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Could Cryptocurrency Mining Kill Online Advertising? (linkedin.com) 164

"Could it turn out users actually prefer to trade a little CPU time to website owners in favor of them not showing ads?" writes phonewebcam, a long-time Slashdot reader. Slashdot covered the downside [of in-browser cryptocurrency mining] recently, with even [Portuguese professional sportsballer] Cristiano Ronaldo's official site falling victim, but that may not be the full story. This could be an ideal win-win situation, except for one huge downside -- the current gang of online advertisers.
By "current gang of online advertisers," he means Google, according to a longer essay at LinkedIn: Naturally, the world's largest ad broker, which runs the world most popular browser (desktop and mobile) is keen to see how this plays out, and is also uniquely placed to be able to heavily influence it, too... As it happens, Chrome users can already do something about it via extensions, for example AntiMiner... If cryptocurrencies have a future - and that's a big if (look at China's Bitcoin ban) - it could well turn out that their role just took an unexpected turn.
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Could Cryptocurrency Mining Kill Online Advertising?

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  • Kill... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Known Nutter ( 988758 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @01:41PM (#55413727)
    You couldn't kill online advertising if you nuked it from orbit.
    • But, given how annoying it is, I think I'd still consider trying.
    • Well, maybe we can't kill online advertising, but we can at least kill all the advertising that tracks everything we do [adnauseam.io]. I have no problem clicking someone's Amazon affiliate link to help them earn some cash. There are honest ways to support websites.
    • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

      You couldn't kill online advertising if you nuked it from orbit.

      It's already dead.

      I killed it with a HOSTS file.

    • Mining BTC has a fixed income.
      Advertisers will just pay more than you can get from BTC mining and go on with it.
      Free open market and more of that bullshit.
    • Sure you could.

      Make advertising illegal.

      The problem is 99% of people are fucking morons. They have no self respect so they let others waste their time, money, space, and bandwidth instead of thinking for themselves.

      --
      If "blocking ads is unethical" then by the same retarded logic ads are immoral. You can't have one without the other.

  • Yes it could (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @01:49PM (#55413755)

    WHich is why Google is making its browser combat it.

    I would love to be able to use this to pay websites if that meant either better content or less adverts. If my computer is a 100 watt computer then even going full blast for 10 hours it would be worth ten cents of electricity. (And since I heat my home with electricity actually no cost at all in winter).

    While it's a horribly inefficient way to make a micropayment to a wed site, all micropayment systems tend to be very inefficient. So it's just one possible way to do micropayments.

    And if I find it's tying up my computer then I just leave the web site.

    The thing that might turn out nice here is that perhaps it will become a true stepping stone to a micropayment based low-advertising low-tracking world. Right now everyone avoids pay sites cause there's free stuff out there somewhere. But the real reason is I don't really want to limit my self to a few sites, so I can't just subscribe. One could imagine that there might be a way for sites to band together in the millions as collectives. I then pay $100 a year to the collective. The sites then get micropayments from the collective as their use meters. That I'd do.

    But to get there we need to get the idea that you are always paying for the site. whther it's ads, tracking, selling your data, patreon, or subscriptions. you pay. We just need a better micropayment system to make it all homogeneous.

    this might be a step in that direction.

    google should be afraid.

    • Re:Yes it could (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @02:26PM (#55413895)

      WHich is why Google is making its browser combat it.

      Or maybe it doesn't want to be associated with painfully slow browsing experience and a product which appears to peg the CPU.

      If my computer is a 100 watt computer then even going full blast for 10 hours it would be worth ten cents of electricity. (And since I heat my home with electricity actually no cost at all in winter).

      I prefer a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way of heating my house combined with a little bit of control over when I heat (i.e. not when the doors are open, in the summer etc.) I take it a 6 month hiatus from the internet is off the cards? In which case all you're doing is spending 10c more to cool your house.

      And if I find it's tying up my computer then I just leave the web site.

      Or we could do something such as throttle the website when it ties up the computer, and completely halt the process when the website itself isn't active. Kind of like what Google proposed.

      google should be afraid.

      No they shouldn't. The economics of mining on the CPU make even less sense than the economics of online adverts, especially when the end result is something incredibly unstable which could half in value overnight.

      This was some pie in the sky idea that was trialled at one point. It is utterly pointless using this as a way to attempt to pay for websites.

      • The economics of mining on the CPU make even less sense than the economics of online adverts,

        Intuitively I think you are right (partially because adverts can pay a lot), but I'd like to see an analysis of this. Is it actually economically feasible to pay for your servers with bitcoin mining? You would have to take into consideration a lot of factors.....among them the fact that mining gets more expensive the more people are working on it.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I did a bit of research and I think that falling costs (disk space and bandwidth getting cheaper, CDNs pooling resources) and some newer crypto currencies that are more practical to mine in Javascript might make it feasible for some sites.

          Sites that have other significant overheads, like a team of journalists or TV production costs, won't be able to survive off it. But sites with mostly textual user-generated content stand a chance.

          • I did a bit of research and I think that falling costs (disk space and bandwidth getting cheaper, CDNs pooling resources) and some newer crypto currencies

            That's interesting, which currencies are you looking at here?

      • I see your point, but I'm more worried that some nut is going to use this potentially powerful engine to run DOS attacks or some other evil thing.
      • I'd rather you be a little annoyed than burn fossil fuels to mine something that is objectively worthless
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      An article here estimated that the pirate bay could get $12,000/month from this technique, that barely covers operating expenses.

      Perhaps the Pirate Bay can't get more from ads, but I'm willing to bet a more "legitimate" site with similar traffic could have higher value ads.

      So:
      1) this barely covers expenses of a site
      2) it doesn't even close to cover what ads from a traditional site could.

      It's not the way of the future at all.

      • It's worth considering how the blockchain could be modified to make this actually viable. I don't know the answer, but it seems like a research avenue with potential.
      • So:
        1) this barely covers expenses of a site
        2) it doesn't even close to cover what ads from a traditional site could.

        3) if in-browser mining makes sense, it makes even more sense to mine and show ads.

    • by mellon ( 7048 )

      Yeah, the main issue I have with this is that it just seems silly. Why not cut to the chase and just do micropayments. But if it's a path to micropayments, I guess that's okay too.

      FWIW, Google actually had a micropayment service, but O(nobody) on the provider side went for it.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Has anyone actually come up with a micropayment system where the payments are really micro? Like 1 cent or even less?

        Bitcoin won't scale to that level. Perhaps you could have some kind of aggregation, like you pay â5 into a shared pot every month, your browser collects crypto tokens from sites you visit and then the system makes an anonymous payment based on the tokens collected by all users. It would need some kind of verification system though, so people don't just pretend to collect tokens while not

    • Presumably google as an advertising platform will also be better placed to prevent it, so this just moves online advertising closer to a monopoly, rather than "killing" it.

    • WHich is why Google is making its browser combat it.

      I would love to be able to use this to pay websites if that meant either better content or less adverts. If my computer is a 100 watt computer then even going full blast for 10 hours it would be worth ten cents of electricity. (And since I heat my home with electricity actually no cost at all in winter).

      While it's a horribly inefficient way to make a micropayment to a wed site, all micropayment systems tend to be very inefficient. So it's just one possible way to do micropayments.

      And if I find it's tying up my computer then I just leave the web site.

      The thing that might turn out nice here is that perhaps it will become a true stepping stone to a micropayment based low-advertising low-tracking world. Right now everyone avoids pay sites cause there's free stuff out there somewhere. But the real reason is I don't really want to limit my self to a few sites, so I can't just subscribe. One could imagine that there might be a way for sites to band together in the millions as collectives. I then pay $100 a year to the collective. The sites then get micropayments from the collective as their use meters. That I'd do.

      But to get there we need to get the idea that you are always paying for the site. whther it's ads, tracking, selling your data, patreon, or subscriptions. you pay. We just need a better micropayment system to make it all homogeneous.

      this might be a step in that direction.

      google should be afraid.

      Dude Google is fighting it because of revenue loss. No ads == no money for Google. Not because they are altruistic and care about performance of your computer.

    • Cryptocurrency mining needs to be illegal -- it's already using a significant and growing percentage of the world's electricity output to produce absolutely nothing useful, and causing thousands of pollution deaths around the world as a result each year.

    • 10 watts may be a minor issue for PC, but what about mobile devices? I do care the battery life.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      That's the real problem. But micropayments has been something the Internet has needed since before the .com bust version 1.0. And heck, there have been dozens of micropayment schemes invented every year until the dotcom bust.

      The problem always has been it is inefficient to send money around the world - the variety of banking laws and regulations has pretty much ensured that compliance costs will always be high enough that sending someone money will always be chewed up in fees.

      No, cryptocurrency mining will

    • One could imagine that there might be a way for sites to band together in the millions as collectives. I then pay $100 a year to the collective. The sites then get micropayments from the collective as their use meters.

      You just described the exact business model of a late 1990s multi-site subscription collective known as Adult Check [wikipedia.org]. But what ultimately took Adult Check down was that too many sites that accepted Adult Check displayed photos taken from Perfect 10 magazine without permission.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @01:59PM (#55413781) Journal
    Advertising is a plague, but that's not the real problem: the real problem is that you can monetize users by showing them garbage, and then you won't believe what happens next: the garbage pushes out the good stuff so it's hard to find.
    • Advertising is not a plague, actually. It's a tool. Yes, it CAN be a plague, but if done correctly it can introduce you to products or services which are interesting to you.

      • That's how advertisers justify annoying people.
        • I noticed your signature. You realize, I hope, that that's a form of advertisement.

          Your complaint seems more focused on the delivery of the content, and I agree; there are a lot of offensive ways to deliver advertisements. Yours is not one of them. Popups/popunders/window closers/fullscreens/ect... are all annoying and should not be used, I'll agree with that. But to straight call all methods of advertising a plague is ridiculously naive.

          • It's not the annoyance of the popups, although those are indeed annoying. It's that advertising revenue is a motivation for creating content that is a blight on humanity.......designed to get page views without regards to quality, truthfulness, or even fun and entertainment [levelskip.com]. The ads themselves are often manipulative and lies, and they encourage that kind of content to be created.
            • So it's certain methods of advertisement that you dislike. I can agree with that.

              However, to lump all advertisements in the same boat is absurd. Tell me, do you watch movie trailers? How about trailers for shows? I watched the Stranger Things 2 trailer a few weeks ago and thought it was very well done. That's an advertisement.

              Ever watch Austin Powers? Those blatant product placements were amazing. Again; advertisement.

              Zombieland? Amazing, and again, advertisements.

              There are good methods of advertisi

              • So it's certain methods of advertisement that you dislike. I can agree with that

                No, that's not really what I said. It sounds like you are re-echoing your own viewpoint.

                • Sounds more like you are purposefully being obtuse in effort to support your point. You listed specific methods of advertising you find distasteful, and I absolutely agree; there are many many ways to do advertising wrong.

                  I then listed a few examples of advertising done right, and certainly don't fall under the umbrella the term "plague", effectively disproving your initial assertion.

                  • Nah, you missed this (quoted from above): "The ads........encourage that kind of content to be created." It isn't the quality or type of ad that matters.
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @02:04PM (#55413805)

    >"Could it turn out users actually prefer to trade a little CPU time to website owners in favor of them not showing ads?"

    No. And for a variety of reasons:

    1) If it can be done, it will....
    2) Which means they will BOTH show ads AND attempt to mine.
    3) Browsers and plugins WILL give us control over this. Hopefully sooner than later.
    4) Once people realize it is destroying their batteries, eating up electricity, slowing down their systems, creating heat, and kicking on louder fans, there will be a backlash.
    5) I doubt there is enough money in mining, especially once people start blocking it.

    • 5) I doubt there is enough money in mining

      Since Monero seems to be the one used right now, let's see some numbers:
      - My Intel i5 3.2GHz, on four cores dedicated to the task of mining Monero, has a 24 hours average of around 140 H/s. Let's say Javascript can only run on one core, so 35 H/s. Let's say the websites don't want to piss off their users, so let's throttle back to 50% of one thread, let's round up to 18 H/s.

      According to various calculators and charts online, that only gives you about 0.0000146083 X

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I would rather be at the mercy of Google than of Russian cybercriminals with a $600 a month electric bill to pay for their wealth.

        My guess is they are making legitimate ads but with Javascript so they can earn money both ways.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        According to various calculators and charts online, that only gives you about 0.0000146083 XMR / 0.00000021 BTC / 0.0012472178 $USD per hour of mining. That's an almost non-existant 0.00000034644939 $USD per second.

        So is the payment for one ad, the numbers I found that CPM = cost per 1000 ad impressions is like $0.10 to $6 depending on market. Taking the low estimate that's 0.00001 / 0.00000034644939 = 29 seconds to match one ad. Granted you can put a lot of ads on one page or break it up over many pages to get many impressions but I'd say there's generally more than half a minute's worth of content per ad. And that's what people don't seem to get when we're talking about micro-transactions, it's not cents. It's so ti

    • 3) Browsers and plugins WILL give us control over this. Hopefully sooner than later.

      I've had control over this stuff in my browser for about two decades, what are you doing differently?

      • >"I've had control over this stuff in my browser for about two decades, what are you doing differently?"

        Oh, I don't know, NOT turning off Javascript so sites actually work?

        • Oh, I don't know, NOT turning off Javascript so sites actually work?

          LOL that explains it! You only have room for one solution to a type of problem, so you can't make choices or use different browsers for different use cases.

          Sounds like your online experience is somewhat different from the average slashdot user.

          For the record, some of us are capable of turning features off, and also back on. They also have various extensions to help with that. Well, depending on your browser choices, anyways.

          • What I have found is that almost all modern websites just break horribly when you turn off javascript. It is unfortunate, but it is the way of modern sites now. Rather than presenting information, they have to totally control everything about the "presentation" and make sure there is enough totally useless "eye candy." Crap, one site I went to yesterday somehow REMOVED my browser's scroll bar so it could force me to use THEIR OWN scroll bar- complete with nasty SMOOTH SCROLLING and denying me the abilit

            • My advice, find better websites.

              I find that most stuff works fine, crappy stuff rarely works.

              And if the site is a tool that actually needs JS, and I turn it on in noscript, then I still have umatrix to limit them to first-party. Quality sites will work with just first-party JS; some moderate quality sites will require turning on common third party services like google apis, depending on the nature of the content being requested. If it requires a bunch of weird shit just to function it is because it is click

  • No. Also no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Presence Eternal ( 56763 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @02:05PM (#55413811)

    Whatever the future of these currencies, mining is drying up fast, so no. Also buy a cheap electricity meter and check out what hashing does to your power bill. You may think twice about wanting to have your processor running full tilt for sixteen hours a day. Throwing an extra two hundred dollars a year at your local coal plant is a pretty damn stupid way to support websites you like. Use blockers and donate to those sites you couldn't bear to be without.

    • 1. My place has electric heating. In the winter it makes sense to heat up the place and mine coins at the same time.
      2. My electricity doesn't cost as much as in the U.S.A.
      3. My electricity comes mainly from hydro-power.

      • This is one of the secrets of power efficiency; if extra heat is doing work, then application efficiency approaches 100% because most waste is heat!

        Of course in the summer it often goes the other way, and you pay twice for the heat; once for the electricity that got wasted, and again to run an air conditioner.

        • if extra heat is doing work, then application efficiency approaches 100% because most waste is heat!

          Unless you happen to live in a market whose local natural gas company is willing to sell you energy at a lower price per joule than the local electric company. That may not the case where DontBeAMoran lives, but it's the case where other people live.

          • If you could extract as much of the heat from an IC engine as you can from a furnace, then you could improve your application efficiency. But it isn't going to be at all like a computer, where you can get near 100% application efficiency; when you burn natural gas you can't capture all the heat. You could if you burned it in the middle of the room, but then you'd have nasty fumes and stuff. So you use some sort of furnace, that burns a lot of gas and extracts a little bit of the heat. The efficiency is lowe

            • I agree that a gas furnace's efficiency isn't 100 percent. But its efficiency is still greater than that of the generation and transmission of electric power. In much of the United States, an 80 percent efficient gas furnace costs half as much to run [sfgate.com] as a 100 percent efficient electric heater because of all the losses upstream of the heater.

              • But its efficiency is still greater than that of the generation and transmission of electric power.

                It is still off topic, and it is still just horse shit.

                Like I said, you're not saying those words because they are relevant, you're saying them because of your politics.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        So because a fraction of the population doesn't pollute as much, it's a-ok? I'm sorry but that's a self-serving, egocentric attitude that shouldn't be dictating anything.
  • Won't happen. Waste of opportunity. I may not have a degree in economics, but without a cultural/social effect, there's simply no way money will be left on the table. The most direct scenario being porque_no_los_dos?.gif

  • Given that users have already had a frightful response when this has been rolled out on a number of websites recently, why does anyone think this would be a good idea?
    Is there some special kind of user that you haven't already pissed off with it?
  • What's a few million general purpose CPUs with no access to advanced instructions or GPUs compared to a rack of custom ASICs? How is this anything but a passing fad with rapidly diminishing returns?

    • There's no ASICs for Monero. It was designed to be mined with CPUs and GPUs only, so that normal people could mine it and keep control of it.

    • You do not need ASIC if there is zero cost of electricity as that is paid for by YOU! Now imagine 1 million users a day even with shitty CPUs mining for you? That can be quite profitable over a single ASIC where you pay electrical cost rather than someone else paying your costs.

  • I don't see why leveraging client CPU cycles for cryptocurrencies obviates traditional ad income; they're not mutually exclusive, after all. Sure, some websites may initially declare that they're crypto-only, but once it becomes evident that people will tolerate ads as well as lending their CPUs toward mining, the ads will come rolling back. Just like subscription services inevitably pursue advertising (ex. cable/satellite/etc.), websites with distributed client-side mining will too.
  • The cost is 1000:1 (Score:5, Informative)

    by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @02:18PM (#55413873)
    Mining using javascript is (depending on the coin) at best a 1000 to 1 cost to benefit. For bit coin it would cost between 10 million to 100 million in electricity to mine one coin. Golem might give you a better than 1000 to one cost but it will have other problems. If javascript could access your graphics card maybe you could mine one of the currencies that is optimized for graphics cards.

    Realistically, running flat out my CPU is going to mine less than $5 per year. The only way I could make money on this is if I trick millions of people to mine for a me for a number of months.
    • by Kremmy ( 793693 )
      The reason this looks good to advertisers if that they're already hyperinflated clicks/impressions per payout beyond any question of sense, there's so little value in advertising that they NEED to be so aggressive.
      The minuscule payouts from a browser based CPU miner look HUGE to them.
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dr.Flake ( 601029 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @02:22PM (#55413893)

    From a pure economical perspective, simply no.

    specialized APU's or GPU rigs will always be magnitudes more efficient than some JS script running in a browser instance.

    so you end up letting 10.000 people pay the same amount in electricity that 1 person could achieve with his specialized rig. The price of electricity and hardware is the limiting factor in coin generation.

    So , is my rig chums along for a year and produces a whole dollar worth of coins, others will have spend 10.000 dollar on electricity, to produce that one dollar.

    For now it seems like "free money" for the site operator, it is not his electricity bill, but others are, and will soon realize the idiocy in this scheme.

  • It makes no sense financially, and on the odd chance that the few seconds a user has a page open + the overhead of sending the start of work and end of work back + the horrendous inefficiency of the CPU this will never make financial sense.

    Plus users will be very quickly to throttle and block this in our brave new laptop / tablet world. Users may not care if their computers are slow but they will be very quick to react when their battery life is decimated.

  • by FritzTheCat1030 ( 758024 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @02:38PM (#55413931)
    I love how this keeps coming up as if crypto-mining is going to happen INSTEAD OF advertising. Kind of like how cable came about and you would pay for the service instead of having commercials. Sure, maybe some advertising goes away at first. But it will come back as bad as ever.
    • In order for crypto-mining or any other micro-payment as you go methodology to reduce advertising, there would have to be browser support and something like community policing.

      First, Javascript sucks for mining. The browser needs to have a trusted high-quality mining engine optimized to utilize whatever hardware acceleration is available in your system built-in. There should be a standard API for accessing it. Access should be controlled on a per-site basis by the same permissions system that the browser is

    • I remember in the '80's of how cool cable was without commercials. You are right. It didn't last long. But at least to me, computers are a different animal. They can run commercials in good taste, on the side or below of the article. Or maybe even a movie (if you can tolerate it). I've already conditioned myself to moving articles (Or you can move a box in front of them. (The static one's I find in good taste - they are polite.) AND the automatic audio player ones sites are closed at once. I hope they get
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I love how this keeps coming up as if crypto-mining is going to happen INSTEAD OF advertising. Kind of like how cable came about and you would pay for the service instead of having commercials. Sure, maybe some advertising goes away at first. But it will come back as bad as ever.

      Some sites will undoubtedly want/need more revenue, but then we could vote with our eyeballs and use the sites that don't. Right now a lot of people - including me - use ad blockers because we hate ads, but we're not really giving them any alternatives because we're not going to pay subscriptions for anything other than big services like Netflix, there's no functioning micro-transactions and we aren't white-listing sites because again, we hate ads. While that's certainly a good deal for me I can see how tha

  • Simple math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @03:35PM (#55414155)
    Mining only, a website makes $X,
    with ads and mining, a website makes $X+$Y.
    No, online ads are not going anywhere.
  • What if an ISP, CC and ad .coms want to stop working with a site after political/gov/mil/sjw/other gov "requests".
    A method for a site to ask supporters for direct support would remove some of the political gatekeeping.
  • And then the thought occurred to them, "Why not mine bitcoins in your browser AND display shitty, malware-laden ads too?" ...and every advertising executive instantly came in his or her pants simultaneously.

  • No we don't like cryptomining instead of ads.. I'd rather have ads which don't cost me a thing then having something run in the background eating up my resources even more.. And where does it end.

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