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Making Banner Ads Suck Less

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the the-bad-kind-of-sucking dept.

News 326

The unusually-seen Kurt Gray wrote this; it's funny, to the point and more honest than may make everyone comfortable. Everyone knows banner ads suck; Kurt tells you a little more about why they're still around, explores some things that might make them better, and generally straightens the dope. We're doing this in conjunction with K5, who's also got the story. So, hop back and forth, and we can all get a merry meta-discussion going.

My name is Kurt Gray, I'm the lead programmer for OSDN's ad system which serves ad banners on sites like Slashdot, Freshmeat, SourceForge, Themes, and partnering deal with Kuro5hin, etc. I open sourced our ad delivery code sometime last year and have been maintaining it in-house here as well. My quest now is to create a better ad banner delivery system, not only better for you the audience but also more useful to our sponsors. So I have some ideas about our ad system that we want to pitch to you all sitting out there reading this and your feedback on these ideas would be of great value to us. Note that this is being posted to both K5 and Slashdot because we want to get feedback from everyone we can.

First let me address two issues that have been discussed on Slashdot just recently on Micropayments instead of ads and Ad banners may soon get bigger and how these issues pertain to ad banners on the OSDN sites.


Why run ad banners? What about a tip-jar, or subscription fees, or micropayments, or donations, or bill-the-ISPs instead of ad banners?

When you're running a web site, depending on your content, your audience, the size of your staff, your overhead costs, the size and nature of your audience, and many other factors, it might be possible to get by on just subscription fees, or micropayments, or some other revenue model that does not involve selling banner ads. But the size of the audience on OSDN's web sites and the nature of the content within is such that the subscription models break down. For a network of this size and content ad banners are the only realistic way to cover costs and hopefully earn a little profit (someday we hope). Another way of looking at it is to ask yourself why does Yahoo, CNet, and ZDNet still rely on banner ads? Because for a web sites that have a lot of traffic no one has proven that there is a better way to earn more revenue with less overhead. In any large media company, advertising is it. Even with print magazines the subscription fees and cover prices don't come close to covering the costs for a large circulation magazine: the subscription fees and cover price is just a barrier-of-entry to assure the advertisers that the readership paid to read the content and therefore is the right audience to see their ads.

....but ad banners don't work! There's too many ad filters now days!

Yes, a lot of people, even entire ISPs, have ad filters and proxy rules to block out banner ads but even still there are plenty enough ad impressions delivered every day. In fact those who filter ads are doing web publishers and advertisers a favor by making sure that no time, bandwidth, or impressions are wasted on people who definately will not respond to any kind of ad. So please, filter the ads out if you feel that strongly about it, in fact, I'll pitch you some ideas further on in this article in which our ad system could help you filter out the ads which is why I'm posting this.

...but too many people ignore banner ads, and nobody clicks on them! Advertising sucks! Free your head! Prioritize, man!

Yes, many people, including myself, scroll right past banner ads and ignore them completely. But chances are you did glance at many of the ads in a web given page, perhaps you saw a logo or brand name. In that sense the ad delivered just what it intended. It's called "branding": advertising for the sake of increased brand recognition and its most of what large advertisers hope for when advertsing in any medium including the web. Smaller advertisers will obsess over response to each ad, whether that be a click, or even a sale, and thus they become very unhappy when the click-thru is not to their satisfaction. So just because click-thru percentages are low across the board doesn't mean Internet advertising is doomed, but rather advertisers expectations and ad pricing schemes are changing accordingly. The smallest fish in the pond may be doomed but the pond remains.


What can we expect from OSDN web sites as far as ad banners? Bigger fatter ads? More ads per page? Flashing noisy ads that will read my browser cache and report all suspicous keywords to the NSA?

As you might expect, we are debating internally what OSDN sites can do to stay competitive in the ad banner business. Right now we are not competitive in many areas: we only accept the most basic ad formats, most OSDN sites only accept one ad size, our average click-thru rate is as low as anywhere else, and our rate card prices are higher than most. We've been able to get away with it so far because our web sites are very well known and our audience has just the kind of demographics advertisers drool over, but lately its become a buyers market, the ad budgets are drying up and the few big advertisers still spending online are having their way with the web publishers left groveling for the business. It's times like these when advertisers can force outrageous new ad formats down the throats of the web publishers, and other web publishers are stepping up their ad offerings to entice advertisers to their space -- it's a free market economy after all.

So what are we doing about it? First we're telling our sales people to go after more main stream advertising accounts: entertainment, auto makers, food and beverage, whatever we think fits our audience. Second, we're looking at which newer ad formats and what we're willing to accept. Third, I have to rewrite our ad delivery system to improve our ad targeting: platform targeting, geotargeting, and topic targeting at the very least. Along these lines I also have some ideas I want to bounce off you there reading this here article...


Let the users control the ad delivery. User preferences. Ad filtering. User feedback. Interactive, or as George W. would say "Interactivfulness"


Here's a few scenerios, ideas I've been pitching around:


Comment forums for each ad banner:

What if you could comment on the ad banners, such as each ad banner has its own discussion forum? So if an ad bothers you, offends you, confuses you, entices you, anything about that ad, you can speak and be heard. Let's face it, many ad banners suck because nobody tells the ad agency that the creative needs improvement. On the other hand the ad may be messing with your browser and you just want someone to know about it. Or maybe you wanted whatever was being advertised, you clicked, and you still didn't get the information you were looking for, the ad feedback forum would be the place to get a response on that.


Turning off annoying ads:

Suppose you become absolutely sick and tired of seeing that "Fawking DSL!" ad or that "Punch the monkey" banner, suppose you could click a link right next to the banner "Never show me this ad again or I swear I will lose it and someone will have to call security." And you just click that link and bam, you'll never see that ad again. The number of people who turn off a particular ad could be a way of truly knowing how counter productive certain ads are.


Choice of ad topics and categories:

What if you could select which kinds of ads you want to see, and which kinds of ads you don't want to see? For example what if you could explicately set your ad preferences so that you're are more about networking, movies, gadgets, and events but you don't want to see ads for alcohol, web design, or luxury items... and these ad preferences would apply to you within whole OSDN network of web sites. Would we use your information to for demographic studies? Yes absolutely, we'd tell advertisers that we have X number of people over here who explicately told us that they'd prefer to see ads about their kind of product. The overall effect we won't waste our effort chasing after advertsiers that have nothing of interest to our community and we won't waste your bandwidth downloading ads you don't want.


What about ad system karma?

I'm thinking there could be a point-based reward system that gives you credit for everything you do that helps our advertising business. As you accumulate karma points in our ad system you could redeem them gain access to an extended set of features in the ad system itself...

To increase your ad system karma you could (Hypothetical examples)

  • 1 point for every time you load a paid ad
  • 0 points for clicking on an ad (I don't want to encourage excessive ad clicking)
  • 50 points for loading bigger ads
  • 100 points for loading a pop-up ad
  • 500 points for filling out an advertiser's survey
  • 100 points for loading a Flash ad
  • 300 points for posting a meaningful critique on an ad
  • 200 points for alerting us if an ad is broken
  • 500 points for helping us test an ad before it goes live
(Just assume for the sake of this disussion that this point system is mostly immune to people running bots to accumulate points. We're still in hypothetical land here.)

Redeem your points to gain access to such features as (Hypothetical examples)

  • Turn off all ads
  • Upload your own ads
  • Get stats on the ads you uploaded
  • Specify which sites you want your ads to run on
  • Whetever else anyone can think of...
Note that this entire karma point system is just my own personal ideas and not officially sanctioned by anyone else working here. I figured I'd bounce this off you all out there in the audience and see how it plays with you all.


How would ad system karma affect web site user karma?

It wouldn't. The ad system is totally disconnected from any web site user database. Our ad system runs ads on many web sites, so even if we felt compelled to tie it into the user accounts of any web site it would be a lot of work, too much work, and I don't see any reason to even attempt it.

So the ad system would have its own user accounts independant and unrelated to web site accounts. Does that complicate things? No, the ad system user account is low maintenance, transparent, maybe as simple as cookie, nothing too visible, not in your face all the time nagging you to come play. The ad system preferences web page could be one click away, simple web form, nothing too fancy.


Hey I don't like you spying on me! I'm going to wear a metal bowl on my head and warn the others that you're all sneaky opportunist-type people. You are one of them.

That's OK. I have my metal bowl on too. As far as these ad system ideas go, you wouldn't need to have an ad system user account if you want to be anonymous and outside the loop as far as the ad delivery goes that's fine. This user account would be something you'd actively choose to create, and if you don't bother doing so then fine, you're anonymous, unknown, you'll see the normal general rotation of banner ads, and maybe later hopefully you'll find that out food tastes better when you try out some of these features and take advantage of the bonuses.


We're a community, damnit! We're not your ad-clicking sheep! If you can't sell ads then that's your problem! One day this web site will be free of your commercial opportunist tryannical business, all the trolls will leave, this site will be cool again, and then food will taste better!

These web sites have grown way beyond the realm of affordable to operate by volunteers and donors. If OSDN and/or VA collapsed someday then the OSDN web sites would not be simply released back into the wild but rather be liquidated as assets to the highest bidder, and you can bet the new owners would gladly run these sites into the ground for every last penny they can quickly earn from them. So at least you can be glad the original founders of these web sites still work here and they care a lot about how this web site works for you, the community. And if we're not able to turn a profit here despite our best efforts, whoever ends up grabbing our helm here will most likely toss this whole crew overboard, and I can assure you that the new crew will care far less about "community" then we ever did. But that's not your problem anyway because there are plenty of other web sites out there like this one, and if you log off now you may even discover that there is whole world of amazing life outside the Internet, I don't know much about that myself so I can't descibe it to you but I've downloaded pictures of it. So is this as good as it gets for these web sites? No, we can do better here, and last week resolved to be a lot more focused. We're determined not to give Jesse Berst and his ilk any reason to gloat.

So I can't think of what else I was going to pitch here. So please if you have feedback on any of the ideas pitched above then post them here.

Kurt Gray, OSDN, ad system engineer

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326 comments

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Re:Don't worry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#395785)

Remember, you run this site. You can do whatever you want with it. There is absolutely no need to ask the users' permission to do anything.

You tell them, brother-man. We can do whatever the hell we want with our own sites, users be damned!

Don't like what we're doing? Tough shit. It's our site, and we get to decide what to do.

Hey! Wait! Where are you guys going?! Come back here right now! Your supposed to be using my website! How dare you leave!

---

It's your ball, and you can dictate which game your going to play,
but don't be surprised when the other kids decide to play hopscotch instead.

Re:Ad karma? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#395786)

And yet you expect to read Slashdot everyday for free.

Re:Ad Karma? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#395787)

Because the idea behind this isn't to let you turn off the ads you don't want to see (or turn off all of them). It is to collect data about what type of ads you like / dislike and then use that info to attract advertisers.

It works the same way the political stories did, the owners of the site want to know their demographic and what better way and cheaper to get that done than to use the forum to collect data. You all think Slashdot is just a friendly geek community run by an innocuous crew of like minded individuals. You're wrong. It is owned by a corporation and decisions are made by guys in suits who's only concern is the bottom line.

When the boom was on and the stock price was double digits you didn't see the effects directly. Now that everything has gone south and a profit is out of sight you'll notice the screws tightening.

Re:What To Do, What To Do (1)

dair (210) | more than 13 years ago | (#395792)

I've found good companies and stuff I didn't know about through some of the ads.

I can honestly say I've never found anything remotely useful by clicking an ad - if I'm going to spend money on something, I'll go and check out Google/Deja and see what real people have to say (about the product, not about the ad).

From the article: we are debating internally what OSDN sites can do to stay competitive in the ad banner business

Well judging by cnet, you stick a massive image right in the middle of the story and annoy your readers even more... Honestly, if I was paying money to Slashdot it'd be because I wanted it to continue - not because I wanted to buy my way free of ads.

-dair

Re:Targeting (1)

Dave Fiddes (832) | more than 13 years ago | (#395795)

If you give people interesting ads, they will click. It's different to the real world. Since the success of ads is measured by clickthroughs (i.e. internet advertising is a direct sales route), then what you have to do is give people things they are directly interested in.

Amen to that.

Please, OSDN, give me:
- relevant adverts for me
- relevant adverts for the geographic region I come from. Cheap DSL in Utah is not really very interesting to a Scotsman living in Scotland!!! Everybodies time and money is wasted if you try to sell me something I can't buy.
- the ability to turn off adverts that I hate. Show me something irritating too often and I can guarantee that I will actively buy a competitors product.

Simple user profiles for adverts sound like a brilliant idea...and unlike doubleclick, OSDN sites have the neural capability to actually *use* the information for _their_ gain.

I might stop filtering... (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 13 years ago | (#395798)

I currently use iCab on the Mac and filter out about 98% of the banner ads I see (and I am getting the rules set up enough that pop-ups are a rare occasion).

If OSDN gave me the ability to custom tune what ads I see, and gave me the ability to comment on them, I would seriously consider turning off the filter for OSDN web sites.

I think that the system will only work if OSDN gets a lot of different ads. It seems that every time I check /. from school (where I have to put up with the ads), I get the stupid "See hot babes, and get fired" ad. If I turned that one off, I think that OSDN would simply have to rotate through the other three ads that I ever see.

Ad karma just sucks. I will leave it at that. Customizing ads cool, ad karma just stupid.

ISPs with ad-filters? (1)

Tal Cohen (4834) | more than 13 years ago | (#395802)

The text mentions ISPs with ad-filters installed on their servers. Can anybody please give me examples of this?

Thanks.

Re:Crass American Commercialism. (1)

brunnock (18853) | more than 13 years ago | (#395811)

So, how do you account for Picadilly Circus [lynx.uio.no] ?

Re:Ad Karma? (1)

IsleOfView (23825) | more than 13 years ago | (#395813)

Excellent idea. It doesn't even have to be a /. t-shirt. The advertisers could provide t-shirts, mugs, yo-yo's, etc. (I'm just looking around the office here). There would be incentive to the advertiser, since basically getting these items into the hands of the consumer means some seriously long-term impressions with the company logo.

At every tech convention I go to, the booths that are giving away t-shirts are absolutely *packed*. Every geek is a sucker for a free shirt!

Re:What To Do, What To Do (1)

kahuna720 (56586) | more than 13 years ago | (#395827)

I like the idea. Slashboxes for ads...even the idea about a forum for comments on ads is starting to grow on me the more I think about it. More empowerment to the end user--cool beans [one.net] .

(Article posted @ 8:02, above comment posted 8:00...you guys could at least throw a "first post!" in there when utilizing insider FP privileges...)

_

Rate the product, not the ad (1)

Morel (67425) | more than 13 years ago | (#395833)

I dont mind banners on /. since they usually depict stuff I'm interested in. BUT, one thing I've wanted for a long time is some sort of assurance that the product being hawked complies with strict standards of quality, geekiness, usefulness, etc. as defined by the owners/moderators/spirit of /.
If company A is advertising its product B on /., and I know that Hemos et al. don't let just any dumb company occupy that space, I might click on that banner much more readily, thus making it more effective to the advertiser.
Think of it as a structured word-of-mouth model.
Click-through might decrease, but click-through-SALE would increase.

Morel

what's behind the ad? (1)

mach-5 (73873) | more than 13 years ago | (#395839)

It's not the ad itself that matters...it's what's behind the ad. What I mean is, what if I clicked on an ad and got an interesting article or something informative, rather than a flashy pop-up ridden webpage that is trying to cram consumerism down my throat. I don't think marketing departments care too much about their customers to take the time and offer something like this. So show me that you care whether or not I click on that ad and I'll click on it. Challenge my mind and I might be more apt to click on your ad.

For example...Thinkgeek could give an article about DVD player, comparisons, etc, then try to sell it too me. Rather than just cram it down my throat.

Why bother with link ads? (1)

mr (88570) | more than 13 years ago | (#395846)

At one time, I tried banner ads.

Rather than taking me to to what they were advertising, they dropped me at the home page and expected me to be motivated enough to actually track down their offering.

Instead, I used search engines and tracked down the item for 30% less.

Now, I just ignore them. If they flash or flutter about, all the more reason to ignore them. At least on Yahoo, they (used to) go through one flashing rotation and then stop.

Re:Advertising wouldn't be so bad if it was target (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 13 years ago | (#395849)

Having the system figure out what you like would be a waste of time. Just put a new section in the user preferences to select kinds of ads to view. Opera [opera.com] does this for their ad-ware browser, and it works just fine. My wife set up our copy at home to cover our combined interests as soon as she got into the prefs.

Re:I'm not an evil person! (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 13 years ago | (#395850)

Exactly! If you know you're never going to respond to ads, it makes sense that you'll save the advertiser money if they don't have to deliver the ad to you. If the advertiser is smart, anyway...he should be paying the publisher a small rate for views and a higher rate for click-thrus. This is more of a gamble for the publisher, who will want to get a high CTR to break even, since views alone (at a lower rate) will not pay off as well...maybe not enough to cover his bandwidth costs.

I keep this link [hiwaay.net] on my homepage for just such times as this. Go read it.

Re:Advertising wouldn't be so bad if it was target (1)

nwetters (93281) | more than 13 years ago | (#395852)

We recently build an adserver that delivers ads to this site [clickmusic.co.uk] . I know that Engage [engage.co.uk] are currently building user profiling into their Adbureau software - the problem is that no advertiser ever asks for it. The most a client ever asks is that we cap the number of impressions any user receives of a particular advert - but some advertisers even dispute whether this is counter-productive. Clients aren't asking for user profiling because they are already targeting the ads to the required level simply by choosing their list of websites that they advertise upon.

Subscriptions don't cover costs? Uh... (1)

Kombat (93720) | more than 13 years ago | (#395853)

You made the comment that subscription fees and cover prices alone can't even come close to covering the cost of producing a magazine. I would like to employ a proof by contradiction to show that this statement is false. Mad Magazine has been producing monthly issues for decades, with no advertising at all in the magazines. The entire magazine, from cover to cover, is just content - no ads whatsoever. It is all completely funded by subscription fees and cover prices.

Re:Ad karma? (1)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#395855)

And Slashdot expects me to talk in there forum (and that gives them most of their contect, and what makes it special). Submit articles that I wrote for them to post. And moderate people in the comments sections.

If anything, we should get some kind of compensation from slashdot, and I think no banner ads is a good tradeoff.
--

Great idea... kinda (1)

Tinfoil (109794) | more than 13 years ago | (#395856)

This may work fine for the /.'rs or K5'rs out there that are willing to wade through a sea of links to get some ads turned off and such. I like the Karma idea though, but how would this be tracked on a per user basis and would people at that point not start screaming bloody murder about your tracking of what banner is shown on which system? Personally, I don't give a rats ass but others will. Or did I simply read this wrong in my effort to get first post? :D

Joe McGuire, tinfoil.music http://music.tinfoil.net
Joe McGuire
tinfoil.music

Why post this story just look at the poll? (1)

Oztun (111934) | more than 13 years ago | (#395858)

According to an ongoing poll on Slashdot 61% of readers think a day without ad banners is like a day without a rash!

Now why would you post this story knowing that?

Relationships (1)

kc0dxh (115594) | more than 13 years ago | (#395860)

In general, I like the idea. I'd have to see it spelled out in specifics before I wave my green flag though. Anyone in sales will tell you that a top factor is the relationship with the customer. The current system does not permit one. Your ideas, good or bad, will be a step towards that. It's good to see someone engaging thier brain about this!

Re:I Love Banner Ads (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#395866)

"I don't doubt that users of such software as Junkbuster would be more than happy to steal the content just like they steal their music and software, but their behavior negatively affects those of us who do wish to play by the rules."

I dont like ads, so i block them with Junkbuster (and the blocklist at www.waldherr.org).

I like music, so i buy cds (mp3`s sound fucking terrible).

"blocking banner ads is stealing content"

What are you like mate?

Re:Stop complaining about banner ads (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#395867)

"This is stupid. You all know that without banner ads, the web wouldn't be what it is today. "

Slow and bloated with loads of useless companies clogging up bandwith with animated gifs for their rubbish that people only click on by accident, or because they`ve made them look like windows controls? Yeah, where would we be without ads on the net! (At least if they replaced content, like on tv, you could go take a dump or skin up or something!)

I know! (1)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 13 years ago | (#395868)

We could have a banner ad appreciation week, with a parade were everyone would wear a nice hat shaped like a banner ad and then they could get an endorsment by the Backstreet Boys and print T-shirts that would say "It's OK to Suck!". Imagine all the possibilities....
--

I have to agree (1)

woody_jay (149371) | more than 13 years ago | (#395875)

I know that I hate banner ads as does everyone else. The fact of the matter is, someone has to pay the bills. Many people have said that Banners don't do any good (as was mentione in the article). I almost never click on these ads, in fact probably clicked on one in the years I have been searching the net. But, I do know there have been times when I need to look into purchasing an item and I didn't know where to go. Then I remembered that banner ad that my eye happened to catch and bang, I'm searching for the web site and usually buying. Maybe this isn't true for everyone, but for a hick turned network engineer, they aren't really that bad, and they have even helped me on occasion. Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Some great ideas here (1)

the_crowbar (149535) | more than 13 years ago | (#395876)

I think the important point is to let the users determine what categories of ads they will see. If the user is shopping for a specific item then ads about that will be much more successful.

I'll worry (1)

LoonXTall (169249) | more than 13 years ago | (#395884)

If they merely ignore us, we'll end up with the inet equivalent of Dilbert.

Put in proper ALT text on the graphic ads (1)

LoonXTall (169249) | more than 13 years ago | (#395885)

Back before I moved to Lynx, I had images disabled in Netscrape. "Onvia.com. Work. Wisely." is probably the most effective ad I saw, because all the others were "Click Here!"

Uploading your own ad? (1)

Akardam (186995) | more than 13 years ago | (#395889)

Dear Mr. Grey,

If the "upload your own ad" thing does go through, how do you anticipate handling that? You've indicated that it might possibly be in reward for ad karma gained (if THAT goes into effect). What I'm curious about is, given the competitiveness in the ad market at present, how could you justify loading the ad que with banners who's owners paid nothing to have them there? And if you've instead decided to charge them for the privilidge, how is this a reward, and how does it differ from being a regular, paying, ad customer?

Respectfully yours,
Akardam

Ah, I think I see... (1)

Akardam (186995) | more than 13 years ago | (#395890)

You'd be the same as a regular customer, but you'd be earning the credit towards putting ads up in a different way - not just dollars and cents.

If that's the case, have you discussed what those different ways might be? Things that occur right off the top of my head are, for example, prime ad placing. But that argues some sort of ad targeting regime. I could be missing something, but it seems to my (insert "soggy, only 6:30am brain") can't find any other way that it could work.

Akardam Out

User defined ads are a good idea (1)

Jetifi (188285) | more than 13 years ago | (#395891)

There I said it. There is a big difference between willingly specifying the ads you want to recieve, your locale, etc. and having the information gathered without your knowlege or consent.

As much as people want adverts to go away without having to resort to blocking software, they wont. Ads as a business model does suck, but they do help pay for some sites.

Ads on the web are a necessary evil, like on TV. However, there are greater [doubleclick.net] and lesser evils.

So, props to the guy for trying to deal with the issue in an open and honest matter. I for one would register interest/locale with ODSN, provided that the data is only used for demographic purposes - and nothing else. I think that being able to have a degree of control over the ads I get served is a good idea. Specifically, voting on ads suckiness, banishing some ("FAWKING DSL" et al) forever, and voluntarily registering my interests.

In addition - why must ads be images? The ad-space would be much better taken up (in my view) with links to "coming soon", "download now!" + feature summary or whatever - rather than crap obviously created by people who wouldn't know good animation if it hit them over the head with a sauce-pan and ran in to a mouse-hole.

Re:We're not eyeballs. (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 13 years ago | (#395893)

I swear, I only submitted that once. The others I *know* I hit Preview because it took me back to the Post Comment screen, where I made edits.

I guess that's what you get for submitting something at the time that Slashdot goes on the blink for a few minutes. It would be nice to at least cancel your own posts, but....

*Sigh*

b&

Re:We're not eyeballs. (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 13 years ago | (#395894)

Frankly, no. Thanks to Junkbuster, ads are already turned off for me.

I could be interested in a subscription for other reasons, such as keeping the site running. But if the only reason for the subscription is to get something I already have, well....

b&

Hmm, we should willing create accounts with ads... (1)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 13 years ago | (#395906)

It just seems like creating an account and being openly tracked by the ad companies seems like a REALLY bad idea. Yeah, it is done to some extent today, but imagine how much easier it would be if people willing cooperated with it! Sure, you could turn off a certain ad, but now with that personalized information what other information would you be bombarded with. And if you created an account, your email would most likely be linked to it also...

Interesting... (1)

mckinlay (222722) | more than 13 years ago | (#395913)

It's refreshing to see an Ad guy who doesn't seem hell-bent on getting as many impressions as possible through whatever means he can.

I can envisage banner ads changing a little as time goes by.. say, three buttons on each side to "control" the adverts that are delivered to you. Each 'consumer' can have a profile which basically says which ads they like, don't like, and so on. For the consumer, it's ideal - only the 'right' ads will get shown, and being able to turn them off would be wonderful. For the advertisers, it's a dream come true - people build up their *own* demographic profile for you - a simple database query, and you can figure out how many people on Freshmeat like ThinkGeek compared to the number on Slashdot that are interested in GNU/Linux-based hosting.

This, of course, would allow each site to have an 'average profile', based on what its visitors think are the better/more preferred ads - what's nice about this, from a consumer point of view, is that you're not bombarded with the same adverts time after time when you surf between the different OSDN sites.

IMHO, this could be very cool stuff. And I hate banner ads. Normally. ;)

Re:I Love Banner Ads (1)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | more than 13 years ago | (#395919)

Not content to tolerate a few tiny banner ads as an exchange for enjoying the content, they pursue various technological means to block them. This practice is damaging to the fundamental model that many free content providers are based on. In effect, people who block banner ads are biting the hand that feeds them in a most immature and selfish manner.
It's obvious you haven't read the article. As Mr. Gray points out, people who block the banner ads are most likely the ones who won't ever click on or even remember them. Not having to pay for these people's banner views makes the advertisers happy, and keeping the advertisers interested in advertising is the first step on the way to saving the content-based web industry.

Very nice work! (1)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#395924)

See, this is what it's all about. Start off completely rational ("ads pay for content"). Add a hidden premise ("ads are mandatory"). Then end up with a totally bizarre conclusion ("blocking ads is stealing") that just enough crazies believe in that they carry the discussion for you. Nice!
--
Non-meta-modded "Overrated" mods are killing Slashdot

It can't be done (1)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#395925)

Businesses make money by having a product or service. What is Slashdot's product?

News? No, that's submitted by readers. Plus, there's precious little actual NEWS here--a couple of big industry stories, a bunch of OS-specific stuff and all the rest is nanobots.

The editorial writeup? I include this only for the humor value.

The comment system? Sure, that's a product--but it's also a commodity. Hundreds of sites provide the same service....for free. Can't beat that with a stick.

No, your only product was a sense of community. I say "was" because there's precious little of that now. Some will blame this on the influx of trolls, but I point the causal arrow the other direction. The trolls are a symptom, not a cause. In any case, no one will pay for the sense of community--that's an oxymoron.

I was going to end this post with a comment about "so many other sites provide this stuff for free because of the owner's passion" but that will just degrade into a useless "Taco gotta eat" discussion. I'll just leave the above alone and let people try to find a flaw in the logic that, no matter how much they want or need to make money, they can't.
--
Non-meta-modded "Overrated" mods are killing Slashdot

User Controlled Advertising (1)

Peejeh (260114) | more than 13 years ago | (#395935)

The ability for a user to turn off ads they don't like would be a major step forward in online advertising. Not only do I now have to put up with rubbish 100 frame gifs which eat up my bandwidth and mentally scar me for life, but tracking this info also tells advertising companies that they're ads suck and they need to work harder (or not so hard, in some cases ;)

Re:What To Do, What To Do (1)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | more than 13 years ago | (#395936)

He only sez that when he posts anonymously.
--

Ad targetting (1)

Wavemaker (301827) | more than 13 years ago | (#395937)

What bothers me most about banner ads (apart from those who trick you into thinking they're interactive when they're not) is the lack of targetting. True, many sites ask you for your favorite topics when you login, but most people just leave everything unchecked for the fear of being spammed to death. There could be something like a cookie all sites could read which contained your preferences for ads. This cookie would be only writable by you. This way sites wouldnt have to ask you everytime you logged to a new site, and you wouldn't need giving your e-mail address, and the possibility of being spammed would be reduced. As for the points system it would be very difficult to avoid having someone taking advantage of it (Ad Karma whores?)

more control == more acceptance (1)

oogoody (302342) | more than 13 years ago | (#395938)

User interaction will give people more sense of control which usually translates into more acceptance, even if people never exercise control. Banner adds are done to us. Changing that relationship might help. For low bandwidth users, for example, if they could tell the system their parameters and the add system would actually pick the text version, smaller version, etc, then one objection goes away.

Re:We're not eyeballs. (1)

oogoody (302342) | more than 13 years ago | (#395939)

If you had the option of a subscription that would turn off adds for you, would you take it?

Editorial (1)

Dick Richards (307933) | more than 13 years ago | (#395941)

-1, I already saw this on Kuro5hin.

Win/win demographics and less tracking (1)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 13 years ago | (#395947)

Why does an banner ad company need to use cookies, etc. to track the ads that I as an individual look at? seems like an overly complex solution.

If ads had a This sucks button, and if banner companies know the page the ad is being displayed on - shouldn't that be enough? Isn't this generally how TV / printed media ads work? Eventually the advertising agents will figure out that advertising tampons during a monster truck show isn't a good idea. If banner ad companies track the ads that suck on a given page that should be plenty of 'demographic' information.

In short, track the ads that are not filtered, and are not flagged as ones that suck and correlate that to the web page (or site if the page content varies to much). Technically simple solution, alleviates privacy concerns and gathers a lot of useful information about the types of ads that are useful.

Re:Stop complaining about banner ads (1)

SumDeusExMachina (318037) | more than 13 years ago | (#395950)

Yeah, where would we be without ads on the net!

Well, for starters, we wouldn't have free services like AltaVista or Yahoo!, because they rely on banner revenue for the majority of their income. Hell, I don't even think that Slashdot would be here if it weren't for banners, because they couldn't afford to pay for hosting and other such expenses (or, in VA's case, they couldn't justify the expense).

Think before you post.

Stop complaining about banner ads (1)

SumDeusExMachina (318037) | more than 13 years ago | (#395952)

This is stupid. You all know that without banner ads, the web wouldn't be what it is today. You wouldn't have all these free services like SourceForge or search engines if they weren't able to pay for their bandwidth and equipment expenses somehow.

Personally, I think that no one here who has used a free internet service has a right to complain about banners in any form, because there is NO such thing as a free lunch. If you want to get something for "free," you will have to give something back.

I think this attitude should ideally be present in most of the people here, since the GNU GPL holds the ideal that if someone uses your code, they will have to keep their changes open, so that they are contributing something back to the community. Ergo, they don't get a free lunch.

So, stop whining.

Logic. (1)

Iscon in Siiscon (318648) | more than 13 years ago | (#395955)

Geez...it is hard for me to believe that advertising works on intelligent people. I don't buy anything without checking its value in terms of price, quality, and availability. My decision to buy one brand or another is based soley on those criteria.

Crass American Commercialism. (1)

Lord Hugh Toppingham (319381) | more than 13 years ago | (#395958)

As usual, our American cousins have to find a way to extract money our of absolutely everything. It really is a little bit lower class, a bit 'tradesman' if you will.

In Britian, we do not see the need to turn every free surface into an advertisement hoarding, or to pollute the sides of our roads with thousands of glowing neon signs (we think about the environment).

So when thinking about banner ads, it is very clear it is the American culture of placing a dollar value on absolutely everything, and never stopping to think about true values (integrity, honesty, etc) that is to blame.

For once you Americans should try, just try to think about life in terms other than dollars and cents. Its what prevents you from developing a real civilised culture, as opposed to the 'MTV McDisney' culture you have at the present time.

Re:Crass American Commercialism. (1)

Lord Hugh Toppingham (319381) | more than 13 years ago | (#395959)

That area is designed for tourists. The average UK street has nothing like that. In America, it is endemic.

Advertizing Dynamic (1)

PingPongPhil (320864) | more than 13 years ago | (#395961)


What this article discusses changes the whole dynamic of advertizing; the reason ads are annoying is becuase you are inundated with information you don't wan't, you don't like, and that you didn't ask for.

If you could control what ads you were presented with, they would be more constructive than bothersome.

What about Soup Kitchens? (1)

PingPongPhil (320864) | more than 13 years ago | (#395962)

:because there is NO such thing as a free lunch

What about at Soup Kitchens?

Re:Uploading your own ad? (2)

Hemos (2) | more than 13 years ago | (#395973)

I think I could step in - I've talked with him about it. Say you worked on an OSS project you wanted to promote - this would beon way you could do that. Or, if you had a small business, you could put your company in.

You'd be the same as a regular customer, but you'd be earning the credit towards putting ads up in a different way - not just dollars and cents.

I'm not an evil person! (2)

Stormie (708) | more than 13 years ago | (#395974)

Seems to me that in every discussion concerning banner ads, there's always someone who suggests that I am the spawn of Satan for daring to use an ad blocker [cjb.net] , and therefore depriving good, honest, useful websites of the revenue they need to survive. Its interesting to see someone involved with the ad business say that I'm doing advertisers a favour by blocking their ads 'cos I wouldn't have responded anyway. Saves them bandwidth and saves them money, too. Not everyone's unhappy ;-)

As for the "ad karma".. well, as the Cowboy Neal interview [slashdot.org] showed, Slashdot karma is a game, no matter how much the editors don't want it to be. If "ad karma" engendered the same feelings, hey, I'd almost be tempted to turn off the filter for OSDN sites to I could play too!

Brilliant! (2)

Tim Doran (910) | more than 13 years ago | (#395976)

Another example of the Open Source community leading the pack. Y'know, even if OSDN doesn't develop this, I bet you'll see this sort of thing become standard over the next year. It addresses the declining value of ads without offending readers. It also encourages users to get a login, increasing the stickiness of the site.

If I were running cnet.com I'd be all over this - it's a damn sight better than putting big, distracting ads right in the middle of the 'content'...

sounds great (2)

einstein (10761) | more than 13 years ago | (#395990)

I too have found some neat stuff from slashdot ads. X10, TeamExcess... and yes, the FAWKING DSL add pissed me off. if I could pick and choose my ad! wonderful! If I could earn points to run my own ads? nirvana.
---

that's just plain wrong (2)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#395998)

OlympicSponsor,
The fact that you are being attacked anonymously sickens me. I cannot allow this to continue without doing my part to help rectify the situation.

You are a jackass.

There, now you've got at least one person expressing his opinion of you while logged in.

HTH

--Shoeboy

Re:Stop complaining about banner ads (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#396002)

> You all know that without banner ads, the web wouldn't be what it is today.

Who says the Web is better now than what it used to be?

--

Good ideas, but not my main problem with ads (2)

Gallowglass (22346) | more than 13 years ago | (#396004)

First off, let me say thanks for some good ideas. I'll not comment in detail because I don't know which ones would work. I suspect that the only real way of know what will work is to try them out on a test audience or in the wild.

I suspect that the karma idea might not work. Maybe. My gut feeling is that the simpler the idea, the more effective. I suspect the response rate to the karma idea might make it unfeasible.

However, my main complaint about banner ads is the fact that (A) the html code for the banner ad rarely, in my experience, has the HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes filled in. This means, naturally, that the page can't really start to load properly until it has received that gif image from the ad server. (B) It would appear that many ad servers are running very slow machines ["No, no. They can't be running on a '286! It just feels that way!"] or have a narrow pipe or whatever, because the ad is frequently the last bloody file to load to my browser!

Re:bad troll! (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#396012)

Oops.

Hangs head in shame.

bad troll! (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 13 years ago | (#396015)

#ifndef troll
#define troll

This_is_spam.c:5: unbalanced `#endif'

#endif

Ads (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 13 years ago | (#396016)

"Comment forums for each ad banner"

So we can do your market research for you?

"What about ad system karma?"

So OSDN will devolve into the flashy ads network?

"That's OK. I have my metal bowl on too."

Yeah, that sucks. Perhaps we should be coming up with different, better solutions?

"We're a community, damnit! We're not your ad-clicking sheep! If you can't sell ads then that's your problem! One day this web site will be free of your commercial opportunist tryannical business, all the trolls will leave, this site will be cool again, and then food will taste better!"

Amen ;) Ok, maybe I'm just still pumped from last night's Frontline ("The Merchants of Cool"), but I'm really fed up with vicious circle of "demand generation". Instead of just trying to increase the speed of the process (let's find better ways to make ads to catch more people who will have to find better ways to avoid ads so that we have to find better ways to make ads to...), I think we should be trying to find ways out of this advertising nightmare. Ok, so perhaps micropayments aren't the silver bullet. I'd still like to be able to click a button and give some change as a tip after reading a good article, than be surrounded by advertising everywhere I go. Maybe that's not enough, but shit, "tough". Perhaps sites will revert back to smaller, more intense communities, who are more willing to shell out for real content...instead of site after banal site of regurgitated, non-differentiated content supporting itself by banners...how dreary. (ok, perhaps I'm smoking on the nostalgia pipe).

I'd seriously plunk down a micropayment, for, e.g., some of the interviews Slashdot has done, or reviews of technology, etc. Same for the in-depth reviews on Ars-Technica, Tom's Hardware, and some of the good articles on Wired. Not only would I not have to deal with ads, but I'd get the warm fuzzy feeling of doing the "right thing" while at the same time building up a loyalty to the site because I know that I'm probably one of the exclusive in-club that actually *does* tip.

Let's stop trying to get the addict to help us design better drugs, and instead try to get the addict OFF the drugs.

Slashdot Users as 'Organization' (2)

zairius (54221) | more than 13 years ago | (#396017)

You have a bunch of people with similar core interests... why not try to negotiate discounts for certain products while receiving a kick back for each Slashdot-purchase? Many companies can be suckered into a lower margin if they think they can get higher volume.

Feedback! (2)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 13 years ago | (#396022)

I think the single most important item in Kurt's suggestions is the feedback loop from viewer to advertiser. Too damn many advertisers are running open loop - the flashing banner ads on the 'Net, the stupid "7 up yours!" ads on TV, the blasted "CARGANZA" commercials on radio turn people off, but the advertisers don't know because there is no way to provide negative feedback. If I could (for example, since it's sitting right in front of me) tell ThinkGeek to lose the animated GIFS and just show me the damn product, I'd do it. And I like Thinkgeek!

I'd LOVE to be able to tell advertisers "I blocked your ad, because your damn server is overloaded and the ad took too long to load", or "I don't like javascript in ads, goodbye", or "Cookies? I don' need no steenkeen cookies", because they might actually LEARN from this and improve the ads (before you say advertisers cannot learn: even flatworms can learn.)

Perhaps if /., k5 et. al. start doing this, we can start a new trend.

Re:What To Do, What To Do (2)

JWW (79176) | more than 13 years ago | (#396027)

At least he didn't say "First Post!!" ;-)

Ads I hate most (2)

cowwie (85496) | more than 13 years ago | (#396030)

As a VAR, and someone the clients call when they screw something up, the ads I hate most are the ones that look like a Windows popup box. I've had 10 calls in the last week from people who clicked on the "Your connection is not optimized" ad somewhere... most of the time they were trying to click the little X in the corner to close it. The monkey I can live with... but the phone calls about those are driving me to the brink of insanity.

Re:Karma? Don't you learn? (2)

oojah (113006) | more than 13 years ago | (#396035)

Absolutely, and if you offer tangible benefits to having karma, it worsens things by far. Offering an option to turn off all banners for x points of karma - good idea; I'm sure that nobody will be a whore (fill out a few forms perhaps?) in order to reach that.

It *might* work better if you don't let people know how much karma they've got. That way, they can't boast about it even to themselves and they don't know how far they have to go to reach the next "goal", although if this was implemented I imagine we'd get a slashdot story one day: "OSDN Ad Banner Scoring System Found! (from the some-people-have-too-much-time dept.)"

oojah

Re:Targeting (2)

a_bastard (138417) | more than 13 years ago | (#396041)

Clickthroughs are bullshit. Everyone is making up this bull about "pathetic clickthroughs", "low effectiveness", etc, etc. How the hell can you measure clickthroughs for any other type of media? How many clickthroughs do TV companies have? ZERO. Yet they still manage to earn SHITLOADS of cash AND run the show (which is far more expensive than the whole OSDN network). Nobody except morons with an IQ nearing zero buys stuff directly after seeing a banner. And these morons never read slashdot - they watch the stupid TV infomercials, as in "buy this deluxe footrest for only $200 and we'll throw in a free toilet seat" or whatever. I always do some research on stuff I buy. Sure, banner ads as well as any other medium CAN influence my decision. However, the stuff that influences me the most are USER EXPERIENCES. Sure, advertising can influence a minor decision. That's not the point, though. The point is to build brand recognition, when you associate a name with something good. Banner ads work perfectly for that purpose. The only reason they are "failing" now is because everyone has realized that the internet does not change basic economic rules and that you cannot have so much competition and still have a piece of the market. Another reason is that there is a general downturn in the economy. Therefore, businesses that could not make money are being hit harder and are going out of business. But banners are alive and kicking.

thanks for asking (2)

jayfoo2 (170671) | more than 13 years ago | (#396048)

I accept that OSDN needs to support itself, and that ads are a decent way to do that. 1 banner ad per page is certainly better than a lot of the things that could be done, i.e. paid editorial content (which would ruin the site).

but lets do some math. It takes X dollars to support the sites and make a reasonable profit. Lets pretend that ads are the only revenue source for the time being.

If the price that OSDN can charge for the ads is greater then they have to show us less ads. They can afford to keep it to 1 (or 2) a page. We (hopefully) won't need pop-ups, half-pagers, exit consoles, blah blah blah.

Advertisers will pay more for an ad delivered to a targeted community. If OSDN can segment their community without including my SSN in the process then they can charge more.

So why not, I'm willing to help support /. and K5. I'm willing to let them (because it's my choice) have some information on my preferences (more tux smashing redmond please). In this scheme we are being given the opportunity to opt-in. Many sites don't even give you the choice to opt-out.

If OSDN can increase its ad prices without selling my genetic code then I'm all for it.

Scary!!! (2)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 13 years ago | (#396049)

Upload your own ads

The trolls will love this feature. Can you picture a goatse.cx banner.

We're not eyeballs. (2)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 13 years ago | (#396052)

I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed that Mr. Gray seems to see us as little more than a venue for selling advertisements. He makes the point that OSDN can't exist without money, and he's in charge of the ad system...but, still. We're people, readers, contributors to the site. We're not eyeballs.

That said, I offer some refutations of some of his points.

Mr. Gray claims that ad banners are the only thing that works; I challenge that assertion. The Wall Street Journal seems to be doing quite fine with their subscription model, and, last I heard, pr0n was the only non-ecommerce money-making 'Net industry. They're all subscription-based, no?

Mr. Gray dismissed all alternatives to banners out of hand. I have a challenge: run a few systems all at the same time; call it an experiment. Keep the banners (with your modifications if you're so enamoured of them), but add a tip jar and offer a subscription which eliminates all advertisements and the tip jar. See which one gets you the most money. Chances are, you'll get non-trivial funds from each.

One alternative not mentioned is the public broadcasting model. A couple times a year, have a fund drive. Saturate the site with pleas for money and threats that the service will be discontinued if enough of us don't open our wallets. You'll only get a small percentage of readers paying, but those will likely give you large figures. I bet there're at least a few dot.commies out there who'd give a kilobuck, and many who'd give twenty or thirty dollars. If there's a significant shortfall, get coporate underwriting and have Google-style non-obtrusive text links acknowledging those sponsors.

Most of the rest of Mr. Gray's points are asking us to, frankly, do his job for him. I have no interest in advertisers. I couldn't care if corporation X lives or dies as a result of a successful marketing campaign, and I'm certainly not going to help them do something I consider extremely distasteful.

What I am interested in is Slashdot. If the only way for me to give Slashdot financial support is through banner ads, then Slashdot won't get my financial support: Junkbuster has kept me from seeing a Slashdot ad for quite some time. If there was a tip jar, I'd throw some money at them from time to time. If there was a subscription and it wasn't too expensive, I'd even buy one. But I hate banner ads and will do nothing to contribute to those who belive in them. If an advertisement made it through Junkbuster and managed to crash my browser, I'd spend my time updating the Junkbuster rules or (if it got too bad) I'd leave Slashdot. I wouldn't help you debug something you were incapable of debugging yourself.

And, as for ad system karma...it looks like Mr. Gray spent waaaaay too much time trying to catch the monkey in the money tree. Why am I going to give you a critique on an ad just so I can turn other ads off for a day? Those who contribute will be those who actually want to see the ads. It's much easier to install Junkbuster than it is to critique a couple dozen ads...it just makes no sense.

All I can say is...good luck.

b&

We're not eyeballs. (2)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 13 years ago | (#396053)

I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed that Mr. Gray seems to see us as little more than a venue for selling advertisements. He makes the point that OSDN can't exist without money, and he's in charge of the ad system...but, still. We're people, readers, contributors to the site. We're not eyeballs.

That said, I offer some refutations of some of his points.

Mr. Gray claims that ad banners are the only thing that works; I challenge that assertion. The Wall Street Journal seems to be doing quite fine with their subscription model, and, last I heard, pr0n was the only non-ecommerce money-making 'Net industry. They're all subscription-based, no?

Mr. Gray dismissed all alternatives to banners out of hand. I have a challenge: run a few systems all at the same time; call it an experiment. Keep the banners (with your modifications if you're so enamoured of them), but add a tip jar and offer a subscription which eliminates all advertisements and the tip jar. See which one gets you the most money. Chances are, you'll get non-trivial funds from each.

One alternative not mentioned is the public broadcasting model. A couple times a year, have a fund drive. Saturate the site with pleas for money and threats that the service will be discontinued if enough of us don't open our wallets. You'll only get a small percentage of readers paying, but those will likely give you large figures. I bet there're at least a few dot.commies out there who'd give a kilobuck, and many who'd give twenty or thirty dollars. If there's a significant shortfall, get coporate underwriting and have Google-style non-obtrusive text links acknowledging those sponsors.

Most of the rest of Mr. Gray's points are asking us to, frankly, do his job for him. I have no interest in advertisers. I couldn't care if corporation X lives or dies as a result of a successful marketing campaign, and I'm certainly not going to help them do something I consider extremely distasteful.

What I am interested in is Slashdot. If the only way for me to give Slashdot financial support is through banner ads, then Slashdot won't get my financial support: Junkbuster has kept me from seeing a Slashdot ad for quite some time. If there was a tip jar, I'd throw some money at them from time to time. If there was a subscription and it wasn't too expensive, I'd even buy one. But I hate banner ads and will do nothing to contribute to those who belive in them. If an advertisement made it through Junkbuster and managed to crash my browser, I'd spend my time updating the Junkbuster rules or (if it got too bad) I'd leave Slashdot. I wouldn't help you debug something you were incapable of debugging yourself.

And, as for ad system karma...it looks like Mr. Gray spent waaaaay too much time trying to catch the monkey in the money tree. Why am I going to give you a critique on an ad just so I can turn other ads off for a day? Those who contribute will be those who actually want to see the ads. It's much easier to install Junkbuster than it is to critique a couple dozen ads...it just makes no sense.

In short, if you want my money, don't try to get it from banner ads. You can have my money, but not in exchange for anything related to banner ads.

b&

Re:Ad karma? (2)

micromoog (206608) | more than 13 years ago | (#396059)

And yet you expect to read Slashdot everyday for free.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. The agreement is that I get to read Slashdot for free, while allowing myself to be exposed to banner ads. Spending my time doing field research for the ad agencies does not work into the agreement.

Re:Logic. (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 13 years ago | (#396062)

I don't buy anything without checking its value in terms of price, quality, and availability

I agree with you. But isn't that the reason you might click through on an ad? To learn more about something?

Surely you don't mean to suggest that you already know everything about all competitors who offer a type of product you are interested in?

I hate most ad banners. But I've seen some on slashdot that I've occaisionally clicked through on because they were actually interesting to me -- unlike most other ads elsewhere on the web.

For instance, I see a ThinkGeek ad, or an X10 ad, or a few others, and the product looks interesting. I click through, explore a bit. I'm still not going to buy anything because I'm so gullible that the ad somehow magically got me to buy it. I evaluate carefully. But sometimes, occaisionally, an ad does make me aware of something.

I think making an ad system way more interactive as suggested in this article is a great idea. Far better than the stupid no-feedback system that all of the web has now.

Maybe what you meant was more like: I can't believe that in-your-face, obnoxious advertising works on intelligent people. Some advertisers seem to think that the more obnoxious they are, the more likely intelligent people are to respond.

Suggestions for ad karma (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 13 years ago | (#396063)

I would suggest two changes to the Karma points:
10 points for loading small ad banner.
1 point for clicking through on an ad.

The 1 point for click through does not encourage excessive click through. An ad karma whore can do lots of other things to accumulate points way faster than clicking through ads.

I don't mean to be critical, but most of your reward ideas for ad karma don't seem practical. Maybe even none of them. No way you could give away ads. Okay, well, maybe in exchange for your karma going over a zillion. Maybe you can let people turn off ads, but this means that they interact with advertisers, and view ads, for the privilege of not viewing ads.

I still think you sh/could keep track of ad karma. But I don't know of any suitable or practical reward for accumulating it. (Maybe a prize, even a token, funded by a contribution from advertisers for their gratitude in the large amount of feedback you've given them to accumulate so much ad karma? Just imagine, because of your vast participation in Slashdot, you get a free licensed, paid for copy of MSDOS 3.1 !)


Those who can, do. Those who can't, get their MCSE.

The main problem - trust (2)

Matthias Wiesmann (221411) | more than 13 years ago | (#396066)

Ok while I think some idea are intersting, some points are contradictory for instance: why would you use karma points to disable adds while it is said higher in the text that it would be the first customisation.

On the whole such a system could work if and only if people trust the system. Here in switzerland you can put a sticker on your letter box that you don't want adds so you don't get adds that are not personally addressed to you. This information is stored in the telephone directory and is respected. I would gladly have such a cookie to signal I don't want to see adds.

If you want intelligent adds, which seems to be the point of this text, you need some way to profile people. This implies the following:

  • That users trust the profiler not to sell/abuse the profile (so it must be minimal). Given the record of most add companies this is a tricky part.
  • That the profile is respected, i.e when I say I don't want any add, I don't get any add. This will be a problem if there are n different companies with different policies, no standart, etc.
  • That users cannot get more adantages by short-circuiting the system. For instance if your profiling filtering is not better that what I can do with Junkbuster, there is no way I will use it.
  • That user can bypass the whole system without harm. This means that the system can work if there is no profile and accept this (i.e not require one), this would be usefull for intermittent connectiosn, but also for people wo don't like the system.
  • The add system should be a order of magnitude smarter and global. Even as my browser signals that my primary language of interst is Swiss-French, I still get adds for stuff in the US. This is the most depressing thing about spam and internet ads: the internet is suposedly global, but all the Spam relates to the US.
  • The system should support communities. Ie you somehow signal that your are part of some communities, and therefore the profile of your community is used. This would be usefull for groups and would also yield better privacy.

Go ahead on this post (2)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#396067)

Any post that trolls a "more effective ads" story on /. is OK by me.
--
Non-meta-modded "Overrated" mods are killing Slashdot

Hi Hemos (2)

Ananova (255600) | more than 13 years ago | (#396071)

I wonder, as an important person in charge of leveraging market position in the OSDN (or something like that) (and therefore with an important position in advertising, not just on /., but on other major OS sites like kuro5hin and sourceforge), what do *you* see as the way to get people to click ads.

I know it's important for /.'s survival for people to click on ads, so what do you see as the future for /.'s ads? As I understand it, the simple banner at the top of the page is not as successful as you will like, so will we see /. with ads in the middle of the page (or every few comments), at the bottom and so on?
--

I Love Banner Ads (2)

qpt (319020) | more than 13 years ago | (#396072)

Well, perhaps I don't love the ads themselves, but I enjoy access to the free content that banner ads pay for.

A lot of Slashdot users are no doubt used not having to pay for software and perhaps not even music. The first can be acquired both easily and legally for free, the second perhaps only easily. It comes as no surprise then, that they would expect free content from over the Internet.

This is a wonderful model for the consumer, obviously, but it's important to realize that someone has to create that content. Further, it's going to take that person valuable time to do so. It is not at all unreasonable that someone should expect to get paid for their effort.

Banner ads round out this situation nicely. They allow content creators to receive payment for their work, and they allow consumers to enjoy free content. However, some people seem to want to spoil the fun.

Not content to tolerate a few tiny banner ads as an exchange for enjoying the content, they pursue various technological means to block them. This practice is damaging to the fundamental model that many free content providers are based on. In effect, people who block banner ads are biting the hand that feeds them in a most immature and selfish manner.

I don't doubt that users of such software as Junkbuster would be more than happy to steal the content just like they steal their music and software, but their behavior negatively affects those of us who do wish to play by the rules.

Remember, if you have any sense of ethics, blocking banner ads is stealing content.

- qpt

This is spam! (3)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#396076)

#define troll

I saw it over on Kuro5hin already! ;) And, after all, cross posting is spam.

#endif

free ads (3)

jesser (77961) | more than 13 years ago | (#396078)

I like the idea that I might be able to try out advertising for parts of my site without putting any money up front. That would allow me to get some idea of what parts of my sites people like and which parts they think are pointless. I don't make money off of my website, but if I got a lot of positive feedback (through e-mail or through a slashdot forum devoted to my ad), I might pay a reasonably low rate to keep running these ads, just because slashdot has turned me into a positive-feedback whore :) Or maybe I'd put ads on my own site or do something original like buying a .com or .org domain name for myself, who knows.

I can just see future conspiracy theories: the karma cap is part of a master plan to deprive karma whores of the positive feedback they love so much, and make them post ads for their own site (which previously got one hit a week), first for free, and later for money.

Some people might even put up humorous ads that don't link anywhere, just to burn off ad karma. This could be a good thing: it might get people to look at the ads instead of just scrolling past them, and it would be entertaining. But it might also mean that the exchange rate of points for ad views would have to be low. (As long as nobody tries to advertise the goatse site with what looks like a thinkgeek banner ad, I'll be happy.)

What do you think of letting slashdot users who don't have anything of their own to advertise give their ad points to someone who's advertising a "completely free" site (no ads, not selling anything)?

(Btw, does anyone know the minimum amount of money you have to put into a Google adwords [slashdot.org] account to try out an ad?)

P.S. I'm over the karma cap, so please accuse me of not-very-subtly plugging for my site rather than karma whoring.

Free (as in ads) (3)

paulywog (114255) | more than 13 years ago | (#396081)

It seems to make some sense that people in support of the Free Software and Open Source movements should also be in support of a user-based ad distribution system -- it promotes a certain freedom of choice.

I don't mind seeing adds. There are some adds that I see and make me aware of something I've never seen or heard of before. But then there are other ads that just piss me off. Popup adds are especially bad, in my opinion, because I hate those extra windows just flying up without my permission. Some people hate banner ads because the sit there and flash their obnoxious message on the page you're trying to read.

So, what should a customizable, user-based ad system provide:
  • Obviously there have to be ads involved, or the advertisers won't be very accepting. Perhaps users shouldn't even be given the option to completely turn off ads.
  • Users should be able to select what kind of ads they want to see. If I only want to see Linux hardware ads, that's what I should be able to see! Advertisers should be mostly OK with this - it's the most targeted advertising system you can have. The disadvantage is that there's less cross-selling going on for the advertisers.
  • The user should be able to customize how those adds appear.
    Location inline on the page,
    In a new window,
    All adds in one separate window,
    Text based,
    No animation


What else? Maybe we should have an opensource project to develop a better advertising system. Then there can be a nice little backdoor that will spam the advertsing company employees with thousands of ads every day.

Re:Targeting (3)

billcopc (196330) | more than 13 years ago | (#396083)

I have to agree, interesting ads regularly obtain my attention. Without advertising I would never have heard of many sites which I visit regularly, or certain products that are innovative and that I wouldn't have looked for on my own (software/hardware/whatever). However there is at least one type of ads I truly hate, the misleading ones that are made to look like a clickable form or those damned scrollbar things. Although I'm not fooled by these mock ups, i'm sure many others can't tell the difference, the non-technical ones especially. That's pure deception and it's just shy of fraud.

Targeting (3)

Ananova (255600) | more than 13 years ago | (#396086)

People don't, I think, mind ad banners. In fact, they will click on them if they are interesting. For instance, I clicked on an ad for an interview with John Carmack the other day because it was interesting.

If you give people interesting ads, they will click. It's different to the real world. Since the success of ads is measured by clickthroughs (i.e. internet advertising is a direct sales route), then what you have to do is give people things they are directly interested in.

So things like those ads for $10 pearls, will fail on /., at least by the direct sales=success approach of the internet (cf. other media, where it's indirect growth that is measured), but an advert for a book about Perl might succeed.

As to successful indirect advertising (increasing sales, although not through clickthroughs), this is a different issue, and depends on a level of obtrusiveness that internet ads don't have. You can't make a catchy ad to sell rubbish on the internet, simply because that kind of full screen, 3-minute TV ads don't work, because you only have a few pixels on the screen.

Thus although traditional advertising is about selling people things they don't want, when selling online, you have to try and sell people things they do want - it's just a matter of finding the right people. And this, of course, is where profiles come in.

For the success of sites such as /., advertising must be effective, and to do this, advertisers need to know about you. The number one priority for online advertisers is to get the right ad in front of the right person, and for this ad cookies are vital for the survival of advertising-supported websites.
--

Re:Targeting (4)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#396088)

> People don't, I think, mind ad banners.

I mind them.

One reason is the distracting animations that make it hard to read the content I went to the site to read in the first place. Another reason is that I do most of my surfing over a dialup connection to a not particularly fast ISP, and I dislike having to wait for images to download just so I can read the content I went to the site to read in the first place.

Notice that a solution to both of my complaints would be to use simple text for ads. Sometimes "simpler" works better than "in-your-face". Text ads may not be quite so quick to catch the eye, but then they aren't catching my eye at all as it is. (I turn off automatic image downloading, and I quit visiting sites altogether if they make me wade through too much annoyance to get to the subject matter.)

--

Re:I Love Banner Ads (4)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 13 years ago | (#396089)

> In effect, people who block banner ads are biting the hand that feeds them in a most immature and selfish manner.

Is it also immoral to get up to take a leak during a television commercial? Or to use "technological means" to flip to another station?

--

Preferences (4)

lal (29527) | more than 13 years ago | (#396090)

I occasionally click ads on Slashdot or News.com; hardly ever on Yahoo, Salon, etc. Why? Because Slashdot is targeted to some of my interests.

Given the opportunity to specify interests for all OSDN banner ads, I'd do it. I think it would increase click-thru in addition to letting you shop around a targeted demographic. Seems like a win-win. Bring it on.

Ad Karma? (4)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 13 years ago | (#396092)

So, if I spend months and months downloading all kinds of annoying ads, then, in the end I'm rewarded with the ability to... not have to download annoying ads. Ummm. Why don't I just filter them before hand and not bother? If you want to reward people for seeing ads, have you considered going for something concrete, like, I dunno, a free /. t-shirt, or discounts on whatever it is your advertisers are selling?

God does not play dice with the universe. Albert Einstein

Advertising wouldn't be so bad if it was targeted (4)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#396094)

I, like many other Slashdot users, find myself mildly annoyed by most of the banner ads served on Slashdot.

(Slashdot Cruiser, anyone).

Perhaps this wouldn't be such an issue if I weren't stuck on a 33.3 dialup connection, but as it stands, even with the "Light" version of Slashdot selected in my user info, some of the articles can take several minutes to load.

Obviously if Slashdot is to remain a free website available to anyone, they need to keep banner ads on their site, so what can be done to alleviate some of the annoyance that current banner advertising can cause? I propose a targeted advertising system that tracks user's preferences based upon the stories they read most often. This would require placing another cookie on a users computer with a unique ID string that Slashdot would use to keep track of what Slashdot stories a particular user reads. Let's say for example you frequently enjoy Slashdot's Anime section. Your cookie would reflect this information and you would be delivered ads for new Anime releases at each page load. Of course you would have to read logged in, but I believe most if not all readers do this anyway.

A system of this type shouldn't be terribly hard to implement, considering Slashdot already organizes stories by category, and it should not be too taxing on Slashdot's servers. I know I would be more likely to click on, and lessly annoyed by banner ads, if they were advertising products I had a particular interest in.

Just a suggestion, does anyone else have any input on the subject?

Karma? Don't you learn? (4)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#396095)

The introduction of karma in Slashdot was an interesting psychological experiment - look how nuts people can go over something that has absolutely no value. I mean, I know I can't do anything with it but I've still effectively retired my low-four-digit-id account in large part because I've been conditioned to value karma and it bothers me at some level to see it get whittled away.

Anyway, the lesson is that you can't "just" introduce some scoring system without people getting crazy over it. If you decide to go with such a plan, get ready for ad karma whoring, trolling, bot and script hogging and all the rest of the headaches that are going to accompany it.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

How to make banner ads suck less (4)

Eoli (320216) | more than 13 years ago | (#396097)

- Filter them out, or

- Enforce the "1 x 1 pixel" banner standard, or

- Pay me $1 for each banner viewed, or

- Fill them with pornographic images

I think those are the only real options here.

What To Do, What To Do (5)

Hemos (2) | more than 13 years ago | (#396098)

I think that the user-based ad system is one of the most interesting ideas I've heard in a long time. It completly changes the dynamic of the advertising relationship.

Why?

Because web advertising has been basically like TV or print - an ad is displayed and people can click or not. TV doesn't even have that option, but print can send back requests for more info. What can we do here? Click on an ad - that's been the only method of communication.

Me, I like to see *some* ads. I've found good companies and stuff I didn't know about through some of the ads. But I'd much prefer being able to do more then click or not - being able to request more info, or being able to to *turn off* a bad ad would rock. It's a system that I think would be worth implementing - not because I work on the web sites, but because it's something I'd like to have as user.

Can I get some of what you're smoking? (5)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#396100)

Here's a few scenerios, ideas I've been pitching around:

Comment forums for each ad banner:

Great idea! The best part is that you've already tested it here on slashdot. Nearly ever article posted during the "Slashdot Cruiser" campaign contained at least 3 comments about what a horrible idea that was. Clearly you can leverage your existing expertise in this area.

Turning off annoying ads:

I've got a better idea, how about we see hot horny women and get fired? I think this could be a great experience for us to share together.

Choice of ad topics and categories:

Will hardware manufacturers that don't suck be an option? Cause while I'll probably never pay 10% more than the standard price for a "server" that has an asus desktop motherboard and a VA Linux case badge, I do like computer hardware ads. I just like them from real companies like Dell and Compaq that don't charge extra for printing "Linux Powered" on the outside of the box the computer ships in.

What about ad system karma?

Would that work like the slashdot karma system? Cause the idea of ad system bitchslapping is scary. I can handle a default posting score of -1, but I'd hate to have 20 popups on slashdot just because Taco got pissed at me.

1 point for every time you load a paid ad
0 points for clicking on an ad
50 points for loading bigger ads
100 points for loading a pop-up ad
500 points for filling out an advertiser's survey
100 points for loading a Flash ad
300 points for posting a meaningful critique on an ad
200 points for alerting us if an ad is broken
500 points for helping us test an ad before it goes live


The look on Larry Augustin's face when OSDN starts turning a profit: priceless.
There are some things that ad karma can't buy. For everything else there's mastercard.

I understand that you're brainstorming here, but your ideas are pretty silly.

--Shoeboy

Re:What To Do, What To Do (5)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#396101)

Who's this 'hemos' guy and how'd he get uid 2? After all, we never see the slashdot crew posting to their own site, so he can't be one of them.

Desperately trying to dump karma so he won't be called a karma whore

My early experiences with Web Ads (5)

peccary (161168) | more than 13 years ago | (#396102)

When web sites first started putting up gif advertisements, the WSJ Interactive had tasteful black-and-white 1-inch ads very much like the print version.

Then they went to color. "Ok, just taking advantage of the medium," I thought. Some of them were informative, and I occasionally clicked through.

Then they started flashing at me, trying to get my attention. Hello! I'm Trying To Read, Here! It was worse than being in a room full of toddlers. I was quite disappointed that a
  • newspaper publisher
of all possible outfits, was destroying the reading experience in this way. And I told them so. Naturally, they ignored me.

And so I installed an ad filter and now I don't see a single one of their blessed ads, or any one elses.

The web ad industry is its own worst enemy.

Re:What To Do, What To Do (5)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#396103)

Yes to be able to turn off that "Hot Horny women" ad would be a *very* good thing. OTOH I really like the Despair ads. :)

Ad karma? (5)

micromoog (206608) | more than 13 years ago | (#396105)

Redeem your points to gain access to such features as (Hypothetical examples)
  • Turn off all ads
  • Upload your own ads
  • Get stats on the ads you uploaded
  • Specify which sites you want your ads to run on
  • Whetever else anyone can think of...

Sorry, but I've gotta say the "ad karma" idea is exceptionally bad. The only way I'm going to spend my time rating your banner ads is if you:

  • Pay me money
  • Pay me money
  • Pay me money

Don't worry (5)

Steve Richards (211082) | more than 13 years ago | (#396108)

I find this entire article vaguely amusing. Sure, you can ask your users what they want. Just don't expect it to get you anywhere.

Remember, you run this site. You can do whatever you want with it. There is absolutely no need to ask the users' permission to do anything. The servers are your property, the code was written by you, and everyone is reading this website and posting here at your sufferance.

You can't depend on the readers to run this site for you. What do us readers want? A site that's never down, with all sorts of features, that's easy to use, with responsive management, and no banners. Is that realistic? No. Are users interested in sitting down and facing harsh, ugly reality and thinking hard about these issues to the degree that's necessary to formulate even halfway decent proposals? Of course not. And it's unrealistic and dangerous to expect essentially apathetic (and very self-interested) parties to give you good advice.

In the end, the success or failure of the banner system is up to you. You can't rely on the users, and you can't blame them if you fail. But there's a ray of hope here too - you also have the freedom to ignore them.

I hope this is in some way helpful to you.

Persistent Ads (5)

LinkDog (249517) | more than 13 years ago | (#396109)

When I read print articles I notice ads and return to them later. The problem with web ads is that I must act now or lose my chance. What I would like is a hybrid dynamic/static ad system. The ad itself can be random, but once I've seen it, it should remain each time I return to a specific page. Thus I can remember I saw the ad for FooCorp Widgets on the Slashdot article about Ginger and track it down days, weeks, or months later.

Interesting Banner Ad.. (5)

tonywestonuk (261622) | more than 13 years ago | (#396110)

I saw a banner ad that was quite interesting - I think it was for HP, but that wasn't important. The ad itself was a paper plane simulator, with two controls to increase/decrease the length of the plane, and its wingspan. When you were happy with your 'design', you pressed 'go' and the paper plane was thrown, its tragectory plotted with a dotted red line... Altering the controls changed the way the plane flew logically. Unfortunetly, when I left the page, and came back, the ad had changed, and no amount of reloading the page would bring it back.... I think I did go to HP's web site to try and find it again.... but without luck. The morral - instead of trying to sell us somthing with a electronic 'poster' -give us somthing to play with. The computer medium is by its nature interactive - if the ad's arn't then we skip over them though pure bordom.
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