You have no doubt noticed that some of the ads here at Freethought Blogs have changed. As of Sunday, we are using a different company to provide the ads for the site, one with a much better track record than the one we were with before. And I want to explain both why this is important and offer you the opportunity to help us optimize the ads and strike an appropriate balance between revenue and user experience.
First, let me make clear why this is necessary. We just rolled out a redesign that cost about 3 times as much as it was supposed to and then, only a few weeks later, lost nearly a full month’s revenue (you may have noticed the lack of ads for several weeks, which was due to Google shutting them off because some of our bloggers had put up violent images of reactionary Muslim violence; rather than taking down that content, we have shut off the ads to those blogs entirely).
The ad revenue with the old company had gone down steadily over the last few months, while revenue for the new company has been going up. And if we hadn’t made that switch, FTB might well not be here for long. This network isn’t cheap to run and there is no alternative to having ads on the site. At the same time, we don’t want to make the user experience so annoying that they don’t come here anymore, so we’re always trying to strike the balance between revenue and readability. So, a few notes on that.
First, we’re experimenting with that slider ad you see from the left. It looks to me like it’s showing far too often right now and I’ve asked our ad provider to set it for only once or twice per day. It should click off easily and go away, but I’ve seen a few comments from people who say it’s messed up their navigation scroll bars and forced them to reload the page. That we certainly don’t want. If that is happening to you, please leave a comment and give us both the browser and operating system you’re using and the versions of each. That will help us get that fixed.
It’s going to take us a few weeks to get the ads optimized and we may be experimenting with some different types of ads, but always with a view toward striking an appropriate balance between generating necessary revenue and keeping the user experience as pleasant as possible. Even in the deep hole we’re in, I don’t want to alienate or anger our readers. But ads are a necessary evil and we can’t just get rid of them. I appreciate you all helping us tweak them to get that balance right.