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posted by janrinok on Monday March 24 2014, @09:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the ads?-what-ads? dept.

An anonymous coward writes:

"Three weeks ago, video game reviewer and online columnist Jim Sterling used his weekly "Jimquisition" video column (warning: NSFW) at The Escapist to address 'the ever thorny issue' of viewers using ad-blockers while watching his content.

As Mr Sterling relies entirely on ads on The Escapist and his YouTube channel for his income and isn't exactly known for pulling punches regardless of topic, it may have come as a surprise to many that he expressed considerable understanding for those who choose to block ads [transcribed and slightly censored by the submitter]:

"No, I don't like it when someone views my work with Adblock, but I get it. I absolutely understand it, and I find it hard to judge anybody who does it. If I'm p---ed off at anyone, it's the advertisers; those reckless buffoons who brought up intrusive pop-ups, auto-playing video ads, and those f---ing banners with the smileys that scream "SAY SOMETHING" at you.

'There is this horrible cycle in place, if you didn't know, where the less ads that get viewed, the worse the ads are, because the less scrupulous commercial companies will go after the more desperate venues. What this means is, the more you ad-block, the worse the ads actually get.'

After asking his viewers to 'kindly consider' viewing his videos with Adblock disabled (and expressing some considerable distaste for those who publicly state that they block the ads and still insists on criticising his work), Sterling willingly conceded that ads on web sites can represent a real problem for users:

'When ads break web sites, when they ruin your browsing or are offensive to you on some level, how the hell can I blame you for wanting to obliterate them? I can't!'

Whether one likes Mr Sterling's videos or not, he no doubt has a point. Ads are the only available source of revenue for many web sites and content producers, but they have little or no influence over the kind of ads the ad provider serves through their site. As we all know, intrusive ads can significantly degrade the browsing experience and even be a malware vector. Besides asking their users to please endure potentially obnoxious ads, are there ways for web sites (like, say, SoylentNews) and content producers to make money from advertisements?

The story ends with an interesting twist: For those who wanted to support him but just couldn't stomach the ads, Sterling briefly published the URL to an Amazon wishlist as well as his P.O. box address at the end of the video. Last week he revealed that although he had done so in jest, several viewers had indeed sent him gifts (from 7:02 onwards)."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by everdred on Monday March 24 2014, @09:57PM

    by everdred (110) on Monday March 24 2014, @09:57PM (#20594) Journal

    > are there ways for web sites (like, say, SoylentNews) and content producers to make money from advertisements?

    Sure: sell your own ads and host them yourself. You get to exercise quality control, and you don't end up revealing information about your visitors' browsing habits to questionable third-parties [].

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by NCommander on Monday March 24 2014, @10:14PM

    by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <> on Monday March 24 2014, @10:14PM (#20603) Homepage Journal

    While I don't wish to run ads at all on Soylent (rather be funded by donations), if we *have* to go this route, we'll self-host, and make sure no user information is directly transmitted to the ad companies.

    Still always moving
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Tork on Monday March 24 2014, @10:41PM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 24 2014, @10:41PM (#20617)
      Please stick to text only ads, please. Even if it means 'sponsored stories'.
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Common Joe on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:05AM

        by Common Joe (33) <> on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:05AM (#20846) Journal

        I may be in the minority, but self hosted image ads are cool with me. (If you decide to go down that route.) Just keep them small and unobtrusive. I will change my ad-block settings for y'all. Oh, and thanks for the small comment to let us know that you aren't going to do anything bone headed like most sites. It goes a long way.

      • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:07AM

        by Common Joe (33) <> on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:07AM (#20847) Journal

        Tork. Sorry, my other comment was for NCommander. I meant to piggy back off your comment and hit reply to you instead of NCommander. You bring up some good things to talk about, though.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Monday March 24 2014, @11:06PM

      by edIII (791) on Monday March 24 2014, @11:06PM (#20629)

      I have a crazy idea. Don't listen to the others and go with sponsored stories, with images, with a twist:

      It can be downvoted into oblivion and actually removed. It can upvoted and make it onto a list of stuff we just really like. The more informative about what it can do with examples the better.

      While I abhor marketing entirely, there might be some middle ground in discussing things we all clearly like a lot and letting the sponsors pay Soylent to capture our attention in the fairest way possible to everyone.

      You show us a Kardashian and be prepared for the Abyss. Show us Tyson giving us all the information and cool parts about some new 3-d maker and we might just want to talk about it for a minute.

      I mean if it's really a thing to were we just have to deal with the devil, we might want to try and it make it as pleasant as possible. Otherwise it's just back to the good ol' war with Adblock/Ghostery/DoNotTrackMe.

      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by everdred on Monday March 24 2014, @11:46PM

        by everdred (110) on Monday March 24 2014, @11:46PM (#20640) Journal

        Reddit actually does something like this.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by etherscythe on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:05AM

        by etherscythe (937) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:05AM (#20646) Journal

        By way of example, if we had this set up, Fluke would be in a great position to take advantage of it what with the whole Sparkfun multimeters-seized-in-Customs thing. The story itself was likely to hit our frontpage anyway - but what if we got to hear from somebody at Fluke or maybe Sparkfun about the ordeal directly? It would be both interesting and probably marketing gold given the participants on this site.

        "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by velex on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:41AM

        by velex (2068) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:41AM (#20702) Journal

        You're not quite +5 yet! Argh, my mod points were used too soon!

        However, that does raise a legitimate question. The goal of advertisement is essentially intrusion and the creation of a want (and its portrayal as a need) where no such want exists. Would advertisers even be amenable to such a system?

        The trouble is that the advertisers we want, well, we want because we already have the want. There is no creation of the want in that dynamic. Essentially, a system that enables the "audience" to downmod ads is antithetical to the very reason for ads to exist. (I.e. the premise that there even is an "audience," which I hope we're all here to demonstrate that we're not.)

        I guess what I'm saying is that the devil would not make a deal if there were no evil outcome (even if the outcome would be beneficial to him/her), at least as I understand devils.

        Perhaps a devil's advocate can offer a rebuttal.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mojo chan on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:55PM

          by mojo chan (266) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:55PM (#20941)

          Advertising should be about offering something that fulfils a need. There is no need to create a want unless what you are peddling some POS that no-one wants anyway.

          const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:29PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:29PM (#20996)

            >> ... unless what you are peddling some POS that no-one wants anyway.

            See: Advertising

        • (Score: 2) by Nobuddy on Wednesday March 26 2014, @03:12AM

          by Nobuddy (1626) on Wednesday March 26 2014, @03:12AM (#21300)

          Ads that work are those that make me aware of a product I never knew existed.

          A Coke ad is not going to impact me, I am aware of Coke and know my position on that product. An ad for a product or service I have never seen will get a look, and if it fills a real need at a reasonable value for me it will be purchased.

          So, if you are Coke, or Ford, or some other major company that even Iceman knows about, quit wasting your money on ads. When you have a new product, then make an ad. It won't need to vibrate, play, popover, black out the page, any of that shit that makes us hate you all with the fiery passion of a binary supernova. A simple text and graphic is all you need.

          "Oh, Ford has a new electric vehicle. I wonder how much they cost...." CLICK

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:33PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:33PM (#23134)

            So why do they spend so much on advertising if they're already the number one or two?

            $48B revenue
            from 584B servings

            $4B marketing

            $8B profit ... They could increase profits by 50 percent if they didn't spend on marketing.
            How is that spend needed?
            For every $1 in marketing, returns $2 profit.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by tangomargarine on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:59PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:59PM (#20980)

        Wouldn't that be vulnerable to shill upvoting, though?

        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
        • (Score: 2, Funny) by halcyon1234 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:52PM

          by halcyon1234 (1082) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:52PM (#21014)
          Let them. It should be easy enough to spot. Such unscrupulous cretins would assume this site is "just like all the others" and that "moar is better". They'll flood the ad with upvotes from a bunch of accounts that don't have an established posting history / karma. It's a simple SQL query to spot them. Flag those ads for human review-- either by staff, or in a subforum. With human eyes looking at it, it's incredibly easy to spot. Seriously, just look how quickly and efficiently Slashvertisments got called out-- twice as fast when they were shill stories planted by Dice employees.

          Let them self-identify as idiots, and then ban their ads. Oh, and no refunds. Thanks for the free money to support the site.

          Or, even better-- put in the advertiser's T&C (which will be ignored anyways) a Shadowban clause. Continue to show their ads-- only to their shill accounts. Or to actual users, but the ad is shrunk to 1px x 1px. Continue to charge them for monthly usage fees and impressions. See how long you can continue to get paid to not show their ad. =)
          Original Submission []
    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:23AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:23AM (#20699) Homepage

      Thank you. And I too would appreciate if you'd stick to text ads, or simple banners (nothing more noxious than a basic GIF). I might even pay attention to those, if they're halfway relevant.

      You might want to solicit SN users who are also authors for Amazon affiliate links.

      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by darinbob on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:17AM

    by darinbob (2593) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:17AM (#20727)

    I actually find it very strange in some ways that "how the hell am I supposed to make money at this otherwise?" argument. Ok, I may be a bit naive. But maybe one does not need to make money at it? Maybe I'm old enough when I remember when the internet was not about commerce, and I remember when advertisement revenue was not the overwhelmingly most important focus of high technology. Maybe write a blog that has interesting things to say because you want people to read what you said, or comment on it, start a discussion, you know... the whole democracy thing.

    Ie, on soylent/slashdot/whatever, I don't think the commenters are out there asking for payment.

    This vaguely reminds me a bit of early PC days. I had come from Unix and VMS with minicomputers where people exchanged tapes for the cost of a tape, and the Amiga world with lots and lots of stuff for a minimal cost to reproduce. Then on the PC I saw the model flipped, and almost everything was shareware instead, and the sort of shareware that said "I wrote this to learn how to program, if you used it you now owe me $15", or nagware, crippleware, and all that other stuff that said "give me money, I don't do this for the fun of it!"

    Granted I am a cheap bastard, but I do pay for some software. I'm even paying for my free antivirus, and I am one of the 12 people in the world who payed for Netscape Navigator.

    • (Score: 2) by everdred on Tuesday March 25 2014, @04:36AM

      by everdred (110) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @04:36AM (#20790) Journal

      Just to be clear, I'm not in favor of SoylentNews going this route, or suggesting that they do so. Just answering the question posed in the summary...

      But your point is well-taken.

      • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:42PM

        by Open4D (371) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:42PM (#20921) Journal

        I am in favour of text and/or static image ads on Soylent, for non-subscribers. (I would subscribe.)

        But it doesn't seem efficient for individual websites to be negotiating all that stuff with individual advertisers. I'm assuming AdSense [] only gives you money if you serve up content that they host, and which you have no say in. So, are there any competitor ad agencies that take a different approach?

        Even an agency that does host the ads on your behalf but promises (through contractual obligations) not to track the recipients (victims?) of the ads?

        It wouldn't surprise me if the answer is no, and if the most hassle-free approach is just to have no ads whatsoever, despite potentially serious financial implications. But if so, I'd find that slightly regrettable - not just for Soylent, but in general. As much as I want to simply pay for what I use rather than rent out my eyeballs in exchange (and I wish other people would do the same), I do suspect that there would still be a useful role for advertizing to play, funding things that otherwise wouldn't get funded. Some ads are even mutually beneficial.