Gilbane Advisor 8-26-15 – Gilbane Program and ad-blocking update

Gilbane Conference 2015 program published

Join us in Boston December 1-3.
See the programworkshopsschedulevenue and register.


Maybe the backlash to intrusive web and mobile ads is finally coming. Maybe the combination of distraction, painfully slow page loads, and overly creepy tracking is about force a major change in how digital content is paid for. Then again, maybe most people will just put up with it — many may not even have noticed the gradual deterioration of the web experience. Either way, things are ramping up and this effects everybody. The use of ad-blocking is growing, and Apple’s imminent release of iOS 9 with support for ad-blocking could dramatically increase its use among a highly-prized demographic. We have chosen three of the many recent articles to get you up to speed quickly.

Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web

First up, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo does a nice job summarizing the major points of view.

Advertising sustains pretty much all the content you enjoy on the web … many of the world’s most useful technologies may never have come about without online advertising. But at the same time, ads and the vast, hidden, data-sucking machinery that they depend on to track and profile you are routinely the most terrible thing about the Internet. … Now, more and more web users are escaping the daily bombardment of online advertising by installing an ad blocker. Read more

The Ethics of Modern Web Ad-blocking

Next, Marco Arment takes a look at the ‘implied’ or ‘implicit’ contract between  publishers / advertisers and content consumers.

There’s no opportunity for disclosure, negotiation, or reconsideration. By following any link, you unwittingly opt into whatever the target site, and any number of embedded scripts from other sites and tracking networks, wants to collect, track, analyze, and sell about you. … That’s why the implied-contract theory is invalid: people aren’t agreeing to write a blank check and give up reasonable expectations of privacy by clicking a link. They can’t even know what the cost of visiting a page will be until they’ve already visited it and paid the price. Read more

Real-World Results of iOS 9 Safari Content Blocking

Even though iOS 9 is not released yet the beta versions have the content blocking feature and developers are building content blocking apps, so it is possible to see the effect on the user experience. Owen Williams has done just that with side-by-side tests of major publisher sites with and without one of the content blocking apps turned on. Note that iOS content blocking capability includes more than just ads. It will be interesting to see the final options for configuring, and how they end up being used.

Content blockers on iOS are a new type of app that’s able to block incoming content before it’s loaded by the system — it provides a list of sites and scripts to the operating system for blocking. Instead of requiring the browser to process what to block as the page loads, it’s performed on a system level before the page loads which increases speed significantly. … The effect of using a content blocker on iOS is, to be honest, something publishers should be deeply afraid of. I don’t really care about advertising actually appearing on sites, I just care about how fast the site itself loads over a constrained connection. Read more

6 Reasons Marketing is Moving In-House

Digital Agencies finds that in the past year there has been a dramatic spike in the number of companies who no longer work with outside marketing agencies — 27 percent, up from 13 percent in the previous year. This continues a trend The Association of National Advertisers first reported in 2013. … SoDA describes this trend as “alarming” … but stops short of fully explaining why it’s happening. After interviewing several ad agency executives and marketing leaders in a diverse group of businesses — pharmaceutical, high-tech, manufacturing, retail, sports, and others — I’ve found a few common themes that could help explain what is going on. Read more

Learning from PDFs

PDF seemed like a temporary diversion from the road to the future of electronic documents to many even when it was new in 1993. By then HTML and many other SGML based applications existed and the potential was clear but it wasn’t until the Mosaic browser was released, also in 1993, that the web revolution grew the legs for mainstream adoption.

In the 90s there was, largely uninformed, competition between PDF and HTML — there have always been important use cases for both. Our understanding and preferences for content consumption will continue to evolve as computing and information technologies change the landscape of options. Michael Andrews takes a thoughtful look at why PDF is still an important component of content strategy.

What can content strategy learn from PDFs? That some people want to interact with words, and HTML content doesn’t offer them good options to do that… The evolution of content experience is far from over, despite the proclamations that the future of content has arrived. Smart, flexible, modular content is powerful. But on the topics that matter most, people want to choose what’s important to them, and not have that decision made for them. Read more

A Visual Introduction to Machine Learning

Just what it says it is and very nicely done. This is the opposite of a typical insipid infographic. See more


Sponsor

Thanks to our hosting provider LuxSci for sponsoring this issue, and for 15 years of great customer service.

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Short takes

Google analyzed their own app interstitial ad and got rid of it. They explain why in Google+: A case study on App Download Interstitials via the Google Webmaster Central Blog

Mobile:2015 UI / UX Trends… A quick look at what and why. via Medium

Useful background info on the evolution of native ads… Native advertising and sponsored content: Research on audience, ethics, effectiveness via Journalist’s Resource

For a little more technical detail content and page load speed see Why Are Web Pages So Slow? via Medium

Without a doubt Companies Need an Option Between Contractor and Employee via HBR.org

As you might imagine this generated lots comments… Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video via Medium

DAM Industry Heat Maps – Market Share and Customer Satisfaction… a handy quick look. via Real Story Group

Web Content Management Round-Up… Summer news in the WCM space. via Digital Clarity Group

About

The Gilbane Advisor curates content for our conference community of content, computing, and digital experience professionals throughout the year. You can also subscribe via our feed.

The Gilbane Conference on Content, Technology, and Customer Experience helps marketers, IT, and business managers integrate content strategies and computing technologies to produce superior customer experiences for all stakeholders.

Gilbane Conference program and speakers posted

This year’s Gilbane Conference program with speakers and session descriptions is now available at http://gilbaneconference.com/2015/program.

Registration for the conference is also open.

The Gilbane Conference helps marketers, IT, and business managers integrate content strategies and computing technologies to produce superior customer experiences for all stakeholders.

A modern customer experience must be holistic and seamless. Holistic in that customer communications be consistent within the company and across all touch points and channels, and seamless so that transitions between customer interactions are smooth and frictionless. This is a continuous process that requires an unprecedented amount of collaboration and integration between internal and external facing organizations and systems.

This year the Gilbane Conference program focuses on how to integrate content, data, and software to support a superior multichannel digital customer experience. Whether you are just getting started with managing multichannel content, need to improve the consistency of the web and mobile discovery experience, or are ready to integrate with an ecommerce, content marketing, business intelligence or other marketing or data management platform, join us to learn what your peers are doing and what experts are recommending.

Gilbane Conference 2015 schedule posted

This year’s Gilbane Conference 2015, December 1 – 3, takes place in Boston at the Fairmont Copley Place. The three day schedule of workshops and conference sessions is now live at: http://gilbaneconference.com/2015/Schedule.

 
 
 

Gilbane Advisor 7-21-15 – Why desktop apps are making a comeback

Why desktop apps are making a comeback

Well, they certainly still have a role to play, right tool and all…

Most software products need an interface. That interface can come in different forms, but usually boils down to either an installed program, or a browser-based web application. For the desktop (mobile is another issue entirely), web apps seemed to have the upper hand, but successful newcomers — like Slack — and old timers — like Skype — indicate that the issue is still unresolved.

As the founders of Front, an app helping companies manage grouped email addresses … we maintain both desktop apps for OS X, Windows, and a web application. People often ask us the reasoning behind this decision, so here is our answer. Read more

Office, messaging and verbs

What’s the right tool for the job? Benedict Evans looks for a way to think about this question for productivity applications beyond feature collections. He argues that the difference between messaging and applications is blurring, and that is because the job we are usually trying to accomplish with software is largely based on a communication need. Certainly true if inclusive of humans and other software but, as he says, the trade offs are difficult. Lotus Notes for example, was both successful and ultimately a failure because of these kinds of choices.

The challenge here is the trade off between breadth and flexibility on one hand and focus and single-purpose efficiency on the other. It’s easy to make everything flow together in a single UI if you have a narrow domain, but much harder if you’re trying to encompass lots of different tasks and types of data. Sometimes the right ‘unified UI’ is a dedicated app and sometimes it’s Windows, or a web browser, aggregating lots of different apps with different UIs. But mostly, it’s the email app itself that’s the universal connector, linking documents, data and ideas. That is, ‘Send’ is the universal verb that ties the others together. Read more

Why Web Pages Suck

Ben Thompson takes off on John Gruber’s complaint about fat slow websites, and basically argues that publishers don’t have a choice and, in effect, neither do advertisers. Ad exchanges and programmatic advertising work well enough (I know, except when they don’t) that advertisers can’t ignore them.

… if advertisers are only spending money — and a lot of it — on programmatic advertising, then it follows that the only way for publishers to make money is to use programmatic advertising.

… the price of efficiency for advertisers’ is the user experience of the reader. The problem for publishers, though, is that dollars and cents — which come from advertisers — are a far more scarce resource than are page views, leaving publishers with a binary choice: provide a great user experience and go out of business, or muddle along with all of the baggage that relying on advertising networks entails. Read more

News Sites Are Fatter and Slower Than Ever

Frédéric Filloux measures a few news sites and comes down hard on designers, but I think he means to include other decision makers as well.

An analysis of download times highlights how poorly designed news sites are. That’s more evidence of poor implementation of ads… and a strong case for ad blockers. Read more

Newsonomics: On end games and end times

Can publishers find a sustainable business model this new age of Facebook/Apple/Snapchat/Twitter/Google distributed content? And is local news destined to be left behind?

Wonder why news organizations do some of the things they do? Ken Doctor describes the current challenges and choices publishers are faced with and how some are thinking about them. Read more

7 future web design trends

Jowita Ziobro provides a refreshing review of current design trends. Her first trend, “Gestures are the new clicks”:

We forget how hard scrolling webpages used to be. Most users would painstakingly move their mouse to the right edge of the screen, to use something ancient called a ‘scrollbar’… In 2015 it’s far easier to scroll than it is to click. On mobile, you can scroll wildly with your thumb. To click on a precise target is actually more difficult — the complete opposite of what we’re used to on the desktop… As a result, we should expect more and more websites to be built around scrolling first, and clicking second. And of course, that’s exactly what we’ve seen everywhere…

The post is a reminder that the way to look at planning and development of web and mobile applications is to focus on the ‘and’. Too much of the discussion is about the limitations of web or mobile or which should come first – a sometimes necessary short term choice but not a strategy for most. Jowita’s larger point is that from a design point of view web and mobile are converging. The post also suggests functional convergence, which I expand on in The convergence of web and mobile design. Jowita ends with:

Right now you see the best of mobile app design appearing in web design. With enough time, the difference between an app and a website might almost entirely disappear. Read more

Modern Design Tools: Adaptive Layouts

I’m sure there are exceptions, but design has almost always followed function in software development. That was never a great situation, but today’s reality of the constant additions of new form factors forces us to figure out how build function and design in a more parallel and earlier iterative environment. Responsive design is an important approach to dress up the past and get started with workable multichannel publishing, but its scale is limited. Josh Puckett has some great ideas and links to other discussions.

Since our tools shape our thinking, it’s critical that we have design tools that allow us to go beyond the static thinking that has encumbered us for so long. While it’s technically possible to design and optimize for various layouts and orientations today, it’s tedious and difficult, which means that we often don’t do it.

Design tools should have the same properties as the medium for which we are designing… Let’s take a look at how a modern design tool might work for designing an iPhone app. Read more

Google deep linking progress

Steven Levy comments on this year’s I/O event. He does a nice job of explaining deep linking / app indexing, and the much mentioned Google Now on Tap in the context of Google’s mobile and search challenges.

Google now says that it has expanded its app indexing program to Apple’s iOS platform. “App indexing” is the practice of Hoovering up the data that lives inside apps, the first step to making that information available by Google searching — it’s analogous to crawling the web. Google has been doing this since 2013 for Android apps, essentially creating an index that lives on a simulation of a giant Android phone. And I do mean giant: there are 50 billion deep links indexed so far. (Deep links are those which take you directly to relevant information inside an app, as opposed to leading you to the front door.)

I found the 50 billion indexed deep links surprising, especially since they are almost all from Android apps, and from only a little more than half of the developers asked to participate. There is a decent developer value proposition, but it will be interesting to see what Apple decides to do to keep control of its ecosystem. And then there are Facebook, Twitter, and others. Google would most likely be the biggest beneficiary of a deep linking standard if there ever is one. Read more

What is Code?

This is a fantastic piece. It is long, though the title may be too short. It is not just about code. It is also about coders and coder culture, code tribes, code conferences, coding languages, coding process, managing coders (well sort of), also funny, perhaps a little sad, and loaded with truthiness. Read more


Sponsor

Thanks to our hosting provider LuxSci for sponsoring this issue, and for 15 years of great customer service.

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Short takes

Apple is making it much easier to access the web from apps and developers are interested. iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The Future of Web Views via MacStories.net.

SEO people, time to get up-to-speed on App Indexing & The New Frontier of SEO: Apple Search + iOS App Indexing via Search Engine Land

For communicators obviously an increasingly important skill… Exploring the 7 Different Types of Data Stories via Mediashift

For execs… What Every Manager Should Know About Machine Learning via HBR.org

Not a huge sample but some interesting data… Comparing the ROI of Content Marketing and Native Advertising via HBR.org

The non-tracking option… The Rise of DuckDuckGo via Fast Company

You may be surprised. The rise of mobile and social news: Oxford Reuters Institute’s 2015 report via Journalist’s Resource

A few gems… How to Cheat at Creating Great Presentations for Tech & Marketing Audiences via moz.com

Getting beyond some of the hype… iOS 9 content blocking extensions are not a mobile advertising armageddon via baldurbjarnason.com


About

The Gilbane Advisor curates content for our conference community of content, computing, and digital experience professionals throughout the year. You can also subscribe via our feed
gilbane advisor rss feed

 

Why web pages suck

In Why Web Pages Suck Ben Thompson takes off on John Gruber’s complaint about fat slow websites, and basically argues that publishers don’t have a choice, and in effect, neither do advertisers. Ad exchanges and programmatic advertising work well enough (I know, except when they don’t) that advertisers can’t ignore them.

Advertisers’ strong preference for programmatic advertising is why it’s so problematic to only discuss publishers and users when it comes to the state of ad-supported web pages: if advertisers are only spending money — and a lot of it — on programmatic advertising, then it follows that the only way for publishers to make money is to use programmatic advertising.

… the price of efficiency for advertisers’ is the user experience of the reader. The problem for publishers, though, is that dollars and cents — which come from advertisers — are a far more scarce resource than are page views, leaving publishers with a binary choice: provide a great user experience and go out of business, or muddle along with all of the baggage that relying on advertising networks entails.

Of course there are lots of reasons websites suck that are not directly related to advertising, including poor design, extra non-advertising related code, and insufficient maintenance. It may be a useful exercise to test your site as it is, with ads and ad blocking, and with no ads. Read Thompson’s full postRead Gruber’s post

The convergence of web and mobile design

The actual title of the article I am referring to above is 7 future web design trends, by Jowita Ziobro. The trends are on target and the examples are clear. Worth a read.

But what struck me is that the post is a reminder that the way to look at planning and development of web and mobile applications is to focus on the ‘and’. Too much of the discussion is about the limitations of web or mobile or which should come first – a sometimes necessary short term choice but not a strategy. Jowita’s larger point is that from a design point of view web and mobile are converging. The post also suggests functional convergence.

Design convergence

Jowita’s first trend, “Gestures are the new clicks”, provides one example:

We forget how hard scrolling webpages used to be. Most users would painstakingly move their mouse to the right edge of the screen, to use something ancient called a ‘scrollbar’…

In 2015 it’s far easier to scroll than it is to click. On mobile, you can scroll wildly with your thumb. To click on a precise target is actually more difficult — the complete opposite of what we’re used to on the desktop.

As a result, we should expect more and more websites to be built around scrolling first, and clicking second. And of course, that’s exactly what we’ve seen everywhere…

There’s every reason to expect this trend to continue as mobile takes over more of the market. Modern sites have fewer things to click, and much more scrolling. We’ll see fewer links, more buttons, bigger ‘clickable’ areas, and taller pages that expect to be scrolled.

So mobile is changing web design for the better, and not only because of the consistency of the UX but because it is offers improvements.

Functional convergence

Mobile is also learning from the web. Mobile apps are either constrained by limited access to their own data and content, need custom deep linking to code to access other apps data, or need to exit to the web via a web browser. Whether the app uses a lightweight custom browser built for the app or one of the mainstream browsers the UX often suffers. The limited linking of mobile apps is a significant functional constraint, especially for enterprise apps.

Apple and Google are each interested in the health of both the web and their own mobile ecosystems and are both advancing deep linking to address data and content access. This will be a little wild-westy for awhile but the direction is clear.

Jowita’s sixth trend, “Components are the new frameworks” is relevant to design and function:

Web technology continues to get more complicated, and less semantic. Designers must embed messy code onto their pages for simple tasks, like including Google Analytics or a Facebook Like button. It would be a lot easier if we could just write something like this instead:

<google-analytics key=”UA-12345–678″>

And we can with Web Components, which aren’t quite ready to be used by most designers yet. 2015 is looking like their year.

Google’s Material design is here, and it may just be what gets this movement started. Powered by Polymer, and supported by all modern browsers, it provides the rich animation and interaction components from Android apps, with simple tags…

Apple’s newly announced Safari View Controller for iOS 9 ups the ante for mobile browsers by providing developers access to Safari code making it much easier to access the web from mobile apps. Developers can still build their own for specific design or functional reasons if they need to. See iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: The Future of Web Views.

Jowita ends with:

Right now you see the best of mobile app design appearing in web design. With enough time, the difference between an app and a website might almost entirely disappear.

Optimistic perhaps, but there is a trend to root for here. And a perspective to be embraced for a superior UX.

Gilbane pre-conference workshops announced

It’s only June but we’re already working hard on the 2015 conference program and want to share a bit of what you can look forward to.

We’ve got a great lineup of pre-conference workshops that will be held Tuesday, December 1, the day before the main conference, December 2 – 3.

Pre-conference workshops:

Developing a personalization strategy: one size doesn’t fit all
Instructor: John Berndt, CEO, The Berndt Group (TBG)

An anatomy of a digital audit
Instructor: Tim Bourgeois, Partner at East Coast Catalyst and Founder, ChiefDigitalOfficer.net

Insider’s guide to selecting the right WCM
Instructor: Tony Byrne, Founder, Real Story Group

Foundations for best-fit WCM service provider selections
Instructor: Cathy McKnight, Partner and Principal Analyst, Digital Clarity Group

Great ideas need the right metrics to flourish – building the analytics you need to monetize your innovation
Instructor: Jaime Fitzgerald, Founder and Managing Partner, Fitzgerald Analytics Inc.

Digital is global in nature, not by default: leveraging digital globalization to increase global customer experience
Instructor: Bruno Herrmann , Director of Globalization, Nielsen

Find out more and get detailed descriptions for these workshops.

Hotel now accepting reservations

The Fairmont Copley Plaza is the official conference hotel for Gilbane Conference 2015. Discounted room rates have been arranged for attendees and are available starting today. Find out more.

Know about deep linking?

We are close to completing the program for this year’s Gilbane Conference and have some topics we still need another speaker, or possibly panelist, for:

  • Mobile and web deep linking / app indexing. What do these do for customer experience? What do they mean for content apps? What do you need to do about deep linking and app indexing, why, and when?
  • Marketing technology stacks: strategies and experiences.
  • Digital multichannel strategies: mobile, web, responsive, social, IoT, pages vs cards, etc.

If you have a well-informed opinion to share on any of these email me at speaking@gilbane.com.

Keep in mind our audience is a combination of marketers, technologists, and content strategists and managers.

Of the almost 300 speaker proposals we will be able to include less than 100 so we welcome additional proposals on the topics above. Note that we will be notifying proposed speakers slowly over the next 2-3 weeks.