There are better ways to make money, ways that don't abuse users and instead provide them with value.
Edit: so much vitriol. I intentionally left out alternatives because there is no one size fits all model, but there are plenty of options. For example, consider changing from a model of "advertisers pay to rent the eyeballs coming to our site" to one where ads are a cooperative venture and most ads are essentially recommendations. Look for ways to make the link between someone reading your content and someone buying something a connection, instead of merely a random, uncorrelated activity. For artistic content sites, sell swag like t-shirts. Or consider selling byproducts and content collections such as physical and ebooks (for blogs, for example). If you run a site that provides a service ... consider charging money for that service. And of course look at crowd funding models if it's possible to divide up work into big project sized iterative chunks.
Or, hell, just offer people the ability to pay money to remove the ads. If you just stop thinking and stop caring after you started bringing in big ad revenue then you're doing a disservice to your readership.
Compared to what?
>There are better ways to make money
Like? Asking for charity on Kickstart or Donations?
Because surely asking people to pay for casual web content is not one of them.
What do you think targeted advertising is?
> Or consider selling byproducts and content collections such as physical and ebooks (for blogs, for example).
Revenues from this sort of thing won't even cover operational costs for someone of Destructiod's size, let alone provide recurring revenue.
"Premium" services that just remove ads are generally a non-starter because...AdBlock does that for free. Subscriptions are awesome, but you have to find a way to implement a paywall where some content or value is withheld from free consumers, and that's a problem that has proved very difficult for content providers like Destructoid to solve on an internet where people expect to get their content for free.
One issue is that some people seem to be even more offended by the subscription model than the advertising model.
1.) Recommendations don't work at scale. You are not going to find a single company to fund gaming journalism company in order to do tighter recommendations, and you aren't going to have enough man power to manage recommendations for multiple companies. Amazingly enough, there is a company called Google that provides a similar service to this, and I doubt destructoid can compete with them.
2.) Selling T-shirts is a terrible business model for a company that doesn't produce t-shirts. Again this works for the lone-cowboy, but for an actual company expecting to recuperate costs with t-shirts it would be simpler to just open a clothing line. Producing t-shirts isn't free and you once you have a sizable market its no longer easy. Now instead of hiring writers, you find yourself hiring sweatshops.
3.) Selling physical books only works for the lone cowboys (smbc, oatmeal). If you have to do it at scale, it would be smarter to just open a bookstore. And again, why should anyone buy an ebook when they could just use Readability for free?
4.) Charing for your service. This makes the most sense, NYT does it and is really successful. Problem is, it might only work for NYT. Its hard to convince gamers who in a large part don't buy their games, to pay for your service. Out of all the sites you ad-block, how many of them would you actually pay for? If Kotaku required a subscription for their service, would you actually pay for it?
Its easy to be an armchair MBA and claim ads are the problem and anything else would work without having tried it yourself, or list companies who are doing so successfully. Its just completely unfair to assume that the guys actually busting their butts trying to make it work are lazy because they use ads. If you really think these alternate models really work, you should start your company with them. With no competitors you are certain to eat the market.
Until then, please understand that online journalism, and print media in general, is really hurting to find a business model that actually works and they aren't using ads out of laziness. They are using ads to pay the bills.
3) See #2. As for why anyone would buy a book, because a book is compiled and easier to read. Whether or not you think it's reasonable the market certainly does. 37 Signals book "Rework" is a bestseller and one of the top selling books in the entrepreneurship category. Look at the popularity of the Joel on Software books as well.
As for your final point, I disagree. Online journalism is still following the, now obsolete, model of traditional journalism. One concentrated on access, aggregation, and conduits rather than original content. Most journalism is, frankly, trash. It's regurgitation. Find one article on a news story and I can point you to hundreds of copies of the same material with no significant value added, splattered across so many "news" sites. Aggregation of that sort is no longer significantly valuable in the internet age. And sites that don't offer significant added original value are going to die. The internet is very, very good at disintermediating valueless intermediaries.
Here are some example of folks who I think "do it right", or at least well, relative to the standard "slap ads on and forget about it" model:
Penny Arcade (a web comic, for those who don't know). Firstly, their ads have always gone through a rigorous selection process. Most ads are for games and the site owners demand that they play the games in the ads and they only pick ads for games they actually like a lot. Thus the ads serve as recommendations more than anything, they are not just hijacking your attention they represent actual value (the effort put into reviewing the games). Additionally, PA has a line of merch which includes not only t-shirts and posters but also collections of the comic strip organized by year in physical book form. Beyond that they also run a major gaming convention (Penny Arcade Expo / PAX) and have other projects (such as PATV). This provides diversified sources of income all founded ultimately on the fan base and enthusiasm for what PA does and is about. More so, last year PA launched a successful kickstarter to remove the main banner ad from the site and, as one of the stretch goals, to kick off a major content production (the web video reality-show called "strip search"). Now, not every web comic is going to be able to do all of these things but these are good examples of how you translate "what you're good at and what you do" into money.
A similar example would be "A List Apart", a web design blog. There are very few ads on their site and those that are there are highly relevant to the readership. More importantly, ALA sells books which include material that has already been on the site as well as new material, and they run the "An Event Apart" design conference.
37 Signals falls into a similar pattern. They sell collaboration, project management, and contact management services but they also have a well regarded blog. They sometimes package up material from the blog into book form, which they sell, and they have significant contributions to major open source software projects (such as Ruby on Rails). All of these things together help further their brand and drive business to their services and books. Their blog has a small number of highly relevant ads. Indeed, they helped found an ad company which serves well-vetted highly relevant ads to a cohort of web sites that are all generally focused around web design.
Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange. They have a small number of highly relevant ads (I detect a trend). Also, if you are a regular user of the site then you won't see the main banner ad on question pages when logged in. They also monetize through jobs boards, CV services (which provide a great synergy with use of a site and help show off your expertise directly), and amazon referrals.
GitHub and Dropbox have free service tiers but also charge money for their services, and GitHub has a job board.
There are a lot of broad trends here. The best ads are those that add value rather than try to hijack the user's attention, relevant ads that have had work put in to ensure they are relevant, and ads that are not intrusive. If your site is mostly content focused then finding ways of repackaging content and selling it directly can bring in plenty of income. As can finding ways to allow your fans to express their enthusiasm and trust for your content by buying things (merch) or attending events. And leveraging whatever it is users get out of your site through additional services.
If users are going out of their way to block your ads that's a signal, it means that they find the ads are providing negative value to them. And that's often the result of allowing ads to have negative value, by simply passing them off to folks who are willing to pay money for the possibility of infringing on your readers' attentions. Otherwise known as spam. Would you change your site to one where you required readers to give an email address and then you sold all of those addresses to spammers in order to make money? That's what many sites are effectively doing by being so indiscriminate about advertising.
If you're not thinking about how your site is making money and whether that method makes sense, is sustainable, and adds value to your readership then you're not thinking about it enough. You're taking your readers for granted.
The world's biggest advertiser has made the use of adblockers necessary, if you want to use their engine http://www.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/1... or http://www.seobook.com/images/google-serp-layout.gif and not see just ads. Once activated for a site that has abused ads, others are hurt almost by default.
You set the price high enough that sites will want to actively switch to your network, since the premium users are worth a little more than the free users. And you require as a condition of membership that 1 article in 50 (or whatever) is premium-only content.
If you are getting paid by impressions, I do feel a little bad for blocking your ads, but you have to understand that the reason I put up the adblock is a reaction to ad-abuse. I'm sick and tired of seeing ads scrolling up and down and across the page, interrupting your content. I'm sick and tired of pages taking 30 seconds to load because of ad-bloat, and I'm sick and tired of the generally bad experience that ads are bringing to me. Don't even get me started on pop-up ads or ads with music or talking.
If you are getting paid for actual clicks, then I don't feel bad at all. I never once, in all the years I have browsed the internet, clicked on an ad, so you aren't gaining anything from me anyways.
As an aside: I can't name a single ad that I have seen over the past week. Marketers thinking that ad-views are somehow equivalent in impact of billboards or TV ads are stuck in some dinosaur age of marketing and I ought to open up ads in pure spite.
The crux of the issue is that too many sites have abused its readership by thumping our heads with pointless and useless ads. The day I see you respect me is the day I'll respect you. This is no way implies that Destructoid is abusive, but unfortunately, you have been caught in the maelstrom. However, since I only click away the ads that irritate me, I find it odd that a site that I have never been to is apparently completely blocked as I see no ads. Choose your advertisers wisely and I may not even block (or notice) their ads.
Ads aren't trying to get you to remember the ads, they're trying to get you to recognize, like, buy, etc the product. That can happen without remembering or actively paying attention to the ad.
I won't go on a hunt for a list of research confirming it, but there are about hundreds if not thousands of examples explaining that marketing does work, whether its audience thinks it does or not.
tl;dr Even if you believe you'll never click an ad, you're probably still hurting the advertiser and therefore the publisher.
If the pay-per-click is supposed to piggy back on free impressions then I have zero conscience of denying them free advertising.
Would you have a problem with me reading the site in lynx?
You could enforce a contract by having a paid for membership, as he alludes to, which gives you rights to see articles early or have post rights on a forum or gives you some physical thing.
You are conflating the practical ability to do something with the moral right to do something.
The fact that something cannot be enforced is a practical problem, not a moral one. A rural car-park owner may have no practical method to force people using his car park to leave money in an honesty box . His request for payment may have no legal standing. Neither of these points has any influence on the moral value of not leaving the requested payment.
Imagine finding an empty car-park, parking your car, approaching the honesty-box and finding a note declaring the owner does not expect money but instead expects to be paid in teeth: and would the car-park users please pull-out a tooth and deposit it. Would that be moral?
Yes, one could say it is moral to all follow a general rule of reciprocating, of giving something as well as receiving. But what and how much?
The morality of cooperative interaction is not about what one person wants, it is about how all are affected.
Saying what exact actions and amounts would be moral is in general an impossible calculation. But what would clearly not be moral is one party dictating to the other. Once you deliberately offer to engage in cooperative interaction you alone no longer set the rules.
No. Absolutely not.
There is no implied relationship. There is no contract. A website hands me a block of text and I can choose which text to render.
You want content. You are not owed content.
Then put it behind a paywall.
It's my browser, my choice to display what I want, how I want. You don't come into the equation, even if you are the content owner. Either charge for it, or stop whining.
Obviously, advertising is a service, but if sites learned to tone it down instead of money-grabbing and causing a miserable experience for their readership, they should actually be thankful for adblocks. Without adblocks, many people would simply click the back-button, cause their bounce rate to go through the roof, they drop off the front page of google, and they would have no views to brag about to advertisers.
Also, what bizarro universe are we living in where viewing ads is seen to have some sort of value or merit on its own? If I were to watch broadcast tv, for example, and in one instance watch all of the advertisements dutifully and in the next skip all the ads with a dvr but in both cases on no account be influenced in any way to buy the products advertised, is there a difference (morally or commercially) between either behavior?
I would suggest that I have no more obligation to watch advertisements than I do to buy anything being advertised.
This must be wrong. Surely if Destructoid are seeing a 50% block rate, their competitors must be seeing something similar too? A world with ad-blockers is the new normal for everyone.
Ad-blockers aren't going away. The fundamental architecture of the internet and the web makes it almost impossible to force people to view ads that they don't want to, and no advertiser is going to win the technological arms-race against the ad-blocking software. For now, at least, I have sufficient control over my own computer that I can dictate what appears on the screen.
I think the right conclusions are reached in this article though. Destructoid clearly understand the marketplace they're operating in, and a membership option of some kind is a good, non-exploitative way of earning money from content creation. It might not work, and there might be better alternatives, but someone is going to find a way that does work. The existence of ad blockers is providing "evolutionary" pressure toward business models that don't rely on spamming people with crap, and this is a good thing. (Assuming, that is, that the new business models aren't somehow worse, at which point we'll have to start blocking those...)
It's trivial to do, technically. Just embed the ads with in-page (not externally linked) JS, or proxy 3rd party ad network requests through the hosting server, or splice them in on the server side, etc. I think we are going to see this widely adopted if the adblock rates continue climbing up.
This will obviously rub the adblock users the wrong way, but if you are generating the ad revenue from a lot of one-time visitors, it should be fine. Then, to not alienate repeated visitors, offer a paid, ad-free subscription. Perhaps of a freemium flavor. Done.
Now the question is why we don't see this being done at scale yet?
Been thinking about how the architecture for this will work for years now, lol. If I don't get to it, I hope someone executes it someday.
The general problem with ad blockers is that they are a set-and-forget scorched-earth solution to the problem of annoying ads. As a web publisher, it doesn't matter if you carefully tweak your ads to be as unobtrusive and relevant to the user as possible, because users running ad blockers won't see them to begin with. Asking users to whitelist your site is a non-starter.
If you use some fairly trivial tactics to prevent your ads being blocked by the default settings of the ad blocker, the vast majority of users with an ad blocker will never bother to set up some custom filter to block your specific ads because the default settings are the program for 95% of people.
If you have some really obnoxious ads then yes, perhaps more people will go to the bother of blocking them. But if you don't, I assert that almost no-one will bother.
If you're facebook, the people who maintain blocklists for popular ad-blockers will write some custom rules for your new ads. But most sites aren't facebook.
So I don't really care where the ad comes from.
It's much easier to update ad blockers to block new ways of displaying ads, than it is to come up with new ways of displaying ads that can't be blocked.
But not necessarily. It wouldn't be that difficult to embed the article in an image, with the ad inside the image -- you could then redirect clicks with a box around the ads the advertiser.
Leave the first paragraph or so as text for google purposes. That would be really annoying to work around but rather trivial to implement.
But even if they don't, you should be able to deploy a statistical ad blocker in the same vein as Paul Graham's spam filter (which is mainstream at this point).
None of this stops the situation from continuing to be a cat and mouse game, but hopefully the above points demonstrate that the game is far from over for either side.
Surely not. Depends on the target audience of each site. Direct competitors with the same target group maybe, but sites appealing to the general public or specialized non-techy publics surely not.
While having having X readers PLUS the infrastructure costs to support X readers, they see the same revenue as more general sites having X/2 readers.
If there weren't ad-blockers, the absolute reader count would be the only thing that mattered.
As it was in the press era. It didn't matter if you were the New York Times or the LISP Quarterly, if you had managed to have X readers you got the same amount of ad money (well, not 100% the same, because it also depended on the demographic, but LISP and NYT would rank close enough).
I certainly wouldn't put up the sites you know today behind a paywall - Why not? Is there a law that says once free, always free? Slam it behind a paywall and you will lose 90% or more of your audience. But! You'll make money. That's the tradeoff.
My appeal read something to the effect that ad blockers primarily hurt our writers, and if you are reading our site, we'd like your support - Then ask for support the old fashioned way, by them giving you money in exchange for the service you provide.
one reader who, despite willingly denying our passive revenue, thought I was being too bold - Wrong. He's not willingly denying your passive revenue. He's installing an ad blocker to improve his browsing experience. You happen to be caught in that net. It's not like he got out of bed and said, "Hey, I'm going to screw Destructoid today"
Now, I'm not saying that paywalls are a solution to every problem. But I will say that appealing to people to disable ad blockers is not a solution to any problem. And blaming your users like this will never turn out well.
The market would seem to suggest (as evidenced by the decline of once-decent rags like PC Gamer) that there is not a lot of demand for coverage of games if a cost is associated with it. Perhaps this is because anyone can blog about games and function as a journalist now, perhaps it is because demo discs are no longer relevant when downloads are available, perhaps it's because gamers are fickle feckless manchildren, perhaps it's a reptillian plot to take over America--regardless of the reason, it seems that trying to make a living off of games journalism is a Bad Idea.
I further question the decision to cheapen your site design and theming by allowing other elements into it that aren't under your control. If you are exercising any sort of integrity of product, it would seem obvious that letting somebody plaster garish random content on is a poor idea.
Don't get me wrong; artists since time out of mind have done payed work for patrons that would later become classic--but even a benevolent duke or aristocrat would be worked in an unobtrusive way into the greater piece (any art historians here are free to correct me) in such a fashion as to preserve the integrity of the work.
(the perhaps best writeup I've seen of games journalism was over at Triforce: http://www.thetriforce.com/?p=813 )
Just because you put in a lot of effort into making something doesn't mean that what you make is worth anything. And just because it's possible to make money doing something doesn't mean that what you're doing is worthwhile either.
So in a strange way, Destructoid is getting its FAIR share of ad revenue, since it's ONLY being shown to the people who find ads useful, and would buy something from an ad.
I understand it's not "fair" to be paid less for writing high quality content, but ad revenue is not welfare, and it's not a mandatory tip jar. Ad revenue is an exchange of value between advertisers and publishers, and if there's no value, then you shouldn't complain about not getting enough ad revenue.
As for directly paying, this doesn't seem to be an option - see, the whole twitter thing, and the fact that having a paywall effectively prevents developing new readers (unless you are large/well known enough to avoid this problem)
It seems that such heavy ad bombardment has been chasing their regular users to block ads. It only makes sense.
So, here's my advice to destructoid: if you want ad impressions, try delivering your content on ipad in a way that's fast and readable, because on an ipad people don't block ads.
I thought of something, might the growth of mobile ad revenue be offset by the lack of ad blockers on the platforms?
No it doesn't, they have to deal with ad block too.
> Read more at http://www.destructoid.com/half-of-destructoid-s-readers-blo...
Maybe if you want your community to like you, don't use evil.js
> At first, it was about 10%, then 20-something. When I dared to blink it just increased faster. Over a few days it never got better, averaging at an ominous 42-46% block rate.
Why did it go up so fast? Maybe you used bad judgment and put up an ad that annoyed people?
You need to respect your users and treat them better before you get to complain.
I run ad block but i never tried to block the ads on Daring Fireball for example. Don't be one of the shady sites with crappy ads and evil.js
They weren't doing annoying ads even before they did their crowdsource campaign to eliminate them for a year. I don't understand what overhead Destructoid has that requires them to have annoying ads.
> May I ask why you use an ad-blocker on Destructoid?
This (not understanding what an adblocker is or how it works), and the apparent surprise at finding that 50% of (presumably technically literate) readers of their site block ads, seem to come across as incredibly naive. I agree that it can be a problem for these sites, but things like this make it sound like they inhabit another world from their apparent target readers.
<Ironically, I removed some linkspam that appeared when I copied that sentence>
I did click on the link, and whatever ads were on it were blocked by my adblocker. I think the writer may not understand that neither I nor anybody else specifically decided to block ads on Destructoid, a site that I had never heard of before today. We block all ads everywhere by default.
Paid subscriptions may be nice in a way, but they also seem to tear at the fabric of the internet. If all sites used them for most of their content, then most people would only read stuff posted at the 3-4 sites that they visited regularly and actually paid for, instead of surfing all over the place. How do you get new readers in that model?
It might help if there was some way to do micropayments per read - possibly with Bitcoin or something like that. Maybe some sort of big subscription network - like readers pay a subscription fee, and writers in the network get paid a small amount when a subscriber reads their article. I'm not sure what the long-term solution is, but I hope that it's one without ads.
you are just a side victim. no matter how polite your ads are, if someone else has lousy video/peel/survey ads, they will force users to block ads. and the ads will be blocked when those users visit your page.
most people have no idea they can whitelist sites. when they don't see an ad, they don't even know they are missing something.
heck, my way of blocking ads (etc/hosts file from someonewhocares.org) does even allow me to whiteliste stes. even if i wanted.
These guys aren't as bad as some, but it looks like they're not just side victims.
So the author is trying very hard to please his audience, but he's also trying very hard to appeal to them and make money. Well, no kidding, we do need to make money to do what we're doing. But you have to make it clear that you are focused on making things better for your audience. You're demonstrably providing clear value of some sort to them. In this case, somehow reviewing games in a way that you enable your audience to make better decisions about where to spend their hard-earned dollars. (I can't speak to the magic that makes one game review site better than another.)
So ask your readers - have they used your content to make decisions? Have they saved money by not plopping down $59.99 on a game that they, individually, would not like? Do they agree with your reviews regularly? And is that because they try the same games that you review, and come to the same conclusions, or because they base all their conclusions on the reviews? If they are saving time and money and getting to do that which they value most (or a lot, at least, more than other things, in this case, playing particularly good video games), then you have clearly enriched their lives. They should let you know, and try to enrich your life, too. But I don't think that viewing ads enriches their lives or yours, or rather, it's a pretty indirect, watered down way to enrich your life.
FWIW, I'm a semi-pro music journalist (try making money doing that these days), and I think online publishing is crying out for a non-intrusive way of monetizing that doesn't involve advertising.
So the guy wants to make money selling ads? I want to make money watching the TV. I'm not going to write a blog post complaining that I can't make money by watching TV. I'm going to find something that people are happy to pay me for, and do that instead.
So people just install it and forget it so that sites that aren't horrible and don't totally ruin the consumer experience with ads suffer.
And if a site is "nice" and doesn't put that crap on their site today, who is to say they won't tomorrow? So users never bother to turn off their ad blockers.
The value the content publisher provides you is content. If you block ads on an ad driven site - what value do you provide the content publisher? But running a site, maintaining it, getting new content, building new features that all costs money. When you block ads you're simply not paying for what you're using.
If the ads on a site outweigh your tolerance - Don't go to the site. But if the content is there and you want to read it - well the cost of entry for most "free" sites is a few ad impressions. Ubiquitous ads was the most transformative thing to happen to the web. The bills need to get paid and ads do that without requiring everyone to put in their credit card.
I don't really feel guilt for blocking ads because if I ever clicked on one it would be by accident.
your agreement with the advertiser is: A) you have X page views, B) you will stamp those page views with references to the ad.
you did 100% of your part. You delivered the page to the user, and you stamped those pages with the ad reference. Done!
if the user browser/system choose not to follow that reference, that shouldn't impact your revenue. at all. what the user does with the page you delivered is out of your control. it's out of the contract reach.
you delivered what you promised, you should get paid.
but of course, this will only make the earlier adopters of such position go broke while advertisers flock to other suckers. this will only work if the whole industry shifts fast.
this will make good content survive, and will make ads get better (as it will finally be it's own interest to do so) and lead to less user felling compelled to install ad blockers.
and even if you can't, you can always pay a 3rd party company that says they can and then you can bail out the payment to the publisher because that 3rd party metrics said so.
Interstitial before content.
Lots of banners, some of those misplaced around the layout.
Huge bottom ad over content without a close button. Had to roll over it; it shows a popup over content. Then you can close the popup, and another click to close the bottom ad.
It loads scripts from 23 third-party websites.
Yeaaaaaah... I suppose I understand why people are blocking ads in this particular website. Most gaming news websites I go to have around 3 or 4 third-party scripts, and most respectable websites 1 or 2 (mostly for analytics). But 23? Really?
There's an obvious disconnect from what the writer of that piece thinks most people is seeing, to my actual experience. In all honesty if it wasn't for adblock I wouldn't even had read that article; the experience would have been unbearable.
Ironically, I like this, since it's more lightweight and easier to read than the normal version of their site. Further, there are no ads on the mobile site.
What percentage of their readership do they do that to?
Don't complain that not everybody would click it, that is way more than you make normally.
But don't use Flash ads; those can have sound and can slow down the PC and don't work on many devices, making it a very high price to pay for visiting your site.