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A Peek Into the Business Side of Online Publishing (Video)

Roblimo posted about 2 years ago | from the it-takes-all-kinds dept.

Media 43

Mark Westlake is the Chief Revenue Office for TechMediaNetwork. Slashdot has often taken a mediawatch role, especially when it comes to technology coverage -- which is what TechMediaNetork does for a living. As Chief Revenue Office, Mark is in charge of making sure enough money comes in to pay writers and editors, pay for bandwidth and servers, and hopefully have enough revenue over and above expenses to show a profit. We've interviewed editors and writers, and plenty of writers' work gets linked from Slashdot, but we pay little or no (mostly no) attention to the business side of the publishing business. Like it or not, if we are going to have online news someone has to sell the ads and make decisions about whether to set up a paywall or not. That's Mark's job. Like him or not, he does a job somebody has to do, and has been doing it for 30 years. He knows he's talking to a potentially hostile audience here, but he accepts that. As he says, near the end of the video, "...you can't please everybody, right?"

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I have another question (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 2 years ago | (#42413515)

How can we turn off the pop ups about the new mobile site? I don't really give a shit since the "new" mobile site looks like ass. The constant pop ups at every page load is fucking annoying.

Re:I have another question (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42413537)

Hell, with regular PC browsing, can the classic mode be the default?

I've tried showing this site to co-workers, but I'm sick of cleaning up the puke.

Re:I have another question (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42413671)

How can we turn off the pop ups about the new mobile site? I don't really give a shit since the "new" mobile site looks like ass. The constant pop ups at every page load is fucking annoying.

There are popups? Wasn't aware of that.

Re:I have another question (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 2 years ago | (#42413751)

Yes when browsing on a mobile device.

Re:I have another question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42414009)

Or, inexplicably, when browsing on Chrome on Win7.

Re:I have another question (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#42414055)

I haven't seen any pop-ups and I'm on Chrome on Win7 at the moment.

Suggestion. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42413607)

No one wants to look at a video of some whiney old dude. They should hire a really hot chick in a bikini, or just full-on nude. That would be worth watching!

Re:Suggestion. tldr version (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42413699)

I read the interview, it wasn't bad.

tldr

Basic idea was that the more sought after the content and the more restricted the content is, the more it is worth.

Re:Suggestion. tldr version (2)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#42414075)

And if there's anything the internet is good for, it's "restricting content", so that something you don't want getting out there doesn't get out there. Yup.

"...you can't please everybody, right?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42413609)

Spoken like a salesman.

Re:"...you can't please everybody, right?" (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#42413791)

Or politician... Or manager... Or bartender... Or waiter... Or writer... Or helpdesk...

Actually, I can't think of anyone who CAN please everyone all the time. Even whores can't do it, and that is as simple as it gets.

Re:"...you can't please everybody, right?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42413841)

Drug dealers?

X-hamster?

um

hmm

sluts? Well, at least the sluts try to please everyone.

sh17? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42413765)

Re:sh17? (0)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42413819)

That does bring up an interesting question.

How much should goat.cx charge for advertising?

I'm sure there have been millions of page views, but the average page linger time has gotta be one second or less.

Paywall for slashdot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42413871)

Really. I think it's quite a change in posture what I have thought slashdot has been as I've followed it over 14 years. I understand there is a need for money too, but if that gets done I'm going say goodbye and thanks for all the fish past years.

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42413927)

Being a news aggregator pay-walls in general is bad news for slashdot.

The only content that slashdot actually has is the comments.

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#42420403)

Being a news aggregator pay-walls in general is bad news for slashdot.

The only content that slashdot actually has is the comments.

But... but... but... are you trying to say the comments are valueless? Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of comments? Does it run Crysis? In Soviet Russia, Beowulf cluster of comments runs Crysis on YOU.

See? Valuable, original IP!

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (3, Informative)

Roblimo (357) | about 2 years ago | (#42413977)

We weren't talking about a paywall for Slashdot, but about the New York Times and possibly the Washington Post, which is reportedly *considering* a paywall.

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about 2 years ago | (#42414197)

If they think they'll get subscribers through a pay wall let them. But there is allot more competition in the market journalist and information market. People and small orginizations without paywalls can produce news. Blogs, and such.

NPR is one that works.

Maybe they should take what they have and use it to buy and syndicate the parts of the market that are thriving without paywalls. Transfer assets and syndicate the small guys.

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42415189)

NPR is one [buisness model] that works.

NPR's business model is "1. Be taxpayer funded. 2. Collect donations from listeners. 3. Profit."

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (1)

Soulskill (1459) | about 2 years ago | (#42414063)

Paywall for us? Hell no.

Re:Paywall for slashdot? (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 2 years ago | (#42416551)

If we were the types to RTFA, we wouldn't be posting here. It's the Slashthropic principle.

Bring on the Paywall (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 2 years ago | (#42413979)

It's just the opportunity we've been waiting for, to start our own *new* Slashdot, with hookers and blackjack!

Re:Bring on the Paywall (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42414059)

Ok, so lets say us, the readers of slashdot told dice or whomever to fuck off, what do you want to see in slashdots replacement?

Re:Bring on the Paywall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42414165)

more soviet russia jokes and bad analogies, less "business intelligence".
i'd settle for just less "business intelligence" though.
seriously.

Re:Bring on the Paywall (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42414239)

Just random technology news and cool hack-of-the-day kind of thing. You know, REAL news for NERDS.

Re:Bring on the Paywall (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42414279)

And there are many sources for just that, slashdot though is more about the comments.

Re:Bring on the Paywall (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 2 years ago | (#42414939)

Slashdot, but like it was before it had to make money, and maybe before JonKatz got too vocal. The first year was probably the best. (Back in those days, registering was for suckers, so my five-digit came months after I started hanging out here.)
Anyway, money is the root of all this evil, and brings with it politics, slashvertisement, "broader appeal", and editors who must "look the other way" when a sensational submission needs to be corrected or ignored.

Like it or not... (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#42414131)

it or not, if we are going to have online news someone has to sell the ads and make decisions about whether to set up a paywall or not. That's Mark's job. Like him or not, he does a job somebody has to do, and has been doing it for 30 years. He knows he's talking to a potentially hostile audience here, but he accepts that. As he says, near the end of the video, "...you can't please everybody, right?"

Why do I have to care your business model isn't designed to make as much money as you think you should make? My heart bleeds for him like it does for horse carriage makers, walkmans, news papers or any other business model that has been replaced by technology and access to the internet.

I don't care where I get my news, hell as long as someone can post on any site "so and so happened today" and maybe show some photos of the even I'm good for news.

Re: Like it or not... (3, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42414243)

The biggest issue will be how do we know this news source is trustworthy.

The internet is like a bullshit incubator, bullshit gets spread far and wide and the further it is spread the more it is believed.

A news source that strives to be as objective as possible is extremely valuable to us the consumer, but is at odds with the industry as a whole and therefor how it gets funded is an issue.

Re: Like it or not... (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#42414657)

I fully agree with you that's why I like new sites that allow comments which are not nazi moderated so people can at least post rebuttals if the story is bs. Unfortunately here Vancouver BC you have The Province and Vancouver Sun who are owned but the same company. Most of the stories could be reported on by regular folks while half of the shit on there is sensationalized news. Hell when a new iTem is about to be launched all you see on the front page of the Vancouver Sun is Apple promos.

Re: Like it or not... (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42414715)

Yea, I tend to head to news aggragrators such as here or googles news listing.

For actual news sources, when I have the choice I tend to go for The Christian Science Monitor (their religion may be nuts, but they know journalism) and the BBC. Or if it is a tech related story I try to go with the most relevant tech site for the particular story. I avoid Fox like the plague, their bullshit to truth ratio is horrible.

Re: Like it or not... (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#42420547)

Unfortunately here Vancouver BC you have The Province and Vancouver Sun who are owned but the same company. Most of the stories could be reported on by regular folks while half of the shit on there is sensationalized news.

Sadly, this is something of a self-sustaining death spiral. Newspapers have been struggling for a while to generate the funds for proper journalism, which makes the newspapers commercially less appealling.

Very few TV news broadcasts ever do deep investigative journalism, and as traditional newspapers die off, we're becoming less and less well informed...

Just WOW! (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#42414179)

So, you’ve got to balance, I guess you could say church and state, you got to balance that user experience, so that, in our case, we try to do one for 24 hours, no more, if it’s a real intrusive ad, and then we measure, you measure.

Well, I will try to torture Mark Westlake for 24 hours if it REALLY hurts.

My god... and the "none of our readers will be using adblockers" crap further down... WHY DO YOU THINK ANYONE WITH A BRAIN RUNS AN AD BLOCKER?

Because it is the only way to keep some fucking sanity! READ the quote again. For 24 hours... what is MISSING is per what? He tries to run a really intrusive ad only 24 hours per day? Wow, well that is protecting the user experience alright, if said user experience is absolute horror.

Not this guy does NOT state that they only test a potential new ad for how intrusive it is for 24 hours max and then measure the response to this new idea and then decide for or against using it again. That is NOT what he is saying. He is saying that if a really intrusive ad comes his way, he will run it BUT only for 24 hours because he knows that if he does it longer EVERYONE will leave. He does not limit how many DIFFERENT really intrusive ads he runs, just that any singular REALLY intrusive ad gets run for a maximum of 24 hours so that for a news site, EVERYONE who visits will have seen it... nice guy eh?

I first looked into ad blocking when the ISP I was using at the time ran a banner add that was a blinking nightmare for a service I was already using (UPC Cable) it was REALLY annoying and so I searched in how to block it proxy level so it would work on all my computers and browsers. I never went back but I do routinely update it to catch the new ads.

The reason is simple, give an advertising the finger and they will rape your children and sell their organs. It is NEVER enough for advertisers, the ads will always be more in your face, more jarring, more of them and getting more and more in the way of the content. TV ads are a prime example. Nobody really minded "this program brought to you by" messages. And interupting a 1 hour program three times gives those of us with bladder issues time to relieve themselves. And 4 times an hour, well why not. And 5 times an hour helps those with really bad bladders. And overlying ads over the closing credits hurts nobody. And overlaying ads over the actual program itself... FUCK IT! ENOUGH! NO MORE!

Someone made a nice graph of the DVD experience for pirates vs saps who buy their DVD's in the shops. http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2010/02/19/experience-dvd-pirate-vs-paying-customer/ [thenextweb.com]

Much the same can be said for the web browsing experience of those with and without an adblocker. Occasionaly I have to use a non-blocked browser and ARGH! The HORROR, the SLOWNESS, the virusses served by unchecked 3rd party ad servers.

The STUPIDITY of advertisers is such they are their own worst enemy. So... you want to serve me a video ad before I can see the video I want... okay... I am slightly irritated and will associate that irritation with the product you are about to show me but hey, irritation is good in trying to get me to buy something... then I wait for it to load... slowly and the ad is TOTALLY irrelevant to me (some car ad for a SUV that is only available in the US, I don't drive cars, don't like SUV's and am in the EU). Then the real video refuses to load, I reload the page. Same ad again. NOT GOING TO BUY! Want to watch another video, same ad. Another video. Same ad. Week later another video. Same ad... I NOW LOATH THAT CAR AND BRAND WITH A FIERCENESS MOST PEOPLE RESERVE FOR... well other ads to be honest. Dog poo on the sidewalk you just stepped in when you took off your shoe to remove a piece of glass that just boar straight into your big toe you just stumped against something? HAS GOT NOTHING ON THAT CAR AD!

So... I block and... life is wonderful, I get to see the content I want immediately, no interruptions, faster.

Even Google is near insane on this. When you create a playlist, you get ads. Don't create one, stay anonymous, block tracking, you can play as much content as you want, no ads... Give them your personal data, ADS. Hide it, no ads. Hello? I use youtube as my jukebox and was honestly amazed to find out that they started serving ads between videos if you play a lot of them. They don't for me, they do for logged in users with a playlist. The sillyness is beyond imagining. It would be as if the RIAA had racks of DVD's outside its offices for anyone to take that had the full movie in the best quality with no stupid commercials and warnings while it to see the passport and birth certificate of anyone wanting to buy a DVD in the shops.

When you rented a 16mm movie (yeah yeah, I am old) the movie is what you got. Nothing more. With VHS they added ads after the movie. With DVD they added them in front and when people skipped them, they made them unskippable.

I remember a VPRO documentary (dutch broadcaster that would choke the most leftist American with their leftness) that showed a New York school were some lessons were subsidized but in exchange, kids had to watch commercials. It is to long ago to know if I remember it correctly but it wouldn't surprise me in a bit. Any advertising reading this will certainly think "good idea"... or... more likely "pah, that is so last century, we got WAY better things now".

We the reader can't reach a compromise on this because their will ALWAYS be an advertiser who will go further. We could agree to give 99% of our screen real estate over to ads, and before your blood has dried on the contract, an advertiser will have come up with an overlay for the 1% left.

The only alternative is to kill advertising at least for your own home. And if that means some sites will die... the net was better before advertising anyway. Less ads for one.

Re:Just WOW! (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42414363)

Another good reason to block ads is that ads have become one of the major vectors of your computer being infected.

Especially on small hobby sites. A co-worker's computer was recently infected by a banner ad on a fly-fishing website he visited, while another co-worker was getting infected by ads on a wrestling website....... that he kept on going back to

Re:Just WOW! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#42416449)

I totally agree that when ads get intrusive and irritating, it automatically becomes an ad for a product I will not buy. Unless it is something I already buy, in which case I will start to look for alternatives.

Flash AGAIN?! (0)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42414209)

"You need to have the Adobe Flash Player to view this content."

Godamnit Slashdot, we're almost in 2013 and you're still pushing that has-been technology dinosaur from the 1990's.

Re:Flash AGAIN?! (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#42414255)

Why watch it? Click the little link below and read it.

"...you can't please everybody, right?" (1)

raydobbs (99133) | about 2 years ago | (#42414297)

So...that's an excuse to not even attempt to make ANYONE happy? Marky-Mark... that's why we hate people like you. It's not the idea of making a profit we hate, it's the idea of wringing every last cent out at any cost - no matter how despicable or ethically challenged your methods prove to be - in the race for *just that much MORE* profit from something. People watch ads because they don't get in the way, or they are fun. The harder you force the issue, the more people will leave or avoid your site(s).

Re:"...you can't please everybody, right?" (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#42416459)

"... it's the idea of wringing every last cent out at any cost - no matter how despicable or ethically challenged your methods prove to be..."

I agree here, too. I don't have a problem with newspapers wanting to maximize their profits... after all, they are businesses. What I have a problem with is when they attempt to maximize profits at the expense of their own users' freedom and privacy.

in other news (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42414605)

there were a few posts on slashbi the other day.

So 20th Century... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#42414785)

We need to use online information to move more of our economy in the 21st century to beyond money (towards high-tech subsistence with gardening robots and solar panels, a bigger gift-economy with online exchange of ideas, and better internet-empowered participatory planning at all levels of government), and to soften the money-focused parts with a "basic income" (perhaps 1/2 of the GDP evenly distributed).

See as just one example, from around 1986 (an example the web makes possible through online publishing) about why the deeper logic behind such an article is failing:
"G. A. Cohen - Against Capitalism" (***)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA9WPQeow9c [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD1YEzd6QzQ [youtube.com]

We need to make this social transition because our technologies have become too powerful to do things in ironically stupid uncompassionate ways anymore (based on scarcity assumptions), since WWII and other events since have shown how easy it is to institutionalize the systematic destruction of large numbers of human beings using the tools of abundance (one of which is communication systems and another being transport systems). See Marshall Brain's book "Manna" for examples of two ways forward, one awful and one hopefully better:
http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com]

Or read James P. Hogans' Voyage From Yesteryear.
http://www.jamesphogan.com/books/info.php?titleID=29&cmd=summary [jamesphogan.com]

------
(***) Some criticism of Cohen: Cohen misses that hunter/gatherers had more spare time and freedom than agriculturalists (even if they had different difficulties). He also misses that "artificial scarcity" comes from more than advertising to increase demand -- artificial scarcity comes from rent-seeking through state-enforced monopolies (like patents, copyrights, overly broad trademarks, and so on) and by laws that direct corporate welfare through subsidies (like to the beef, dairy, and corn industries) or ignoring negative externalities (like pollution from coal) or systemic risks (like from financial or nuclear meltdowns). And being in the UK then, he ignores how the "war is a racket" that now so dominates US political expenditures now. His later writing is interesting because he begins to focus on the need for *moral* transformation in our society (more akin to getting non-land owners and women the right to vote, or abolishing slavery).

Re:So 20th Century... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#42414823)

P.S. I used to look forward to BYTE magazine in the early years often more for ads that articles. So, it was possible at least then with an ad-supported medium to do a good job. And it was not because the ads were funny, but because they told me a lot about what was going on in the industry, including what was possible.

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