For the most part, television, radio, newspapers, and magazines have one thing in common. Advertising. That’s what pays the freight.
Whether it’s ads on TV or radio, or glossy ads in a magazine, or classified and display ads in newspapers, advertising pays for most of all that entertainment and information. The same holds true on the internet. For good or bad, advertising pays for web pages.
Safari 5’s Reader: Good Or Bad?
Regardless of whether or not you can tolerate advertising on web pages, advertising provides a balance—without ads paying the way, there would be far fewer web pages to view.
Apple’s Safari 5 web browser has a new feature called Reader which could change that balance.
Ad blockers for web browsers are nothing new. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Most Mac and PC users who browse web pages for information and entertainment don’t mind web page ads.
Too many ads on a web page can be distracting, of course—just as too many ads on TV or radio or print media can detract from the content. Reader is easy to use, reduces eye clutter, and provides focus. That’s good for the user. Reader also blocks an ad’s effectiveness, reduce the ad’s value to advertisers, and that’s bad.
How To Use Safari 5’s Reader
Reader is typical Apple. Just as Apple brought RSS feeds to mainstream Mac users with a single click, Apple upsets the advertising and content balance with a similar click.
First, you must have Safari 5. Second, notice the Reader button in Safari’s URL display. You should be able to see it on most web pages with content.
When you click the Reader button Safari scans the web page you’re reading, and creates a pop up layer page over the web page. It contains only the content of the web page, not the ads, site graphics, or other links.
Reader presents a page similar to this:
Think of Reader as distraction free reading. On most web pages, Reader works quite well. The pop up Reader page is instant. Even on longer articles which are spread across multiple pages, Reader can find the other pages, and bring them into the Reader pop up, sans advertising.
Click anywhere outside the pop up article page, and the page disappears. Click on the Reader button, and the article page pops up again.
Reader is good for the reader. Reader is not good for the advertiser who, indirectly, pays for what the reader reads. Ads no longer compete with content for your attention. They’re relegated behind the pop up page. Out of sight is out of mind.
Most web sites get revenue from advertising. Web page advertising usually comes two ways.
First, pay for a click. Click an ad and the web site gets money for the advertiser. Second, pay for a view. If the ad is viewed by a reader, the web site gets money from the advertiser.
Safari’s Reader puts a dent in both web page advertising methods, much as a DVR (digital video recorder) allows viewers to fast forward without first viewing the advertising within a television show.
Other browser ad ons can block advertising, block pop up ads, block Flash animation on a web page. Fortunately for web sites and advertisers, such extra functions are a tiny minority of readers. Most Safari users will ignore Reader. Let’s hope it stays that way.