Today on the Edge of Innovation, we discuss recent news in technology and what it means for the future.
Intro and New England Fall Time
Jacob: Welcome to the Edge of Innovation. It’s great to talk to with you, Paul. Today we’re going to be going over your tweets. But first, I just wanted to hear what’s going on for you and how are you doing today.
Paul: Well, it’s coming into fall. You know, we’re in New England, so fall is a beautiful time. Weather is changing. It’s getting a little cooler. And you know, things turn to Apple new announcements, things like that. You know, what’s going on in the only world that really matters, the Apple world.
Jacob: Well, that would make sense. It is fall. We’re in northern New England, and it’s apple season. So…
Paul: There you go. Exactly. Yeah, in fact, the, the town that I live in is having its apple festival this week, so everybody’s iPhones and iPads will be out and apple pie and all sorts of cool stuff. So, but yeah, we’ll talk a little bit about, you know, what Apple’s been doing and not doing and sort of, you know, some of that. You know, there’s a, there’s a huge… In New England, there’s a, uh, big… I don’t know. Sort of a malaise. I don’t want to really say malaise of the summer. You know, people are in vacation mode, you know, every week. We live by one of the major highways to New Hampshire and Maine. And it is just packed going north on Friday afternoons or Thursday afternoons, if you’re lucky. And then coming back Sunday evenings.
And, so there’s, that mindset is, you know, people going away for the weekend, and they’re not really thinking about work and business and all that kind of stuff. So, you know, with September, you know, comes all the influx of all the students in New England. And so traffic goes way up. And everybody is back to work, so traffic goes way up. You have to plan, you know, longer commutes and stuff like that. But it’s really now back to the shift of focusing on business and focusing on what we can accomplish and managing things.
Jacob: Yeah, well I think that’s a great reason to pull up these 10 articles that you were tweeting about this week. I see the same thing. I live in southern New Hampshire, and Sunday afternoons, we just don’t go driving on the highway because it’s incredible the amount of traffic that is coming back. And so I think the way we can help our friends and help other people who are in business and entrepreneurs, to kind of catch them up on what they missed in the last month.
So I thought we’d start out with looking at what media companies don’t want you to know about with ad blockers. This was an article that you, tweeted, and it got a lot of attention. I thought you could maybe talk us through what’s going on with that article and why you recommended it.
Paul: Yeah. The fundamental thing that struck my, my reading through it. And I read a lot of stuff, so you know, I’m providing a service for the community.
Jacob: You are truly providing a service.
Paul: What is I just, you know, read constantly and the things that strike my interest are weird. You know, it’s very wide, you know, from Bitcoin to, Raspberry Pi to, you know, a new extension for C++ I was tweeting about this morning. And this one struck me, because, you know, there is an implicit bargain, in using the web. And that implicit bargain, from its earliest days, has been in order for us to present content to you for free, you know, in all form or fashion, it’s free, you’re going to consume our ads.
And, a lot of people go and put ad blockers on. And that ad blocker is detectable, by the server that is serving the content. And so you have people like New York Times CEO Mark Thompson saying that, you know, we are going to do something about people that have ad blockers running. So it’s…they’re saying that if you reduce the quid pro quo or ignore it, we’re not going to give you our content. That goes in the face of open and free. And really, what it does is it unmasks the real purpose, which is to make money.
You know, Google’s, you know, “Do no harm,” or whatever, their “Don’t be evil,” is great and all that. But they fundamentally make, you know, enormous amounts of money. And it’s ads. It’s all ads. And, you know, I don’t have a problem with ads…for things I like. You know, that would be really nice, and you know, I’ve mentioned this in the past. I’ve been shopping for something. Let’s say a stereo. And, you know, I go onto Amazon and shop for a stereo, and then I, you know, okay.
Or I did this with Newegg last week. I was shopping for a scanner. And I looked at the price. And it was actually a little cheaper than Amazon, and I was like, “Okay. Well, I don’t know. It’s still a lot of money.” I didn’t want to spend the $400. And then for the past couple of days, now I see ads for Newegg saying, you know, showing me a scanner.
That’s okay, but they’re telling me that it’s the same price I saw. Man, if they gave me $10 off, I’d be there in a shot to buy it. I don’t understand why they don’t do that. And I, I do understand that you can’t run a business by constantly cutting your price.
Jacob: With the ad blocker stuff, I’ve notice that as well, that websites are starting to… I’ll go to read an article, and it’s not even just business articles. It’s articles across the board, and I’m being blocked. Or they’ll put up a little fly window, “We detect that you have an ad block. For you to be able to view our content, please remove that.”
In addition to that, I saw this last week, an article indicating that Adblock Plus is now going to be selling ads space on the website. So…
Paul: Well, yeah. So that’s a bait and switch. It’s like, “Oh, we’re going to…” You know, so basically, they’ve programmed a backdoor into your system.
Jacob: Right. They’ve made the agreement, like what you’re talking about. We’re going to remove the content. It’s free. You’re going to use this. But now they’re monetizing their access to your website, viewing and turning that ad space that was there, designed by the website. Now they’re replacing it.
Paul: Well…yeah. I mean, that’s just insidious. I mean, you know… But the bottom line is, I don’t use an ad blocker because it’s sort of like that quid pro quo. I mean, I know they have to make money or at least have the opportunity to think they might make money. I typically don’t click on ads. So that’s one use case.
The other use case that really torques me up — and I knew this bothers you — is where websites have the, you know, an article wrapped in just a huge number of ads. You know, and then you have to click page two of the article. You can’t just see the whole article. And then you get a new set of ads. Alright, what I don’t like about that, I use an iPad Air is its experience is so slow in serving those ads that I abandon reading that content.
Jacob: Yeah. I mean, if you were to do a, you know, a data usage on a website… I mean, that’s why I use an ad blocker is because the data usage on loading a website goes drastically down when you put the ad block on because there’s all the media, all the links, all the backend that’s being pulled in.
Paul: Well, so I looked into an ad blocker for my iPad. But there’s nothing that I can do at an operating system level, because I use Flipboard, and I use, you know, Firefox, and I use Safari. So, and I don’t really know which one I’m using, because…I do. But I don’t think about it. So I might be in the middle of a Flipboard article and say “Open in Safari,” and, you know, you get all these wrapped ads. And it’s just a bad experience. And it’s driving me aware from doing that.
But, obviously, they’re doing it, and they’re doing it for some reason, because they’re getting some traction or acceptance on it. But, you know, it also makes me think a little bit about, TV and commercials. We have, Fios. Verizon Fios is our TV provider. And with their set top box, we record things and watch. We never watch live except for football. And even for football, we’ll start, we’ll start watching the game a half an hour late so we can skip the ads. You know, we’ve got it down.
We were watching something. We were watching an old episode of Top Gear. And, uh, I can hit the jump button five times and almost nail when the show starts again. And so, you know, people say, “Oh, did you see that ad?”
It’s like, “No. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I don’t see any television ads. And I was thinking a little bit about that. We’re, uh, we’re investigating using Plex now. Plex just added a DVR feature. And I don’t understand the…how the TV people haven’t pushed back at us skipping ads. And it’s been happening for years. I mean, we’ve been doing it. We had a TiVo or a replay TV, you know, 15 years ago. And we were, we were using it to skip ads.
Jacob: Yeah, of course.
Paul: Not just time shift. But really skip the ads was the huge benefit for us. Uh, you know, watching a show in 40 minutes is a lot better than watching an hour.
Amazon and Netflix
Jacob: Well, and I think that’s why companies like Netflix and Amazon video are being wildly successful, because they’re dropping TV. I mean, because they’re agreement is pay $10, or whatever it is, a month, and there’s no ads.
Paul: What’s interesting about that is I’ve, just started watching Under the Dome. I don’t know if you’ve seen it.
Jacob: I started watching it, and I have a hard time committing to shows.
Paul: Well, that’s it. It’s basically Lost, under a big dome. But anyway. Same, you know, music. Bommm…
Jacob: Are there smoke monster…?
Jacob: Amazing weird codes.
Paul: Almost. Gee. It is so Lost. Anyway. But every time it goes to a scene where you hear the bonk. You know, we always joke that when there’s the end of a scene, stranger things, they’re doing that. They come right up in that music, you know. But it’s so delightful that you don’t have to go to a commercial. And it just rolls into the next scene with that black, and that is just so wonderful.
But so, you’re right. You know, Netflix and all of that, everybody loves that. But I was thinking, you know, for me, which, I don’t think, as far as television viewer, I’m pretty normal. Uh, we time shift everything, even the football game. We start it a half an hour late so that we can—
Jacob: And you’re not the only person I heard, that does that.
Paul: Right. Yeah. So they just must be losing out on revenue. Now they don’t have a way to see, “Hey, you’re skipping our ads, so we’re not going to show you the show.” But could that be coming, you know? So, you know, if you watch, uh, on demand on Verizon, it pops up and it says, “Some of the features of your DVR with be disabled in the show.” Fast forward and rewind and all these different things. So can’t, you have to watch the commercial.
Now, okay. If I have to watch the commercial, make them interesting, and don’t repeat the same commercial at every commercial break. Really painful. So, you know, it’s an interesting, interesting time to be alive. It’s first world problems that we have, you know.
Business Model Implications
Jacob: It’s interesting that we would go from an article about, simple ad block on a website to commercials and just advertising in general, because I mean…
Paul: Well, that’s all it is. I mean, this is what the business model for the web is advertising. Google is one of the largest companies in the world because it’s advertising. Now there is a shift, which is pay for content, which is Netflix and Amazon Prime. That is a radical shift. Uh, you know, you can go and pay for The New York Times. You don’t get— well, you probably get, still would get ads. But, you know, you could pay for it. That’s the Holy Grail is to get people to pay for your content.