back to article Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest

Analyst firm Juniper Research has stared into its crystal ball and predicted that digital publishers stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking. Developer activity is set to increase over the next five years making ad-blockers more sophisticated and difficult to overcome, according to the research. The …

  1. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Who knew ?

    Surprise ! Readers don't like being bombarded with ads. Overdoing it has killed it.

    Perhaps this will push for a more sustainable source of income ?

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Who knew ?

      Ads that sap bandwidth and battery are bad enough but the fact they are one of the main malware vectors means sorry need to find another way to monetize your content.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Who knew ?

      The stupidity is 3rd party domains with SCRIPTS and iframe being used for ads on a website. That's a potential malware vector, so I block all behaviour like that. I don't specifically set to block adverts.

      Static images and text hosted by the website you are visiting might be less convenient to bust people's privacy or manage for the advertiser, but it's surely not going to get blocked!

      I've no sympathy for the big players or small ones serving adverts, and slurping privacy, both using tech in an irresponsible way!

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Who knew ?

        >I've no sympathy for the big players or small ones serving adverts,

        I don't think anyone including their own mothers has any sympathy for the ad companies. Some (I would hope most) people do have sympathy for the content creators ability to make a living. The problem is they resorted to the devil (ie the ad companies) to do so.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Who knew ?

        "Static images and text hosted by the website you are visiting might be less convenient to bust people's privacy or manage for the advertiser"

        OTOH there might be less need to bust privacy. The page has specific content. In many cases the ads can be related to that. If, for instance, I'm looking at a site giving hints about laying block paving advertisers need know nothing about me to make it worth while advertising block paving materials, tools or services on that page.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Who knew ?

          >OTOH there might be less need to bust privacy.

          The FSF open source privacy badger browser addon enforces do not track preferences fairly well.

      3. User4574
        Flame

        Re: Who knew ?

        "The stupidity is domains with SCRIPTS", there FTFY

        We spend time trying to educate users into not installing every little piece of software they encounter and then we turn around and tell these users it is ~perfectly safe~ to allow every website they visit run [obfuscated] third party code that in itself is an attack vector as well as malware conduit.

        We finally started extricating Flash off of our systems. We consigned Silverlight to /dev/null. We don't have to keep Java [plugin] around. But yet we don't want to address the elephant in the room: JavaScript.

        Many browsers only allow you to disable Javascript entirely, with per-domain exceptions which would be fine except whole classes of developers have decided that we should use (obfuscated) JavaScript to generate the page content so if you disable JS you get served an inappropriately blank page.

        Besides being a real inconvenience, even whitelisting sites like these (or even the nicer ones just to get the menus to work) still allows the embedded scripts to call home to a third party domain, downloading code and injecting it into a dynamically added SCRIPT tag on the page.

        Supposedly this is just the risk we take for browsing the modern web, but for me the risk of some piece of third party code leading to a malware infection is an unacceptable risk and I castigate the modern web developers that enable this bad behaviour.

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

      I suspect we'll be adding advertisements to our app shortly because desktop sales are sinking and, despite a six-figure user count, not enough people are upgrading from the free mobile version. Initially, the advertising will be a stick to push you towards the paid version. But if the advertising revenues look solid we'll move more of the content to the free version -- on the assumption the more content we provide, the more people will use it, and the better advertising revenues will be. As I say in the title, if you don't want advertising, you need to start paying for stuff.

      And I'll hold my hands up and say I'm as guilty as the rest of you of not sticking my hand in my pocket. And yes, I run ad blocking in the browser.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

        >if you don't want advertising, you need to start paying for stuff.

        Honestly that would probably be better for our media and our democracy as well. When people pay for things that usually have a basic expectation of quality that is sorely lacking in the corporate fever swamps that pass for news today. I would be willing to pay for an El Reg subscription if they could can all the climate change blog garbage (been much better lately) and the reworded PR releases from companies posing as articles (been worse lately).

        1. David Webb

          Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

          usually have a basic expectation of quality

          I pay for games, I pay for lots of games, my expectation of quality for games is "will probably be in a reasonable enough state after 3 or 4 major patches, unless it's TES/Fallout in which case it'll probably end up needing user generated patches"

          Cost and quality are not usually combined, that's before we get to games that include DLC on the disc, which you have to pay to unlock even though you have the files already.

          As for advertisers, they shot themselves in the foot with their annoying adverts, then websites which has pop ups, pop unders, 90% of the site being ads, 9% being ads that didn't load and 1% being content that is crap, all on a 56k modem. The latest one is Eurogamer and Sony, they autoload a video ad half way through the article you're reading, it's the most annoying and distracting thing possible and makes me want to invest in a proper adblocker (I use Kasperskys built in tool)

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

        "And I'll hold my hands up and say I'm as guilty as the rest of you of not sticking my hand in my pocket."

        The likes of adblock & noscript occasionally put up donation pages so I make donations and to LibreOffice. I also pay my domain registrar/email provider and usenet service. The issue isn't unpreparedness to pay. If sites I find frequently useful had donation links I'd donate periodically and maybe subscribe to regularly used sites if they are set at an affordable level. But most paywalled sites I see links to are those I'd scarcely visit even if they weren't paywalled but it stands to reason that I can't make payments to sites which don't make provision for that however often I might visit.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

          >But most paywalled sites I see links to are those I'd scarcely visit even if they weren't paywalled

          For the most part I agree with one exception that is the WSJ. Often they have interesting looking news and I would probably pay if they weren't associated with the biggest shit weasel in the English speaking world.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

        I'm paying for nowt.

      4. John Tserkezis

        Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

        "if you don't want advertising, you need to start paying for stuff."

        Nice if payment is an option. Many times (especially mobile) your single and only option is "free" (with ads).

    4. Andy france

      Re: Who knew ?

      A business is at liberty to choose its source of income whether this is by subscription, paid content or advertising. It also passes the "reasonableness" test that they could impose terms and conditions that prohibited me from accessing their site if I had an add blocker running and they can place limited cookies on my system to verify that ads were not being blocked. I as a customer could then choose to accept those conditions or not use their site. Obviously if I found the level of advertising bandwidth being slung at me to be unacceptable I would have the recourse of no longer using their site. This is no different to classic TV advertising were I will put up with occasional adverts but not suffer a home shopping channel experience.

      There is a big caveat: my accepting their terms and conditions of service should place an obligation back on them to take all reasonable measures to prevent said adverts from putting malware onto my system.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Who knew ?

        >A business is at liberty to choose its source of income whether this is by subscription, paid content or advertising.

        Of course but if they choose the current internet ad system they are going to get blocked at my router and like I said that doesn't bother me at all if they give me no other choice.

        1. Andy france

          Re: Who knew ?

          Following my previous argument through, by blocking the ads you would be in violation of their Terms and Conditions so they could block your access. It wouldn't bother them either because although it would loose you as a customer they would never have got any income from you, so your value to them is sadly zero. Eventually they go out of business, choose a different way of generating income or more likely end up with a consumer base that accepts the volume of adverts thrown at them as being tolerable return for the value of the site. They can then choose to increase or decrease the impact of the ads which will have an inverse relationship on their number of consumers and get to a happy compromise the gives them revenue and their customers value.

          There will however continue to be some sites with no intentional consumers that use click bait to get people onto their site, throw invasive adverts at them and deliver nothing of value, and certainly not what the "bait" promised. Ad blocking seems too lenient for them and the supply of gullible people feeding them is endless

    5. Scoular

      Loose something you never had?

      Advertisers are not loosing anything actually, they are missing out on something they would have liked to have.

      Anyone who ever bought a lottery ticket has had that experience, or almost everyone.

      Many of those sites would vanish without trace and without loss to anyone but the operators if viewers had to pay and that would probably be a good thing.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who knew ?

      I love bring in control. I don't block adverts by default, but if a website shows it can't be trusted, it gets added to my block list .

      The register are permanently on my block list for two reasons

      1/ full page background add and scrolling add

      2/ irresponsible clickbait reporting (eg android secuirty fud)

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Who knew ?

        Why don't you go to some other website if you dislike it here so much, Mr 620 Comments? (hint: posting as Anon Coward does not make you invisible to moderators)

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Who knew ?

          He didn't say that he dislikes The Register, he said he dislikes the adverts and the way they are pushed. I have to say, I agree but I can do nothing about it because I read The Register in the office and there is no adblock available on our builds.

          The problem with ads on websites is that they are a house of cards which will fall when the advertised businesses realise that fucking people off loses business. I know a lot of people actively boycott companies that push stuff in your face, like the background one on here now - I can feel any goodwill towards them going down the plughole.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Who knew ?

            "there is no adblock available on our builds."

            Maybe you should have a word with your sysadmins. Get your security improved before you get hit.

    7. PassiveSmoking

      Not just overdoing it

      It's not just that there are a lot of ads which slow page loading down (which they do)

      It's not just that they're a colossal waste of bandwidth (which they are)

      It's not just that they are loud and gaudy and ruin the experience (which they do)

      It's that legitimate ones do creepy things like tracking you and your browsing habits, and that if an adserver gets compromised then the ads can shovel malware onto your system.

      Ads aren't just annoying, they're downright dangerous. If that's not fixed then no argument against ad-blockers will ever hold any water with me. Why should I risk my own safety for the sake of your bottom line?

  2. Vimes

    Where anything network related is concerned, has anybody heard anything about the ICO's investigation into the use of systems by Shine in 3UK's network? It seems to be something that both the ICO and 3UK would rather pretend never happened.

    https://twitter.com/ICOnews/status/717689910216548352

    And that's the problem that could prove to be a big stumbling block for network level blocking: getting consent. Something that 3UK or Shine still have to explain how they intend to achieve, despite jumping the gun and announcing the trials back in February.

    In order to identify the adverts you have to be able to examine the content of the page. That means - for network level blocking at any rate - giving the network the ability to see every page that you've requested (although how they'd do this with SSL protected pages without resorting to some sort of man-in-the-middle style attack remains a bit of a mystery).

    1. tony72

      although how they'd do this with SSL protected pages without resorting to some sort of man-in-the-middle style attack remains a bit of a mystery

      I guess they could basically do exactly that, at least for handsets they supply or configure, quite easily; make the standard network config use their proxy server, and trust a root cert on that proxy, and Bob's yer uncle.

      I still think network level ad blocking is a terrible idea though, and I'm still kind of expecting some legal or regulatory move to put the kibosh on the whole idea. It doesn't solve the fundamental problem of ensuring sensible behaviour by advertisers, it just takes the ad-blocking arms race to the next level, and I fear where that will end up. Let people choose to ad-block, based on how much ads annoy them; that's pretty democratic, self-balancing system.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        "I still think network level ad blocking is a terrible idea though, and I'm still kind of expecting some legal or regulatory move to put the kibosh on the whole idea."

        ACK, since it 'breaks the internet' and violates any concept of 'net neutrality'.

        a simple client-based program or web browser plugin is a better idea. phone providers could even pre-install them. MITM-based filtering works for corporate firewalls, but doing that for wide release again "breaks the internet". It's a pandora's box we don't need opened.

    2. Seajay#

      SSL/TLS pages

      Even if you're looking at an https page, the ads are usually served from a different domain so you could block known ad serving domains without requiring deep packet inspection MITM shenanigans. That sort of "hosts file" level of blocking is pretty unsophisticated and will probably be bypassed soon in the ad-blocker vs advertisers arms race but it should provide something for now.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    My heart bleeds

    1. Stop tracking me. The content I am looking at is the only thing you need to know in relations to what ads you to serve me.

    2. Stop serving anything but small text-only ads.

    3. Stop any flash, popover, popunders or video ads.

    Then I may consider removing ad-block and slightly loosening my default noscript settings. Until then - block 'em all. God will recognize his own.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My heart bleeds

      1. stop being so naive

      2. stop thinking that the greed will magically disappear and they'll happily settle for a small percentage of what they're getting now.

      3. see No 1.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: they'll happily settle for a small percentage of what they're getting now

        So you're an advertiser. Well the article says that next year's income is already going to be sizeably smaller whether you like it or not. And given the issues of security that are cropping up with alarming regularity, it seems this trend is not going to go away.

        The question you need to ask yourself is : are you ready to try a different way of doing things, or are you just going to carry on driving over the cliff ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: they'll happily settle for a small percentage of what they're getting now

          I'd like to be an optimist and hope that, instead of driving off a cliff, they stop, think, and make a u-turn to find ANOTHER road to riches

          However, what I see HAPPENING at the moment is

          a) cliff, what cliff, there's a cliff? Let me get back to you I'm so busy with more important issues...

          b) there is NO CLIFF, THERE'S NO CLIFF, THERE'S NO CL

          c) fuck the cliff, we can FLY on this magic bullet (anti-ad-blocker, or whatever becomes a "to have" bullet)

          I don't see ANY attempt at a "hey folks, can we figure out a BETTER way to get rich so as not to piss of users?". No, the best they can muster is: "how can we adblock adblockers" and "how can we discuss discussing disussions about discussing how to discuss a fractionally smaller banner size cause this is gonna save us, right?"

          1. RegGuy1

            Re: they'll happily settle for a small percentage of what they're getting now

            I sometimes try to open a page on the Torygraph's website[1] and find it telling me to turn my ad blocker off. Then I leave.

            [1] Don't worry, I don't make a habit of this. It's just that Google News tends to use it quite a lot, along with the Daily Fail's site - but I NEVER go on there.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Torygraph website

              Deleting your telegraph cookies is a useful thing to do on this website - stops the "exceeded quota" block at least.

          2. Vimes

            Re: they'll happily settle for a small percentage of what they're getting now

            c) fuck the cliff, we can FLY on this magic bullet...

            Phorm lasted for 10 years saying something similar...

    2. Ben Boyle

      Re: My heart bleeds

      4. Clean up your shit so that the ad networks aren't malware vectors.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: My heart bleeds

        Yep sorry didn't see this comment or wouldn't have posted above. Still bears repeating I suppose. No website support is worth a malware payload.

    3. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: My heart bleeds

      I agree with your list of restrictions, but it also needs this addition:

      4. Scan all adverts you publish for malware as they leave the serve or limit yourself to publishing pure HTML ads of < 1Kb with no external CSS scripts or images.

    4. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: My heart bleeds

      "2. Stop serving anything but small text-only ads."

      I've no problem with graphic adverts - as long as they're static, and don't require Javascript.

    5. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: My heart bleeds

      I did not start using ad-blockers the minute I discovered one. Nor for a long time after. I even click(ed) on ads to help the sites gain revenue, and sometimes because the ads were actually interesting*.

      But when the flashing, moving, inane and obstructive ads started to get in the way I grabbed ad-block+

      The right to earn money through a website is one thing. Eating bandwidth and making a visual assault on me to the point that the site ceases to even be accessible is another.

      *n.b. "Interesting" is not the same as marketing droids' idea of "relevant". What they consider "relevant" appears to be something I've already searched for, so their poxy ads are pure annoyance. "Interesting" would be something I hadn't already thought of. And I don't think I'm that unusual in this matter.

      1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

        Re: My heart bleeds

        I did not start using ad-blockers the minute I discovered one. Nor for a long time after. I even click(ed) on ads to help the sites gain revenue, and sometimes because the ads were actually interesting*.

        This! I only added ad-blockers this year when stuff became too objectionable to not do so.

        My biggest gripe though is how seldom sites serve up an ad that is remotely relevant or interesting to me.

        Google usually manages to serve up something I might want, but everywhere else it's just a large and irritating waste of my time.

        Do advertisers really not understand how bad Twitter and Facebook (as examples) are at delivering ads to people who would actually care.

        Good advertising is useful to both the reader and the advertiser.

        Sadly the Internet hasn't learned that.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One way to kill ad blockers ....

    is to obfuscate (how often can you claim you have used that word ?) the mobile data charges from the Telcos. If people don't believe they are being charged for ad data usage, they will be less likely to worry about it to the extent they install an ad blocker.

    The more ad blocking becomes a "thing" the more I wonder how come most people are willing to countenance (another good word) a system whereby you *pay* for the privilege of watching adverts (thinks Sky, et al ...)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They won't lose $27bn.

    They just won't get $27bn.

    1. John Sanders
      Headmaster

      It used to be called

      Lost revenue.

      1. Scoular

        Re: It used to be called

        Lost hope might be more accurate.

    2. kryptonaut

      And you won't get the content that a fraction of that $27bn would have financed. Win!...?

      1. Palpy

        RE: "...you won't get content..."

        Well, yes and no. Are there no other possible ways publishers can finance content? Are at least some publishers willing to provide content as a loss-leader, or to gain rep and visibility in their field? If a news organization abandons on-line publication, will that organization get eaten alive by competitors who do provide online content?

        In other words, the situation is complex and, in my unfettered opinion anyway, simple "no ads, no content" hypotheses fall short. Just my opinion.

        1. kryptonaut

          Re: RE: "...you won't get content..."

          Yep, the situation is complex.

          Undoubtedly there are a few people who will publish either altruistically or for vanity reasons just so they can be seen. But I would say that the majority of publishers want some kind of return on the time and money it takes to create and maintain a web presence. A large news organization, to take your example, could maybe maintain an ad-free website if it promoted sales of a physical newspaper (which would probably be ad-supported itself) but physical newspapers are in decline, and paywalled websites are also met with hostility. Smaller publishers providing entertainment or expert opinion and information have no physical sales to promote - their only source of income is their audience.

          At the end of the day, website publishers are offering a package to the public - a combination of some content the public wants (otherwise why would they be on the site?) and a means of paying for the provision of that content. That's the bargain that's being offered. If people don't like that package then the most ethical thing to do is to not visit the site - and that would have the right feedback effect to drive sites to show ads of an acceptable quantity and quality.

          Blocking ads provides no feedback to the advertisers, or to the publisher, and so it does nothing to improve the situation as a whole. Yes, it's beneficial in the short term for the viewer who blocks ads, but it is a parasitic relationship and sooner or later the 'hosts' start to suffer. Some will go under as a result.

          The argument "'I never click on ads, so nobody loses if I block them" does not hold water - the content publisher certainly does lose out. It's like the argument "I wouldn't pay for this MP3 so it's fine to copy it". That's not the deal that's on offer - if you don't like the deal then it's fine to walk away, but it's not fine to just make up some other deal and assume that's ok with everyone else. It isn't.

          But equally, there are certainly problems with intrusive ads, and particularly malvertising. It's unfortunate that there really is no easy way for pre-approved micropayments to be made when visiting a site, as this would be the ideal arrangement. No middlemen (ok, maybe the hypothetical micropayment management company), no annoying ads, and a more direct, open and visible payment system. But it doesn't exist, and the "everything on the internet should be free" culture means that it's unlikely ever to happen.

          Yes, it's complex.

          1. frank ly Silver badge

            @kryptonaut Re: RE: "...you won't get content..."

            "The argument "'I never click on ads, so nobody loses if I block them" does not hold water - ...(etc)"

            The publisher is easily capable of blocking site access to those people who do block ads. So, if as you say they don't like the "deal", they are free to not accept it.

            Your comparison with .mp3 files is not reasonable since .mp3 files were produced with the intent of selling them. No website I've ever seen has a statement that my viewing of the ads is a condition of looking at it. Some websites have told me that they know I'm blocking ads and politely ask me to consider not blocking them. Yes, it's complex and comparisons with other forms of publishing don't shed light on it.

            1. kryptonaut

              Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

              The whole area of adblock-blockers is another contentious subject. It is not straightforward for a web publisher to implement, and it is met with hostility and suspicion if they do. And sooner or later it will also be met with adblock-blocker-blockers, and so on.

              The point is that allowing ads to be served with the content (without them being blocked) is what pays for a lot of sites. Blocking ads removes that income stream from the content provider just as copying an MP3 removes an income stream from an artist. If you want the MP3 enough to listen to it, then pay for it so the artist earns a living. If you want the web content enough to view it as offered, ads and all, then go ahead, so the content provider will get paid. If not, feel free to walk away.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

                "The point is that allowing ads to be served with the content (without them being blocked) is what pays for a lot of sites."

                Look. Stop this nonsense. Just read through the comments. We really, really, REALLY hate ads (and, as a consequence, the products advertised). They annoy. They distract. They obstruct content. They are possibly malware.

                The days when you could inflict that sort of ad on users are gone. They're not coming back. Never. Not in response to any amount of haranguing.

                Now the publishing and ad industry have to stop, accept that as a fact and decide how they operate in the new world. Subscription. Non-intrusive ads served by a route that positively ensures no malware. Both are possibilities but you just have to accept the fact: the old days are NOT coming back.

                1. kryptonaut

                  Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

                  I know. I dislike ads. I detest the fact that malware can be disguised as an ad. But, at the moment, ads are part of an ecosystem which also includes content providers and content consumers. That ecosystem is failing because advertisers have overstepped limits, and because consumers have gained the technical ability to change the balance of the system by cutting the advertisers out of the loop. That's fine for consumers in the short term, but in the longer term this disrupted ecosystem will inevitably cause the smaller content providers, who rely on advertising income, to go out of business. That's what the original article was about. There will then be less content available, apart from that generated by the few people prepared to work for free, or by people whose content is itself advertising or enabling some other form of income.

                  I'm not blaming people for blocking ads. But you have to see that doing so will have consequences beyond simply making your browsing experience more enjoyable. Adblocking is a very blunt instrument.

                  Content providers do not generate a site and then rub their hands and decide to insert big bouncy ads all over it, and maybe a bit of malware for good measure. They set aside an area and ask Google or some other service to fill it with an ad, trusting them to provide something appropriate, and receiving a *very* small reward for each ad served (more if it is clicked on, which is more likely to happen if the ad is relevant to the viewer).

                  Ultimately if the advertising model is to survive (and at present I can't see a viable alternative way to finance small sites) then the Googles of the world need to sort themselves out and vet ads more responsibly. At the very least they should give content providers more control over what style of ads get shown, so they could choose whether or not to allow jiggly-flashy ones, or auto-start videos, or scripts, etc. There is not that level of control at present.

                  I personally contacted an advertiser whose gaudy flashing ad was disrupting a site I enjoy reading. I told them their ad was annoying, and inappropriate for the site, and likely losing them credibility. They replied that they would think things over, and then a few days later told me they had changed their advertising image as a result. That seems to me a win-win situation - they now present a more appealing ad, the website looks better, and viewers are less likely to adblock it so the site will continue to be supported by advertising revenue.

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

                    "But, at the moment, ads are part of an ecosystem which also includes content providers and content consumers."

                    Ahh. Ecosystem. Ecosystems are where natural selection operates. And natural selection is going to remove the unfit PDQ. Those who see the way things are going will adapt and survive. Those who don't won't.

                    You won't change the whole by picking them off one at a time with complaints about obtrusive ads. In fact it's not the obtrusive ads that are going to kill it, it's the malware. Ad-blockers are now part of the security set-up along with anti-virus. Malware and advertisers catching onto the fact that we're being negatively influenced by the ads. That's why the old days aren't coming back.

                    And ignore the conclusion the article comes to. If the small publishers are the ones that feel the pressure most they should also be the ones who can adapt more quickly. Isn't that what we're always told about small businesses?

              2. Tony Paulazzo

                Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

                just as copying an MP3 removes an income stream from an artist.

                This is empirically wrong.

                Buying an MP3 creates an income stream for the composer - which is right and good.

                Breaking into his house and stealing the original creation removes an income stream from the creator (and is both wrong and illegal).

                Copying an MP3 maybe morally wrong, but doesn't that mean listening to a radio equates to the same wrongness, the creator still gets nothing and you hear a song for nothing.

                Oh, and fuck advertisers!

                Juniper Research has stared into its crystal ball and predicted that digital publishers stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking.

                Juniper Research has stared up its own arsehole and pulled a completely random number (more randon than a computers random number generator), out, predicting that digital publishers stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

                  "Copying an MP3 maybe morally wrong, but doesn't that mean listening to a radio equates to the same wrongness, the creator still gets nothing and you hear a song for nothing."

                  The radio broadcaster should be paying royalties so the creator is being paid (give or take the operation of the royalty collection industry).

              3. brucek2

                Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

                "If not, feel free to walk away."

                The problem with that is that once you've been infected with malware, it's already too late. You can't "walk away" at that point. And you can't really know how good a job any given site is or is not doing in keeping malware off its ad network anyway.

                People would understand the true issue better if they renamed the software from AdBlock to MalwareBlock or CrashBlock. I browsed for years never caring about the adverts. Then a friend explained to me the reason my computer kept crashing was because I didn't have a blocker. The difference after install was night and day, and I'll never go back to being unprotected again.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE: "...you won't get content..."

            "blocking ads ... parasitic relationship ..."

            Dubious choice of words in an otherwise well argued post.

            Surely it would be better for everyone if the adflingers+datagatherers would quietly accept that *they* are the parasites, and that the only way their industry can survive given current trends is if it very quickly finds and adopts a mutually beneficial relationship than a parasitic one. And if (when?) that can't be done, micropayments will finally get a fair crack of the whip.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: RE: "...you won't get content..."

            "At the end of the day, website publishers are offering a package to the public"

            That package currently includes the possibility of being hit by malware and adverts which are so downright annoying that they're more likely to lose business for the advertising client.

            And your real problem isn't the likes of Reg readers blocking ads. It's those clients of whom there are probably a growing number, using adblockers because they find other advertisers ads annoying. At some point it's going to dawn on them that just as they find other ads annoying the rest of us see them in the same way. Then they're going to start asking themselves why they're paying good money to give themselves such a bad image.

            The advertising industry's big problem isn't going to be ads not being seen, it's going to be ads not being sold. And the industry has had enough warning over the last few years but they're just so full of themselves that they can't believe they're so disliked.

        2. frank ly Silver badge

          @Palpy Re: RE: "...you won't get content..."

          It is a strange situation. Quite a few years ago, I used to buy The Independent newspaper in the UK, spending about £25 a month. For a long time now, I've read The Independent online and that £25 a month pays for my internet connection and resulting access to many other publications. I imagine that lots of people are in a similar situation to me. I also use Adblock, NoScript and Request Policy (3rd party content block) to the maximum extent possible consistent with reading a news article.

          The Independent has now become an online-only newspaper. So, where do they get their money from and how long can they last?

      2. John Bailey

        "And you won't get the content that a fraction of that $27bn would have financed. Win!...?"

        Promise?

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "And you won't get the content that a fraction of that $27bn would have financed. Win!...?"

        I take it you're from either the publishing or advertising industry so answer this. Can you guarantee - to the extent that you're prepared to accept complete liability, that your system won't ever push malware? Until you can, don't bother coming here and whining about lost revenue or content; go away and sort yourselves out. Then come back and maybe we'll listen to your problems. Even so, I won't guarantee that being pestered won't lose your advertisers any business they might have had from me.

    3. Chemical Bob

      Re: They won't lose $27bn. They just won't get $27bn.

      Or...

      Companies with real products to sell won't have to charge more because they did not end up wasting 27 billion dollars to piss off potential customers.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They just won't get $27bn.

      Ah, you mean 'home taping's killing music.'

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Taping_Is_Killing_Music

  6. james 68
    Unhappy

    I too can pull fanciful figures out of my arse, probably more accurate than Junipers at that. Unfortunately nobody would be willing to pay me huge wads of cash for the privilege.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's putting the Anal in Analyse.

      When we do it they call it "talking out our ass" but when the big guys do it they pay handsomely to hear the supposed wisdom.

      Smell that in the air? It's the fresh scent of bullshit. Yummy!

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: It's putting the Anal in Analyse.

        Also putting the "lies" in analyse.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking

    nosir, they stand to not EARN. Whatever you haven't YET lost, is not a "loss".

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not so simple. I am regularly in competition to win contracts. If I get the contract, I've won the money. If I don't, I have indeed lost the ability to earn it - and it hurts just as much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        not winning a contract surely hurts, but it's not a loss, it's the cost of having competition who might, or might not win it over you. The loss is what you have had, and ACTUALLY lost. You can lose an opportunity, but you can't lose $$$ you never had in the first place.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          "not winning a contract surely hurts, but it's not a loss"

          I don't think you understand the situation.

          In order to bid for a contract, time is spent evaluating and writing the specifications, and more time is spent evaluating at what price the prospect will accept your bid.

          That time spent cannot be spent on other things, or other bids, or other projects. So, not winning a bid is indeed a loss. Not only do you lose the opportunity, but all the time you spent on the bid is gone.

          There is no company that can survive without getting contracts. Something must cover the operational expenses. So yes, not winning a bid IS a loss - it just doesn't show up in accounting.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "not winning a contract surely hurts, but it's not a loss"

            "not winning a bid IS a loss"

            OK. Based on the description you just gave, I see a real loss and it is (at most) the cost of the up front pre-sales work. Life's often like that when up front pre-sales work is involved. Others might call it cost of doing business.

            The loss is surely not the cost of the business that you bid for but didn't win? What kind of accounting policy would allow that as a tax deductible loss?

            Now, what was the original topic here? Internet ad-flinging. Where's the real loss in that picture? E.g. where's the equivalent of the up front pre-sales work?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking

      "they stand to not EARN"

      I'm not even sure "earn" is the right word here. Earn has a connotation have having done something useful in order to get paid.

  8. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    404 : This title does not exist.

    "Analyst firm Juniper Research has stared into its crystal ball and predicted that digital publishers stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking."

    And why is that a bad thing?

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: 404 : This title does not exist.

      Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

      I doubt that cash-and-carion makes enough to keep the lights on.

      1. moiety

        Re: 404 : This title does not exist.

        The Reg is still in the game despite (I strongly suspect) a higher-than-usual density of ad-blockers right from the outset. They do articles bigging up startups; they report on equipment....lots of opportunities for a bit of direct cash. And then there's DevOps.

      2. Christopher Reeve's Horse

        Re: 404 : This title does not exist.

        Let me give you an example of a small digital publisher:

        www.scottishreview.net

        The Scottish Review has no adverts, and is excellent quality. In fact the quality is SO good, that people just voluntarily GIVE THEM MONEY.

        Let publishers live and die by the quality of their content. I won't miss the ones that die.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: 404 : This title does not exist.

          And therein the point.

          The majority of advert-plagued sites on the web are there for one reason only: to sell your eyeballs to the advertisers.

          You don't see adverts on commercial sites like computer makers or washing machine makers or grocery stores or furniture stores other than for the things they are currently selling - usually directly from the store/maker in question. You don't see adverts on some sites - e.g. the BBC or NASA and no doubt others.

          You see adverts on the clickbaits of this world, where the people running the sites have found a way to get people to keep coming back by offering some other service for free. The service *isn't* the raison d'etre of the site, it's just the bait - whether it's a gossip site or a news site or facebook or twitter or blog sites or porn sites. The reason the site is there is because they want to make money from advertisers. To be fair, I suspect most have tried charging and found it didn't work - or if it did, it didn't make anyone a zillionaire... and now they're starting to find that advertising wasn't quite the golden goose they thought it was.

          There is no difference between a site relying on adverts (absent the commercial sites I mentioned earlier) and commercial advert-funded radio or TV - and if they can't find a way to make me and everyone else pay for the service they provide, that service will cease to exist. And for the majority of sites, that will be an issue why?

          For curiosity - anyone at El Reg care to give a rough idea of the advertising income divided by the number of users in a month? A year? I bet it's in pennies a month... I did the sums on facebook a while ago and it looked under forty dollars a year.

  9. Refugee from Windows

    Saving bandwidth

    I consider that it's bandwidth issues that drive these network level adblockers. When page contents appear to be getting more ad-heavy and problems occur with plug-ins (hello Adobe..) and content (malverts) then it makes sense. After all, the customer will be paying to read the adverts in the end, and if you're not willing to pay then the model is sort of broken.

    Of course this really says that the advertising model is not working, it'd be like paying for junk mail to be shoved through your letter box. If they were restricted and actually relavent to the site being visited that wouldn't be too bad, but the scatter-gun approach has just dug them into their own deep hole.

    The difference between adblocker on or off can mean whether a page loads on a mobile or not. That's possibly the main issue.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Saving bandwidth

      ACK on the 'saving bandwidth' part. If ad-makers would STOP IT with the scripting and the 'flashing' and soon to come, HTML5 video, I doubt people would block them [they'd simply ignore them like I have come to do by habit].

      On a related note, the article states:

      "The research reckoned that smaller publishers are most at risk from the rapid adoption of ad-blocking software as they often solely rely on revenues from advertising to continue operating."

      This may be true, but I doubt anybody cares. I think "better advertising revenue model" is due. They need to find out what ads people will NOT block, and then do those. I can think of ways to put ads on the page that would NOT be blocked. It's called an 'ad banner'. No scripting, no CDNs, a simple graphic with a link. It works. It won't be blocked. It won't be noticed by "the bots" because it will appear to be CONTENT. you could even put a small ad banner in the middle of article text, and as long as there's no obvious scripting and iframes and all that, it will look JUST like content to the bots.

      And I doubt anyone would complain, especially if the graphics' file sizes are small. It would be like an ad 'in the middle of' a newspaper article, right below the "continued on page A5" or whatever. People see that ad. It works. And content makers can take a lesson from the hundreds of years of newspaper publishing on THAT one.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I don't care

    Truly, I don't.

  11. Swarthy Silver badge
    FAIL

    "Incentivized" - yech!

    Having said that; we, as consumers of stuff, are further "incentivized" towards ad-blockers by the recurring theme of "malvertisments". Yes, large ads are ugly, video ads are obnoxious, tracking for targeted advertising is creepy, and I value my bandwidth and my privacy. I can live with that (-ish) for good content.

    What pushed me to ad blocking was the fact that I can get the computational clap from reputable sites because their ad network was compromised slinging ads with more malice than most.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: "Incentivized" - yech!

      "What pushed me to ad blocking was the fact that I can get the computational clap from reputable sites"

      that sort of thing has made a few headlines recently (on 'The Register' specifically).

      this is why AD BLOCKING (and script blocking, and flash blocking) is part of what I like to call "safe surfing". Think of the ad/script/flash blocker as a CONDOM on your web browser. They shouldn't blame us for using the "net condom" because the alternative is NO web surfing, or risk getting the 'computational clap' as you so eloquently put it.

  12. gv

    It's called progress

    In the old days, if I wanted to block ads on, say, my television, I'd have to design/build some form of gizmo and then physically solder it onto my set somehow, or take the easier option of using the Off button.

    These days I have complete control over everything entering/leaving the network in my house. I can put all manner of hardware and software between my consumer devices and the wider world.

  13. Rol Silver badge

    Smaller digital publishers?????????????

    Adblock, sets out to block all adverts except those on its whitelist.

    To get on the whitelist, you have to comply with Adblocks conditions.

    Part of those conditions include coughing up some money towards maintaining the service, only, if you are a big time advertising company,

    Small digital publishers will not be asked to pay.

    So, if small time players are getting smacked, then we can only conclude that they are pushing the same old shite contrary to AdBlocks t&c's and/or they are a lot bigger than they are letting on.

    Don't forget, some of the most hated spammers on the planet run out of a bedsit. Yes, by employee standards they're small, but by volume, they intrude on the live's of everyone.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

    I've been with El Reg since it started - I'd happily pay £50/year for content if it meant no ads. Just like Sky ... oh hang on ...

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

      I think you've made the point. Sky needs ad revenue even with people paying £50/month.

      News International is losing ad revenue and people aren't taking out subscriptions, even with their aggressive paywall.

      At the other end of the spectrum The Guardian is just losing money and shedding staff.

      The publishing industry has no answers. We will lose publications and society will be the worse for it. Who will hold the government to account when The Guardian finally exhausts its trust fund?

      One small news site I use offers a £15/year ad-free option. About 1 in 5 of the regular posters take up the offer.

      For a national newspaper my guess is about £400/year will keep the lights on if a reasonable (i.e. more than The Independent's) audience takes them up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: when The Guardian finally exhausts its trust fund

        "The Guardian is just losing money and shedding staff."

        In the later years of Emperor Rusbridger, there was a bit of an exodus from Guardian to Buzzfeed UK. The paper itself frequently seems to want to be Buzzfeed. Don't know why, Buzzfeed already exists and is free. Some people presumably like it.

        "Who will hold the government to account when The Guardian finally exhausts its trust fund?"

        The Scott Trust became the Scott Trust Ltd a few years ago, probably around the time that GMG sold Auto Trader. You can see the new "management" in its entry at Companies House:

        https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06706464/officers

        Outside the occasional major scoop (Panama Papers, Snowden) there's been little recent interest in proper routine news reporting, let alone analysis, and definitely not much 'holding the government to account'. There's more interest in a likely to fail attempt to grow readership (and page views) in the US and Australia (which obviously don't have newspaper websites of their own?!).

        The Guardian's UK politics coverage leading up to and after the Labour leadership elections has caused many UK readers who paid for the paper or the app to give up. Well done Guardian.

        The plan to generate revenue and profit from 'Guardian events' is going so well that they've already abandoned the proposed events venue in the wastelands north of Watford (Birmingham, I think).

        Give it two years, maybe a little more, I suspect.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

        "For a national newspaper my guess is about £400/year will keep the lights on if a reasonable (i.e. more than The Independent's) audience takes them up."

        Very unlikely. The numbers who are prepared to pay £400 pa wouldn't be enough to keep 15w lights on.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

          "Very unlikely. The numbers who are prepared to pay £400 pa wouldn't be enough to keep 15w lights on."

          Which brings us full circle and is why the loss of ad revenue is going to be a killer for many papers.

      3. nijam

        Re: Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

        > Sky needs ad revenue even with people paying £50/month.

        I suspect that's only because their mega-cash deals with sports (especially football) need to be subsidised, rather than the rest of their output.

  15. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Flame

    How do they know?

    I'd like to know how they came up with that number. If people aren't seeing ads and aren't clicking on them, how can you know they wouldn't just click to another site in frustration if they had to view the ads?

    Some major sites are shooting themselves in the foot, too. Yesterday, someone sent me a link to a Stephen Colbert skit from when he was still on Comedy Central. Despite disabling ScriptBlock and uBlock Origin (current Chrome and FF browser versions), all I could see (in Flash no less!) was the ad that preceded the segment. The segment refused to run. But the Comedy Central site in the UK was able to deliver the piece -- and without an ad. If a friend hadn't suggested the segment (Kim Jong Un inspected a lube machine) I sure wouldn't have bothered. There were a slew of Javascripts running on both sites, surely not for my benefit.

    Content providers, you need to wise up. If you keep stuffing our bandwidth with crap we don't want to see, you may lose it all. And few will weep.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disgusting, terribly discriminatory

    This is totally unacceptable that it is impacting some worse than others; I insist my ad block apply to all fairly and impartially, which is to say block EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM EVERYWHERE REGARDLESS OF SOURCE OR SITE PLACEMENT as a message to the ad industry to get it's act cleaned up.

  17. inmypjs Silver badge

    Their loss someone else's gain

    Actually everyone else's gain.

    Advertising is such an all round shitty thing I am surprised it isn't more regulated for the good of everyone.

    Some advertising may induce me to buy something I didn't know I wanted - I consider that effect neutral at best.

    The remaining advertising may induce me to buy from the supplier that spends the most on advertising which means I am spending more on advertising and less on product - not good for anyone.

    Advertising is mostly parasitic - it exists because it can not because it is good for anything.

    As for the health of the interwebs we really need some ultra low hassle scheme for making donations. A button that donates a penny is something I would click on a few times a day.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Their loss someone else's gain

      "Advertising is such an all round shitty thing I am surprised it isn't more regulated for the good of everyone."

      I disagree. advertising is GOOD for many reasons. It's just that we should be able to choose whether or not to view it. And, like FAX spamming, and TEXT spamming (and to some extent, e-mail spamming if you consider paid bandwidth), when it costs the RECIPIENT to view advertising, various gummint agencies should either regulate it heavily, or make bandwidth-heavy methods illegal 'for the good of everyone'.

      That being said, advertising can be GOOD. You can advertise your skills to get hired, or hiring managers can advertise an available job, and maybe a simple sign on a store is a form of 'advertising' too (I'm looking for a place to buy drain cleaner - hey, there's a hardware store!). It's been around since capitalism came into existence. And I don't want to replace capitalism, because the "something else" would be a WHOLE! LOT! WORSE!!!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Their loss someone else's gain

      "The remaining advertising may induce me to buy from the supplier that spends the most on advertising"

      Really? Advertising influences me to buy from someone else who isn't trying to stick their fingers in my eyeballs and ears.

    3. beast666

      Re: Their loss someone else's gain

      I can see that donate a penny button being blocked quickly as well.

      You would soon get sick of the scrounging wee thing on every site you visited. Wouldn't be long before you got huge pop up, under, over, sideways, flashing and beeping versions to 'encourage' you to click it and donate 1p.

      Pesky things. I hate the idea already

  18. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Serve more most interesting ads. People are more likely to happily view good content.

    https.

    Stop with the intrusive, annoying crap. Pushing stuff into my face will alienate me, not force me to buy.

    Stop. Putting. Malware. In. Your ads.

    Stop telling me it's your God-given right to make money from me and that blocking your crap is stealing. It's not my fault if you can't create a sustainable business.

    Some websites refuse to serve me content if I'm running an ad blocker. That's OK, I refuse to access their content. Whereas if they merely ask politely, I almost always whitelist their site.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. Serve more most interesting ads. People are more likely to happily view good content.

      but this misses the point, i.e. maximising the profits and "optimising the costs". In real world - instead of "quality advertising", they cast their net wide, flooding the internet with sh... Appealing for them to make ads more interesting means to the ad-men "spend more money on the ads". As this eats into their bottom line... you see how keen they'd be. They truly are (like most if not all humans) like a monkey with a hand stuck in a box, holding the lovely banana. They will never EVER loosen the grip as the greed blinds the logical thinking. To be fair, this is a typical human trait. Who's going to - willingly - let go and earn LESS for no clear gain? Even if the gain is is clear: "earn less" is better, after all, than "earn even less" (due to ad-blocking).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "They will never EVER loosen the grip as the greed blinds the logical thinking."

        That's not a problem. We'll loosen it for them. With adblockers.

  19. Ryan Kendall

    Ads on phones

    Ads on webpages on phones are very annoying they fill up the 5" screen and you need a pin to close them. Otherwise closing the ad with your finger you start opening up Google Play, or AppStore.

    the youradchoices adverts tend to be particularly annoying. "remember that office chair you looked at 3 months ago?" , "no?" , "well here are more charis for you to look at"

    1. Mr Flibble
      FAIL

      Re: Ads on phones

      Full-screen, sudden, in-your-face advertising on phones with click-on-this-pixel-to-dismiss – give them feedback. Complain. Tell them that it's annoying, intrusive, hard to dismiss without accidentally clicking on it at least twice and, consequently, it's driving you away from their site.

      It's not long since that I complained to The Independent about one such. I didn't bother reading the rest of the article (and I did mention that I'd given up trying to read it due to advertising) and haven't visited The Ad-Dependent's site since.

  20. Tom Servo
    Mushroom

    You pick up a newspaper.

    Only this time it takes 5 seconds everytime you try to turn the page. When you do, that advert for comfortable polyester trousers in the bottom right hand corner fills up and blocks the articles. It also starts to make a racket about how you'll never have to iron them. You look for the X button to get rid of the ad to read the articles. Can you find it? Can you fuck, it's 2 shades darker blue on the hex colour scale than the blue background it's on. Eventually you find it and press it. The catalogue for the trouser company appears in your hands because you didn't quite hit the X right in the middle. After you get rid of the catalogue and the ad, you get to read the article.

    turn the page and repeat every time.

    You'd never pick up the paper again, and you parasitic ad people have created this experience online and whine when we do everything we can to minimize disruption.

    Get fucked, just because you could, doesn't mean you should.

  21. BrowserUk
    Holmes

    The arguments are logically inverted.

    The standard defense of web ads is that in order for we consumers to benefit from the content provided, we must allow the ads to fund the production of that content.

    Balderdash!

    If the websites I view regularly didn't exist, I'd spend those minutes doing something else. Viewing other websites; reading print media; watching TV; listening to radio; reading a book; picking fluff from my belly button.

    If those websites didn't exists; the people they employ would be out of a job.

    The onus is on those employed by the websites to find a mechanism to persuade me to spend those minutes with them that doesn't:

    - Cost me 10 times as much to download the crap I'm not interested in as it does the stuff I am.

    - Doesn't require my entire life to be an open book any and all "trading partners" -- scrupulous and otherwise -- of every company on the web.

    - Doesn't force me to make myself vulnerable to every script kiddy and malcontent on the web.

    Would I miss some of the sites I use if they folded? Sure; but I'd find other good uses for those minutes I spend on them. Truth be told; I might even be more productive if I was less distracted.

  22. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Boo Fekkin Hoo.

    Your business is suffering because of progress? There's a buggy whip manufacturer whom would like to commiserate with you. Evolve or die; it's like Darwinism for business'.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Boo Fekkin Hoo.

      Evolution will happen. As my genetics prof was keen to point out, evolution is - for the failed experiments that are in the majority - a bad thing. The world will change. More corrupt politicians will get away with it, leading to more corrupt people becoming politicians.

      A free press is a powerful thing, why else do despots always seek to limit press freedom.

  23. Tim Hughes

    Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

    Will somebody please work out how to do this properly?

    I don't want to have to "donate" to some content provider who has something I do want to read and I don't want to have to subscribe for $X to every site,

    I do want some standard mechanism where I go to some site for the first time, say theRegister, and it says "We charge £0.01 per article, Do you accept?", I say yes and off we go. They don't have to know who I am.

    A quick fag packet calculation: assuming average advert CPM (per thousand impressions) rates of £1.00 and say 5 ads per page, then you could get the same revenue by charging 0.5p for someone to read your article. If I read 100 articles a day that's about 50p/day, £15/month. I'm happy with that, the content producer gets the same revenue, and no adverts served or viewed!

    With that kind of mechanism, there seems to be the right incentive to produce quality stuff that people want to read while also enabling the casual reader to happen upon something and view it without committing a big chunk of cash to pass a paywall, and its easy to imagine some little widgets in your browser that keep you updated of your current spending by day, month, site or whatever else you fancy.

    I keep waiting for it to happen ... I could imagine some payments processor like PayPal (yes, I know) being all over it.

    1. A Ghost

      Re: Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

      What you speak of is the holy grail. For both content providers and end users alike. Probably not for the mAD men, but who really cares about them anyway.

      Content providers have been seeing this as a logical way to at least make some money from what they do, and end users would end up paying very little for quality they cherish. Don't cherish it enough to pay 1p - then fuck off, then you are a parasite.

      I've talked about this quite a bit, but suffice it to say it is just the tragedy of the commons all over again.

      What we need is a kind of ------------------ of the commons (insert proper word I couldn't find). A world where people do not deplete resources until they are gone so no one can enjoy them, but a world where every one pays what they can afford, as they can afford it, happily, to make future commons available even to our grandchildren.

      It's a fact that people would rather be forced to pay 20 quid for something than voluntarily pay 1 quid. I've proven that with my work. However, if a system existed to force them to pay 1 penny for the content, then they probably would have. I would have made thousands. But people just don't like paying for anything, that is a fact.

      But paying for content is not the same argument as to why ads are despised and blocked. It's a pretty sneaky conflation to massage the reality of the situation. They are wholly two disparate issues.

      There is probably a good reason why the whole micropayments thing won't ever take off. Possibly too many big players standing to lose too much power/money. If a micropayments system were in place, it would solve a major proportion of the content provider's problems, and the end user's problems as well. The mAD men's problems? Not so much.

      Who knows, we may see a micropayments system one day, but the fact that so far no one (seems) to have made a serious stab at it, leaves me with suspicion. It's a golden walled diamond mine to the dev that gets that one right. Like paypal etc.

      I honestly don't know why there isn't one in place already. Too logical and common sense I suppose. Or maybe it just wouldn't line the vested interest's pockets. This isn't about the content providers, it's not about the end-users, it's about other people being granted full legal permission to take sovereign control of your computer. This is as much about big government and big corporations and the control they wield as much as it is about anything else.

      The internet we knew from 20 years ago is all but recognizable to us now. The dream gone.

      The internet we will have in 2020 will be even more unrecognizable than what this present incarnation has transmogrified into.

      1. Gray
        Pirate

        Re: Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

        I think of the Internet now in terms of what happened to Usenet (spammed to death; the absolute destruction of the 'commons' by malicious intruders) and the arrival of European sailing ships at Pacific northwest coast salmon spawning grounds.

        The Russian square-rigger set itself up at the mouth of the river. Native villages were cannonaded until all resistance ceased. The crew strung nets and blocked the entire river mouth, harvesting all the returning salmon. After two seasons, the runs ceased. All the fish had been taken.

        The Russians sailed home, sold their salted catch and made fortunes for all involved. Next season they returned to a different salmon ground. Cannonaded the native villages until all...

        History repeats itself. This time it's the digital spawning grounds. Nothing changes.

        1. A Ghost
          Thumb Up

          Re: Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

          Interesting history lesson. Thanks.

          I've no doubt it's true, it's just so entirely plausible.

          It's already happening (the digital exodus). It's not so noticeable yet as when a few of us drop out, there are a few more to take our place, doing high-quality work and software mods that you would otherwise have to pay good money for. But soon enough they will get tired of it as well. It's not even the lack of being able to earn money from what you do (that people want to buy), it's the sheer bad attitude of otherwise sanctimonious pricks that would skin you alive if they found out you used a crack. I'm talking the audio software world here.

          So, now they get to pay 24 quid for my work, instead of just 1 quid. That'll teach me trying to give stuff away for free. And that'll teach them for not feeling it was worth 1 quid or a simple 'thanks'. This particular work was at the level of the highest quality that manufacturer had. So it was no snake oil and no get-rich quick attempt. Now remember, the people that did not want to pay for this or even say 'thanks' are the holier-than-thou crack software police. Also keep in mind these holier-than-thou types could take the time to be part of tens of thousands that downloaded my software for free, but only 3 people said thankyou! Over half a dozen complained coz they wanted some feature added and they damn well felt as if they could take the time to let me know that.

          Hell, I even threw in a professional level GUI for them as well. This particular GUI was not just a cosmetic enhancement. It actually improved on the original manufacturer's .dll, as I had spent over 3 days tracing a bug in the graphics. I got that kind of euphoric high that only a programmer or debugger knows, when you get your eureka moment - gotcha ya little bassa.

          So, please tell me why, would anyone even attempt to make a living out of this, knowing human nature.

          I can not stress enough, the amount of times I had to justify an off the cuff remark because the crack-police were on my trail quick as a shot. I pay for all my softs. I even pay for the softs I don't use. I also pay for the softs that I have bought, but not downloaded yet, coz, well, I already have so much software that I have bought. Yet I was witch-hunted by people who could not even take the time to say thanks to me, or shout me a quid!

          But it's better than that. Or rather, more tragic than that.

          I know quite a few devs that make audio software or mods or guis or add-ons, whatever. Let's just talk about the top of the hierarchy here for the moment to prove a point. Talking about the actual vst .dll makers themselves. That is the people that actually code the synthesizers and drum machines and samplers etc., often in C++ itself, or at least, custom C++ modules in high level programs such as Synthmaker (now Flowstone), or perhaps Synthedit. I'm not just talking about people that use totally stock modules in these environments. The people that do this are still exceptionally talented and spend a great deal of their time on their work, but they aren't genius level DSP coders - another order of magnitude cleverer again.

          Now those people who have given away perfectly good synths and drums via donationware, have let me know how much they have made in a year, or sometimes by the 'thousands of downloads'. That amount is pitiful and shameful. We are talking guys that have spent 2 years of their life at DSP level coding in C++, C and Assembler, plus sometimes even doing the gui themselves as well, which most of them really hate coz it's a pain in VST development, unless you really have a passion for interface design, which not all 'real programmers' do. We are talking 8 dollars here, 20 dollars there, total, for all that time for thousands of downloads. Free.

          So I don't feel too hard done by.

          There have also been quite a few 'pay what you want' types of deals as well, that some devs did as experiments, that also did not go 'according to plan'. People just took the piss. Software that was worth 50 quid, people were giving like 50 pence for, as that was the minimum option, otherwise they would NOT have paid that, obviously.

          Are we getting the picture here yet folks? These are people that desperately absolutely passionately wanted that software as well. They weren't 'oh well we weren't going to buy it so there's no loss to the dev to just give him 50p'. So the dev did the right thing and started charging 50 Euros for his software, and everyone that could have had it for a tenner now has to pay full price because a few of these self-appointed crack-police holier than thou's wouldn't pay more than fifty fucking pence.

          Does that explain to you what we are dealing with here? Without chucking in the entitlement and insults and rudeness you get for your efforts.

          Here were people, who regularly spend at least 100-200 dollars a month on audio software, prepared to hunt people down for possible use of a crack, but would not donate 5 dollars to a dev that spent months/years working in a specially refined field, for software that they downloaded and used regularly. I know that for a fact. I was one of the few who actually donated anything at all - usually only a fiver or tenner here or there - not like I'm a big spender. But I got unsolicited thankyou personal emails back from these devs, who were just so over the moon that someone, anyone had donated anything at all in the last six months.

          I can not explain it any better than that example.

          Now, what makes you think those tight-wads are going to spend even 5 bucks a month on a subscription for anything? Actually some of them do, because they are addicts. Also they have money. They will put up with all kinds of abuses from certain well-known money-grubbing audio devs, but won't say 'thanks' and won't pay a quid for software they really really want. </spicegirls> Now they're never gonna get it! Well, not without paying top dollar for it anyway.

          So the unscrupulous blackmail business model does have a lot going for it - granted. People won't be decent, so screw them </irony>. I'm talking one particular niche field of course, and a small one at that. But don't tell me it don't paint a wider picture about humanity on the whole.

          And still I support the use of ad-blockers. For reasons already outlined, several times, by me and quite a few other people. I've wasted enough of your time to repeat it again.

          Micropayments would work. They would certainly be a step forward. I'm not sure if it is a technical issue that is holding development and deployment back, or a human nature issue. Or maybe both.

          Pretty soon people will be waking up to the reality that 'digital content business models' have nothing to do with being data-raped, tracked and ad-raped, then getting called names and insulted by the very fuckwits that are trying to sell you something, all coz you put an ad-blocker on coz you didn't want to get a virus/trojan/malware again.

          These people are insane psychopaths that get what they want by screaming loud, making monkey noises, jumping off chairs (and throwing a few) and shouting 'Marketers, Marketers, Marketers!'.

          The whole world realises this, except for the people who think they are running the show, who won't be in a few years, coz they won't have a job at all. I bet they will have creamed enough of the top though to still be sitting pretty. The most cynical people in the world. Expect this whole dirty tricks campaign against those of us that have the silly idea that we own the computers we buy and the internet pipes we pay for, to get a whole lot dirtier any time soon. Kicking and screaming they will go. Ready to take eyes out as they battle for the death.

          Or maybe they'll get what they want and they'll end up running the show. What do I know?

          1. Gray
            Pirate

            Re: Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

            @A Ghost

            Ayup. Hear you and second that. As they say in the City of Corruption, USA (our blessed capitol), if you want appreciation, get a dog. Otherwise, wear a steel-mesh reinforced jock strap, cuz the sharks are comin' for ya.

            I edited and owned and ran rural newspapers for many years. We devoted much effort & expense to fill our pages with relevant news content, news which we dug up, researched, verified, edited, and typeset, proofed, and printed. It's a costly process.

            We depended (mostly) on local advertising support to fund the enterprise and meet payrolls to keep reporters and printers engaged.

            And then a "shopper" would move into the community. They printed pure "ad sheets" with no news content, except for a few pieces of "filler" they clipped from outside sources. Cost=nothing. Then they went around to all our business advertisers, offering "much cheaper" advertising rates.

            It hurt. Readers wanted our news content, to keep tabs on the city council, county commission, and zoning board rulings. And also to see if Cousin Rotnik had finally been caught and charged, and if we'd at last spelled Mr. Giampedraglia's name correctly (I kept this one on a slip of paper taped above the Linotype keyboard!)

            The cheap-skate business owners felt little loyalty to their community news; at every opportunity, they spent their ad budget on cheap space in the "Shopper" ... until they learned that the throw-away rag held no reader interest, and their ads didn't draw customers.

            Lesson: if you want loyalty, adopt a dog. And it never seems to occur to the idiots that very few people will sit and read an ad-sheet "Shopper" with their morning coffee! So what happens? You kill the good news producer, and wind up with nothing but shit for breakfast!

    2. Seajay#

      Re: Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

      Doing micropayments isn't too hard.

      Doing micropayments in a way which will work in most browsers and is difficult to defraud, there's the tricky bit. I don't mind paying 1p to read an article (unless it's DevOps obviously) but I do mind a website opening 1000 pop-unders and charging me £10.

  24. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Well

    Tough Shit

    You want I stop using Adblock? Then you:

    (1) Undertake never to use tracking in any way, no exception.

    (2) Absolutely never have autoplay videos of any kind except when I press play on a video or when I click on a link for a video (and not a link for a story).

    (3) Absolutely never have ads that cover part or all of a website.

    (4) Absolutely never have that try to use my location. No "Shocking secret [city name] man discovers!"

    (5) Absolutely never use Flash, Java, or Javascript. No exception.

    (6) Confirm, preferably in writing that you accept sole responsibility for vetting any and all ads on your site. If an ad injects or attempts to inject malware you, the entity placing the ad and any ad company jointly and severally indemnify me from all costs in diagnosing and repairing, including but not limited to the restoration of any data that is lost and do so in writing.

    (7) Never, ever, distribute either directly or indirectly (e;g;, as an "Optional extra" any kind of Browser helper or toolbar. These are defined by many as malware.

    (8) Never, ever, show me ads for things I never buy nor companies I don't want to do business with.

    (9) Never, ever, show me ads for things I already own. (Amazon!! WTF?)

    (10) Never, ever, show me ads for things I will *never* own (take a guess, it will be 99.9999% of what you peddle).

    (11) Confirm you will pay for any and all metered data charges the advertising content YOU have decided to push at me incurs. You pay for any metered data.

    There. I think that about covers it

    1. A Ghost
      Alien

      Re: Well

      I for one welcome our new advertising tsar overlord!

      All hail Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      All hail Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      Only he can save us now...

      [and IOTML, keep away from fast cats and slow planes for the time being]

      1. A Ghost

        Re: Well

        Er, that was fast 'cars', not 'cats'.

        Then again, keep away from them too. Unless you can run quicker.

        Your ever humble servant...

  25. Speltier

    Malware

    I don't have a problem with the ads showing up. What I have a problem with is companies that want the ad income, but don't seem to care that the 3rd parties that supply them with the ads spew out malware causing drive by infections- worst case being zero-day for which the result (for BIOS-APTRAT) is replacing the machine (or wielding SMT soldering tools... not practical usually).

    So I installed lite weight ad-blockers (ABP, RequestNow) to help prevent malware problems. If companies want to whine about visitors using ad-blockers, maybe those whiners ought to look in the mirror for the cause.

  26. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Why wait for tomorrow

    When AdAway, can already block most *NOTE* I did not say all! but, still something, along the lines of 98% of Ads be they Web based, or App based TODAY!

    Yes there is that stick in the mud, about having to be rooted to actually use it. but, a) its FREE, and more importantly b) IT JUST WORKS! Is itself more then enough justification for me to use this along my Custom Android ROM which itself required root to be installed.

  27. arobertson1

    Genie, bottle, get back in - no chance!

    The advantages of adblocking:

    1) Prevent malware attacks.

    2) Stop tracking / spying.

    3) Internet speeds up.

    4) Save money on bandwith charges.

    5) Less irritation.

    The disadvantages:

    1) Your favourite websites lose out on revenue.

    2) Ermm...

    Solutions:

    1) Paywall - bye, bye users.

    2) Time sensitive - paid users view first, non-payers later.

    3) Product placement / paid endorsement - works to a degree depending on relevance.

    4) Host the adverts on the same site (won't get blocked) - will never work as the advertisers won't trust the site owner.

    5) Charge the ISP's as a revenue source - would have to be voluntary but could work if planned properly.

  28. Number6

    Surely it can't be that hard for the website to run server-side scripts for ad-loading? That would blow away the need for all the javascript crap on the client side, which would make things much more secure. All it needs is a link between host and ad server so that the host can pass a request for a URL to the ad server and insert that URL into the page it's about to serve. Doing it this way means the client only gets to load static images and much of the concern about a blizzard of tracking cookies goes away (not that the host can't pass on information to the ad server).

    Even harder to block is if the images are on the host site, which is told which image to serve, so the client can't trivially filter images from the ad server. It also makes the host appreciate the bandwidth consumed by the ads and so applies a bit more pressure on the advertisers

    1. Ropewash
      Thumb Up

      re: number6

      This.

      Despite my previous attempts to articulate this point you've done it much better.

      A serverside execution of ad code would still inform the ad-slinger of a view and/or clickthrough but without the end user taking the direct hit to bandwidth and malware exposure.

      With the added bonus that if malware did exist in an ad stream the server operator would be the one to catch it and could block that advertiser until the mess was cleaned up, increasing the reputability of the site(s) they host and generally making life a bit more pleasant all round for their viewers.

    2. Seajay#

      The reason it doesn't work that way is the other big threat to online advertising, Click Fraud. If you're relying on the host to tell the advertiser how many ads they've served, it's going to be really tempting for them to inflate that number.

  29. Ropewash
    Flame

    Before internet advertising...

    ...as in , what did all these fathomless thousands of people do before advertising was allowed on the internet? It wasn't even all that long ago that this particular income stream did not exist. So what the hell did all these bastards whining about their $-27billion do for a living back then that was obviously NOT making them bitch about missing their ficticious pay from their equally ficticious product?

    Perhaps they should be re-purposed for tasks in line with their particular skillset and actual value to society...

    My toilet needs cleaning.

    1. kryptonaut

      Re: Before internet advertising...

      Before internet advertising the internet looked completely bollocks because most of the 'content' was produced by people who just wanted to say 'look at me I'm on the internet', whose only reward was to see their name on a page covered with flashing animated pictures. Remember Geocities?

      With advertising came the possibility of making a website pay for itself, so it was more worthwhile investing time and money into making a site with content worth seeing, to keep people coming back.

      Now it's swinging back the other way again, and as ad revenue drops off due to adblocking there will be a reduction in the effort people are prepared to put into providing content. Unless some alternative incentive is found, of course.

      Do not confuse content providers with advertisers. It is the advertisers who make the jiggly things and the malvertisements. They are just as much a curse to the content providers as they are to the audience.

      Content providers just want to get some return on their investment of time and effort creating a webpage which people want to view - and clearly people *do* want to view their content otherwise this whole topic of adblockers would be non-existent because a far simpler solution would be just to turn off the computer and not look at the web at all.

      1. Ropewash

        Re: Re: Before internet advertising...

        I never did spend much time on geocities because yes it was a load of cack.

        However I did use many decent pages that didn't look like that and didn't have ad funding run by people who actually had something useful they wanted you to read/view/mod/comment on.

        Used to be when you fired up your pre-google spider of choice and typed in "blahblahblah.dll download" you'd get a result within the first 100 for a site with those individual libraries for download. Sure the site was just a huge list of links, but a bit of time parsing and you'd have your file.

        Since the internet has been made so much better by advertising why not try that now.

        My usual experience is you'll spend the first 100 results just sifting through ad sponsored "Download Drivers for Free (we don't actually have any on site)" and similar combined with about 60 asshat blog posts with the line "Got error in blahblahblah.dll" but nothing afterwards on how they fixed said error or in fact where they even found blahblahblah.dll in the first place.

        So no. I'm not impressed with the innovation of ad funded networking in this particular sphere.

        If all I wanted to do is sit and read other people's ramblings (like I'm doing here) then it would be fine, but I do actually need the damned web to be useful sometimes.

  30. Black Betty

    I'm male and I don't drive.

    So being bombarded with almost nothing but ads for sanitary products and cars along with persistent trackers and stealth installs is why adblock is up and will stay up.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An analogy

    Dog turds:

    Most people shy away from them.

    Most people find them irrelevant.

    Some find them very annoying if 'crossed'.

    If I invented a way to add a warning cover over all dog turds, people may not even notice, some would be happy.

    Remember: They were never going to 'use' that turd anyway.

  32. Winkypop Silver badge
    Linux

    They are MY eyes

    And I'll do with them what I want.

    Thank you.

  33. Mr Templedene

    I used to use an adblocker, but got frustrated by having to whitelist sites left right and centre, and the fact that on some sites I saw a noticeable slow down of the site because of it.

    When I removed the adblocker from firefox I left in place the firefox "do not track" option and turned off flash (allow if I say so), and I am noticing now a number of websites (wired, torygraph and more) detect that option as "you are using an adblocker"

    Well FU, I don't want to be tracked, I will quite happily let you serve me ads, but if they try to track me from site to site, that is unacceptable!

    The register, fortunately, seems OK with the "do not track option" and I am happy to see the ads it serves, now that the ones that expanded over what I was reading have been shot down.

    Advertisers need to realise that, actually, I, and I am sure more like me, will click through on something they see that looks relevant, but will be put off by "aggressive" ads that auto play audio (video) or try to blat themselves over what I am reading.

    Advertisers need to take note that the viewing audience is becoming more technical, and more intolerant of crap.

    Facebook has got it under control, and I think I have clicked through to more ads on facebook than all other websites combined

  34. ecofeco Silver badge

    The PTB...

    ...STILL do not "get" the Internet.

  35. T.Keaton

    Useless Ads

    I believe the only ads I've ever followed, let alone those which have convinced me to part with money, are the single line text links at the top of my Gmail inbox.

    Flash based, full-screen (mobile), and otherwise obnoxious ads don't work on me, so I might as well block them.

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Useless Ads

      No, no, no. You don't get it. Adverts have to be BIG and FLASHY and REALLY IRRITATING!!!!!

      Making them minimal won't make you any money at all. Just look at how pathetically Google is doing.

      Mind you, even Google is getting on my Marmite laden tits with its idiot idea of what I will find interesting (Hullo Google, my interests DON'T include stuff I just bought or stuff I just looked at but decided not to buy and it certainly doesn't include those idiot pseudo results which are ads you put at the start of my search results. They suck like hard vacuum)

  36. John Lilburne

    Information wants to be free ...

    ... that is what pundits like Doctorow and Masnick have been telling us for years. Their ad-network paymasters need to get a new business model.

  37. GrandTour
    Boffin

    Ads are annoying

    Serve ads that are 100% relevant to the content of the article, small, and mesh/match the site color scheme. Any popovers/tracking/sound/videos/flashing is grounds for adblock plus.

    In a nutshell, I hold sites to the standard that Spiceworks has set.

    How to fix the advertising industry:

    Make it illegal for ad companies to serve malicious content.

    Make it illegal for businesses to buy/serve/run ad campaigns that have hidden malware.

    Require a real person to make the campaign purchase and hold them liable in a contract for any attempts to serve malware.

    Ad companies need the buyer to prove there's no malware before submitting a campaign, they need testbed and practice areas for ad-viewing that are scanned and monitored heavily for any obfuscated attempt to slip in malware.

    If there's malware, serve a warning if it was a compromised site and if it was a nefarious act, that person and company are blacklisted permanently with all internet and paper advertising agencies.

    Make the fines so steep that any attempt to serve malware would be met with the police and written warning or a $5000 fine per infected computer.

  38. Greg D

    The problem with ads...

    Is not necessarily the ads themselves, its:

    - Embedded scripts running from 3rd-party untrusted sources

    - Unsrupulous non-mainsteam advertisers pushing penis pills and the ilk

    - The sheer volume and "in your face-ness" of most of the adverts

    - Increasing complexity of ads, adding to page load, CPU load (and battery drain), and bandwidth use

    - Swamped webpages where you cant see any fucking content

    - Clicking through pages of ads just to read a fucking paragraph

    Bollocks to them all, dont care if they lose revenue. I'm blocking all of that shit. Find another source of income. I pay for stuff I want, and dont care to read your articles if you stuff them full of ads.

    I'd probably change my tune slightly if the ads were less of everything I just listed. A simple JPEG and a link, with some locally hosted code to work out page views/clicks. And ONE per page maximum.

  39. BoldMan

    They are NOT losing $27bn, they just won't earn that - there is a huge difference! In order to lose something, you need to have possessed it in the first place!

  40. LochAwe

    Unwanted movement/animation/flashing on a page is why I block ads.

    I'm old. My brain is old. Flashing / animated ads or unrequested video - ANY movement - on a page grabs my brain and freezes it. I can't concentrate on the actual page content; hell, I can't even read it.

    That's the main reason I block ads. I've done it for years, and I'll keep on doing it. There is no site serving any information that I need badly enough to put up with animated or video adverts.

  41. Brian Allan 1

    Adverts are the single worst thing associated with speed and cost of our satellite internet service! I'd vote for NO ADVERTS on any page, in particular video adverts that take up a huge amount of bandwidth and really slow down page display.

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