Persuading Surfers’ Eyeballs

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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1 Response

  1. re: “we should acknowledge the cost paid by our readers”

    As we acknowledge the price paid by our advertisers. :-)

    The NYT Magazine lead column this weekend referenced an “Annenberg Study,” so I was inspired to look it up. I found Joseph Turow’s 2003 “Americans & Online Policy: The System is Broken” (Dan subsequently told me it was not the same one the article was referencing.) One curious experiment from the study was introduced like so:

    Suppose the web site that you like most and use regularly says that in order for it to continue operating it must charge users $6 a month. if you pay, the site will show you ads but it will not use personal information about you to make money from outside advertisers. Or you can get the site for free in exchange for allowing the web site to use personal information about you to make money from advertisers.

    Turow found that a majority of users, when provided with that choice, decided to avoid it altogether– not realizing that the second option is the default as the web works today!

    This same deal has interested me from the online media perspective– what if a popular web publisher allowed users to pay in order to avoid the increasingly creepy-crawly ads? (I dubbed this PaperTrust). When I floated this by a friend of mine who happens to be a news junky and Econ PhD, he admitted to using AdBlock. Which begs the question for the legal community here: if the record industry was able to get revenue-sucking technology (Napster, Grokster) declared illegal, will the publishers eventually do the same for AdBlock?