Once again, the following article points out some of the major pains that are taking place in the current ad industry.  These are the pains that we’ve been working hard to solve at Adaptifyed. By creating a new type of advertising that respects all parties, we hope to change the climate within the industry and improve the user’s experience, while valuing the content created by publishers around the world.

How to save online advertising

The news that Apple was opening the iOS app-store to ad blockers for mobile devices created a storm in publishing circles, which meant that we heard a lot about them, because publishers publish things that are important to publishing.

Whatever happens with ad-blocking for iOS, the reality is that ad blocking has grown more prevalent, year after year, since the web’s beginning, and shows no sign of slowing. It’s only a matter of time until a major browser ships with ad blocking turned on by default. It’s also only a matter of time until one of the big-data brokerages fed by the advertising ecosystem has its own privacy Valdez and leaks toxic, immortal, compromising information all over the web at unimaginable scale, making the Ashley Madison dump and the Office of Personnel Management breach look minor by comparison.

At root is an intrinsically toxic relationship between the three parties to the advertising ecosystem: advertisers, publishers and readers. Advertisers buy publishers’ inventory to sell things to readers, but publishers sell inventory to advertisers because they want money, not because they want to help sell products. Readers want to read what the publishers are publishing. A tiny fraction of readers want to buy what the advertisers are selling, and this microscopic minority subsidises the whole operation.

It’s easy to see the way this plays out for the worse. Unscrupulous publishers have made a practice of defrauding advertisers, spoofing the number of times their ads are shown in order to make more money from the same amount of readers. Advertisers have leaned on publishers to make ads more obtrusive – first with pop-up ads, then, after blockers became standard, with roll-downs, interrupters, pop-unders, ads that scroll with the page (eating your CPU in the process), and the whole parade of mutated attention-economy market-failures that fill your browser every day. Readers respond by installing ad-blockers, meaning that fewer readers are counted by the advertisers, meaning that the publishers get paid less and have to allow advertisers to serve more intrusive ads in order to keep the money flowing.

The mistrust between advertisers and publishers has given rise to a fourth entity in this ecosystem: ad counters. These are companies that generously offer to independently count the number of times the publishers serve the advertisers’ ads – all the advertiser needs to do is tell the publisher to put the ad-counters’ “beacons” on their pages. Of course, ad counters aren’t charitable operations: they give away this independent counting function because it lets them gather titanic amounts of information about browsing habits. When you use Ghostery or Privacy Badger to examine a page and discover that a dozen (or dozens!) of companies are tracking your visit there, that’s this dynamic at play.

Ad counters are really data brokers and they’re incredibly profitable. The data is sold to marketers, to governments, and to consumer-research institutions. The only reason that data can be economically captured and aggregated is because advertisers don’t trust publishers, and insist on allowing ad counters/data brokers to act as trusted third parties to count ad-views.

The boom in ad-blocking technology is driven by three factors: annoyance at the content of ads; annoyance at the effect of ads in slowing computers to a crawl and worries about privacy. Advertisers and publishers can do something about the first two. In the early history of the web, pop-up ads climbed to a kind of terrible apogee before collapsing catastrophically because of audience pushback. Given enough pushback, advertisers will figure out ways to make their ads …

Read the Entire Article at The Guardian

How to Save the Ad Industry...

The answer isn’t complicated, it’s just hard: find a way for publishers and advertisers to deal with one another directly.
-Cory Doctorow