from the 'fix'-as-in-'burn-all-bridges-in-all-directions' dept
So, who's going to pay for all of this "free" content? That's the question on many site owners' minds. Subscriptions, paywalls, data mining, patronage, physical goods tie-ins… all of these are options. Not a single one of these is perfect and none of them have enough pull of their own to completely displace ad revenue.
It's an industry that's still ripe for disruption, just as much as the online publishing field is. Advancements have been made, but there's still a long road ahead before any sort of consistently profitable equilibrium is achieved. But why wait? And, by all means, why innovate? Members of the French publishing industry are now doing what so many industries have done before -- attempting to sue their way to success. (via slashdot)
On grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business, two groups of French publishers are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH. (Les Echos, broke the news in this story, in French).As Frederic Filloux notes, this proposed litigation will be nothing more than two failures attempting to co-write "History: A Biography." Even if these two manage to take AdBlockPlus down, they'll just find themselves facing people who still don't want to see ads and many, many developers willing to fill the void. And once people are aware that these two plaintiffs are willing to force them to view ads, they'll be twice as happy to actively make things worse for the publishers. There will also be collateral damage: people employed by both who don't see eye-to-eye with their employers but whose employment will be adversely affected by the backlash.
Plaintiffs are said to be the GESTE and the French Internet Advertising Bureau. The first is known for its aggressive stance against Google via its contribution to the Open Internet Project. (To be clear, GESTE said they were at a “legal consulting stage”, no formal complaint has been filed yet.) By his actions, the second plaintiff, the French branch of the Internet Advertising Bureau is in fact acknowledging its failure to tame the excesses of the digital advertising market.
Not that Eyeo GmbH is completely blameless. While the product works as advertised, the philosophy of the company isn't exactly altruistic. The company has its own idea of what is or isn't an "acceptable ad," but the quantifying factors verge on ethereal.
1. Acceptable Ads are not annoying.But who decides whether an ad is "acceptable" or not (and thus qualified for a spot on the software's whitelist)? Well, the company does. And since the company is interested in moving copies of AdBlockPlus, it's hardly an unbiased view. It admits that it receives fees from some companies in return for whitelisting, which it also extends to all "small- to medium-sized websites." It promises not to sell whitelist spots, but it also withholds information about how it determines which sites are eligible for free whitelisting, or which advertisers it takes money from.
2. Acceptable Ads do not disrupt or distort the page content we’re trying to read.
3. Acceptable Ads are transparent with us about being an ad.
4. Acceptable Ads are effective without shouting at us.
5. Acceptable Ads are appropriate to the site that we are on.
Filloux points out the pitfall this situation presents.
[A] single private entity cannot decide what is acceptable or not for an entire sector. Especially in such an opaque fashion.It's an industry that's singularly an anti-industry force. AdBlockPlus's success is tied to the failures of the ad industry. It seems willing to play nice with certain advertisers, but these qualifications are withheld from both the industries it affects and the users who depend on the product.
Eyeo GmbH is filling a vacuum created by the incompetence and sloppiness of the advertising community’s, namely creative agencies, media buyers and organizations that are supposed to coordinate the whole ecosystem (such as the Internet Advertising Bureau.)
But the "solution" these publishers are proposing is no solution. What needs to be fixed will remain unaddressed as long as simply suing an undesirable entity out of circulation remains a possibility. This isn't just a French thing, either. We see it here in the US as well -- the use of government entities (legislative, judicial) instead of actual innovation when faced with declining revenue. The fact that it rarely, if ever, works is lost on the incumbents. (Remember that time when the RIAA sued LimeWire out of existence and piracy ended?) AdBlockPlus may have its issues, but forcing it out of the market won't fix the online advertising. All it will do is make it worse.