How Naked Capitalism Leaves Advertising Dollars on the Table to Protect Your User Experience

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Last year, I ran a “Hall of Shame” of sites that would do, well, not anything, but some pretty bad things to make a buck, where by “bad” we mean causing readers to wince, or groan, or become frustrated, or take umbrage at the stupid, or in general react badly to stupid gimmicks coming between them and a smooth and clean reading experience. Of course, I’m talking about online advertising (and if you want to help us all avoid online advertising as much as possible, the tip jar is to your right). Advertising fads and follies come and go, and although some sites have upped their game, others have deteriorated, and horrid new technique have been invented, and so some exhibits in “The Hall” have been removed, and new ones added.

Naked Capitalism runs on a mix of revenues: your (very welcome, indeed essential) contributions, and advertising. As we say in the site policies:

Yes, we have it. No ads, no site. We don’t like the visual clutter any more than you do but treating this website like an enterprise rather than a hobby requires funding.

“No ads, no site.” Another way of putting this is that our budget for next year depends not only on this yearly fundraiser, but on what has turned out to be a reasonably predictable flow of advertising dollars (modulo one ugly episode that caused us to shift vendors). Now, we don’t wring every last nickel of advertising revenue from the site; in fact, we routinely turn down proposals from our vendor, and compared to many other sites, we’re quite restrained. And another way of putting this is that your contributions enable us to avoid even considering adopting methods that some might call, well…. unsound. (And another way of putting that: We don’t intend to fail in our mission of getting the bad guys because of a revenue shortfall.) Here are eight examples of advertising dollars we’re leaving on the table because taking those dollars would create a horrid reader experience for you. And we can leave those dollars on the table because we can rely on your contributions, whether of $5, $50, $500, or $5000. Click here to contribute!

1. Importantly, Naked Capitalism is not the Washington Post. You will never see “native content” —
advertising material styled to appear like it was editorial matter — at Naked Capitalism.

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2. Naked Capitalism isn’t Forbes. We don’t have a splash page, with an ad, that forces you to click a “Continue to Site” button to read your favorite content. (The Tip Jar is to your right.)

3. Naked Capitalism isn’t Alternet. Even at fundraising time, you can still read the site without being forced to click anything (although we would greatly appreciate it if, without further ado, you would click the tip jar to your right).

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4. Naked Capitalism is not Bloomberg. Naked Capitalism uses proper pages, and not (swipe-friendly) “infinite scrolling,” where when you scroll to the end of a post, you’re suddenly in the next post, where you don’t want to be. Now, at Bloomberg, some demonic force induced them put advertising blades between the posts, where you’ll always see them when swiping, whether accidentally or on purpose. And not be able to unsee them. (Please help us avoid seeing what cannot be unseen with the Tip Jar.)

5. Naked Capitalism is not The Onion, either, which does exactly the same thing as Bloomberg (and you can help avoid having Naked Capitalism turn into the finance equivalent of the new The Onion by clicking the tip jar that remains at your right).

6. Naked Capitalism is not Salon. We don’t put advertising “blades” in the middle of articles and force you to scroll past them (the tip jar has retained its position at right. We haven’t made it blink, or rotate, or pop-up, or follow your cursor round the screen).

7. Naked Capitalism is not The Atlantic. We don’t place a pop-up with a horrid, non-standard close box on the bottom of your screen, so that as you scroll through an article, it’s always there (to be fair, like our tip jar, which is, however, tastefully positioned out of your way in the sidebar to your right).

8. Finally, Naked Capitalism is (again) not Alternet, though they’re not the only sinners here. We don’t have slide-in pop-up boxes, again with horrid non-standard close boxes, that cover up your content and seek to build “Likes” in so-called “social media” (The Tip Jar, under the heading “Tip Jar,” is to your right, the “Donate” and “Subscribe” links are under the snow leopards (and you can also click the snow leopards).

* * *

Naked Capitalism can’t live without advertising. But we can — and have — avoided the worst of it. Thanks to your contributions! So please make one now if you haven’t already. And if you have already made one, why not make two?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

29 comments

  1. Dave

    Unlike most of the sites you link to, Naked Capitalism also doesn’t subscribe to whatever horrid online agency keeps recycling the same click-baity “Wardrobe Malfunctions” and “You Won’t Believe What’s Next?” shark-attack images. I really appreciate that. In fact, somehow (I assume through keyword searches), most Naked Capitalism advertising seems to be for the hapless institutions that are constantly being criticized in the actual articles. I really enjoy whatever wizardry is enabling (for example) the Wall Street Journal to currently subsidize this fundraising page for its competition.

  2. Katy

    This post gave me a chuckle. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek, NPR-style money beg at the end of each sentence. You hit the nail on the head pointing out how awful online ads are! My user experience on this site, especially on my mobile device, is excellent.

  3. HotFlash

    And I have never gotten one of those awful ads that starts audio immediately.

    That should be worth a dollar a day, anyway.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I couldn’t find one!* We don’t do those, either.

      * Adding, I think because I don’t go to the sites that do that any more, so they’ve lost my attention.

  4. Ignacio

    In the past, I used to buy newspapers (not everyday). Now I prefer contributing to a site like this.

    1. johnnygl

      In the early 2000s, i used to get the FT for $100 for about 6 months and i’d fall behind in reading and let the subscription run out and wait until it went on sale again.

      Now, NC gets my $100 and really deserves more.

  5. steelhead

    Thanks for the Alternet info. I quit FB 8 years ago and those slider ads are extremely annoying. I’ll be sending a check to NC & Water Cooler next week after my final monthly bills for October arrive.

  6. Arizona Slim

    This article should be mandatory reading for web designers (and digital strategists) everywhere.

  7. flora

    Thank goodness NC doesn’t bombard us with “ewwww, gross” ads, unlike several MSM sites. “Ewwww-gross-free” doesn’t have to mean “content-free” as NC so ably demonstrates. Thanks for reminding me of what I’m, uh, (not) missing when I come to NC.

    1. hunkerdown

      Some of NC’s content is shocking and disgusting enough (CalPERS). I’m still glad to pay for it and not be the product.

  8. Joel

    A great site being ruined by aggressive advertising: boingboing.net

    One good idea done well on boing boing is native commerce: they recommend a product (usually related to computer security) and disclose that they get an affiliate commission on it.

    OK, I’m probably being naive but I would greatly appreciate NC’s take on bank accounts and other financial instruments and would not have a problem with NC profiting off it even if that means the information can’t be unbiased.

    1. Yves Smith

      There are links in the post to it, plus you can find it on the upper right. You can click on the snow leopards or either “Donate” or “Subscribe” underneath.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Tip Jar can be found under the headline — reproducing it, here, not SHOUTING (much) — “TIP JAR,” tastefully placed in the right sidebar.

      Please tell me this was tongue-in-cheek….

  9. ChrisOnAnAirplane

    My contributions must sadly await my return from travel. But as always, thanks for all that you do here!

  10. timotheus

    Thanks for bringing to light why I find reading this site so respectful and focused. It’s easy not to notice how many annoying, insulting distractions and flashing strobe lights one must fight through to read an article on most sites these days. These advertisers may yet kill the goose with the golden eggs.

  11. Planter of Trees

    In-line advertising has become a plague upon Internet browsing, even on sites I used to regard as well-appointed publications (Salon, WaPo). I really can’t believe the trashy stuff they associate themselves with in this way. It undermines the credibility of their journalism. NC’s commitment to legibility is much appreciated.

  12. ChiGal in Carolina

    alright already! $100 in the tip jar, more than I can afford but much less than this site is worth to me.

    as always, a thousand thanks,

    ChiGal

  13. schultzzz

    I donated, finally. Keep “sticking it to The Man!”

    Seriously, the world needs more role models for what websites COULD look like if they were run for the benefit of the readers; otherwise crapification seems inevitable.

  14. Altandmain

    I donated some money.

    I don’t have that much cash these days, but I guess any little bit helps.

    Best of luck!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, any little bit really does help. First of all, it’s nice to have many, many, many little bits; that’s called a “long tail” and it means NC has a large social base. Second, Mark 12:41-44.

  15. Wukchumni

    I’ve been a longtime voyeur and a short time contributor to the comment section and i’ve always liked the cut of your jib…

    The proverbial check is in the mail, thanks!

  16. nonsense factory

    I still use the internet as if it was 1994 or so – haven’t bought anything, and whenever possible run Mozilla Firefox with Noscript installed so I can see all the scripts every website includes. Block them all, it causes some websites to crash but usually you can still see the text. If not, well, it’s not worth it. I’ve spent about $500 on online purchases since 1994.

    Let’s decommercialize the Internet! Get a real job, slackers.

  17. Richard

    “Please help us avoid seeing what cannot be unseen…” – laughed so quick I almost choked.
    I’d like to say that got me to the tip jar, but honestly I was headed there anyway.
    Have to say to Outis, that the piece you ran on the Juliana case has changed my life, and will change the lives of others. My K-8 will be starting a Climate Club soon (inspired by the Juliana kids), that will teach activism to 7th and 8th graders. Thank you so very much.

  18. Kevin Smith

    One more set of good reasons why I’m a long time donor.
    And a quite comprehensive checklist of things not-to-do on one’s website!

Comments are closed.