The world of online advertising has changed markedly in the past 22 years since the interwebs went public. From flashing GIF animations to full fledged videos and secretive tracking methods, advertising online went from bad to worse. Only worst is next.
Apple got into the online advertising business back a few years after the iPhone was launched, and after Google decided Android OS was lame and revamped the whole shebang to look and run more like an iPhone. Remember iAd? Exactly. The whole online ad business has changed so dramatically that view of us remember Apple’s attempt to compete with Google’s advertising business.
That Was Then
As it is with print and broadcast, most websites survive on advertising, few prosper. Apple made a decision to get out of the traditional app advertising business and shuttered iAd about six months ago. That may have taken some courage, but what some of us have known for a few years became obvious in Cupertino, too. Online advertising is a fool’s game, yet Apple incorporated advertising in App Store search results, and that has proven more successful, modeling Google.
Look around. Nearly every website you visit these days is packed with all kinds of in-your-face advertising that ranges from pop ups to movies and everything in between. But that’s not the half of it. What you cannot see is all the tracking scripts in the background that phone home to advertisers so they know more about your online viewing habits than you. A typical website page that might have 100k of text, can easily have 4-megabytes of advertising images and tracking scripts.
Is it any wonder that websites load so slowly on your browser; Mac, iPhone, or iPad?
Ev Williams is a smart, thoughtful guy. He co-founded Twitter and launched a social journalism platform in 2012 called Medium. Think of it as a blogging platform for people who think. And can write. Medium became a thing. A thing that needed revenue to survive. Unfortunately, Apple’s wisdom in getting out of the advertising business hasn’t caught on. Medium is troubled.
We realized we didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content. We had started scaling up the teams to sell and support products that were, at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model, not the transformative model we were aiming for.
Translation: It’s hard to make a buck on the interwebs these days because everyone is doing it wrong with click bait headlines, skimpy content, and ever more ads and trackers. The state of the online ad system is in peril.
To continue on this trajectory put us at risk — even if we were successful, business-wise — of becoming an extension of a broken system.
Advertising worked for print and broadcast media for generations because nobody could figure out if it was successful or not. To quote a longtime friend who runs a business that relies on advertising, “I know that half my advertising budget is wasted. I just don’t know which half.”
Online advertising is different than print and broadcast media because it relies on metrics. Wait. Doesn’t traditional media rely on metrics, too? Yes, but not as much. It’s more like guesstimate surveys than the click tracking brought about by the internet.
Something needs to change. There needs to be a new way of doing this ad business.
It is too soon to say exactly what this will look like. This strategy is more focused but also less proven. It will require time to get it right, as well as some different skills. Which is why we are taking these steps today and saying goodbye to many talented people.
Translation: We have to cut costs and try something different to make a buck.
It’s obvious in hindsight that Apple showed wisdom and discipline to get out of the advertising business.
For years Mac360 relied on a number of so-called advertising networks to pay the bills, including Google’s infamous AdSense. What happened over the years– we’ve been around since 2004– is simple. Readers began clicking ads less and that impacted revenue. A few Mac sites have gone out of business because the industry has become click bait happy just to get more readers who click on advertisements even less than just a few years ago.
In early 2016 we stopped all trackers on Mac360, and eliminated advertising that had nothing to do with Apple customers. The few ads we have on each page do not track you while you read. It’s a new age mixture of old fashioned display ads, classified text ads, and simple sponsorships. We hope the no tracker policy benefits your visit because our website loads pages among the fastest on the internet, and you’re not tracked while you read.
We hope you like the new policy and will visit a sponsor or advertiser during your visit.