Let’s Talk Advertising

September 22, 2017 by Tim

If you don’t use ad block, you’re going to notice some new ad locations on the website this week. If you do use ad block, well, you won’t see them… which is the reason they’re there.

To be clear, that is not a judgement or an accusation. I understand and sympathize with the various reasons to use an ad blocker. Especially since with the ad exchanges, we can’t always control the ads showing up on our site. I’m not going to make some big pitch about the evil of ad block and implore you to disable it; if you choose to use it, that’s your decision and your right. But as a website owner who relies on advertising income, the proliferation of ad blockers and their indiscriminate use has had an unmistakable impact on the way that side of the business functions. And it’s something we have to find ways to deal with.

Let’s get this out on the table right up front: I don’t like the new ads. I don’t really want them on the website, and I’ve yet to decide if they’ll stay. We’re doing a sort of trial with them at the moment so that we can collect hard data on their performance and so I could see them in practice. There’s some garbage at the bottom of the page, and occasionally a video ad in the corner that should not play sound unless you mouse over it.

I don’t like them, but I’m also faced with having to at least seriously consider their use. Advertising income is directly responsible for keeping this site running. I don’t mean that in a “I need to eat so I can keep working” sort of way, although that is certainly part of it. I mean the revenue generated by advertising pays for the server to keep this website online and the personnel to monitor/respond to issues.

And so I’m torn between not wanting to cover my website in ads, and not wanting to leave money on the table, so to speak. Especially now that I have a family to support, I feel added pressure to take steps I might not worry too much about if it were just me alone. It’s hard not to be keenly aware of the percentage of traffic that uses ad blockers, and not wonder if that deficit could be made up at least in part by certain ads that offer a higher payout, even if they are a bit gross.

Ideally, I could convince more people to support the website with $1 a month via Patreon and not even need ads.┬áBut that requires active participation whereas placing ads on a page is a passive method of the support; the reader doesn’t have to do anything extra. They’re already loading the page for the comic. They visit the site, and someone else gives me some money.

So, that’s the long and short of it. It’s why ads are there to begin with, and it’s why we’ve added some new ones. Like I said, it may or may not be permanent. Part of me wants them to not be worth it so I can get rid of them, and part of me worries about what the next step is if they don’t work out.

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