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Big Revolution - Ad blockers, bundles and the future of publishing

Hello and welcome to Tuesday's Big Revolution. Let's dive into a packed edition... – Martin
June 26 · Issue #121 · View online
Big Revolution
Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s Big Revolution. Let’s dive into a packed edition…

Big things you need to know today
- Want to try the next version of iOS? Apple’s first public beta of iOS 12 is now live – but remember, it’s beta software so don’t complain if it messes up your device. The official launch is likely to be in September.
- Venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz has launched a $300m cryptocurrency focused fund. “Over two to three years, it plans to put that money in everything from early-stage coins and tokens, to later-stage networks like bitcoin or ethereum, and will hold those investments for up to 10 years,” reports CNBC.
- Microsoft’s Edge browser now includes an ad blocker on iOS and Android. It’s the latest browser to let users natively block ads to some degree. More on this below.
- Police in Orlando, Florida are to stop using Amazon’s face recognition tech after public outcry. Civil liberties groups are celebrating, and hope other forces will follow.
- Find out if your login details have been stolen – right from inside Firefox or 1Password. Have I Been Pwned, a service that lets you check your email address against a database of hacked accounts, is getting built into the browser and password manager. Handy!
The big thought
AdBlock is a popular desktop ad blocker
Ad blockers, bundles and the future of publishing
Gradually, ad blockers are growing in use. What was once the preserve of a niche group of techies is gathering pace. To quote Digiday last week:
“Research from AudienceProject, a company that helps publishers understand online audiences, found that 8 percent of mobile sessions detected people using an ad blocker in the U.K., up from 2 percent in 2016. In the U.S., 5 percent of sessions were blocked, up from 2 percent in 2016. In Germany, which has ranked high in desktop ad-blocking use, 13 percent of sessions on mobile were blocked. (AudienceProject had no comparable figures for German.)”
Now with the news that Microsoft Edge is to gain a mobile ad blocker, and even Google (an adtech firm at its core) restricting the kinds of ads displayed in Chrome, it feels like online advertising as we know it is – if not dying – rather unwell.
Online publishers are the obvious victims here. And any publisher that hasn’t assessed how it will fund itself without advertising deserves what’s coming to it. 
So, paywalls are next, right? But many people only have enough budget for a few subscriptions, and some don’t have a budget for any. I predict that bundled content offerings, that bring together titles from a group of publishers, all-you-can-eat for a fixed monthly fee, is going to be the way forward.
Blendle is a pioneer of content bundles, but its ‘pay a few cents per article’ model holds it back. You feel like you have to hold back from reading everything you want to. And its focus on print editions means it doesn’t always have the hot new Bloomberg or FT report everyone’s talking about.
Apple has the right idea. It recently bought Texture, a US service that gives you unlimited access to a library of digital magazines. It’s likely this will be rolled into Apple News soon. Your ISP will likely offer content subscription bundles too, just like some offer inclusive Netflix or Spotify subscriptions.
I doubt we’ll ever see one bundle containing all paywalled content from all publishers (the returns for each publisher would likely be tiny, and no media company wants to follow the music industry’s journey through a trough of low revenue until the all-you-can-eat model becomes ubiquitous), but I’d snap up a 'business and tech’ bundle containing paywalled content from all the sites I read every day.
However bundles develop, they’re likely the most sensible way forward for online publishing. The next question: can publishers set their egos aside long enough to understand that this approach is the future?
One big read
The Day I Drove for Amazon Flex The Day I Drove for Amazon Flex
Being a casual delivery driver for Amazon, in your own car and in your spare time, might sound like a fun way to make some cash but it’s not necessarily easy. (Thanks to Dave Thackeray for the tip).
One big tweet
Instagram’s aggressive in-app promotion of its new IGTV feature could be in vain… or not. Who knows?
Benedict Evans
Are all Instagram users tapping on the TV button because they want to, or because it’s glowing orange and distracting? DAUs look the same either way. So, does your engagement metric show product success or user annoyance? Or a dark pattern?
4:33 PM - 25 Jun 2018
That’s all for today...
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