Archive — Advertising

Want to see what one digital future for newspapers looks like? Look at The Guardian, which isn’t losing money anymoreJoshua BentonNieman Journalism Lab

"The Guardian (actually makes money now)"

How the Guardian finally started making a profit, in three steps.

With a functionally infinite supply of free news available, the relationship your reader has to you has to be a lot more like the one public radio listeners have with their favorite station. They’re not buying access; they’re supporting a cause.

I’d also add that the Guardian has one major advantage over almost every other publisher in the world. They uniquely decided not to go down the rabbit hole of autoplaying videos, pop-up adverts, and other infuriating ways of getting in the way of what the readers actually came for.

This week I visited the Scotsman website, and one of the ads inserted a nasty redirect that my browser told me was taking me to an untrustworthy site. There are lots of news sites that I simply can’t trust for this reason. The Guardian is one I can still trust.

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The hurricane web

Screenshot of the text only version of the NPR website

The hurricane web

This post really underlines how media companies have taken the web in totally the wrong direction.

It shows how media organisations like CNN and NPR brought out lightweight “text only” versions of their websites to help hurricane-stricken areas with low bandwidth.

…in some aspects, they are actually better than the original.

Most importantly, it’s user friendly. People get what they came for (the news) and are able to accomplish their tasks.

It reminds me of the GDPR compliant version of the USA Today website, which many noted was actually a far better experience than the standard version that was filled with trackers and ads.

Think how brilliant the web could be again, if people removed all the crap from their pages and focused on what users actually need.

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Facebook is giving advertisers access to your shadow contact information

Facebook is giving advertisers access to your shadow contact information

Facebook is not content to use the contact information you willingly put into your Facebook profile for advertising. It is also using contact information you handed over for security purposes and contact information you didn’t hand over at all, but that was collected from other people’s contact books, a hidden layer of details Facebook has about you that I’ve come to call “shadow contact information.”

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Note — 2018-08-08

Scotsman screenshot

It’s no wonder newspaper websites are in trouble. Their latest scheme is to “lock” content by turning it into squiggles unless you watch at least 6 seconds of an advert. Needless to say, this is a horrible experience, and only makes it all the more likely that I’ll turn away from certain websites.

I’m afraid to say that I know I’m going to have a dreadful time any time I try to read anything on the Scotsman or any other Johnston Press website. Every time, I am bombarded with a cacophony of offensive adverts, which grind my computer to a halt. And when they deign to show me the content I came for, more often than not it’s badly written, and clearly a rush-job by a stressed-out writer being made to churn out any old crap in the name of volume.

Why would I bother following a link to the Scotsman website again?

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Annoying online ads cost business

Annoying online ads cost business

Results from a study of users of Pandora has quantified the effect of shoving adverts in users’ faces. As part of the experiment, a section of users were served fewer ads than normal, and another section were served more ads than normal.

…after 1.5 years of being exposed to the experimental conditions, people did use the service more, the fewer ads they were served. At the end of the experiment:

  • The low-ad group listened for 1.7% more hours weekly than the control group.
  • The high-ad group listened for 2.8% fewer hours weekly than the control group.
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Chinese firms pile in to sponsor World Cup 2018 amid Fifa fallout

Chinese firms pile in to sponsor World Cup 2018 amid Fifa fallout

As Western firms have begun to desert Fifa due to the corruption scandal, Chinese firms have seized the opportunity to “to get their brands in front of billions of global eyeballs”.

It has been noted that companies are more willing these days to take a stand (see also ABC cancelling a sitcom because its star is racist). But this appears to be a western phenomenon.

Chinese firms seem to have no qualms around being associated with Fifa. Perhaps this is a dimension to keep an eye on as China becomes more and more important on the global stage.

This year’s Fifa World Cup provides a unique opportunity for little-known Chinese companies to get huge amounts of exposure to global consumers.

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Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing

More on the hypocrisy of media organisation going after Facebook (which I recently wrote about).

What will happen when the Times, the New Yorker and other pubs own up to the simple fact that they are just as guilty as Facebook of leaking its readers’ data to other parties, for—in many if not most cases—God knows what purposes besides “interest-based” advertising?

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Facebook quietly hid webpages bragging of ability to influence elections

Facebook quietly hid webpages bragging of ability to influence elections

Facebook have described the idea that they influence election results as “crazy”. It’s funny that they used to actually brag about their ability to help people win elections.

Their entire business model depends on them allowing advertisers to get results. It is absurd for them to claim they can help get results for advertisers, but not if they are political advertisers.

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Google Chrome’s now blocks dodgy ads by default. Which is great for Google


Google Chrome’s now blocks dodgy ads by default. Which is great for Google

An interesting piece on the conflict of interest surrounding Google’s move to block the worst ads in Google Chrome.

I might have more sympathy for the publishers if they hadn’t systematically destroyed their own websites with terrible ads, reducing the trust of their readers, and giving the web a bad reputation as a result.

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Podcast listeners really are the holy grail advertisers hoped they’d be

Podcast listeners really are the holy grail advertisers hoped they’d be

On average, according to Midroll’s data, podcast listeners are making it through about 90 percent of a given episode, and relatively few are skipping through ads.

This is interesting, and in the detail is some cheering news for podcast listeners.

But I wonder how long it will last? I’ve been listening to podcasts for well over ten years, but I am becoming increasingly tired of the ads that are taking up more and more time during my day.

As ever, it’s a balancing act. News publishers messed this up big time by bombarding their website users with horrific ad experiences. Podcasters have to be careful not to go the same way.

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Why are companies installing badly designed phoneboxes?

diamond geezer on why companies are installing badly designed phoneboxes

I can’t say I’ve noticed new phoneboxes popping up, but maybe things are different in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, I found this blog post by diamond geezer fascinating.

BT’s new InLink sounds especially awful:

All the action takes place on the thin side farthest from the road, where no separate receiver is apparent. Instead there’s a socket for a headphone jack, provided by the user to cut costs, and a loudspeaker at waist height which’ll broadcast across the pavement…

Most striking is the big red button which if pressed immediately dials 999, an innovation surely far too tempting for passing fingers, which must have emergency switchboards cursing.

So why in this day and age would new phoneboxes be emerging? The answer is depressingly familiar.

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Facebook’s algorithm hijacked this $8 billion company to sell cat blindfolds

Facebook’s algorithm hijacked this $8 billion company to sell cat blindfolds

Online retailer Wish was developing a cult following for its incredibly bizarre Facebook ads. Among the products displayed to users: cat blindfolds, cocaine sweatshirts and “plastic tongue things”.

It’s yet another unforseen consequence of algorithms driving everything, and yet another indication that companies desperately need to stop giving so much weight to clicks alone.

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Publishers find Google AMP loads too fast for ad views

Publishers find Google AMP loads too fast for ad views

For an insight into just how much of a mess publishers find themselves in, look no further than this article.

In effect, the user experience is almost too good, with content loading so fast that people scroll past the ads before they’ve been able to load, resulting in ads that aren’t deemed viewable…

“There are a variety of issues around AMP with ads, and the fact that AMP [editorial content] loads ‘too fast’ is definitely among them,” said a publishing exec.

For too many years, publishers have been actively making the user experience bad. When your business model is to make things harder for your customers, it’s time to radically rethink.

Quality counts.

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