What Is to Be Done About the Ad-Based Internet economy?

Not yet, but I will =)

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An interesting quote from “Chaos Monkeys” by Antonio Garcia Martinez:

In media, money is merely expendable ammunition; data is power. With this new programmatic technology that allowed each and every ad impression and user to be individually scrutinized and targeted, that power was shifting inexorably from the publisher, the owner of the eyeballs, to the advertiser, the person buying them. If my advertiser data about what you bought and browsed in the past was more important than publisher data like the fact that you were on Yahoo Autos right then, or that you were a (supposedly) thirty-five year old male in Ohio, then the power was mine as the advertiser to determine price and desirability of media, not the publisher’s. As it turned out, this “first party” advertiser data - the data that companies like Amazon know about you - is more valuable than any publisher data.

This was a seismic shift that would affect everything about how we consume media, leaving publishers essentially powerless and at the service of the various middlemen between them and advertiser dollars, all in the name of targeting and accountability. If the publisher wasn’t savvy enough to arm itself with sophisticated targeting and tracking before tangling with the media-buying world, then that world would come to them, in the form of countless arbitrageurs and data quacks peddling media snake oil. Which is why even august publishers like the New York Times live at the pleasure of the media supply-side technology, data management solutions, and advertiser technologies that ostensibly pay them. Of course some very protective publishers like Google and Facebook, with unique media offerings, refuse to get arbitraged so openly, and to one degree or another, attempt to own the technical and the business connections between them and their advertising dollars.

Google moves towards implmenting a plugin/extension API to prevent ad-blockers to be effective in Chrome.

Mozilla seems to fight back.


ugh. several years ago when I talked with internet startups I advised them to move away from ad-based revenue models, as everyone would soon be using ad-blockers - but I see I was wrong: big tech is more than happy to revert it back to ad-based. Can we not come up with something more creative to make money but to shove products into our faces we don’t really need?

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There are many decades of experience in media (newspapers, radio, TV, etc.) which I think got creative enough to know the basic score.
Grants (public TV, Radio, etc.)
Plain ole do-gooders (hard to do on scale)

Unless I missed something that’s about all there is. Even Grant based media uses ads these days (public radio, podcasts), although they are not in-your-face and tracking types.

Micro payments, which were the hot subject a decade or two ago, really never took off - but that is a subscription model in any case.

It’s hard to imagine coming up with anything new after so many millions have thought about this for so long. There are only X number of ways to create income from media…and that is what is being discussed when it comes down to it.

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I guess like with all of this, it comes down to where any given line gets drawn and who gets to draw it. I recall that years ago there was this US law that disallowed subliminal micro-second message being flashed at you on TV or a movie theater saying things like “you need Coke” as an example of the drawing of a line, in this case talking directly to your subconscious for purposes of manipulation. Somewhere along the line that standard (if it ever really existed) disappeared. because what is so different from that and all this data mining about you without your knowledge or express consent?

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This is a good interview with author Douglas Rushkoff about his new book, “Team Human.” He says things we are talking about here and is being discussed in books, articles, etc - and is a big driver of this IoH/NGI project. But Doug is a clear thinking, plain speaking guy, who, like many of us, was a true believer for a long time until we have watched our rather rosy view of the digital future become clouded. This interview adds to our understanding of the problem I think.

pushed it to my e-reader for later today. Thanks for linking it!

This isn’t a solution to moving away from the ad-based internet economy, but it surely seems to be a nice niche tool to not having to see those ads (if it at least ensures it can’t be detected by the websites):


If enough ads got blocked then maybe other business models could emerge. But then, I am someone who has routinely for decades hit the mute button when the ads come on. I always figure that nobody would want to hear them. But at times when I have done that, some in the room actually objected because they wanted to hear the ads. And one time I was told that it is wrong for me to do that because it is my obligation to listen and watch them in exchange for seeing the content. I can see that argument, but how else does one control his or her immediate environment? Furthermore, cable news was sold to us all as an ad-free service since we have to pay for it. But that isn’t how it turned out.

I’m not sure if you are following the Edgeryders festival, but I’m hosting an event on the topic of open source many of you should join on the 28:th november in Stockholm.

“Dont leave the future of internet in the hands of the proprietary software” =)


@erik_lonroth I am not in Stockholm. But this is really great work, thank you so much. It means a lot :slight_smile:

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“Mozilla is no longer fighting for market share of its browser: it is fighting for the future of the web,” writes the Guardian, citing Mozilla Project co-founder Mitchell Baker: Baker’s pitch is that only Mozilla is motivated, first and foremost, to make using the web a pleasurable experience. Google’s main priority is to funnel user data into the enormous advertising engine that accounts for most of its revenue. Apple’s motivation is to ensure that customers continue to buy a new iPhone every couple of years and don’t switch to Android…"


It could be argued that the greatest social benefit that came from America Online’s fairly brief reign over the online world was their acquiring Netscape when it went on the sales block, and then, when it was clear that they were buying the talent more than the software (something they did pretty often actually), releasing the Netscape source code. This became the basis for Mozilla (which had been the name of the netscape mascot).