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看新闻也能赚钱,这事儿是真的

Lucinda Shen 2018年03月07日

为了减少广告屏蔽软件给收入造成的损失,媒体公司Salon想到了利用数字加密货币的法子。

Chesnot Getty Images

过去十年里,各类广告屏蔽软件让媒体公司少赚了不少钱。为了减少广告屏蔽软件给收入造成的损失,媒体公司Salon想到了利用数字加密货币的法子。

从两周前开始,Salon公司开始要求使用广告屏蔽软件的读者利用富余的计算力“挖矿”,不过挖的并非比特币,而是一种叫做门罗币的数字加密货币。

随着广告屏蔽软件的流行,很多媒体公司都在寻找替代途径以弥补广告收入上的损失,利用用户的富余计算力“挖矿”也是一种方法。

Salon团队在宣布启动该计划的文章中称:“像其他大多数媒体网站一样,广告屏蔽软件也严重影响了我们的收入,并且建立了一种更加单边化的读者与出版商的关系。”

Salon公司CEO乔丹·霍夫纳表示:“我们看到了这个商业问题,也看到了潜在的解决问题的方法。”Salon公司此次规划了好几种利用阅读量生钱的法子,挖矿这种选项目前已经拥有了一些用户。除此之外,该公司还计划年内推出一款专用平板电脑和付费移动应用。

用户在访问Salon公司官网时,网站会要求用户关掉广告屏蔽软件,或者“抑制广告”。如果选择了后者,用户依然可以屏蔽广告,但Salon会通过一个叫做Coinhive的软件利用用户的处理器挖门罗币。用户在Salon官网上访问多久,挖矿就会持续多久。

Salon公司的目标也不仅仅是门罗币,以后它还会尝试更多类型的数字加密货币。

霍夫纳表示:“随着对各类数字加密货币需求的变化,我们最终会拥有一系列数字加密货币构成的资产组合。”

不过该计划也引起了一些人的质疑,因为门罗币近来被指与某些违法犯罪活动有关。

虽然门罗币和Coinhive都是出于合法目的建立的,但近几个月来,由于“暗网”上有不法分子利用它们进行交易,门罗币和Coinhive软件也因此遭到了不少抨击。随着2017年各类数字加密货币不断涌现,有些犯罪分子已经放弃了知名度最高的比特币,转战到门罗币等其他更加匿名的数字加密货币。Coinhive软件背后的理念虽然很吸引人——也就是利用用户访问量来挖矿,同时用户也不必忍受各种恼人的网络广告了。但这款软件也自带招黑体质,因为经常会有黑客为了挖矿而在用户不知情的情况下劫持他们的电脑。

比如最近,有些国家的政府网站都成了Coinhive软件黑客的攻击目标,其中甚至包括美国和英国的政府网站。另外,有一个版本的Google Chrome浏览器也被发现在未经用户同意的情况下安装了Coinhive软件。

不过霍夫纳表示,他对门罗币和Coinhive与黑客活动的关联并不担心,因为这些都是新技术刚出现时必经的阵痛。

“随着时间的推移,这些问题会自我修正的。在线视频和网络隐私问题刚出现时,我已经在这个行业里了。随着时间的推移,它们都得到了修正。这是历史给我们的经验。”他还表示,新技术变得越流行,他们被犯罪分子利用的程度就会越低。

比如据Chainalysis公司分析,2017年,用于“暗网”非法活动的比特币交易的比例已经从30%下降到了1%。

Salon公司具体能通过挖矿赚到多少钱,目前仍然是个未知数,不过八成是赚不了太多的。根据Coinhive公司的估算,一个网站如果每个月有100万个访问量,每人每次访问五分钟,凭这些计算量,每月也只能挖到0.27个门罗币,以门罗币当前238美元的币值计算,大概一个月只能赚到64美元。

据Salon公司公布,该公司2017财年第四季度有1310名有效用户访问了它的网站,如果算浏览次数的话则可能更高。不过也并非每名用户都会成为Salon的“矿工”,毕竟很多用户可能都会选择不参与这个计划。

不过在霍夫纳等相信数字加密货币发展前景的人看来,风物长宜放眼量,长期的回报才是最重要的。

他在谈及该网站的广告屏蔽计划时表示:“我们是在原来没法赚钱的地方开始赚钱。现在我们只想挖矿,看看下一步会发生什么。”

如果霍夫纳这一注赌对了,那么他肯定会在竞争中走在前列。

“目前,很多没法靠广告赚钱的网站都开始使用Coinhive软件了。比如一些论坛或小的社区网站,用户是愿意给予网站一些回馈的,当然黄色网站也在其列。”Coinhive公司的一名代表在电子邮件中表示:“据我们所知,Salon公司是使用我们的服务的第一家主流媒体公司。”(财富中文网)

译者:Min 

Ad-blocking software has cut a hole in the purses of media companies over the past decade. As part of its plan to combat that trend, media company Salon is jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon.

Starting Sunday, Salon began asking its readers that use ad-blockers to turn over spare computing power in a bid to mine a cryptocurrency known as Monero.

That comes as media companies seek alternatives to ad revenue, which have taken a hit thanks to the popularity of ad-blocking software.

“Like most media sites, ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue and create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher,” Salon’s team wrote in a note addressing the new program.

“We saw a business problem, we saw a potential way out—potential being the key word—and we took it,” said Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner of the new revenue-generating plan. The mining option, which Hoffner says already has some users, is one of several ways Salon says it plans to monetize views. Another part of that plan is a paid tablet and mobile app expected to debut later this year.

Ad-blocking users who visit Salon’s site will be asked to either turn off their ad-blocker, or “suppress ads.” By choosing the latter option, users can block the ads—but in return, Salon uses their processors to mine Monero with a software known as Coinhive. The mining will take place for as long as the user remains on the site.

And it’s not just Monero—eventually, the company may also try to mine more kinds of cryptocurrencies.

“The coins will change over time as the demand for whatever currency changes,” Hoffner said. “We’ll end up building a portfolio of [cryptocurrencies].”

Still, the program did illicit some raised eyebrows, as Monero has recently been associated with criminal activities.

While Monero and Coinhive may have been created for legitimate purposes, both of their reputations have taken quite the beating in recent months as hackers on the dark web make use of their respective advantages. With the rise of cryptocurrency in 2017, some criminals appeared to ditch the pseudonymous Bitcoin in favor of its more anonymous brethren like Monero. And while the idea behind Coinhive is compelling—monetizing based on visits rather than ad views—the software often makes headlines thanks to the hackers who have used it to hijack the computers of unsuspecting users in order to mine cryptocurrency.

Recently, visitors to some government websites in countries including the U.S. and U.K. fell victim to a Coinhive scheme. Similarly, a Google Chrome extension with over 100,000 users was also caught using Coinhive without consumer permission.

Hoffner, though, said he isn’t too worried about the association and thinks it’s part of the growing pains that come with new technologies.

“These things will straighten themselves out over time. I was there at the time of online video and online piracy. They straightened themselves out over time. That’s what history has suggested,” Hoffner said, noting that as these technologies have grown more popular, their uses by the criminal underworld have generally abated to some extent.

The proportion of Bitcoin transactions used for dark web activities, for example, fell from 30% to under 1% in 2017, according to Chainalysis.

Still, it’s unclear exactly how much Salon will make revenue-wise from its cryptocurrency activities. As it stands, it’s unlikely to be a significant figure. Based on Coinhive estimates, a site with one million visits of five minutes each would earn about 0.27 of the cryptocurrency a month. That’s about $64 a month at Monero’s current value of $238.

Salon posted an average of 13.1 million unique visitors a month in the final quarter of 2017—though its view figures are likely higher. Not all of those views, though, will result in Monero mining, as viewers may choose to avoid the program.

But for Hoffner, as it often is for cryptocurrency’s believers, it’s about looking into the long term.

“We are earning something when we were earning nothing,” he said of ad-blocking on the website. “We just want to right now collect coins and see what happens.”

And if Hoffner makes the right bet with Coinhive, he will certainly be ahead of the curve.

“Currently a lot of sites that have trouble monetizing with ads use Coinhive. This includes forums, small community sites where users happily give something back and, of course, porn sites,” a Coinhive representative said in an email. “As far as we know, Salon is the first major media firm to use our service.”

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