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A Solution for Micropayments & Ads

By eries in Culture
Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 11:42:48 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

All this talk about K5 and targeted ads has given me a new idea. Nobody wants to look at banner ads anymore. Banner ads don't really work for advertisers anyway. Users want a way to support their favorite site directly. The solution: existing ad-server software and companies could easily adapt their existing infrastructure and adopt a system of micropayments.


The average, "run-of-network" banner ad costs something like $6 CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions). That means that every time you look at a $6 CPM banner ad, the site you're looking at gets about $.006. Most banner-ad networks already do a lot of work to track users' movements accross sites, and to make sure that sites can't cheat the system by "earning" false impressions. It seems to me that the software that currently does that bookkeeping could pretty easily be modified to allow certain users to browse network sites without ads, charging micropayments against an established account instead.

The nice thing about this system is that it doesn't cost either the content-provider or the ad-server anything. They make the same money either way, since they can charge the same rates for banner ads as for micropayments. In fact, they can even charge different rates, if they want. I know that I would pay a premium to be able to 1) browse without ads and to 2) support my favorite sites directly. And since the payments are micro, a small account ($20) would probably last you a long time - I bet there are even ISPs that would front you this charge in exchange for switching to their service and for viewing their ads/whatever.

Another advantage of this scheme is that it changes the adversarial dynamic between advertisers and consumers. Instead of fighting with DoubleClick about my privacy, in a privacy vs. profits scheme, the ad-server and consumer are now partners, and the ad-server relies on consumer trust to survive. Since I personally don't trust DoubleClick with my privacy, I'd be much more disposed to take my micropayment account elesewhere.

Which leads me to my next point. It seems to me that it would not be that hard to develop an open-source distributed ad server that would allow sites to participate in this kind of scheme without paying a percentage of their profits to commerical ad-servers like DoubleClick. Besides the software, all that is needed is a trusted company to provide secure user accounts. They don't even need to charge anybody (users or sites) anything for this service, since they could make a decent amount of money the same way that PayPal does: accumulating interest on the money that they hold on behalf of their users. If every Slashdot/Freshmeat/K5 reader deposited $10 in their micropayment account, that would be a nice, tidy, profit. Then we can all start agitating for universal, cross-provider user accounts...

Anyway, that's my idea. I'd be curious to know if:

  • If this sort of thing already exists, and I'm just behind the times
  • Whether or not this is the kind of thing people in this forum are interested in. I occaisionally think up ideas like this, and I like to try and get feedback on them from an informed audience.
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    Display: Sort:
    A Solution for Micropayments & Ads | 29 comments (29 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
    This problem will need to be solved... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Blueshade on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 07:37:02 PM EST

    Blueshade voted 1 on this story.

    This problem will need to be solved. So we need to talk about it. :-)

    This is very similar to part of the... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Arkady on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 07:43:02 PM EST

    Arkady voted 1 on this story.

    This is very similar to part of the AFI Coop design (for which a prototype of the software is already written) that I posted on K5 at "http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory;sid=2000/6/8/15279/15675". We have found, though, that survey respondants on the AFI surveys have been extremely in favor of flat-fee over pay-per-view plans. Also, the larger sites which manage their own ads, instead of using a banner serving service like DoubleClick, seem to be getting between .02 and .04 $US per-view though our experience with the income for sites on banner server systems coincides with yours at between .001 and .01 $US per-view. I, personally, would not trust my privacy to a for-profit venture; I'd trust a users cooperative, though.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


    ... (4.00 / 5) (#4)
    by bobsquatch on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 08:06:25 PM EST

    bobsquatch voted 1 on this story.

    • I don't see ads anyway. Why should I pay some evil company for the privilege of not seeing ads, when I have Junkbuster?
    • I don't accept cookies anyway. Why should I feel overjoyed at the prospect of letting DoubleClick track my movements across sites, when I have Junkbuster?
    • Even if I let DoubleClick track me, it would still be difficult to match up my random cookie-ID with my real name and address. In your scheme, my ID has to be linked to a bank account. Why should I go through all the trouble to anonymize my bank account (Wells Fargo will probably have a slight problem with that), when, again, I have Junkbuster?
    • Even if we posit the existence of a white-hat, non-profit, good-guy bank willing to hold my money anonymously, that good-guy bank can still be targeted by lawsuits and discovery. In fact, given a choice between suing 10K browsers or 1 good-guy bank, it looks like the concentrated power of the bank will make it an even better lawsuit target. In order to make this truly anonymous, some kind of cryptographic anonymity scheme will have to be used, so the bank can't link ID's to names, even under court order. Why should I bother with all that complexity, when I have Junkbuster?
    • For that matter, why should I trust some white-hat bank with my privacy anyway? Who the hell are these guys? Can I (afford to) sue them if they double-cross me? Why should I give some self-proclaimed "trustworthy" service a list of all the websites I visit, when (all together now!) I have Junkbuster?
    Come back when your scheme has something to offer me, and we'll talk. Until then, you've only solved the advertiser's problem -- by making the browser's problem worse. No deal.

    Re: ... Reason (none / 0) (#25)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 07:20:40 AM EST

    The reason I see the writer giving for you paying is that you want to do so to support Rusty/K5.

    I am not sure this is a good way, but I am longing for micropayments and digital true cash myself.

    If we had that, it would be simple for sites to have a "Support Us" or "Tips" button and you could easily send whatever you wanted.

    A Nony Mouse

    [ Parent ]

    Weird, I moderated up a comment on ... (none / 0) (#10)
    by _cbj on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 08:19:04 PM EST

    _cbj voted 1 on this story.

    Weird, I moderated up a comment on Slashdot saying exactly this not four hours ago.

    This topic was covered pretty well ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by sugarman on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 08:46:12 PM EST

    sugarman voted -1 on this story.

    This topic was covered pretty well a couple weeks ago. I understood that the answer then was generally against "pay-for-play", especially for general news / discussion sites. Does this really need to be re-hashed again so soon?
    --sugarman--

    I firmly believe that a viable micr... (none / 0) (#13)
    by modred on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 08:46:23 PM EST

    modred voted 1 on this story.

    I firmly believe that a viable micropayment system needs to be developed. Many "consumer" goods are existing only in electronic form and are often at such a levle that trying to accept credit cards for purchases is a losing proposition. I much rather provide a micropayment to a site in order to support than click on a banner that leads to another site.

    I love ads, and I will not pay (no,... (none / 0) (#12)
    by the Epopt on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 08:58:33 PM EST

    the Epopt voted 1 on this story.

    I love ads, and I will not pay (no, not even $0.001) for web content. Ads are the perfect solution to supporting sites: the site gets the revenue since it served up the ad, I don't see the ad (thank you, Junkbuster!), and the imbecilic advertisers lose money. It's the classic win-win-win scenario!


    -- 
    Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
    Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.

    K5_Arguing_HOWTO
    Re: I love ads, and I will not pay (no,... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 03:59:24 AM EST

    I don't believe that the site gets the revenue when you block the ad, because you actually don't connect to the ad-server site and don't bring no image. Maybe you could fool it with a software that downloads the image, and then changes the html to not display it or to display a transpartent 1x1 gif in place, but Junkbuster don't do this. If you know a software that do, tell me.

    [ Parent ]
    i'll probably want to discuss this ... (none / 0) (#5)
    by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 09:23:19 PM EST

    fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

    i'll probably want to discuss this after my migraine
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]

    A great idea that would probably go... (none / 0) (#3)
    by skim123 on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 09:35:22 PM EST

    skim123 voted 1 on this story.

    A great idea that would probably go over well with a small number of sites. (K5 being one of them!)

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    Didn't this just get discussed here... (none / 0) (#7)
    by dave0 on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 09:39:53 PM EST

    dave0 voted 0 on this story.

    Didn't this just get discussed here recently?

    While I like the idea of micropayme... (none / 0) (#2)
    by driph on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 10:00:10 PM EST

    Driph voted 1 on this story.

    While I like the idea of micropayments, I wonder how well they would work. People are just plain lazy (not excluding myself). The process of signing up and opening an acct would have to be VERY easy and foolproof to make it worth their while ..("Oh, those ads are annoying, but I can handle em a couple more weeks..")

    Also, what happens when I walk away from my computer and someone else sits down and starts browsing?

    I dunno about you, but I'm not setting up a micropayment-based site as my homepage. I'd rather not be charged just to open a new browser window. :]
    Plus, once you start charging for content that traditionally had been free, you are opening up new doors..(oh, we're just raising our rates from .006 to .009, no biggie, you'll hardly notice a thing..[repeat every few months]).

    --
    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave

    This would also improve the Darwini... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Inoshiro on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 10:01:47 PM EST

    Inoshiro voted 1 on this story.

    This would also improve the Darwinistic nature of the internet. Sites not viewed would cost a lot to maintain. Ad based free homepage sites might suffer a bit at first, though.

    --
    [ イノシロ ]

    this is a really good idea. if thi... (none / 0) (#16)
    by aint on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 10:01:57 PM EST

    aint voted 1 on this story.

    this is a really good idea. if this were to be implemented (which it will be someday for sure) many sites that do not currently have banners would jump on this. is this bad though? no. it certainly would improve quality and give sites a reason to survive/exist. webtechniques latest issue is titled "Better Than Banners " , this idea would have fit there quite nicely. also, i agree that companies would no doubt find a way to sponsor 'banner free zones' and well, this is an excited idea and i am looking forward to its existance.
    -- .sig -- did i overlook something? tell me, i love to learn.

    A version with ads for non-supporte... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Eloquence on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 10:13:37 PM EST

    Eloquence voted 1 on this story.

    A version with ads for non-supporters/previewers and one without+micropayment for the rest, that sounds fair enough. Keep in mind, though, that whenever you offer exclusive information (and an ad-free version may be regarded as such) for cash, even for little cash, you run into the risk of copying. Someone might set up a simple Perl script and copy all the stuff to FreeNet within regular time intervals to keep it free for everyone. Not the kind of "piracy" I condone, but it might happen. Therefore I prefer a "honor system" of completely voluntary payments: "Support the maintainers of this site: ___ cents - OK" That's how easy it must be. Or even better, a client running in the background that does both chat & voluntary micropayment on the site I'm currently browsing. I guess Odigo or Gooey could be easily extended for micropayment.
    --
    Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
    spread the word!

    The AFI Co-op tries to do something... (none / 0) (#6)
    by inspire on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 10:36:08 PM EST

    inspire voted 0 on this story.

    The AFI Co-op tries to do something like this.

    I doubt it will be successful, however, as whatever the ad companies choose to push onto my browser window, I can just as easily block by using something like Junkbuster - getting ad-free content without having to pay a cent.

    Is this is website equivalent of software piracy? :)
    --
    What is the helix?

    Well written, but no, no, <u>no&... (none / 0) (#8)
    by StatGrape on Sat Jun 17, 2000 at 11:13:58 PM EST

    StatGrape voted 1 on this story.

    Well written, but no, no, <u>no</u> way am I prepared to shell out in order to rid myself of ads. I run a site, I know how ineffective banner advertisements generally are, but there is absolutely no way I would ever expect my visitors to pay an ads-B-gone fee (no matter how small) on top of whatever they pay to be online to begin with.

    Would you pay a vandal to not target your car? Hell no - I work too hard for my money to dish it out to someone as a tithe for surfing without distraction. It's time to face the facts; advertising is a big part of every aspect of life, and that will always include the web.

    NerdPerfect

    Re: Well written, but no, no, no&... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 01:14:51 AM EST

    Actually.. if you think about it logically.. One way or the other, if a site is not directly commercial (ie: selling goods/services) and is instead news or something.... how else can it make money besides either ads, or micropayment? If it was *convenient* and secure, I would happily fork out pennies here and there, so long as the overall amount was tiny. Say.. I'd pay 2 pennies a day to read kuro5hin.. maybe 1 penny for trashdot.... All in all, over all the sites I like, it would end up costing me nothing. 5 bucks a month would go a LONG way. And the tens of thousands of visitors the sties get.. hundreds of bucks a day, which is plenty to run a service on.

    [ Parent ]
    Ads for great products like [ApwNmVPq] are fine :- (3.00 / 1) (#23)
    by your_desired_username on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 04:53:21 AM EST

            
    So far, the ads I have seen on kuro5hin.org have all been for great
      products like [AezVOtxk], [ApwNmVPq], and [LLJsFyzV] . If rusty can
      support kuro5hin with ads like this, more power to him. (Sometimes I
      just love Emacs/W3 mode .... :-)
    
    Seriously though, I belive:
      (0) Ads spread misinformation in support of profit.
      (1) Ads are hideous.
      (2) Given (0) & (1), ads are an abomination.
      (3) It is my right to browse information without ads. I should not
          have to pay for this right, and I will not pay for it. (Nor do I
          need to.)
    
    I will browse without ads, and I will not pay anyone for my right to
      browse without ads.  
    


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Well written, but no, no, no&... (none / 0) (#29)
    by adamsc on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 08:21:34 PM EST

    Well written, but no, no, <u>no</u> way am I prepared to shell out in order to rid myself of ads. I run a site, I know how ineffective banner advertisements generally are, but there is absolutely no way I would ever expect my visitors to pay an ads-B-gone fee (no matter how small) on top of whatever they pay to be online to begin with. Would you pay a vandal to not target your car?
    This doesn't make any sense. A vandal does something without the owner's permission. Ads are one of the ways the owner of a site chooses to make money. The viewer is not involved in this decision as the property in question is not theirs. If the idea of the owner making money off of the site offends you, don't visit the site.

    [ Parent ]
    choices (none / 0) (#17)
    by aint on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 01:01:45 AM EST

    obviously nobody would be required to do anything as that would be terrible. so, going to a site and chooing from options such as :

    - miropayment as described at an agreed upon rate
    - just say no, keep going with the standard banner route
    - choose to pay a monthly/yearly fee of $n

    i don't see how given additional choices can be bad but keeping this secure is the major hurdle here, can it be done?
    -- .sig -- did i overlook something? tell me, i love to learn.
    Re: choices (none / 0) (#19)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 01:49:09 AM EST

    The 4th option is, of course, junk busters. :^)

    [ Parent ]
    Re: choices (none / 0) (#20)
    by aint on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 02:26:13 AM EST

    i consider that to be part of option #2 ;)


    -- .sig -- did i overlook something? tell me, i love to learn.
    [ Parent ]
    comparable to pay tv? (none / 0) (#21)
    by hummer on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 02:51:37 AM EST

    If this sort of thing already exists

    What you propose is similar, I guess to pay television. You have the option of watching the network channels, getting the content for free and being bombed with ads every 10 minutes. Or you can just pay for the content up front and dispense with the ads.
    Perhaps this is a good idea. As someone else has pointed out, more choice is always good right? Personally however, I wouldn't pay for such a system. These days, who doesn't have a flatrate account? Would it hurt you that much to download a few K's here or there to support sites like kuro5hin that provide a quite high s/n ratio with regard to content?
    hummer

    Re: comparable to pay tv? (none / 0) (#27)
    by aint on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 11:42:12 AM EST

    a few years ago while in london i turned on the television and advertisements are only in between shows, not during them. i found that to be so good and pleasing and somehow this analogy could apply here, i just can't come up with the words on how. ;)
    -- .sig -- did i overlook something? tell me, i love to learn.
    [ Parent ]
    Cost of micropayments? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 05:42:14 AM EST

    Problem with micropayments is, it'll probably cost me 5 bucks (haven't checked) to send a penny from here to wherever you are.
    Personally, I would cease visiting sites that demanded money. A support-me-if-you-wish-button, OTOH, I would click now and then, given an efficient payment system.
    BTW, I realized the banners only when I read '..the ads are here..' in the header. Nice to have ad-filtering in the brain ;)

    Re: Cost of micropayments? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 08:27:21 AM EST

    You, in fact, do not have ad filtering in your brain. That un-noticed banner ad was absorbed by your sub-conscious just the way the advertisers intended. It'll wait there until the next time you are at the grocery store, mall, e-mall, etc. where it can exert a gentle, hardly noticed tug on your buying decisions.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Cost of micropayments? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 18, 2000 at 01:46:35 PM EST

    Problem with micropayments is, it'll probably cost me 5 bucks (haven't checked) to send a penny from here to wherever you are.

    Actually, if some sort of electronic cash is used (stored value on your PC or other device, this would not be the case. Then, the transaction would be free.

    [ Parent ]

    A Solution for Micropayments & Ads | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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