why ads have returned (and other reconsidered priorities)

Ads have returned to the site. I’m sorry. I hate them too. But I’m desperate here. I tried to find a way to have logged-in subscribers avoid the ads, but it doesn’t seem possible.

Here’s the thing about ads: The reason I took them down a few years back is because I hoped it would induce some readers to subscribe, since it would be obvious that there was no other financial support for the site. The ads made very little money anyway, and there does seem to be the perception that popular sites that run ads must be making a ton of money. Unfortunately, that applies only to sites that are much more popular than mine, the likes of Huffington Post and CNN.com, etc. Sites that get millions of pageviews everyday, not a couple of million over the course of a whole year.

Removing ads from the site appeared to have no impact on the number of subscribers here. In other words, I didn’t get the jump in subscribers I was hoping for.

(Bringing the ads back is an experiment, by the way. I’ll let them run for a couple of months and see how much money they bring in. I expect it will be laughably little. I’ll share some numbers later this autumn.)

I’ve been doing a bunch of things over the past few years in an attempt to draw in more readers and more subscribers: the what-to-stream posts and the Movie Cheat Sheet email newsletters, among other stuff (some of which I’ve already stopped doing, like the Doctor Who Thing posts). None of these efforts made any difference. Which is why they’re ending: this week’s what-to-stream posts will be the last, and this week’s Movie Cheat Sheet emails will be the last.

To those of you who found them useful, I’m sorry. But they’re too much work to do for a relative handful of readers. If you paid for an annual subscription particularly to get the Movie Cheat Sheets and you’d like a prorated refund, please email me and we’ll work something out.

It’s clear to me now that there’s not much I can do to improve readership here. The only times I’ve seen a jump in traffic are the results of things that are out of my hands: when Google updates its search algorithm, for instance, or when the IMDb started listing links to my reviews more prominently.

I have, in effect, been running a one-woman magazine here for the past couple of years. It has been endless exhausting work, but I would have been happy to keep it up if readers were supporting it. They didn’t, so I have to stop. The definition of insanity, someone once said, is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results.

So from now on, it’s back to basics. Reviews, and little else.

I keep trying to remain optimistic about my work here, and it gets harder all the time. It’s more and more obvious that there isn’t a lot of interest among the Internet audience for supporting film criticism. I’m trying to stick it out, but that means I have to find something else that lots of readers will pay for. So I’ll be spending more time on other projects. I’ll keep you up to date on those.

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BrianJKelly
BrianJKelly
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 2:59am

Good luck with finding a revenue stream that works. I come for the reviews, so I have no problem with a renewed focus on them over other things.

Miss AG
Miss AG
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 3:02am

Ach. I’m really sorry. I come here for whatever you’re publishing (yes, film criticism, but I like your writing and analysis and I like the topics you’ve chosen). I will keep coming here and keep subscribing. I wish I had answers for the larger questions.

RogerBW
RogerBW
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 12:51pm

I’m entirely happy to remain a subscriber. Good luck! If I had any great ideas, I’d already have sent them to you…

Kathy_A
Kathy_A
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 3:35pm

I’m definitely still reading and subscribing. I love your site, and wish more people supported you!

Beowulf
Beowulf
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 7:31pm

I’ve had an experience very much like yours with popularity.
When my K-9 Corps novels came out, they were very popular with a small segment of SF readers. But the publisher dumped them on the market without any support at all and the few public bookstore signings I did were pathetic affairs lasting two hours and two books sold. I know the books were good: readers told me how much they enjoyed them. I know this site is wonderful but you need some magical coming together of the stars to make things happen. If I already didn’t know there is no God…..

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Beowulf
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 9:38pm

I think I’ve done everything that is within my power to make this work. I just haven’t had the necessary luck.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
Wed, Aug 27, 2014 1:58pm

I’ll still be subscribing…and still be looking forward to reading whatever you write.

LJS
LJS
Sat, Aug 30, 2014 1:23pm

Happy to subscribe, but could you do something about the ads that pop-up and don’t have a readily visible way to close them absent reloading the page?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  LJS
Sat, Aug 30, 2014 11:49pm

There shouldn’t be any popups happening at all (except reminders to subscribe that are seen by anyone not logged in via Tinypass). So I’ll need you to be more specific: What are the popups you’re seeing? Like, which specific advertisers? If you can send me screengrab(s), that would be enormously useful.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Aug 31, 2014 1:38am

When the cursor scrolls over the bar ads at the top of the page, a large ad will sometimes pop up in front of the web page and, as LJS said, it doesn’t go away. It’s more than a little maddening.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Aug 31, 2014 3:06am

It’s an ad for the “Epcot Food and Wine” event. And it’s not a pop-up per se. It’s a “rollover to expand” type had that creates a floating frame, and it’s very sensitive. There is a close “x” on the frame, and it does work for me. However, if your display is small enough, your cursor may end up sitting on the ad when the frame closes, which will generate a new frame. I’ll send some screencaps next time the ad comes up.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Sun, Aug 31, 2014 5:07am

I couldn’t remember the name of the company, which suggests that the ads aren’t working even in the sense of being so annoying they’re unforgettable.

LJS
LJS
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Aug 31, 2014 1:19pm

It might be an oversensitive click to expand — on my laptop if there is an “x” to close — it is off the display. Will try to screen cap when next it comes up.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  LJS
Sun, Aug 31, 2014 5:13pm

I’ve made some changes to the ads being served. You shouldn’t see any ads being obnoxious again. Please let me know if you do.

Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
Mon, Sep 01, 2014 2:16am

I’ll add Flickfilosopher to my Adblock whitelist. Maybe you should encourage others to do the same. Best of luck with your parallel projects!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Rod Ribeiro
Mon, Sep 01, 2014 12:25pm

Thank you.