Round up #154: interest-based ads, piracy helps sales?

Round up #154: interest-based ads, piracy helps sales?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Amazon lets websites add SendToKindle  button

You know those “sent from my XYZ device” signatures you see sometimes? They do a lot to brand those devices for the recipient of the message.

Amazon now has a way for people with websites and bloggers to add a button that says “SendToKindle”, and will send an article to the reader’s device.

Amazon blog post

It’s going to be great for readers. We have already had the ability to install SendToKindle in some browsers, but this way, it will be up to the content provider to put the button there, not the consumer…which means it will be accessible by a lot more people (who might not have the time or inclination to install it). Here’s a screenshot of the button appearing on


See it at the bottom there?

Note that I opened an article to be able to see that…this is on a per article basis.

I’d love to put that on my blogposts, but I have to look more into how I might be able to do that, since I can’t use the WordPress plug-in with my blog (as far as I know).

How does this relate to the “sent from my…” thing I mentioned earlier?

Well, when developers get the button from here:

The Send to Kindle Button for Websites

they are told this:

“If you provide a periodicals subscription on the Kindle Store, please copy and paste the link to your listing and we will include a subscription offer in the preview box and any article that is sent from your website…”

That’s great for the publishers…and is, I think, a plus for us Kindle users as well. Why is it good for us to see what amounts to advertising? I think it may increase the number of periodical titles in the Kindle store.

Note that they can only get have that ad if they offer a “periodicals subscription on the Kindle Store”.

That may, in fact, have been a major driver of this initiative for Amazon.

My blog ranking has stayed close to the same (I’ve been typically in the bottom half of the top ten at Amazon for a long time…I’ve been as high as number 1, but that’s been a while). However, the number of my subscribers (thanks, subscribers!) has gone down considerably. The logical conclusion there is that others of the top sellers have also gone down…otherwise, my ranking would have changed. I think that’s most likely due to the rise of the tablets, since people are less likely to pay for a blog subscription there. In fact, Amazon doesn’t even let you subscribe to I Love My Kindle for the Kindle Fire, even though I get people asking me how to do that. If someone has largely moved from an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle) to a Fire, they may cancel their subscriptions.

Overall, I think this is a good thing, and quite clever…good example of synergistic strategies.

Opting out of Interest-Based Ads at Amazon

This was a fascinating thing which I ran across at Amazon!

There is a lot of talk about “Native Advertising” (see, for example, this All Things D article).

What does that mean?

It means that the ads you see make sense in the context of what you are reading. I suggested that might happen in e-books back in 2010 (Advertising in E-books). I looked there at the two axes of intrusiveness and appropriateness. For example, a coupon code for travel to Hawaii in a guidebook to Hawaii that was in the back of the book would be very appropriate and not very intrusive.

We haven’t seen it happen much in e-books, to my knowledge, but it certainly happens on websites.

Including Amazon.

On this Amazon page

Interest-Based Ads

they say

“On both Amazon-owned and operated sites and unaffiliated sites, Amazon displays interest-based advertising using information you make available to us when you interact with our sites, content, or services. Interest-based ads, also sometimes referred to as personalized or targeted ads, are displayed to you based on information from activities such as purchasing on our sites, visiting sites that contain Amazon content or ads, interacting with Amazon tools, or using our payment services, like Checkout by Amazon.”

That’s just a short excerpt from the page.

As regular readers know, I like the way Amazon interacts with its customers, and it’s one of the main reasons I recommended the Kindle over the NOOK when the latter was initially released.

I think the fact that Amazon has this page explaining the policy is a great thing! Not every company would do that.

Amazon is also famously protective of its customers’ privacy, and has gone to court to fight government agencies wanting data it considered inappropriate.

As far as privacy here, they say

“We do not provide any personal information to advertisers or to third party sites that display our interest-based ads. However, advertisers and other third-parties (including the ad networks, ad-serving companies, and other service providers they may use) may assume that users who interact with or click on a personalized ad or content are part of the group that the ad or content is directed towards (for example, users in the Pacific Northwest who bought or browsed for classical music). Also, some third-parties may provide us information about you (such as the sites where you have been shown ads or demographic information) from offline and online sources that we may use to provide you more relevant and useful advertising.”

You might still be thinking that you don’t want interest-based advertising…after all, some people choose not to have ad-supported versions of their Kindles, and give up the discount they would get by having the advertisers subsidize those devices.

Well, Amazon even lets you opt out of them!

You can go to the Amazon

Amazon Advertising Preferences

page and opt out of seeing them.

It’s done per browser, and apparently done by a cookie (a small piece of software commonly used on the internet), so if you delete your cookies, you would have to do it again.

It also doesn’t stop personal recommendations.

Still, it’s nice that they give us the option.

I’m not going to opt out…hey, if they want to show me an ad for something I might like as a vegetarian, I’m okay with that. Not seeing personalized ads doesn’t mean not seeing ads…it just means seeing less tailored ones.

EU finds that piracy doesn’t depress online music sales

This is a complex issue. Rightsholders often cite the number of illegal downloads that happen as lost sales…as if everybody who will get a pirated copy of an e-book would otherwise of paid for the book, and that simply seems excessively  presumptuous. I’m sure many people would not have paid for the book…they just wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t free.


European Commission report

tends to confirm that (I got the heads up on this from this TechCrunch article by Gregory Ferenstein during my morning Flipboard read).

I have not yet read the entire report, but the abstract says,

“This paper analyses the behaviour of digital music consumers on the Internet. Using clickstream data on a panel of morethan 16,000 European consumers, we estimate the effects of illegal downloading and legal streaming on the legal purchasesof digital music. Our results suggest that Internet users do not view illegal downloading as a substitute for legal digital music.Although positive and significant, our estimated elasticities are essentially zero: a 10% increase in clicks on illegaldownloading websites leads to a 0.2% increase in clicks on legal purchase websites. Online music streaming services arefound to have a somewhat larger (but still small) effect on the purchases of digital sound recordings, suggestingcomplementarities between these two modes of music consumption. According to our results, a 10% increase in clicks onlegal streaming websites leads to up to a 0.7% increase in clicks on legal digital purchase websites. We find important crosscountry differences in these effect.”

In other words, illegal downloading tended to increase (slightly) legal buying…it didn’t make it less likely.

That doesn’t mean piracy is right, in my opinion. I sometimes see that argument from people: “What I am doing is helping the other person, so therefore it doesn’t matter if it is illegal.” For example, someone might argue that if they infringed on images for a movie in a way that tended to promote the movie. That doesn’t make the infringement more legal, although it might reduce the chances that the rightsholder would come after you.

Still, it’s interesting data. I’ve always argued that the best way to reduce piracy is to make your e-books available in ways that consumers want (at reasonable prices and reasonably convenient). I believe the vast majority of people would prefer to buy their e-books legally from Amazon than get them illegally from some site they don’t know. I think I’ve quoted the poll in this article of mine

Pirates of the High E-s

more often than any of my other polls.

What do you think? Were you surprised to find out about interest-based ads at Amazon? Will you opt out, and if so, why? Have you already used the SendToKindle button on a website? Had you installed it from Amazon for yourself previously? Do you think rightsholders should back off on going after pirates if they are helping their sales, or is protecting the rights more important? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

9 Responses to “Round up #154: interest-based ads, piracy helps sales?”

  1. rogerknights Says:

    Another angle on the Send to Kindle button is that it advertises the Kindle to non-owners.

    “My blog ranking has stayed close to the same (I’ve been typically in the bottom half of the top ten at Amazon for a long time…I’ve been as high as number 1, but that’s been a while). However, the number of my subscribers (thanks, subscribers!) has gone down considerably.”

    I’m a subscriber, but I’ve cut down on the number of Kindle blogs I subscribe to, in part because of Amazon’s overly restricting policy on making “clips” of blog articles. Here’s a suggestion I sent to Amazon Jan 29, 2012 on this matter:

    Recently [on Jan. 13, 2012] I complained to you about Amazon’s clipping limit on blog-articles that customers subscribe to. Here’s what I wrote:

    The clipping limit on Kindle blogs is too restrictive–and obsolete in light of “Send to Kindle”

    Your new “Send to Kindle” add-on, which can be invoked from a web browser’s print dialog box, and the existence of independent browser add-ons like SENDtoREADER, should cause Amazon to rethink its “clipping limit” policy.

    What we have now is an absurd world where the free-riders who read Kindle blogs on the web can “clip” all the articles they want (have them sent to their Kindles), but the paying Kindle-blog subscribers can’t do so after they run into a clipping limit.

    On Jan. 13 I received a response from Karthick M. that contained the following paragraph:

    “Please note that each title in the Kindle Store has a limit to how much of the content can be clipped or highlighted. This limit is set on a title-by-title basis by the publisher, and cannot be changed.”


    1. I was talking about limits on blog-article clipping; the response seems to deal with limits on books. (Blogs are produced by bloggers, not publishers.)

    2. I e-mailed the well known blogger Bufo Calvin, and he’s told me he’s unaware of setting any limits on his blog.

    3. The limit I am experiencing applies to all 10 of the blogs I subscribed to, even though I rarely clipped anything from some of them, so it seems unlikely I’m running into individual limits.

    4. Most critically, Amazon’s own free Omnivoracious blog has started refusing to let me clip articles from it, although I was a recent subscriber and hadn’t clipped much from it. If it’s true that each blogger sets his own clipping limit, Amazon should eliminate its limit on Omnivoracious. If it’s not true, and Amazon is applying some crude metric overall, it should change that metric–and consider eliminating it entirely.

    As a result of your policy, I’ve unsubscribed to Omnivoracious (and three other blogs). I’d rather not see a great article than see it and not be able to clip it.

    Amazon’s “earwax” needs to be routed out!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Thanks for sharing that!

      I do think that person might have been confused about your question being about blogs! Those are different.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’m not sure I fully understand the “send to Kindle” function. What exactly does it send, and it what format. Does it count as e-mail which we then have to pay for, or is it a free send? Does it stay on the Kindle until we delete it and then go to the archives, or does it eventually expire like blog content?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I did check to make sure it worked like the SendToKindle we have for browsers, and it does.

      Generally, it is going to send an article, although it could be somewhat sloppy in that definition. I haven’t checked the format, but I can try and do that for you. You set up how you want it to go…for example, you can say wi-fi only (we aren’t charged for wi-fi deliveries). I have it also go to the archives, although that isn’t necessary. It won’t expire on your device.

      Here, this was one of my articles on a browser version before…I think that will help.

  3. rogerknights Says:

    I’m glad you liked my idea, Bufo. Here are three other blog-related ideas I sent to Amazon’s Kindle-feedback address over the years:

    1. Allow the “Gifting” of Kindle Blogs

    I hope Amazon will eventually allow the gifting of Kindle blogs, such as Bufo Calvin’s “I Love My Kindle.” The gift-subscription period should be for less than the standard full year—say, only for a month or two, instead—since the recipient might be only lukewarm about it and wouldn’t want it constantly arriving for a long period.

    I’d like to give a recipient short-length subs to five (say) blogs @ $3 each, figuring that he would become a rabid fan of at least one. That’s the sort of gift one likes to give—something the giftee is extremely grateful for. (I’d have five chances to hit the bulls-eye with this sort of gift, and the “misses” wouldn’t count against me.)

    2. Provide Free, Random, No-Obligation, Ongoing Samples of Kindle Blogs

    Ms. Cairo, on “The Kindle Blog Report” wrote about:

    “… the importance of subscribing to these blogs—just to take a look at them if nothing else! People put their blogs on Kindle with high hopes … they get only one or two subscriptions, and then the blog fades away. At a cost of 99 cents a month per blog, and with a 2 week free trial, there’s no reason not to subscribe to a blog that interests you!”

    Amazon could encourage Kindlers to subscribe to Kindle blogs by offering them the option of being sent a free random sample Kindle blog per (day / week / month—the user would choose the frequency. Kindlers could opt in and/or out of various controversial blog categories like sex, politics, and religion.

    And/or Kindlers could opt to be sent only a list of blog titles at intervals, from which they could choose up to six (say) titles for delivery. Users would have to “opt in” to subscribe; it wouldn’t be like the current “opt out” situation after signing up for a trial subscription.

    This would be easiest to introduce on the KSO (“Special Offer”) models. If KSO owners were rapturously happy with the offerings, Amazon would be justified in asking non-KSO owners if they’d like to sign up too.

    3. Allow Blog Subscribers to “Bookmark” Blog Articles for Rereading

    Rather than clipping articles from blogs I subscribe to, I’d sometimes rather “bookmark” them so that I could reread them in the future (when I’m again reading that blog’s feed on the Kindle). This would often be more convenient than attempting to read them on the My Clippings file. To do this, I’d click on a Menu item “Select a Bookmarked article from this blog.” This would call up a menu of those articles, one or more of which I could checkbox-click for delivery (over WiFi only, perhaps, to reduce transmission costs) to my Kindle.

    (Or maybe the blog’s entire roster of past article titles could be presented—perhaps as an extra-cost option.)

    This would provide faster and more readable access to past articles than either using the web browser or dragging My Clippings over to the computer, extracting the article, and reading it on the computer. A subscriber who’s pressed for time could quickly scan through all his incoming blogs and bookmark the interesting articles for later reading. It would therefore stimulate subscriptions to blogs.

    I also suggest that users be allowed to “highlight” & capture passages in their bookmarked articles—i.e., those blogs whose authors allow it. this is currently forbidden, by policy.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!


      On your first one, there is no standard year…people subscribe to blogs by the month. I’ve never seen it as a year subscription, but it might be there. For them to process a gift that’s ninety-nine cents…well, they could do that. I’m sure the blogs are really only cost effective for them when people subscribe for a while (thanks, subscribers!). So, if the gift expired after the first month, that wouldn’t make that happen (turn somebody in to a long term subscriber). I can understand them not offering gifts for subscription items like that.

      On number two, I think the idea of a “blog sampler” might work. I don’t think Amazon wants to do a lot of packaging of blogs (or honestly, pay much attention to them at all), but I can see the possibilities.

      On the third one…I’d be pretty sure that Amazon doesn’t currently have access to articles that aren’t in what I call the “blog blob”. When your blog is delivered, you typically get the ten most recent articles. That overwrites the last blog blob you got. I don’t think there’s any communication from the blog blog to the blog website, outside of the one way RSS (Really Simple Syndication) that feeds the subscription.

      Not 100% sure, though…I like how you are always thinking!

      • rogerknights Says:

        [Re #1]:
        “So, if the gift expired after the first month, that wouldn’t make that happen (turn somebody in to a long term subscriber).”

        OK, make the minimum be for three months, if absolutely necessary. But I think one month ought to be enough to tempt many recipients into subscribing. If it doesn’t, Amazon could drop the feature.

        “On the third one…I’d be pretty sure that Amazon doesn’t currently have access to articles that aren’t in what I call the “blog blob”.”

        Yes, this would require Amazon to set up a corral in the sky for all user-checked show-me-later articles. Or maybe for all articles ever sent through the feed. But that shouldn’t be terribly hard, I hope. Amazon could then allow browsing through all past articles, and charge a 50-cent or $1 fee, say, for downloading any one of them.

        (Say, this suggests a way around the current draconian clipping limit on blog subscriptions. Users could be charged a 50-cent (say) fee for each article they clip once past their limit.)

        “I like how you are always thinking!”

        Thanks. I like how Amazon is always innovating. That’s why it’s so frustratrating to see it miss opportunites for improvement like the ones I (and you) point out.

  4. Monica Davis Says:

    Bufo, another great article. With the addition of sending info from websites do you suggest we download an anti-virus app onto our Kindle to protect it? If so, any you would suggest?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Monica!

      Generally, you don’t have to worry much about viruses on the Reflective Screen Kindles (anything but a Fire). Since they can’t really install much, it’s hard to put a virus on them. As to the Fire, there are some anti-virus programs for those, but I don’t really have a recommendation…

      Anti-Virus Programs for the Kindle Fires

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