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Thread: Ad Networks? (facing the MetaFilter quandary)

  1. #1
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    Ad Networks? (facing the MetaFilter quandary)

    I know we all hate the ads, but they're a necessary evil on a lot of sites. Like most big sites, AW simply can't function without ad revenue to pay its bills. The voluntary subscriptions definitely help, but generally don't come close to paying the monthly server bills.

    But I think we're going to be in the market for a new ad network company. We've been using Criteo for almost a year, pretty happily (no scammy malware-laden ads, etc.,) but now they've failed to pay us ... since the beginning of 2016. They're seriously in arrears, and aren't responding to any of their contact addresses. Our account manager seems baffled and I'm getting the sense that they're stonewalling her, too.

    Google Adsense, who we pass ads back to if another company can't fill them, has increasingly been performing extremely poorly for sites like ours.

    What are you guys using, if you use ad networks? Anything jump to the top? I'm looking pretty hard at Sovrn, who bought Lijit -- but then got off to a terrible start (which is why we'd switched to Criteo last year.)
    Last edited by MacAllister; 03-09-2016 at 10:39 PM.

  2. #2
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    ...*crickets*...

    Even if you don't have any suggestions, you guys should definitely all read Matt Haughey's piece, "On the Future of MetaFilter":

    Over the course of 2013, a series of messages from the Adsense team hit me with varying degrees of severity. We were temporarily banned from the system due to some text questions talking about sexual health (questions from users that include terms for body parts etc., but Google interprets that as the site being “adult”) and had to greatly beef up our ad display blocking by subject matter. Late last year, I was told that despite the past decade of Google’s Adsense pages suggesting ads should match your site, different background colors were now required to better discern ads from content, resulting in another large decrease.

    For the last year and a half, MetaFilter’s revenues have continued to decrease and traffic has slipped a bit as well. Additionally, mobile web traffic has grown substantially (especially at certain times: nights and weekends we see 60-70% of all traffic on mobile/tablet) and ad performance on mobile is much less effective...
    The MeFi situation is relevant pretty much to any largish, interactive, well-trafficked, and independently-owned website.
    Last edited by MacAllister; 03-10-2016 at 01:53 AM.

  3. #3
    Now with more stubble VeryBigBeard's Avatar
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    I had about half a post written earlier but it wasn't very coherent and I was multitasking at the time so I deleted it.

    Mostly, I just wanted to say I don't actually hate the AW ads. With sites the content of which I value, and especially sites where I know and respect how the money is used, I'm happy to turn off my adblocker and, ideally, subscribe. I've been unemployed for a long time so subscription's been impossible (thank-you student loans!) but hopefully I'll be able to change that soon.

    I wish I knew more about ad networks to really recommend anything. It's something I've read a bit about but I can't really claim any expertise. Hopefully a good service can be found but I do worry a lot about the sustainability of the websites we users take for granted. This piece was shared with me yesterdayish, about journalism and distribution of media, and the upcoming problems there (problems which have already affected other media and, arguably, have already affected journalism irreversibly as well, for better or worse).

    Anyway. Haughey's piece is now bookmarked.

    *picks cricket out of beard*

  4. #4
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    Wow - I hadn't seen that article, VBB - thanks for the link.

  5. #5
    Twitching ap123's Avatar
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    I can't be useful here (I don't get enough hits on my blog to make ads worthwhile, so I've never researched), but I want to cast another vote as someone who isn't bothered by the ads here.
    Doing the backstroke in the beer moat.

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  6. #6
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Hi, All

    For those of you who don't know me, Ari ain't a bit shy.

    When you searched for answers to your writing questions and needed to know who the recommended agents and publishers are—and who the scammers are—where did you go find the answers you needed? AbsoluteWrite. And you stayed for the camaraderie as well as for the trustworthy answers to your questions. I did, too. You can't imagine how happy I was to find AW in December 2010 and then to join in January 2011. From my Join Date until now, AbsoluteWrite has grown by an additional 20,000 (+/-) members. And all of us together old and new help build a wonderful community of writers, each of us helping each other.

    Mac has completely committed herself to providing this safe haven for us since she purchased AW in 2006. The server Mac owns, the software (and the upgrades we need but can't afford) cost money to keep running each month and, as Mac has shown us in her OP, the ads we all despise don't bring in nearly enough revenue to keep AW going. Mac is shouldering that gap in cost. Mac doesn't take a salary from AW, in case you might not have known that little fact. She works full time and then some most weeks. Same goes for Lisa our AW Admin.

    We need Mac and AbsoluteWrite and now Mac and AW need us.

    At the bottom of every AW forum page—and it's as unobtrusive as all get-out—you will see this button:


    Our community is now almost 65,000 members strong and a monthly donation by even a fraction of that number will make all the difference in ensuring AW is always here for us. If only 100 of us donate $10.00 to $15.00 a month we can substantially close the gap between ad revenue and cost.

    If even more of us donate whatever we can—even as little as $1.00 to $5.00 a month—we can not only close that gap we can also get the storage space needed for our ginormous database, the increased RAM we desperately need for running the server, and even look into getting the upgrades so many of us have been asking about.

    I've now committed to contributing to AW each month and to trying to help ensure AW will always be here for us. I hope everyone else who can will, too.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 03-18-2016 at 02:28 AM.
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  7. #7
    in my happy place atthebeach's Avatar
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    I always let the ads run in hopes they help a lot. But I get more benefit from AW than a Starbucks drink, don't we all? So it wouldn't hurt to pay it forward, especially if it is that much of a gap between ad revenue and costs. And I cannot believe they haven't paid this year! Wish I knew a suggestion on that.

    So I clicked on the voluntary subscription link below. It looks simple to do, but I have a question because every choice seemed like it was for a year (I am on my iPhone if mobile messes it up somehow).

    So if we want to give xyz monthly, do we have to give a year at a time? I feel stupid that I am probably missing the easiest step for monthly payment (yeah I haz a Ph.D. But can't figure out the clicking thingy).

    I am sure this is in the stickies, and I will edit this with the answer if no one else does before I find it, but I think it wouldn't hurt to mention that here, in case anyone else gets the impulse to donate, but doesn't have time to dig for an answer at the moment.

    Off to read the stickies on donations. Thanks for making AW so great to all of you!

    ETA: Ok from my quick search and sticky reading, it is yearly, so I would add up what I want to give for the year and donate it once (or probably can do that at any time or more than once a year, but it says it is not a "recurring" charge, AW will just remind us after a year in case we want to donate again).

    if this is correct, might I ask if it is possible to add recurring payments? It is probably on your list of things to do when the site can afford it, but just wondering (I am one who would like that convenience and so I don't forget, plus a monthly withdrawal is probably easier than yearly).
    But if not then no problem. You already have so many great features for us here.
    Last edited by atthebeach; 03-10-2016 at 06:38 PM. Reason: Added answer in ETA; then fixed a missing )
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  8. #8
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Hi, atthebeach

    I wanted to set it up as recurring, too, and not have to depend on remembering each month. Using the actual AW Subscription button, I set up a recurring monthly donation for a specific date each month through my PayPal account. If you have a PayPal account, setting up your donation to come out on say the 15th of each month (for instance) is really, really easy to do.

    hth
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  9. #9
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    Yes, the ads don't bother me either (except for that one annoying, screen-jumpy Adobe ad that I think is gone now) but I think a subscription drive is probably a good idea, too. Even just a couple of dollars each month, if many of us do it, will help.

    So I did. Thanks for the reminder, Ari. I've been meaning to. I love AW.

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW
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    Ari, that's a great post, thank you for writing it.

    I have been meaning to do something as well, kept putting it off til "next month" for months, as money is so darn squinchy, but of course I can do a few bucks. Just have to time it correctly to come early in the cash flow rhythm.

    The longer I am here (and I am a newbie and always will be, compared to some) the more I treasure this place. Writers are truly amazing beings, and AW is priceless.

  11. #11
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    Another one who's been "meaning to donate" but just kept putting it off. I just remedied that situation.

    FWIW, I'm not bothered by the ads, either. You do what you must to keep the site running.
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  12. #12
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perks View Post
    Yes, the ads don't bother me either (except for that one annoying, screen-jumpy Adobe ad that I think is gone now) but I think a subscription drive is probably a good idea, too. Even just a couple of dollars each month, if many of us do it, will help.

    So I did. Thanks for the reminder, Ari. I've been meaning to. I love AW.
    That ad keeps coming back with a different ID, which means we have to reblock it.

    The number of ads we block has placed us in a difficult position with Google; we're too picky.

  13. #13
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
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    You people are really terrific, and I loves ya.

    Thank you for supporting this place. I do think it's worth it -- I support it too, precisely because I think it's worth it.

    Xs and Os to all of you.

  14. #14
    That cheeky buggerer Maxinquaye's Avatar
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    Have you considered running an annual Kickstarter or Indiegogo drive? That would allow you to fundraise a whole year at a go. For a big site like this, it shouldn’t be a problem to get a year’s operating cost that way.

    Have you considered allowing for Patreon subscriptions? It allows users here to give a monthly small currency allowance. Say, people sign up to give $5 or £5 per month.

    I have to admit that I’m very reluctant to turn off my adblocker. Usually I surf on my pad, and the ads become very intrusive very fast from many ad networks. It eats into my bandwidth each month, and it’s difficult to correctly meter it to allow ‘good sites’ and block ‘bad sites’.

    Also, ad networks are third party, and I loathe the idea of being followed around the web by some ever-watching third eye above my shoulder. I’m a writer – some of the pages I land on have some strange content. Cough. “How to dispose of bodies using acid”, to mention just one recent search.

    Using Kickstarter/Indiegogo/Patreon would get around the whole ad network problems.
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  15. #15
    in my happy place atthebeach's Avatar
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    Thanks all. And thanks Ari for that helpful information. I do have PayPal but rarely use it and probably would have forgotten to add money to it, so monthly is out for now.

    So I just donated as a one time thing or yearly.

    By the way, at least with an iPad, to use anything but PayPal, I had to click the big blue button at the bottom of the page that says "AW Subscription" to have a choice. The smaller "voluntary subscription" link seemed to be PayPal only, at least as I could see.

    But thanks all for the reminder and AW deserves it. Glad you reminded me.

    Thanks for all you do, all of you "in charge" folk!
    Last edited by atthebeach; 03-12-2016 at 10:35 AM. Reason: ETA: grr typo fixed
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  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW
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    Okay, the time of the month when it's safe for me to make a subscription has rolled around. I get a monthly check, and if I take a bit out of the top, I will never notice it. If I take that bit later in the cash month, well, it might bite me back. .

    But if I can pay five bucks a month to Duotrope to help me track submissions (and let me know who is accepting submissions of what I write) and if I can pay four bucks a month to keep ads off my Pandora internet radio, which I do happily, and since AW is unique in the world from what I can discover, and since there seem to be a number of factors causing financial challenges, well, you better believe I am going to put down my bit every month toward keeping us online and going strong.

    Like Ari said (whose fabulous post I have linked in my sigline, now that I've made my PayPal monthly donation arrangement) if a good portion of members were each to donate just a few bucks a month, things would roll easier by far. I don't know about you, but I don't like the thought of Mac having to subsidize this place along with everything else she does. I benefit a tremendous amount from AW and so, time to step up and do my bit.

    I also thought it might be time to bump this thread back into view.

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW
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    I can be a relentless bumpster.

    Also, had to come fetch the link to Ari's fine post again, as I changed my sigline for the annual April Fools silliness. Gonna change it back right now.

  18. #18
    Did...did I do that? cmhbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxinquaye View Post
    I have to admit that I’m very reluctant to turn off my adblocker.
    Can't you let single sites show ads? AdBlockerPlus lets me do that, so I open it up on most of the forums I visit.
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  19. #19
    Derailed WriteMinded's Avatar
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    Google, with its odd system and odd demands is destroying the "free" internet. So many websites I once frequented have gone by the wayside because of the way Google decides how, what, and why sites show up in searches. Now everyone is having to ask for donations because they need more income to sustain operations. Some sites block people unless they have a subscription. A sad state of affairs for all concerned.

    My income is limited, and I fear the day may come when I will not be able to skip around the internet at all, but will be limited to visiting only a very few sites. It will be back to the library for research. As for ads, I wouldn't mind them at all, except that my brain does something odd when things blink and jump around. It is a personal glitch, shared, I am sure, only by a unique and exceptional group of people. I can't be in the same room with strobe lights. I can't concentrate well enough to read and understand what I'm reading if an ad is flashing and dancing. Ergo, the ad blocker. Yes, even the dancing icons are troublesome, but they are easily scrolled out of sight.

    Having said all that, I would love to donate to AW. But I hesitate to make it a monthly contribution. Since I have only seen the Subscription button, I am sorry to say that I have done nothing. How about adding a Donation button?

    Can you do a donation drive? Wikipedia does it once a year. Donation Coder does it once a year. Of course, I don't know how much work that would be. I think it could be something as simple as a small reminder that this wonderful website does not live on praise alone.

    AW has made a writer of me. When you've made me an income-producing author, I will gleefully hit that Subscription button. . In the meantime, where can I go to make a small donation?

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW
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    The subscription button works for a one-time donation. If you read Ari's post up-thread, I think it explains that. (There are reasons they call it "subscription" instead of "donation but I don't know what they are; something legal no doubt.)

    But if you can only offer support once, or from time to time, don't be put off by that word; the only way an initial gift becomes regular is if you actively set it up that way.

    ETA: it's actually explained in the subsequent exchange, not in Ari's initial post.
    Last edited by Kylabelle; 04-05-2016 at 07:19 PM.

  21. #21
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    If you follow this link, you can make an annual donation at a number of options. Also, if you look at the description of the last option, you'll see instructions for sending a one-time donation via PayPal. I haven't tried that link lately, but I'm pretty sure it still works. If not, please contact either AW Admin or Mac.

    And, really, everyone, a lot of us just can't for various reasons, and that's okay. No one should ever feel bad about not being able to donate. My post was meant to raise awareness, not to make anyone feel guilty. I'm on a fixed income and there's only so much I can do, too, yanno?

    to all.


    ETA: The link also provides an option and an address for mailing your donation, if that's your preference.

    ETAA: Yep, what Kyla said: If you use the AW Subscription button (pictured in my prior post), your donation is one-time unless you tick the box and further set it up to be recurring.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 04-05-2016 at 07:45 PM.
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  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ari Meermans View Post
    And, really, everyone, a lot of us just can't for various reasons, and that's okay. No one should ever feel bad about not being able to donate.
    Truth. The most important contribution is participating by posting and contributing your ideas and discussions.

  23. #23
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    I'm just a rookie at running ads, so this might not be very helpful!

    I've used and really liked Project Wonderful, though I think they're lower earning compared to some other ad networks. When I used them last year they seemed like a nice community-minded ad network, affordable for younger creators trying to get the word out, and the automated system was really good at alerting me to site downtime and letting me know about all the different folks who'd run adverts. I had no trouble hosting their ads on my blog, so they don't discriminate between visual art sites and writing sites.

    Didn't earn much from it, but I'm not exactly raking in pageviews. I liked checking out all the little art projects advertising.

    FYI for anyone with Javascript etc turned off: their website seems javascript-heavy, I had to switch browsers to view it properly. Which actually makes me hesitate a bit about using them again....
    Last edited by EMaree; 04-09-2016 at 03:58 AM.
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  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW
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    Living dangerous, living wild, I just turned off my adblocker (for AW only.) So far it's not bad. Though I can get hypnotized by the ones that move, so if I disappear for a couple days, somebody check and make sure I've not started to grow moss around the edges?



    (If I find, as I have feared, that it overloads my computer, I'll have to change it back. But maybe it won't!)

  25. #25
    am writing, i swear tiddlywinks's Avatar
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    All righty. I'm being a shameless necromancer and resurrecting this thread, since Ari was so kind as to link to it in yet another Ad discussion we are having.

    First, dang it, I can't believe I missed this last year

    Second, I'm a marketer, but I don't have to rely on online ads at my job. So I don't have recommendations off the top of my head. That being said, I DO know some marketing and advertising gurus, so I'll check around and see what I come up with from my contacts. Hopefully more to report on that later.

    ...

    ETA: Editing this slightly to send some "bright ideas" elsewhere rather than start a huge debate. Anyway, I'm clicking the subscription link. I encourage you to do the same.
    Last edited by tiddlywinks; 05-20-2017 at 06:36 AM. Reason: Overly enthusiastic - derp
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