DoGood – The Future of Online Advertising?

dogood I am totally pumped about this. I mean really. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about….

…a browser plugin.

Hot off the presses, the DoGooder plugin was released to the world this morning, and in my opinion, it IS going to change the way we think about online advertising.

The concept is deceptively simple. You install the FREE plugin, which takes about 10 seconds, (compatible with Safari, Internet Exploder AND Firefox) and suddenly, all of the ads in web pages you visit change. For the better (way better!).

You see, the ads don’t just change to anything. They change to everything that’s good – as their web site says,

“…thoughtful green initiatives, philanthropic calls for action, and health and wellness ideas to help make the world a better place.”

The ads are simple, clear and interesting. Things like “An urban garden is a pretty GOOD idea.” “Hugging a tree? Not so good. Planting one? A GOOD idea.”. The long term plan here is to also incorporate “green” advertising and ads for charities. For now, the wonderful messages just make me feel GOOD. And that’s a GOOD thing. And, you can keep track of the GOOD ideas you are seeing as you browse – a small icon in the lower corner of the browser window diligently keeps count of the GOOD you’re doing.

The best and most brilliant part of the DoGooder plugin is that 50% of all of the profits from DoGood go directly to charitable organizations. Yep. The guys at DoGood are not only promoting doing good – they are DoGooders themselves.

Now before you start jumping up and down and saying “but wait – they are REMOVING ads from my page? Can they get away with that?” – this plugin is totally adaptable to your browsing needs. At any time you can right click on a page and see the actual ads on the page, or exempt a web page from DoGood. You can also email them directly and suggest a new cause to support.

So how does this potentially change advertising? Well, until the Web, advertising was a forced thing. As a consumer of media, I have no say in who advertises on the TV shows I watch or radio programs I listen to. Even on the web, I don’t typically get to decide which ads I see. With tools like DoGood, the choice is put in the hands of the consumer, which is great for the consumer, but also a tremendous opportunity for advertisers. They can target messages directly to the people who are interested in seeing them. If I’ve installed the DoGood plugin, it automatically means I’m interested in seeing messages with an environmental or philanthropic twist. Now, the advertiser KNOWS they have a captive audience.

I wish the guys at DoGood all the success in the world with this project – they are the very definition of changing the game.

Download the plugin here – and start doing some GOOD.

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Patrick Denny
Patrick Denny

I'm not entirely sure NYTimes (a major ad driven site), EA Games (a major online advertiser) or Google (the largest ad network) are all that interested in sharing their pie.

Faisal Sethi
Faisal Sethi

Sure. But I believe the paradigm is about to shift. :) I suppose I work outside the capitalist infrastructure/mentality on some level-- if I lose "potential future revenue" which is completely obtuse, it is of little concern to me. If I am splitting a pie with someone-- I don't think " I am losing HALF of my pie", I think" Half that pie is mine, cool". Naive, perhaps. So be it, I suppose. Thanks for the great debate. Remember, at the end of the day, DoGood Headquarters is about allowing anyone to donate money to charity without spending a dime, nothing more, nothing less. Simply, Faisal

Patrick Denny
Patrick Denny

A few things you're (in my oppinion) a little off on You: 1) Publishers still get paid (no ads blocked)– majority of their end users still see intended ads Me: Many ad programs only pay for -- or at least pay substantially more for -- click throughs. Unseen ads don't get clicked. It's still, in the eyes of a site owner, a loss of "potential revenue". You: 4) Other brands/advertisers maximize impressions by eliminating eyeballs that don’t care about their products and services– still get their millions of eyeballs regardless Me: I guarantee you that most advertisers won't see it that way. They'll see it as paying for ads that didn't get *any* eyeballs. (the ones under your ads). And on some high traffic sites, those impressions can be surprisingly expensive. Advertising isn't about preaching to the converted. It's about attracting new business. Advertisers *WANT* as many eyeballs as possible seeing their ads, "interested" or not. Yes they may be targeting to specific sites, but that doesn't mean they want you (and it will be seen as you) indiscriminately deciding who in that target audience gets to see their ads. Ads they just paid to be shown to that user. Ad blockers are, for the most part, tolerated because they don't incure cost on unseen ads, they just don't load them. You do incure those costs. you are, in their eyes, depriving them od "potential revenue". And as far as the ad distribution networks: I'm sure they'll see it as you screwing them too. they now cannot properly calculate thte true impression/click-through metric as you are downloading content that doesn't get displayed to the client. And what if other, similar, projects like this come up. If every, or even some, users out there are just covering up a site's ads with their own, then devalues the market for in-site advertising. You may not think you're affecting their bottom line, and most likely you really aren;t. But what you are doing is affecting their "potential earnings". now and in the future. And "potential earnings" have a way of being FAR FAR more expensive than actual ones. You may think its "they won't care. It's just a few ads", but ask anyone that's been sued by the RIAA for downloading "just a few songs" how well that argument went over.

Faisal Sethi
Faisal Sethi

And of course, my previous post was in retort to Peter, not Patrick, although I still thank you both. Getting tired ;) Patrick, I do agree that there will be people out there that have very similar reactions to you initially. To paraphrase the great Hugh Prather, I'd rather be hated than ignored. If am hated, then I know I am making a difference. To reiterate, we do not alter web pages at all (unbelievable eh?). On a surface level, to an end user, the site "appears to be different". Perhaps we are just debating semantics here. Agreed, most advertisers and publishers make their money from click-throughs, not impressions, but generally speaking, DoGooders would never click on the ad to begin with. As I mentioned previously, this could be a GOOD thing for advertisers (pun intended)-- eliminate the eyeballs that never cared to begin with, and focus on your primary target. In addition, there are 400... 500 million odd internet users on the planet? DoGooder will inevitably represent a very small portion of these users, ultimately resulting in little or no effect on most of brands/advertisers/publishers bottom lines. But, the impact on charity / green causes? Grand indeed. Seems like a pretty good trade off, no? The Superbowl analogy, interesting. My guess is though, if 30,000,000 people went the The New York Times, and 100,000 had the DoGooder plug-in installed, not sure the NY Times would care, but whom am I to say for sure? Thanks Patrick. Great insight. Dialogue, all about dialogue. It's how we can improve, progress and work things out. Soooo good. Good on you, Faisal

Faisal Sethi
Faisal Sethi

Peter, Very thoughtful and insightful comments. Perhaps the complexities of an end users likes and dislikes are also more complicated than either of us know as well. Sure, the general demographic of people that watch Grays Anatomy might find a tampon commercial useful, unfortunately, I do not. But, I can concede that the general demographic of Grays Anatomy might USE tampons, so the television show has in effect aggregated a general audience, and advertisers might be able to introduce a new peripheral product to them. Yes, end users have choices (what's wrong with one more?), but how many people do you know still complain about TV commercials and banner ads? Television is interesting-- seems everytime you turn the channel during a commercial break, every OTHER show is also on commercial break. :) The VCR debate is a loose parallel, agreed. This is how I perceive the players involved in the DoGooder are effected (at a high level): 1) Publishers still get paid (no ads blocked)-- majority of their end users still see intended ads 2) End users control what, when, and where they see campaign content, generate revenue for charities, learn about green living tips and gain a level of awareness about important social causes that they would have had to go looking for previously 3) LOHAS advertisers gain a large and growing demo of users interested "good stuff"-- not just the small group that go to LOHAS oriented sites 4) Other brands/advertisers maximize impressions by eliminating eyeballs that don't care about their products and services-- still get their millions of eyeballs regardless Is the above a fair assessment? We will be very vigilant in the types of ads we are serving-- listening to our end users and implementing their feedback. If content generators attempt to use the tech for a different purpose, the end user would simply not install "their version", or simply install ours. Choice is theirs and theirs alone, and that is a wonderful concept. As always, thanks for the intriguing dialogue. The debate can, and will, rage on I am sure, but in the end, perhaps we are missing the focal point: charitable organizations, people in need, perhaps a planet in peril, are all going to benefit greatly from the DoGooder, and in my humble opinion, that is good for EVERYONE. Take care Patrick. Good on you, Faisal

Chris
Chris

I'm with Teresa - I like that this re-focuses advertising discussion. I take Peter's first point that legislative support for this may not be set-up - we're still struggling with the social media explosion as well. I like that I have choice over my ads though and that we're talking about advertising again rather than being passive audiences. Add that to the fact 50% of the profits are going to good causes and suddenly I have one of those 'this is a good thing' feelings. :) [rq=827433,0,blog][/rq]Advertising YOU choose – for a good cause

Patrick Denny
Patrick Denny

I'll admit I may have been too harsh in judging your intentions, but I doubt I'll be alone. To be clear (and I wasn't initially clear from my previous comment -- I apologize), I am not comparing you to the evil that was Gator. I was highlighting an (apparent) similarity in their act of replacing in-site ads, and pointing out how it was reacted to by large content providers. Remember, web ads do rely on click-throughs to really convert to cash, and while you may not replace ads, you do obscure them. You must, (I'm assuming here) still alter the site somewhat by adding your ads "on top", no? I think you may be looking at some pretty strong objections from site owners and their advertisers (as well as the ad delivery networks). Many of whom have very deep pockets. Yes, I agree that you are much more above board on this, in that it is a voluntary choice on the part of the end user, and that you are upfront about the plugin's "true" intentions. But the differences are nuanced. And Gator left a VERY nasty taste in a lot of people's mouths. Anything even slightly similar will be met with large amounts of suspicion. Keep in mind that Gator didn't start out evil. It originally was a handy little tool that kept track of info you typed into form elements for you. It was initially 100% voluntary. As I recall, it was even lauded as a boon to power users originally. It wasn't until later, when it's functionality was being emulated natively within browsers and by other plug ins, and it's business model proved flawed (or, quite possibly, it's true business model came into effect) that the truly evil practices (hidden bundling with other apps, etc) started popping up. As an aside, it is a little dis-ingenuousness to compare yourself with the VCR ("fast forwarding" ads) since that analogy would be closer to an ad blocker. What you are doing, essentially, is the same as what a Canadian cable station does when it rebroadcasts the Superbowl, and other American feeds. You're putting your ads on top of the existing ads. This is something American advertisers have attempted to stop. Besides, the "fast-forwarding of ads" (or more specifically -skipping) thing is still a point of very sore contention with advertisers. They've gone after PVR manufacturers pretty harshly. That fight is far from over. Also, analogies are nice and all, but the law seems to change drastically once the words "on the internet" are applied. It's allowed many common business practices to become patentable. It's made certain, normally small-time, crimes (like "trespassing") suddenly be worth millions in damages. I wish you luck in your enterprise, but will -- for now -- refrain from installing it.

Peter Childs
Peter Childs

Faisal - The relationship between content and advertisements is more direct than you let on. The purpose of content is to assemble an audience - and advertisers what that audience to similar to their market - but not identical - because otherwise they'd only be speaking to known customers. Consumers understand this and will break from content if the advertisements do not fit with their perceptions of what is acceptable with that content. Users of media with advertisements have a choices already - they can view the material & ads in the case of mags, papers, or not. For TV & radio they can use the time the ads run to skip to other channels, or if it's recorded fast forward through it. In neither case can they chose to substitute one set of ads for another (which is why the VCR example is moot). The technology you have is interesting - but I expect that it will end up in the hands of content generators - letting them target ads - not as a browser function purported to be user controlled but requiring 3 seconds of consent and little control of what shows after that. Due diligence in a case like this would require very deep pockets, and likely opinions from legal scholars and supreme court judges - in several jurisdictions, because the issue is exceeding complex - and the balancing of consumer and content provider rights not straight forward and because of the webs international distribution - action can come (repeatedly) from anywhere. [rq=827335,0,blog][/rq]Corn&Brocolli Soup

Teresa Basich
Teresa Basich

While I see Patrick's logic, I see this is bringing a little more attention to online advertising. This plug-in adds fosters the awareness of ads that I think many of us lost since online advertising became so prevalent. At least with this plug-in, if you've made the decision to download it you probably have some care for the DoGood movement and will be more aware of the ads you do see on the pages you view...which might even motivate you to right-click on the pages you look at and actually VIEW the hidden ads and maybe click on them. It's all about bringing back awareness to online advertising and I like it. Yes, there's a place to see how it's not the cleanest of practices, but it seems as if this will make people pay attention to online ads again. It's a step in the right direction. [rq=826926,0,blog][/rq]The Difference Between “Like”, “Respect” and “Value”

Faisal Sethi
Faisal Sethi

Peter and Patrick, Thanks for your comments, criticism and concerns. Thankfully, we have done our due diligence and have addressed these very issues. DoGood Headquarters isn't in the business of shafting people, we are in the business of doing good. Any story can be spun in a negative or positive, I suppose only we and we alone can know our true intentions. Such is the nature of the media, I suppose. To quickly address the above concerns: 1) The DoGooder does NOT block ads from sites. Publishers still get served and paid for the underlying advertisements that are served to web sites. If you have a site that is related to a green initiatives or a charitable foundation, we have built in a white list into our algorithms that allows said web sites to be exempt from the DoGooder entirely as a standard function (no need for end user to choose). 2) The DoGooder in no way effects or alters, in a literal sense, the underlying code or assets of a web site or its contents. 3) The argument above states that a lot of content on web pages is developed to support the ads that are served on said sites. This is a fundamental paradox in advertising. The current model suggests that end user "X" will be interested in product "Y" simply because they are reading/interacting with a web site (or watching a TV show, or listening to a radio program, or reading a section in the newspaper). Brands/advertisers "blanket" a large portion of the population with campaigns with hopes of reaching those very few that are actually interested.This, an I am generalizing, is usually not the case. I go to Sports Illustrated everyday, and I assure you, I have no interest in buying a Brett Favre bobble-head. The other paradox-- most of my time online is spent on sites that I read for information, entertainment, or social interaction. When is the last time I have seen a campaign supporting a green initiative, or charitable cause, or product that will improve my life? I can't even recall, but I am undoubtedly, interested in said things. The problem, and it very well might be my own, is that I generally don't go to these sites on a regular basis. I think there are a lot of people out there just like me. 4) Gator's entire practice was malicious from the beginning. Essentially, and do correct me if I am wrong, Gator was "packaged" with another software, and upon downloading it, and end user would now be presented with pop up banners over top of other advertising on web sites with ads served from Gator. They did not CHOOSE to use Gator, at least in it's early iterations, and in most cases never even new it was installed. As well, Gator ACTIVELY sold ad placement to advertisers suggesting they would be on "The New York TImes", or "MSN" or whatever, this was false. In, addition, I believe there was some behavioural targeting involved that would track an end users surfing habits and then serve ads accordingly. In turn, Gator would often serve and ad that was in complete conflict with the site in and of itself. For example, and end user would go to the HomeDepot site, and then would be served a pop up ad for Rona covering up the the site! That, my dear friends, is "scummy", no? 5) What about all the brands and advertisers getting shafted by good ads? Well, perhaps you would like to share your environmental policies with the legion of DoGooders, or maybe your brand is doing something really great for hunger-- share that with us, and develop a positive association with your brand and do some good along the way (kindly do not take this as an arrogant attempt to say "join us or lose out"). In addition, and perhaps more importantly from a brand/advertisrs perspective, the DoGooder effectively helps you maximize your valuable impression counts and ad space buys on sites by eliminating eyeballs that could really care less about your product. You will still get your impressions, just not from people who have no real interest in you, your product, or your services. Interestingly enough, in a pseudo-similar parallel, back in the late 70's or early 80's, advertisers took VHS to court because the technology allowed end users to "forward through commercials". Guess who won? Publishers, brands, advertisers, here is a novel idea: trust your end users. In the end, although interesting to dissect, the relatively small user base for the DoGooder will have little or no effect on most publishers, advertisers and brand's bottom lines, but it will (hopefully) have a MASSIVE impact on charitable causes, and there is something very cool about that. If there has to be winners and losers in this context, I cannot say for sure if DoGood Headquarters will win or lose, but I feel pretty good that I am playing on the right team. Many thanks for your comments and criticisms. The only way we can do better, is to have open dialogues about any and all things. Sorry for any typos, or misconstrued thoughts, busy day today. :) Good on you, Faisal Sethi

G-reg
G-reg

Exciting idea. I'll be following this company to see how it all comes out. While I think the future of advertising does lie with a targeted approach, my concern for DoGooder is potential legal problems WRT removal and replacement of ads on a website. While, to my knowledge, there's not been any action against companies that develop ad blocking tools, it will be interesting to see how website/content owners or media companies react to having ads that generate revenue for them replaced. This is still the wild, wild, Web though and I look forward to see how this ends; best of luck to DoGooder. [rq=826317,0,blog][/rq]G_reg: @SuzeMuse I'm already done with season 2

Patrick Denny
Patrick Denny

So, These DoGooder guys hijack a site's ads and take 50% of the profit from their new ads for themselves and leaving the site owner -- who's already making meagre pennies from the ads in the first place -- with even less. Unless, by some grace of god, the visitor manually decides to view a site's ads themselves. There are already methods to remove ads from the internet. Several in fact. Methods that don't involve having a company syphon off profits for themselves. If these guys were truly altruistic, they'd have open sourced the project and given away all the profits. I'm sorry, but it's a scummy practice. It may be voluntary on the part of the end user. It may me wrapped in a nice little "helping out charities" bow, but it's still scummy. They're lining their own pockets on the backs of other site owners, and getting you to feel good about helping them do it. And I guarantee, they'll get sued. Beacause Claria software (ne Gator) did http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claria_Corporation The Gator software has in the past undercut the fundamental ad-supported nature of many Internet publishers by replacing banner ads on web sites with its own, thereby depriving the content provider of the revenue necessary to continue providing that content. In June 2002 a number of large publishers, including the New York Post, The New York Times, and Dow Jones & Company, sued Gator Software for its practice of replacing ads.[8] Most of the lawsuits were settled out of court in February 2003.

Peter Childs
Peter Childs

The issue is that a lot of web content is developed to support the ads the site places along with the content. Remove the ads and the content may go (just look at what is happening to TV and newspapers). Also there is the question of copy right - which may extent to the page not just part of the content. While this is a radical idea, and points to a networked content assembly model - the law and business models are not supportive yet. Like Napster it points to something bigger but my guess is it will be a casualty because of unresolved legal/business issues. [rq=826208,0,blog][/rq]Corn&Brocolli Soup