Site Update: A Few Changes to the Ad System Coming

One of the biggest challenges to running this website has been figuring out a business model that works, and that allows me to sleep well at night. This website is my full-time job, and the income it provides is how I put food on the table. My goal from the start has been to find a way to make this website the only job I have to have.1 Right now I do some consulting work to make up the difference between what the website brings in and what my family needs. The vast majority of the website’s revenue comes from our readers and our supporter system. It’s because of all the people that read this website and visit our forums that it exists.

Over the past two years I’ve played around with a few other ways to bring in additional revenue, the main one being advertising. I set up a self-serve advertising system where anyone could buy display ads on the website, and I priced them way under what most websites charge for the number of impressions they would get. Unfortunately, they never sold as well as I hoped they would. So, it’s time to try something different again.

I’ve partnered up with Advally to help distribute a few more standard advertisements on this website. I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of different people, because I had to make sure I felt comfortable with every step of this. I’ve come to the conclusion that Advally are the best fit because we see eye-to-eye on my vision for this website and the experience that comes with it. (And they work with a variety of other business that I really like — such as Letterboxd.) I could make a lot more money just plastering shitty ads all over the site, but that’s not what I want to do, for all the reasons I’ve talked about before. After listening to David Smith and Marco Arment talk about advertising on their Under the Radar podcast, I know I want to go about this thoughtfully. There will be no pop-up ads, no autoplaying ads, no shitty take over the screen ads, nothing like that. For now, we’re just going to display some standard banners in a few specific places. One or two max per page. I’m also working with Advally to specifically make sure that the advertisements load as fast as possible to not slow down the website. I’ve updated our Privacy Policy to reflect these changes.

Of course, I want to point out that if you become a supporting member of the website, all advertisements are automatically removed from the entire website. That’s been one of the long running “perks” of being a supporting member. They’re not just hidden; they flat out do not get loaded at all. That means none of the javascript runs and you will not see any display advertisements. This is part of any supporter package. That means for $25 a year, which is basically the cost of a large pizza, you can help support this website, disable all display ads, and get all the other cool perks (dark mode, access to exclusive content, my weekly newsletter/roundup post, and everything else). I think this is a great value and a great tradeoff.

What does this means for current, supporting members? Basically nothing. You will not see a single ad on the website. Basically, your experience when you’re logged into the website will not change at all. It’s a great perk. Second, I’ll be rolling out a few new changes shortly so that when you login to the forum or via the main website it remembers that you’re a supporter much longer, and removes all the ads on the main site for you too, automatically. Again, they don’t even get loaded. I’m now sharing your preferences for no ads and dark mode between the main website and forums, so everything should stay way more synced up while not sacrificing speed or load times for anyone. I’ve been testing it myself over the past month or two and it works great.

Also, I know that not everyone that visits this website every day has the funds to be a supporting member. I get that. That’s why I want to make sure the ads we run aren’t going to ruin the experience for you either. I believe that some combination of advertisements and direct support are the key to this website being a perpetually sustainable endeavor. Hopefully, with this change, within a few months I’ll be able to stop having to take other consulting work, and be able to focus all my time on this website. Fingers crossed at least.

I’ll start making these changes in the next few weeks. At that time, I’ll be retiring my current ad system and implementing the new ad units. I’m going to continue to sell the weekly newsfeed sponsors myself, and I’ve tweaked what those offer. I want these to stick out a little more since they’re exclusive each week. If you’re interested, you can find out more information here. I still think these are a great way to reach our audience.

Thanks again to everyone that visits this website every single day and reads what I write. And, of course, thanks to everyone that supports this website and helps make what we do possible. It’s been a whole lot of fun doing this over the past couple of years, and I feel very blessed that I can continue to write about music and talk in the forums each day. I also feel very thankful that I have the chance to play around with different options like this. Hopefully, I can find the right combination so that my passion, and where I spend most of my time, can also be how I make the majority of my living. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions at all.

  1. The long-term goal was, and continues to be, to hopefully find a way to expand the website into an entity that could support more than one person.