April 18, 2024

Media Decoder: Contest Seeks to Honor Anti-Advertising Ads

“Shoot the first anti-advertising ad” is the pitch for a contest sponsored by Adblock Plus, the popular software that whites out Web site advertisements. The winning 30- to 90-second video submission, Adblock Plus says, will receive a prize of class time or video equipment worth $5,000 from a film institute in the Philippines.

The contest, at thecreativechallenge.org, is accepting applications until the end of May and is part of a recent conversion of Adblock Plus into a profit-making company with the aim of making online advertising more useful and pleasant, rather than stamping it out entirely.

While many of its estimated 45 million weekly users may treasure the program for its ability to make advertising seem to disappear from the Internet, the people behind Adblock say they recognize that ads keep many publications going.

“I am not against ads in general,” said Till Faida, a managing director of the project, “but I am just annoyed by the current state of ads. I have worked in online marketing — I just thought ads could be so much better.”

While still receiving donations from users, the project now also negotiates deals with large Web sites that run unobtrusive ads to be “white-listed” and thus not automatically blocked by the program. (A recent deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, granted such status to the social news site Reddit.)

The contest, Mr. Faida said, represented an attempt to build out the community of Adblock Plus users. “We are getting more and more designers involved,” he said, stressing that contributions to the project should come from more than just computer programmers.

Considering his own nuanced view of online advertising, Mr. Faida in a telephone interview said that the contest perhaps should not have so clearly been pitched as “anti-advertising.”

“Maybe we should have had a native speaker reading behind us,” said Mr. Faida, who lives in Cologne, Germany.

A version of this article appeared in print on 04/08/2013, on page B4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Contest Seeks to Honor Anti-Advertising Ads.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/contest-seeks-to-honor-anti-advertising-ads/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits Blog: Betaworks Buys What’s Left of Social News Site Digg

7:21 p.m. | Updated Adding additional price information.

10:11 p.m. | Updated Adding details of the deal.

For a while, Digg, the social news site, was one of the hottest things on the Web. But then it fell on hard times as services like Twitter and Facebook emerged and captured the Web’s attention.

Digg’s founders fled to greener pastures, and it seemed the service was headed for the technology boneyard. But on Thursday the site’s saga got a fresh twist: Betaworks, a technology incubator in New York, said it had acquired Digg.

Betaworks paid $500,000 for Digg’s assets, including the site and its technology, and Digg shareholders received equity in a new Betaworks unit that will use those assets, according to a person involved in the deal. That equity was worth something in the “single-digit millions,” this person said.

The precise value of the deal was not clear, but it was no doubt far less than what Digg was once worth. An investment round in 2008 valued it at more than $150 million, and at one point Google was said to have been interested in buying the site for around $200 million.

Betaworks invests in technology services and also creates them, having spawned Bit.ly, the link-shortening service, and News.me, an iPad-based news aggregator developed in collaboration with The New York Times Company. The new unit will combine the Digg assets and News.me, and John Borthwick, the founder of Betaworks, will become chief executive of Digg. Betaworks plans to create a new version of Digg that will be a complement to News.me’s iPhone and iPad applications.

Matt Williams, Digg’s chief executive, will become an entrepreneur in residence at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz when the deal closes. In an interview, Mr. Williams said Digg had spent a significant amount of time looking for the right buyer, zeroing in on technology incubators that were interested in news-related start-ups. “Betaworks seemed like a great fit,” Mr. Williams said. “They want to reinvent Digg, and that’s exactly what they will do.”

Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, said he had always been a fan of Mr. Borthwick and the companies he had nurtured at Betaworks.

“John understands the real-time nature of the Web and how to capture and surface trends as they occur,” said Mr. Rose, in a blog post on Digg’s Web site. “Given his experience with Bit.ly, News.me and Chartbeat, I can’t wait to see what he does with Digg.”

Mr. Rose is now at Google’s venture capital fund, and The Washington Post hired 15 employees away from Digg in May. No Digg employees will be making the move to Betaworks.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/betaworks-buys-whats-left-of-social-news-site-digg/?partner=rss&emc=rss