CNBC sting: most ad networks accepted fake news site full of scraped content

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There are few parts of the Internet industry more lazy, corner-cutting, and greedy than the ad networks. You need not look any further than the front page of this site for evidence (not a slam on BB – for the moment they’re stuck with that revenue model and hate having to deal with the ad nets as much as we hate having them infest our browsers).


As I have uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere installed in my browsers, I had no idea how bad the ads on BoingBoing have become. So I switched them off and reloaded the home page.

Holy bejesus on toast! That is an experiment I will never try again.

There’s a reason I still use RSS.

At least now I understand why BoingBoing has its own online store and constantly hawks products via Amazon affliate links.


From where I’m sitting, all ad-supported sites are just swirling round different parts of the same moral toilet bowl at this point.

Um yes you do, have you actually seen

It is pathetically hilarious for CNBC to assume I make some grand distinction between the thirsty, soulless clickbait mills they’re condemning and the thirsty, soulless clickbait mill they are running.

I doubt content scraping is keeping or awake at night, because those sites are not run as ad-delivery businesses so why would you plagiarise them if delivering ads is literally all you care about. The people with the problem are ad-delivery businesses who think their business is to waste time and money on content. They’re like baristas who spend at least an hour on every piece of latte foam art, and complain because the place over the street is just drawing a heart on every cup and stealing all the customers.

I’m not just being a bitch here. There are ways to sell lots of ads, and there are ways to get paid for content. But you’re not going to get anywhere if you keep insisting these two unrelated things are the same thing. Also, advertising is the leaded children’s DDT cigarettes of the 21st century, and it’d be nice to move out of the denial phase while we still have a civilisation left to save.


Why is BB “stuck” with this model?

I’ve often wondered if it would be possible for the site to explore a user supported patreon type arrangement. Perhaps NPR style (still free for everybody, but those of us who care pitch in). As a long time reader, the steady stream of mediocre “monetized” products from the BB store always feels forced and out of sync with the spirit of the blog (sorry Stack Commerce). Ditto for Mark’s amazon plugs and the tabloid display ads.

Just a thought.


They aren’t in the long term, which is why I agree with your general assessment. But switching to a scalable membership model as the site’s core revenue stream requires a lot of tech and business elements to be in place. It also requires that a new core model matches the revenue levels of the current ad-based one, something very few content sites (the Guardian most prominently) have managed to crack. If you search the meta section of this BBS you’ll see a lot of reasonable and frank explanations for the current state of things on the front page.

I’m not terribly averse to an ad-based model, either, if it’s done right. But unless a content site has the resources to take ad serving in-house (as the NYT is now doing) they’re stuck with these garbage ad networks. Most content sites, including this one, don’t have NYT-level budgets.

I have no real issues with the Authors’ Amazon plugs – I trust them when they recommend quality products and services they use themselves, and find myself buying or sometimes already owning items in their posts. I can’t say the same for the StackSocial BB Store stuff, which often seems to fail the standards set by the Authors (esp. the poorly secured IoT products).


With the number of Authors here, and the volume of traffic we have, the most successful Patreon for a blog in history couldn’t pay the bills. That doesn’t mean we aren’t looking for alternatives, just that independent blogs don’t have a lot of options - that’s why there are so few independent blogs anymore.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Please give us a Patreon or other compatible donation button. If it gets one or more of the roving adblocks off the screen, I’d kick in monthly, and believe others would too.

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