The ability to follow links down and around and through an idea, landing hours later on some random Wikipedia page about fungi you cannot recall how you discovered, is one of the great modes of the web. It is, I’ll go so far to propose, one of the great modes of human thinking.
This is advertising we’re talking about, the industry founded on the hallucination that people secretly appreciate being tracked, analysed and told what to buy. Advertisers, and the technology companies that cater to them, are responding to ad blocking the only way they know how: doubling down on their fantasy that viewers will suddenly love advertising just as soon as ads are so all-knowing that they anticipate one’s every need and desire.
A superb talk on performance, advertising, and the future of the web. No doubt a transcript will appear in due time on Maciej’s site and when it does, I will enjoy it all over again.
Trust me: you’ll want to watch this.
The prognosis for publishers is grim. Repent! Find a way out of the adtech racket before it collapses around you. Ditch your tracking, show dumb ads that you sell directly (not through a thicket of intermediaries), and beg your readers for mercy. Respect their privacy, bandwidth, and intelligence, flatter their vanity, and maybe they’ll subscribe to something.
In reality, ad blockers are one of the few tools that we as users have if we want to push back against the perverse design logic that has cannibalized the soul of the Web.
If enough of us used ad blockers, it could help force a systemic shift away from the attention economy altogether—and the ultimate benefit to our lives would not just be “better ads.” It would be better products: better informational environments that are fundamentally designed to be on our side, to respect our increasingly scarce attention, and to help us navigate under the stars of our own goals and values. Isn’t that what technology is for?
Given all this, the question should not be whether ad blocking is ethical, but whether it is a moral obligation.
Tom’s thoughts on what AMP means for developers and publishers. He was initially sceptical but now he’s cautiously optimistic. Like me, he’s hoping that AMP can force the hand of those third-party advertisers to get their act together.
Publisher’s development teams are very capable of creating fast experiences for mobile users, but they don’t have the clout to coordinate all the additional cruft that is added to the page. However, if all the different publishers dev team’s got together and put their weight behind a single implementation, then we can force third parties to change their habits.
I really like this comparison between Waldsterben and the current situation with the web after years of pervasive tracking.
I refuse to believe that this cramped, stifling, stalkerish vision of the commercial Internet is the best we can do.
It’s really great to see the performance improvements being made by the Vox team. This is the one that I think will make the most difference:
Our Revenue Team is increasing focus on the impact our advertising has on user experience and overall performance. One of their biggest initiatives has been to change the way ads load from synchronous to asynchronous, which has been underway for several months and is nearing deployment.
Yes! Yes! YES!
Marco makes the same comparison I did between the dark days of pop-up windows and the current abysmal state of bloated ads and tracking on today’s web.
I have one more thing to add to this list…
But publishers, advertisers, and browser vendors are all partly responsible for the situation we’re all in.
…developers. Somebody put those harm-causing
script elements on those pages. Like I said: “What will you be apologising for in decades to come?”
In a few years, after the dust has settled, we’re all going to look back at today’s web’s excesses and abuses as an almost unbelievable embarrassment.
Jeffrey weighs on the post I wrote about The Verge. I still feel like there’s a false dichotomy being presented here though: either performance or advertising. But advertising can be performant too. There’s a competitive advantage to be had there.
This doorslam turned out to be bad for business.
I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable “free” content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns — and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.
I feel that this is relevant to that discussion I had with Malarkey on his podcast about advertising.
I had a lot of fun chatting with Andrew on his podcast. Yes, it’s a rambling affair but it’s worth sticking with it—we get really stuck in to some thorny questions about design and advertising.
The transcript of Maciej’s talk from Beyond Tellerrand on how the web has become more and more centralised:
The degree of centralization is remarkable. Consider that Google now makes hardware, operating systems, and a browser.
It’s not just possible, but fairly common for someone to visit a Google website from a Google device, using Google DNS servers and a Google browser on the way.
This is a level of of end-to-end control that would have caused us to riot in the streets if Microsoft had attempted it in 1999. But times have changed.
Great stuff from James Wragg and the gang at Madgex: a way of lazy-loading ads for responsive sites without messing with the ad code.
Usually I find these kinds of name-and-shame collections to be unnecessarily mean-spirited. In this case, the sites being named and shamed are themselves guilty of far worse rudeness.
You might want to untick the checkbox at the bottom of this screen:
Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.
I, for one, welcome our new recycling bin panopticon overlords.
You might want to put your phone’s MAC address into this form.
Looks like Google are offering responsive (or at least adaptive) ad sizes.
An interesting observation on the changes in Apple’s advertising campaigns: it’s no longer about “here’s how great you (the user) can be”, instead it’s increasingly about “here’s how great we (the company) can be.”
Yeah, it’s an easy target …but the cumulative effect is very funny.
Holy sh!t. Did you see that interstitial? That was dope. Refresh, refresh!!
Yes! Charles Stross speaks the unspeakable: that advertising is fundamentally “wrong”.
He’s right, y’know.
A great article from David with some concrete proposals for media companies.
By the way, how nice is David’s new responsive design? Very nice. Very nice indeed.
As if you needed another reason why QR codes are shit ..are you certain you’ve proofed it?
Photographs showing the “before” and “after” of São Paulo’s astonishing Clean City act banning all outdoor advertising.
Some more thoughts on the challenges of combining advertising with responsive design.
A great in-depth look at the tricky problem of advertising in responsive design from Mark.
Clay Shirky takes a long hard look at the present (and future) of newspapers and—more important—of journalism. A good read.
Superb in-depth analysis of Ryanair’s website dark patterns and nasty brand strategy.
I wish I could’ve attended James’s talk at Tools of Change. It sounds like it was great.
If television were honest...
Vintage advertising of science and technology.
Derek weighs in with his view on the current state of publishing. I agree with his conclusion: "There has never been a better time to be making media. There are more tools to help than ever. There are more media consumers and media producers than ever. The world is more literate and media savvy than it’s ever been."
An excellent bookmarklet designed to help you read more easily on the web (by hiding all that filthy, filthy advertising).
More clever meta web marketing.
There is now a dedicated Monty Python channel on YouTube, all legit like. Hurrah!
Nintendo break the third wall to advertise Wario Land.
A brilliant piece of mindhacking for a good cause. Take the test for yourself and see if you can figure out where it's all leading.
Andy Baio does a nice bit of investigative journalism in exposing the social network spammer hired by The Times. The internet treats crass marketing as damage and routes around it.
Ben Brown outlines the reasons why he left Facebook: "I think it is important to note that Facebook, though they claim to be a tool for staying connected, is actually a software tool designed *primarily* to deliver marketing messages to its audience."
A very cute bit of e-commerce chicanery.
Facebook's Misrepresentation of Beacon's Threat to Privacy: Tracking users who opt out or are not logged in. - CA Security Advisor Research Blog - CA
An excellent piece of research that shows how Facebook affiliates' cross-site scripting (Beacon) sends information back to the mothership regardless of whether the user has opted out.
Here's one for Matt and Cindy: Buckley's truth in advertising.
Context is everything, as this collection of unfortunate juxtapositions shows.
I have no idea.
"£5000 in £10 and £20 notes were individually dropped around the streets of London with a removable sticker." Clever.
Superb blood donor video. Which reminds me...
All those ambent background movie clips and adverts in Children of Men. There's a lot of attention to detail here.
Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, and Beth Orton get together to dance about architecture.
Design review by Jay Small.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Starbucks employ a creative bit of viral marketing: coffee cups glued to car roofs.
An extensive collection of adverts that somehow don't seem as annoying when gathered together like this. You could spend hours here.