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The Internet Advertising Businesses Facebook Google The Almighty Buck

Google, Facebook Upset By Ad-Injecting Apps 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the turnabout-is-highly-irritating dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Emily Steel at the Wall Street Journal writes about an unexpected twist for Google and Facebook, two companies that make their money selling ads next to content created by others. New companies like Sambreel Holdings are writing slick browser interfaces for popular sites like Facebook or Google and supporting themselves by injecting their own ads into the mix. Naturally, the original ad sellers aren't so happy about other ad sellers inserting themselves farther down the chain. Are we in the middle of an ad war where every company tries to inject their ads over the others? Will only the last 'ad supported' software in the chain win?"
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Google, Facebook Upset By Ad-Injecting Apps

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  • by amalek (615708) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:22PM (#38316278)
    Adblock, como te amo.
    • by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:29PM (#38316362)
      Adblock only works because it's not widely used. If everyone would use it, then advertising networks would have to come up with better ways to deliver ads without possibility to block them. It's already done on sites that are for geeks, like Slashdot. /. has ads, yes, but they also sell advertising spots on Ask Slashdot section and polls. By advertising Adblock (ironic, isn't it?) you're only giving webmasters and sites more reason to come up with hidden advertisements and things that really integrate into site. Google is already doing it on YouTube - they put some required components behind ad servers, so if you block video ads then the videos will stop working completely.
      • by H3lldr0p (40304) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:42PM (#38316548) Homepage

        It's not that I want to hide the ads. What I want is to hide the annoyance of the ads. Keep the ads subtle and out of the flow of what I'm on a site for, and I won't want to block them.

        What the marketers don't understand is that the more annoying they get, the less eyeballs they receive because of more and more people use ad-ons like Adblock to avoid the annoyance. All they seem to understand is the lazy approach. Be loud! Be garish! Be anything but smart and honest!

        • by rel4x (783238) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:58PM (#38316738)

          It's not that I want to hide the ads. What I want is to hide the annoyance of the ads. Keep the ads subtle and out of the flow of what I'm on a site for, and I won't want to block them.

          What the marketers don't understand is that the more annoying they get, the less eyeballs they receive because of more and more people use ad-ons like Adblock to avoid the annoyance. All they seem to understand is the lazy approach. Be loud! Be garish! Be anything but smart and honest!

          What users don't get is that the more people use adblock, the more marketers will have to extract every last penny they can out of the users they can. That means dirtier, high ROI ads, pop-ups, etc. Most users aren't going to install adblock no matter what they do.
          The other end of it is that marketers in general are confident that they can overcome adblock if it ever becomes popular to the point where it's a problem. Adblock only works by recognizing the domain hosting the image/scripts or common path names.
          Toss that banner add on the cloud, or have it hosted locally by the site owners(in a non-"banners" or "ads" subdirectory) and for the most part you've got it beat. Advertisers haven't adapted because there's not a big enough incentive to. But if push ever comes to shove, they'll win.
          Imagining that AdBlock provides(or could provide) enough incentive to make anyone even think about cleaning up advertising is nothing but wishful thinking.

          • And not only will it move banners to the site and same domain, there will be large increase in normal links used for advertising, hidden inside text or the content you want to read. It will only make advertisements more sneakier and you can't block those unless you want to block all normal links, up to a point where the actual content will be made with those ads in mind. Users with Adblock still have it good, but the more people they try to get to use it will just mean that the faster they will be unable to
          • pop-ups, etc

            Well pop-up windows are pretty much out because all the major browsers now block them by default. I've seen a few in-page pop-ups but those are probablly pretty easy for an ad-blocker to detect.

            The other end of it is that marketers in general are confident that they can overcome adblock if it ever becomes popular to the point where it's a problem. Adblock only works by recognizing the domain hosting the image/scripts or common path names.

            That is CURRENTLY how they work. but if the advertisers change their tactics then the ad-blockers likely will as well.

            • by CodeHxr (2471822) on Friday December 09, 2011 @02:34PM (#38317188)

              That is CURRENTLY how they work. but if the advertisers change their tactics then the ad-blockers likely will as well.

              This seems like the same paradigm that piracy/anti-piracy follows. The pirates will, by definition, always be one step ahead because anti-piracy is reactionary. Translating this to the current discussion, advertisers will always be one step ahead because anti-ad software is reactionary. Just $0.02.

              • And in both cases they only care about majority of users. In neither case is the purpose to make some unbeatable system but make it hard enough for casual users and majority to overcome it. As long as that stays they really don't have any incentive to make their systems better.
          • by Synerg1y (2169962)

            All adblock needs to do to work is block the annoying adds, embedded adds are more a feature of the web admin than an actual ad, if youtube advertises for you to watch a video, there is nothing you can do, that is something running on their end. A lot of ads aren't like this, they pop up or block navigation via something like javascript, and that's where adblock is meant to work. There is nothing a browser can do about embedded apps, thus it would be difficult for client software to differentiate those.

          • Element Hiding Helper for Adblock can clean up pretty much anything.
          • by vadim_t (324782) on Friday December 09, 2011 @03:08PM (#38317652) Homepage

            I suspect things don't escalate further because ad blocking has the nuclear option: doing everything as if the ad was showing, but without showing it.

            There's nothing that makes it impossible to move ad blocking to the browser itself, where the blocking mechanism sets a "don't render" property on the element. Then it doesn't matter much what the advertiser does, the DOM is the same, as far as JS can tell it's all there, the server logs are identical.

            Now how do you think advertisers will react when the advertising network can tell them "this ad was delivered on 10000 pages, but we have no clue how many of those people actually saw it"?

            • There's already PPC and CPA models and they don't care about impressions. Advertisers only pay when someone clicks, or better yet, when someone does certain action like buys product. Such schemes will only make sure that more and more advertisers move to such models.
              • by vadim_t (324782)

                You can't click something you can't see.

                If one were to feel really evil, it's also quite possible to make a browser that simulates clicks and opens the result in an invisible tab. That of course goes counter to the general motivation of removing tracking and lowering bandwidth and CPU usage. But it could be done.

                My point here is that if the war escalates, the users hold the nuclear option: they can break both the pay per view and the pay per click models completely, if they feel motivated enough, and mostly

          • by oGMo (379) on Friday December 09, 2011 @03:18PM (#38317774)

            Adblock only works by recognizing the domain hosting the image/scripts or common path names. Toss that banner add on the cloud, or have it hosted locally by the site owners(in a non-"banners" or "ads" subdirectory) and for the most part you've got it beat. Advertisers haven't adapted because there's not a big enough incentive to. But if push ever comes to shove, they'll win.

            They will never win. Look at it this way. You've essentially said that advertising gets dirtier the less people respond, and if everyone used Adblock, advertising would get so dirty we couldn't win.

            Yet, spam is probably the dirtiest advertising there is. There is likely no trick the spammers have not tried. Send from any host, embed stuff in reasonble-looking text, etc. Yet spam detection is very, very good, to the extent that spam is on the decline.

            Advertisers will never win, because you can write better software that detects ads. Adblock's simple host and XPATH detection is all that's there because it's all that's necessary right now. It would however probably not be that hard to write image detection software that can process images and assign a AD-PROBABILITY value to them. Use the cloud against the advertisers ... just set up software that learns by user submission on a cluster and click on an ad to submit it. Consult the "cloud" for any new images.

            But, until most people care about ads the way they care about spam, it's not going to be necessary. Unfortunately we're so culturally inundated with advertisement that it's just not a thing. Though while this may look like a win for advertisers, it does make ad removal trivial for those of us who care.

          • by StikyPad (445176)

            What users don't get is that the more people use adblock, the more marketers will have to extract every last penny they can out of the users they can. That means dirtier, high ROI ads, pop-ups, etc. Most users aren't going to install adblock no matter what they do.

            First of all, ad views don't make money; clickthroughs make money. And I may be in a minority (though probably not), but I'm usually not interested in any of the products or services advertised and don't trust the sales pitch of an online ad rega

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          Which is why I only block Flash. I have no problem with still image ads.

        • by dcollins (135727) on Friday December 09, 2011 @02:37PM (#38317238) Homepage

          "What the marketers don't understand is that the more annoying they get, the less eyeballs they receive"

          Skeptical: Citation needed.

        • You say that but I'm sure that annoying ads like the "punch the monkey" got tons of clicks and that's why it was around for ages.

          As long as ads don't flash or show some fatty's gut, yellow teeth or grandma peeling shit off her face I don't mind them. Sites that are very US centric seem to have the worst ads. So someone has determined at least that Americans click on that shit somewhere.
      • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:45PM (#38316592)
        I have this cool idea for a plugin that lets 8086 assembly be embedded directly into web pages, maybe the advertisers could use that?
      • by allo (1728082)

        you cannot win this war. Its like the virus scanners. no virus scanner really knows the most recent virus. so no website will be able to provide ads in a way that cannot be blocked.
        with adblock you can block articles marked as sponsored on slashdot, if you want to.

        and forcing ads like the advertisers want them (colorful and blinking) to the users against adblockers needs javascript, which can easily be blocked with noscript (which should be a builtin for firefox).

        of course, the site can choose to provide th

        • by bored (40072)

          you cannot win this war. Its like the virus scanners. no virus scanner really knows the most recent virus. so no website will be able to provide ads in a way that cannot be blocked.

          Are you sure you don't have this backwards? The ad blockers are the reactionary ones in this case (the virus scanners), as I can grab the latest version of the ad block software and tune my site to avoid it and its blacklist. Then I get a small window where everyone sees my ads, but in the meantime I can come up with another way

      • A lot of ad blocking software works by altering DNS, but not all. Content can be blocked per site per type. For most, blocking a few sites works. Then a few, like Youtube, try to play hardball.

        It's because it's widely used enough that they react faster.

        Filename filters, file extension filters, file content filters, javascript rewriting. No matter what Youtube or Slashdot or others do, the DIY blockers can iterate faster, and it's a game of losing for advertisers. Most of the time, a single function call

      • Yep this is why I don't block all ads. I block flash, scripts and trackers. Deliver a plain image/text ad and I'll see it.

      • by Anonymus (2267354)

        Ad blocking has nothing to do with it. Even if 100% of users viewed twice as many ads, Slashdot would still run advertisements as stories, because it makes them more money (short-term, anyway).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Lisias (447563)

      Adblock, como te amo.

      In plain English, for all the non-Portuguese readers:

      Adblock, I love you so.

      (Me too, by the way)

    • by Toe, The (545098) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:37PM (#38316470)

      Why would you want to remove ads? Genuine Rolex watches for only $99! [spamcop.net] They are what support the development of (Refinance today! [slashdot.org]) new applications for your benefit. Just like you can benefit from a bigger penis! [wikipedia.org] I don't find it (THIS IS NOT ANNOYING! [wikimedia.org]) annoying at all.

    • by bonch (38532) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:38PM (#38316498)

      Google doesn't like AdBlock either. Chrome doesn't support the blocking of ads before they're downloaded, even though WebKit supports that functionality (and it's used in the Safari version of ABP). The author of ABP has implemented workarounds for some ad types, but it's still an arbitrary limitation in Chrome--a browser from a multi-billion dollar web advertising company with a vested interest in having you download their ads so that they count as "views."

      • by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:41PM (#38316528)
        And don't forget Google Analytics. Since you can't actually block the request, it will hit it and Google gains more and more data about everyone. In other browsers you can actually deny the whole request so it doesn't work.
        • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:51PM (#38316672)

          Ghostery [ghostery.com] works well for that sort of thing.

          It should achieve the effect you are looking for in preemptively blocking the content before it hits your browser.

          Supports most major browsers too.

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          Yes you can block it. Regardless of browser used.

          It's called a hosts file. That will stop *any* attempt to load an external include on a page by resolving the redirected domain to localhost.

          Only way around that would be a local include of Google's javascript, which greatly limits their ability for a common code base, but would make it at least run. That would be a one-trick pony. Just read the javascript, or if obscured, watch the connections and then add it to the hosts file as well.

          It's just layers.

  • Why is this necessary? Both already have native apps on mobile devices. Users can browse with IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc. What does the browser do that a normal browser doesn't?

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      It's the Facebook app for your computer!!11!!

      To be fair, lots of these sites could probably use a interface makeover. If a company wasn't lazy and just displayed the content straight from the browser they could potentially add something useful.

    • It's not, it's not even very common either. This is the WSJ regurgitating an annual article about injustice and scams on the "interwebs." The /. crowd knows better but this article is like one of those "they almost cured cancer this year" types: It happens every year. The story never changes and the profit of Facebook and Google are hardly affected by this.

      In fact, several years ago The NY Times even brought a case against some spam-adware company that would install a toolbar or somehow modded the brows

    • by maxdread (1769548)

      Well it isn't necessary.

      Essentially this company created several adware-like plugins that allow users to do trivial things such as add a background image on facebook, in return the plugin injects ad's onto the site. It isn't a new browser, it's more akin to a greasemonkey script.

    • by psydeshow (154300)

      Why is this necessary? Both already have native apps on mobile devices. Users can browse with IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc. What does the browser do that a normal browser doesn't?

      These things probably only exist to leech ad revenue off of someone else's product. But with a little imagination, and an appreciation of the art of Greasemonkey scripts, it's not hard to figure out the value of wrapping a web app this way. Here's a few off the top of my head:

      1) Every time Facebook or Google or any cloud service upgrades their user interface they create built-in demand for something (anything!) that can make the site look and act like it used to look, for users who are resistant to change.

  • Have you met Kettle? No?

    Pot this is Kettle. Kettle, meet Pot.

  • by cornicefire (610241) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:28PM (#38316358)
    The irony is killing me. Google is so happy to frame other people's content with their own ads. It's going to be funny to see them spin up some kind of tortuous distinction between their advertisements and the ones that the Sambreel uses.
  • Ah, capitalism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kqs (1038910)

    It's a triumph of capitalism. Insert yourself as a parasite, move revenue from those doing the actual work towards yourself. And the obligatory "well, it's okay since the marks^Wusers agreed to it in an unreadable EULA."

    Best of all, the complaints go to the web sites you're stealing from, not to yourself. Brilliant!

    • Whatever Economic system you have you will have people who will break the laws or bend them to their most extreme to get the most of of doing the least.

      Now what you stated isn't the triumph of capitalism. Con-artist and doing the bare minimum to get "free money" can only get so far. If you want a triumph of capitalism you need a good long term plan. Where you can keep your customers and they want to stay with you.

      Now we will hear about these big companies who are making tones of money and consumers are hat
    • I just went to the webpage of one of the products being criticized here, and the site is entirely open about its ad-supported nature right on the front page. It's literally on the top of the webpage. "PageRage is ad-supported to keep it 100% FREE to our users. Ad-free version available." It is not buried in an "unreadable EULA."

  • by green1 (322787) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:31PM (#38316394)

    The summary asks "Will only the last 'ad supported' software in the chain win?"
    We could only wish! Unfortunately what usually happens is that each step simply adds more ads. Rarely do they remove existing ones to do that. As a result, you simply end up with more and more ads.

    I'm at a point now where I am so fed up with ads in general, that I am ruthless in my ad blocking. I run adblock, and flashblock, and I run adfree on both my cell phone and my tablet. Additionally I run my own DNS server that is used by my computers, as well as my cell phone and tablet, and any time I see an ad on any device I do my best to track down where it came from and block the domain.
    And it's not just the web either, I don't have commercial TV service because I can't stand the ads. Many of the networks have their shows available right on their websites, for free and without the long commercial breaks either!

    Had advertisers kept things reasonable, I might have never resorted to such measures, but as it is, I'm fed up enough to just block everything.

    • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:38PM (#38316494)
      ...but the absolute *crap* they advertise. Honestly, I do *not* want to look up my former high school classmates, I do *not* need a credit card with a lower rate and I do *not* want to see [random actress] nude! Perhaps if they were to advertise something I actually wanted...but then, they wouldn't ned to advertise as much, would they?
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:50PM (#38316662) Homepage
        THIS!

        Facebook is terrible for for. The have have hundreds of millions of people browsing their site everyday, and it's filled to ads for scammers, porn, dubious websites and other junk. They could make a serious amount of money if they would just only take serious advertisers. You don't see ads for fake Rolex watches on NBC, but you do on Facebook, even though Facebook has a much bigger audience. They need a real advertising department that goes after big companies getting real advertisements for legitimate products. If the ads were for real products, people would be much more likely to click on them, and advertisers would pay much more for the ads. Right now, no serious company will advertise on Facebook because they don't want their product showing up next to ads for Russian Brides and get rich quick schemes.
        • One problem is the transitional period, the time between establishing a "no shitty add networks" policy and lining up enough "legitimate" advertisers to balance the books. Also even if ads on facebook were legit they would still be dragged down by the poor reputation of web advertising in general.

          BTW you do see some pretty seedy adverts on TV too, you just have to watch at the right time (e.g. when most people are asleep). Ever heard of the "london mint office" (a deliberately misleading name) the "microfor

      • by dcollins (135727)

        Only on Slashdot do I ever see anyone say this, and it perplexes me to no end. You're asking for increased surveillance and personal data-mining by corporate entities; more personally-targeted advertising; and a greater ability to affect people emotionally into making purchases. If I ask anyone I know personally if they're jonesing for more intrusive targeted advertising, the answer is always "no". I would lay odds that a public, scientific poll would go distinctly in the same direction.

        • No, I'm not asking for personally targeted advertising, just less (ideally no!) *crap* advertising.

          Come on -- can anyone really claim that these types of ads are legitimate? We can write the Russian brides and faux-Rolexes off right now. You could *maybe* make a case that the low credit card rates (yeah, but with stratospheric fees) and find a lost high school girlfriend finders (not pandering to stalkers, but we would like your address and phone number!) and maybe even the celeb-porn (just like the ch
    • by couchslug (175151)

      I didn't have to get "fed up", I blocked everything I could as soon as I could.

      If I want something, I seek out advertisers. If I don't, I block 'em all.

    • by subreality (157447) on Friday December 09, 2011 @02:32PM (#38317162)

      Unfortunately, we may get a bad result of all this: if ads beside the content become entirely useless, the upstream providers will start putting the ads IN the content. Witness what happened to the bottom third of your screen after Tivo came out. When Adblock learns to block those, they'll just make it more subtle.

      Product placements pioneered in-band advertising, but the first generation was pretty awkward. Diamonds are a notable exception. Those guys were brilliant. Instead of making a big deal of the rocks, they wrote a subtle preconception into the plots: that offering a girl a diamond is the universal standard when getting engaged. The girl is thrilled by the surprise proposal, but never surprised that he's offering a diamond. And thus the audience learns: she might be overjoyed by an unusually expensive one, but no diamond at all is NOT ACCEPTABLE. A hundred years ago, that wasn't even fiction; now it's reality.

      Realize that this is still going on, and try to spot it. Don't just look for blatant logos smeared everywhere, and cumbersome shoehorning of brands into dialog... Those exist too, but that's just because not everyone can afford the genius advertising guys, even if there were enough of them to go around. But the subtle tricks of old are well known, and still in use. Look for the subtle stuff the cast takes completely for granted that you thought was just something the trendy conformist crowd was into... they are just the first to fall for it. Especially look for it in the news.

      Now tell me how the hell you're going to slice that out of the content. Adblock isn't going to cut it.

  • Google and Facebook simply have to add some terms of service to their API. By changing the TOS to include a restriction on ads they will have the legal right to force these companies out of business for violating the terms of using their APIs. I believe that we will see this change happen very quickly!
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Google and Facebook simply have to add some terms of service to their API. By changing the TOS to include a restriction on ads they will have the legal right to force these companies out of business for violating the terms of using their APIs. I believe that we will see this change happen very quickly!

      Won't work, because it's the end user who downloads the applications that customize the look and insert the ads. So, it's the end user who would be in violation of any ToS. As the article notes, there is N

      • by apdyck (1010443)
        You are forgetting the fact that in order to display the ads in the first place the third party application must access the facebook/google API to retrieve content. By adding a line in the TOS for the API that reads something like this:
        ...access to this API used in conjunction with any third party advertising network or advertisers is strictly prohibited...
        Then the owner of the API can go after the maker of the infringing software in court and easily win.
        • by tomhudson (43916)
          Please, if you're not going to RTFA, or even RTFS, please at least RTFP (or at least the first line of it) before replying. The third-party browser is being run by the facebook user, not the 3rd party.

          Any violation of the ToS is by the facebook user. Suing your customers because they want features you don't want to give them is a great way to go out of business.

  • Interstitials (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:41PM (#38316524) Homepage Journal

    If Adblock becomes common, interstitials are going to win. They are the only form of ad that could be coded such that they cannot be blocked (e.g. make the interstitial send a message to the site at the beginning and end of the ad, and/or require the user to enter some content from the ad before the site sends the actual content of the website to the user).

    If they win, adding more ads will only make the user not want to use your interface since it means a further delay until the website's content can be viewed.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Is there a practical way to make interstitials invisible instead of blocking them?

      I don't care if adverts run, I just don't want to see them.

      • Is there a practical way to make interstitials invisible instead of blocking them?

        I don't care if adverts run, I just don't want to see them.

        Unplug the computer.

  • Cable Operators (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekboybt (866398) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:43PM (#38316564)

    Is this not what the cable operators already do? If they sell a local ad, they simply dub over the national ad of their choice and call it a day. How is this any different?

    • Is this not what the cable operators already do?

      Yes.

      If they sell a local ad, they simply dub over the national ad of their choice and call it a day. How is this any different?

      The spot where they dubbed it in was put there so the local ad could be inserted in. In other words: it's designed that way.

      • by geekboybt (866398)

        Interesting. So is there some sort of agreement, where the network says that they can dub over certain ads? I've noticed that the dub isn't quite perfect sometimes, and you'll catch the beginning/end of a network ad which is then replaced with a (obviously lower quality) local ad.

        • Well, I'll put it this way: The express purpose of purchasing this content is to distribute it with ads so a profit can be generated. If the local carrier can't show local ads, there is zero reason for them to air any of the content.

        • Interesting. So is there some sort of agreement, where the network says that they can dub over certain ads? I've noticed that the dub isn't quite perfect sometimes, and you'll catch the beginning/end of a network ad which is then replaced with a (obviously lower quality) local ad.

          I believe it's an FCC regulation that a certain percentage of time has to be allocated to local programming, including advertisements, for the broadcast networks, I.e. NBC, abc, CBS, and fox. Not sure with cable channels like espn, tbs, TNT, etc. some weird rules now that over the air tv is all but dead in most populated areas of the U.S. I guess it does help keep local businesses alive, being able to be seen during highly-rated network shows.

          Returning to the OP, I have often theorized on answers to those

  • Enough is enough! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slumberheart (1423685) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:50PM (#38316658)

    This whole business about making money just by slipping an ad in front of an eyeball is stupid, and I wish it would stop altogether.

    Brought to you by Carl's Jr

  • I don't think Google or Facebook have a legal leg to stand on, for starters - if I change my software to change the presentation of the data you've sent me, that's my perogative. If you can't stop me from using AdBlock, you certainly can't stop me from using AddAds.

    Also, the logical question here would be - what are these add-ons doing that people want so much that they're willing to accept even more ads for? And perhaps the big players should simply take half an hour and add the code to let you put snowfla

  • by jtara (133429) on Friday December 09, 2011 @01:54PM (#38316698)

    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998/04/13/240866/index.htm [cnn.com]

    I designed the client software architecture for the above. It was an "interesting" experience. My favorite "death march" project ever! ;) I got to meet David Bois...

    The client was a wrapper around IE or Firefox, and attached a "PowerBar" to the top of the browser window. Due to the legal issues with EDS, they never got to dealing with any potential legal issues involving consumer privacy or publisher rights.

    While I had some misgivings initially about working on this project, I found Dale very receptive about protecting consumer privacy. There were safeguards to insure that advertisers could only gain access to aggregate data, and this was a stated goal. And he went along 100% with my ideas about insuring that uploaded data was as transparent as possible - passed in the clear so that users could examine it and see just what was being sent, with only a small opaque digital signature. (Which still worried me. *I* knew there was nothing hidden in the signature, but how could the user prove it?)

  • Eventually, ISPs will do this. Networks do this with the advertisements in Times Square during New Years. The ads you see on one network are different from the ones in another network. It also happens when you watch sports - the same model of the stadium that adds the line of scrimmage into a football game is used to change the ads.

    Eventually, ISPs will get in on this, if they haven't already.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday December 09, 2011 @02:19PM (#38317022) Homepage

    I'm approaching this from the other end. I'm working on a browser-add on which limits the number of ads that appear on a page. The user sets the limit, and we trim out ads accordingly. The ads with lower SiteTruth ratings [sitetruth.com] are deleted first.

    This puts the user in control of the ad experience. The problem with on-line advertising today is that there are too many ads per page. This isn't good for advertisers or users.

  • by Pausanias (681077) <<pausaniasx> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday December 09, 2011 @02:23PM (#38317058)

    I am perpetually amazed at the amount of money companies spend on advertising. It's staggering---enough to support all of Google, Facebook, you name it.

    Did companies always spend this much money? Does it work? Why don't more people block it? AdBlock has been around for almost a decade now and it didn't cut into this pie at all. It's just still geeks like us using it.

    I don't know what's more amazing, this, or the resistance of most computer users to tweak or modify their browser setup in any way shape or form unless they absolutely have to.

    • by dcollins (135727) on Friday December 09, 2011 @02:52PM (#38317436) Homepage

      "Did companies always spend this much money? Does it work? Why don't more people block it?"

      To my understanding -- Yes. No. Because most people only get what mass-media tell them to, and AdBlock is not itself pushed in advertising.

      Added notes -- I remember reading an article during the first contraction of online banner advertising, wherein companies were shocked to learn what a small turnover rate they had (online being the first time anyone could actually track turnover rates or other attention metrics). Personally, I take any ads I see as a mental marker to avoid doing business with those companies -- the more ads, the worse the company. Organizations with really great products/service are kept semi-secret and don't need advertising.

    • Does it work?

      Sometimes. Brand recognition is clearly a big factor for people's selection process. When someone's buying a TV in their local Best Buy and they have a choice of a Sony, a Panasonic, and a Nikisawa, all with identical specs and prices, I can't tell you which one they'll buy, but I CAN tell you with 98% certainty which one they won't. BTW, did you notice that they were IN a Best Buy instead of the independent store that has a better discount? Guess why. And there are a lot of places that sell a better h

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