, because I think that we shouldn't be paying for entertainment. What is worst is that 'news' increasingly becomes entertainment. You only need so much paid journalist to cover main events. If they choose to make farce out of events, it's up to them. But I will not pay that premium, because I do not care and because I don't even want to reach me. And you dot have to do anything for 'news' to reach you.

Netflix - Essentially a paywall for great CONTENT. You subscribe to their service with regular payments.

Youtube - Ads for free content.

Both seem to be working just fine as far as revenue is concerned. Can you elaborate on why you find only sites like SE or GH "content"? What's your definition? Are you suggesting entertainment doesn't have a value of its own?

> Are you suggesting entertainment doesn't have a value of its own?

Yes, exactly.

Netflix is paywall for entertainment. Youtube does have some educational content. Some of it generates revenue from ads. Although those who actually do create educational content, do it for self expression or as a token to return to community.

Just another day there was a top ranking comment about Apple's music streaming service. The TL;DR was that there are millions of great musicians who do not care about profit, they care about music.

I think art is about self expression, not means to making money. Somehow it is much more prominent in tech community with open source and bunch of free information. The information that is actually valuable.

Of course we do have day jobs, but there we get paid for implementing something that people actually need.

I realize this is probably a unusual worldview, but perhaps we are too much entertained and not enough educated?

This is a fantastic development for users. That being said, hopefully you can permit me being a grouch:

Apple hasn't done this entirely out of the goodness of their own hearts. After all, this isn't going to filter ads in native apps, is it? If you're a site that relies on ad revenue you've just been given another reason to live in app-land, not web-land.

Imagine you're a publisher. With one OS release Apple has provided the ability to block ads on the web and Apple News, a charming new platform for you to publish your articles, complete with iAd integration. Which one are you going to prioritise?

Not that this is an either-or thing: just like Google vacuums up your personal data and gives you Google Now in return, Apple will push publishers towards iOS apps while also giving you a great web experience.

As a longtime iOS user browsing the web keeps getting worse.

These are getting bigger, they're more resource intensive thanks to 'waterfall' design. They push up my data usage.

They spam open the App Store, and are all around broken. Recently I can't watch videos on some sites because ads elsewhere on the page grab the click and pop a new tab open.

They take longer to load than the real content. Then they MOVE the real content AFTER I STARTED READING because it took them that long to load.

I've used a Flash blocked on my laptop for years, but I didn't used to care about blocking on iOS because it wasn't a problem.

That has ABSOLUTELY changed in the last year or two. Reader mode used to fix sites but as they do more stupid JS trickery that often doesn't work.

I keep running across articles I literally CAN NOT read on my phone due to these kinds of issues.

Ignore iAds and Goigle and privacy (all good points). This is starting to seriously degrade my iOS experience and I'm not surprised Apple was moved to do it.

You can block ads on iOS right now (but it's not easy): install 'privoxy' on a home computer and set up your iPad to use it as a proxy server.

Use Atomic Web or Mercury as your browser. Both will block ads. I've used AW for about 3 years on both my iPhone and iPads. I couldn't live without it.

Apple hasn't done this entirely out of the goodness of their own hearts.

Of course not. Read the article (or spend a few moments considering the consumer tech coprorate landscape), and it's obvoiusly also an assault on Google.

"An Apple realist might argue that its great rival Google makes more than 90 percent of its revenue from online advertising — a growing share of that on mobile, and a large share of that on iPhone. Indeed, Google alone makes about half of all global mobile advertising revenue. So anything that cuts back on mobile advertising revenue is primarily hurting its rival."

The thought that it's part of a long-game play positioning Apple within the content space also comes to mind.

Except that it's not an assault on all mobile ads, no matter what the article says - it's an attack on as platforms that compete with their own iAd mobile advertising service. If I remember correctly, it's also now the only one allowed to use GPS data to target ads on iOS. This is all just an attack on Google to position Apple as the one selling or their users for a cut of the ad revenue.

Anything that stops the obnoxious redirects to the App Store would be awesome. I started turning off JS on mobile today simply because most news sites I read had become unusable. This is great news and an ideal way to punish publishers that bombard my experience with giant turds. I will gladly pay for content that doesn't suck.

Anything that stops the obnoxious redirects to the App Store would be awesome.

Except that you're going to get a lot more of them, pointing you towards native apps that serve you articles with unblockable ads.

Or you stop going to those sites. Though I don't browse on my phone so I don't have this problem.

This is the real answer to everything: if users dont like the ads, then dont go to the site.

Or, you know, they block them. Deal with it.

I really do wish that safari had a quick toggle for JS. Browsing the web on iOS is so much faster and less annoying with JS disabled, but I don't like digging through system settings to toggle it.

Apple is a for-profit corporation. Its purpose is to make money and it's very good at it.

That said, let me off a non-cynical motivation: remaining competitive. Many users want to block ads, and blocking most web ads on Android is fairly easy even without root. Firefox users can just install an extension. Chrome users need to configure the local-proxy based version of ABP. It's a minor hassle, but my mother uses it, so anyone moderately tech-savvy can too.

> It's a minor hassle.

It's a major hassle because it doesn't work properly or in the case of Firefox mobile - is a major POS. Chrome with ABP via proxy has some serious issues that make the browser not able to load certain pages at all until it's restarted.

Basically, I tried ABP/Android a few times and it sucked. Maybe things worked for you on your version of Android on the phones you've owned, but the fact that it sporadically doesn't work for people like me and my wife is proof enough that it's no silver bullet.

That's why I do all of my mobile web browsing on a Windows tablet. I get a full OS and full control. Fuck the new world order! They can keep their trojan horse, locked down, shitty mobile operating systems.

µBlock on Firefox/Android is nice, much like the desktop version.

I only used ABP-by-proxy briefly before I rooted my phone, but my mother reports mostly good results and only minor hiccups. I currently use Adaway, a hosts-file based solution that requires root. I know some builds of Android on some devices resist rooting, but it's officially supported on my Nexus 5.

Jailbreak and block hosts that serve ads. Your iOS experience will be virtually ad free, with the added bonus of giving you control over your device.

"Apple hasn't done this entirely out of the goodness of their own hearts. After all, this isn't going to filter ads in native apps, is it? If you're a site that relies on ad revenue you've just been given another reason to live in app-land, not web-land." It's a very nice way to capture Apple's share of revenue generated by ios users clicking on ads in the browser.

His list of arguments for using ad blockers left out what I imagine is the #1 reason, which is "you're filling my eyeballs with garbage."

The new thing they're trying is what you could call "gross-bait" ads, one gem that comes to mind is the girl's legs with indentations in them and white things coming out.

I'm not even sure they're selling anything anymore, most web ads seem more like psychological warfare.

How about a subscription service - and it could be a voluntary honor system thing - where you pay something each month and it gets distributed to websites you visit, and in order for a site to register with the service they have to forgo advertising. I'd pay $10 a month to do my part to rid the world of web ads. Somebody steal that idea.

> Somebody steal that idea.

Google already did:


Well, shit.

>>I'd pay $10 a month to do my part to rid the world of web ads.

I read somewhere that the number is close to $70/family/month, growing at %10 per year. Would you still pay ? Would this model even fit most people ?

Those families are indirectly paying that price today, through their ad-influenced purchases.

Not only are they paying for the end-product, but they're paying for the arms-race between advertisers as well, and that's a huge industry.

The amount of money the ad industry deals out to "content providers" must necessarily be less than the amount they get paid by their clients, which in turn must be less than the amount people paid to those clients.

If the distribution is not uniform, and some people benefit from the ad-influenced overspending of others, the business is then predatory.

That's an interesting way to look at it, if I understand it correctly: Advertising itself is a problematic concept. Why should we weep? Everyone would be equally affected by this, it's not like someone is getting an advantage. Maybe this hurting advertising is a net positive for all of us. It forces people to actually pay for stuff directly rather than by being subconsciously tricked into buying more of the stuff advertised, later.

The worst case scenario I have seen people come up with is more sponsored articles but I doubt that is a sustainable business model. Honestly, I never understood why I can read the New York Times online for free. I'm not feeling bad about it, but it's fucking strange. Baby steps, but I really hope something like Contributor (https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/) becomes popular. Preferably not run by google.

I agree - the direct , and especially indirect price[1] people pay for ads is huge.

[1]ads have a huge impact on society and on the psych of people.


When tobacco advertising was banned in the UK, tobacco profits soared because they no longer had to take part in the arms race.

I'd pay hundreds of dollars a month to be free of all the ads that bombard me from every fucking direction every fucking waking minute of my life. I'd love Apple to get so big and monopolistic they could curate the Internet, and you'd just pay them a monthly fee and they'd pass a percentage on to the sites you visited.

I will set up a proxy for you for a mere 99 dollars a month.

> I'd love Apple to get so big and monopolistic they could curate the Internet

So basically just for your own comfort you'd like a big company to become monopolistic and force its views on the web? I am not found of ads myself, but I think they are a better alternative to what you describe.

In other words, roughly AOL. That didn't end well.


I use it on my desktops, but feel kind of like I'm littering. I would like to pay for the content if possible. Also, where do I get ad block for IRL. Some airports have ads on their escalator handles now.

Found a link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-much-ad-free-in...

>of the 316 million people living in the U.S. are online, according to recent estimates by Pew Research Center and Forrester Research, that would equate to roughly $159 per person per year

So yeah about $50 for a family of four per month.

I would pay for this site, reddit, google search, maps and gmail.

Why would you pay for anything from Google? They are already making loads off of you by reading/scanning your email, saving all of your search queries, and noting all of your locations via maps. They then sell all of that information. Haven't you paid them enough already to then have to fork over actual money?

> They then sell all of that information

Source? Their product is ad targeting. Selling the data itself would devalue their product.

If it ever comes to alternative non-ads form, I would consider this way.

Sounds like Readability was blocking all ads and then saying "come find us so we can pay you, even though we never told you we were doing this, oops too late".

Plus since then there's been the invention of these Taboola and Outbrain type ads which are like the ISIS of advertising. Because of them I'm sensing a lot more people are ready to declare war on web ads.

I didn't know what Taboola or Outbrain was so I searched and found this: https://newthealarmclock.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/screen-... and I recognized them. Very tabloid-style.

If they were always pics of nice looking girls in bikinis nobody would have a problem, usually they look like this: http://digiday.com/publishers/is-this-the-worst-page-on-the-...

Re the service: a while back I had the idea that people could add a TXT record containing their BTC/PayPal/etc address and, as long as there existed a loose formatting standard, users could install an extension that activated when it detected you were on a site that accepted donations.

For obvious reasons, it would fall apart for sites like Medium, but I was attached to the idea.

Why not just a <meta name="payment"> HTML tag?

That would certainly work, with the added benefit of value changes by page; however, I imagine it would require more work to display on every page. There are too many ways to serve web pages, and having to change your site like that seems like a potential turn-off for an already [negative adjective here] platform.

Have you seen the Acceptable Advertising manifesto [1]? Sites like reddit and stack exchange have signed up. Essentially AdblockPlus one of the big two adblocking plugins has this manifesto where ads are not garbage, animated, annoying etc. won't be blocked.

My guess is that so many users installed adblockers because of obnoxious ads on a few websites they visit without realising that it removes the non-annoying 'acceptable ads' that support the sites they love. Hopefully something like the acceptable ads manifesto will help stem the tide of quite frankly shitty ads .

[1] https://acceptableads.org/

> Essentially AdblockPlus one of the big two adblocking plugins has this manifesto where ads are not garbage, animated, annoying etc. won't be blocked.

AdBlockPlus also charges a fee for whitelisting, which I oppose on principle even though I think I'd probably qualify.

I have never and will never (ever!) click on any ad. So it doesn't matter that ad-block is removing non-annoying 'acceptable ads'. I never click them, so the sites I love will never get any revenue anyway...

> "you're filling my eyeballs with garbage."

This is fundamentally a usability problem. One of the main reasons I use ad blockers is invasive web advertising often forces more mousing/tapping. Due to many many years of constant keyboard/mouse I have enough RSI discomfort these days that extra mousing/tapping is very noticeable.

A million upvotes for this.

It's mind pollution and the world would be better without it.

I can imagine a world without advertising quite easily. If you could snap your fingers and make all advertising disappear the world would be a better place. Sure, TV and Radio would disappear, but who needs it? I stopped listening to Radio years ago,and people are fleeing from TV in droves. I remember the internet before the "make a buck off the internet" crowd showed up. They can all fall out as far as I'm concerned. The beauty of the internet is that you don't have to see advertising if you don't want to. And if the day comes when it can't be avoided I'm turning it off. Wouldn't miss what the internet has become now anyway, just another form of TV.

No ads would mean you will have to pay per page view like in MicrosoftNetwork/MSN95 (Bill Gates plan of the "information highway" that failed in 1995 thanks to the free internet), and Teletext based systems from the 1980s like BTX in Germany.

I think the point is that who needs them? Most news networks serve up propaganda and useless bullshit anyway IMO.

Endpoints that don't depend on advertising dollars to keep the servers running will always be there (like GitHub, Hacker News, IRC, Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, etc.) if people want them.

Right. News is a commodity. I am sure nobody would be surprised to learn that the results on google news are mostly media outlets that use google's doubleclick service.

As long as it's easy to donate to sites you find valuable on the internet then advertising free sites will flourish.

What makes you think TV and radio would disappear?

Can't content creators monetize their shows with other methods than third-party ads? Like selling their own goods and services?

Sure, there might be a trickle of user supported programming. I don't know how successful satellite radio is these days. The whole reason TV and radio exist is to bring advertising into our homes and cars. Those "commercial free' stations are there to attract the audience back to the channel. For example, Game of Thrones on HBO is there because Time Warner wants to keep it's TV audience for it's other advertising channels. In other words, commercial free shows are there to keep the medium alive.

Their "goods and services" ARE the shows. The show isn't free to produce.

There is one positive aspect of ads on the internet. They provide an initial cash flow for start ups, where the consumers do not yet see the value proposition of the product/website. Sadly the transition for ad driven to user supported almost never happen.

If you even listen to the No Agenda podcast, which is 100% listener supported, you'd know how hard it can be to get people to pay, even for a product they love.

The Internet will disappear too. So will many, many companies. Many non profits, who make a real difference.

Here's what's going to happen. Just a little while longer: nothing. As soon as one big party will try to make a significant impact on the ads market (more than 20% at once), a big shift will happen, uniting Publishers all around and shutting adblocking visitors out completely in a coordinated manner. Just like Microsoft's opt-out only DNT-Field, the tide will quickly turn against Apple, as soon as you can't read 50% of all web pages anymore because ads are blocked by default (or a majority). Same thing with this Filter startup that wants to block ads on a mobile provider level (forgot the name). As soon as people realize that all the stuff on the internet isn't "free", but ad financed, they will finally have to make the real choice themselves by opting in or paying.

I think it's more likely that ad networks will come up with a way for publishers to start serving the ads from their own domains and with randomized filenames etc. You can't block ads if you can't differentiate them from the content in an automated way.

You give them way too much credit. The simplest ad blocker is just a user stylesheet that hides "class='ad'". The complex ad blockers include variants of that as well as network-blocking bad domains, but publishers+advertisers are really really dumb in aggregate.

I get the impression that today's CTR-driven advertisers would prefer not to show ads to folks who are actively trying to block them, because they would almost never have generated useful clicks anyway. Kind of like how online scammers purposely don't even try to sound legit, so that their leads are better qualified when the gullible do eventually respond.

Effort invested in technical solutions to work around ad blockers might just lower CTRs and be worse for everyone involved.

(edit: I don't mean to insinuate that online advertising is anything like a scam; just that there are parallels in terms of targeting the correct audience so that the effort is effective.)

I know this probably sounds counter-intuitive but the company that provided the report mentioned twice in the article also have a blog post about how adblock users click more ads than non-adblocking users[1]. There's not much detail in the article to back up their claim but it's an interesting idea to play around with.

[1] http://blog.pagefair.com/2015/adblock-users-click-more-ads/

That is definitely interesting. I wonder if it's because they're more likely to be contextually interested in ads on a site that they would go to the effort of whitelisting, but that wouldn't actually be the case overall if they were seeing every site's ads?

I think it's because people who use adblockers aren't used to tuning out ads.

They're not "dumb", it's just not worth the effort for them to obfuscate their ads yet. That will change.

Postulate: there's no automated ad-injection platform that also can't be hidden or blocked by automation.

Google could transcode ads directly into YouTube videos, but they don't. They preroll or popover and both can be blocked. If YouTube did transcode pre-roll ads, we'd have an auto-skipper. If YouTube transcoded hard popovers on videos, well, that would probably upset more video authors than consumers.

Easy - they just get more pernicious. For an example, try this product placement in I, Robot, back in 2004:


Even though it's set in the future they manage to sell them as being retro cool. It's almost impressive.

I take the pessimistic viewpoint that ads are going to seep in no matter what. The harder you make it, they more they'll mask themselves. Personally, I'd prefer banner ads.

product placement != invasive advertising. advertorials blur the line a bit, but it's not the same as plastering animated "they hate this ohio school teacher for knowing the secret of eternal youth!" ads all over my news. (free bonus: every 2,000th ad includes a free flash-delivered root kit!)

plus, with a transparent AR setup with proper overlay ability, you can in-reality block photons bounced off or emanated from advertising units (billboards, bumper stickers, old spice commercials, etc) from even hitting your retinas.

Again, IMO, but product placement is worse. I know invasive advertising is advertising. Mentally speaking it's quite easy to disregard. Product placement slowly blurs the lines to the point where you don't know if someone is honestly advocating for a great product or if they're being paid to do so.

If you are watching something produced by a production company (anything on TV or any movie) every brand you see is paid placement.

It's like how before a movie comes out, all the actors in the movie go on all the talk shows. Think it just happens by magic coincidence? It's contractually part of their job to appear and promote the properties they appear in so it drives up demand for their productions (movies/books/tv shows/congresscritters).

>If YouTube did transcode pre-roll ads, we'd have an auto-skipper.

Don't respond to user seek commands until the add is done playing - at that point best they can do is block output and wait - which ends up a similar experience to just watching the ad for classic 2-10 min video youtube browsing or songs - for longer content buffering could work.

For me personally the change between "30s pre-feature ad" to "30s pre-feature darkness/silence" is more important than the change from there to "start playing straight away". I don't mind waiting, but I don't want things fighting over my attention.

Yeah, but is it really worth it for the server to keep track of when the ad should be done playing and refuse to deliver the rest of the stream until then? Because trying to do that in Javascript is a losing game.

That would be really really hard to pull off for most publishers.

As a simple example: it breaks ad networks, which rely on you having a cookie that is shared across many domains to figure out what ads to show you. That doesn't really work if that 3rd party script is blockd.

Then it becomes like any other industry where there are ads and they target the demographic instead of the person. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that someone visiting a parenting site's probably gonna be interested in things like childrens clothes.

That would rally hurt small publishers. For example, American Express is more or less willing to buy ads that appear pretty much anywhere so long as the the viewers have a certain income level. Absent an ad network, would ever publisher have to work with AmEx individually to try to convince them they have an appropriate audience?

The industry's dirty little secret is that for all the hand wringing about tracking and targeting, the tech is still really in its infancy and doesn't work very well.

Network ads already don't pay very much (IMHO) and removing the ability to build profiles on demographics would make them worth much less.

You're right that it's not a dealbreaker -- my startup would be OK since we ads direct to clients -- but mostly people aren't in a position to do that. It takes a team of ad sales and support staff, and a very particular kind of niche content.

It just means the publisher has to proxy delivery of the ad for the ad network. This will not be hard. It's effectively what happens inside apps anyway - the ad network gives you an SDK with an API and you integrate it in to your web site.

No, that won't do it. The ad network won't know who you are because it can only see what you've done on that site. With no way to carry an identifier between different domains, the value of the ad network is destroyed and ad techniques like retargeting (when you put something in your cart on one site and see a coupon for it on another) are impossible.

> The ad network won't know who you are

You (and the ad networks) seem to be under the mistaken impression that you have some sort of a right to that information. You don't, and acting like a stalker should be treated as such.

As another poster said, you target your ads to the content it is being published next to. Seriously, can you not see the damage you're doing by pushing "surveillance as a business" model? If your hopefully-profitable idea relies on a key aspect basically every single dystopian story ever told (fiction and non-fiction), maybe that's a sign you should find another way?

The alternative, if you want to keep pushing stupid gimmicks like that "coupon" thing, it will just push more and more people into treating the advertising industry (and later, internet commerce in general) as the enemy.

>> No, that won't do it. The ad network won't know who you are because it can only see what you've done on that site. With no way to carry an identifier between different domains, the value of the ad network is destroyed and ad techniques like retargeting (when you put something in your cart on one site and see a coupon for it on another) are impossible.

That sounds awesome.

The ad could just be targeted to the content it's next to. If I'm reading about surfing, try and sell me a surfboard.

OK so the Safari 'No Ads' button effectively becomes a 'Do Not Track' button. Users still see ads, just not targeted at them specifically.

This is a very effective response by publishers because many users who would have enabled 'No Ads' simply will not bother to enable 'Do Not Track'

> because it can only see what you've done on that site

I'm not sure what the problem is - all they need is to ask the publisher to set the cookie for them. Then it's a first party cookie that is relayed on the back end to the ad network, who gets all the same information from it that they used to get.

I go to Site A and get a cookie. Now I got to Site B and since it's on a new domain I have no cookies set and am basically a brand new visitor, so I get another cookie. Even if both those cookies are being relayed to some backend, how can it ever tell that I'm the same person on Site A as Site B?

Then they'll have to start implementing workarounds. The EFF made an interesting tool [1] a few years ago to show how easily you can be tracked from your browser configuration and installed plugins/fonts/etc. There might be more advanced tricks nowadays.

[1] https://panopticlick.eff.org/

Mobile is exactly where you don't want to rely on this kind of fingerprinting. Especially on iOS, it's a platform with only one rendering engine and no plugins.

Here's what it managed to get from my iPhone 6[1]. This would be the same 'fingerprint' as virtually every iPhone 6 user in the UK.

[1] http://i.imgur.com/IkccCei.jpg

The ad network is able to serve content natively through the domain of both A and B. That means they can send back a beacon pixel to Site B from Site A's domain, which will let them link the two ids. They only need to do it one time to link up the ids for a pair of domains.

Said beacon pixel is what will be blocked by blocking the network domain.

cookies are domain specific. If you could get and set cookies from any domain you wanted you would basically be God.

I wish they did that today: no more 3rd party requests that will track you!

Could you create checksums/signatures of ad videos/banners then add the signatures to the distributed block-list?

I guess the next step would be to automatically add noise/tiny amendments to the content to get around the checksum...but then you could use object/character recognition to identify content and block the ads based on that.

You're looking for perceptual hashing: http://www.phash.org

At this point the CPU resources consumed hashing every image from a website will probably outweigh the cost of just displaying the ads (since they are downloaded anyways).

Would hashing every image be much more resource intensive than rendering the images? Images would only need to be hashed once whereas images need to be rendered in various states at ~60Hz when a user scrolls through a website.

Network-level blocking gets you a long way: https://twitter.com/SwiftOnSecurity/status/60774597464404377...

Publishers have been brainwashed that everything must have: an ad, a tracking widget, and a user survey. Oh, and each page gets ten of those elements and each element comes from 3 to 5 unique externally hosted providers.

Have you tried browsing popular sites on an iPad? Every 3rd site has an ad unit that ejects you to the App Store to download a freemium game. It's insane. Block those advertisers and never look back. (Yes, Apple shouldn't easily allow eject-to-app-store from a Safari tab, but they also want users to be able to click-to-go-to-appstore on demand. It's a hacky abuse of javascript by ad networks to simulate false user intent.)

Since all of those elements are "as a service" you just block the invading services and all is well again.

> Oh, and each page gets ten of those elements and each element comes from 3 to 5 unique externally hosted providers.

This is the primary problem in my opinion. Having ads present doesn't seem terrible to me (and like other people have said, having promotional content clearly demarcated is a bonus). Having ads become an obstacle to the main content sucks, and third-party script injection that makes at least a handful of additional third-party http calls is an obstacle.


Imagine you're a small publisher. You want to spend most of your time creating awesome content and you don't want to put up a paywall. So do you try to hire an ad sales person to sell direct placements on your site? Or do you use some sort of network, which necessarily requires some level of aggregate tracking and profiling to deliver ads that are at all relevant.

Just because it's easy doesn't make it right.

I don't follow what part of that is wrong. What do you think publishers should do instead?

I'm a small publisher who wants to spend all her time creating awesome content. I hate paywalls. I hate ads. Thankfully, I'm making enough money off of Patreon that I've long since reached my first goal of "no more ads on my current comic". Everyone who wants to see it can see it for free, thanks to the generosity of a small part of my audience.

> the tide will quickly turn against Apple

I would think that the people savvy enough to install 3rd party ad blocking extensions are smart enough to know that the issue is their extension. Not Apple. But who knows.

And yet, I constantly see people filing bugs that occur because they installed the "cloud to butt" extension and then forgot about it.

I used to forget about it and then I'd get a few chuckles.

Of course I'd never go and raise a bug for such behaviour, as I instantly remembered what it was whenever it struck.

Haha there is no way this would come to fruition. Users, on average, abandon websites within 10 seconds or less. 10 SECONDS! If someone blocked out the page because of an ad blocker the user will go to it, not see the content they wanted, and leave less likely to return.

Yup. The publisher won't want those users on their site anyway if they can't be monitized.

I was confused because your comment seemed to support and not support my statement. But I disagree with your statement of:

> The publisher won't want those users on their site anyway if they can't be monitized.

Remember if those users with ad block find it a bad experience and never come back, this means less times they click on links to that site which means less referrals to use as ranking in search engines. If it's a large enough group (hell even a small group in a highly competitive area) can make a difference causing the site to lose readers due to search rankings.

Can you reliably check that ads are blocked?

I don't know what counts as reliable, it works most of the time.

You can check for cosmetic filtering (CSS reapplied to your ad-divs) by checking their width or something like that. You can check for blocked domains by getting this information channeled back somehow.

There are only so much relevant filter lists (maybe 15?) out there. They are freely accessible & parsable, so generating an URL on the fly which should be blocked on your domain in one of those filterlists shouldn't be too hard.

Sure, with the existing methods. But since Apple is in control of the browser, couldn't they come up with something undetectable?

Hmm. I can't imagine how. Maybe if the Browser would simulate a pageview without adblock but somehow manages to hide the ad page elements. I'm sure that might break pages and (since resources can't be blocked) might reduce the use of adblockers drastically.

Sounds pretty good to me, looking forward to that day.

There are some problems with this theory though. (a) On average iOS users have more disposable income than Android users, (b) iOS users have shown a proclivity for spending that money on mobile content and (c) iOS are responsible for more web traffic than Android.

So if publishers adopt a freemium model (the most common) and they present a crappy experience to users who block ads then they won't be willing to buy a subscription. That's why most websites today don't punish users who block ads and that position will likely continue on mobile as well.

Your third point is completely false.

According to Opera Mediaworks, as of Q1 2015, Android makes up 65% of mobile traffic, 3x more than iOS with 22%, as well as beating iOS out of the top spot for ad revenue. You can read this report here: http://operamediaworks.com/sites/default/files/file_attachme... (page 2)

Not completely false. From that document the revenue for iOS/Android is nearly identical across all media types and for video/rich media (the most lucrative revenue wise) is much higher for iOS. It just reaffirms my argument that iOS users are too much of a valuable and lucrative audience to treat poorly.

And I am sure those numbers are worldwide when really US revenue is the most relevant for US publishers (which are the bulk of major news sites). In which case Apple dominates:


True. But don't underestimate the efforts of a multiple billion dollars content industry with their back against the wall (a lot of them ads only without any freemium option). Robbed of any monetization strategy for a whole segment (unlike the ads vs. paywall wars between publishers), I see much more collaboration coming against a too invasive force with their own objectives.

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