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I'm sure they make TONS of money from ad revenue. Probably they tried to generate other revenue streams but it just didn't work out and hence the layoff.

Here's a crazy idea: what if Stackoverflow developed a search engine for developers? Usually I get to Stackoverflow posts through Google but perhaps Stackoverflow can provide a better experience by doing code specific web crawling.




>I'm sure they make TONS of money from ad revenue.

An old news article said they only get ~33% from banner ads. Most revenue comes from from job listings:

http://fortune.com/2015/01/20/stack-exchange-40-million/


Right, although I personally would consider job listings ads


True enough, but the details are different. And surely SO will have different internal departments and processes for managing each.


Inherent conflict here - programmers don't click on ads, fullstop. I can't imagine a group I'd want to advertise to less.


Clicks are not the only use of ads, and not always the point. They are easy to measure and so everybody tracks them, but it isn't the point. The point is to get people to buy.

Now it is understood that when I click on an ad for a widget and buy the widget it is easy to tell. However if I see an ad for a widget, and next week buy that widget the ad probably worked even though it is muck harder find a cause/effect relationship.

Thus we need to keep reminding people that clicks are rarely the point of ads. The point is the sale. Radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, park benches, bill boards (and many more) all have advertisements. The people who place those ads believe they drive sales long term - and they have statistical data to back that up. All of that data came without a single click.


StackOverflow ads are not the same as typical ads that technical users tend to block - they are typically just simple text links to job offers. Additionally, SO has fantastic analytics on logged in users which would drive the cost per impression up - if you've ever filled out their developer survey, you've given them everything they need to sell employers very expensive targeted ads directed at you.


I had to turn my ad blocker off to even see the ad you're referring to. Do you know of programmers who don't run ad blockers?


Of course. Are you saying all programmers run ad blockers? Just visit any [usually divisive] ad blocking Hacker News post and you'll see people who aren't blocking ads. Chances of none of them being developers is slim. Also I don't block ads. So that's one.


Of course. I know even more who whitelist sites with ads that aren't overbearing.


I have a hard time believing anybody actually goes "lemme turn off ads on this site to see how they are."

It's just something people say they do online to feel good.


The thing about ads is that you don’t need to click on them to work. You can’t click on billboards or newspaper ads either. Keep the product in mind is already most of what you want to achieve.


From a monetary aspect, impressions are basically worthless. You need clicks to make any money.


I haven’t advertised on SO, but the copy text on their advertising page doesn’t sound like they’re selling slots on a CTR basis. They seem to be well aware that clicks will be rare and are upfront about that. https://www.stackoverflowbusiness.com/advertise


That's true for generic keyword/retargeting ads, not premium placements.


Not true, I've clicked a few on accident.


Ah, fair point. Maybe I should have said "don't click on ads intentionally"


They do click on job ads.


Not the ones we don't see.


To be fair, all the ads on SO are vetted (I think they did a blog post about it) to be relevant to the target audience, so it's always about tech.


Do you have any numbers or references on that claim?


Numbers: https://pagefair.com/downloads/2017/01/PageFair-2017-Adblock...

"Adblock users in the US are 1.5x as likely to have a bachelor’s degree than the average American adult, increasing to 3x as likely among 18-24 year olds. Pronounced adblock usage among college-age respondents points to campuses as a major vector for adblock adoption."

Personally, I think being online without ad-blockers, VPN, and AV is like having public, unprotected sex with strangers.


So, I don't have a formal study saying that techies are the most likely to ad-block/least likely to click ads. What we know:

- Ad-blocker users skew young and wealthy.[1] The developer community as a whole also skews young and wealthy.

- If you are aware of the existence of ad-blocking technology, you probably use it.[2]

- Via comparison with other sites, you can also make some extrapolations. Take IGN - not a perfect proxy, but a reasonable one, with a core audience that is probably fairly demographically similar to the core audience for most developer-oriented sites. Approximately 40% of their traffic was using ad-blockers in 2015.[3] A Wired statement posted in 2016 has 20% of their traffic using ad-blockers.[4]

- Anecdotal evidence: every dev I've worked with has at least one ad-blocker installed. The vast majority of dev-adjacent people I've worked with - PMs, technical writers, designers - have ad-blockers installed.

Put it together and I think it makes a fairly compelling case that techies are the last audience on earth you'd want to orient your online marketing towards. I used to hope that something like The Deck[5], which was explicitly targeted towards "web, design & creative professionals", would be a good solution to this, and I even permitted their ads on Metafilter, but they shut down last year, presumably because they just weren't making enough money. They did everything that people claimed they wanted: the ads were unobtrusive, mostly text and optimized images, they didn't engage in tracking, they didn't sell user data (as far as I know), and they still couldn't make it work.

1. https://marketingland.com/ad-blocker-usage-highest-among-key... people-and-high-earners-143546

2. https://digiday.com/media/survey-80-percent-know-ad-blocking...

3. http://adage.com/article/digital/websites-hit-hardest-ad-blo...

4. https://www.wired.com/how-wired-is-going-to-handle-ad-blocki...

5. http://decknetwork.net/


People can claim all they want about wanting The Deck sort of stuff. But at the end of the day, those ads are still blocked most of the time. Possibly out of laziness to completely whitelist it, but the end result is the same. The ads are blocked like any other. I don't feel as optimistic that people blocking ads even want The Deck sort of ads. But without a study I'm okay not being sure.


Yeah, that's what I was trying to get across. I think the revealed preferences of most people using adblockers is that, while they say they would be ok with unobtrusive ads, they really don't want any ads at all. And to be honest, that's not a ludicrous view, because I've found that even on sites that have ostensibly "unobtrusive ads", all it takes is one bad actor and one slip-up in the ad network's verification process and unobtrusive ads become obtrusive and/or start invading your privacy. But we're going to have to find some other way to pay for content at some point.

Also, thanks for fixing that link.


Maybe, but a lot of sites only use Carbon/Deck or Adsense and some of those click bait native ad networks. I'm not sure if any of the click bait native ad networks have ever done too much with the issues you listed. I personally believe it's a bit too privileged to say no to Adsense like ads and native ads. You're likely to ever get a virus from them. At worst they are mildly annoying. That's all.

I find the one bad actor excuse to be just that. Another rationale or excuse.

So yeah I think the people just don't want any ads at all. Just like if I showed people how to block Spotify ads on their desktop and on how to do it on rooted android or iPhones, many people would stop paying Spotify. I don't tell my friends about these things for moral reasons, but it's just adding on to the point. People by and large will go with what's convenient. A simple app that can block Spotify ads will do for them. While jailbreaking would be too inconvenient.


Nice post with citations.

Your first link messes up though. Seems to be the correct link, but got cut off somehow. In case you don't or can't correct it anymore, it's: https://marketingland.com/ad-blocker-usage-highest-among-key...


I find their ads are way to expensive to trial. Minimum $500 spend for selve serve and minimum $5000 if you want to talk to their representatives. Most other sites allow you to dabble.


No doubt they could provide a better experience; the problem is probably monetizing that search engine. I have a hard time imagining an ad-based model working well.


Google is there main referral site. Probably not a good idea.


i doubt it. i would guess a much larger proportion of their audience uses ad blockers than the normal consumer media site.




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