There Would Be No Ad Blockers If There Were No Bad Ads

By: Insight News

To give a speech stating that ad blocking can improve the online ecosystem in front of an audience of publishers, marketers and advertisers take quite a lot of guts.

This article is reproduced with thanks to Native Advertising Institute, a FIPP member. See the original article here. Jesper Laursen, CEO of Native Advertising Institute, will lead a panel discussion on native advertising at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017 in London, the UK. Meet him there.

Laura Sophie Dornheim, public affairs manager at Eyeo, which is the company behind Adblock Plus, got on stage and did just that at the Native Advertising DAYS 2016. Native Advertising Institute asked her about how the company responds to the industry's criticism and what makes a good native ad. You can sign up for notifications about this year’s conference -- which will be even more awesome -- here.

“Don’t annoy your user” 

“The question; how advertisers can make ads that users will accept is pretty comprehensively answered on our website Most importantly I think is the overall rule; don’t annoy your user.

So tone down the autoplay, the flash, the pop-up. We find that ads that are static, ads that do not get into the content, do not obscure the flow of the website are the ones that use — even ad blocking users — find acceptable.”

Why ad blocking can improve the online ecosystem

“We think ad blocking can approve the online ecosystem because if we look at the development of online advertising we see that it turned into this vicious cycle where users are annoyed by ads or they just don’t click them, so what advertisers do — and even publishers do because they have the same interest in making money — is to try to create louder ads, flashier ads, bigger ads in the hopes to get more revenue through that.

But what actually happens is that users are getting more annoyed, more users install ad blockers and it’s just getting worse. We believe that with our approach of blocking these annoying ads but letting through some acceptable ads we can actually improve the overall quality of the web and therefore also allow publishers and advertisers to be successful with some ads by working with the users instead of against them.”

The two most important criteria for native ads

“I think again the most important is trying not to annoy users but to show them relevant stuff. That’s the most important criteria for native advertising; that it should fit what users are looking at at this specific website.

The second most important thing for native advertising is that it should be clearly labelled as advertising; don’t try to fool your users. Users are smart and they usually don’t like if you try to trick them. It might work once or even twice but after the third time, they will install an ad blocker.

So if you have native advertising that’s recommending other articles to read try to be relevant, try to be clear about which one is a link to another article on the same website and which ones are actually native advertising. That can work and it’s proven by acceptance and click rates.

“We understand that publishers are under enormous pressure” 

“Our response to the criticism [of Acceptable Ads] from publishers is actually quite simple. Of course, we do understand that publishers are under enormous pressure in the online ecosystem; they are losing money from users that use ad blockers.

So we offer a compromise. We say, “OK, obviously you can’t continue like this because your users do not like it but if you work with us and if you try to follow the acceptable ads criteria you can regain some of that ad revenue that’s lost.

What we’re trying to explain to publishers is that we are not just working against them — like many of the ad blockers that block everything — but we’re trying to facilitate a compromise.

Of course, some will say we’re still part of the problem. But we say we’re part of the solution because there would be no ad blockers if there were no shitty ads, right?

So we really try to emphasise that we are the only ad blocker that has implemented such compromise and has various other projects where we try to find ways for publishers to make money off their content.”

Online advertising will be unchanged for years to come

“I think there are two answers to that. One is utopian; that we have very limited advertising that is only super relevant and that advertisers become so smart that they actually send me an ad for something that I really need like diapers for a baby because we just used the last one.

The second one which is the realistic one. I think — and that is also our opinion as a company — we will see online advertising pretty much unchanged for years to come.

Many users are OK with the current model of getting free content for seeing ads so I think the majority of advertising will just continue to develop like it is now.

But [eventually] the advertising industry will be forced to change their approach towards users and that’s where we come into play.”

Author: Insight News

Source: URL:

Will Voice Interfaces Like Alexa Deliver for Publishers?

By: Peter Houston

You probably can’t tell from my Publishing Executive blogs, but I’m Scottish.

Like most Scots, my heritage is a source of pride and I love it when people, mostly Americans to be fair, tell me they love my accent. For someone that grew up with their mother telling them to ‘speak properly’ that’s a great feeling.

Unfortunately, Amazon’s Alexa, appears to share my mother’s disdain for the way I speak. It doesn’t complement me on my accent, it doesn’t love my brogue, it doesn’t understand me half the time.

If you want to share my pain, take a few minutes out and watch these two hapless Scotsmen try to operate a voice-activated elevator. Be warned, they get quite angry and a little sweary.

I actually might be one of the worst people in the world to write about the rise of Voice User Interfaces in publishing, or maybe I’m one of the best. My frustrations are a sure-fire guarantee that I won’t be falling for the Start Trek inspired hype vortex that that currently swirls around voice technology.

Make no mistake – recent progress in the sector has been amazing. Between Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and a host of start-up apps, voice interfaces are developing at an astonishing rate. Capabilities and usage are soaring and a looming price war among the leading suppliers of voice controlled speakers will only speed things along.

Voice tech isn’t new – before Siri, Cortana and Alexa, there was Audrey, a Bell Labs system that could recognize single spoken numbers back in 1952. But the computing muscle needed to process voice commands no longer fills a room; it fits on a phone or a tiny desktop device thanks to Cloud processing.

Amazon’s Alexa has led the field to this point, especially in Europe, where the Google Home has only just launched. From a standing start in 2014, there are now more than 10,000 ‘Skills’ (think voice-controlled apps) available. Amazon doesn’t do sales figures, but it has expressed a desire to sell 10 million Alexa Echo devices in 2017. More broadly, analysis from VoiceLabs estimates that 24.5 million voice-driven devices will be shipped this year, up from 6.5 million in 2016 and just 1.7 million in 2015.

Early Days of Voice Applications

The fact that there are more and more voice applications being developed is a mark of the consumer interest, but unless you’re in news, don’t worry about missing the boat.

A survey conducted this time last year by Experian and Creative strategies shows Amazon Echo usage dominated by the commands ‘Play me a song’, “Set a timer or alarm”. The only area publishing activity features is “Read me the news”.

And even in news, publishers are having to curb their enthusiasm. An early entrant, possibly down to Jess Bezos’ ownership, The Washington Post quickly found that Skills are better for requesting quick-hit information. It gave up on trying to design voice interface to deliver detailed Olympic results in favor of basic information on medal tables.

It’s telling that the voice command “Tell me a joke” is 6th on the Experian-Creative Strategies popular usage list, less indicative of users need for a laugh as the relative simplicity of developing a ‘call and response’ style joke telling skill.

Microsoft designer Cheryl Platz explains this in a Medium post offering advice to would-be voice-interface designers. “These devices are all specialized for allowing customers to complete tasks using their voice – less of a conversation more of a request.”

Bezos himself has said the Echo’s Alexa assistant is “primarily” about using voice tech to simplify tasks around the house.

How Should Publishers Think About Voice?

The first thing is to think of voice as an experiment. 1950s prototypes aside, these are very early days for voice interface technology.

Publishers on the Alexa platform – most major newspapers plus publications that include The Skimm, Quartz, Time Out, and The Economist – are treating their efforts, rightly, as a test. They are going where their audience are to see if they can engage them there.

Second, echoing The Washington Post’s experience, most seem to be avoiding complicated Skills development for Alexa and opting for simpler “Flash Briefing” content. Like apps, more complex skills need to follow some level of logic to deliver from a range of content options. The Flash Briefing command is simply a trigger for a specific content package, like a news or weather update, usually running at about 90 seconds.

Third, don’t think of voice as a platform – think of it as just the latest content command and control system. From keyboard, to mouse, to touch screen, to voice interface — just one more way for your audience to activate your content.

Fourth, and at the risk of stating the obvious, voice interfaces work best with audio content. Looking ahead, AI might be able to deliver long-form text in an acceptable fashion, but as voice technology currently exists, it’s unlikely to replace reading. If you don’t believe me, ask Alexa to read one of your Kindle books — it’s far from easy listening.

It works extremely well, however, as a way to activate existing audio content (The Guardian’s Longread Podcasts for example) or custom made audio news or updates.

Fifth, don’t expect any revenue any time soon. As with so many bleeding edge publishing technologies, income doesn’t appear to be too high on the agenda.

For Amazon, there is a clear link to ecommerce, but surveys show shopping way down the list for actual usage, which suggests that the model has a ways to go. The most likely scenario for publishers is 10-second pre-roll style sponsor messages like those being trialled by VoiceLabs.

The company says customer response to the voice-first ads has been positive, spotlighting a 6-second ad unit for Insurance company Progressive that says: “Thank you for using our skill, which is brought to you by Progressive.” VoiceLabs CEO Adam Marchick told Forbes the company has tested the ad unit extensively, and there’s ‘no downside for brands’.

But Google Home, likely to favor an ad-driven model, has had a slightly less positive experience with early voice ad efforts. It had to pull a Beauty and Beast ad, with Engadget reporting negative customer response, writing, “Users didn’t pay $130 to get audio ads.”

Consumer Concerns

Other than unwanted ads, there are other worries that may stand in the way of universal acceptance of voice tech – the biggest may be privacy.

In January, technology strategist Shelly Palmer wrote in Ad Age about consumers ‘Willing Suspension of our privacy’. Basically, he wonders if the convenience of the voice interface will be enough for consumers to allow an always-on listening device into their homes. Amazon has reassured customers that it doesn’t store the ‘pre-processing’ audio Alexa is constantly recording, but what if microphones were hacked?

There are also concerns that voice output amplifies the fake news phenomena.

“Ask a question – Get an answer” seems fine unless the question is ‘”Are Republican’s Fascists?” and Google Home’s response is “Republican’s equal Nazis.” Whatever you think of the GOP, that answer, which Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land shared on Twitter, is not helpful to considered political debate.

We know all about the bad information on the internet, but the lack of context is a problem when the voice that reads you the news, tells you the weather, or manages your shopping list is also a direct conduit to every batshit conspiracy theory online.

The growth in device sales and Skills or voice app development suggests that consumers do see a value whether that’s an interface that works from the other side of the room or one that responds instantly to whatever pops into your head.

Ultimately, the success or failure of voice interfaces will depend on their ability to deliver. Can they make domestic chores easier? Can they discover and deliver quality content effectively? Can they learn to deal with my Scottish my accent?

Author: Peter Houston

Source: URL:

Environmental Improvements in the North American Pulp and Paper Industry

By: Phil Riebel

The North American pulp and paper industry has made great progress in reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade and at the same time have increased their use of certified fiber and support for sustainable forest management.

In the U.S., AF&PA members represent the spectrum of paper and wood products manufacturing and work on an ongoing basis with government agencies, communities and other stakeholders to employ advanced sustainability practices, which benefit the economy, the environment and society.[1]

In 2016, the recovery rate for paper consumed in the U.S. reached a record 67.2% and is approaching the AF&PA goal of 70%. Since 2001, recycling rates in the U.S. have increased by about 20% due to voluntary efforts by the pulp and paper industry and the increasing number of Americans who recycle every day.

AP&PA member pulp and paper mills produce carbon-neutral biomass energy on site that, on average, provides about two-thirds of their energy needs. As a result, their purchased energy use per ton of production was 8.1% lower in 2014 than in the 2005 baseline year. By advancing their use of combined heat and power and reducing energy intensity in the industrial sector, they are significantly improving their energy efficiency.

In 2014, AF&PA member emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) passed their goal of a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide equivalents per ton of production and were 16% lower than in 2005.  This significant reduction in GHGs was due to better energy efficiency and the utilization of less carbon-intensive fuels as well as the fact that the raw material, wood, provides a carbon-neutral biomass. By 2020, members are aiming to reduce GHGs emitted by their facilities by 20% compared to 2005.

AF&PA members support forest certification to ensure sustainable forest growth and harvesting and sound management of environmental, social and economic factors in our forests and have increased the amount of fiber procured from certified forestlands to 29% from about 23% in 2005. They have also increased their use of certified fiber which is a key tool to promote the legal and responsible sourcing of forest products that do not come from certified forests. Given that about 90% of the world’s forests are still uncertified, this fiber sourcing certification is key to encouraging millions of family forest owners to sustainably maintain their forests as forests and ensures that mills and manufacturers do not use illegally logged sources. Fiber procured by AF&PA members through certified fiber sourcing programs increased to 98% in 2014.

Member mills have lowered their water use by 6.5% since 2005 thanks to ongoing technology and innovation which enable water to be reused and recycled 10 times, on average, throughout the pulp and paper mill process.

The Forests Products Association of Canada (FPAC)[2] reported that the Canadian forest industry’s substantial cut in fossil fuel use between 2000 and 2013 helped reduce direct emissions by 44% and total energy use by 29%. While some of this decline can be attributed to the contraction of the forest industry during the economic slowdown between 2005 and 2009, about 95% of its reduction in direct GHG emissions is due to reduced use of refined petroleum products and natural gas. Increased use of waste wood from 49 to 60% also contributed to lower emissions and the forest sector’s ability to generate its own electricity, largely from bioenergy, has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels. The industry is working toward maximizing the operations of its co-generation facilities which will lead to future GHG reductions.[3]

Due to climate change, ranges for many tree species in Canada are expected to shift northward over the next 50 years. Because tree species have a slow natural migration rate, it is unlikely that they will be able to keep up with the projected climate shifts and may no longer be suited to their environment. This could reduce forest health and productivity and have related impacts on forest biodiversity. Given that hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest are regenerated annually in Canada, assisted migration of commercial tree species, or the human-assisted movement of plants and seeds to new and more suitable locations, could represent a relatively low-risk and potentially effective approach to introducing a degree of climate change resilience into Canadian forests in the future.

The Canadian forest products industry has reduced water use by another 3% since 2010. Air pollutants have declined by 52% and water pollutants by 70% since 2005 and toxins such as PCBs and dioxins have been eliminated.[4]

The recycling rate in Canada improved between 2010 and 2012 by another 4%. Canada now has one of the highest recovery rates of waste paper and packaging in the world at 73%.[5]

The North American forest products industry continues to work towards lessening its environmental impact and improving the long term sustainability of our forests.

[1] AF&PA, 2017

[2] Natural Resources Canada, 2016

[3] FPAC, 2014

[4] FPAC, 2015

[5] FPAC, 2014

Author: Phil Riebel

Source: URL: