Comments on: When Ads Feel Wrong Official blog of Red Sweater Software Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:11:22 +0000 hourly 1 By: Curt Wed, 09 Nov 2011 05:28:24 +0000 “Keep in mind, the ONLY costs you don’t have for electronic over print are those directly related to printing and shipping. ”

Well, yes. That’s the point. Those of us outside the industry are suspicious of the costs levied when we know that no paper or ink is purchased, handled, stored, distributed, and the attendant costs associated with the labor force to do these things are not associated with e-versions. We may be incorrect, but we presume electronic distribution is cheaper. Intuition my be wrong, but it seems a logical presumption to make.

Further, one of the early points is that the product I buy electronically is convenient, but it isn’t the handsome glossy copy that sits on my coffee table or in my office. It’s ephemeral. Consequently, I read it and it’s gone. Disposable. I do not like spending as much on such – there’s more than just the information content of the item at issue. Keeping the glossy copy about is part of the purchase price and attendant experience.

It was said early on: the environment the e-work is offered in is different as well. Online readers are used to getting a great deal for free or for a minimal amount. these days, $5 a copy is a nontrivial amount for editorial content online – with or without ads. Ads on top of a relatively high single issue cost do not sit well. And publishers may wish to condescend,but ultimately each purchase decision is the result of a cost benefit analysis. What consumers tolerate in the print market, they are proving less accepting of in the electronic market. Whether our rationale is sound isn’t precisely the point: our decision to purchase or not will be based on market forces. Instructing me that I should pony up $5 an issue for your gold-plated, prize winning periodical plus endure annoying ads when I can get admittedly less shiny content for much, much less makes the buy/not buy decision easy for many of us. Publishers’ disdain notwithstanding. Is the journalistic content less? Perhaps. There will always be those who choose first class over coach. Publishers are gambling there will be enough of them.

My suspicion is especially strong of e-book publishers who charge near-hardback prices for books they needn’t print, bind, warehouse or physically distribute.

By: John C. Welch Sun, 06 Nov 2011 18:19:43 +0000 Wait, wait Mike, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t use the “They’re only feelings” argument, then accuse everyone who doesn’t agree and brings up specific points as being dismissive of them.

They aren’t dismissing his feelings they’re disagreeing with them for the most part. (personally, I could care less about his feelings. If you want a problem solved, give people more to go on than suggestions based on ignorance and “feelings”. Otherwise, accept your problem will never be solved other than via luck.) But the “right” to publicly state your feelings does not carry an accompanying right to have everyone agree or not rebut them. Marco can feel however he likes, but when he repeatedly admits he has no idea about the thing he’s talking about and keeps saying things that to the people who do know are literally ignorant, it is not being dismissive to say “wait, wait, you don’t appear to know what’s going on, and ignored foo, bar, and n”

it’s even more silly when the same people who are decrying this “dismissal” of Marco’s feelings then, in a completely blatant way, dismiss the points of view of the people who do know the industry as being immaterial and rooted in last-century thinking. What, dismissal is okay as long as you like it?

It further strikes me as quote hypocritical of someone who has pontificated on “how to talk to developers’ before, and said “don’t use loaded language” to then go and on one level accuse online publishers of unethical behavior, and expect to be taken seriously, especially, especially when he has said that if you use certain words regarding his product, he will ignore your problem and delete your email as soon as he sees them. Marco wants a rather large courtesy he is completely unwilling to return to others. (and yes, “double-dipping” is an accusation of unethical behavior. There’s no possible other way to take it. In fact, in some stuations, it is actually criminal behavior. It’s hard to get more loaded than “double-dipping”)

Marco can have any feelings he wants, but if he’s going to discuss them publicly, then he needs to get very comfortable with disagreement, and stop acting like opposing viewpoints are somehow stupid, ignorant, or deliberately ignoring his points. So do a lot of his supporters.

By: Thi Wed, 02 Nov 2011 14:08:14 +0000 MikeP, no one is saying the publishers should respond with “But you didn’t htink of this.” In fact, the publishers have never said that!

At issue is that Marco and David both say that having ads on subscription apps that we pay for is wrong. The reasoning they give is aking to “just because”. Or in other words, the reasoning they give is that “it feels wrong.” That’s as far as they go. They don’t make an argument for why it feels wrong. On this blog, they are writing to at least give some convincing views and simply saying “it feels wrong” isn’t a reason.

Or, if you want a simulation of how I too can respond with a “It feels wrong” try this for an experiment. Ignore the above paragraphs I read and now read the folllowing as if I were responding to you anew:

“MikeP, I don’t agree with your remarks to me and it’s just because it doesn’t feel right. End of story.”

[Is THAT simulated reply a satisfactory response to YOUR comments, MikeP?]

By: MikeP Tue, 01 Nov 2011 02:46:58 +0000 Thib, when somebody says “this doesn’t feel right” and the response is “but you didn’t think of this,” yes, that IS saying “your feelings are invalid and here’s a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t feel that way.” Of course, Twitter is a lousy place to have a reasoned debate in the first place. But one thing publishers COULD have done is said “Marco, we understand, here’s some of the reasons why,” rather than saying “Gee Marco, you didn’t think of X, Y, Z.” Or:

‘How about the content, and the wages of the people who write the content, and who design the app?”

Yeah, *that’s* a productive response. “Hey Marco, you’re stupid, you didn’t think of these REALLY OBVIOUS things!”

John, I’m confused. You initially seemed to be arguing that “bandwidth is not a fixed cost at big boy rates” and now you’re arguing that since it’s unmetered, it’s horrendously and ferociously expensive and that anybody who disagrees with you plainly hasn’t thought of that. I said precisely that. And yes, hosting and site design aren’t cheap. Neither is professional graphics design for printed matter. But I suppose you didn’t think of that, since you didn’t mention it specifically. You now appear to be arguing that both are expensive. Nobody questioned that in the first place. But hey, you didn’t mention management overhead in either case, office space for both, benefits for employees, and so on. So your whole argument is destroyed.

In case you didn’t catch on, that was sarcasm.

With that out of the way: yes, both print matter and internet distribution are expensive. Marco’s argument was it felt weird that it was $4.99 for an ad-laden online copy (vs $4.99 for an ad-laden print copy). Are you asserting that both are precisely the same cost to the manufacturer to deliver to Marco? If so, why didn’t you just say that in the first place and avoid the derailment?

By: Thib Mon, 31 Oct 2011 15:12:12 +0000 I’m one with John C. Welch with regards to how he talks about the problem with the “it feels wrong” argument.

I don’t think publishers (or me) are saying your feelings are wrong. Rather, the problem is simply stating that it feels wrong doesn’t help either you or the publisher figure out how to get it more right. In a way, leaving a position at the level of “it just feels wrong” is like a baby crying or throwing tantrums. The parent has to figure out what’s wrong with baby (does she need a pacifier? diaper change? more food? too hot? too cold? fever? sick? cuddle? what?).

While we can expect parents to try to figure out their babies, we cannot expect publishers or developers to simply get any meaningful information from users who simply throw a tantrum and say “It feels wrong!” Publishers and developers are not parents. Users who “feel it’s wrong” are not babies, or at least should not be.

By: John C. Welch Mon, 31 Oct 2011 11:36:52 +0000 On the bandwidth thing: the difference is, you only pay for what you print. With bandwidth, you pay for it, use it or not, and it is not cheap. Nor is high-quality hosting. Nor is professional site design and administration. Those costs never go down.

But i’m sure, they don’t really count.

By: John C. Welch Mon, 31 Oct 2011 11:35:26 +0000 Here’s how the “Deal with my feelings or I leave” argument looks to people trying to do that:

I’m a bartender, and you walk into the bar. You say “Give me something to drink.” I say “Well, I need a little more information. Alcohol, no alcohol, what kind of alcohol, etc.” You say “It’s your job to make the drinks, not mine. You make a drink I want, I’ll pay a “fair price” for it. Otherwise, I’m leaving.”

The only sane response is to point at the door and say “Sorry. I can’t read minds, and drinks have a fixed cost regardless of your opinion of ‘fairness’.”

You don’t like ads. You don’t want to pay more than what, $.99US for anything. You don’t want to give out any information that will help the publishers maybe create better content. You aren’t actually willing to clearly articulate what you do want, but you will point at random attempts and say “not that”. You won’t say MORE than “not that”.

So EXACTLY HOW IS ANYONE SUPPOSED TO GET IT RIGHT? You’re talking about millions of people wanting publishers to somehow not ever read minds, but *interpret feelings* for each of them, and somehow run professional content for a dollar. WIth no ads. Except sometimes. As long as they aren’t actually visible. Or barely visible. And don’t ever track any behavior with regard to ads.

What you seem to want is STALLMAN’S model, where the content creator is funded by the government based on the cube root of their popularity, or something similarly stupid, it’s the only model that will ever serve the range of completely non-specific, unarticulated “feelings” that you want people to invent business models to serve.

To anyone trying to implement that, you all look like a pack of loons who should not be allowed near anything sharp or heavy, and certainly not a kitchen.

And rather a lot of you are developers. If everyone submitted bug reports the way you’re talking about “how you feel”, you’d be deep into a bottle in minutes. “It’s broken, fix it.”

yeah, you can do a lot with that.

By: MikeP Sun, 30 Oct 2011 23:00:34 +0000 John, most high capacity business links are unmetered and contracted. You pay a flat rate for XGbps per month. You pay the same per month for 1 bit or however many gigabytes maxing that out works out to. The costs are, as you say, tremendously high as compared to a Dreamwidth account or most VPSes, but it’s the same as if you published 10,000 books and sold 1,000 – the bandwidth is a sunk cost, you don’t recover that by just using less.

Regardless of the logic (or lack thereof) of Marco’s argument, the publishers are idiots if they say “your feelings are invalid.” They are what they are, and showing no empathy while demanding it in return is generally a piss-poor way to make an argument, regardless of what Thin or Total think.

Wes, I’ll tell you where I go. I’ve largely opted out of media, for lots of reasons besides advertisement. That actually is a minor reason, but I’ll hang my hat on it for this argument, given that my eyes are largely lost to advertisers now.

I’m with the folks who say that the ads in online publications *feel* more intrusive. Ask me to say why, I can’t tell you. It doesn’t matter, because I can tell you that I don’t like it, and if your business is predicated on delivering those ads to *me* and others like me, you’re eventually going to fail. If you don’t care, then quit trying to convince me and spend your energy on trying to sell better to those who aren’t like me and Marco and quit insulting us.

By: Jay Sun, 30 Oct 2011 14:02:04 +0000 Marco is right in that it “feels” wrong. I cancelled my New Yorker iPad subscription, in part, for that reason. It’s well done and well laid out but somehow “feels” more intrusive than in print.

I also think part of the wrong “feeling” is that so much content on the web is free (as in ad supported) and the general price of apps in the app store, which gives (one hopes) a useful experience much longer than one copy of a magazine, are priced below $4.99.

I certainly don’t wish to imply that publishers shouldn’t make money or that their products are over-priced. Marco’s point that I think many miss is simply that given the price structure of much e-content $4.99 feels like a lot for something where nearly every other page is an ad (as in the New Yorker).

By: David Sun, 30 Oct 2011 12:23:01 +0000 What about income? If it costs me $4 million to publish a magazine and I want to cover costs, I can either charge $4 million and hope to sell one copy, charge $1 and hope to sell four million copies, or sell the same magazine for twenty-five cents to 16 million people.

If you price yourself too high, you’re not going to reach maximum distribution, which is silly in the digital age. Five bucks for a digital magazine, to me, says you will always be a bit player in the digital world.