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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

advertising does not work online

You may have noticed the lack of advertising here at FlickFilosopher.com lately. I prefer the less cluttered look it lends the site — as I’m sure you do, too — but there’s another reason why I pulled the ads down: they were misleading visitors into believing that I was making a fortune from them.

I mean, I must have been making a fortune from the ads, right? This is a popular site. I’ve had bandwidth issues. I’ve had server-overload issues. I’ve had to offload comments to an external service because they were killing the site. Popular sites make lots of money off ads. Don’t they?
Here’s the truth: Sites getting millions of page views per day are making okay money from advertising. That’s the kind of traffic I get in a year. Depending on who is doing the counting, I got somewhere between 2.2 and 5.2 million pageviews in 2010. The various services that do the counting all have different definitions of what counts as a page hit, which accounts for the discrepancy. But it’s probably safe to assume that the number is somewhere in the middle.

So let’s call it 3.5 million pageviews. That’s pretty damn good for any Web site. Numbers like that put a site in the top 1 or 2 percent of all sites online. It’s pretty damn amazing for a site run by a single person (that would be me). But it’s barely a blip when it comes to advertising.

Why?

Because advertisers don’t want to pay much to advertise online anymore.

Because they know lots of surfers use adblockers and never even see ads.

Because they know that content farms and SEO trickery have degraded a large percentage Web traffic. When a surfer clicks over to a site because it shows up in at the top of search-engine results and then instantly clicks away because that site is completely useless crap, that surfer is not someone in a mood to be sold to. Ads on those pages are all but useless. They’re great for the content-farmers and SEO tricksters, because they don’t need quality traffic: get your pageviews high enough, even if visitors don’t hang around, and you can rake in the dough even when advertisers are paying only a tiny fraction of a penny for an ad impression. They make it up in volume. (You’ll have noticed, though, that even those super-high-traffic sites have upped the advertising lately, cramming more ads on a page, cramming more obnoxious ads onto a page in order to get your attention, throwing popups and popunders at you. The ad crunch is hurting those sites, too.)

But this is bad for a site like FlickFilosopher.com, where the content is lovingly handcrafted for your reading pleasure. There’s no way in hell such an approach can compete with the content farms for ad revenue.

My best ad month ever, I took in $300. That’s not even a single day’s pay for the sort of work I’m doing here. And most months, the ad revenue was more like in the low $200s. The really low $200s. For the entire month.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same different results. So I figured it was time to concede that advertising was never going to be the way to make this site pay. And so the ads are gone.

I hope you like the look of the site without the ads. I hope you like it enough to become a subscriber at $1 per month (or more, if you can). Because the site must earn me a living somehow, and advertising is clearly not going to be the way that will happen.

Only you can help.

Thank you.

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