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Bezos-Owned Washington Post Embeds Amazon Buy-It-Now Buttons Mid-sentence 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the wait-till-they-start-delivering-papers-with-drones dept.
McGruber writes: While reading a story in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, I saw that the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences. For example, in this article, a sentence about the sales figures for differing covers of The Great Gatsby read: At Politics and Prose, the traditional [BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [BUY IT NOW] cover. This change follows the July news of much larger than expected losses at Amazon and a 10-percent decline in the Amazon's stock value. In related news, the Post reports that the literary executor of George Orwell's estate has accused Amazon.com of doublespeak after they cited one of Orwell's essays in their ebook pricing debate with Hachette and other publishers.
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Bezos-Owned Washington Post Embeds Amazon Buy-It-Now Buttons Mid-sentence

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2014 @02:58PM (#47685589)

    All advertising eventually repels people. It's only a matter of time before someone seizes the opportunity and takes your customers away. Ads associate you with cheapness. There is no coming back from a reputation as an ad whore.

    On a side note: Be thankful for ad blockers. I hold quite a few sites in undeserved regard because I don't see the ads.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Ad blockers repel content providers....

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Well, that's no problems as it makes is a mutual repulsion society. That form of advertising earned Washington post a complete script and cookie block https://addons.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org] from me, and if the page shows up blank from now on that's no problem for me. Now if script blocker https://addons.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org] would only add notes that show up for a blocked script so you can remember why you blocked it. I also target advertising companies that are complicit in marketing stupidity and kill their scri

        • "So you're the cookie-blocker coming from IP address......" Sorry, sites will figure out who you are somehow.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            I also kill ad bureau cookies routinely for exactly that reason but hey if they behave themselves there is no problem don't and they have successfully achieved anti-marketing with my loathing of the product/company marketed, the site that hosted the ad and the add bureau that served the ad. Two out of the three immediately lose and the last one eventually loses over the long term.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @03:15PM (#47685671)

      All advertising eventually repels people.

      Exactly. This is why, throughout history, companies that advertize have consistently failed, while companies that just sit back and wait for the world to beat a path to their door have prospered. Clearly, advertising doesn't work.

      Ads associate you with cheapness

      So true. This is why companies like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, by advertising heavily, devalue their products, and only make pennies on the dollar compared to unadvertised brands available from eBay and shipped from China.

      • by Rick Zeman (15628)

        +1 for the snark.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Snark that misses the point.

        He wasn't talking about companies that buy ads, he's talking about companies the sell ads c.f. "ad whore."

        • by Rick Zeman (15628)

          Snark that misses the point.

          He wasn't talking about companies that buy ads, he's talking about companies the sell ads c.f. "ad whore."

          Yeah, he's talking about successful companies. While correlation isn't causation, I have to admit he has a point.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, that's not entirely true. The companies you mention advertise heavily in certain circles and not at all in most. Doing that, web style, would indeed make them seem cheap. As to the unadvertised brands, if you're talking about knockoff copies, it's been my observational experience that many people actually seek those things out because they don't want to pay for the actual brands but they want people to think they did. Our government, which spends more money on tracking crap like that down than the

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Saturday August 16, 2014 @05:59PM (#47686219) Homepage

        Spammy advertising doesn't work and repels customers. Spam email, annoying product placement, animated/interactive adverts and the like put people off eventually. That's why you don't get "1ouis Vvitt0n" emails, or at least not from Louis Vuitton.

    • All advertising eventually repels people.

      That's kind of delusional. People still watch the super bowl for the commercials, after all.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      I agree that ads are distracting, and they do decrease my enjoyment of reading, but not so much that I need to block them or refuse to look at material with advertisements.

      "Cheapness" is also something that is a false value. If I have a reason to trust the words on the page of a story with distracting formatting and ads as being a higher class of journalism than something in a pristine, well formatted, advertisement-less site, I will continue to read the sloppy site and glean what I can from it. I will al

    • There is no coming back from a reputation as an ad whore.

      Unless of course you are actually advertising prostitution...
      NSFW - http://www.sherisranch.com/ [sherisranch.com]
      in which case being "an ad whore" is exactly what you were shooting for!

  • by The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @02:59PM (#47685591)

    So apparently Washington Post has joined the Amazon Affiliates program.... that's so 1990s of them!

  • The initial stories of the purchase made sure to note that this was a "personal purchase" by Bezos. If WP is going to embed ads, is a digital subscription going to become part of Amazon Prime?

    • Re:Amazon Prime (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @03:40PM (#47685743)

      It doesn't matter if the Washington Post is personally owned or not - Bezos' personal fortune is dependent on both it and on Amazon.com, and he's the one calling the shots with both companies. So this attempt to use one of his companies to drive business to another of his companies shouldn't be surprising.

    • I was wondering why the Washington Post was spamming me! How did the Washington Post get my email address? Now I know. Jeff Bezos is allowing his "personal purchase" [politico.com] to have the email address I gave to Amazon.

      Bezos apparently bought the Washington Post so that he can use it to try to force legislators to give him attention. The U.S. is becoming even more a rich-get-richer country.

      The subjects of the spam messages:

      {SPECIAL PREVIEW} Summer Sale: JUST $19 -- SAVE UP TO 81% OFF -- for One Year of Unlimited Digital Access!

      {24 HOURS ONLY} Summer Sale: JUST $19 -- SAVE UP TO 81% OFF -- for One Year of Unlimited Digital Access!

      {EXTENDED} Summer Sale: JUST $19 -- SAVE UP TO 81% OFF -- for One Year of Unlimited Digital Access!

      I think it is a very effective advertising campaign. The effect will be that people will try to avoid buying things from Amazon. Also, after the "Summer Sale", digital access to the Washington Post will cost $100 per year!
  • They already do this with things such as stock quotes. They put "Apple" in there, and it automatically adds the ticker symbol, the day's performance, and a link to more information.

    I don't see how this is any different.

    • the stock thing provides additional information about a stock. this is an inline ad. the difference is like day and butts.
      • Stock exchanges make money, and trading stocks is a way for companies and investors to make (or lose, but that's not the hope) money. It's an inline ad for the stock of the company being mentioned. A very well hidden inline ad, but an ad nonetheless.

        • no. it doesn't go to a location where you can buy or sell stocks, and companies don't pay for placement in articles, and it adds value to the article. buy it now links do not add value.
          • Sure they do. If someone wanted to know where to get more information about the referenced item and buy it, that's added value.

            It's only not added value if that's not something you want to do. Just as if, if you are not interested in the stock or its performance, it adds no value for you.

            The argument here is not about whether it adds value - it does. The argument is over the type of value it adds, the cost of that value, and whether the added value is worth the cost - which is considerable.

    • by Chelloveck (14643)
      It's not different. I find the ticker thing mighty annoying, too.
  • One-Click boo boo

  • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @03:27PM (#47685699) Journal

    I'm not having a serious problem with this.

    I hate today's commercials so much, I mute them if I can't fast forward them, and am almost forced to only watch DVR'ed content, and tend to avoid watching live TV now. I run adblock. When its a site I go to frequently, I whitelist it, and quickly block it again once I see an ad that does popups, or automatically plays audio/video, or otherwise detracts from my reading.

    I would go nuts if a "buy it now" button popped up while reading fiction, but this is a newspaper article. I don't find the button intrusive, because I'm not trying to follow artistic nuance in a newspaper article. It doesn't really take up the screen, and they're placed in front of products to sell, namely "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Great Gatsby".

    It seems to me no more intrusive than a banner ad, and I'm much more annoyed at large rectangular ads that break up article paragraphs. So what am I missing here?

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @03:53PM (#47685775) Homepage

      It seems to me no more intrusive than a banner ad, and I'm much more annoyed at large rectangular ads that break up article paragraphs. So what am I missing here?

      IMO, the apparent conflict of interest. In an ideal free market, ad placements are competitive. Exclusive deals between entities which enjoy very large market-shares in their respective markets have a high probability of inhibiting GDP growth in the long run, according to both empirical and theoretical economics.

      • by Mandrel (765308)

        Yes, the anti-competitive nature of such vertical integration is bad for the economy. The links are also bad for the individual because of their distraction, because they turn an independent information source into a sales force, and because they give preferential treatment to one particular vendor.

        But Slashdot does something similar with its book reviews.

      • The Washington Post, historically one of the most respected daily news sources, was hemorrhaging money while attempting to follow demand and make the transition from dead tree news juggernaut to an internet news site.

        Major influence peddlers of the past, major newspaper owners were often more interested in the power derived from an ability to shape public opinion than the bottom line...although they were a great deal more profitable before instantaneous news became impossible to compete with.

        Bezos is de

        • by Bob9113 (14996)

          Bezos is dealing with the challenge of ushering the decaying giant into the new World, and in some fashion, that includes monetizing the operation. A button for Amazon purchases? Were you expecting a Rakuten link?

          Identifying and understanding the reason that an inefficient trade agreement occurs does not make it efficient. I know why a scorpion stings me, but I do not consider it a good thing.

          • Identifying and understanding the reason that an inefficient trade agreement occurs does not make it efficient.

            Identifying and understanding are the keystone to education and betterment.

            I know why a scorpion stings me, but I do not consider it a good thing.

            Therein lies the behavior modification. Good and bad aside, you damn sure learn not to place your stingables in harm's way of another scorpion.

            • by Bob9113 (14996)

              Therein lies the behavior modification. Good and bad aside, you damn sure learn not to place your stingables in harm's way of another scorpion.

              Seems reasonable. What's the next step; how do you recommend we do it? In this case, the stingable is the market economy, and the scorpion is collusive trade. How do we move our economic system out of the way of Bezos' actions?

    • It seems to me no more intrusive than a banner ad

      i have my problems with Amazon, but I'm glad this is happening

      it's a way for owners of newspapers to make their online portion profitable without affecting editorial funciton

      see, print has never been "dead"...it's always been a failure of the business model of the owners of the paper...usually based on a complete misunderstanding of **how to make money from the internet**

      status quo in tech says, "scape personal data from users to deliver custom ads & char

    • by McGruber (1417641)

      I'm not having a serious problem with this.

      Did you know that Politics and Prose [politics-prose.com] is the best independent bookstore in Washington and, IMHO, one of the best bookstores in the country? The Politics and Prose wikipedia page says it original co-owners "became known as literary tastemakers." [wikipedia.org]

      Consider that as you re-read the example I choose for the summary:

      At Politics and Prose, the traditional [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [AMAZON BUY IT NOW] cover.

      Do you see the problem now?

      I'll end with a shout-out to the NPR program On The Media [onthemedia.org] - I look forward to hearing OTM cover this issue!

      (This post not edited by Brooke.)

      • by lgw (121541)

        Do you see the problem now?

        Not even a little. The whole point of owning a newspaper is the ability to print whatever crap you want to. If Bezos wants to use his pet paper to pimp Amazon to the few dozen elderly people who still read it, more power to him. Individuals who own newspapers publishing what they want is the very essence of the First Amendment.

        Are you offended that Democratic-party-publishing-organ WaPo is being used for dirty, dirty profits? Suggesting people listen to Democratic-party-publishing-organ NPR to get their

      • Didn't bother me then. Doesn't bother me now. In future WaPo articles, I expect my eyes to glaze by them as if they didn't exist.

    • New Washington Post headlines . . .

      "Hurricanes to slam the entire US coasts . . . and the stuff in between!" [click here to buy a hurricane survival kit]

      "Martians land in Washington and attack the White House!" [click here to buy guns and ammo]

      "Ebola epidemic hits US!" [click here to buy skin lightening cream, because only white folks will get the vaccine]

    • I would go nuts if a "buy it now" button popped up while reading fiction, but this is a newspaper article.

      When newspaper articles are written so as to be conducive to advertizing, they are fiction of the worst sort.

      • Same as it ever was.

        There was a period after the Watergate Scandal when it became popular to hold journalists up to high esteem for reasons that have never really been explained. While essentially, Journalism School majors are people who flunked out of Calculus, and THEN were also rejected by the English department.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @03:29PM (#47685705)

    There were a LOT of those "buy it now" links scattered all through the article!

    If I were a Washington Post subscriber, I might very well cancel my subscription over something like that - it completely breaks up the flow of the article. That's highly annoying.

    • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:00PM (#47685799)
      there's also something called "journalistic integrity" in which advertising content is separate from news content. The next step is for WaPo to shape its news coverage to maximize its affiliate volume. also change its name to huffpo.
      • "journalistic integrity", that's a good one.
      • The content-sales line has been blurred beyond repair. In-text ads like this has been a dream of the ad buyers since day one of the web, and they're starting to become acceptable. It's now inappropriate to talk about a title in Amazon's collection without a hyperlink to that page, and Amazon will gladly pay on a sale of that item from a customer that comes that way.

        • The content-sales line has been blurred beyond repair.

          this is the difference between content creation and journalism. Go read buzzfeed or huffpo if that's what you expect of your news.

          It's now inappropriate to talk about a title in Amazon's collection without a hyperlink to that page, and Amazon will gladly pay on a sale of that item from a customer that comes that way.

          I've never seen this before in a respectable news source. Nytimes, WaPo, and LATimes are the 3 top-tier papers in the nation.

          • It wasn't possible until Amazon wrote an API that notices a title an inserts the correct listing on their site. Remember, Bezos owns both WaPo and Amazon....

            • perhaps WaPo read all the comments and tweets, cuz the buy it now links are gone. a win for common sense!
    • by reikae (80981)

      I disagree; if all ads were as small and inconspicuous as these are, I would even consider getting rid of Adblock altogether to support the content providers. I prefer these instead of banners, even if the links do break up the flow somewhat.

    • The annoying part is not the link itself, but the stupid button. The different color of the text lets me know that it might be a link and hovering the mouse over it will show me where the link goes. If it says "amazon" then I can safely assume I could buy the item in question there. It should be just an innocuous as a similar link to a blog or another article.
  • by Nate the greatest (2261802) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @03:31PM (#47685711)
    Did anyone else notice that the affiliate tag on the links suggest that the links belong to Slate magazine and not the newspaper? For the record, Bezos didn't buy Slate last year, and I don't think he owns it now. http://www.slate.com/blogs/mon... [slate.com] Given the unanswered questions, I'm going to assume there's more to this story. I think this could be a syndicated article which arrived with the links. Or perhaps something broke in the WP's servers, I don't know. But I do know that I checked a half dozen other articles and didn't see any affiliate links.
    • Slate is the national online magazine that the Post bought from Microsoft about a decade ago. So, it's a co-owned property. Seems like they programed the Post's website whenever a title is mentioned, link to the appropriate Amazon page.

      • I don't think it's co-owned. Read the article I linked to. Also, I can't find any other affiliate links to Amazon, so there is no evidence to support the idea that "whenever a title is mentioned, link to the appropriate Amazon page". If that were the case then song titles would also link there.
        • by ShaunC (203807)

          Per Wikipedia,

          Slate is a United States English language online current affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004 it was purchased by The Washington Post Company.

          So, if Bezos owns the Washington Post and the Washington Post owns Slate, well, there we have it. WaPo's using the "slatmag-20" affiliate ID to simplify things for accounting purposes, I guess.

          • In another thread, somebody pointed out that it was the Washington Post was divested from the Washington Post Company, leaving it as The Slate Group because they sold the piece that generated the company name.

      • by Jayfar (630313)

        No. Bezos bought the Washington Post newspaper and online version, but he did not buy the Washington Post Company, which owns slate.

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/mon... [slate.com]

        --quote--
        First, Slate is a property of the Washington Post Company but is not part of the Washington Post. Neither it nor Foreign Policy nor the Root have been sold. In fact, Bezos isn't even buying the building in which the Post is currently located.
        --end quote--

  • There are ads (buy now) everywhere in the modern world (buy now).

    From billboards, to clothes, the drink you are holding, to the car that just passed you on the road, its invaded every part of our lives. Everyone is competing for your attention 24/7. Its not going away.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @05:01PM (#47686033) Homepage Journal
    The literary executor of George Orwell's estate could had accused Amazon of using Newspeak [wikipedia.org]. But maybe would be Doublespeak the right language for the dystopian present of 2014.
  • Just when I thought there could not possibly be another reason for not reading WaPo. Wow, Bezos is a true innovator!
  • Why the fuss? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Saturday August 16, 2014 @07:14PM (#47686523)

    Just add 'washingtonpost.com##.buyitnow' to your adblocker and never see it again.

    I don't care who does it for what reason, if it's the owner, his son or his dog, I just block it as soon as I see it.

  • ...the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences.

    I really [GET FREE SATOSHI EVERY HOUR! [freebitco.in]] don't see what [GET FREE SATOSHI FOR WATCHING ADS! [coinad.com]] the problem is [GET FREE SATOSHI FROM FAUCETS! [landofbitcoin.com]] with this system.

  • Buy It Now is an Ebay trademark.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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