Home > life > A Few Thoughts on Tynt and Daring Fireball’s Takedown

A Few Thoughts on Tynt and Daring Fireball’s Takedown

I spend my waking hours thinking about online content publishers (both print leapsters as well as pure plays that started out as a blog in Mom’s Basement), monetization of content and how monetization interacts with users. I therefore watched with fascination as John Gruber published an angry memo against Tynt, a company that helps publishers track copy/paste and appends deep links back to publisher content when content is shared.

With my obvious monetization bias declared, I’ll make my rebuttal short and to the point:

  1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with publishers deciding to “break” copy/paste if you grab content from their site. On the scale of intrusion of advertising, this one is one step worse than the right rail Google ads (gold standard for great experience coupled with greater monetization). Most in-text advertising is FAR worse, and don’t even get me started on the quality and efficacy of display advertising. I actually *like* advertising and most display ads make me want to gouge my eyes out.
  2. Tynt’s opt-out process will likely have to be made easier/better/more-discoverable sooner than they anticipated, but hey, that’s life.
  3. Content publishers aren’t in the content business. They’re in the audience business – a fundamental flaw with all advertising-based businesses that manifests itself with in-game advertising, product placements and every other way an audience is going to be “forced” to see an ad no matter how good DVRs or AdBlock Plus gets. Tynt is simply free advertising for the content author when the content is sent around over the Interweb wires. So why so much anger over it? Most advertising (except for search ads and Super Bowl ads) is a necessary evil anyways.
  4. Blaming the issue on dead tree publishers who “don’t get it” is a cop-out. Tynt does billions of pageviews a month, so clearly they’ve identified a widespread *publisher* need that goes beyond the weird New York types who think editorial still matters (okay, I kid, I know it does). Let’s find other ways to heap scorn on print dinosaurs, really, its like shooting fish in a barrel.

Am I missing something here? I’m all for working folks up into a lather over Punch The Monkey banner ads but getting ticked over copy/paste? Really?

[ And let me state the obvious disclosure again; this post has no affiliation with my employer Kosmix or my work with them. If anyone’s crazy enough to think they’d pay me for my opinions, call me. Have I got a scheme to lighten your wallet for you! ]

Categories: life
  1. June 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Personally, I don’t think any on-page ads are as frustrating or invasive as Tynt. I like advertising too. I grew up in it, as a matter of fact. As long as you’re not throwing things like annoying pop-ups at me that ask me misleading questions to prevent me from closing them, I’m pretty chill. But when you actually seize the function of my computer, and force it to behave differently than I would ordinarily expect, that crosses a major line for me. If it doesn’t for you, that’s fine. Don’t block Tynt. But I will, and I’ll happily encourage others to do the same. Give me Punch the Monkey any day.

  2. Charles
    June 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I’m with Kester. You don’t break something as basic as cut and paste. They are taking basic functionality you can depend on and changing the way it works without most users understanding why. You can’t even tell when it’s going to be used. I’m also blocking Tynt and recommending others do too.

  3. John
    June 8, 2010 at 2:04 am

    It’s actually really simple. Tynt (and the other numerous clones now out there) is in the business of intercepting a well-known and useful interaction for surreptitious means. The ads guys love to think it is adding some unnamed value to the interaction, but the outrage you’re seeing is proof beyond any shadow of doubt that it’s really just another example of ads slimeballs rationalizing putting ads where they don’t belong.

    Yes, I’m bitter. And proud of it.

  4. June 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Cool points. A few questions and further clarifications:

    1. @Kester: Would it make a difference if the copy interaction didn’t trigger a popup and just added attribution on paste?
    2. @Charles: Would it make a difference if they weren’t so “subtle” about it and actually declared intent on copy somehow? If so, valid point.
    2. @John: 200 Twitter comments + one John Gruber takedown does not an “outrage” make – sorry. Agreed that the “value” to the user is minimal at best. But that’s NOT what this is about. This is about whether publishers large and small to the tune of several billion monthly pageviews have mentally decided that the cost/benefit is worth it. The current answer is a solid hell-yes.

    By and large (minus the popup which I agree can be out there), I’m still not hearing an argument against attribution and why its so much more horrendous than the already ad-littered interweb.

  5. December 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I do not think it makes changes..

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