DoGood Headquarters

Another headache for web publishers, DoGooder blocks ads for a good cause

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This one is bound to send web publishers’ heads spinning.

While ad-blockers are nothing new, those who install such browser pug-ins tend to be geeks and/or those who believe that the web should remain commerce-free. But what if users could replace ads on any site they visit with ones for a variety of good causes and generate money for those causes at the same time.

That’s the functionality offered by DoGood Headquarters via their free browser plug-in, the DoGooder, which serves up campaigns related to green initiatives and social causes, with the company donating 50% of any profits to charity. The new ads are also highly targeted since anybody installing the plug-in will, presumably, be interested in ‘doing good’.

What’s even more disruptive, however, is that publishers, apparently, won’t notice a thing. The original ads aren’t so much blocked as obstructed as the underlying ads still get served, resulting in publishers still getting paid. The only ones to lose out are the original advertisers, obviously.

As long as this all goes unnoticed.

However, we can see this potential headache for publishers getting worse. Ad-blockers like DoGooder effectively turn the browser into a powerful fund raising tool. Couple this with the way users raised money for Haiti online and schemes that enable the traditional model to be subverted, shifting power from content publishers to content consumers could become more widespread outside the realm of geeks and those with an ideological stance against online ads.

Imagine a web publisher blocking users who have installed DoGooder. Turning away readers because they want to ‘do good’ doesn’t sound like smart PR or branding. While advertisers will also need to be kept onside. It’s probably a case of they’re dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. In the end we suspect that site owners may just have to get used to this kind of thing – perhaps embrace it as a way of keeping users on side even.

Don’t you just love the smell of disruption.

  • Marfi

    Another example of the uneffectivenes of the banner advertising, pretty shortly banners, banner blindness ad blockers and dogoodies will be all history since advertising will be more and more served in the content streams – the first model that yahoo thought of – the banner as a copy of the billboard, has lived its days and now the word of the mouth will roll in :)

  • Andy Church

    Saw this coming a mile way – Faisil’s idea was absolutely spot on. My bet is, he is going to become a Rupert Murdoch poster boy as it relates online advertising models.

  • John

    Having the choice to see the web how I want to is cool. The article doesn’t mention that you can see original ads at anytime by just right clicking a web page. If you are concerned about supporting a site or brand, just choose to see their ads. Seems pretty simple. Not sure advertisers are losing out. I don’t want to see their ads anyway… and if I did, I’d just do as above…

  • Michael Wales

    Been tossing a similar idea around in my head for years now – how to convert a site’s Google AdSense API key over to my own. Illegal? Maybe. Unethical? Definitely. Fun to try out and see what happens? Definitely.

    Just could never think of a means to actually make it possible (not technically but how to convince people to actually use it). Why did I not think of jumping on the green/save the earth bandwagon. Perfect way to steal money from the rest of the world and profit off of their work. Genius!

  • Bob

    Wow. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You may be right that it will be politically impossible to condemn this publicly and so it will all happen quietly as companies stop buying ads. If this gets any traction, it will eventually ruin ad-supported sites.

  • John

    Distorting CPM and destroying CTR hurts both the publisher and the advertiser. Don’t install this if you like free content, you’re only going to encourage more to more behind paywalls.

    • John

      How does it destroy click through rates? I have chosen NOT to see ads from a regular advertiser.. the chances on me clicking on one are zero anyways…. point seems irelevant.. besides that… ad blockers are all over the place… end users have the right to choose how to see the web…

    • Groxx

      This is exactly identical to any ad-blocking program, except that it still downloads the file (AdBlock, at least, prevents the download entirely most of the time).

      As most ads are paid based on time and/or clickthroughs, this is precisely the same. The only ones that lose are the minority who pay by *views*.

      • John

        The fact that they’re downloaded but hidden is a big problem for site owners and advertisers. It screws up statistics. For everyone X downloads, you expect a certain number of clicks. This is how you measure the value and effectiveness of your ads.

        Now you’ll have a bunch of downloads that are never actually shown. Your ads are suddenly doing worse, but you can’t see why. With traditional no-download ad blockers, that isn’t a problem.

      • Groxx

        That’s a good point, hadn’t thought of it that way.

        Though I should point out that I block my ads on all websites I frequent by writing quick&dirty CSS “display:none !important” hacks. I highly doubt I’m alone in this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more than DoGood downloaders will amount to, unless they get a LOT of attention (a distinct possibility, but I like my ads GONE, not replaced).

      • John

        Point well taken John. But I still think it’s moot. Remember, an end user in the context of the DoGood plug-in can CHOOSE when and when not to see ads. Stats are fine and dandy, but what is the reality of what is going on in this context? If I have chosen not to see an ad, then I obviously have chosen not to click it. I become just one of the many stats of people that “don’t click”– this does not effect the bottom line statistic (its just like me going to a site and not clicking an ad that I see). Seems to me there will be virtually zero effect. Ads won’t be doing worse, they will be doing the same. Point to Groxx— I believe this is more common (ad blockers) which DO effect publishers bottom lines… but even that is of little matter… Groxx has every right to do what he is doing… and that is super important…In the end, maybe this will encourage ads to be even MORE relevant to the end user… the net has become a wasteland of obtrusive advertising…

      • John

        Interesting angle from a major online publisher:

  • Oils and soap

    it turns out that everything it will be pretty soon “eco” but i think it’s a good cause.

  • Oils and soap

    pretty soon everything it will be “eco”. but i think it’s a good cause.

  • John

    This is akin to me going down to a market, buying a whole bunch of food, going into Sainsbury’s or Walmart, destroying/removing their products from their shelves and selling my products to their customers instead.

    • John

      Curiously, can people still find the products you removed from the shelves in Walmart and buy them somewhere in the store?

  • Duncan Malcolm

    This does indeed smell like disruption! Sounds like we’re going to have a fun Q1 2010 :)

  • Why Hire Me > Blog

    Fun with conventional wisdom…

    DoGood has been getting some great traction in the blogsphere and press this past couple of weeks. Dogood provides web surfers a way to see selective advertising that is tied to green causes. Half of its profits are funneled back to green, philanthropi…

  • Banner ad poachers. | Chris Rock Writes

    […] is a free browser plug-in that automatically replaces banner ads with do-good ads or thoughts. Or as DoGood Headquarters co-founder Faisal Sethi, who looks […]

  • Dyske

    I just learned about DoGood, and felt concerned about it. I’m happy to see that there are others who feel the same way. This plugin is deceptive. It’s ultimately a theft because DoGood is a private business, not even a non-profit. They do not produce any contents themselves, yet make money from selling ads for those contents. Their use of good causes is so distracting that we cannot see their exploitations.

    But the founder was willing to debate with me on this issue on my blog, so if you are interested, please see:

  • Fun with conventional wisdom

    […] has been getting some great traction in the blogsphere and press this past couple of weeks. Dogood provides web surfers a way to see selective advertising […]

  • Happy Rambles … a Great Start for a New Year «

    […] Then the email came from a friend of mine, Faisal Sethi, who I consider a constant innovator, a great creative mind with an incessant passion to venture into new territories and challenge himself. In the past year, Faisal’s program Do-Good (an ad blocker technology in support of good causes) gained traction and was featured in TechCrunch. […]

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