Star Tribune

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mulad
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Re: Star Tribune

Postby mulad » October 6th, 2015, 1:01 pm

I've found the ad blocking conversation to be more interesting. While I also don't like the tracking aspect of ads (someone recently mentioned researching ignition lockouts for drunk drivers and then being bombarded with ads for legal assistance, which is a rather creepy issue to see), I've also had other issues.

First, online ads just feel much more intrusive than the ads you find in printed media. For newspapers in particular, most ads are black-and-white, and they generally fit between articles pretty well (though newspapers have existed for centuries and people have had a lot of experience trying to balance things out). Online ads are often in blazing color and may be animated, interactive, or make noise, which certainly force you to pay attention, but that drives people toward using the ad blockers more heavily.

Animated ads and others that use complex multi-layered methods for being included in other web pages also cause performance issues with my browser. Including ads on web pages often brings in a ton of extra JavaScript and other content that just doesn't need to be there. A lot of that is to try to track the visibility of the ads, which is kind of okay, but if my browser slows to a crawl, that's another reason to go to an ad blocker.

I'm not too concerned about network bandwidth these days, but ads can be fairly big files and cause a huge number of connections to a huge variety of web servers. Slow downloads have always driven people away from websites, so there should be a pull toward keeping ads as minimal as possible. That problem may sneak under the radar because the savvier users who would most likely complain are also the ones most likely to use ad blockers.

All that extra included content also brings security risks. Advertising networks are potentially delivery networks for malware, and I've never been very confident in the ad companies' interests in ensuring that the content they serve is safe for consumption. They'll say it's important if you ask, but it's hard to trust someone who has an inherent interest in tracking users and moving ad content through their approval pipeline as quickly as possible.

There's also the problem of ads pretending to be site content -- The thing that really pushed me over the edge into aggressively ad-blocking was when Facebook kept on having ads that included buttons that looked almost exactly like ones that were needed for maneuvering around the website (though the ads usually had green buttons instead of blue ones). Even in print, ads that tried to blend in too well were the ones that tended to bother me the most.

So here are a few of my preferred rules for ads (though some rules would be different for ads within videos):
  • Most ads should be text-only or in black-and-white
  • Most graphic ads should be plain JPEG files using <img> tags and a link (no JavaScript, no "embedding", no animation)
  • No auto-playing video content, and especially nothing that makes sound
  • Ad files should be small to keep load times short
  • Ads should be delivered from one source (not spread across a multitude of servers)
  • No repeating the same ad across multiple spaces on a single page
  • Ads must be dissimilar from true news content or other features of the website design
  • Ads in videos must take less than, say, 25% of the total play time of the video
  • Ads in videos must not prevent use of the pause or mute functions of the video player

kirby96
Union Depot
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Re: Star Tribune

Postby kirby96 » October 6th, 2015, 2:14 pm

mulad wrote: (someone recently mentioned researching ignition lockouts for drunk drivers and then being bombarded with ads for legal assistance, which is a rather creepy issue to see),

...a bit off-topic, but this reminds me of a particularly creepy thing that happened to me recently:

I'm pretty sure my work PC browser activity has been fingerprinted and matched to my home computer. A few weeks ago, I was doing some research at home, and the next day at work I got ads that popped up that were crazily specific to some really random stuff I had been searching for the night before (something like, "book your flight to Tacoma today!" or something). I've asked around and been told this is theoretically possible (simply match things like sites visited, perhaps order in which they are visited, time spent at them, geographic proximity, etc. and you can quickly get to a almost certain match).

Anyone heard of or experienced something like that?

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
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Joined: October 31st, 2014, 12:50 pm

Re: Star Tribune

Postby amiller92 » October 6th, 2015, 3:30 pm

kirby96 wrote:
mulad wrote: (someone recently mentioned researching ignition lockouts for drunk drivers and then being bombarded with ads for legal assistance, which is a rather creepy issue to see),

...a bit off-topic, but this reminds me of a particularly creepy thing that happened to me recently:

I'm pretty sure my work PC browser activity has been fingerprinted and matched to my home computer. A few weeks ago, I was doing some research at home, and the next day at work I got ads that popped up that were crazily specific to some really random stuff I had been searching for the night before (something like, "book your flight to Tacoma today!" or something). I've asked around and been told this is theoretically possible (simply match things like sites visited, perhaps order in which they are visited, time spent at them, geographic proximity, etc. and you can quickly get to a almost certain match).

Anyone heard of or experienced something like that?
If you're signed in to Chrome in both places, then yup, that will absolutely happen.

talindsay
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1536
Joined: September 29th, 2012, 10:41 am

Re: Star Tribune

Postby talindsay » October 6th, 2015, 3:56 pm

Or facebook, or Amazon, or Google, or Twitter, or, or, or. They all track you everywhere, and it only takes logging into one of those in both places once for them to make the link, but you're probably always logged into one or more of them on both computers. Nobody needs an IP address to track you if you give them something better - your username and password.

nate
Landmark Center
Posts: 296
Joined: February 26th, 2013, 2:01 pm

Re: Star Tribune

Postby nate » October 7th, 2015, 11:35 am

mulad wrote:I've found the ad blocking conversation to be more interesting. While I also don't like the tracking aspect of ads (someone recently mentioned researching ignition lockouts for drunk drivers and then being bombarded with ads for legal assistance, which is a rather creepy issue to see), I've also had other issues.

First, online ads just feel much more intrusive than the ads you find in printed media. For newspapers in particular, most ads are black-and-white, and they generally fit between articles pretty well (though newspapers have existed for centuries and people have had a lot of experience trying to balance things out). Online ads are often in blazing color and may be animated, interactive, or make noise, which certainly force you to pay attention, but that drives people toward using the ad blockers more heavily.

Animated ads and others that use complex multi-layered methods for being included in other web pages also cause performance issues with my browser. Including ads on web pages often brings in a ton of extra JavaScript and other content that just doesn't need to be there. A lot of that is to try to track the visibility of the ads, which is kind of okay, but if my browser slows to a crawl, that's another reason to go to an ad blocker.

I'm not too concerned about network bandwidth these days, but ads can be fairly big files and cause a huge number of connections to a huge variety of web servers. Slow downloads have always driven people away from websites, so there should be a pull toward keeping ads as minimal as possible. That problem may sneak under the radar because the savvier users who would most likely complain are also the ones most likely to use ad blockers.

All that extra included content also brings security risks. Advertising networks are potentially delivery networks for malware, and I've never been very confident in the ad companies' interests in ensuring that the content they serve is safe for consumption. They'll say it's important if you ask, but it's hard to trust someone who has an inherent interest in tracking users and moving ad content through their approval pipeline as quickly as possible.

There's also the problem of ads pretending to be site content -- The thing that really pushed me over the edge into aggressively ad-blocking was when Facebook kept on having ads that included buttons that looked almost exactly like ones that were needed for maneuvering around the website (though the ads usually had green buttons instead of blue ones). Even in print, ads that tried to blend in too well were the ones that tended to bother me the most.

So here are a few of my preferred rules for ads (though some rules would be different for ads within videos):
  • Most ads should be text-only or in black-and-white
  • Most graphic ads should be plain JPEG files using <img> tags and a link (no JavaScript, no "embedding", no animation)
  • No auto-playing video content, and especially nothing that makes sound
  • Ad files should be small to keep load times short
  • Ads should be delivered from one source (not spread across a multitude of servers)
  • No repeating the same ad across multiple spaces on a single page
  • Ads must be dissimilar from true news content or other features of the website design
  • Ads in videos must take less than, say, 25% of the total play time of the video
  • Ads in videos must not prevent use of the pause or mute functions of the video player
Interesting post. I agree that less-obtrusive ads would make the user experience much better on websites like the Strib's.

It raises the question to me:
Clearly a news outfit like the Star Trib will want its website to be as content-focused as possible, rather than ad-focused.

BUT it appears the Strib gets overruled on that desire, when you look at their website. So clearly, the ad buyers must demand gaudy ads because they get more clicks. That's what the internet gives everyone in the business - everyone can tell exactly what's effective. So how can any outfit that depends on ad revenue for survival keep any kind of control over their web content?

David Greene
IDS Center
Posts: 4748
Joined: December 4th, 2012, 11:41 am

Re: Star Tribune

Postby David Greene » January 14th, 2016, 2:38 pm

We canceled our Strib today. We just couldn't justify the environmental waste of getting three printed editions a week.

Three-day delivery: $203.84/yr
Two-day delivery: $164.32/yr ("special" rate)
Digital-only: $197.08/yr

That is utterly ridiculous!

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
Posts: 7897
Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Star Tribune

Postby mattaudio » January 15th, 2016, 12:34 pm

I got my renewal notice today. $197.08/year for online access. I got rid of Comcast last year (thanks, USI Fiber) so now this is the sole remaining transaction in my life where I have to bicker for a reasonable "promo" rate once a year. What a pain.

trigonalmayhem

Re: Star Tribune

Postby trigonalmayhem » January 15th, 2016, 12:49 pm

I refuse to give them a dime. They should have been more careful how they spent their stadium land-deal blood money if they're hurting for cash. Maybe they shouldn't throw journalistic integrity away if they expect to be taken seriously.

And also the ad networks are out of control and the strib works with some of the worse offenders. More reasons to avoid them like the plague.

billhelm
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 166
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 10:59 am

Re: Star Tribune

Postby billhelm » January 15th, 2016, 1:17 pm

mattaudio wrote:I got my renewal notice today. $197.08/year for online access. I got rid of Comcast last year (thanks, USI Fiber) so now this is the sole remaining transaction in my life where I have to bicker for a reasonable "promo" rate once a year. What a pain.
Does the bickering work? They've always basically told me to pound sand when I've tried to do this in the past. I haven't bothered to sub to them recently, since it's easy enough to reset cookies on the website with their stupid 10 article limitation. I also refuse to support their "paper is cheaper" business model where they often charge less for the paper version than digital to help their circulation numbers (many magazines also cling to the dying business model).

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1739
Joined: October 31st, 2014, 12:50 pm

Re: Star Tribune

Postby amiller92 » January 15th, 2016, 1:54 pm

I just use an "incognito" window in Chrome whenever I hit the limit (most, but not all months).

$200 a year is a pretty darn good way to ensure I keep doing so.

Didier
Capella Tower
Posts: 2418
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 10:11 am
Location: MSP

Re: Star Tribune

Postby Didier » January 16th, 2016, 12:28 am

You're more valuable as a print consumer who looks at print ads rather than a digital consumer who looks at web ads. It's a pretty simple concept, actually.

Dallas201
Block E
Posts: 13
Joined: December 14th, 2015, 11:42 pm

Re: Star Tribune

Postby Dallas201 » January 19th, 2016, 3:12 am

Didier wrote:You're more valuable as a print consumer who looks at print ads rather than a digital consumer who looks at web ads. It's a pretty simple concept, actually.
Also they have a bunch of coupons that do help save a few bucks every week. That's also kinda nice too, makes up for the big cost.

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Anondson
Capella Tower
Posts: 3977
Joined: July 21st, 2013, 8:57 pm
Location: Where West Minneapolis Once Was

Re: Star Tribune

Postby Anondson » June 25th, 2016, 10:09 am

As an experiment, I added StarTribune in Apple News. Maybe I'm missing something but I haven't hit the 10 story and out limit. Keeps letting me continue. So far.

grrdanko
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 140
Joined: December 21st, 2014, 3:14 pm
Location: Downtown

Re: Star Tribune

Postby grrdanko » June 25th, 2016, 7:26 pm

If you use an incognito tab. You won't have to worry about limits.

Didier
Capella Tower
Posts: 2418
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 10:11 am
Location: MSP

Re: Star Tribune

Postby Didier » November 2nd, 2016, 9:36 am


twincitizen
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Re: Star Tribune

Postby twincitizen » February 7th, 2017, 12:05 pm

I just cancelled again. When asked why, I told them straight up that $4/week (typically ~$50 charge for a 13-week renewal of online only) is too much and that the offers to re-subscribe are too good to refuse. I also complained that you can't cancel online...you must call in person to cancel a subscription or even turn off "auto-renew".

That said, I eagerly await the next tempting offer to get 26 weeks for $20 or something. If they would just charge a simple $10/month or $99/year or whatever for online access, I'd sign up and never give it a second thought.

P.S. I've been getting a physical paper for like 6 or more weeks now. Not sure why as I only have the online subscription... But I like it! Probably going to go with Sunday print + online when they beg me back.

MNdible
is great.
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Re: Star Tribune

Postby MNdible » February 7th, 2017, 12:42 pm

So, just to be clear:

$2.50 per week ($10/month) is reasonable, but $4 per week is unacceptable?

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
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Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Star Tribune

Postby mattaudio » February 7th, 2017, 12:56 pm

Glad to know MNdible doesn't mind 60% price increases, nor losing $78 a year for no reason. I bet Comcast loves you.

MNdible
is great.
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Re: Star Tribune

Postby MNdible » February 7th, 2017, 2:00 pm

As has been pointed out above, there are ways to work around the paywalls and get the Strib for free, so this isn't really an exercise in getting the best price. If you're paying for it, it's because you value you it at some level. Perhaps $4 per week really is too much, and I'd tend to agree that there should be a more significant discount for digital only vs. paper + digital.

But there are almost certainly things that we all waste $1.50 a week on that are less important than local journalism.

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mister.shoes
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Re: Star Tribune

Postby mister.shoes » February 7th, 2017, 2:01 pm

The NYTimes digital subscription is $1/week cheaper than the STrib. Just observing; not judging.
The problem with being an introvert online is that no one knows you're just hanging out and listening.


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