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Adblock Plus launches ‘Acceptable Ads’ campaign—but how many people will find any ad ‘acceptable’?
April 3, 2014 | 6:04 am

adblockplusAd-blocking browser plug-in Adblock Plus has released its criteria for “Acceptable Ads.” Though the blog post in which they announce them doesn’t say so, presumably an “Acceptable Ad” is one that Adblock Plus wouldn’t actually block (though the blog post, it should be noted, does not actually mention anything about a willingness on Adblock Plus’s part not to block such ads—which might just be because of one teensy problem with their definitions, which I cover below). These magical criteria are as follow: Acceptable Ads are not annoying. Acceptable Ads do not...

HitBliss: Watching ads on the Internet can pay
January 20, 2014 | 9:40 am

Fullscreen capture 1202014 93006 AMMaybe it’s not so impossible to get people to watch ads on the Internet after all. Last night, curious to see if Joss Whedon’s recent adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing was available for streaming anywhere, I checked CanIStreamIt and found the only place it was listed for free was ad-supported with “HitBliss.” Curious, I clicked through and found a service that essentially pays you—or, rather, lets advertisers pay you—for watching ads. (Then, after I finished writing this article, I noticed Juli covered it here, too, when it first launched in March of last year.) The way it...

Article reformatters and ad-blockers present ‘DVR problem’ for online content
December 4, 2013 | 7:49 pm

On Digiday, John McDermott calls attention to the impending “DVR problem” online content faces, in light of all the content-reformatting apps such as Readability that can automatically save web articles and cull advertising before consumers even have a chance to see it—just like DVRs allow consumers to skip over commercials in their shows. This has been an ongoing issue as long as the web has had ads. Ad blockers (both software and hardware) have made the web more reader-friendly for years (I use one myself), much as some content site owners rail against them. But what can...

AdBlock takes ad-blocking campaign to the web
September 1, 2013 | 3:45 am

adblockI use a handy little extension called AdBlock in my Google Chrome browser. I will disable it for certain sites if I feel they merit it (or, grudgingly, if they disable important functions of the sites if ads are blocked) but on the whole I’m happy not to see flashing, animated, distracting advertisements when I’m trying to browse the web. And I’m happy that my pages load faster without them. Apparently a lot of other people use it, too—3 out of every 10 web users, in fact. But that’s apparently not satisfying enough for AdBlock’s developers. They’ve launched...

An Ad Model That Might Not Suck?
March 4, 2013 | 12:16 pm

ad modelLast month I wrote about eBookPlus, a startup that wanted to make books free, with ads. To say I wasn't thrilled would be an understatement. Most of you who commented on the post agreed with me. Forbes had an article today on another startup, HitBliss, that might actually have it right. From Forbes: The Lexington, Mass. company, run by husband and wife team Andrew Prihodko and Sharon Peyer, operates a Netflix-like app for iOS and Android that gives users access to a whole slew of TV shows and movies. But all that’s a sideshow; the payment method is what’s interesting here. Customers can...

E-Books With Advertising?
February 13, 2013 | 3:58 pm

I just saw this press release from EbookPlus, which wants to make books legally free. Sounds good, right? But wait, there's more. That's free, with advertising. offers any company the opportunity to create publicity to place in an eBook, whether it is a video, an image or a HTML page. The advertising is unobtrusive, placed only at the beginning of each chapter, volume or part of a particular title. This advertising is presented to readers for a few seconds, after which they can read the eBook normally without interruption during the whole of the chapter. Payment is only debited to...

Might a $150 ad-blocking proxy endanger web publishing?
November 12, 2012 | 11:42 pm

adtrap illoThe Internet has a love-hate relationship with advertising. Many users of the web consider web ads obnoxious. Many publishers of content on the web consider them vital. And as a result, there’s been an arms race between ad purveyors and ad blockers for as long as ads have been around, despite content publishers’ insistence that the lost revenue could cripple them. The latest shot fired in the war is a Kickstarter project for a device called AdTrap, Intended to retail for $150, available for $120 to early kickers, the AdTrap is a little open-source box with two Ethernet ports...

Does pushing your favorite book on social media make a difference?
July 21, 2012 | 7:12 pm

hawthornEarlier this month I mentioned a blog post by self-publishing writer Penelope Trunk on how clueless she found her traditional publisher when it came to marketing her work on-line. The blog post was later carried by The Guardian in edited form. Since then, John Self has written on the Guardian’s Book blog about the (largely unsympathetic) comments posted in reaction to it, and whether it was possible to promote a book effectively on-line. To experiment with how effective on-line promotion could be, Self seized onto an about-to-be-published book he quite liked, Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway, and decided...

On self-publicity for self-publishers
July 21, 2012 | 5:40 pm

self-promotionOn Lit Reactor, Richard Thomas has a primer discussing the tools that exist for self-promotion, that writers can use to get the word out about their books and projects. The article covers Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, blogs and websites, forums, promoting others, printed matter, readings, and publishing widely. Thomas has decent advice for how to play to each platform’s strengths: use Facebook for fan pages and getting in touch with other people in the writing community. Twitter is best for short posts and links. Goodreads will let you hold book giveaways, which is another good way for getting attention....

Penny Arcade webcomic runs Kickstarter to remove advertising
July 19, 2012 | 10:15 pm

penny_arcade_logoGalleyCat has a piece about a Kickstarter campaign that originally came to my attention a week ago from my friend Eric A. Burns’s blog Websnark. This campaign, founded by Gabe and Tycho, the artists behind popular gaming culture comic strip Penny Arcade, aims to raise as much money as it can in order to allow the site to remove ads. The site has a number of graduated stretch goals, involving removal of some or all ads from the front page, or even (at $999,999) removal of all ads everywhere on the site for a year. There are a number of...

Award-winning political campaign rescues library with ‘book-burning party’
June 16, 2012 | 7:15 pm

bookburningIt can be hard to get enough funding for libraries. Troy, Michigan recently tried three times to get a tax increase passed to give the library sufficient funding to stay open. The vote failed twice, and had only one last shot on the ballot, days before the library would have to close. But as with two previous attempts, it was facing well-organized opposition who had managed to make the issue all about opposition to new taxes with no mention of the library at all. So the library approached ad agency Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide Detroit and asked what they could...

When did the newspaper bubble start to burst?
June 16, 2012 | 6:00 pm

On Reuters, Jack Shafer ponders the question of who was the first company to abandon ship when the newspaper industry first began to founder. As far back as 1991, Warren Buffett had warned that newspapers were no longer the value proposition they had been, and he would not be buying any more of them. But all through the ‘90s and the early ‘00s, companies continued snapping up newspapers, and newspaper companies continued expanding their facilities. For there to be buyers, of course, there have to be sellers, but Shafer doesn’t think any of those sellers were looking ahead to...