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Ad-Sense ads on Opera
One site doesn't seem to like them....
RammsteinNicCage




msg:1585928
 9:21 pm on Apr 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm using Opera 7.23 with the google ads enabled and I did a search for a chemical formula for my homework and came upon a site with this message:

Unregistered Opera 7.2 Detected

You have been brought to this page because it appears that you are using an unregistered copy of Opera 7.2. Unregistered Opera 7.2 typically makes use of Google AdSense ads that are targeted based on the content of the webpage, this is an unauthorized use of our copyrighted material.

Due to limitations of the detection routine, many skins Opera uses can cause false positives as will not having Opera maximized. If your copy of Opera is registered, please maximize Opera or press F11 and you should be able to access our site properly. Our object is not to block Opera users, rather we simply want to prevent Opera from being able to display AdSense ads that are based on the context of our pages.

It is with a heavy heart that we came to the decision to prevent unregistered copies of Opera from displaying our site, as we feel from a technical standpoint that Opera is probably the best browser on the market. Unfortunately, we feel we have been left with no other options as Opera and/or Google have not provided any mechanism to prevent to prevent Opera from displaying ads that are based on the content of our site.

Web Publishers like our selves provide content. Companies like Opera deliver that content. Each has to find a way to make a living. There are many publishers and there are many content delivery companies. As a company Opera is saying if they are to deliver a publisher's content, they are going to charge the publisher a "fee". That "fee" is that in exchange for delivering the content, Opera gets to place an ad in their toolbar that is content sensitive. If a publisher does not agree to these terms, their only option is to block Opera and prevent Opera users from accessing their content.

If Opera is going to "charge" web publishers a "fee" (by means of getting to use the content of the webpage to display targeted ads), then Opera has an obligation to their users to provide web publishers with a FOOLPROOF method of opting out of Opera's content targeted ads if publishers do not want their copyrighted materials used in such a fashion. Until which point in time Opera gives us a foolproof method to prevent the displaying of content targeted ads in Opera's toolbars, we will not allow unregistered copies of Opera that are displaying ads to access our site.

In case you are concerned that we are singling out Opera, rest assured that we are working on developing similar methods to prevent other adware and/or scumware programs from capitalizing off of our copyrighted materials in unfair ways. We are taking these measures, because we have seen estimates that content providers are losing around 25% of their advertising revenues to predatory software. This site is expensive to maintain and we cannot afford to continue to allow predatory marketing techniques steal our limited advertising revenues.

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, please contact Opera Software.

Wouldn't blocking the google adbot (I forgot it's name) be foolproof, considering the robots.txt file is valid?

Jennifer

 

TGecho




msg:1585929
 2:28 am on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

That seems a bit strange. I wasn't aware you could detect an unregistered version of Opera.

On one level, I can vaguely understand where they're coming from, but otherwise I kinda think they're overreacting.

Frankly, I don't thing it's the author's business to dictate how my browser is set up. If they want to stop adsense from "using their content," IMO they need to block the bot. Having no experience with either adsense or blocking bots, I'm assuming this is possible.

Edit: A quick search and I think I've found the site you're talking about. You get the same message if you browse with javascript disabled in Opera. Apparently they also zing you if you're using some sort of inline ad blocker.

RammsteinNicCage




msg:1585930
 2:52 am on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yup, you got the same site. I noticed while it was loading that something else quickly flashed on the page beforehand and I got a screenshot of it saying that "If this message does not get replaced by real content, then this page's JavaScript onLoad event did not run correctly. If you are using ad blocking software, you will need to disable that software for this site in order to display pages correctly."

I'm not really sure how they're detecting that my version is unregistered, too. I did see how they were detecting what version number I'm using and whether or not it's maximized, and I'm assuming whether I'm registered or not is somewhere in this javascript that I don't know how to read: :p

if(navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera')!= -1 ¦¦ navigator.appName.indexOf('Opera')!= -1){
if(navigator.userAgent.substring(navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera')+6,navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera')+9)>7.1 && (screen.availHeight - window.outerHeight > 95)){
document.getElementById('srad1837136mrurl').style.display='none';
document.body.style.visibility='hidden';
}
else {
document.body.style.visibility='visible';
}
}
else if(window.opera && navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera') == -1){
document.getElementById('srad1837136mrurl').style.display='none';
document.body.style.visibility='hidden';
}
}
load1837136IMG = new Image();
load1837136IMG.src = "/links/srad2348934mrurl/banners.affiliatefuel.com/ab/g/banners/ads/ad.gif?b=14909&/links/srad2348934mrurl/www.affiliatefuel.com/c/i=pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/120x600&c=468x60";
function r1837136(){
if(navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera')!= -1 ¦¦ navigator.appName.indexOf('Opera')!= -1){
if((navigator.userAgent.substring(navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera')+6,navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera')+9)>7.1 ¦¦ navigator.appName.substring(navigator.appName.indexOf('Opera')+6,navigator.appName.indexOf('Opera')+9)>7.1) && (screen.availHeight - window.outerHeight > 95)){
document.getElementById('srad1837136mrurl').style.display='none';
top.location.replace("http://environmentalchemistry.com/opera.html");
document.body.style.visibility='hidden';
}
}
}

For people that do have a registered copy of Opera, is it still possible to have the adsense ads displayed?

Jennifer

asquithea




msg:1585931
 6:11 am on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't know what they think they're likely to achieve by such a ban, but it'll probably be a desire to go elsewhere. I would, in your position. Given that it's an ugly page too (for a web-design company (!)), something tells me that they aren't doing too much business. A shame, in a way, because they're touting support for web-standards -- perhaps it's a one-man band.

For the record, it doesn't seem to have a problem with Mozilla Firefox, pop-up blocking, and ad-blocking user-content.css. I think this guy's just incredibly twitchy about protecting his content. Check out the source code to see what I mean.

[edited by: tedster at 7:29 am (utc) on April 22, 2004]

Strange




msg:1585932
 2:35 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well.. I just tried accessing the site with my Registered copy of Opera, and got the same message.. I even tried that full screen fix.. Still says I am unregistered. Clearly there is an error in the code.

I agree with the idea of blocking the bot. Seems that it would be a better way of helping with his paranoia, and I would be willing to bet the site would be visited a little more.

Hester




msg:1585933
 3:25 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Have you reported this on the Opera support forum?

RammsteinNicCage




msg:1585934
 7:02 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

No, but I'll go do that now. :)

Jennifer

RammsteinNicCage




msg:1585935
 8:16 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok, I've gotten a couple of replies so far and they both said that it's not possible to detect registered or unregistered.

Jennifer

aeve




msg:1585936
 8:25 pm on Apr 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure that the site is run by a webmasterworld member, I can't find it with a search but I remember reading the justification.

KenB




msg:1585937
 2:56 am on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm the creator of the site in question. I'll answer a few questions but don't feel like getting into a debate about the politics behind Opera's use of AdSense except to say I won't passively allow Opera or any other browser to use the copyrighted content of my sites to target their ads. I have successfully gotten the creator of an IE skin to discontinue their use of content targeted ads (at least on my sites). I don't care if Opera displays ads in their toolbar as long as they aren't targeted based on the context of my website.

For the record, it doesn't seem to have a problem with Mozilla Firefox, pop-up blocking, and ad-blocking user-content.css. I think this guy's just incredibly twitchy about protecting his content. Check out the source code to see what I mean.


I don't care about popup blocking because I despise popups and don't use them. I do employ countermeasures that makes Firefox's built in adblocking useless on my website. For those who employ ad-blocking methods I can't circumvent, I redirect them away from my content until they allow my ads to be displayed. Much to my surprise, ever since I started employing ad-blocking countermeasures, advertising revenues have been steadily increasing. If users don't like ads but are willing to support my efforts I do provide an ad-free subscription offer.

That seems a bit strange. I wasn't aware you could detect an unregistered version of Opera.

Basically Opera toolbar ads always consume a certain amount of UI space. By simply detecting this consumption of space I can guess if Opera is displaying ads. It isn't highly accurate and it does result in false positives especially if the browser window isn't maximized, but it does provide Opera users the ability to access my site using their full screen mode when Opera doesn't display ads.

Frankly, I don't thing it's the author's business to dictate how my browser is set up.

All websites dictate user's browser requirements in some form or fashion whether it be requiring Flash support, graphics, cookies or SSL. The only difference in my case is that I don't allow people to block my ad and I attempt to block software that displays ads based on the context of my website in the user's browser window.

If they want to stop adsense from "using their content," IMO they need to block the bot. Having no experience with either adsense or blocking bots, I'm assuming this is possible.

Blocking the adsense bot does no good, I tried it on several sites I have and after many months Opera is still getting content sensitive ads. I have experimented with several different methods and the only way I have found to prevent Opera from displaying content sensitive ads is to block Opera. I do use the .htaccess file to block Alexa that has similar habits to Opera's Google rads.

If webmasters do not stand up to those types of predatory advertising techniques that do not respect individual copyrights eventually these types of predatory practices will begin to really cut into our advertising revenue which will have a very real negative impact on operating revenues.

…is somewhere in this javascript that I don't know how to read

It is intentionally convoluted to make it harder to decipher. It discourages idle attempts to circumvent (can't do much about the really persistant). There are several different processes interlaced in the script. These processes include disarming of eZula TextTop, Opera version detection and blocking, ad-blocking circumvention, ad-blocking detection, etc.

I don't know what they think they're likely to achieve by such a ban, but it'll probably be a desire to go elsewhere.

I don't really care if they go elsewhere or not. I'm simply enforcing the TOS for access my content. If they want my content bad enough they will change their configuration. If they don't want it that bad they will go elsewhere.

Given that it's an ugly page too (for a web-design company (!)), something tells me that they aren't doing too much business.

This is a pure old-fashioned content site first created prior to the great browser wars. Content is king and looks are of secondary importance. Warm fuzziness like cutesy graphics get scarified to conserve bandwidth. Traffic loads are such that even a 5kb of savings per page ads up to a serious bandwidth savings. Since chemistry isn't such a hot subject for high revenue banner ads expenses must be kept to a bare minimum. Excluding those who block banner ads saves bandwidth, which in turn will save money.

The layout is purely utilitarian to allow access from any major page to any major page. All development work is focused on delivering new content rather than changing the look. Its overall look has changed little in the last 5+ years except to eliminate graphics to save bandwidth. The look is distinctive enough for people to realize when they have left this site and that is all it needs to be.

Wertigon




msg:1585938
 8:28 am on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just exactly why doesn't it work blocking the ad bot?

Can't it just be that the targeted content ads is from some site you previously surfed to or it's stored the sites in a cache from a previous visit, or maybe it cross-references with Google's search index? AFAIK the Google AdSense bot respects robots.txt, so shouldn't it be possible to block it using that file?

I'm not all too familiar with bots and whatnot, but I feel that this is the wrong road to take... All we'll end up with is a closed web instead of the open structure we have today. :\

Hester




msg:1585939
 8:41 am on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is a hot topic. Basically you're blocking Opera users, and trying to stop people hiding your ads. Both fly in the face of browser usage and progress.

I won't passively allow Opera or any other browser to use the copyrighted content of my sites to target their ads

I don't quite understand this. Your "copyrighted" content is on full display for everyone to see. What difference does it make if the browser and Google make use of this content to supply ads? I assume you are concerned about a potential loss of revenue?

Basically Opera toolbar ads always consume a certain amount of UI space. By simply detecting this consumption of space I can guess if Opera is displaying ads.

Opera is one of the most customisable browsers out there. Each user might have a different toolbar set up. Some will allow masses of wasted space, others have it very tight. I doubt you can accurately predict the use of ads. As you say, "It isn't highly accurate and it does result in false positives". In programming terms, that's a poor result. So thousands of Opera visitors are being wrongly turned away.

I don't really care if they go elsewhere or not.

That to me is the wrong attitude. What if an Opera user is forced away from your site who might otherwise have been a high-paying customer? No business on the web can really afford to lose customers or to cherry-pick them. Also remember that the goal of the web is "access for all".

Content is king and looks are of secondary importance.

Not when trying to impress. Not when advertising a web design firm.

Its overall look has changed little in the last 5+ years except to eliminate graphics to save bandwidth. The look is distinctive enough for people to realize when they have left this site and that is all it needs to be.

Well the look of Google and Amazon etc are based on the same approach. Google's success is partly down to the simple home page. If it were crammed with Flash ads, who would want to visit it regularly? So you do right there.

Sanenet




msg:1585940
 8:41 am on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey, while I have no particular feelings about this, I can see where this guys coming from, and even applaud him for so strongly standing up to his principals.

He makes some interesting points in his posting, and I don't really see that it's anybodys business but his as to how he wants to finance his site!

KenB




msg:1585941
 5:17 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just exactly why doesn't it work blocking the ad bot?

Can't it just be that the targeted content ads is from some site you previously surfed to or it's stored the sites in a cache from a previous visit, or maybe it cross-references with Google's search index? AFAIK the Google AdSense bot respects robots.txt, so shouldn't it be possible to block it using that file?

I'm not all too familiar with bots and whatnot, but I feel that this is the wrong road to take... All we'll end up with is a closed web instead of the open structure we have today. :\

If you enter an entry into the robots.txt file, the AdSense bot stops indexing the site but Google continues to provide ads to Opera based on the content of the cached copy of the webpage on the usually correct assumption that the content or context of a page rarely changes.

The only way the robots.txt entry works is if the site is brand new and has never been indexed.

I don't quite understand this. Your "copyrighted" content is on full display for everyone to see. What difference does it make if the browser and Google make use of this content to supply ads? I assume you are concerned about a potential loss of revenue?

In the long run yes. Blocking Opera has a very small impact on my overall operations, however, if the practice of third-party adware displaying ads to the user based on the context of the webpage were to spread, this would in time pose a very real and unfair competitive threat.

Opera is one of the most customisable browsers out there. Each user might have a different toolbar set up. Some will allow masses of wasted space, others have it very tight. I doubt you can accurately predict the use of ads. As you say, "It isn't highly accurate and it does result in false positives". In programming terms, that's a poor result.

The option was to block Opera users outright. At least with this method there is a mechanism that will allow Opera users to access my site.

So thousands of Opera visitors are being wrongly turned away.

I suspect that the vast majority of Opera users are unregistered. With that said, even on my sites that do not block Opera, Opera users represent less than 0.5% of my traffic. So the impact is negligible. The reason I am targeting Opera is that it is better to swat a small fly now than to contend with a swarm later.

That to me is the wrong attitude. What if an Opera user is forced away from your site who might otherwise have been a high-paying customer?

The site in question doesn't really sell anything. It is primarily a content site that lives or dies based on advertising revenue. Losing a few users now in an effort to raise awareness of this issue now could reduce competitive pressures later.

No business on the web can really afford to lose customers or to cherry-pick them.

Actually business is often times about picking customers. Getting customers at any price is not good business. To succeed, businesses must focus on their profitable customer bases. If this wasn't true, why do marketers spend so much time trying to target (e.g. cherry-pick) specific demographic groups for specific products.

Also remember that the goal of the web is "access for all".

Not at the expense of allowing other companies to make unfair use of one's intellectual property. Third-party adware that uses the context of other's work to target their own ads are parasitic forces that will in the long run damage the web as a whole. I do not have the resources to sue Opera to force them to cease and desist their practice of using my copyrighted materials to make a profit in an unfair manner, so I must settle for denying their software access to my website just as I do other programs (like Alexa's bot) that have business practices I object to.

Not when trying to impress. Not when advertising a web design firm.

The site in question only makes passing reference to my web design firm in the footer's copyright statement. The purpose of this site, which came before my web design firm, is to share information. It was a content site first and the web design firm came later. Advertising was brought in to this site help it pay for itself. If it could be profitable without advertising, I probably wouldn't use advertising.

As was discussed in another forum recently, just as the shoemaker's kid goes barefoot, a web developer's own sites oftentimes suffer from neglect due to the needs of paying customers.

john_k




msg:1585942
 5:45 pm on Apr 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

I completely agree with Ken in every regard. Well done content-only websites cannot survive without advertising revenue.

Someone pointed out that it is not up to the website owner to dictate how you configure your browser. That is a fact. However, it is within their rights to withhold their FREE content for any reason they see fit. Putting up with a few ads is a reasonable request to make of visitors.

How many sidewalk cafes allow people to sit at their tables without ordering something? Probably a few, but not many.

Software that selectively blocks or adds content, or that repackages web pages (in frames or toolbar ads), should be made to some standard that allows the website owner to have some control in this regard.

My preference would be that a meta-tag could specify a redirect URL. One meta-tag regarding ad blocking, and another regarding 3rd party framing or toolbar ads.

<meta name="ad-blocking" content="redirect;http://www.example.com/tos.html">
<meta name="repackage" content="redirect;http://www.example.com/tos.html">

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