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The Internet The Almighty Buck

How Web Advertising May Go 229

Posted by kdawson
from the hoping-it's-the-worst-case-scenario dept.
Anti-Globalism sends us to Ars Technica for Jon Stokes's musing on the falling value of Web advertising. Stokes put forward the outlying possibility — not a prediction — that ad rates could fall by 40% before turning up again, if they ever do. "A web page, in contrast, is typically festooned with hyperlinked visual objects that fall all over themselves in competing to take you elsewhere immediately once you're done consuming whatever it is that you came to that page for. So the page itself is just one very small slice of an unbounded media experience in which a nearly infinite number of media objects are scrambling for a vanishingly small sliver of your attention. ... We've had a few hundred years to learn to monetize print, over 75 years to monetize TV, and, most importantly, millennia to build business models based on scarcity. In contrast, our collective effort to monetize post-scarcity digital media have only just begun."
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How Web Advertising May Go

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  • by Anrego (830717) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:26AM (#26326799)

    .. but unfortunately just doesn't seem to be.. these are some of the major failings I see in online advertising today:

    Inconsistency! This to me is a huge one. Back in the day.. you'd be surfing your favourite site.. and you'd see the same ad over and over. Every day, there it would be. Sooner or later you'd get curious and click on it.. and the odd rare time, you would find a product that generally interested you. You don't see that any more. Now every time you visit the site.. a completely different set of random ads shows up. There is no longer that cumulative curiosity.

    Relevancy! Ok.. google's adsence has made a lot of headway in this area... but automated tools (even really freaking complex ones) simply can't replace a web aster finding a product on his.her own that he/she feels visitors will want.

    Slow freaking ad servers! Back in the day (cough) .. the ad was hosted on the same server as the rest of the page. Users didn't have to wait for some slow overloaded ad server.

    Only getting paid on "confirmed purchases". To me this is a rip of for webmasters. The few times I have bought something I saw advertised on a web page.. I didn't access it through the ad. I googled for it later when a need for such product arose. Ads don't usually have an immediate effect imo .. they are cumulative. You see a product name over and over.. and eventually decide to buy it. You see the same ad for some web host every time you visit a site.. then one day you need web hosting.. and the name pops up. Chances are you are not going to go click on the ad.. but non the less the ad was effective.

    Just being freaking irritating. The latest craze is these hover over links. Every time I see one.. I feel like heating up a steel spring with a blow torch, then carefully sliding it up the webmasters nose. Stuff like this encourages people to install ad blockers. Back when ads were un-intrusive.. most people didn't bother with ad blockers. Now though.. browsing the web without some kind of blocker is an experience in pain... and unfortunately the nice ads that don't annoy users get blocked along with everything else.

    Anyway, that is enough drunken 3am rambling!

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:40AM (#26326853)
      "Every time I see one.. I feel like heating up a steel spring with a blow torch, then carefully sliding it up the webmasters nose"

      i have to say "nose" was the last place i expected this sentence to end in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dyinobal (1427207)
        Every time I see an add I right click and select adblock image. Just me though..
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by RuBLed (995686)
          Everytime I need to go to a site I'm not regularly browsing, I search it on Google and browse it through the Text-Only cache. It is faster and I get the bulk of information I need.
        • by alriode (1161299) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:23AM (#26327047) Homepage

          You don't have to block every single image.

          There are Adblock filter subscriptions (ad server domains + regular expressions). I subscribed to 5 from them and update the lists every now and then. More than 99% of site advertising is blocked for me.

        • by aetherworld (970863) on Monday January 05, 2009 @03:02AM (#26327241) Homepage

          I run a few websites with services for certain groups of people. I support these websites with ads.

          You see, as a webmaster, I basically have two options. After I developed the site for free in my spare time (it was fun!), I have to keep it running. This includes writing content, updating stuff, managing the user database (one of the sites has over 200.000 users). Which I also do in my spare time because it's still fun and doesn't cost me money.

          That's not everything, though. At the end of every month, my hoster sends me a bill for each of my websites. Those bills are between 100$ and 250$ for each of those sites.

          Frankly, while spending my spare time building websites is enjoyable, spending 500$-1000$ a month (!) to keep them running, is not.

          I rely on people to click my ads. I place my ads carefully so they don't interrupt users reading, I blacklist bad ads and I only run AdSense ads. Currently, the revenue is about 20% more than what I have to pay for the servers. However, if 50% of my users would block ads or simply not click on them, I would have to shut down my websites.

          Bottom line: Ads are a great way to fund websites run by small businesses and one-man-shows. If you think those websites are unnecessary and the internet would be better off without them and only big businesses should have the right to have a website, by all means block the ads!

          Clarification: I do use Firefox with Adblock but I allow AdSense ads and ads from a few other publishers I trust enough not to show some ugly flash overlays/popunders/music playing ads etc. I also whitelist all websites I visit regularly where the ads don't bother me.

          • by ion.simon.c (1183967) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:25AM (#26327577)

            *nods*

            I'll see your advert iff:
            * You don't use client-side JavaScript to insert it into the page.
            * It's not a Flash ad.
            * It's not HUGE. (mail.yahoo.com: I'm glaring in your direction.)
            * The host you use to serve the ad has *never* shown me an annoying, flashy "OMG YOU MAY HAVE WON AN IPOD" style ad. (doubleclick.net and RealMedia.com are right out, sorry.)

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            Anything with flashing colors or animation is going to get blocked by me.

            Anything which causes the page to take twice as long to load (eg. loading Javascript from a dozen different sites)? Blocked.

          • by AlXtreme (223728) on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:05AM (#26328485) Homepage Journal

            Currently, the revenue is about 20% more than what I have to pay for the servers. However, if 50% of my users would block ads or simply not click on them, I would have to shut down my websites.

            A very pessimistic conclusion. If you get enough pageviews (and you really have 200k users) there ought to be plenty of companies you can strike a deal with directly ($250 is peanuts for a large site). If you host the ads locally, there is a very small chance those ads will be automatically blocked with adblock plus.

            Remember: with adsense you are only getting a small slice of the pie. If you have a large userbase try to scale up using companies that you know your userbase will be interested in. This way you know what kinds of ads you get on your site and both sides get a better deal. Cut out the middleman (even if it is the big G).

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by aetherworld (970863)

              Ah, this is a good recommendation. In fact, I already did that on the largest of my pages (the one with the 200k users). The problem I found with alternative ad providers was their requirements. The ad provider I'm using now is only for websites with 10.000 unique users a day! It took my site quite a while to reach that amount of users.

              The good thing with Google AdSense is that everyone can implement ads on their site, no matter how small.

              But I don't want to turn that into a discussion about Ad providers. M

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          Over the past few weeks I've been experimenting with NoScript and AdBlock, but I find they are too much hassle. Oftentimes a website requires Flash and/or Javascript to be operational, and these two programs block those items. Therefore I have to go into the settings and click "okay for this site" in order to make it work properly.

          It's reached the point where I'd rather just have the "ease" of webads versus constantly fiddling with NoScript or AdBlock settings trying to make broken sites operate. Besides

          • by Nursie (632944)

            Depends on your priorities.

            I'd rather give up on the site. Requiring flash is annoying. If it doesn't work with flashblock I'll just go elsewhere.

          • There's a few ad- and parasite-blocking hosts files out there -- they contain a list of known ad servers and redirect them to localhost. They were initially targeting malicious servers, but now include most ad servers too. Only problem is you get a bunch of error messages in the place of the ads, but you can for the most part leave flash turned on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:52AM (#26326917)

      The latest craze is these hover over links. Every time I see one.. I feel like heating up a steel spring with a blow torch, then carefully sliding it up the webmasters nose.

      Nose? NOSE?!?

      You're way too mellow about the annoyance of that thing. Call me when you're annoyed enough stuff an incandescent light bulb up an ad executive's ass, flip it on, and tell him that the burning stops when he clenches hard enough to shatter it.

      Anyways, the light bulb thing was my second reaction when I first saw a Kontera ContextClick ad. (I'm sure they're not the only ones, they were just the first one I saw.) First reaction was that my machine had been exploited. Turns out it's a bunch of Javashit that gets sourced into the page, which automatically scans a served page's source, and then rewrites random keywords in the page, turning them into hyperlinks to ads. Really fucking annoying, and an insta-entry for the company into the router's blocklist, and into the HOSTS file on the laptop.

      Anyway, that is enough drunken 3am rambling!

      ...either that, or I've really gotta get drinking more. Your mellowness about the whole hover-over advertising links is pretty cool.

      • The latest craze is these hover over links. Every time I see one.. I feel like heating up a steel spring with a blow torch, then carefully sliding it up the webmasters nose.

        Wait, that's an option? Jesus... TAKE IT RIGHT NOW!

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:30AM (#26328967) Journal

        I don't know why people are so bothered by ads.

        Me, I hardly ever see them. My brain has a filter that blocks all the ads, so that they never register in my consciousness. It's almost as efficient as the "skip" button on my VCR; I just focus on the entertainment and ignore the commercials. I don't understand why other people don't have similar mental filters?

    • Back when ads were un-intrusive.. most people didn't bother with ad blockers.

      Mostly because there weren't any. Of course, back then most of the ads were in the form of a banner at the top of the page. Those I didn't mind at all; scroll down a tad and away they go!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Binestar (28861)

        There weren't any because the ad's didn't cause an itch that needed to be scratched. As soon as ads started to cause that itch to programmers they wrote the program to scratch it.

    • by the_womble (580291) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:30AM (#26327085) Homepage Journal

      Stuff like this encourages people to install ad blockers. Back when ads were un-intrusive.. most people didn't bother with ad blockers. Now though.. browsing the web without some kind of blocker is an experience in pain... and unfortunately the nice ads that don't annoy users get blocked along with everything else.

      What we really need are "annoying ad blockers". That would gives sites an incentive to use less obtrusive adds, which would be less likely to be blocked.

      The effects of ad blockers that block everything is to encourage advertorials and other sneaky ways to get past them, most of which are worse than the original ads.

    • I have to agree on the "bounce over" ads and can I add that we should find the moron who invented flash ads and seriously beat the crap out of them. Seriously they are probably the biggest reason that adblocks exist. It never fails that I will get called out to someone's home or small business and it takes me about 3 seconds of trying to get anything done with IE and those stupid irritating flash ads before I am reaching for my lanyard to get my flash with portable FF3 with Adblock.

      And it never fails that when the customers sees what I am doing and notices there are no more stupid dancing ads all over the place I always get the same questions-"What is that? How come you don't see those stupid ads anymore? Really, automatically? How much does it cost? Really? Can you install that while you are here?". So congratulations writers of those damned stupid flash ads! You get more folks off IE and onto FF3 than all the extra features in the world simply to get AWAY from you! Try surfing an average home users favorites without ad blocking and quickly see how freaking thick those stupid flash ads have become.

      And if any Mozilla developers are reading this? You should give the guy that wrote the extensions framework a sloppy kiss and a big fat raise. Because everyone I have given FF to it quickly becomes a "must have" simply because of the power of extensions. I know that for me the web without Adblock Plus + Noscript + Forecastfox= a big pile of suck. So the other guys can come up with faster rendering engines and all the other doodads they want, I am NOT giving up my extensions! And thanks to portable FF3 and FEBE I can carry my FF3 with up to date bookmarks wherever I go without having to install anything on the customers PC. Of course thanks to those damned stupid flash ads it doesn't take any selling at all before the customer is asking for his/her own copy installed. And once they switch to a web without flash ads they don't EVER want to go back.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:48AM (#26326887)

    What I fear is that due to this, websites will end up having to host more intrusive ads (interstitials, the whole website being a Flash object that demands not just Flash enabled but the saving of shared objects) for the same money, as well as more code to try to block ad blocking programs (which makes it worse long term as people go elsewhere for similar content.)

    Even now, a good number of Web forums will insta-ban someone just on the mention of Adblock and NoScript because the sites are so desparate for revenue.

    Long term, I wonder if the solution is a page click clearinghouse, where people pay a central subscription center (in return for no ads and other membership benefits to all subscriber websites) which pays websites by how many pages that user browses from their account. Essentially, similar to how Slashdot does its subscriptions, except with member sites getting paid per view.

    • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:02AM (#26326961)

      Long term, I wonder if the solution is a page click clearinghouse, where people pay a central subscription center (in return for no ads and other membership benefits to all subscriber websites) which pays websites by how many pages that user browses from their account. Essentially, similar to how Slashdot does its subscriptions, except with member sites getting paid per view.

      You mean, like ummm, like paying not see advertisements right? *sarcasm*

      That's like PAYING FOR PORN . You don't have too. Surfing the net without advertisements is as easy as getting free pictures of boobies on Google.

      P.S - A little known fact is that 15-20% of all tcp/ip packets ultimately end up displaying a tit, nipple, ass, etc. It's true.

    • by N1AK (864906)
      I'm glad to see you're actually looking at the issue and trying to think of possible solutions.

      A large proportion of technically capable web users look on ads purely as an annoyance that will 'never' be of benefit to them. They may well be right, most however are happy to ignore the site owners choice by blocking these adverts.

      Over the years I have collected a very large amount of information on the visitors to the websites I control, and I have tested a range of measures related to people who avoid
      • by Nursie (632944)

        "I and no doubt 1001 other people know this and are creating software that can be used by site administrators to achieve the same thing, and in the long term this kind of thing is going to become more common."

        Sounds good to me.

        I am not prepared to put up with annoying flash or javascript ads. I will block them from being automatically loaded by my browser when I visit your page.

        If that means you are not willing to provide me a service, so be it.

        I have trouble with the idea that it doesn't affect your number

      • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:41AM (#26328349)

        It's a battle you cannot hope to win in the medium to long term; ad-blocking software can always, in principle, deceive the site itself in the same way that a television viewer can get up and make a sandwich. Ad-blocking software can just ensure the client looks and acts, from the server's point of view, like any non-blocking client.

        So why bother trying? You'll simply force ad blockers to actually download ads the user will never see, increasing costs for everyone.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Not to mention as we have seen JavaScript ads can compromise systems [crn.com] and by trying to block the blockers you will probably need even more complex JavaScript.

          I know this will probably get me flamed here, but I just have to say it: JavaScript in its current form is a BAD idea. It is a BAD idea for the same reason as ActiveX is a bad idea, in that running active code which often comes from a third party through the browser is simply bad security wise. Perhaps the answer is sandboxing, or perhaps the answer is

  • by sxpert (139117) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:48AM (#26326891)

    We've had a few hundred years to learn to monetize print, over 75 years to monetize TV, and, most importantly, millennia to build business models based on scarcity.

    thing is, there's no scarcity any more, or, I should rather say, the scarcity is not in the resources themselves, but rather on the sharing of the token called money used to obtain goods and services.
    The current monetary system based on debt creates virtual scarcity, and doesn't really mean anything anymore. it's time to evolve.

    http://thezeitgeistmovement.com/ [thezeitgeistmovement.com]

    • The very next line in the quote touched on that:

      In contrast, our collective effort to monetize post-scarcity digital media have only just begun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuoteMstr (55051)

      Err, right. No scarcity. So where do I pick up that Aston Martin that's scarce only by virtue of our monetary system?

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:50AM (#26326899) Journal

    I tried to let the model work, but after they finally started using Flash tricks to display pop-ups, I finally used the "nuclear option". Whats that? The hosts file. I call it the nuclear option because it takes out unobtrusive ads along with the nasty ones. I really didn't want to do it, but the web advertising industry left me no choice.

    If major web sites ever decide to adopt a code of ethics, whereby additional window spawning, interstitials, and other obtrusive ads are barred, I'll stop using hosts.

    Really, it worked fine for dead tree print guys, there's no reason it can't work for you. I don't even mind cookies. It was actually kind of cool when Yahoo started showing me ads for IC chips and network cards. Maybe they're still trying to do that, but I'll never know; because some worthless X-10 popup weenie is being blocked by my hosts file.

    Get it? Is ANYBODY listening?

    • by shashark (836922) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:01AM (#26326959)
      "Get it? Is ANYBODY listening?"

      No.
    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)

      AdBlock+ with EasyList USA seems to work okay for me. A HOSTS file just seems too hard to maintain. Plus, on some sites (Slashdot. RCGroups, and HeliFreak) I actually *want* to allow ads.

      After AdBlock, I think the next logical step would be Privoxy. It probably takes a bit of time to setup and configure, but it works across all browsers equally well.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      Google.

    • With the issues with Flash cookies and the annoyance of Flash ads, Flash is pretty user hostile. If it was not for Youtube and similar I would uninstall it.

      If everyone did this, then any site that is big enough will switch to direct ad sales and serve the ads off the same domain as the content - this happens to an extent already.

      Does your hosts file include ad networks that have good policies about not using annoying ads? Google, for example, does not do inter-sitals or popups, and their video ads only play

    • by sorak (246725)

      Can I add one thing to your rant?

      No sound! When I am looking for something, I like to open several windows at once. I do a Google search, open everything that might have the information I need in a new window, and then scan over each window until I find what I want. (It's my computer, so I will not change my browsing habits to better accomodate the advertisers).

      I HATE hearing that "congratulations you have won a free iPod" ad, and then having to find and close the window it's coming from. (and yes, I do clo

  • That's an assumption (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:55AM (#26326939)

    So the page itself is just one very small slice of an unbounded media experience in which a nearly infinite number of media objects are scrambling for a vanishingly small sliver of your attention. ...

    competing to take you elsewhere immediately once you're done consuming whatever it is that you came to that page for

    That assumes you even saw, or had the ability to see the ad in the first place. I block popups, surf anonymously via a disposable OS (virtualization), and use Firefox with Adblock Plus. My exposure to actual advertisements is extraordinarily minimal. I almost forgot they existed till this article came out.

    Most people are not much different either. I suspect the value of the web advertisement is going down because the number of eyeballs actually seeing them is in a free fall. When advertisement campaigns cannot deliver any meaningful increases in sales or leads then their value must go down.

    If people are not seeing the ads, how can it possibly lead to a sale, lead, click-thru, click-on, whatever, blah blah blah

    • by Jurily (900488)

      My exposure to actual advertisements is extraordinarily minimal. I almost forgot they existed till this article came out.

      Adblock got the story from three days ago?

    • I very much doubt that most people are seeing the ads. Most people do not even know its possible to block them. Certain demographics (IE, nerds) are going to block them in real numbers of course, but I can't imagine there's much money in marketing to nerds anyway (or /. would be worth a hell of a lot more than it is right now).

      As for my part, I finally got adblock when shitily coded ads started causing crashes after Flash 10 was released. I actually like seeing ads, since I sometimes get the really bizar

    • If you think that most people are going anywhere near the extent you say you are, then I think it's a lot more likely that you need to broaden your social circle.

      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        Come on. Other than the disposable OS that I obtain with virtualization and never committing the changes to the hard drive I am EXACTLY like most other people. I said "not much different".

        Firefox with popups blocked in the preferences and the Adblock Plus add-on installed. So the vast majority of people are doing 2/3 things that I mentioned.

        So please take your insults elsewhere if you are not going to add anything productive to the discussion. Thanks.

        P.S - I never even mentioned Privoxy and TOR since tha

        • Firefox with popups blocked in the preferences and the Adblock Plus add-on installed. So the vast majority of people are doing 2/3 things that I mentioned.

          But most people don't even use Firefox. As long as IE is at the top of the heap, that statement can't be true.

          • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:22AM (#26328567)

            Oh, you just love to be contrary don't you? Your post is perfectly meeting the definition of trolling.

            Don't get hung up on the name of products, but focus on their features. Internet Explorer has built in functions to block popups. There are similar additions to Internet Explorer that have the same functionality (claimed at least) as Adblock Plus. I found that within 30 seconds with Google. I don't know a single person that does not block ads right now and most of them I didn't even have to tell them how to do it.

            So if you want me to broaden my statement so as to not have any possible confusion let's say that the, "vast majority of people are using a web browser with built-in popup blocking capabilities and an installed add-on that allows advertisement blocking based on filtering".

            There. Are you happy now? Disagree with that statement. Whatever. Just try writing something more than one line instead of continuing and/or justifying a personal attack. Try adding something valuable to the conversation instead of tearing away at my spelling, grammar, semantics, etc.

            Give it a try. Seriously. Argue about the ethics of blocking ads. Talk about marketing, ad revenue, donation based websites, anything. Construct an argument for or against advertising on the web. Write passionately about social contracts, free markets, scarcity, etc.

            It's okay. I won't laugh, call you stupid, or say your pasty white pathetic ass needs to get out the basement and go cry to mommy upstairs. I'll listen and respond to your arguments. I promise. It's how it works around here. Really. You can even get a +5 insightful, informative, or funny if you try hard enough. Those remind of the gold stars and warm fuzzies I used to get in kindergarten which strangely motivates me to try that much harder every day.

            Don't be afraid... i'll hold you hand... we can take this journey together friend...

            BiG HuG

  • by Zerth (26112) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:00AM (#26326953)

    I always get a kick out of these sorts of articles.

    Advertising on the internet comes from the same premises as advertising anywhere else. Either you are building awareness or you are inciting the viewer to action, preferably both.

    You buy ads based solely on if they are acheiving those two objectives. The value of an ad is from that alone. If your ads don't perform, pay less or stop. If they succeed, keep paying or even pay more to guarantee that they will continue to do so.

    Sure, you can do interactive ad games, popups, popunders, little folding corner things, etc, but who cares unless your name sticks in their mind or it causes them to buy your stuff.

    Sure, website operators will plaster their pages with ads, but who cares as long as your name stands out and people buy your stuff.

    ---

    The main benefit for online ads over any other kind of ad is that the advertiser can have enormous feedback on the success of the ad that would normally take hundreds of hours of focus groups and thousands of dollars of wasted money.

    The key failing of online ads is that advertisers are morons that think that internet ads are some magical moneymaking device that will work by itself. You have to use that wonderful deluge of information to guide your purchases and campaigns.

    If advertisers, as a whole, stay ignorant, the market will boom and crash. Just like ignorant stock traders, just like any herd of morons that think they've found a golden goose and then cook it.

    • by philspear (1142299) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:14AM (#26327007)

      I ignored whatever it is you just said. You're probably used to that though.

      • by Zerth (26112)

        God, that is so true. That's why I'm a former marketer, nobody ever listened and now that campaign is run by a close cousin of the genius algorithm that causes Ebay to buy on "slave" and other embarrassingly stupid ads on google.

        I spent years crafting a non-annoying campaign that wouldn't get added to everyone's block list, but Mgmt wasn't satisfied with ROI, they wanted blinky flash ads made by four year olds and wanted them shown on the Microsoft ad network instead of google(because google wouldn't stand

  • by Micah (278) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:00AM (#26326957) Homepage Journal

    I've been surfing the web for at least 12 years. I've probably hit dozens of ad-infested pages per day during that time. I've probably seen tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of ads.

    I can't remember a single time when I actually purchased something because of a web page ad.

    I may have been influenced a bit due to a few of them, but actual purchase that I wouldn't have made otherwise? If so I have forgotten about it.

    • by mbyte (65875)

      Hm,
            I did discover thinkgeek from advertisements on /. and i did buy some stuff from them in the past, so yes, i did purchase something because of a web ad.

      (to be honest, it was a while back when ads were more funny/static/interesting and noone was using adblockers ...)

    • by billsf (34378)

      No, never! If something gets through my filters I will make it a point to NEVER buy from the company that "placed" the ad. I can make one exception: Those are the ads that come from the actual site. If they use flash or move in any way, that halts at once. You cannot easily focus when something is moving.

      Some may argue that ads keep the net alive. (Yes servers that take targeted ads pay many times more.) To that I say, I keep the ad, but it never gets to my eyes. This serves a second purpose -- Advertisers

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      There's plenty of places on the web that sell shit and advertise no-where else except on the web. How do you think people find them?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bradley13 (1118935)

      I've been on the other side: setting up Google ads for two small companies. In one case, it did increase the web-traffic, but did not result in a single sale. In the other case, it has resulted in sales - but the total effect was very minimal.

      This was with Google ads - which I suspect are among the most effective, because they are generally relevant to what the person was searching for. Even so, the results were marginal at best.

      Web advertising would be more effective if there were less of it. Unfortunately

    • I can't think of a single time I have. I did see an eBay ad for me, when I Googled for my name, but it turned out they didn't actually have any of me in stock, so I couldn't buy a spare. I've clicked on a few ads, in particular some of the hosting ones that I've seen here, but never bought anything as a result. I often click on Google ads when I'm using Google to find someone that sells something, but in general the people who advertise on Google cost more than the people who show up near the top of the

  • If anything, the internet reminds me how scarce quality work (of whatever sort) really is. Being able to readily comb through all of it only makes that truth even more apparent.

  • but internet will be much more used as business tool now that is time to drop costs. This would bring balance to the force.
  • by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:18AM (#26327027)

    Has left pretty well all these Ad merchants behind.
    If I'm browsing some site in say the USA and I'm based in Europe I don't give a **** about ads for US services (and most products come to think of it). They just don't have any relevance to me whatsoever and just consumes the bandwith/download quota I PAY FOR every month.

    Very few sites check your IP for location and serve you up an Ad free page if you are outside their target location on this wonderful planet of ours.

    Don't get me started on the ever increasing number of sites that are replicating the sort of things that doubleclick does. Last month I added 78 new ones to my hosts files to block.
    AFAIAC (As far as I am concerned), these people are signing their own death warrant. Eventually people will say 'Enough is enough' and start browsing only those sites with a reasonable (or zero) levels of ads. One site I visited recently had over 20, yes 20 other sites it was pulling ads and other crap from. Why do they do this? Greed obviously.
    This business model is surely untennable for the future. Sorta like the 'sub-prime mortgages' that were sold to far to many inappropriate people.

    • by dargaud (518470)

      I have this hunch that the first tech collapse was in part caused by web ads. Many businesses then had no clearer business plan than "put something on the web and make money off of it", which often turned out to be "put some content user want, and ad some advertisement".

      But marketing people IMHO have always greatly overvalued the effect of traditional print/billboard/TV/etc ads. Only on those media there's no way to verify how much extra products they sell. They've been riding on that to justify their ve

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shoemilk (1008173)

      Very few sites check your IP for location and serve you up an Ad free page if you are outside their target location on this wonderful planet of ours.

      Even that doesn't work. I'm an American working in Japan and browsing American sites half the ads I see are for Green Cards (in Japanese)

  • *Facepalm* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Lots of confusion about terminology.
    Half the people here didn't understand the article, the other half believe it was about something else based on the summary.

    This was about the reduction of traditional advertising budgets (a rehash of stats) with a non-sequitor on how it might affect advertising online (with no stats).
    Did they even think to mention that the money has simply shifted from print/tv media to online?
    No, this is largely a attempt at fear-mongering about the economy.

  • I don't know how many different extensions and add-on installs I've added to FireFox but I know off the top of my head that the overwhelming majority of them are designed specifically to eliminate or block advertisements.

    And by advertisements I am not just limiting the scope to pop-up ads, but google ads, banners, and ad sponsored links and polls.

    Any image that is from an ad shows up 404, every pop-up is blocked, and any link to an ad shows up 404 including sites that redirect to advertisements.

    The less ads

    • by Zymergy (803632) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @03:43AM (#26327403)
      Anyone care to guess why Google's CHROME has no ability to use plugins/add-ons?
      (And, I'd actually use Chrome if I could BLOCK THE DAMN ADS!!! Who cares if Chrome renders this well and/or is faster... CAN IT BLOCK ADS??, No?... OK! Fine... So, where's my FF icon? )

      Therefore I use FireFox 3.x with NoScript, AdBlock Pro, and Flashblock installed...
      (Sure, I find myself whitelisting certain sites often... but that is the way it should be!)
      Try reading certain sites with IE7 at netbook resolutions and you will love FF with the ad killing plugins/add-ons....
      • Care to place a wager on whether Google will allow plugins that block advertising in their browser?
      • by sorak (246725)

        Who cares if Chrome renders this well and/or is faster... CAN IT BLOCK ADS??, No?... OK! Fine... So, where's my FF icon? )

        Chrome blocked it.

    • On a side note, this is why the iPhone's Safari is far and away the best mobile browser at the moment.

      Simply double-tap the paragraph or column of text you actually want to read, and the browser will zoom in so that all the annoying, animated ads (and really, everything else excepting the content) are pushed off the screen and out of your field of view. Now, I will grant you that having an ad-blocker would be superior, as it would prevent the downloading and execution of such ads in the first place and sav

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Audience attention is still scarce -- the Internet hasn't changed this.
    Print, radio and TV all had high fixed costs. As a result, the number of advertising space suppliers was low. When suppliers -- in this case, websites -- increase, supplier power decreases relative to buyer power. Prices fall.

    • This is what the pay-per-click model was designed for - To counter the falling prices, with a higher quality conversion ratio from click-through generated leads.
  • I clicked on an ad once and bought something...
  • by WoTG (610710) on Monday January 05, 2009 @03:18AM (#26327307) Homepage Journal
    We spend a few hundred a month on Google Adwords (both on search results pages and the 3rd party "content" pages) on a fairly niche set of terms for our web based bingo card generator [print-bingo.com]. I've noticed recently that our bids, which I haven't changed in months, have bought us both higher ad placements and lower costs per click. Similarly, the advertising revenue from the publisher side of AdSense (ads we show) on the same website have dipped a bit. All of these hint that other people have pulled out of the market. Granted, you have to take this with a grain of salt -- we're in a very niche market.

    Still, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that in this economy, overall, more people are going to cut back on advertising budgets rather than expand. I think that in the case of Google, it's hidden by their growing market share and the growth of the Internet.
    • Cutting back on advertising is the worst mistake a business that relies on advertising as their primary market communications medium can make.

      In fact the correct strategy is to increase the spend, while possibly altering the message to suite the financial mood.
      If you need to cut costs, cut them in other areas of your business - not on your advertising spend.
  • ... so when the economy is up advertising is up and when the economy is down advertising is down.

    When companies are struggling to make it to the next fiscal year, the first thing they cut is their marketing budget (surprise, surprise)

    Advertising on the Internet is affected just like other advertising - so it's going down at the moment and will go up when the economy starts to pick up again.

    All these explanations about how stuff done via the Internet is somehow special are just a throwback to the previous bu

  • Ad Providers will simply come up with ways that are impossible to work around.

    One solution : local caching. Have a php script download randomly named images or html files in a semi-randomly named folder. Can't see how it'd be possible to block the ads, especially if the html is put in a page via a php include. Obviously though it would require a fair bit of trust to give an ad provider write access to a folder on your server.

    • by QuoteMstr (55051)

      Two points. First, let me address the substance of your idea: there will always be ways of distinguishing advertising from content. They may be made more complicated by obfuscating the URLs, but as long as a human being can distinguish an ad from the content, a program will almost certainly be able to do it too. And if a human being can't distinguish the advertising from the content, the content is almost certainly no good anyway.

      Second, you have no idea what you're talking about technically. This is a pet

    • by vadim_t (324782)

      It's always possible to work around it.

      If you fully randomize the URL, there are still things that say "this is an ad", such as the server it comes from, the fact that it's an image or flash, its size, etc. You could pretty safely block all large images, leaving the little ones used for the interface. Just blocking standard ad sizes goes a long way.

      The advertiser could perhaps try splitting an ad into little bits. But that probably doesn't work for animated ads very well, and can be detected too.

      The best an

  • I think inadvertently, Ads have become the micro-payment system that was bandied about a few years ago.

    The mistake the model had initially, was seeing the user as the client, where in fact the user's viewing is the product for sale - much like traditional print media advertising. The micro-payments are happening on a pay-per-click or pay-per-view basis.

    As Print media slides further down the slope of obsolescence, online advertising will become more relevant as a means of gaining exposure to marketing me
  • wrong assumptions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:03AM (#26328811) Homepage Journal

    So the page itself is just one very small slice of an unbounded media experience in which a nearly infinite number of media objects are scrambling for a vanishingly small sliver of your attention.

    That's marketing drivel. What it really means is: "The stuff that the user came for is being pushed aside by more and more and more aggressive advertisement."

    Geez, wonder if that just might be one of the reasons that more and more people block ads?

    The whole advertisement industry needs to get one important fact into their heads, and that is that nobody wants their crap. Once they've realized that, and start working on a way to push it out in ways that people don't mind enough to block and filter, the value of ads might increase again.

    However, for the past 20 years or so, the solution to every advertisement problem has been "more ads". These days, when you walk down McDonalds street, past the AOL stadium, on your way to the Powered by IBM subway, you pass more ads than you'd have seen in an hour or two when you were young. But I said "pass", not "notice".

    I remember times when the local stadium was named for its team, not some random company, when there were things that were not being "presented by" some logo, and when you could watch TV for 30 minutes straight without one advertisement.

    Fact of the matter is: Advertisement has changed. It's a lot about brand recognition today. The problem being that there are hundreds, if not thousands of brands that compete for your recognition, and they compete by trying to scream louder than the others.

    On the web, we can filter them, and the louder they scream, the easier it is. That's why what is really a global advertisement business crisis shows up as a problem in web-based ads first.

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:46AM (#26329595)

    I live and work in technology in New York. Back in the day I built e-commerce sites, but post dot-bomb I perforce moved into advertising. And as a consultant I have sat in the meetings with the tastemakers in many of the biggest Ad firms, such as McCann-Erickson (makers of the Mastercard "Priceless!" Ads), Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, etc, so I have some perspective on the question of web advertising.

    First, let's get the common perception of an overarching, sinister council meeting in smoke-filled rooms to figure out how to manipulate the minds of America out of the way. The tastemakers are hipsters, almost all White, almost all male, in their 30's or younger, and far fewer of them are gay than you would think. They are voracious, almost desperate consumers of popular culture and are nearly all filled with self-loathing because they work in advertising instead of producing any of that popular culture.

    At the moment they're all desperately trying to figure out how to monetize online, mobile, and gaming because print is terminal; out-of-home (that's billboards, bus shelter posters, etc) is limited; and the only people who still watch TV in respectable numbers are the least desirable demographic, that is, Baby Boomers in their 50's and 60's. The trendlines for middle-to-upper-middle income males ages 18-45 all show that they're abandoning in droves the activities that have been the mainstays for decades, such as TV watching and sports. So clients are demanding that Ad firms present them with good digital strategies.

    But they are woefully ill-prepared to do so, because within the Ad agencies themselves the TV crowd still rules the roost and so does their "you'll take what I give you and like it" mentality. They do not fundamentally understand that within the digital media consumers have vastly more ability to shape what content they see, and how they see it. That is, they do understand that in digital consumers have that ability, but they have no idea what to do or how to behave in that brave new world.

    Instead, they double-down on the same old tactics of interruption ("we'll be right back after these messages!"). That's why when TiVo got big advertisers responded by putting those annoying banners at the bottom of the screen during shows, and by making every show a walking product placement; you cannot TiVo those out. And at the moment they're on the eve of hammering the final nail in the coffin of the TV medium by forcing their last demographic, the Boomers, to switch their sets to those able to receive a digital signal. Little do they realize that will make it exponentially easier for consumers to edit out all of the banner and product placement crap and re-post and share them through P2P, while also alienating the elderly who might just remember that they used to play golf and bridge instead of watching TV all night.

    That's why it's easy to predict which way web advertising will go: it will be relevant to the consumer's needs, or it will die. There is no place for the interruptive, one-way communication that the TV crowd in the Ad agencies are trying to push, because consumers can very easily switch all that off with AdBlock and the like. One-way, interruptive will not survive on the web, it will not survive on the mobile platform, and it will not survive in gaming. The days of forcing males, 18-45, to sit through tampon commercials are over.

    Google has made some progress on serving relevant ads with AdSense, and they have prospered accordingly. But the problem lies deeper than the medium through which commercial messages are delivered. The corporations of the world, at least the ones more than 20 years old, still want to live in a top-down, command-and-control environment where they call all the shots. They want to produce goods and services that people will pay for, but they do not want the rabble to actually talk back to them.

    But in digital media, that's precisely what consumers have grown to demand under the democratizing influence of the Web. They demand a

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:48AM (#26331253) Homepage

    There are ads that appear with search results, which are valuable to both advertiser and reader. And then there's everything else, which is merely annoying.

    Search ads are valuable because they're presented when the user is looking for something and are relevant to the search. At that one moment in time, an ad isn't an interruption of other activity. That's why Google is so successful.

    Google ads on other sites, though, are mostly noise. The overall quality of Google contextual advertisers is low. [sitetruth.net] For most serious advertisers, opting out of the Google Content Network, but keeping the search ads, is a good move. Especially since the discovery that 10% of users generate 50% of the clicks, but don't buy much. [directmark...nsider.com]

    Online ads may bring in enough revenue to keep your blog running, but they won't keep your car dealership afloat.

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