Subscribe 2 WEB
Session Topic: Mozilla's "Suscribe the Web"
Notes-taker: Christopher Arnold
Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:
VRM day JB Piacentino presented Subscribe to Web (aka S2W)
How can we fund the web and empower users while considering privacy at the forefront?
Advertising has spurred innovation and free services without users paying (on the surface)
It reaches limits. There are tracking approaches that have taken a greater significance.
You’re seeing content being designed “around ads” This is termed “Native
Advertising” where the content is designed to change your opinion on a subject or get you to buy something.
This shows that the ad industry is trying to counterfeit content.
Users don’t see ads anymore. It’s called “Ad Blindness”. So the industry is extending their models further, typically with tracking. Users are reacting by installing ad blockers because they’ve had enough of it. A lot of users leverage ad blockers or tools to protect anonymity. Users are rejecting the model that funds the web. Meanwhile, users are still consuming the content while not paying any price for it.
Content creators are hurt if they depend solely on ads if users start to tune out. Would users be willing to pay the amount that ads typically derive for publishers? $12 in the US The ad tech industry shaves off a big cut of the revenue the publishers get. For $12 in overall spend through advertisers, a publisher might get $6. Ads are taking over content and changing how publishers serve content. Sometimes publishers make you click three times to read one article!
Mozilla is introducing a new experiment, a new kind of contract between a user and a publisher. For users, we want to let them have an ad free service in exchange for paying for the content they’re given. Users expect to have a commerce experience with a publisher. There are some rules around it. Member web publishers in S2W get more loyalty from the user. We want this to be an open system.
S2W works on a donation model in lieu of the typical ad placements. Users put a bit of money in a kitty that is allocated across the sites I visit over the month. Sites I visit get a voucher that is summed at the end of the month.
In exchange the publishers don’t need to serve ads to that user, don’t need to use tracking technology. And the publisher might offer other types of content to that user.
We’ve implemented it as a web-API. The publisher pings before they serve the page. They ask, “Is this user a S2W subscriber?” if so, they show an environment without ads served to the free group.
We want this to be an open system like the ad ecosystem so that any publisher can implement, and any other browser can use this too.
We issue IDs to the users and the publishers in the system.
Participants are in control. Should there be a mechanism to report sites that don’t act appropriately?
There might be a favicon that indicates the state of the web the user is on.
It needs to be a blinded token. You don’t want to know if it’s one identified user. Each transaction has a different ID so it doesn’t leak fingerprintable identifiers.
This is a little bit like Kickstarter. People want to put money to great publishers to see what they are going to do tomorrow. People donate to get good future content.
We think there is will to support subscription models.
This might be beneficial on the mobile device. This could be the next step. If you as a game developer could have a base of S2W users, you know that you’re going to get paid to do what you’re good at. Premium model still remains.
Perhaps we could enrich this experience with Gold, Silver, Bronze marketing approaches? Different levels of content? Maybe eventually.
We haven’t yet figured out how much context the publisher should get on the page load. We think users should be in control of what they share.
We are also going to be creating a directory of content that supports S2W, so users that want to be able to specifically find publishers that are supporting their preferences.
We want to improve return on investment to publishers who participate.
We are also concerned about web diversity. Ads work for the head publishers, less so the long tail sites. Obscure blues podcast blogs might just have 100 visitors per month. They’re not going to get anything from the ad model in terms of the scale they operate on.
We have to give users a way to favor a specific publisher for instance. A user needs to be in control of where their investment is contributed.
If sites are paid by the value they give end users rather than how much traffic they generate, a better web will result.
Part of what you’re paying for is not being tracked right?
Personalization isn’t tracking. I may declare my location because I need a local service. There needs to be a transparent offer to the user. This is essentially contractually agreed sharing of context-specific data sharing.
Verizon may track page views on your phone. But my expectation is that they provide phone service, not track my ads. Users will share information with web publishers if the benefit is direct and obvious.
Value of advertising is dropping. CTR is now .03%. People are fighting for shares of a race to the bottom. Let’s just try a different model. Let the customers be in control of the transaction.
User should choose the entirety of who gets their funds.
This is a way that you can build in the sustainable model for web publishers to participate in the web itself.
Many publishers don’t even know the tracking technologies that are sitting on their pages.
The weight of web pages is much higher than the content of the page that the user is after.
There was Mozilla Lightbeam that measured the different tracking attempts on users. If we’re optimizing for a fast web, we have to lighten the load. There needs to be a third option on funding web content.
We’re starting with experiments in Europe. We hope to learn how users engage with the system.
We want to learn of the value publishers will get on how it works. Next year we want to do broader deployments.
This is a bit like flattr. But for us this is about a transaction, not a straight donation. This is not a micro-transaction model. This avoids user fatigue. Donations take a lot of effort.