Do you use an ad blocker? That’s cool — just let us use your computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrencies.
That is the idea behind a programme that left-leaning US media group Salon began testing on Monday, according to a spokesperson.
“For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies,” it says, opening up an intriguing new potential revenue stream for media companies.
Users wishing to avoid pop-up ads are presented with a new pop-up, which indicates the website would “like to use your computing power”. The website will use your processor “for calculations”, it says, claiming the program will be run “securely” without the need to install any additional software.
The pop-up seen by fastFT says the scheme is powered by Coinhive, which has developed a program that runs in users’ web browsers, allowing companies to mine monero — a cryptocurrency similar to the more well-known bitcoin. The required number-crunching miner can be embedded “directly into [their] website”.
The idea of offering users a trade-off between seeing advertisements or offering up their computer power comes at a time when publishers, including The Financial Times, face growing issues from ad-blocking tools.
Salon, a publicly traded company, alluded to this risk in a quarterly filing this month with US securities regulators:
Most of our advertising revenue is derived from display or video advertisements on our website. As a result, ad-blocking technologies or software could reduce the number of display or video advertisements, which could result in decreased revenue.
In a frequently-asked questions document that explains to users why it has launched the programme, Salon said: “We realise that specific technological developments now mean that it is not merely the reader’s eyeballs that have value to our site — it’s also your computer’s ability to make calculations, too. Indeed, your computer itself can help support our ability to pay our editors and journalists.”
All this may, however, drain readers’ energy bills. As Salon notes, one frequently-asked question may be: “Why are my fans turning on?”
Reach the author of this article on Twitter: @adamsamson.
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