Ad blockers have already cut a hole in the pockets of media companies over the last 10 years. As part of a strategy to curb that trend, one media business named Salon has decided to jump on the trend of cryptocurrencies.
This change by Salon comes as many giants in the space of publishing seek alternatives to traditional ad revenue, which have nosedived thanks to the rising popularity of ad-blocking extensions.
“Like other sites, ad-blockers have significantly reduced the amount of revenue for our business, and have created somewhat of a one-sided relationship between readers and publishers,” The Salon team wrote in a statement addressing the new system.
“Like everyone else, we see the shrinkage of our ad revenues is a serious problem, so we saw mining cryptocurrencies as a potential way to move forward, so we took it.” Said Salon’s CEO Jordan Hoffner about the revenue-generation plan.
The option to mine Monero, which is a privacy-centric cryptocurrency, is just one of the ways that Salon plans to monetize its viewership. Another plan is through the use of a paid tablet and mobile phone app that is expected to be released over the next month.
Visitors who use popular ad blocking extensions will be asked to either turn these blockers off, or they may choose to suppress the ads. By choosing the later, users can block the ads – and in return, Salon will use the visitor’s spare processing power to mine Monero with a software program known as Coinhive. The mining operation will continue for as long as the visitor remains on the site.
Salon Branches Out To Other Cryptocurrencies
Monero is not the only cryptocurrency that Salon plans to mine. The company may branch out to different kinds of cryptocurrencies.
“The coins we mine will change over time as the demand for the currencies changes,” said Hoffner. “We could end up building up a portfolio of numerous cryptocurrencies.”
The plans for Salon to mine cryptocurrencies have prompted some curious looks, as Monero is known to be associated with criminal actors.
While Monero and Coinhive do have their legitimate uses, both of their reputations have taken a nosedive over recent months, which is due to hackers on the dark web leveraging these coins for illicit purposes.
With the explosion of cryptocurrencies in 2017, some people of these criminals have changed from Bitcoin to some more privacy-centric coins such as Monero. And although the principal behind Conhive is attractive – monetizing sites based on the time spent on the site instead of ad views – the software has attracted criticism thanks to its use in hacking attacks on site and personal computers to mine the cryptocurrency.
Recently, some visitors to government websites such as the US and the UK experienced a cryptocurrency attack. Also, one Google Chrome extension with more than 100,000 users was also caught using Coinhive without permission.
In spite of these recent hacks, Hoffner states that he isn’t worried about the association between Salon and Coinhive, as he believes that it comes with the territory of new technologies.
“Things will correct themselves over time. There was a point in time when online video and piracy were huge problems too, but those corrected themselves with new technology. This is what history has suggested,” Hoffner said, as he notes that as these technologies become widely adopted, their use by criminals has decreased to some extent.
For example, the number of Bitcoin transactions used in the dark web has fell from 30% to 1%, according to a study conducted by Chainalysis.
Yet it’s still not clear exactly how much Salon will make from its venture into cryptocurrencies. Right now, that number is unlikely to be a huge amount. Based on the estimates from Coinhive, a site with 1 million visitors of 5 minutes each could net around 0.27 of the cryptocurrency per month. This is a total of around $64 a month.
Salon posted an average of 13 million unique visitors each month in its final quarter of 2017, although its total number of views is likely to be higher. But not all of those views would result in Monero being generated, as most will likely choose to avoid the program.
But for Hoffner, mining Monero is more about looking into the long-term and what the cryptocurrency landscape will look like for the future.
“We are earning revenue now when before we were earning nothing,” he said of the use of ad blockers on the website. “Right now, we just want to collect these coins and see what happens.”
And if Hoffer indeed makes the right choice for going with Coinhive, then he will of course be behind the ball.
“There are a lot of sites right now that are having trouble using ads make use of Coinhive. This includes everything from forum to tiny community sites where its userbase is happy to give something back, and of course, adult sites.”
According to statement by Coinhive, Salon is the largest (legitimate) site of its kind to use the mining software.