Could Safari Reader Help Sites Become More Profitable?

| Editorial

When a Web page loads, my mind immediately tries to start making sense of it. What is this page about? What part of this page is important? Is this the information I was looking for? Is the lead-in clear enough to continue reading? Even before I start reading, I use the visual clues to help identify where I should be focusing my eye. The style and brand of the site helps my brain process what type of information this page has. Who is it by? When was it written? Is it published by a company or institution? Who is this written for?

Satisfied that I’ve found the right article, I commit to reading, but if the layout column is too wide, text too small, or lines squished together, my eye can easily tire. It should be an immersive experience, and it’s easier to get hooked if the page is well designed. If it’s a complex topic, any little distraction from reading slows me down. It’s frustrating to lose my place because the lines are too long, or because page elements obscure text, or the visual style is too monotone; it all takes away from the experience. These are all issues that Safari 5 addresses with a new feature called Safari Reader. 

Safari Reader creates a distraction free high contrast overlay. Big, bold text is set in the elegant Palatino typeface. Reader easily fixes much of what can make great—but poorly laid out—content a chore to read. I think this could be a boon for websites created with less of a focus on design. 

For example, page-breaks have their purpose. They give the reader a pause to catch her breath before continuing on. Text that scrolls on and on can be daunting, and if it looks like too much for one sitting, I may not even start. However, the overuse of page-breaks to drive up advertisements come across as clunky, disrupt the flow of piece, and forces my brain to switch back and forth between navigating and reading. Apple’s AJAX loading of multi-page articles is the best feature in Reader. It clearly defines the page-breaks minimally, takes just a moment to load each subsequent page, but never pulls me out of the article.

I’ve run tests here at TMO to determine how long people stay on pages. The first group were people who spent just enough time to figure out what the page was about and left, the second group were people who spent enough time to read the full article, and the third group were people who are either fast readers or left mid-way through reading. What if Reader makes the page easier to read for some people in the first group? They’re probably not clicking on ads, as they only spend enough time for a quick first impression. What if Reader helps them get into an article they might have previously skipped? Hopefully they’ll get something out of the article, perhaps want to comment, learn more about this topic, and spend some more quality time on the site. They’re moving on with a positive notion of our brand and what we have to offer, including our sponsored messages.

In my experience, ads are most effective when I’m looking for more information. If I think I’ve found what I’m looking for, my blinders go on in order to focus. Afterwards, ads can be useful to bring me to competitive products and services I might not have researched or heard about yet. Adblockers are horrible because they never give the ads a chance to deliver their message. I don’t think Reader is necessarily evil for hiding ads. It’s an extension of what we do anyway when we read, and when you’ve finished, the ads are waiting for you on your terms.

Reader 1.0 has Some Room to Grow

I love the concept of Reader; however, I think the implementation falls short. In my tests, it doesn’t always work as expected. I’m currently trying to figure out why bylines on TMO articles don’t show up in Reader. How many paragraphs does it take to activate? What if there are multiple sections (div tags) of paragraphs? What elements does it strip? Some documentation on how it matches, filters, and behaves would be greatly appreciated.

Even if it were documented, I don’t think it should be built into Safari. With Safari’s new extension support, this would make a great open source sample extension. Or better yet, provide it as one of the HTML5 demos. That would give site developers an easy way to implement the functionality while still remaining in control. As a JavaScript add-on, developers can customize it to refine what Reader displays, how it works, and we can add callbacks to provide extra functionality when it’s used. We’re left playing a game of trial and error to figure out how each of our pages will look in this new renderer that’s installed by default with every new Mac.

Overall, it’s a great idea that I think will increase the amount of reading that happens on the Internet. Right now, the burden is on website owners to figure out how it behaves on their site, and that’s causing some frustration with people who are accustomed to the fine-grain control that well documented, soon to be standardized, HTML5 provides.

Comments

brett_x

Good perspective. But according to Bryan Chaffin, this is stealing.

“One of the biggest changes in Safari 5 is a new feature where Apple makes it easy for users to steal content by bypassing ads on Web pages with articles.”
Bryan’s Article

jpfreeman

I love Reader. I’ve been using Readability for a couple of months and it had already changed my internet habits. But Reader does it so much better. The text looks nicer, Reader sews multiple pages together (which Readability doesn’t do), and I like the Mail option at the bottom. It mails the link & the text of the article you are reading. The only thing I"m missing is a keyboard shortcut. I got used to one for Readability and I keep using it by habit when i really want Reader.

I hate all the ads. Some site have really intrusive ads. And text can be small and all over the place. Now I read much more and more comfortably with Reader.

RJ

Jpfreeman - the shortcut to invoke Reader is shift-command-R (there’s also a menu item to invoke it in the View menu)

jpfreeman

Thanks! I"ll try that. But it’s a bit complicated compared to Command-2. Maybe there is a way to set my own shortcut?

Lee Dronick

Good perspective. But according to Bryan Chaffin, this is stealing.

?One of the biggest changes in Safari 5 is a new feature where Apple makes it easy for users to steal content by bypassing ads on Web pages with articles.?

How many of us click on an ad to even look their website much less make a purchase. I do occasionally, and almost always from one of my regular haunts such as here at MacObserver so as to help them financially. However, most of the time I don’t do impulse shopping so I tend to ignore the ads.

With Reader we still see the ads when the page opens. If we close Reader then we again see the ads, though we don’t if we choose to close the window or tab.

Also, if the ads are in the body copy do we still see them? I haven’t yet had a chance to check that out.

Now this reminds me that I need to upgrade to Safari 5 on the iMac that I am currently using, I am already missing Reader.

Lee Dronick

the shortcut to invoke Reader is shift-command-R (there?s also a menu item to invoke it in the View menu)

The same command also closes Reader. I just upgraded this iMac to Safari 5.

Ethan

“...soon to be standardized, HTML5 provides.”

We should be careful with our wording as it’s 2022 before it’s ratified by the W3C. It may reach a recommendation level sometime in 2012. Maybe that’s what you meant.

http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/FAQ#When_will_HTML5_be_finished.3F

dhp

I have to say I’m surprised that Apple has added this functionality. Although reader is not quite the same as ad blocking, I didn’t think we’d ever see major proprietary browsers with the built-in ability to avoid ads. Open source browsers are different, because no one is making profit from them. Apple probably doesn’t make profit directly from developing Safari, but they are a for-profit enterprise, and they are potentially hurting other businesses in a backhanded kind of way. Add to that the recent entry of Apple into the ad business, and it all get very hairy.

bweels

Good perspective. But according to Bryan Chaffin, this is stealing.

Seeing as this website is Bryan’s livelihood, and seeing as I just read this page in Reader, I can understand where he might be coming from.

Dogbrain

Let’s see ... a new feature that blocks covers other people’s ads. Yup, that’s consistent with the Great War Against Google. I would not be surprised if when iAds comes to the Mac - only a matter of time - they will somehow appear in Reader.

dhp

I would not be surprised if when iAds comes to the Mac - only a matter of time - they will somehow appear in Reader.

I get where you’re coming from, but in that case Apple would get hell from all sides. There would be no benefit to anyone but Apple.

geoduck

There’s different classes of ads. Regular ads on the side of the page: don’t bother me.

OTOH I hate those rollover pop-up things. They lie like land mines in the middle of the page, You hit one with your mouse and then suddenly a chunk of your screen is blocked by a floating window advertising something interrupting your reading, messing up the flow, and sometimes they won’t close. I HATE those. I seriously doubt they are effective ads. They are usually comically inappropriate. I’ve been on here reading an article about a new Mac, tripped over one of them and been face to face with an ad for a Dell laptop. I was just on MNN and in one article if you run over the word ‘phone’ you get a pop-up for Cisco routers. It’s ridiculous.

If Reader has a little part in the exile of roll over pop up ads to whatever circle of technology hell they so justly deserve it’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

RexRay

?One of the biggest changes in Safari 5 is a new feature where Apple makes it easy for users to steal content by bypassing ads on Web pages with articles.?

Using Reader in Safari 5 does not mean I?m stealing content, any more than using a TiVo to fast-forward through TV commercials means I?m stealing TV programming. Before TiVo, I would mute the TV and/or get up and leave the room during commercials, so the TiVo did not facilitate my ?stealing? of entertainment.

Remember, web publishers choose to subsidize their content with advertising, HOPING that viewers will click-through the ads, but there is never a guarantee that they will. Personally, I rarely click-through Internet ads, unless it is something I am already interested in to begin with. Plus, Safari?s Reader function must be called up AFTER the webpage has already loaded. That means the desired ad impressions have already happened before Reader is invoked for most articles.

If I hack into a paid site and read the content, then I?m stealing, but if I ignore the ads on a site and consume the content anyway, then I?m exercising the option the content publisher gave me as a reader.

This will all become mute when web designers start embedding the ads into the content, so that mechanisms like Safari 5?s Reader will show the ad anyway. This already happens with some RSS feeds.

Bryan Chaffin

I’ll use RexRay’s post to break this down.

Ignoring ads - your prerogative.

Blocking Flash (and therefore Flash ads) - your prerogative, as Flash is entirely optional.

Blocking my ads or in other ways keeping them from being displayed for you to ignore is theft.

Ignoring ads and blocking them are simply different things.

We’ve put in place a mechanism for people who block our ads to pay directly, and those who do are beyond awesome. If you use ad-blocking software, you get a message inviting you to pay directly, and let me repeat: Those who do are people who are paying for what they get, and who are the bee’s knees in my book.

I also take exception to this: “Remember, web publishers choose to subsidize their content with advertising…”

For a “free site,” ads are not a subsidy. Allowing us to display ads are the direct cost you, the reader, pay (by proxy) for the privilege of viewing the content that we do the actual work in providing.

As for Reader, while initial ads are displayed before the first page is pulled (they are not on subsequent pages pulled up in articles with more than one page), those ads are not seen by anyone immediately pushing the Reader button, and I would caution anyone from trying to fool themselves that this is OK.

Part of what our advertisers pay for is branding - a concept that BackBeat Media has worked hard at educating advertisers about in the Mac space. Even when you don’t click on an ad, the branding message is reaching through more often than most of us realize, and this is part of what pays for this content.

Lastly, a pro tip: It’s “moot,” not “mute.”

Doug Petrosky

I’m sorry but when TiVo gave us the ability to fast forward Ad’s TV evolved to use other systems and nobody was outraged that TiVo did it. When browsers added Popup blockers this was seen as a good thing, and I even know people who use Firefox just because it includes an ad blocker plugin.

Apple is not blocking ad’s they are making pages easier to read, and as far as the advertisers are concerned every ad was seen (much like TiVo). I’m sure there will be some inventive ways to include ad content in the middle of articles but when this really gets interesting is when Apple adds a small bar at the bottom of reader where iAd’s can be displayed if the site wants them!

Go Apple!

Bryan Chaffin

Doug, that’s one big rationalization in my book.

And there was an outcry when TiVo added the ability to automagically skip ads, and the company removed it because of that outcry and the threat of suits (it can still be turned on through a cheat code).

Of course, the ability to FF through ads or through any part of a show you want to skip is still there.

I believe that people who do so are idiots. I allow the ads to be played because I want the content and understand that the ads pay for the content.

In the meanwhile, Apple has no business taking my content and deciding that it should be displayed without my logo, without my ads, without my bylines, without my formatting, without my say-so.

If a site has too many ads, don’t read it.  If a site’s layout and formatting is so bad you can’t read it without these tools, don’t bloody read it.  Vote with your eyeballs, not your thieves picks and tools </D&D>.

If enough of you do so, content providers will not be able to provide you with that content. Up until that point, Safari Readers and ad blockers (who don’t directly pay) are freeloading off the backs of those aren’t.

Mind you, if we could provide a mechanism for people to pay directly for content whilst using Safari Reader, that would make my points moot (for those who do pay) regarding Reader.

Lee Dronick

the shortcut to invoke Reader is shift-command-R (there?s also a menu item to invoke it in the View menu)

As I mentioned earlier the same command closes the Reader, but you can also hit the ESC key.

I wonder of Adobe will have an issue with Apple calling this feature “Reader.”

Dogbrain

Man, you guys are so sensitive. I’d love it if people came to my blog, at www.ALTmf.com, even if they didn’t read the ads. They could still learn about savings groups in Africa. (Oh. I forgot. I don’t have any ads.)

Ethan

“In the meanwhile, Apple has no business taking my content and deciding that it should be displayed without my logo, without my ads, without my bylines, without my formatting, without my say-so.”

Bryan, Apple’s answer to that is to take your content off the web and make it into a native app and use iAd to force the users to view them. They’ll be more emotionally connecting to the users that way.  That way eventually we won’t need the web as we’ll have Apple’s monetized solutions-which are perfect.

Just be careful not to be critical of an Apple product as they may deny your next update in the App Store.

Lee Dronick

Bryan, do we know if Reader can be disabled on the web server end, code in the web page?

xmattingly

If a site has too many ads, don?t read it.

Hopefully that does not summarily include obnoxious rollover Flash ads, or hyperlink text ads from Vibrant.

Too many ads is not an issue for me (I tried Safari Reader, and don’t find it all that advantageous), but “in your face” aggressive advertising most certainly is. Which is what I would suspect to be the biggest reason why visitors would seek advertisement workarounds.

Bryan Chaffin

xmattingly, I definitely include our own site in my comments: If we are screwing up, vote with your eyeballs. We’ve been very lucky that our awesome community has always been willing to tell us when they have a problem, to talk to us, rather than just leaving.

For instance, our in-line Konterra ads definitely upset some people. I would totally understand anyone who stopped reading us because of them (note that you can turn them off via a preference within Konterra).

For us, our decision-making process included weighing the value of the ads versus the level of complaint. It turns out those ads pay for a LOT of content here at TMO (i.e. covering some of the costs of our writers, whom we pay), and we haven’t received many complaints and our traffic continues to grow.

Hence we still run them, as do a large number of sites, though we long ago limited the number of Konterra ads per article (based on the feedback we did receive).

I personally leave Konterra ads on every site I visit because I understand the math behind the ads, though I’ve stopped visiting some sites that show too many.

I also don’t like those over-the-top, in-your-face ads you mentioned xmattingly. We had some talking ads slip through a few months ago, for instance, and it took some effort to track them down and eliminate them. Those ads drove me (and everyone else) nuts, but Dave worked very hard until he found all of them in our remnant programs and made them go away. Yay Dave!

I also want to stress that we always listen to our readers - without you none of this matters. We just reject anyone’s claim to our content without paying for it (i.e. allowing our ads to be displayed or paying for it directly).  It is only those people who do neither that I have a problem with. I feel the same way about Reader, though I am open to learning something that changes my mind.

Doug Petrosky

there was an outcry when TiVo added the ability to automagically skip ads

Ok so technically TiVo never did that ReplayTV did, and you would have a point if Apple blocked the ad’s as you entered the page, but they don’t. They allow the user to see everything and then allow them to isolate the article. This is much more like fast forwarding commercials than skipping them because you simply see the ad’s for less time. And just like TiVo and other DVR’s if an ad is interesting you might stop an watch it. Also, to comment back to you I had to again see your ad’s and I’m sure there are dozens of other ways to encourage people to see the ad’s even with the reader functionality.

You said to vote with my eyes and that is sort of what I’m doing. On many pages I will never invoke reader, but if a page is just too cluttered I will probably use it and see fewer (not none) of the ad’s and the author will eventually figure this out and make their site more attractive, interactive, or something else that makes me notice the ad’s. You were paid for my 4 page views today and reader did nothing to change that.

As for the BS about watching commercials, I ended that almost 2 years ago now because I was sick of paying twice for my TV. First I paid $90/month to DirectTV to deliver it and then I watched ad’s (not to mention product placement, and DVD sales). Now I purchase my TV content via iTunes for only a little more than my monthly bill and I own everything with no secondary charges.

New Media gets on old media all the time about their broken revenue channels and how they should evolve or die. It is ironic that now new media appears to be just as touchy about changes to their existing models.

Stephen Swift

You said to vote with my eyes and that is sort of what I?m doing. On many pages I will never invoke reader, but if a page is just too cluttered I will probably use it and see fewer (not none) of the ad?s and the author will eventually figure this out and make their site more attractive, interactive, or something else that makes me notice the ad?s. You were paid for my 4 page views today and reader did nothing to change that.

This has been an interesting discussion.  Doug, I wish there was a way to get analytics on Reader usage.  That would be useful to our development process.

iJack

One of the first things I read using Reader was a how-to on something that I wanted to keep (been waiting for this forever) for future reference.  It printed beautifully as a pdf, but unfortunately the pages in Reader have little to do with real world pages.  The very first illustration fell right across a page break.

You would have thought they could get that right on the first take.

Lee Dronick

The very first illustration fell right across a page break.

I am not sure what they could do about that. However, if you copy and past it into TextEdit or something then the graphics won’t split across pages.

I haven’t tried pasting into a text frame say in Pages or InDesign, I may do that tomorrow. Right now Morpheus is telling me it is bedtime.

Bryan Chaffin

You said to vote with my eyes and that is sort of what I?m doing. On many pages I will never invoke reader, but if a page is just too cluttered I will probably use it and see fewer (not none) of the ad?s and the author will eventually figure this out and make their site more attractive, interactive, or something else that makes me notice the ad?s. You were paid for my 4 page views today and reader did nothing to change that.

Doug, I understand that you feel this justifies Reader use.  It’s a rationalization to me, and I don’t mean that in an antagonistic way. This is the crux of our disagreement, and it’s why we won’t see eye to eye on this particular issue. smile

You said to vote with my eyes and that is sort of what I?m doing.

Vote with your eyes means don’t consume the content at all by not visiting the site. It does not mean to circumvent the ads and consume it anyway.

As for the BS about watching commercials, I ended that almost 2 years ago now because I was sick of paying twice for my TV. First I paid $90/month to DirectTV to deliver it and then I watched ad?s (not to mention product placement, and DVD sales). Now I purchase my TV content via iTunes for only a little more than my monthly bill and I own everything with no secondary charges.

And here we have perfect agreement!  Though technically before you were paying once to have the content delivered ($$ to DirecTV) and once to the studios that produced the content (by watching ads), your solution of dropping the networks and buying your TV content directly due to your frustration is exactly the sort of philosophical approach I am advocating.

Nom

An experience I have quite often:

Finish reading page, go to close tab (or navigate away), and as I do so catch sight of an ad. that interests me.  Problem: quite often navigating back to the page (back/undo/history/re-open URL) reveals a new ad, and I can’t find the original.

geoduck

I wouldn’t sweat it Bryan. Readers and sites have had an arms race that goes back and fourth. Sites add some new way of pushing ads and readers find a way to get around them. Pop up windows are used, then readers started using browsers that blocked pop up windows. Flash ads appeared then readers began to use Flash blockers. Now Reader threatens to scrape the content without the ads. I give it a month or less before we start seeing ads buried in the text in some way so that Reader grabs them too.

This is just one move on the battlefront. No big deal.

xmattingly

xmattingly, I definitely include our own site in my comments: If we are screwing up, vote with your eyeballs. We?ve been very lucky that our awesome community has always been willing to tell us when they have a problem, to talk to us, rather than just leaving.

I hear where you’re coming from, Bryan. I’ve been dealing with advertisement my entire career, and my first job was a publication that not unlike TMO, was dependent on ad revenue.

Cool that you’re checking out feedback from the regulars too. I will say this much: It would take a lot more than the occasional annoying ad to get me to stop visiting, but for example - collider.com recently starting filling the window with the entire trailer for a movie that loads automatically… let alone something I don’t even want to see. So I quit visiting those guys.

wally g

I think “READER” is one more step in Apple’s march toward getting what Edward Tufte calls ‘computer administrative debris’...stuff like scroll bars, widgets, clickable this and that.  The iPad is another step toward focus on the content.  the huge bump-up of the iPhone 4 screen resolution is another incremental step toward Apple’s focus on the text.  This is all similar to what Apple did years ago for printing.  If you’re old enough,  you still remember the jaw-drop the first time you saw output from Apple’s newfanged LaserWriter.  They’re doing it again…

wally g

I think “READER” is one more step in Apple’s march toward getting away from what Edward Tufte calls ‘computer administrative debris’...stuff like scroll bars, widgets, clickable this and that.  The iPad is another step toward focus on the content.  The huge bump-up of the iPhone 4 screen resolution is another incremental step toward Apple’s focus on the content, not the widgets.  The exact opposite of where Android’s headed.

  This is all similar to what Apple did years ago for printing.  If you’re old enough,  you still remember the jaw-drop the first time you saw output from Apple’s newfanged LaserWriter.  They’re doing it again…

Ethan

I just want to make sure that anyone who thinks they are still giving the ad impressions when they use Reader, they should know that is true for the first page only.

If the article is 5 pages then Reader side-steps the ads on the other 4 pages. No one should delude themselves that they are not taking something-the content, without paying-downloading the ads.

I also won’t be surprised when Apple ads this to mobile Safari. Then websites are screwed. They won’t consistently make money off of iDevice users unless they lash themselves to a native app in the App Store controlled by Apple. So much for HTML5 meaning anything to Apple when their is money to be made.

Mikuro

Thanks! I"ll try that. But it?s a bit complicated compared to Command-2. Maybe there is a way to set my own shortcut?

It doesn’t seem to be well-known, but OS X actually lets you change the keyboard shortcut of any menu item in almost any application. I use this to change Safari’s next-tab/previous-tab shortcuts to something I can hit with only my left hand (command-option-1 and command-option-2).

To do it, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts. Click the + button. Select Safari from the menu in the dialog, type “Enter Reader” in the “menu title” field, and then put whatever shortcut you want.

You might need to quit + reload Safari afterwords (not sure).

Safari already uses command-2 to load the second item in your bookmarks bar. Maybe you can override this using the same method. You can change it using the same method, but for some reason it doesn’t really seem to take. I guess Safari captures command-2 separately, not actually relying on the menu shortcut. Bummer.

jpfreeman

It doesn?t seem to be well-known, but OS X actually lets you change the keyboard shortcut of any menu item in almost any application. I use this to change Safari?s next-tab/previous-tab shortcuts to something I can hit with only my left hand (command-option-1 and command-option-2).

To do it, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts. Click the + button. Select Safari from the menu in the dialog, type ?Enter Reader? in the ?menu title? field, and then put whatever shortcut you want.

You might need to quit + reload Safari afterwords (not sure).

Safari already uses command-2 to load the second item in your bookmarks bar. Maybe you can override this using the same method. You can change it using the same method, but for some reason it doesn?t really seem to take. I guess Safari captures command-2 separately, not actually relying on the menu shortcut. Bummer.

Thanks!

prefabrik

Thanks you very much sir!.. I am using in my web site : http://www.karmod.com

gguru

In a nod to wally g’s Tufte comment, have a look at this Wired article where Nicholas Carr describes how the clutter on web pages is reducing our reading comprehension and rewiring our brains (in a bad way)?. “A 2007 scholarly review of hypertext experiments concluded that jumping between digital documents impedes understanding. And if links are bad for concentration and comprehension, it shouldn?t be surprising that more recent research suggests that links surrounded by images, videos, and advertisements could be even worse.”

Maybe Apple is saving web publishers from themselves by making the content readable and enjoyable, potentially retaining readers who would otherwise leave due to pop-ups, in-texts, and other distractions.

I agree totally with Stephen’s comment “?ads are most effective when I?m looking for more information.” It’s a sad thing when the ads or layout is so bad that it chases readers away from potentially good content. We only have to look at Google vs. Yahoo (simple unobtrusive text vs. in-your-face color and animated ads) to see which type of format and ads are more effective overall. The main reason I avoid Yahoo is due to the incredible clutter. I don’t want to have to use most of my brainpower to guess which is the content and which is the commercial.

Could Safari Reader Help Sites Become More Profitable? My answer is “yes”. I look forward to Reader improvements that will enable page designers and publishers to further enhance the reading experience and hopefully not just to circumvent it.

By the way, the Wired article looks great in Reader.

iJack

“By the way, the Wired article looks great in Reader.”

Ha!  I had just done a comparison test, “printing” PDFs of the Wired article via Reader on Safari, and Readability on Firefox.  If saving articles for reading offline is your thing, then IMO, Readability provides the superior PDF.

Apple Gets It

I think Apple finally realizes that people don’t always want advertising and would like a way to block it via Reader and extensions a la AdBlock (which currently works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari.)

Do you want your cable company to be able to disable the fast-forward button on your DVR?  I didn’t think so.

Bryan Chaffin

I think Apple finally realizes that people don?t always want advertising and would like a way to block it via Reader and extensions a la AdBlock (which currently works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari.)

Everything about your post shows you have zero understanding of reality. I can not properly express how much I loathe what that post represents. If it represents you, so be it.

Doug Petrosky

There has to be some happy middle ground here. We can all agree that Reader is better for websites than a pure Ad blocker because it preserves some ad views. I understand that the multi-page feature, might, reduce some credit given for ad views but this is something page designers, I’m sure can figure out. Also, I have already seen some ad’s make it into the Reader window so it appears you can game the system but I’d say that page designers should be careful how much they push this issue for fear users will push back.

I know you disagree that I’m voting with my eyes when I use reader vs not use reader, but I was just trying to point something out about ad supported content (which is why I made the DVR analogy). You choose to use Ad supported content because it feels to the user that they are getting something for free. The more onerous those ad’s become, the more likely users are to get around them.

It may not be “right” to do this, but neither is most advertising. My feeling is that you should use this as a gauge to let you know when to change things up.

IMHO

Lee Dronick

I understand that the multi-page feature, might, reduce some credit given for ad views

There is another factor that existed before Reader. I read Doug’s comment in Mail and because of that I did not see any adverts. Now that I came here to comment I did, but the point is that I don’t respond to every comment emailed to me.

Someone in an earlier comment mentions that when they come back to a page an advert that they were interested in has rotated out. Perhaps a new page in the navigation menu “Support our Advertisers” and it would list all of the ads.

geoduck

I have already seen some ad?s make it into the Reader window

It took less time than I expected.
Bryan, I appreciate your viewpoint, I completely understand where you’re coming from. I just think you may have somewhat overreacted. Reader is just another tool that some people will use and others won’t. It will work on some sites and others will code to not allow it.

The web’s evolving. It’s a minor change in the environment not an extinction event.

geoduck

Perhaps a new page in the navigation menu ?Support our Advertisers? and it would list all of the ads.

Now that’s a good idea. There have been a fair number of times I see an add then later decide to follow up on it only to find the ad’s not there. I know it’s for product that does X but I didn’t catch the company or the model name.

Example: I a while ago I saw an ad for a thing to hold an iPad upright in either portrait, or landscape or a few degrees of the table for flat use. IT was a plastic frame that gripped the back of the iPad and had a leg. I have no idea what it was called or by who and now I can’t find the ad.

Stephen Swift

It may not be ?right? to do this, but neither is most advertising. My feeling is that you should use this as a gauge to let you know when to change things up.

So this is an interesting problem.  What’s the best way to track Readers: who block ads, who leave because of ads, who use Reader.

We could offer a feedback form, but that requires that People: are aware of this form, take the time to write, be honest.  So the sample set is small and possibly unreliable. 

The #1 complaint I get is about the embedded text popover ads.  But that’s been from a few people who, as far as I know, still read the site. Bryan suggests, instead of blocking these ads, people should not visit our site.  But how do we know if our traffic goes down because of ads?  Perhaps it’s a slow news week.  Perhaps it’s summer and people are on vacation.  And by the time we’ve lost this traffic, we have to react, change, and win back this traffic—not an easy task. 

A useful thing would be to have analytics when people use AdBlockers and Reader.  That provides an honest current metric of how our advertising is doing.  But AdBlockers and Reader don’t allow this tracking, presumably because if they did, they’d be very easy for a site to deny the request. 

We’re left with a bit of a Catch-22, and the best thing we can do as site owners is select ads that we personally consider worthwhile until that stops becoming a useful business model.  Since site advertising becomes almost a matter of taste of the site owner, the type of advertising isn’t probably going to change unless we can’t make money anymore.  If you don’t support our choice of ads, you’re best option as a reader is to not visit our site.

Lee Dronick

The #1 complaint I get is about the embedded text popover ads.? But that?s been from a few people who, as far as I know, still read the site

I have learned to scroll so that I don’t activate one of those Bouncing Betty ads, but I still dislike them, usually I use the space bar or arrow keys to scroll. I know that I can deactivate them, but the preference never seemed to stick so I stopped doing that.

I enjoy and admire a well designed ad be it web, print or TV. Sometimes the ads are the most creative thing I see while watching TV.

xmattingly

I have learned to scroll so that I don?t activate one of those Bouncing Betty ads, but I still dislike them, usually I use the space bar or arrow keys to scroll. I know that I can deactivate them, but the preference never seemed to stick so I stopped doing that.

Haha, “Bouncing Betty” is a good name for those things. smile

Still, I think Bryan rightly pointed out that TMO tries to strike a balance between getting ad revenue and what may be obstructive to a visitor, and they do a good job of it. I won’t mention names, but as I’m sure you’re well aware there are plenty of other news sites that completely pollute their articles with embedded ads.

Bryan Chaffin

There has to be some happy middle ground here.

Hey Doug, let me make it clear that I respect your opinion, even if I disagree with some aspects of it.

I get very tense and have zero respect for anyone that feels entitled to either my work or the product of that work, but I quickly understood that wasn’t your stance.

As for Reader, I am super tense with Apple for meddling in my business without my say-so. I am guessing, however, we will all have to come to terms with it (and related technologies) being here to stay.

Bryan Chaffin

There is another factor that existed before Reader. I read Doug?s comment in Mail and because of that I did not see any adverts. Now that I came here to comment I did, but the point is that I don?t respond to every comment emailed to me.

That’s a great point, Hank, and one that bears addressing. It’s our choice to include the full text of comments in e-mail notifications. We decided that the benefit of community building in such a feature outweighed the benefits of boosting page views by not including the full text.

The key point, however, is that it was our choice, not Apple’s.

Bryan Chaffin

Haha, ?Bouncing Betty? is a good name for those things.

Still, I think Bryan rightly pointed out that TMO tries to strike a balance between getting ad revenue and what may be obstructive to a visitor, and they do a good job of it. I won?t mention names, but as I?m sure you?re well aware there are plenty of other news sites that completely pollute their articles with embedded ads.

Bless you, xmattingly. smile

Bryan Chaffin

It took less time than I expected.
Bryan, I appreciate your viewpoint, I completely understand where you?re coming from. I just think you may have somewhat overreacted. Reader is just another tool that some people will use and others won?t. It will work on some sites and others will code to not allow it.

The web?s evolving. It?s a minor change in the environment not an extinction event.

Oh, I may well have, geoduck. That’s partly why I made a point of mentioning that I was open to having my mind changed with new information.

I have not yet changed my mind, I might add.

The thing that sets me off on these discussions is the entitlement of some people. “I shouldn’t have to pay for music,” “Why should I have to look at advertising?” (etc.)

That mindset puts me on massive, mega-tilt. It’s a mindset that very few of our readers have, thankfully, though that may because I have successfully insulted most of them into going away. smile

Doug Petrosky

I have to say that I didn’t take this whole thing as seriously as maybe I should because I sit back and see Apple disrupt business models all the time and never give it a second thought beyond the glib (evolve or die).

So this brings up a serious question for you… If Apple included a space inside the reader window where it offered to display iAds, would that interest you as an addition to your current display ad’s?

Could this be Apples big play into the banner ad space?

Lee Dronick

It?s our choice to include the full text of comments in e-mail notifications. We decided that the benefit of community building in such a feature outweighed the benefits of boosting page views by not including the full text.

I very much appreciate that we get the full comments, not mention even receiving them. Even if I don’t come back to the site to comment on a particular comment, rest assured I will be back soon.

From what I read most of the regulars here are creative creators be they in code, graphics, video, audio or combinations thereof. As such we can appreciate get paid for our work and having it ripped off.

zewazir

Sorry, but I just do not see anything being “stolen” by using Reader to access long articles. Such claims are way over the top.

In the first place, when I open Reader, the original web page is right there in the back ground, ads and all. But when accessing a large article, Reader makes it easy to read.  That is all - a utility that makes web text content easier to read. What is wrong with that? I close reader when I am done with the article, and lo-and-behold, there is the page with all its ads in full glory for me to ignore, click and browse, or whatever, just as intended.

Meanwhile my old eyes have not gone through nearly as much strain, so I can actually read more in a given time period without needing to rest.  That means more pages full of ads to look at while searching for content to read in Reader.  Seems like the best of both worlds to me.

jpfreeman

I think Apple may have actually been trying to preserve ad views with Reader, in the face of ad blockers and readability, which eliminate ads entirely. With reader the sides of the page are still visible, which is where most ads appear.

By the way, I’ve already seen pages that show ads in Reader. And since Reader seems to be somewhat picky about which pages it will convert, it must be very easy to code your page to prevent reader from working.

And I love Reader. It makes my web experience so much better and I read much more.

gguru

The #1 complaint I get is about the embedded text popover ads

Stephen, add me to the list of complainers on this one. I also hate animated or video ads which just scream out “I am more important than whatever it is that Bryan is writing about”. As a writer, I am just as offended by the obtrusive ads blocking my content (my creation, the reason why I have page views) from my audience as I am about my audience not wanting to pay for my content. Such ads are unnecessarily losing me audience members and thus page views and thus a revenue stream.

gguru

I’ve experimented with Reader over the past few days and guess what…I find I am reading the content much quicker and then looking to see what related links (including ads) will give more more insight on the topic. With reader the ads and all the other necessities of the web page can be set aside until I have read enough content to know that I want to pursue the topic (or not).

Quite honestly, I have actually clicked through on several ads which, in the past, I would simply have ignored as I got the hell off the page. This is good for everyone.

Log-in to comment