I’ve only ever clicked on one ad.
Congratulations to the Otter Box social media retargeting team, they reminded me to order a phone case that I’d meant to order for 3 months while I left my iPhone unprotected.
I am literally paying to see ads when up to 79% of a webpage’s size could be advertising and tracking codes.
Months and months of phone bills and overage all for the sake of that one single advertisement that might make it through and convince me to purchase.
We gave ourselves no choice
Publishers continue to struggle with monetization of their content.
Every day I consume content from bloggers, web cartoonists, photographers, videographers, gurus, and more and I don’t pay them anything. Nothing.
In exchange for free content, publishers hosted advertisements on their sites to help monetize their crafts.
I don’t pay anything, but they still get paid. It was a win-win.
But somewhere along the line, we got fed up with advertisements and installed Ad Blockers.
Faster load times, less eye strain, no distractions – an excellent content consumption experience.
All at the expense of the publisher of course who now struggles more than ever to make ends meet.
On top of that, if they try to block our access and ask me to whitelist their site to allow ads, I either don’t bother, actively avoid, or even treat the brand with disdain.
So how can we have our content and eat it for free?
What if you spend that same 79% of ad load… no, make it 10%…
What if you could spend 10% of a page’s load and a bit of battery generating a small amount of cryptocurrency for the publisher.
You get no ads, smaller data fees, and support the publisher without pulling out your wallet.
Seems like a no brainer…
Sounds cool, but what is it?
In general, this process is called cryptocurrency mining.
Specifically for websites, it’s just called browser mining.
In short, the mining script (aka miner) is doing a whole bunch of math and needs computer (CPU) power to do it. The more power the better.
It doesn’t use any private data, it doesn’t download anything to your computer, and it certainly isn’t stealing your money.
So, if all it does is use some of your unused CPU power, what’s the problem?
Well, like anything, stupid people are ruining it.
Now labelled as a ridiculous “Cryptojacking Malware”, this type of simple monetization strategy has been stained repeatedly by people trying to abuse consumer trust.
Typically, they introduce it with high CPU rates and without user consent.
Mining at too high a rate will cause your electricity bill to increase and your computer to slow down, freeze, or even crash.
Also, let’s stop for a minute and address what a terrible misnomer “Cryptojacking” is. It makes it sound like cryptocurrency theft. NO ONE IS STEALING YOUR CRYPTOCURRENCIES. Though abusers make be taking a disproportionate amount of your data limits and CPU speed, nothing is compromised or stolen. It’s not even malware – it doesn’t live on your computer, only in the browser.
So, it makes me so furious to see people abuse it and then media following up blaming the technology with this misnomer.
And now, these mining scripts are just being outright banned by the Ad Blockers they are meant to work together with. Ironic really.
This is a real solution that needs to be guided and implemented in a fair way for everyone.
What needs to happen next
Ideally, browser mining needs to integrate with the browsers.
Chrome has already begun throttling tabs that cause resource burn, but what we need is a browser hook that allows a site to say “hey, I’m running a browser miner, allocate me resources according to protocol or user’s settings”.
Instead of a hard ban on browser mining, we need browsers to include options for consumers to opt-in to this amazing and liberating feature.
Think of settings like:
- Enable/disable browser mining
- Set max % CPU power allowed for mining
- Whitelist/blacklist publishers
- Select priority of publishers
- Mine for publishers while not engaged in their content
- Mine in the background and use payments later
Help me Chromey-one Kenobi, you’re my only hope!
Though Chrome is set to block annoying audio ads, Google is still a member of the Coalition for Better Ads and their primary income by far is advertising.
Since advertising is directly threatened by browser mining, don’t expect movement from Chrome anytime soon.
And though Mozilla Firefox has at least started to build in ad-blocking, we have a long way to go before these types of browser mining integrations exist.
At the very least, we need to share a better understanding of what exactly “Cryptojacking” is so we can support better online experiences and even support charity.
Comment below with your thoughts and questions!