Friday, July 10, 2015

Ad Networks and Video Piracy

iMore is a site that writes about Apple tech. I've gone back and forth if I care for it, but many people do. One thing that seems the case, it has really intrusive ads on the site. Recently, as a result of iOS Safari Extension extensions enabling content blockers on that platform for the first time, some Apple followers have written about the utility of cleaning up some sites with egregious ads and sited iMore as a prime example (I believe the term was "shit-ass"). iMore responded with a good post describing the state of ads and financing for sites such as theirs Content blockers, bad ads, and what we're doing about it.

"Dean's right, Nick's right, and John's right. Of course they are. As I said in the original response, I know that, you know that, and everyone working at iMore and our parent network, Mobile Nations, knows that. Ads in and of themselves aren't bad, and can indeed provide a service where everyone wins, which is why so many sites and so many mediums employ them. But many of the ads—and the services that deliver them—suck. We all know that."

"Currently, ads pay the bills at iMore and Mobile Nations. That hasn't always been the case. Back in the heyday of TreoCentral and CrackBerry, accessory and app sales provided significant revenue. So much so that, for a while, we had zero ads. Now that app stores are built into the operating systems, phone cases are available at every mall kiosk, and sells gear at steep discounts, that revenue has largely gone away."

While we sell premium ads directly to advertisers, that only fills a small subset of the required "inventory" to support the network. Some 85% of ads we served last month were "programmatic"—provided by ad exchanges like Google Adx and Appnexus. Those exchanges are pretty much black boxes. We get a tag, we insert it, and ads appear.

We also have no ability to screen ad exchange ads ahead of time; we get what they give us. We can and have set policies, for example, to disallow autoplay video or audio ads. But we get them anyway, even from Google. Whether advertisers make mistakes or try to sneak around the restrictions and don't get caught, we can't tell. It happens, though, all the time.

When bad ads appear, we report them and ask that they be disabled. Since different people in different geographies see different ads, it can be a challenge to identify them, and it can take a while to get them pulled. It's a horrible process for everyone involved.

There's much more in the article and it's well worth a read. Basically these sites have outsourced their revenue to a third party and have no control over it anymore. You'd think a third party specializing in ads would be able to concentrate on just that and do it well (that's the outsourcing rationale) but of course, they have their own goals and they may be different than yours.

Another Internet problem is a new term for me, "freebooting". Slate describes, Facebook's Privacy Problem. "Freebooting: Stolen YouTube videos going viral on Facebook"

The problem was that Sandlin had never posted it to Facebook, and the version of it that appeared in millions of users’ News Feeds overnight wasn’t his. Rather, a British lads’ magazine called Zoo had apparently downloaded (or “ripped”) his video from YouTube, edited it to strip out references to Sandlin and his SmarterEveryDay channel, and posted the edited version on its own page, using Facebook’s native video player. It was an instant sensation, garnering millions of views and a raft of new followers for Zoo’s page. Sandlin, who puts some of the revenue from his YouTube videos toward his kids’ college fund, got nothing. (Zoo’s parent company, Bauer Media, declined to comment for this story.)

The article goes on to describe how Facebook and Google deal with copyright enforcement and how Facebook is basically attacking YouTube (which plays ads in front of videos to generate revenue) to gain marketshare (so that in the future they can monetize viral videos).

No comments: