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View Full Version : Yes, We Have Ads Now



vangogh
08-24-2008, 02:26 AM
Hey All,

You've likely noticed AdSense is now appearing at the bottom of all pages. Hopefully there aren't any objections to us trying to pay the bills.

As you can probably guess it costs money each month to keep the site running and we'd like to recover the cost and even make a little something, something for the time we're putting into the place. We figured it was better to start sooner rather than later and so yes, we have ads now.

At the moment it's just the one block of AdSense at the bottom, but there will be more. I wanted to be upfront with where we're thinking of placing ads so as not to shock anyone. Tomorrow (Monday?) I'm planning on placing another ad block in the header on the right. For now it will be AdSense, but in time it will likely be banner ads.

That should be all you'll see for awhile as long as you're logged in. If not logged in there will be an ad after the first post in any thread. As long as you're logged in you shouldn't see it, though.

Down the line we'll probably be adding one more ad block as a sidebar on the right hand side of pages. That should be it. While we do want to make some money, we're not looking to make the place more ads than content. The idea is to have a few ad blocks around in areas that you can easily ignore if you prefer not to see them, but that will hopefully help us pay the bills around here.

I still have to work out some of the coding details. I don't think a ready made plugin exists for quite what we want to do and it may involve a little custom coding. If you see things showing up briefly every now and then, it's likely just me testing some code.

One thing we do want to do is offer ads for things you will actually find useful. If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see please share them.

I'm thinking if we can build up enough here we can work out discounts for SBF.net members for products and services many of us would want. No guarantees we'll be able to do this, but we're going to try. My guess is it'll be awhile before we're a large enough community to be attractive to advertisers for the purposes of discounts, but if you have suggestions for the kinds of things you'd like to see please let us know.

Anyway I just wanted to let you know about the ads and the plans for them. Again I hope there aren't any objections to the forum making a little money to pay for what's been spent and what it will cost to keep things running.

Thanks,
Steve

KristineS
08-24-2008, 08:38 AM
I don't think the ads are obtrusive. In fact I had to hunt for the one that's there now.

Spider
08-24-2008, 09:35 AM
The trouble with Adsense - and the reason I never use them - is the ads are contextual. That is to say, the ads are for the same things as the content of the page - thus, you are inviting visitors to leave for the very same reason you invited them to come in the first place. But that's your choice and I wholeheartedly support your desire to pay the bills and make money in addition.

Now that you seem to have settled on side positioning for post headers, that leaves an empty space on the longer posts underneath the header content. That could be used for individual graphic ads for the poster. I think the founder members (those paying the bills) could advertise their businesses better with a 100x100 banner than in plain text sig lines. Other members could be charged for the privilege. I would not like to see outside ads in this space, though - it is too associated with the poster.

Alternative along the same lines - we have a minimum 3 lines for signatures. Offer to allow members a 445 x 25 banner for a price.

Just a couple of alternative siggestions.

vangogh
08-24-2008, 11:48 AM
Frederick AdSense was just a start. It's simply the easiest thing to add. But in time we will do more banner ads whether it's for us specifically or for other companies, probably a little of both. I do know what you mean about AdSense enticing people to leave the forum. In a way it's what makes them both good and bad.

Part of the move to the side positioning of the post headers is to allow for some extra things in the space. It's hard to work that out perfectly since if we put too much in there then short posts look empty and if we don't put enough the longer posts will create that space on the side. I agree about not adding outside ads inside a user's info. I think that space should be reserved the specific member. It's a good idea to offer each member a chance to advertise themselves in the space.

We have talked about the idea of letting members advertise and we're still talking about it. It's a good idea and one way we can give back to everyone. It will probably take a little while to decide on the best way to do that and then set up the code.

The hardest part is that the code we'll need to do some things doesn't seem to exist so I might have to write some custom code for things. I want to get a better feel for vBulletin's code before trying to add too much coding to it. I understand how it's put together, but want to understand it better before hacking into it too much.

Spider
08-24-2008, 02:46 PM
Once, a long time ago, I ventured into my own vBulletin board. When I realised how complex it was and how much more complex it could become, I gave up. What I did learn, though, was that there are a lot of talented people hacking the vB code and thus many hacks available. I don't know where, but almost certainly, whatever you want to do, someone has already done it and is selling or otherwise making their code available.

A search or query at your favorite webmaster forum will, I'm sure, reveal a source of what you want to do.

vangogh
08-24-2008, 06:55 PM
I'm a member of a few vBulletin specific forums already and have been searching. Some of the issue is that certain plugins are pay only and many don't do quite what we want.

Fortunately I can program vBulletin or will be able to once I spend more time with the system. If I can find a plugin for something I'll almost always go that route first.

cbscreative
08-25-2008, 12:27 AM
As a founding member, I can add that we're very much struggling with this issue. Please bear with us as we make some decisions on how to best proceed. At the same time, your feedback is important too. Yes, we need to pay the bills, but this forum is really about being a resource for the members. I'm not too thrilled about Adsense. As we grow, I want to see something more mutually beneficial. An ideal situation is when you can get a discount on products and services you already use, like software and other products and services.

My vision, and I know the others here share it, is to have enough clout so that SBF members can get resources that directly benefit their business and have a discount structure that makes the ads not only unobtrusive, but beneficial in such a way that we offer more value than you can get elsewhere. That takes time, but that is our goal.

We're being very transparent here. The primary goal is to build a community so we never lose sight of our purpose. We want this to be a small business resource with the best discussions and a network for everyone to enjoy. The advertising may be experimental now, but we want it to be an asset to you so your business can benefit from the opportunities we ar able to arrange.

Another thing to consider, and we don't know the things that led to the demise of the old forum, is that maybe they were not able to effectively create this balance. Whether they were motivated strictly by profit, I don't know. Whether they lost sight of the original purpose, I don't know that either.

What we want to provide is not just a useful forum, but a selection of useful resources that help your business. Does that include the services that vangogh and I can provide? Yes, but there is much more to it than that. If you can get useful software, we want you to have that opportunity. If we can offer great books that help you build your business, then that is good too. It's not just about a good forum, or just advertising to help us pay the bills, we want you to have tangible benefits too.

It may take some time for us to build this kind of clout, but that is where we want this to go.

the goat
08-25-2008, 05:33 AM
I would never have any problems with ads so long as they aren't intrusive. Ads like adsense between posts are a bit excessive, but there's nothing wrong with monetizing with a few banners and such. Not that you need my approval though ;)

vangogh
08-25-2008, 12:08 PM
We're definitely not looking to make them intrusive. I probably will add AdSense in between posts, but only for people not logged in. We're looking for that balance where the ads are present and you notice them, but they aren't so in your face that you can't ignore them.

KristineS
08-25-2008, 01:21 PM
Keeping the ads noticeable without being annoying is the goal. Obviously, running this forum requires funds, but I think there are ways to generate those funds tastefully and without shouting in everyone's face. That's what we're working to do.

graphic3
08-26-2008, 11:37 AM
I agree with Kristine, most people that come to sbf are here for discussion or answers regarding a business or idea. I don't believe the ADs should bother them at all as long as they are not flooding and flashing all over the page... honestly i think the users shouldn't have an input on this; the part i see that involves sbf users is the forum member area not the advertising area... taking time out of the day to maintenance the admin panel of a forum, pay for the hosting, and edit some code .. that can be quite time consuming, you all should be paid, so i would say form some AD packages and let companies advertise here, you probably profit more from that than adsense

KristineS
08-26-2008, 01:31 PM
Probably down the road we will offer advertising. We have to build up our forum membership first though. Companies want to advertise where they know people will be.

the goat
08-27-2008, 03:16 AM
honestly i think the users shouldn't have an input on this;

You are right, the users should not have input on this, but the fact that the admins of this forum allow them to have it is what is going to make this place great.

I feel like this forum is the result of the people wanting a place that is run correctly. Kudos to Steve, Steve and the Queen for creating a place that is what we all envisioned a real business forum should be.

A forum for the people, by the people!

*I may sound like a company man, but I have been waiting for this for a while.

vangogh
08-27-2008, 04:28 AM
Thanks for the compliments.

It's funny. This thread was never really meant as asking for input on whether we should have ads. I just wanted to let everyone know we added them to the site and are planning on adding more in the future so there's no shock.

It was mostly about being open and communicating with everyone. Something I think we all felt was lacking on the old forum.

Kristine, Steve, and myself all want to make sure you know what we're thinking and give you a chance to offer feedback. We're still going to ultimately make decisions and I know some won't always like those decisions, but we'd like to at least know what everyone is thinking. I'm sure there will be times we think something is right to do only to find most of you object. In that case we'd probably have to rethink things, though even then we might still push ahead as planned.

But we all think it's important not to just make changes around here without letting people know what we did and why we're doing it.

Spider
08-27-2008, 12:02 PM
...But we all think it's important not to just make changes around here without letting people know what we did and why we're doing it.
More kudos to you all.

vangogh
08-27-2008, 12:47 PM
Thanks Frederick.

cbscreative
08-27-2008, 03:34 PM
And my thanks as well. We do want this to be a place where we communicate to the members, and let the members respond so the communication goes both ways.

KristineS
08-27-2008, 04:06 PM
I feel like this forum is the result of the people wanting a place that is run correctly. Kudos to Steve, Steve and the Queen for creating a place that is what we all envisioned a real business forum should be.


Thanks, we appreciate the support and the feedback.

orion_joel
08-30-2008, 09:12 AM
I have no problem with seeing ads on the site. Although i must say i pretty much never click on ads unless it is something that really jumps out at me. In all honesty i came across this thread while looking through the forums before i noticed the ads in the header. So really they are not that obtrusive.

I would guess you got a bit of catching up to do on the setup costs, before paying the month to month with the ad revenue though...

vangogh
08-30-2008, 12:42 PM
Yeah there is a little catching up on the set up costs, but I think we'd be happy for the moment just to pay the future bills and then make a little more to start paying back the startup.

I'm not much of an ad clicker myself unless it's something I really am interested in. I actually expect most members here won't click the ads much or at all. It's usually guests, particularly those arriving from search engines who tend to click. At least that's been my experience with other sites.

cbscreative
08-30-2008, 02:26 PM
Bring on those guests!

CADesign
09-07-2008, 01:17 AM
I didn't even notice the ads until I saw this post, thanks Vangogh! ... (just kidding, of course) ;)

I think you've done this in good taste. The ads seem to be relative to the forum and not distracting at all. I too appreciate the fact that you are communicating with the members.

We're probably all glad they are not bright flashing banners and huge drop-downs that cover the text you're reading or those little popup links throughout the text, you know, the ones that keep opening if you happen to hover nearby.

Yup, it costs a lot to run a nice site. Seems like a very reasonable balance to recoup some if not all of that cost. I ditto the kudos!

vangogh
09-07-2008, 02:24 PM
At some point I know we're going to place more ads on the site and it's possible some will be a little Flashy. Depends where we get them from and in some cases it may be a little out of our control. We're looking to keep a balance. Something that helps pays the bills, but also doesn't overrun the forum with advertising.

Communication is definitely important. I know sometimes we'll change things a little without first asking, but we do want to let everyone know and get feedback. The lack of communication is one of the reasons we moved here from the old forum.

BillR
09-10-2008, 11:20 AM
Fine by me - these things don't pay for themselves.

Well...er....now they do :)

vangogh
09-10-2008, 12:20 PM
I think maybe the next version of vBulletin will create counterfeit credits that automatically get deposited in your offshore bank account :)

Watchdog
11-14-2008, 06:55 AM
Ok with me - I have been displaying ads for the last few years on my site and darn glad I did. A great feature is that you can block competitor ads:)

(ching, ching, ching)

vangogh
11-14-2008, 12:24 PM
So far I haven't noticed any competitor ads. I don't think a lot of forums advertise through AdSense. Banner ads seem to be more popular for the forums that do advertise. But yeah being able to block them will be a good thing.