New Google Consumer Survey Trial Run

Three years ago, Google launched a new advertising product called “Google Consumer Surveys” that websites were encouraged to use as an alternative to putting up a paywall. The gist of it is that upon visiting a website, you get asked some survey questions, and then you are allowed access to the website’s content after that.

The success rate of this program has varied by source. One of the largest news organizations in the world gave it a try, realized it wouldn’t make as such money as charging subscribers through a paywall to access the content, and abandoned the program. Many small-town newspapers have embraced the program, figuring that it generated more revenue than they could get from a paywall and also served the pro-social objective of letting readers access all of the site’s content without having to open up their wallets.

I have a strong preference for keeping the content … Read the rest of this article!

When You Should Not Reinvest Dividends

BP shareholders learned a hard lesson in 2010 about the risks that do not show up on balance sheets. If you had to choose between Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP on January 1st, 2010, it would not be clear which of those companies carried the highest risk of earnings impairment.

Even if BP disclosed the specifics regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to investors, it would not be clear that the machinery carried a high risk of explosion–over $30 million was spent on safety equipment that conformed to the industry’s safety standards. In fact, BP’s behavior was so consistent with the rest of the oil industry that I disagreed with Judge Barbier’s ruling that BP committed gross negligence rather than negligence.

Regular negligence refers to when you should have done something but messed up; gross negligence was born out of Alfred the Great’s “Doom Book” put together in … Read the rest of this article!