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The Internet

Internet Ad Network Commentary 200

Jonas Acres writes: "Lowtax of the [in]famous Something Awful has posted a commentary on the future of Internet advertising. It's a pretty interesting read. He's bounced from dying ad network to dying ad network, so he has a decent platform to preach from." I've also had to deal with a number of ad networks over the years - both for Slashdot prior to the Andover acquisition and a couple of other projects. It definitely sucks. Companies that break contracts, don't pay you, and never getting any return phone calls or anything is the norm that I dealt with.
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Internet Ad Network Commentary

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  • I run a large Age of Empires 2 fan site, and we have had our share of dealing with ad companies.

    The main problem in trying to make money is not necessarily that banner ads don't bring in enough money, but that bandwidth costs so much.

    We recently leased a second server from our hosting company only because we needed to extra bandwidth that came with the package. It will be nice in the future if bandwith costs are brought down further. That way, you would definitely see an increase in the number of "hobby" and "fan". Right now, if you grow too fast, you will pretty much run yourself out of buisness.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @05:57AM (#504603) Homepage Journal
    In truth /. kind of has it right as most of the ads are very targeted (I said most and yes the anitrust ads were just awful) but many times the ads on /. are for stuff I might really look at and therefore my clickthrough rate here is many times what it is on other sites (one or two a month) and I don't mind seeing most of them. But some other sites (debianhelp.org) have some of the oddest ads for a tech site and I do block them through my firewall at home. So I think like most other mediums those that understand who they are talking to will continue to do fine and those who don't will either get a clue or go away.
  • The fundamental problem with internet advertising is that the internet is a really lousy way to force information on your customers. What the internet excels in is making information accessible to customers, for them to peruse at their leisure.

    A successful internet venture will use this to their advantage - make your site a resource for people who also happen to be potential customers. That way, they track you down, not the other way around.

    An example of a web site that does this well is Summit Racing [summitracing.com]. People can go there for information, and by the way find out all sorts of neat stuff they want to buy. If you try and search for information on racing equipment, you'll likely be led to that site. Lo and behold, you can order the stuff you discover you need right there...

    Any information you try and force on people will just be filtered. Either by software, or by the person's brain. They'll skip to the information they actually want.

    To put it another way, the best way to advertise is to provide useful content.

  • ...or do you also blame me for not reading the newspaper ads?

    I agree with you 100%, but I don't think the analogy works. Maybe a better one would be someone with a Tivo who tapes his shows and watches them later, fast-forwarding through the commercials. I don't feel guilty about doing that and I don't think anybody should. I also don't feel guilty about using Junkbuster. At a site I like (like Something Awful [somethingawful.com], I'll sometimes click on the blank banners just to give that webmaster the clickthroughs as a kind of "thank you."

    I'll tell you this, though: I don't go around to all my friends talking about how everybody should use Junkbuster. If proxies that eliminate banner ads become prevalent on the 'net, I think advertisers are just going to come up with sneakier ways to force ads on us.
  • I'm surprised that the bulk of the discussion here is along the lines of "How can we make advertising work on the internet?". This question presupposes that advertising on the internet is a good thing. Not to sound patronizing, but this is the real question that should be up for debate.

    For someone who is bombarded by advertising every day, it may be difficult to see it for what it really is. Subtle mind control, 2nd generation corporate propaganda, a full-scale assault on free will. This may sound paranoid and extremist, but really think about it. Advertising is not informational- it does not appeal to your powers of logic.

    In addition to the inherit problems with advertising, online advertising results in spam and privacy violations (in the name of "audience targetting").

    I don't think it's at all obvious that we should publish designer disinformation in order to publish real information.

    What does advertising give us? Is it worth the cost? Is there really no other way to finance information? I would dearly hope that the answer to this last question is no. Every once in a while I hear someone mention the idea of micropayments. I know that I would pay small amounts of money in lieu of watching advertising. Advertising *does* cost you- it's not really free. You might as well pay for it up front where you can see all of the costs, and make decisions based on reason.

  • Well this is admittedly a comparative measure. When I started out online, there was no such thing as spam. That rapidly changed, until at one point I was getting 20-30 spams/day! Now I get maybe five per week, across all of my accounts. I am confident that by this time next year, that number will drop to 1/week.

    Usenet spam is down too, amazingly. Truth is that any actual company has learned (often the hard way) that spam hurts them. The only spammers left are a few die-hard fly-by-night operators who are looking for that one remaining sucker, and are finding him (the sucker) harder to discover.

    OK, it ain't _quite_ dead. It's on its way out, though.

  • The real problem with Internet Advertising is that the advertisers are going about it all wrong. Just because it's the net doesn't mean you change the way you advertise, or the way you pay for it. Web pages are like TV stations. Advertisers don't get to charge the TV station per "click-through", so why should the net change that? Click-through should be treated like commission.

    Right now, the current paradigm is that advertisers make shitty ads, and the web hosts suffer because no one clicks on the shitty ads. The web host goes under, so people assume that internet ads don't work. WRONG. You need to make your ads compelling enough to drive response rate. If you're not getting click-through, it doesn't mean that the web host isn't doing their job ... they shouldn't have to BEG for clicks just to pay the bills. It means your AD isn't doing it's job.

    Sales for ads should go like this: The advertiser pays x amount for posting the ad on your site per month (determined by average traffic, just like the networks), and an additional nickel per click commission. This is fair to the web host (who needs to increase their reader base to get more "guaranteed" money) and to the advertiser, who only pays more when they are getting customers.

    My point is, the onus should NOT be on the web host, but on the advertiser, just like it is everywhere else.

    And please ... stop thos friggin' ads that look like system notifications, and pop-up windows. That's what's souring net users on Ads.

  • by Sodium Attack ( 194559 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @06:02AM (#504620)
    It's now possible to prevent tracking while still seeing banner ads--for example, Netscape 6's ability to allow or disallow cookies on a site-by-site basis.
  • I'm a lot more likely to click through an ad on /. than most other places, but even when I see something that catches my attention, I often don't click on it. It just gets filed away somewhere in my mind until I'm actually looking for the advertised product or service, at which time I'm more likely to remember that company and pay them a visit. I see the ads more like billboards on the side of the road. Sure I don't look at them all the time, but sometimes they make an impression and get some business for that company somewhere down the road.

  • And no matter how many times I punch/zap the monkey, I never get 20 actual real US dollars. False advertising at its finest.
  • Actually, a large portion of the interesting sites on the web would die without banner ads.

    Come to think of it, a large portion of the sites on the web would die.

    Without support from ads, every free web hosting service would be GONE. All those sites that offer free space to upload stuff to? (ie nbci sharehouse, idrive, etc) They're gone too! The list goes on and on...

    Then there are the sites like SomethingAwful. Lowtax spent a *lot* of time on that site, and counted on the ad income in order to make it all worthwhile. IMO, this was one of the best sites on the web, and it may be gone now, because of the lack of payment.

    Penny-arcade recently talked about this, how if they weren't going to get paid, they wouldn't be able to do the site anymore, I imagine most web comics would be the same.

    Think andover would keep Slashdot up if there were no income from banner ads? I doubt it.

    The point is here, that just about every site that requires the author(s) to put any substantial amount of time into it is USUALLY counting on the banner ad income. Taking that away, (as we're currently seeing with SA) in more cases than not, leads to the death of the site.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • Look, yes, most of the companies suck big-time. But it's amazing that the /. culture is happy to come out and say "Banner ads don't work" based on their experience. It's like me saying "Linux doesn't work" because I was stupid enough to make my first newbie install attempt w/ slackware and I couldn't work out how to fix it.

    Repeat after me: Click-throughs != effectiveness

    1) Internet advertising can build brand. It's proven.

    2) Internet advertising can generate a consumer response. That's proven too.

    3) Building brand and generating response are two different objectives, requiring different strategies and - most of all - different means of measuring effectiveness.

    Hardly Ph.D material. Yet even usually sane commentators such as the Industry Standard still point to declining click-through rates as an indicator that banners don't work. They obviously haven't read the recent AdKnowledge study which notes a slight *negative* correlation between customers who click-through and customers who buy.

    If you need to know why clicks don't work, have a look at Rex Briggs' excellent (and brief) admonition: "Abolish Click-through Now!"

    http://www.iab.net/conference/ny99/ abolish.html

    If you're still thinking that online advertising doesn't work *at all*, you should probably check out the massive Online Advertising Effectiveness study led by Briggs for Milward Brown Interactive:

    http://www.mbinteractive.com/site/iab/ exec.html

    This is one of the largest advertising effectiveness surveys conducted in *any medium*, and if you're still listening to Nielsen sprouting his unsubstantiated opinions on this topic, you need your head examined.

    - Danny

  • By the way, did anyone else have the same problem finding the download link? The two other people I sent to the site had a hard time finding it too.

    That's really interesting, I had exactly the same problem. The "Download for free" text is a muted gray that doesn't stand out at all (at least on Netscape 4.7), and the image link [apple.com] does look like it's just a pretty picture, especially since it's surrounded by other non-clickable images. You're right, Apple of all companies should know better than this.

  • I was reading a few weeks ago that most people agree banner ads are mostly useless at this point. 90% (or higher!) simply ignore them.

    The future for advertising on the internet is to make it more like television and radio where the program (or in this case the web page) is interuppted by an ad. Example: You are reading an article at nytimes.com, after about 5 minutes or so the web page redirects you to another page which is entirely an ad. You're forced to watch it (some flash animation perhaps) for 10 - 15 seconds then it brings you back to the article.

    Most people won't stand for this you say? Well, what if we're not given a choice. Companies will simply adopt this form (or something similar) of advertising without giving us a choice. There was a time before banner ads when most people thought that any ad on a web site was silly.
  • This is a slightly naive point-of-view. Many sites wouldn't exist if it wasn't for ad revenue. My own personal site wouldn't exist if it weren't for the few hundred dollars I pull in through side web projects.

    I'm sort of reminded of the Denis Leary commercials he did for IBM some years back where he yells at the idealistic kids who kept saying things like business shouldn't have anything to do with the internet. Although, in hindsight, I'm sure many businesses were wishing they had left the internet alone.

  • > Oh, and everyone is going to put up their websites at their own cost, as a labor of love?
    >
    > Oh, I dunno, in some ways the web was a lot better when this was still true.

    I was about to just agree blindly with you (I remember that time), and then it hit me. I'm surprised nobody's thought of this before.

    Suppose you put up a site as a labor of love. It grows, ad-free, by word of mouth, because your content r00lz - "content is king!" - until it starts to cost serious cash to pay for the bandwidth. It's basically a Slashdot effect with dollars, and bits-per-month, not hits-per-second.

    What happens when a site is Slashdotted? It gets mirrored.

    What's the analogy to Laybor Olove mirroring his site? Getting his friend Mirr Roar to mirror it for him.

    Now you've got two identical sites paying half of what Laybor was gonna hafta pay. If that's beneath their ISPs' "$10/month flat rate", the site remains free.

    More people like the site? More people replicate its content. More people mirror it.

    Freenet.

    I think I've found the "killer app" for Freenet beyond pr0n, DeCSS and mp3z.

    It'll take a while for bandwidth to catch up and Freenet to scale to this level, but I think there's something at least semi-useful in the idea of end users independently replicating preferred content.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @03:33PM (#504647)
    >The audio ads are getting over a %5.00 CTR.

    How many are real clickthroughs and how many are people frantically clicking for anything near the ad that resembles a "stop" button to get the fsckin' thing to shut up so they can continue to listen to the MP3 they had as background music?

    (If I want your web site to make noise, I'll rub my moistened finger on the screen.)

  • ... and the reason the web is so popular now is because of all the great sites.......

    THAT ARE FUNDED OFF OF ADVERTISING! (GASP!)

    Do you *really* want the internet to revert back to it's pre-ad days? Think that one through a bit.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • It just seems stupid. But what the hell do I know. I'm not in it for the money. So I guess that means I'm evil, evil, evil!

    Well, look at it this way. If you could spend $2000 of your own money every month without banner ads to have other people look at your stuff or $1500 with banner ads, which would you prefer? These people are often spending sizeable amounts of their own money to keep their site going for the sole purpose of entertaining the public.

    They're not in it for the money, either, or else they wouldn't be spending their own just to keep their site up! Blocking their ads is the rough equivalent of saying, "I want you to have to pay more so I can see your site every day."

    I consider that to be evil, evil, evil.

    information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.

  • 1. If you want me to pay for information, make me pay for information. It's not like all those thousands of people reading somethingawful.com are hacking their way in.

    2. If you want to get me to read ads by providing interesting content, join the club. That's what newspapers, radio & tv do.

    3. No one, in the long term, has, "done their part", by watching ads. To carry your analogy further, why on earth do you have the right to watch an ad that cost time & money to produce without buying something??

    Do you buy products you hear advertised on the radio out of sympathy for the radio station?

    No, I didn't think so.
  • Sites like /. that appeal to a small but loyal demographic could probably take a similar approach to public TV -- ask for voluntary contributions. If the payment method is painless enough (and small enough), a web site should be able to pay for it's hosting fees and give it's creator/staff enough income to live off of.

    I ran a 2-line BBS this way from late 89 to mid-92. I got enough money from voluntary contributions to pay for the extra phone lines and for occasional hardware upgrades. This wasn't a huge system - I had just under 1000 registered users and about 100 regulars. I did offer a few incentives to get people to pay: paying members got their download quotas disabled, 90 minutes max connection instead of 60, and got their name up on the contributiors page. Not really that much of an incentive, but it worked. Most of the money I collected went to Ma Bell, but I had enough left over for hardware upgrades and even to throw an occasional party for my users.

    Let's look at the expenses for a hypothetical web site: say $50,000 initial hardware investment, $5000 a month for bandwidth/co-lo, and salaries for a staff of 3 [a techie, a writer, and an artist; ideally each person wears at least 2 of these hats] at $8000 a month each. This comes out to about 400k per year operating expenses.

    With an active readership of 100,000 you would need an average of $4 per year per user to cover expenses. There are several ways you could raise this. Under the public TV model, you could offer membership + a goodie (branded coffee mug, tee-shirt, etc) for a $25 donation. Figuring $5 cost for the goodie, this would mean you'd need to get about 20% of your active readers signed up as sponsors. This certianly seems doable.

    Using affiliate programs for sponsored, targeted links (like a link to buy the book/game/whatever you are reviewing) would give you another way to cover expenses. Let's say you do one book review a week. 100,000 readers times 52 reviews is a lot of opportunities to sell a book. If you get $1 commission off of each sale, you'd need to get about 8% of the people who read a given review to buy the product.

    Granted, you won't get rich under this scheme, but that's not the idea anyway. The idea is to let a small group of people make a decent living running a website.

  • >and with advertising money drying up more and more every day (yes, we felt that too)

    the money drying up is not the public's fault, most of whom didn't like ads. Business knows people go to toilets, get chips, or just zap away during commercial breaks. Now it turns out that ads on the web don't work, and businesses are withdrawing money. Yes, this may hurt the hobby site. However.. you didn't 'sell' click-throughs, you sold a space on your page(s), so don't blame me for not behaving as you would like. you simply cant sell my behavior. the fact that businesses don't want to advertise more is their own fault for choosing a dodgy business method.

    //rdj
  • My site has been running for almost five years now. I've been through six or seven different advertising networks in that time. Our site has around 1.5 million unique visitors a month and over two million registered users...We are "home grown" as the site started as a hobby and just kept growing (no VC, no angel, etc).

    One of the major problems with Internet advertising is that you CAN track the results so readily. Advertisers not only know that they are getting one click per one thousand banners, typically the more advanced also track how many people PURCHASE a product or HOW MUCH TIME they spend on the site after clicking through. So people suggesting that you can just click on a banner and then close the window are mistaken.

    I personally believe that if such advanced tracking was available for television or print ads, marketing folks would be just as disappointed in the results.

    And now, on to the important stuff. Here are some tips for people running sites that rely on advertising. This is based on five years of experience dealing with advertising networks and agencies.

    • Do not sign exclusive agreements! Exclusive agreements are a trap. NEVER sign off to one company, even if it means a lower split. You want them working for you, not the reverse.
    • Use multiple networks/agencies. If you have the traffic, use two or three different networks. Most will perform around the same level, but you can tweak your inventory from month to month. If Company A does better than Company B this month, Company A gets more ads next month.
    • Don't believe your contract. We were an early member of the Flycast network before they were acquired by Engage. Our contract states a 70/30% split (us receieving 70%). Last month they decided to change it to 50/50. If we don't accept, they stop serving ads for us. While there may be some degree of legal remedy here, the cost makes it prohibitive (little company vs big company lawyers). Just don't believe your contract protects you from them changing the terms...And believe that THEY will enforce their end of the contract.
    • Analyze your banner inventory. Good click-thrus bring in better campaigns. I have seen sites earn twice as much money with the same audience and ad views simply because their click-thru rate was (slightly) higher than another site. Examine each ad slot (if you can) and group together the spots with high click throughs and low click throughs...This way you can give "premium" placement to campaigns or networks that are earning you more money and they will see better results. Using one ad tag across the whole site will result in lower revenue.
    • Don't rely on advertising. Not many sites can do this successfully, but most haven't tried. Create optional membership programs with a small fee attached to them...This is what we have been doing. You would be surprised how loyal some visitors can be...Ask yourself this question, would you pay $20 a year to help keep /. going? I know I would, but we don't have the option, so /. is losing out on revenue (big no no). The best defense against falling ad rates is to not have to rely on them. Look at sponsorship possibilities...Diversifying your site's income can make a huge difference in the bottom-line.
    I could ramble on but that's the best of what I have learned. I won't send an invoice either! ;)

    Case

  • "Advertising just needs to look at the model used in television, you don't just see adverts for other TV channels - this is purely the internet method. No, you see advertisments for washing powers, cloths, consumables, household objects. Real stuff that you can touch and feel."

    Agreed, on both points you're making: the 'Net is currently very self-referencing, and when you get there, it's all air-head trivia. I believe the correct term is `e-commerce'.

    "Until the internet reaches this level of advertising, it'll still be an immature media."

    `Medium', singluar, HTH.
    But otherwise, you're right. Of course it's immature. It's all too entertainment-biassed as well; and you look at the UK government implementing the RIP B[iu]ll and wonder, what is their definition of `e-commerce' that they think it's protecting?
    ~Tim
    --
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • by jhines ( 82154 ) <john@jhines.org> on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @06:14AM (#504666) Homepage
    "Advertisers, whom the entire Internet is funded by"

    Excuse me? The Internet existed before it was allowed to be used for commercial purposes, much less advertising. Advertising is a Jonny-come-lately, trying to make money off of something, which has a strong culture against it.

    That is the whole point of the article, you can't fund the Internet off of advertising.
  • by Sodium Attack ( 194559 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @06:15AM (#504667)
    DEATH TO MODERN-DAY ADVERTISING!!! Today's ads don't just inform us of a product's existence; they also prey on our minds with flashing text, glitzy graphics, buzzwords by the dozen, and little white lies. Fortunately, we have the right to censor those ads; unfortunately, not all of us have the knowledge to do so. I'm striving to change that.

    How, then, do you propose to support sites?

    One option is to support a site through voluntary contributions (PayPal is one possible mechanism for doing so, but not the only one, and not without its own problems.) I know one author (whom I won't link to because I don't want to slashdot her) who has been informed by her free hosting service that they are not raising enough revenue through banner ads, so they want to go to pop-ups. She is currently taking a poll of her readers as to whether they would rather have pop-ups, or support her through voluntary contributions. Right now the majority seems to be willing to contribute, although it is not an overwhelming majority--there's quite a few people who say they wouldn't mind pop-ups. (Interestingly, most of those comment something along the lines of "I can kill the pop-up windows faster than they can load," which suggests to me that pop-up windows will not be a viable advertising mechanism, either.)

    There's any number of good sites which I would be willing to donate a small amount to in order to keep them going. However, the maelstrom of misinformation that is Slashdot is not one of them. (Granted, I speak only for myself.)

  • What makes you think I work for Target [target.com]? Perhaps I just think Target [target.com] is representative of the kind of business that would benefit from inline advertising.

    Perhaps I actually DO work for Target [target.com], but I'm just posting this stuff straight up. They may have software in their firewall that modifies my outgoing data and automatically inserts anchor tags and their URL around the word Target [target.com] whenever it appears. (There's an evil [microsoft.com] thought, isn't it?)

    But to answer your question, yes, I do work for Target [target.com]. Or at least Marshall Field's [marshallfields.com].

    John

  • Why does every banner use animation of some sort? Jakob Nielson has it right at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990502.html [useit.com].

    users have started equating such designs with advertising which they routinely ignore. These days, it is extremely important for any content and navigation elements to look very different than prevailing advertising designs since users tune out anything that they don't think will be relevant to their task.

    An example of this is I went to download a program [apple.com] and couldn't find it because the only link to download was a flashy graphic. I spent 5 minutes looking for the text that said "download" but didn't see the big graphical link saying "download for free" right at the top. This was iTunes, by the way, on Apple's site. I couldn't believe they made such a big mistake.

    People just filter anything resembling an ad out as a matter of course. If advertisers were smart they would design oddly shaped static and text based ads to get people to pay more attention to them. So yeah, advertisers should target more, but they need to be a little smarter about the way ads are designed too.

    By the way, did anyone else have the same problem finding the download link? The two other people I sent to the site had a hard time finding it too.

  • Penguin Computing, ThinkGeek, and Dotster have gotten my attention and my money via Slashdot.

    Now that I know that CmdrTaco et al have no say over the advertising, I'm far less interested in it. At one point it seemed to have more of a connection to the site. Nowadays it looks a little too much like the typical marketing-think -- "Hey the techies are here and we're supposed to sell to the techies!"

    Imagine if the advertising were run via the same model that the site is run. Imagine if the ads were selected by the editors, in the same way that stories are selected. Imagine if the ads were moderated in the same way that posts are moderated. (Well, maybe not exactly the same way. There would undoubtedly be trouble with that.)

    After a while, even the casual browser would know that these ads were different/special. These ads cried for you not to actively ignore them, but to actively pay attention to them. They would be there for a reason, not just because they fit someone else's idea of a target market.

    Editorially, we know that /. and the ads are handled by separate departments. That's where the whole thing breaks down!

  • How, then, do you propose to support sites?

    I don't. It's not my job to make them profitable enough to keep on working. It's theirs. The burden is on them, not me.

    And yes, I'm running one of those sites myself (take a look [dubbele.com]), and I've got other ways to make it possible to go on doing it without banner ads, and I expect to continue working on the site for quite a while. I've found a way, I'm sure others can as well.

    -John

  • No problem. My current adblocker already stops meta refresh tags as well, so I'm not even going to notice that change.

    The problem here (well, I don't consider it a problem :-) is that all the rendering and interpretation is done on the client side, so you'll have an arms race, which the client is likely to win, especially if advertising is trying things that are more irritating, like the example you're giving, than banner ads.

  • He makes it sounds like that targeted advertising doesn't exist. He is so wrong there. I used to work for one of the largest banner ad software companies. Our software supported all sorts of methods for targeting. This could be combined with the site's own tracking data to create ads that are appropriate for the surfer in question. Banner ad software can get surprisingly complex when targeting, inventory managment, and tracking come in to play. Lack of targeting has nothing to do with why banner ad companies have fallen apart.
    Companies that buy the ads are realizing that it is difficult to create a presense through online ads alone but easier to do through tv, magazine, and even radio ads. These ads are larger, more interesting, and more difficult to avoid. Most banner ads are completly uninteresting. Meanwhile, BudBowl attracted a ton of attention. Poeple were actually betting on the result and made sure not to miss those commercials. Apple's 1984 commercial only had to be aired once to leave a permanent mark on the industry and set the ton for Apple for years to come. Until high speed access becomes a reality for a majority of internet users, banner ads will continue to stink. As the average bandwidth rises, more experimentation will be done with flash, java, streaming video, and other higher quality ads. The goal is to have the quality of a standard tv commercial but with interactivity. Just click on a gap dancer to by her jeans. This lack of quality keeps many non-Internet companies away from the net. They just don't see the need for internet advertising. For example, which is more likely to get you interested in car, a ugly animated gif of it zooming by, or a beautifull scene of it racing down a hill in the woods? Meanwhile, the net companies for whom it would make sense to advertise on the net are going out of business. Even Yahoo gets 30% of its ad revenue from pure dotcoms. Lose 50% of those companies and that is a significant effect on your bottom line.
    Eventually, the Internet, radio, and tv will become more intertwined and more interactive. I see the net splitting like tv did, with pay services and ad supported services. Imagine HBO-Online vs. CBS-Online. Ads will continue to live on because people will always be willing to sit through them for free services. Always.
  • Oh, and everyone is going to put up their websites at their own cost, as a labor of love?

    Of course not, they'll find other ways to make money off the site. Take a look at mine [dubbele.com], and see if there's any banner ads. Yet, I'm very happy with the results the site has brought me.

    -John

  • Though I have no interest in paying for most web content, much less double paying for ISP and content, there are a few systems similar to this scenario already in action.

    Everyone has access to a bi-directional data service that can transmit almost any type of content anywhere in the world: the postal service. Most people pay for this indirectly via taxes and directly via postage charges. And people get a great deal of "content" free (coupons, ads, bill reminders, etc.) But for premium content, there are additional charges -- I have to pay the subscription fee for Newsweek. I already pay, in some fashion for access to Newsweek, so I'd rather not pay again for the content, but that's how it works.

    Phone service:
    Basic monthly fee just to have phone service (regardless of usage), plus taxes for various services (911, and such). And I still don't have access to the premium services (e.g. long-distance, voicemail) Those require additional monthly fees.

    I don't relish the notion of basic phone service plus ISP charges plus web-content costs just to read CNN.com. But I won't be surprised to see it in the next few years, because but it's no different from how most everything else works: I pay for access and then I pay for additional services.
    -----
    D. Fischer
  • I asked a representative of some audience metrics agency whether they were concerned about ad-blocking software. He told me that
    1. The numbers are not significant
    2. People who go to the extreme of finding and installing anti-ad software, won't be a good target for advertisement.

    __
  • It's possible that both of these behaviors are designed IN.

    The first -- annoying flashy grpahics that are distracting? Perfect. You saw them. If only for one second to drag the scrollbar down far enough to ignore them, they caught your eye. They're like the horrible local TV ads for a home improvement center. They have a hick banjo theme, their volume levels are twice that of the surrounding program, and the announcer is so excited about the value of one-coat paint that you want to throw a brick through your TV. But they catch you, and that's their point.

    Second, if you have a page that displays the banner ad at the top for a few seconds before finishing the page, you have the equivalent of a commercial. What if dubbleclick decided to not transmit the last byte of their banner ads until a five second pause had elapsed? You'd see their banner for five seconds before the connection was released and freed up to go grab further graphics. For all I know, this might be what they're doing today (not that the Proxomitron [cjb.net] lets me see this evil behavior, however...)

    John

  • >Macromedia is trying to promote shockwave to make adverts more compelling.

    You ad folks don't get it.

    I don't go to SomethingAwful, or HardOCP, or /., or ArsTechnica, to see the ads.

    I go there for the content.

    Ad-sponsored or not, I'm not there to see the ads. The ads - and the more bandwidth you suck by making them more "compelling" - are an impediment to me getting what I want.

    If I had an OC-3, maybe I wouldn't care. (But I'd still block all the cookies and tracking data for privacy reasons).

    But as long as I have something less than an OC-3, the ads stand between me and what I want. And I don't give a rat's ass how compelling the advertisers think they are.

    Until advertisers figure out that The. Web. Is. Not. TV., they'll continue to fail.

  • Why doesn't your friend find an ISP with web hosting?

    If her site is so popular as to attracts thousands of visitors she could probably get some of them to host some of the site. Perhaps she could have various people host the graphics for example. That way she wouldn't be providing all the bandwidth.

    If her site is even bigger than that, maybe it's something so useful that a university or other institution will decide to host it. (Like a FAQ, or a foo-help group.)

    That would completely avoid the need to go to popups (which any user with WebWasher (or programming skills) doesn't even see) or ask for cash donations.

    If she's unwilling, well there IS the option of just paying for the web hosting.
  • I agree.

    If the ad banners aren't creating revenue, then whose fault is that? The fact that the audience isn't held captive by some kind technology that forcefully, uncircumventably links content with ads? Or the fact that the ads are simply not captivating, not compelling. Or that the products, services, and deals in the ads aren't compelling.

    Personally, I once saw an ad banner on Yahoo that was compelling. A Visa card with 9.9% interest. I clicked through, and signed up. Most other banners weren't so lucky.

    Side note: I plan on going to see AntiTrust, probably at the video rentals. (until Movie theaters bundle in free quality babysitting - that's the way it's going to be; some movies NEED to be seen on the big screen, others - well, will be just fine on video). But I learned about AntiTrust through TV commercials, not internet banners. (and that's a rare thing, because I usually just skip over commercials with my DishPlayer).
  • They could ask people to donate webspace. If my favorite net comics asked, I'd be willing to let them use the bandwidth that I pay for but don't actually use.

    If the site is so popular as to cost $1500 a month to host (which seems high, considering you could get an unmetered T1 for less than that) then you should have enough readers to ask for help.

    Look to the old model for clues. Someone would write a FAQ and they'd send it out. People would mirror it and send a link to the author. That author would then include the mirror links into the document so that future readers could use the mirror sites. Then if everyone picked a random link (as you should try to do when using mirrors - or the one closest to you) the bandwidth would be shared and nobody would have to pay extra.

    Only if the author wanted to keep the only distributable copy of the work would they have to host the whole thing themselves. If the goal is to draw a comic and get it out to the people, to become famous, or just share the fun, then just distribute the comics.

    Kevin and Kell (one netcomic I read) does this. You can download a zip file of all of the comics (well, a year at a time) to save bandwidth to the site. The author has effectively said by doing this that they care much more about people reading the comic (and probably buying a book, or asking their newspaper to carry the comic, etc) than they do about page views. I'd certainly be willing to mirror this zipfile if asked and I'm sure many other fans would agree.
  • > on the internet, where the advertiser can monitor (some of) the effectiveness of an ad directly (click-through rate),

    Stop right there.

    Is the effectiveness of the ad measured by the clickthrough rate or by sales figures?

    If you're a site owner - clickthroughs matter because clickthroughs are what you get paid for.

    But if you're the guy who owns the banner ad, all the clickthroughs in the world don't matter unless they're translated into sales.

    I'd love to know what percentage of today's clickthroughs are real clickthroughs ("hey, this product looks cool") versus charity ("I like the guy's site, I'll give him $0.10 by clicking here").

    An ad agency is merely a bunch con men whose job it is to fool one group of suckers (a company) into thinking the agency can fool an even bigger group of suckers (the audience).

    > Advertising has been "found out" by the internet.

    Amen, brother. The jig is up. If bandwidth were too cheap to meter, I wouldn't mind downloading the huge ads. But if bandwidth were too cheap to meter, I wouldn't have to see the ads, because the content provider wouldn't need the revenue the ads provide.

  • What topic would that be? That sites that depend on advertising are going to go away if the advertisers do?

    Won't bother me.

    I pay for my internet account, which include a lot of web traffic (disk space is essentially free until you hit a gig.) If I have any content that I benefit from having people see, I can host it without advertising. And in the internet culture, if my website gets too many hits, people will mirror it for me because they'll find it useful.

    This may not work for Slashdot, or SomethingAwful, but then, if their users are unwilling to fund them, doesn't that say something about their perceived value? If he can't afford the bandwidth to reach people maybe he should either let people mirror the work or take it off the net.

    It has often been said that money is the most sincere form of flattery, if nobody is willing to donate, they obviously don't care. And with sites like FairTunes (who aren't limited to music) appearing, anyone who wants to can help pay someone's bills.

    Personally I find Something Awful quite funny, but then I read about fifteen net comics on a semi-regular basis and The Onion and other satire sites. SA is the quality of work that used to be free. Moreover, it's the quality of work that I would release for free. And yes, I am being honest here. I've written at least six freeware utilities over the years for various tasks from pulling files off of Apple ][ disk images to image conversion.

    The net got along just fine before advertising, and it'll get along just fine after advertising. If, that is, advertising goes away. The net may be more popular these days but almost everything I want to do on the net has remained unchanged since the old days. Then you had to FTP to someone's site to grab the net comic, but they still existed. The main new things are banner ads, lawyers, spam, and millions of consumers (not creators) of content.

    Few things make me happier than seeing some dot-com that spent millions on domain names and lawsuit over domain names, and lawyers, going out of business. Maybe if they'd saved the money they dumped into super-bowl ads and lawsuits they could afford to pay their employees. Then all they'd need would be a business plan and a product.
  • I've noticed though that this \hosts file solution causes serious instability in Netscape 4.76 on NT 4.0.

    Netscape wasn't all that stable to begin with, but I frequently get Dr. Watsons while Netscape is trying to munch on a site with a lot of ad content that it can't read because hosts directed it to 127.0.0.1. And often, site downloads take LONGER - it's as if Netscape is waiting to timeout the download or something. Totally sucky.
    I'm not saying it's a bad solution, I'm say8ing that Netscape seems to have some problems dealing with this solution.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @09:28AM (#504689)
    > clicking the ad as a way of saying "Thank you" to someone who has provided me with entertainment/information [ ... ] I'll do the old right-click, open in a new window, then close it as soon as something comes up - I don't even bother to read it.

    Unfortunately, while this is a good short-term solution and helps your favored site today, it doesn't solve the fundamental problem, which is that the ad hasn't resulted in a sale for the company whose banner you clicked.

    Sooner or later, that company's gonna realize that despite all the hits its website has gotten, nobody's buying anything. Despite all the money it's given to its ad agency, it hasn't gotten a return on its investment.

    It stops doing business via banner ads. The ad agency goes titsup.com and stops paying per clickthrough, because each clickthrough is worth less to it.

    And your favorite site still goes down because it doesn't have enough revenue.

    I've got nothing against clicking on the odd banner as an act of charity to a webmaster. I do it myself from time to time. But I have no illusions that it's gonna solve The Problem.

  • Why do they even HAVE to advertise on the Internet? Just because its there DOESN'T mean it has to be advertised on.

    Oh, and everyone is going to put up their websites at their own cost, as a labor of love?

    How many times have you waited for a site to load because some ad company server is lagged trying to serve the ad in the page?

    A well-designed page will be able to be rendered regardless of whether the ad (or any other image, for that matter) has loaded yet. If the rest of the page won't display until the ad has loaded, that's the fault of the site designer.

  • I noticed a strong, consistent assumption that plays throughout the essay: "Internet industry" == "advertising industry" (or rather, "Internet industry" belongs to the set "advertising industries".

    Consider this quote: Advertisers, whom the entire Internet is funded by, . . .

    And, down on the page a bit, the heading How can the Internet survive with the first sentence beginning If the advertising market is going to last. . .

    Is this a true assumption? I don't know the answer, but it seems a question worth asking. In other words, if online advertising just went away, would the Internet therefore disappear?

    -----------------------------------

  • I'm going through enormous problems trying find ways to break even on my site (in my sig). Right now it's down as we're moving servers, but a) no one wants to advertise with us because of our borderline content and b) our host won't let us run adult ads. So we're between a rock and a hard place, and have been rejected by around 14 banner networks. We got accepted to 1, and then cancelled, as most of our users view around 200 pages per session. Even if they DID click once, that's still a horrible ratio.

    I guess there are some sites banner ads just plain don't work for, and I'm one of those. :( It's a true shame about somethingawful though. His bandwidth bill must truly be ridiculous, and eFront has screwed his site up since day 1 of him moving there. I really have no answers on how people who run sites for fun are going to break even. Right now I'm paying out of pocket, but I can only afford to do that for so long. Then, like everyone else, the plug will eventually get pulled, someone will start up another site, it'll grow fairly decently, and they'll have to pull the plug too. :(

    What a shame. :( Too bad bandwidth is so goddamn expensive. If the price of it was cheaper, and hopefully will be in the future, maybe this wouldn't be such an issue.
  • This results in a 404 error where the banner ad should've been. The link will still work, but you won't have to see (or download) the 468x60 banner ad (or the treeloot Javascript monkey).

    DEATH TO MODERN-DAY ADVERTISING!!! Today's ads don't just inform us of a product's existence; they also prey on our minds with flashing text, glitzy graphics, buzzwords by the dozen, and little white lies. Fortunately, we have the right to censor those ads; unfortunately, not all of us have the knowledge to do so. I'm striving to change that.

    Hear, hear. What better way to encourage individuals to set up and maintain sites like SomethingAwful?

    "Hey, I like your site and visit it every day, but no way in HELL am I gonna contribute to YOUR banner revenue!"

    There are a handful of really quality websites out there that are run by dedicated individuals who generally end up paying considerable sums out of their own pockets to provide the world with their site. Pete at Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com] is one. Jon at Goats [goats.com] is another. They're great people, and they pour a great deal of personal time, thought and energy into something that generally ends up costing them money. The more people there are blocking the ads on their site, the more they need to pay out of their own pocket to keep their site going.

    I honestly hope your little crusade to "educate" people into blocking ads falls on it's ass. I don't like that Treeloot monkey much, either, but I'm not enough of a jerk to deny the keepers of my favorite sites what little return for their investment they get.

    Or had you never really considered that you were telling the guy who writes all that stuff you really like to go piss up a rope?

    information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.

  • Lately, especially when I run my own site, I've started clicking on the ads on purpose, since some sites (aka mine) only get paid not by what you see, but by what you click.

    So I'll do the old right-click, open in a new window, then close it as soon as something comes up - I don't even bother to read it. That way the sites I like get supported by the advertisers seeing folks clicking on ads(at least until micropayments become a reality).

    In my mind, spending 5 seconds of my life by clicking the ad as a way of saying "Thank you" to someone who has provided me with entertainment/information isn't going to kill me.
    John "Dark Paladin" Hummel

  • While that quote filled me with as much bile as I'm sure it did to you, I'm afraid that the anti-advertising culture of the internet is crumbling with the constant onslaught of ads. Hell, the original mandate for the internet forbade advertising, and look at where we are now.

  • The visits to a site determine if a banner is or is not efficient. IMO this is the wrong way to approach it. Sure, when someone clicks on a banner you may have a potential customer. But if someone doesn't click on the banner it doesn't have to mean that this "loss of click" is wasted money. What about the reconation of the name and/or site? If people see a banner more then one time chances are high that they'll remember the name/site and may even tell others (who may need a place to buy a product) about it.

    Sure, Internet is young and dynamic but also seems clueless in some matters. These studies have been done before and I really wonder why Internet would be so much different ? IMHO the whole "Internet advertisement" is pulled out of proportions big time which may also be the reason that some (IMO tweaked) results are dissapointing.

  • This article was so full of silly bollocks that I don't know how they managed to get any content in. Consider, for instance, "Advertisers, whom the entire Internet is funded by..."

    What internet is HE living on???

    Spam doesn't work (and is dying out almost completely). Pop up windows when you leave a website (i.e. what porn sites were so famous for) don't work. Pay-per-click doesn't work. And now it's finally sinking in that banner ads don't work.

    Big surprise there.

    Let's break down the different uses of the web, and look at how advertising fits into it. First of all, there's company (information) sites. These sites ARE advertising, just as surely as a catalog of new cars from Porsche, or a paper ad in Automobile. This is very important: COMPANY WEB SITES ARE VEHICLES FOR ***SUCCESSFUL*** ADVERTISING! They work, because they're perfectly targeted to the people who go there looking for information!

    Secondly, there's the 'portals.' They're nothing but conventional ads, for the most part; and they work moderately well. Go to yahoo.com. Nearly all of those links eventually lead to paid-for corporate ads, and people tend to use them.

    Then there's information/discussion sites, like /. and thousands of others. This is a sticky one--how does /. defray their costs? Understand here that they don't necessarily have to be a profit making venture--hobbyists can (and will!) easily run discussion sites if their continuing net outlay is zero, but they can't afford to dump tons of money into it. This is where banner ads seem like the most successful model, and yet they still don't work. What can be done then?

    The answer is obvious, and being done right now. Discussion sites (and the like) will be owned and operated as a non-profit branch of profit-making companies. Yahoo owns Geocities. /. is part of the Andover realm. THE PROFIT-MAKING COMPANIES WILL OPERATE NON-PROFIT SERVICES AS AN INHERENT ADVERTISING REVENUE STREAM. They'll do this without banner ads, and they'll do it successfully.

  • by Luminous ( 192747 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @06:25AM (#504701) Journal
    I do believe measuring click-through to determine ad effectiveness is about as silly as measuring the number of people who rush out to the store after seeing the doritos commercial. This isn't how people react to advertising.

    There are admittedly times (usually 3:00am) when I am susceptible to clicking on banner ads. Of course, if you will notice, this is also the same time of day when TV is filled with infomercials asking you to CALL NOW. A banner ad is an informercial expecting an instantaneous response from the consumer. Very few products leave the infomercial land to become the cornerstones of an industry.

    What an ad agency needs to do is to evaluate how to use internet advertising to increase product awareness, increase brand identity, and to demonstrate the product. The real change of how ads work on the internet will come when a third party non-computer related company begins to take market share away from the market leader through effective web ads. Personally, I think the current 7-Up ad campaign (the ineffectual adman) would make for a great web campaign using banner ads and short clips (clips that play when activated, avoiding the 'forced' aspect).

    Until such an event occurs, all we are going to get are one website advertising for another website.

  • It also doesn't help when people use things like Junkbuster to further eliminate any chance these companies have of making money.

    As a Guidescope [guidescope.com] user, all I have to say is "Boo hoo, and so long" to such companies.

    I don't think that just because someone paid to put a banner ad on a site I read that I have the obligation to look at it. When you record a TV show (on Tivo, or your VCR, or whatever) do you not skip the commercials? Do you change radio stations during the station/commercial breaks? Why should online ads be any different?

    If someone wants to make money through ads, that's great, super, excellent. More power to them. But I feel no obligation to click through anything, ever.

    The big problem is the attitude that the Internet is Free Content. For the most part, it's true. If you suddenly had to pay a monthly fee for /., would you? How much? $1? $3? $10? Problem is, people enjoy things until they no longer become free.

    Either way, banners bug the shit out of me, and I'll avoid them, and whatever comes along to replace them, however I can and feel just dandy about it.

  • The group I work with will always have a free site. Granted, it isn't the most impressive thing in the world, but there are people out there like us that are more interested in the slashdot like community type sites with the time and ambition to keep it going.

    Unless hosting costs and connection costs go through the roof, there will always be some free sites. A labor of love by a few people pooling resources can definitely afford to keep a site alive. And if it is really good you will eventually get donations (in other words, if you grow too big for your britches, someone will probably buy you a new pair, or something like that).

    The concept that everything has to be commercialized now is just sick, and wrong. There will always be some people that believe in the concept of a "free" web site, information or whatever. And I'm one of those people. Not everything is based on how much money you can generate. Hosting isn't that much (it costs a little, but split five ways, as in Faulty Dreams' [faultydreams.org] case it isn't bad), and I don't really see hosting costs increasing. They seem to still be going down.

  • by prisoner ( 133137 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @07:07AM (#504705)
    and agree with Taco and others. Some form of advertising must be found that works on the Internet. If not, the Internet will become a much more boring place. Here's why:

    On the internet it's possible to build quirky, interesting sites like /., something aweful, fuckedcompany and tons of others. This really isn't possible to do anywhere else and garner a large audience. It isn't likely, for example, that there could be a /. TV show. The problem is that as these sites become more popular, they become more expensive to run. Slashdot wouldn't do too well on a $29.95 Interland account. If advertising isn't around to pick up the bill (or at least some of it) then the site owners must somehow make money or just watch their business be crushed under it's own weight. Sell something you say? Well, if all of my time is spent dicking around filling orders or processing returns, there isn't much time to code, parse story submissions or write content. In any event, it's not clear that "selling something" is a panacea either. In short, people expect that there will be new articles on their favorite website and if the flow of new stuff stops, so will the flow of visitors. In my market segment, DIY home improvement, most of the retailers that "sold something" have gone bust: irenovate, cornerhardware and others. They "sold something" and had decent content. It didn't stop their slide into oblivion.

    "Well, fuck 'em then, they couldn't figure out a business model that works, let 'em go bust!" you say. Well, it's an easy thing to say but the reality of the Internet is that people come here to find free information. Plain and simple. The internet as an "entertainment medium" like TV just hasn't taken off. Sure, there's some funny and interesting stuff but that doesn't appear to me as the primary reason that people are getting online. It's for email (pretty much free) and to find stuff. This "stuff" is content. It's the reason you're on slashdot right now and it, too, is free. If the smaller content companies can't find a way to turn a buck, the Internet will devolve into the same colorless, odorless, tasteless content we are now force-fed on TV and every other medium. Each company that fails (aside from the clearly ridiculous) are another body on the bonfire and at some point, advertisers will get tired of the smell and leave. Hopefully we find something that works sooner than later.
  • by Sodium Attack ( 194559 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @07:16AM (#504708)
    Reminds me of Cluetrain point #74: We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

    Perhaps that's part of the problem.

    In Douglas Coupland's book Generation X, (this is the book that coined the term "Generation X", and before you knock it on the basis of what mass media has made of the term, read the book itself--but that's another rant for another time) one of the chapters is titled "I Am Not a Target Market."

    It seems fairly accurate for GenX (as much as any stereotype of millions of people can be, which is not very much), but I can't help but wonder if that's really the best thing. "You're not a target market? Fine. Screw you. You'd like to see such-and-such a product? Too bad, you're not a target market."

    I, while I consider myself fairly advertising-savvy, and certainly highly skeptical of any claims made in advertising, am not completely immune to advertising, nor would I want to be.


  • Why is it that so many people believe that without advertisements, the web would just disappear? Clearly they are newbies, or they just forget that the Internet and the web were around long before advertising.
  • More like: "Overconfident investors, whom the entire commercial Internet is funded by" since that's where pretty much all the money has come from. Some of it got turned into advertising, some of it went to support the hugely unprofitable businesses being advertised, and so on. As long as the money kept rolling in, who needed to worry about this kind of stuff?
  • ironic how your .sig basically states that you are not a target market for either the Republican or the Democratic party campaign advertisements. . .

    On the contrary, I would be happy to vote for either Democrats or Republicans if I found their views in sufficient alignment with mine. (Indeed, there is a small percentage in each party which does, although none of them were on the ballot in my district this year.) I am more than willing to listen to the campaign advertisements of any candidate and consider whether they are worth voting for.

  • You're absolutely right.... as a matter of fact those 'surfing for hot sexy babes?' adds that have been showing up around here recently are offering a service that most of the slashdot population desperately need. The ability to surf anonymously for 'hot sexy babes' from work!

    Boy am I glad that the only way you can sell anonymity online is for the ability to surf porn.

    --locust

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @09:34AM (#504718)
    BTW, isn't it interesting how Jakob Nielsen has enough money for his web site and articles - which have 10-20K of real content, and which load and render instantly, because they're only about 11-25K long?

    Yet when I read a review of some game on some other site, I have to download 80K of HTML, wrappers for ad sites, another 40-50K of animated .GIFs, wait 5 seconds for it to render, and for all this work I get maybe three or four paragraphs of content, then I have to click on "next page" to do it all over again... sometimes five and six times for a single article that's (in total) about half the length of any of Jakob's articles.

    Methinks there's a lesson to be had there.

    Wanna cut bandwidth costs? Gimme 10K of content in 11K of HTML and one HTTP GET transaction.

    It just might be cheaper than six HTTP GETs and 400K of HTML.

  • Yep, this the holy grail of ads on the net or anywhere else. RealMedia was working on an api to allow sites that already track users, (New York Times for example) that would allow the times to interface thier tracking data into ad delivery. The could ad their own controls over ad delivery with mucking with our code. I think this type of true tracking will eventually take hold as sites partner together and as big companies own more and more sites. Think of all the strange connections. CNN ads could be based on something you purchased through AOL. It looks like true anonymous surfing will become less available. While I would rather see ads that are of interest to me, I also want control over my personal info. Pretty scary stuff.
  • Having it built into the browsers that have the high market shares would be most effective, but it would also be most likely to invite countermeasures.

    In a way, I'm glad that most people see the ads that I block, since it results in the advertisiers not needing to (or not thinking they need to) do something about blocking. An arms race is just going to make the web one butt-ugly place.

    Therefore, it's in my interest to get everyone else to cooperate with advertisers while I defect. So let's keep blocking out of the mainstream browsers and leave it to the iCab users and people who are willing to set up blocking proxies like Junkbuster or Squid+Sleezeball, ok? ;-)


    ---
  • the moderation system is in desperate need of a rehaul. I have had this kind of thing happen to me many times...

    2001-01-15 17:00:18 The State of Internet Advertising (articles,internet) (rejected)

    only to see it appear on the front page the next day. What is the deal with how the /. moderators are incredibly inconsistent? I understand that they are just people but still, some consistency on what/what not to post would be nice.
  • ironic how your .sig basically states that you are not a target market for either the Republican or the Democratic party campaign advertisements. . .
  • by Argyle ( 25623 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @06:34AM (#504726) Homepage Journal
    Banner ads are DOA. Not just because they are not targeted, because people ignore them and soon will not even see them.

    Jakob Nielsen has been saying that ads on the net don't work [useit.com] since 1997. And he's right.

    Furthermore ad stripping software like Adsubtract [adsubtract.com] stop your browser from even asking for the ads.

    It's only matter of time until people realize that those banner ads are sucking down the bandwith on their poor 56k modems. Once they find they can surf faster without the ads, it'll spead faster than All-Advantage...
    -----

  • There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but what bugs me is that it's going to get pretty dark before we see it. There are tons of good sites (mine included) that for better or for worse, *must* rely on ad revenue to stay afloat. I'm a student, and without ad revenue, there's no way I could afford the hosting fees. We (myself and the other guy who runs the site) got lucky and may be able to move my site to a local ISP, where we can get very cheap hosting, which is the only thing that will help us weather the storm. But if we hadn't lucked into that, we'd be screwed... as it looks now, ad revenue for January will cover about 20% of our hosting fees, and we only have enough cash to run at a loss for a month or so.

    Anyway, how are all these little sites going to survive? Many of them are well worth having (at least their audiences think so) but the simple fact of life is that without revenue, no web site. Partnering with the advertisers themselves or getting into specialized technology ads (like the Real ones mentioned earlier) is all well and good for the big fish in the ocean, but us part-timers are going to be left out in the cold here. I suppose user sponsorship is a possibility, but knowing our readers, most of them wouldn't go for it. And e-commerce? Really, what do most sites have to sell?

    Eventually this will all shake itself out, through ads that force you to notice them, intrusive targeting technology, whatever. But I fear that by then, the Internet will become a place where the only sites that can afford to exist are either corporate commercial sites or the lucky ones that don't have to pay for themselves. Unfortunately, many of the more worthwhile sites on the 'net (from my point of view, anyway) may not survive until then.
  • Internet advertising is still in its infancy. I'm sure most of you have seen TV commercials from the 50's. They were really lame. Usually shows were sponsered by a company. The shows host would occasionally mention the product "And remember, The Detergent X Song and Dance Hour is brought to you by Detergent X, it get's you clothes clean".

    Right now, I'm looking up at an ad from ThinkGeek. It's your standard rectangle, some interesting looking Swiss Army knives, and the words "Get yours at ThinkGeek".

    I think of ThinkGeek as a great site, but I can't help but compare that banner to "Detergent X gets your clothes clean", and I already have a Swiss army knife.

    No, online advertising isn't very effective now, but it will grow up.

  • Slashdot ads are the only ads I intentionally don't filter with my Squid proxy at home. Some of them are even pretty cool. However, a small percentage of the ads they serve up are from doubleclick, and since I'm blocking by URL, they're toast. I wouldn't even know they serve doubleclick ads if I had blocked the /. ads too.
  • Another good one was/is You Don't Know Jack, the Webshow. The game's broken up into segments and there's a couple of commercials between each segment. The game's great and the ads fit in well with the gameshow atmosphere.
  • Why is it that so many people believe that without advertisements, the web would just disappear?

    I challenge you to show me a single post that suggests the entire web would disappear without advertising. I haven't seen anyone here argue such a thing.

    Of course, many sites existed without advertising in the past, do so without advertising (or any other revenue) currently, and would continue to do so in the future. Without advertising, some currently-free sites would charge for use, and some would solicit voluntary contributions.

    And some good sites would disappear. Not all of them, surely. But some. (How many? Most of them, or only a small fraction? I can't say.) But to say "the web wouldn't disappear without advertising" is to attack a strawman.

  • by joto ( 134244 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @07:32AM (#504742)
    I take it that the author is either not very intelligent, or doesn't really know much about the Internet. Look at the following gems:
    • Advertisers, whom the entire Internet is funded by, [...]
      Yeah, right, how was Internet funded before the web, then?
    • The Internet has always been a medium that promotes anonymity and faceless, one-way interaction between consumer and business.
      No, anonymity on the net is a relatively recent idea. Traditionally, anonymity has been scorn upon on the Internet. And the key difference between Internet and other media-types has always been the possibility of two-way communication. On the other hand, television promotes one way interaction between consumer and business.

    Also, the tone through the article was that the Internet needs better targeting of ads. It doesn't. Perhaps the web needs it, but not even that is true. The only thing on the Internet that needs ads are .coms. And personally, I don't care much about .com's.

    Now what would happen to the web if the .coms died? Well, we would retain all the interesting sites, such as content offered by universities, personal pages, the gutenberg project, in short: anything of real value! What would happen is that most stuff that annoys us would be gone. Ads would be gone, lawyers would be gone, domain-name wars would be gone, badly designed sites with company graphics and too much javascript would be gone, and the bandwith would still be there.

    But even if one see .coms as something good, and not something bad, there is the question of ads. People seem to have forgotten about micropayments as an alternative to adverticing. But seriously, what do you want? Pay 2 cents to access your favourite website, or have it filled up with banners and popups? I would like a portion of those micropayments, thank you!

  • > Imagine if the advertising were run via the same model that the site is run. Imagine if the ads were selected by the editors, in the same way that stories are selected

    You means troll ads ? Or only redundant ads with speeling miskates ?
  • by flatpack ( 212454 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @05:38AM (#504746)

    The real problem with advertising, and especially online advertising, is that people have gotten so inured to it that nobody pays any attention to it any more. In other mediums this isn't quite so much of a problem - there are always new places and ways to attract attention, and innovative ploys by advertising companies still attract a fair amount of attention.

    But who really looks at banner ads any more? They're so ubiquitious that they've become part of the background, and the amount of clickthroughs they're generating compared to the number of impressions is rediculously low. So of course all of these companies are going out of business without paying people.

    I see this as a worrying trend though. There are plenty of really good sites out there that are supported solely through advertising rather than subscription or per-use charges, and if online advertising dies then many of these websites will disappear as their owners cannot afford the cost of hosting and bandwidth. It also doesn't help when people use things like Junkbuster to further eliminate any chance these companies have of making money.

    At this rate it seems like the majority of free sites will either vanish or start having to charge for their services. I can easily imagine a day in the not-so-distant future where even /. has to start charging people in order to pay for the costs of running a website with hundreds of thousands of readers...

  • Yes, I had the same problem with iTunes.

    Ironic, how Apple, the supposed inventors of Human/Computer interface and usability guidlines, can't design a functional website.
  • If ad banners went away (not that I don't filter them :), and were replaced with micropayments, I'm sure I'd get a lot more constructive work done, and a lot - I mean a WHOLE lot less pointless surfing.

    This would definately slow the internet's "growth". A lot of people would spend a lot less time surfing - demand for internet connections and bandwidth would plummet (I'm guessing we're at about double the capacity of what would be needed in an all-micropayments internet). Web traffic would be in the minority after email and chat.


  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @10:38AM (#504753)
    I think the author *does* know a bit about the Internet. Do you even know who he is, or ever seen his site?

    "Yeah, right, how was Internet funded before the web, then?"
    Um, magically, by little elves. Duh, by federal grants to scientific research, educational institutions, etc., that have since dried up. Ever heard of DARPA?

    "No, anonymity on the net is a relatively recent idea."
    If anonymity is a "relatively recent idea" it is because it went without saying before. Only after the internet was commercialized, and privacy started being invaded, did people start buzzing about anonymity.

    "On the other hand, television promotes one way interaction between consumer and business."
    Yeah, from *them* to *you*; they're pushing. The internet is usually the reverse one way: from *you* to *them*; you're pulling. The internet *has* always been a medium that promotes anonymity and faceless interaction, because it was originally designed as a hypertext transfer protocol, not some neato human interaction mechanism. Short of signatures in packets, and cookies in a browser you're pretty much anonymous. Which is why he says the ad agencies are in such trouble...they can't survey their market.

    "Also, the tone through the article was that the Internet needs better targeting of ads. It doesn't."
    I for one wouldn't mind no ads at all! However, *if* we have to have ads (say, to support worthy sites like the author's), I'd rather have them be relavent. Not some stupid blaring BUY-THIS-WEB-CAM-NOW!, HIT-THE-GODDAMN-MONKEY! in-your-face ads.

    "Now what would happen to the web if the .coms died?"
    I am sure you would be glad to provide hosting services for every disowned site out there? There are plenty of worthy sites that survive on advertising. It sure would suck if Wired.com, or TheRegister.co.uk, or ArsTechnica.com, or TomsHardware.com, or AnandTech.com (etc., etc.) just disappeared.

    1) Advertising sucks
    2) Advertising pays money (when it works)
    3) There are many worthwhile sites that need ad money

    therefore, it is in their interest to have some sort of advertising business model that actually works (or some other business model that works, but one is yet to be found), and in our interest to endure some less-sucky advertising to be able to view said sites.
  • I don't even look at banner ads anymore. Programs like WebWasher [webwasher.com] strip all ad-shaped images from the HTML as it comes to your computer, and also can get rid of things like exit-scripts, etc.

    Sure, this gets into some ethical issues ("How will slashdot be supported?") but on the other hand, I didn't see all those Anti-Trust ads the rest of you poor folk sat through.

    Oh, and WebWasher's free for students :)

  • The night is still young, as they say. www.adcritic.com exists solely for the purpose of people who want to see commercials. So advertising can't be all bad! Its just bad in its current form, with the current crop of online advertisers. Just because the fortune 500 companies who make funny ads (or at least can afford major ad houses to make funny ads) havn't started advertising on the net yet doesn't mean they won't. What they need is a way of offering you something via a banner that is other than a 'click-through' (because what does Coke have to offer you on their web site? Nothing!).

    Maybe in the future we might see 'interactive' banners that can offer you services though a banner, brought to you by a company. For all the whining and anti-advertising mumbling that people do, no one is truely unsusceptable to advertising. Plugging ThinkGeek is just as pro-advertising as plugging Nike or MSN! Just because your consumer loyalty doesn't run with the majority of companies that advertise online doesn't mean that you havn't helped in some fashion to support it in the past. Ask any company you like - you have to advertise to stay in business!

    There is lots of time for the online advertising model to evolve; but for those who point out that the internet existed before advertising forget that many sites exist in their current form because of advertising. Someone who can make some money off running a site they love can also justify spending time making it good looking, user friendly, etc; alot of qualities the fan-run, pre-advertising sites didn't have before. Ie, advertising revenues justify the webmaster investing time into adding the nicities that allow more than 30% of humans online. As technies, we often forget that alot of the increased traffic on the net is due to better site designs and such. A more user-centric standard has fallen out of the online-advertising supported tier sites.

    It always kills me when people pull the ostritch routine with things they don't like, but will obviously exist for ever (think prostitution, or drugs .. now think advertising). You can't win the war to eradicate the world of these things; you have to work with them in order to ensure that they meet your needs. You'll never be rid of advertising, so here's your chance to propose new ideas, and new directions advertising can take, instead of wishing it would just all go away.

    I for one will be freakin happy when animated gifs go away - and the same guys who make those funny commercials on TV get involved with the online phenomenon. Remember, online advertising is still young!
    If something has never been said/seen/heard before, best stop to think about why that is.
  • Besides the programus interruptus factor of TV ads, there is a larger, more important reason they are usually more effective: creativity. Think about it, TV ads are often like small shows in themselves, and sometimes they are MORE entertaining then the shows they interrupt [think Super Bowl commercials over the past few years]. The trouble with banner ads, indeed with any internet ad, is the entertainment factor. As long most folks are stuck on dial-ups, ads have to be relatively small, hence low entertainment factor [for ads anyway]. When broadband grows and becomes cheaper, ad revenue will rise, since ads will be able to be more creative with the extra space they can occupy.

    -={(Astynax)}=-
  • Unfortunately, even the method of counting an ad's effectiveness ("click-through") don't really give an accurate picture of how effective an advertisement banner is. You know what banners really get the highest click-through rates? Those ads that lok like little error message dialog boxes, followed by the banners with faux text-entry boxes and the "skock the monkey" ads.

    Sure, a lot of people click them... but they don't work in advertising a product, because most user say "Gee, an error box! I'll just close thi--what the hell? A site? What a gyp!"

    Darn straight advertising on the web doesn't work... that's because most ad firms are really adapting to the web at all. It's like they're storming onto a baseball feild in hockey gear.

    And no ad campaign's gonna hit a home run with fake error messages.

  • I've already PAID for my access to the World Wide Web (and other resources) via the internet, so ANYTHING that has a negative impact on my ability to access those resources is a bad thing.
    You have? You've paid for those resources? You've sent your check into Slashdot to help pay for their servers, their bandwidth, the time they spend working on this thing? I seriously doubt that.

    You've paid for access to the 'net. Not for the content. Net Access and Content are two TOTALLY different things, unless you're subscribing to an ISP that passes money along to every website you visit.

    Unless there are ads, or unless there is some way to pay for these sites, they will close up shop. There aren't too many people who are willing to pay $6000+ per month for colocation space and bandwidth and not even get any money back to break even.

  • OK, something about your post just kind of got under my skin (not flammage, just a mild irritation).

    Where, exactly, is the promise to anyone that creates a web site that they should be able to "make a return on their investment", especially a monetary return? I'm working with a group that has put up a site purely for the hope of getting our work out there. We don't want to have pop-ups, so we don't. We don't like banner ads, so we don't have them. Nowhere did we see, when we were setting up our web site, the guarantee that we would recieve any sort of compensation just for doing what we enjoy doing.

    There seems to be this overwhelming mentality anymore that just by having a web presence you should be entitled to make money. It doesn't matter if your site sucks. It doesn't matter if you have absolutely no clue how to attract people. It doesn't matter if you have no revenue generation program of any sort. Just by being there, that should entitle you to make massive sums of money. I disagree with that mentality, and I know I'm not the only one.

    The web started as a medium with relatively free information dispersal. And, in time, advertising agencies will come to terms with the fact that they have to be much more over-the-top, and in-your-face to make people see their ads on the web. If people aren't disgusted by it, then it may work. Here's an idea, do what they've done on TV and radio and make the ads entertaining. If there were any effort at all to make ads as entertaining as, say, the Bud character plays (with the frogs and lizards and feret) then maybe people wouldn't just ignore them. Just because you stick an ad on the page, that doesn't entitle you to any sort of monetary compensation. Do something to get people's attention in a way that doesn't just piss them off to no end.

    Of course, having said all that I would say it is just a matter of time before the government cracks down on all this illegal software that blocks web ads. After all, we are destroying hard working ad companies if we ignore their ads. More and more it seems the most important thing in the world is to keep all the money we can moving towards the corporations and away from the people. Why corporations have so much more right to it than people in general I'm not quite sure. But I am sure that it's just a matter of time before it is law that advertising cannot be removed from web sites (just as TV is moving more and more towards a type of medium where ads cannot be ignored, or at least cannot be fast-forwarded through). It will take them some time, but it will happen.

    I just don't quite get why it's so important that when you pay for your web connection, some people are even paying for bandwidth, you should still have to pay for content. With your cable bill you don't get charged extra for ads (unless you order a pay-per-view with lots of commercials, and they do exist, believe it or not). But with the Internet it seems that people feel they are entitled to monetary compensation just for throwing some words and pictures up on a page. It just seems wrong to me. You should have to work for money. The Internet is not the "get rich quick" scheme that many have made it out to be. You have to work just as hard to earn money this way as any other. It takes more than just saying, "I have a right to earn money dammit!" to actually earn money. I hope at some point people realize that. But more than likely the government will intervene on the behalf of the big corps and tell us that we are being criminals because we aren't just bowing down and handing over our paychecks to any moron that's in league with an ad agency.

    It just seems stupid. But what the hell do I know. I'm not in it for the money. So I guess that means I'm evil, evil, evil!


  • I don't see why ad-blocking software couldn't be built right into the browser! We HAVE the source for Mozilla. It would just take a dedicated programmer a week or two to hack in a "Block Advertisements" option on the preferences screen. I'm sure a lot of people would use it if it were just another preference option.

    Now if only this functionality could come built-in in the mainstream browsers (Netscape, IE)...
  • Sorry, I just realized that Lowtax, in his SA article, more or less alleged that the web would completely disappear WO advertising. Still, I haven't seen a single /. poster suggest that.

  • I was commenting on the attitudes of people like the one who wrote the article on somethingawful.com ("How Can the Internet Survive?", etc). A lot of people in the business of "web publishing" share his point of view. On the contrary, most of the posters here on slashdot are quite reasonable, and like yourself, offer other solutions besides ads.
  • It's cross-platform, too. Just add this to your /etc/hosts file (in Win9X, C:\WINDOWS\hosts, in WinNT, \WINNT\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts):

    127.0.0.1 (Insert the URL of the nefarious adserver; i.e., ad.doubleclick.net, mojofarm.mediaplex.com, et cetera).

    This results in a 404 error where the banner ad should've been. The link will still work, but you won't have to see (or download) the 468x60 banner ad (or the treeloot Javascript monkey).

    DEATH TO MODERN-DAY ADVERTISING!!! Today's ads don't just inform us of a product's existence; they also prey on our minds with flashing text, glitzy graphics, buzzwords by the dozen, and little white lies. Fortunately, we have the right to censor those ads; unfortunately, not all of us have the knowledge to do so. I'm striving to change that.

    Hopefully, in the future I'll program a plugin for IE/Netscape that will put "Add to Hosts as 127.0.0.1" to the right-click menu. Sure, you'll have to restart the browser to have that take effect, but when you do, it'll look a lot less cluttered and execute a lot faster.

  • Perhaps one of the problems with online advertising is the fact that you can absolutely track the number of clickthroughs per impression. If a company shows a commercial during the Superbowl and sends out a mailing and receives a 10% jump in sales, do they attribute it to the direct mail campaign or to the TV viewership?

    Blanket advertising without demographics can be done to build brand recognition, which seems to be what most of the online advertising is for. Product promotion using the shotgun (scattered) versus rifle (single projectile) seems to be a wasted effort. The rifle approach will always command a higher price because the marketers will know they are getting the most bang for their buck.

    I know of an (offline) newspaper that tripled their ad revenue after hiring a market research firm to nail down their readership demographic. Don't be too surprised when they start doing this to web sites.
  • by radja ( 58949 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @05:51AM (#504777) Homepage
    >It also doesn't help when people use things like Junkbuster to further eliminate any chance these companies have of making money.

    Anywhere else except on the web, if a company wants to get money by annoying people, and those people blatantly ignore the company, it's the company's fault. I say let'em go bust. Unlike people, businesses do NOT have a right to continued existence. (no, I'm not saying there shouldn't be any businesses. But if they go bust, they go bust. It is not my fault that I'm not buying from them)

    or do you also blame me for not reading the newspaper ads?

    //rdj
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @11:30AM (#504783)
    Many, many people here have stated many times over the various ways in which ads simply do not work.

    One thing I almost never see used is sponsorship of a site. This is where a site could have a sponsor (or set of sponsors) that would be integrated into the page - something like "This page brought to you by CorpCo brand dish soap!".

    This brings awareness of the brand to the consumer without the annoyance of ad banners. The site could have click-throughs that would take you to the sponsor site or show sponsor advertising (for instance, you might be sponsoered by Bud and the reader would be able to see the latest Bud TV ad through links on your site. If you think that will not help you, how does adcritic [adcritic.com] thrive?).

    Even more importantly, a site seeking to gather sponsors could get many of the metrics they desired because the site itself could say "we're targeting 25 year old males that work at Burger King" and give some idea to the advertiser what kind of segment they would be looking at.

    Not perfect, but better than it is now and within the range of feasability - there might never be a good way to determine who's actually using your site but you can say who you built it for, and revise that estimate as you go. Then it's just a matter of counting page views to get a rough idea of audience size.

    The other means is using affiliate programs to help generate revenue, that seems like the easiest thing to do going forward - perhaps popular sites could even help companies the want to be affiliates with to start affiliate programs, in exchange for some extra compensation or limited percentage of the income.

    It seems in the future that you won't just be able to put up a banner at the top of the screen and rake in income. On the other hand, the web will probably be a better place for it, even if sites have to work a little harder to get ad revenue.

  • Is something I'm working on for my site, where when a person logs in, the server detects cross-references their IP address with a national database of bank accounts. Then, for each click, the system automatically withdraws $1.00 from their checking account. Then, at the end of each month a statement is sent to the users notifying them of how much they have spent, so they can keep track. This system would be totally invisible to the reader, and would not interfere with the content in any way (no distractions like banner ads, or annoying notification that the transaction is taking place at all). Everybody would be happy.
  • If you suddenly had to pay a monthly fee for /., would you? How much? $1? $3? $10?

    Will the web eventually follow the model of Cable TV, where you subscribe to a package of services?

    Or perhaps the Web will move in a direction that Cable TV will eventually follow?

    Currently, with cable, you pay a monthly fee to get a few pretty good stations and a bunch of other junk you never watch (at least that's how it has been for me and friends :). You can't subscribe to just CNN for $3/month. You have to take CNN and 25 other stations for $30/month.

    So perhaps web content services will move in that direction. For $30/month, you get Yahoo, Slashdot, CNN, Salon, and 200 other web pages you don't care about.

    Or perhaps, the web will lead the way to magazine-style subscriptions; $1.50/month for Slashdot, $2.00 for CNN, $0.10 for Yahoo, etc. Perhaps then Cable would follow, allowing for a la carte station subscriptions.

    Well, just some random thoughts.
    -----
    D. Fischer
  • To many businesses DIDN'T have a business model. The VC made them go IPO so that the VC could get their money back, and then the investors were stuck with sucky stock.

    This coupled along with the fact that many saw dollar signs and this drew in every lowlife around. In fact there is AT LEAST one company that was founded on the premise that the owner would get a bunch of investors make a phoney product and then take the money and run. While his prodect is now makeing money and it turn out that he was a convicted felon. The point is that these type of people were also drawn into the industry along with the good old programmers and business men. Thus it became take or be taken kind of industry with many companies that had piss poor management. Anyone who has worked in a dot-com knows this.

    Oh well lets hope that on line ads don't die completely, else more dot-coms will die.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Penny-arcade recently talked about this, how if they weren't going to get paid, they wouldn't be able to do the site anymore, I imagine most web comics would be the same.

    There are other ways to get paid, however. Donations and merchandising spring to mind as the most obvious.

  • I see two options for distributing content without assistance from banner ads.

    Web sites can go to a subscription or micropayment model, where readers have to kick in a few cents every time they read an article or post a comment. Slashdot may have enough die-hard fans that it could survive this way.

    The other option is for people who want their content to be seen, and don't care about making money from it. Peer-to-peer was made for this. Upload that day's article, essay, comic, or whatever to a few gnutella or freenet servers, and use your fans' bandwidth to distribute your content.

    Either way, a lot of the hype, rampant commercialism, and get-rich-quick mentality will die. Sites that people care enough about, science sites, political sites, and everything in .edu will survive. The sites with no clear mission exept to get rich off the IPO will fail. The EFF and GNU.org will go on, VA Linux will bite the dust and probably drag slashdot down with it.
  • by swm ( 171547 ) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @08:05AM (#504794) Homepage
    The article argues that web ads are failing because
    • networks can't provide user demographics
    • advertisers don't know how to use the medium
    but holds out hope these things may improve in time. However, Jakob Nielsen [useit.com] has been arguing for years that web advertising is inherently unworkable. See, for example
  • I agree that banner ads have become a part of the background of websites. Perhaps it is time to move towards a different type of advertising like the way TV and radio is. Right now, when you watch a TV station, you watch your show and it has your full attention (maybe, if it is Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Then it quickly switches to a commercial which, out of laziness, you just sit there and give your full attention. Granted, many people will get up to go to the bathroom at that time, but a majority of people will sit there and watch.

    I remember playing Acrophobia from Bezerk [bezerk.com] a couple of years ago. You would play the game and in between certain parts of the game you would get full screen commercial for places like Yahoo and movies. Despite the nuisance, I watched the ads most of the time. Now, there are simply banners running along the bottom of the game screen. I'm not sure why they switched their advertising scheme but I think it was a mistake from the view of making money.

    I'm not sure how to implement this kind of advertising in the current web, but it might be a step in the right direction. Even though, I abhor those sites that pop up thirty web browser windows with advertisments.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @05:56AM (#504799) Homepage Journal
    People have complained about advertising since the dawn of electronic media. This is nothing new. That so many investors "bet the farm" on something so universally [ loathed | shunned | ignored ] in the "old media" world speaks volumes for their own greed and stupidity. The karmic wheels keep turnin', and these people are simply reaping what they have sown.

    The nature of banner ads on the internet has always made them invisible to most readers. When the commercials come on, TV viewers hit the mute buttons, VCR viewers hit their fast forward buttons, and ReplayTV viewers hit Quick Skip. The world has learned (for the most part) to tune out the easily identifiable advertising. On the internet, it's even easier. At least with a TV, you pay attention to enough of the ads to know when you've returned to your show. Not so with a banner ad. It takes a miniscule amount of effort to read them, and their size/shape/color makes them instantly identifiable as something to be ignored. Even filter programs can identify them and eliminate them quite accurately (hurray for the Proxomitron [cjb.net]!)

    So, given that, what are the advertisers going to do now? Some will fold up their tents. The smarter ones will adapt. One of the cleverest approaches I've seen was on a mapping site. Midway through the printed instructions was the location of a WalMart store that we would be passing. I suspect advertising will have to take a more active role in content in order to command money. Think old-tyme TV shows, brought to you by Alpo; or more likely, the Truman Show (with Yummy Mocha Cocoa.) Who knows, even corporate shills who work for big corporations like Target [target.com] might be asked to plop advertising links in the middle of their usenet posts or Slashdot discussions.

    Advertisers will find a way, but it'll take more effort than they've given it so far.

    John

  • by ragnar ( 3268 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2001 @05:57AM (#504800) Homepage
    I'm not sure where the mention of delinquient clients comes into this. You always have people who don't pay their bills, and the figure is higher than most people realize. Probably one of the reasons that ./ sold out to Andover is because they didn't have a gameplan for dealing with the rigors of selling a service like banner space. That is fine, that probably isn't what they wanted to do, but there are pretty effective tried and true ways to get people to pay their bills. I have found that the casual mention of a collection agency does wonders. It works through my personal site [solariscentral.org] and my business site [spinweb.net].

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