The perils of screen sharing at work

There may be nightmare for today’s white collar worker to share screen during a presentation after having forgot to close a tab or turn off notifications. The blending of personal and professional lives means that our devices are increasingly used for both realms, checking our next online purchase in one tab, while doing work tasks in the other — not to mention iMessage and Whatsapp notifications on our desktop.

TEXT: Alexander Besant;

 The Sometimes Catastrophic, but Mostly Just Embarrassing Consequences of Screen Sharing at Work

If you’ve presented in a meeting, you know the potentially calamitous effects of projecting your laptop screen — your naked, interior world, that is — before unsuspecting co-workers.

It’s Wednesday, July 11, at 1:34 p.m. in the great state of New Jersey, and Jane Smith, whose identity we are protecting for reasons that will become clear in the next six words, needs to go to the bathroom. Shy about using her workplace restroom for this specific, usually-once-a-day type of relief, she decides to reach out to her best friend from college for a little support.

Across the Hudson River, in a conference room at Bustle Digital Group on Park Avenue, it’s Tina Kolokathis’s turn to walk her company’s executives (of which I am one) and colleagues through a report. Her boss is on vacation, so it’s Ms. Kolokathis’s “big moment,” as she describes it, to present in her place.

Nature is still calling Ms. Smith, 27, so she gets out her phone.

The person running the meeting is calling on Ms. Kolokathis, 26, so she gets out her laptop. She pairs it with the room’s giant flat-screen TV and begins her presentation. She is poised and confident before this large group, who are settling in to enjoy her 20 minutes in the spotlight.

Miles away, Ms. Smith hits send.

A small gray and blue rectangle slides into frame on the top right of Ms. Kolokathis’s laptop, and thus on the top right corner of the TV, too. It’s an iMessage and it’s from Ms. Smith.

 

“Oh no,” the text reads.

Innocuous enough. Ms. Kolokathis swipes it away quickly, but everyone has seen it. No one says anything; she is on a roll, and one text doesn’t invite suspicion in a room full of mostly millennials. But she starts to panic. She knows Ms. Smith well. Ms. Kolokathis knows exactly what’s about to follow.

“I’m pooping at work.”

Ms. Smith’s masterful text coasts across the 65-inch high-definition TV in smooth, wondrous glory. The letters of her message seem like they could be measured in feet, not tenths of inches. The “O”s appear particularly rotund.

Ms. Kolokathis swipes this message away faster than the first and lies to herself that no one saw it.

But of course we did, each person now able to picture Ms. Smith in a bathroom stall. Ms. Kolokathis’s face turns bright red, but she laughs it off and the leadership laughs with her. She keeps going, praying Ms. Smith doesn’t have more to say.

Ms. Smith has more to say.

“Someone came in.”

This development glides into frame with a breathtaking beauty and grace that would make Michelle Kwan green with envy. Time has frozen.

The irony of Ms. Smith lamenting her loss of privacy before 18 people is not lost. A silent beat passes, then the room releases a huge, heavy and lengthy laugh — the type of release that is welcome in the workplace — and the group eventually moves on. Ms. Kolokathis’s lack of instant response silently signals to Ms. Smith that she is busy, so Ms. Smith stops texting.

After the meeting, Ms. Kolokathis learned how to share only one window of her desktop (like a PowerPoint), rather than broadcast her entire screen. Online meeting services, like Google Hangouts, Bluejeans and Solstice, make it easy to wirelessly display your laptop screen onto a compliant TV or monitor, and many of them also give you the option to share only one window or a media file (photo or video, for example). You can also silence notifications. (More on how to do all that here.)

Choose wisely, because a screen-sharing mishap isn’t all bathroom adventures. The result can be less funny-haha, and more funny-living-nightmare.

Take Jarryd Mandy, a 32-year-old sales executive in New York City.

He went in to interview with the executive of a small company in Britain several years ago. He arrived to the empty offices around 6 p.m. and was led to a boardroom.

Settling in for their chat, the interviewer moved his mouse, which woke up his laptop, which was connected to the boardroom’s TV, which suddenly streamed pantyhose fetish pornography.

Mr. Mandy remembers the executive saying, “Ignore that! Ignore that!” and slamming his laptop shut. Then there was talk of rescheduling. “It was probably the quickest interview and rejection I ever had,” Mr. Mandy said.

 

When every ad dollar counts, digital publishers that chose not to monetize their adblock audience with adblock recovery solutions lose out on thousands of dollars every month

In 2015, we were introduced to the first browser extension which has gone on to build a cottage industry challenging the assumptions of the internet’s ad-sponsored model. While “the sky is falling” sentiments have dissipated since then, adblocking is still costing publishing millions and millions of dollars every month.

Indundated with pitches from vendors, who can publishers trust?

With Chrome’s adblocker going global in July and historical growth in adblocker installation, adblocking should not be ignored. Publishers can take comfort in knowing that these millions of adblock users are marketable and monetizable. Ignoring such users would mean publishers are losing out on the opportunity to put $690K1 or more back in their pocket every year!

Considering all the upsides of adblock recovery, we will examine a few of the reasons publishers have adopted a less-than-enthusiastic approach towards adblock recovery.


“Category fatigue” plagues publishers

As publishers’ bottom-line were initially threatened, adblockers were quickly branded enemies. Enraged, many publishers went with solutions that worked by circumventing the adblockers. What unfolded was a cat-and-mouse battle that still drags on, usually leaving the adblock recovery vendor battered and bruised and the publisher frustrated with the lack of consistent recovery and a lot of technical meddling to do to support the vendor’s recovery efforts.

The circumvention approach also leaves publishers with broken pages and long periods of downtime — publishers have lamented declining yield, inconsistent revenue, and poor user experience. Given the financial pressures publishers face every day, taking a break on revenue generation is not an option.

In fact, many publishers took another revenue hit when their previous adblock recovery vendors went down because of their unsustainable technical approach. So publishers burned by adblock recovery have understandably become skeptical of this category and would rather dismiss the opportunity to monetize their adblock audience than to go through the hassle of working with a mediocre circumvention recovery vendor again.


The choice to use messaging, adblock walls and subscriptions haven’t panned out

Gated content and “Please turn off your adblocker” pop-ups require adblock users to change their browsing behavior and so are more of a “roll the dice”. PageFair’s 2017 Report showed that 74% of adblock users will leave the website when they are prompted to disable their adblocker. Facing high bounce rates, gated content is only slightly better than doing nothing.

What’s interesting is that “adblocker developers could easily disable these messages along with all the other popups, but many ad blockers have chosen to let them live.” Motherboard, Vice’s tech news publication pointed out that adblockers are reluctant to do so because publishers rely on ad dollars to fund their team. It seems users are also learning to ignore these messages as many publishers allow users to remain on the content without whitelisting.

Subscriptions are a bit of a mystery. Unlike the New York Times, most publishers are unable to command as much brand cachet to create thriving subscription models. We also learned that users will only subscribe to a handful of content they like. In an interview with Business Insider, Nic Newman, a senior research associate at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism sums it best, “Subscriptions are a winner-take-all affair.”

What all these unreliable scenarios mean for publishers is revenue recovered could vary wildly from one month to the next.

 

Now: How to get it right…

In contrast, publishers looking to monetize instantly and reliably should look to adblock recovery via acceptable ads. Such solutions engage adblock users on their own terms, and surprisingly its estimated that ~70% of all adblock users have opted in to seeing a lightweight ad experience. When the technology exists to recover the revenue you are losing to adblock (it’s lost otherwise!), implementing a reliable adblock recovery solution is a “no-brainer”.

Writing off the adblock recovery category — (particularly one that enjoys 99.9% uptime, monetizes 2-4x better than the competition, is easy to implement and generally returns ~70% of the revenue lost to adblockers each month) is a mistake in this competitive era.

 

Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Engterprise
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