Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Unnatracktive

Glenn Fleishman, for Macworld:

No matter your feelings about ads, it’s reasonable to be worried about and want to block sites that have no business — literally, it’s none of their business — tracking you, and to be angry at those feeding us malicious software and trying to coax our secrets from us. Some balance would be nice. Without it, readers will continue to take matters in their own hands.

The only reason content and ad blockers exist is because web ads and trackers became so pervasive, intrusive, and downright creepy. It took the control away from users and ultimately put it in the hands of advertisers, largely bypassing any control from publishers. Many, like iMore, found themselves fitting with the contextual advertisement status quo. Some found an opportunity to take it into their own hands in a respectable manner; others, like the Next Web, were dicks about it.

The rise of content and ad blockers has required companies to get creative about how they show us ads. Buzzfeed has mastered the art of “native” advertising on the web, but that also kinda sucks for readers because it feels deceptive. The short sponsor posts popular among many sites feel more honest, but they’re straddling a fine line between a clearly-marked sponsor post and a native ad.

It’s a hard question: how do you get paid on the internet in a way that feels respectful to readers? Is it as simple as clearly labelling sponsored content as such? Is there a better way?