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DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

If you've been visiting here for a while, you may have noticed that the advertising on this Web log has been cut down quite a bit recently. At the beginning of the month I decided to switch off from the mish mash of advertising that I was running previously, which included Google Adsense, Steve Smith's Lake Quincy Network, James Avery's The Lounge Network network and some of my own ads. Advertising here has brought in a small amount of side income that has roughly covered the hosting of the site and a little bit extra. While it's not been a lot of money it's always been enough to make me teeter on the side of the $ signs to put the ads  onto the site, but it required the mish mash to provide even this small stream of revenue . At the same time the amount taken in seemed small in comparison to the amount of content that is actually provided here - it's hard to gauge the worth of ad space of course, but I was actually considering turning off advertising altogether at some point because of the whole disproportion between ad payout and what the Ad services charge advertisers and what gets paid back to publishers (especially Google and Adsense which is an abomination - Google is getting rich of both advertisers and publishers because of it).

So a couple of months ago I started talking with Steve Smith about advertising and some of the pain points for publishers and advertisers alike and started throwing some ideas around about a few different approaches to serving ads. Steve's really the guy with the ideas, but there was a bit of back and forth and I liked what I was hearing. I've been frustrated with the advertising publishing I've been doing for a variety of reasons and was in fact thinking of just dropping the whole thing. However after talking with Steve a bit I decided to see what he'd come up with.

The end result is what now has become DevMavens which is a highly focused and somewhat exclusive advertising arrangement that serves ads to only a few member sites that are part of the DevMavens network and includes only a small number of advertisers at any given month. The concept of this type of specialized network isn't new (in fact, The Lounge used a similar model), but what is different for me at least is that the payback for the publishers is a bit larger than the typical CPM network. For me, the payment arrangements result in a significantly higher payback for running ads and as a bonus it requires only a single, relatively small ad on each page of the Web log.

I hope you'll agree that this single ad format is much less distracting than the 6 or so ads that were running previously on all the pages here, so hopefully this won't be just a boon for me but also for those of you who kindly come to visit this Web log frequently and actually click through into the site either from the RSS feed or from search results. I'm also glad to be working with Steve, who's been great to work with in the past for ad tuning and pinging on advertising issues in general, as well as just being a good developer friend I talk to from time to time about dev issues anyway.

Love Hate Relationship with Ads

Advertising for me is a love/hate issue and it's ironic  because I tend to think of advertising as the root of a lot of problems on the Web. So in a way it's a bit hypocritical to whore space on this site to advertising. But yet the lure of some recurring side income is always very enticing. The reality is that a lot of effort has gone into the nearly 1000 posts that have made it into the Web log and there's a certain amount of profit potential there even as the content keeps growing. It seems a waste to throw that away and the income is maybe an added incentive to keep at it, especially on those stretches when writer's block or very busy schedules seem to get in the way.

There's no telling whether the DevMavens campaign will continue to pan out, but for the moment this definitely is a big improvement on all fronts as it simplifies things, makes for a cleaner layout and doesn't hurt the bottom line. Woot.

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Posted in ISV  Personal  

The Voices of Reason


Kevin J Baird
July 21, 2008

# re: DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

A lot of people use ad-blockers, because they find advertising annoying and distracting. I've found giving people a choice of viewing ads and visiting the site for free, and charging a small yearly fee to remove the ads from their login is the best way to handle it. People that use ad-blockers tend to want to contribute, they just don't want to do it by viewing advertisements, they'd rather pay-out a small fee. Not to say there aren't some people who ad-block and don't want to pay for what they are getting for free, but I've found that given a choice, most people are willing to contribute.

Steven Black
July 21, 2008

# re: DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

Something to consider comes from Jacob Nielsen, who says (I'm paraphrasing) most users on the web are lost, in a state of search for information, and most of those who stumble onto your website find pages that don't contain the information they seek.

Having analyzed the hit-patterns on the FoxPro wiki, I certainly tend to agree with that.

What Google ads offer is an alternative, based on the keywords the user recently searched and the keywords on your page. The Google ads offer likely targets for that "lost" web surfer who, quite likely, represents the majority of your non-bot traffic.

So you're probably better-serving the niche you seek to serve, at the expense of not offering those targeted alternatives to legion of lost surfers who see just one page of your site, never to return.

Scott Bellware
July 21, 2008

# re: DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

More positive and customer-centric approaches to advertising are usually a win. I just wish the name "DevMavens" wasn't as predisposed to perpetuating egregious community anti-patterns in Microsoft community. So much personality cult hiding pervasive lack of substance.

Rick Strahl
July 21, 2008

# re: DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

@Scott - agreed on the name. I wrote about the 'guru phenonomen' a couple of weeks back and the last thing I want to do is perpetuate that. Marketing you know how that goes these days - all open to interpretation :-}... The good thing is that Steve doesn't heavily bank on that aspect and if anything the ad campaigns are more 'subtle' than your typical advertising on sites which ultimately is what won me over.

Rick Strahl
July 21, 2008

# re: DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

@Steve - interesting perspective on ads. I think that the niche advertising as a service applies in some areas but not in general. If you look at the crap that Google often throws up - which is supposed to be targeted so well - you know that a lot of Google 'advertises' is just filler. In some very highly targeted niches (and I suspect your Fox Wiki is a perfect example of that) that may work very well. But look even at something similar like my message board, which is also fairly dev and even Fox centric (ie. a similar target as your's) and still Google gets it wrong more often than not.

David Cumps
July 22, 2008

# re: DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

I have the same problem, I run Adsense on my blog, but nobody ever clicks on it, even though some posts have been viewed thousands of times. Makes you wonder.

I'd love to find a provider which either interests people to click, or just pays per display, to cover hosting, bandwidth and domain name costs.

July 22, 2008

# DevMaven Ads on the Web Log

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