The real problem with the Google ads (it ain't pretty)

People are pissing and moaning about the SDMB putting Google ads up, and I’ve got to admit that the implementation (don’t consult the readership, nah) and the ads themselves (Katrina! Katrina!) are lame as fuck.

At the end of the day, however, they just don’t visually bother me that much. Which is not to say that the reality behind the ads doesn’t trouble me. I like the SDMB, and I’m sad to see how shit-for-brains management is flushing the board. Am I the only one who perceives what a bad sign these ads are?

First, and less seriously, they demonstrate moronity. We knew that morons run the board (I’m not talking about the mods, but the Reader tools), so this is no great edifier. Moronic at a basic mathematical level, as people are pissed off and some will definitely quit because of the ads, and unknown others will turned off of joining in the first place.

How much does a click pay, and how many clicks would it take to add up to the yearly fee of $14.95? If clicks are $0.05 (max, surely), then you will need 299 clicks to make up for every quitter and non-joiner. My guess is that, considering the ad-savvy/averse population of this board, that’s a losing proposition right there, just eyeballing it.

Another angle. Let’s be extreme and say that the total population of people likely to click on an ad is 100,000 (all those lurkers!). Let’s be generous again and say that they are all going to click on one ad once a year. Holy shit, the SDMB just made $5,000!

Some of you know Internet marketing; tell me if the numbers above make any sense.

Even at ten times that amount, though, I hardly think that $50k is going to save the poor, poor Reader from the burden of this bad, bad board. If paying membership is 7,000 and the peonage is paying $10 on average, that’s $70k. Plus they are getting some banner ad revenue, coffee cups and tee shirts. Let’s say that’s $80k all told. My intuition tells me that $50k isn’t the savior figure they need, considering just, you know, the burden that we are.

Which leads me to my second, and more serious, point: The Google ads are going to serve as a psychological/political excuse: “Well, we tried, didn’t we? We tried paid membership. We tried ads. We did our best.”

Like hell you did.

The Reader Beavers know that they’ve got one of the hottest message boards on the WWW. It’s in the top 100 for traffic after all, right? They also know that they have neither the talent nor the inclination to turn this board into a real money-maker. And that’s why they don’t just shut the board down tomorrow: They’ve got no excuse for their failure; they really even haven’t tried to succeed.

So it comes down to this: They can’t live with themselves if they fail without trying, but they can just barely stand themselves if they fail with a vague gesture toward effort.

The upshot is that the board is toast–unless someone comes in and does something enlightened. Here’s my advice to the Reader: Spin off the SDMB board and coffee cup store and let a motivated company run them. Someone out there can do better than you.

Sounds to me like you’re describing the Peter Angelos system for running a business.
It’s not working so well here in Baltimore either. :frowning:

Nothing to add, no inside scoop on internet ad revenues to offer up. Just wanted to say very, very well put. Kudos. Your tone was calm, rational and non-combative. I can assure you, you’re not the only customer here who’s (non-publicly) asked the very questions you’ve posed here.

Oh, and before any of the brown nosers & hall monitors come in to play the role of junior mod defense brigade, when you finally get around to removing your faces from the ass cracks of TPTB, you can give me a blumpkin.

Oh, heck no. I click on three or four per day just to make sure the ads stay around. I like 'em for exactly the reason that they’re chasing away people apt to complain about that sort of thing.

furt: Sarcasm works better when it’s funny.

Aeschines: The only way we can comment intelligently on these issues is if we were to examine the CR’s books. Which is never going to happen. Failing that, we can look at the general history of businesses when they feel the need to scrounge for income from new, untried places.

I hope the SDMB isn’t sold off to a different concern, if only because it probably wouldn’t be as self-governing as it is now. My only point of reference is a very small ISP-run board I used to frequent well before I found the SDMB: The moderation was inconsistent and frequently absent, the mods themselves were not part of the community in any way whatsoever (they didn’t even have usernames, let alone accessable email addresses), and the boards would be wiped completely clean at odd intervals.

I went back to that board a few months ago, and it was dead. A lot of very old posts were still there, but the community was gone. I hope the SDMB never ends up that way.

.05 is a severe underestimate. An attorney with ads for Asbestos, for example, could very likely be paying out several dollars per click. It’s hard to put a number to it, but the SDMB will generate very decent income with these ads.

With less and less posters every year it sure is headed that way. Quite frankly, being treated like a burden by the admin staff is starting to rankle to the point where I don’t really care any more.

It’s an attitude that should have changed once we became customers.

Is that really true. Since June 2004, when I first joined, I’ve noted that at least one measure of traffic on the board has shown an increase. That’s the ‘New Post’ count I get every weekday morning when I habitually log on. Used to be around 320 new threads, now it’s around 350-360 for the same overnight (to me) period.

Also, when I have cause to read old threads, going back to 2000/2001, I guess, if say someone links to one, I notice how short most of the discussion is. Just around 10-15 responses on average. Not particularly interesting, informative or dynamic either, on the whole.

Not sure if I qualify as a brown noser (certainly not in Tuba Diva’s eyes), and don’t know what TPTB is, so I can get up its ass crack, but what the heck - can’t achieve all one’s goals.

I don’t have the numbers but the absence of many posters who around even last year is really starting to get noticeable. The quality of answers in GQ has also REALLY dropped, kind of reflecting the smaller pool of talent.

Of course, I can’t speak for the answers to the quaetions that you have put, but I see very little difference. If anything, a broader pool, which in turn, GQ and SDMB being what they are, means more “iron sharpening iron” and better repsonses.

You know, I don’t see what people are complaining about. Yeah, there are 3 ads sitting at the end of the thread… I don’t read them and I really don’t notice them. They take up just a bit more space than a signature.

Tell us then, Mr Talent. How would you turn this board into a real money-maker? How about giving some concrete, real suggestions that would transform this board into a fantastic revenue stream? I’m sure you can, because if you couldn’t, that would make you look like a fool, wouldn’t it? And we wouldn’t want that to happen.

I charge for that kind of information.

As it turns out, I kind of like the Google ads. When I notice them at all, I’m often slightly amused at how they relate (or not) to the thread. (They want you to quit smoking, Aeschines.)

Yeah, and mine shows only the Colorado quitnet, which I find either serendipitous or odd.

I’m not delighted with the Google ads myself, nor with what I perceive to be a drop in the diversity of the boards; In fact, I am probably not going to re-up next time, but that just sounds damned silly and petulant.

If you have something to contribute, please help us all out by suggesting it. If not, why not take your genius elsewhere and make your fortune?

(It ain’t pretty)

Oh man… how do you respond to stuff like this? Is there any response that can make it funnier than it already is? I doubt it, but everyone is welcome to leap in with suggestions.

I sat here and stared and stared and thought and thought and by then Thudlow had made the comment about the ads so I settled for that. I really think it’s untouchable; it should just stand alone in all its glory.

Over the years I’ve changed my mind about the SDMB’s innate money making capabilities. I used to think there were a hundred ways this board could rev up income with forums for singles, swap meets etc., but in the end I realized that was kind of silly. People are usually here because they want to discuss ideas or get information and politically, philosophically, and demographically the members are literally and figuratively all over the map.

It’s not a focused enough demographic cohort to really interest most advertisers in terms of someone paying for long term placement ads. The rotating scatter shot Google ads tuned to the threads are about as creative as they can get on this score.

Having said this another thing I have realized over time is that, on a practical level, unless we’re talking about real money making potential in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, the notion of this board being a real cash cow for the reader is a little absurd. Even if the revenue of every paying member were totalled, and then the hard costs of running the board subtracted, the net of several tens of thousands of dollars is barely enough to merit the executive and administrative attention necessary to keep the board in place.

A lot of SDMB members, and especially the younger ones, don’t seems to realize just how ridiculously meager the (real) income from this board is on a corporate scale, even for a middling small corporation like the Reader. The question is less one of “How can we get another few thousand dollars from ads each month?” and more one of “Is this board worth the legal risk and administrative distraction necessary to pay attention to it?”