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Tuesday, July 14

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Fuel

Andrew / June 16, 2006 10:49 AM


When we started GB more than three years ago, it was a labor of love. It fairly quickly turned into a whole lot of labor. So we introduced some ad space to cover some of the costs, and offered some merchandise to offset the costs of maintaining the site. That's made us a little money, but not nearly enough to actually pay anyone -- including Naz and Andrew -- for their time. We need to up the advertising a bit so we can start compensating the staff for its hard work.

On the other hand, we don't want to ruin the site with so much advertising that you, dear reader, get turned off. So tell us: how much is OK, and how much is too much? And before you tell us, "none is perfect," keep in mind that we are totally there with you, but there's no way that's feasible in the long run. GB is just too much work to do for free. Unless you're willing to pay a subscription, there will be ads. But here's your opportunity to shape how many and what type there are.

We will make you a promise right now: we will not run animated ads of any sort -- no Flash shoot-the-monkey games, no heaving pigs of mortgage rates, no blinking record announcements. We hate those as much as you do. What we do have in the works is a text ad system, which will run at the top of the page and offer an affordable venue for quick little ads for things like upcoming concerts, rental listings and blogs.

Nick / June 16, 2006 10:54 AM

If the ads got really annoying, I would probably just AdBlock them with the Mozilla Firefox extension.

fred / June 16, 2006 10:59 AM

As much and as subtly as I know you're capable of-- you already have ads, they just look presentable and integrated.

Paul / June 16, 2006 11:08 AM

Subtle ads are best, as always.

On that note, have you considered sponsorship-level stuff? "Airbags, Brought to you by Chicago Magazine!" (That's a silly example, but I'm serious.)

kp / June 16, 2006 11:24 AM

Go nuts on the ads. Get paid. You deserve it. Gapers block must live on. As long as they aren't too instrusive- it will be fine.

spence / June 16, 2006 11:27 AM

If the ads aren't those annoying pop ups and if they aren't placed so they ruins the flow of the page, then I can stand as many as you can put up.

I would like to make a suggestion though and I'm not sure how feasible this would be, but instead of ads by google for "free laptops No Joke!,", etc. you should try to get local businesses to advertise on this site. Currently, I ignore the ads entirely, but I'd probably be more likely to click on a local chicago business ad than anything that's up on the web page currently. Plus it would flow more with the whole Chicago blog thing. Again, I don't know what that would take.

Pete / June 16, 2006 11:27 AM

I rarely notice advertising on web sites, so...

Get paid and grow.

pete / June 16, 2006 11:28 AM

as ultimate donny once said, "we all do whats we gots 'ta do".

Andrew / June 16, 2006 11:28 AM

Paul: Yes, sponsorship has been considered, and is currently offered for Fuel. We've had some nibbles.

Dave! / June 16, 2006 11:29 AM

Not much? Honestly, I don't really care... I use Firefox with the AdBlock extension, so I didn't even know you had ads.

MikeH / June 16, 2006 11:29 AM

Ads are fine (as long as you stick to your promise not to feature any animated ads, or pop-up ads for that matter too)...

Online community sites like 43 Things and Zaadz effectively use non-obtrusive text ads that tie in with the page content...

fluffy / June 16, 2006 11:57 AM

Do what you have to- I trust your judgement, especially since you cared to ask. that counts for a lot.

Like Pete said, get paid and grow!

printdude / June 16, 2006 12:05 PM

I think that if placed ads either accross the top, above the banner, or down the side, either right or left, you can split up the ads per cost.

i think that Five is a do-able number.
More clicks=more money, just like TV.

Rock on Andrew, collect.

paul / June 16, 2006 12:10 PM

I don't mind ads, what I do mind is when sites reduce content in order to fit in too many irrelevant ads above the fold.

I'm sure you guys aren't considering anything like that, and you guys certainly do deserve something for your effort.

I would think many locals businesses and venues would love to pay for exposure here.

TaJ / June 16, 2006 12:17 PM

you have to do what you have to do. the site is well designed and i know you guys will be able to intergrate it the best way possible. i read you every day so...go on!

spence / June 16, 2006 12:24 PM

BTW, I want to clarify that I do realize that you have a couple local business ads already running on the front page, I'm just saying if you're going to expand your advertising on the page, why not keep it Chicago-y.

Jason. / June 16, 2006 12:25 PM

Static banners, skyscrapers, and Google ads are fine. Start with them before you drive us crazy with the interstitials and eyeblasters and seizure-inducing blinkenlichten.

spence / June 16, 2006 12:37 PM

Actually, I lied. I didn't realize you were running local ads on the front page. I was trying not to look like so much of an ass from my first post after I realized it. The guilt overwhelmed me. Damn Catholic upbringing.

carrie / June 16, 2006 12:46 PM

Phew, glad you've already nixed the annoying flashy ones.

I started working as an account manager for banners about a year ago, so I've learned to tolerate them because they're what makes me money. However, I still get annoyed if there are too many on a page. One that you might want to consider is a scrolling text link. It's small and subtle, but tends to work well. Anyway, not much help, I'll pretty much tolerate what you guys put up. If it gets to be too much, I'm sure you'll hear from us. But really, make money.

p / June 16, 2006 12:47 PM

class-act query. necessary is necessary is necessary. go get it. abc.

jen / June 16, 2006 1:13 PM

well, i guess a good question to ask, too, is how many more ads are y'all considering adding per page?

for example, from what i can tell, right now, the home page has 2 ads - one btwn fuel and detour, and btwn detour and newsletter signup.
i could fathom one at the end of merge, and one at the end of slowdown/calendar, and maybe one at the veeeeeery very bottom, all the way across? just, don't clutter the top if you can at all avoid it, since that part looks so nice now.

also, i'm using IE (@ work, home = firefox), and the column with fuel is effin' up and being at the bottom of the page as when you first changed layouts... fyi.

marge / June 16, 2006 1:26 PM

(i've been having the same problem as jen using i.e. the column with fuel has lately been at the way bottom instead of the right side. )
definitely no flash, pitchforkmedia type crazy ads all over the place. that site drives me nuts. i almost had a seizure one day while trying to find out info about their festival.
i love the idea of local ads.

Andrew / June 16, 2006 1:30 PM

Jen, good question. We plan to be very judicious with additional ad space -- it will not come at the expense of content, nor will we overload the site. But considering we've got, as you said, two ads on the front page now, we want to make sure we don't shock people if we, say, double it.

We have a slot running the width of the page, below the masthead, reserved for site announcements -- monthly get-togethers, anniversary parties, etc. -- that we may open to advertisers on occasion. That's as big and intrusive as we'd ever get.


(We thought we fixed the IE layout problem earlier this week -- thanks for letting us know it's still there. Naz'll be back to work on it promptly.)

Andrew / June 16, 2006 2:17 PM

Oh, and yes, we plan to focus more on local ads.

charlie D / June 16, 2006 2:25 PM

We went through the same thing with the community site we run.

A necessary evil.........

I trust you guys

Just remember all the dough is in PORN!

josh / June 16, 2006 2:28 PM

Huh, just yesterday I was talking to a friend and the subject of internet ads came up. He was talking about some study that says people no longer even pay attention to the right side of the screen on web pages because that's where advertising always is. Anyway, I thought about this site while we were talking and wondered how you guys get by with so very little advertising. I agree with what seems to be the consesus, as long as they're not overwhelming, animated, and don't play sounds on my computer I say go for it.

Diana / June 16, 2006 2:29 PM

I wholeheartedly agree, you guys should get paid! A labor of love is one thing, but overtime (and overhead) is quite another. I know it will be done tastefully, so run with it. Keep up the great work, I love the site.

Anthony Ina / June 16, 2006 3:24 PM

As a designer, and having done a lot of ad supported sites, I usually aim for one ad per screen (every 600px high).

Having more ads does not necessary increase your CTR (click-thru-rate), and it will lower your CPM per ad (though you might net more in the end).

If you are able to sell or control the creative at all, it might substantial improve the effect of the ads on the site's aesthetic. Limiting the number of colors in media ads would really minimize the damage; possibly increase the value to your advertisers because the ads will seem more like content; and maybe be another revenue source.

I really like how the Wall Street Journal approaches their ads. On their home page, they've only got one position, and it's so relevant it gets a $50-70 CPM (and the creative is usually great, also).

Speaking personally, I'd rather pay $3/month than see ads on Gaper's Block. You guys have done an amazing job, and you should be able to enjoy it without having to sell your souls.

For me, it would be worth sacrificing that latte. Thanks so much for the labor of love.

Anthony (again) / June 16, 2006 4:07 PM

Just one other question: Have you guys thought about other ways to monetize your traffic? That came out of nowhere, and it was a brilliant idea because of the traffic they get. Brilliant.

mark / June 16, 2006 4:17 PM

I've come to rely on this website for early notice of cultural events and appreciate all the offbeat articles that appear. In order to keep the site going, advertising would not bother me at all. As long as it doesn't dictate the content of the site. I work for a company that offers both free financial content and paid content. Nothing pisses me off more than belligerent people complaining about ads on a page they rely on (financial information), especially when they can subscribe to the information. I'm surprised you guys remained relatively ad free for as long as you have (read: Chicagoist - annoying ads, but I still go to as well).

spence / June 16, 2006 4:18 PM

See, I think a subscription would turn-off to alot of folks. You'd probably be able to get the many of the current readers to join, but growing new readership would be difficult and I'm assuming that's what you're hoping to do since you teamed up with WBEZ. Unless you take a page out of a dealers book and let people read for 3 months, get them hooked on the Gapers Block crack and then start charging.

unmake / June 16, 2006 4:40 PM

The current ads are unobtrusive; if there were to be more of them, such that they became annoying, they'd be AdBlocked.

Andrew / June 16, 2006 4:44 PM

We're not going subscription, don't worry.

Money Mark / June 16, 2006 4:46 PM

huh? you guys are now in bed with WBEZ now, too? What's that about?

I was going to make a post about how a couple ads in Gaper's Block couldn't be any worse than the non-stop pledge-a-thon going on at Chicago's Public Radio and TV (ch11) outlets...but, umm...nevermind I guess

Andrew / June 16, 2006 4:57 PM

We allow WBEZ's "Eight Forty-Eight" program to share our calendar on their site, and they're able to post events to it. That's the extent of our relationship at this point, and it brings us no revenue.

Complain all you want about the pledge drives, they annoy us, too.

dan / June 16, 2006 4:58 PM

You know what? I don't mind the Pitchfork layout so much, although I would definitely go with the "conserving space by using rotating ads" deal.

You could easily get some revenue from Indieclick, to be honest, and that would save you some ad sales time and pressure.

Brandy / June 16, 2006 5:33 PM

I want GB around for a long time, so I agree - do what you gotta do.

That said, I'd love to see local business' ads, no pop ups or animated ads. And I personally, hate, hate, hate ads the interrupt content - i.e. breaking articles in the main body column. I'm sure people look at them more than sidebar or banner ads -- but I *hate* them.

tony / June 16, 2006 5:39 PM

I don't mind advertisements. I trust ya'lls to do what you need to do in a tasteful manner that doesn't alienate your readership.

christian / June 16, 2006 7:11 PM

I don't mind advertisements, as someone else stated, it's a necessary evil. As for the content of said ads, I think they should be geared toward local stuff, much like you do currently (El Boton and DIY trunk show are good examples.) The google ads don't bother me much, as long as they don't appear on the front page.

I am surprised more shops, venues and services havenít approached you; it seems like a no brainer.

Just no pop ups, flash or interrupted text ones, those irritate me something fierce.

sousboy / June 16, 2006 9:47 PM

You have adds?

Annie / June 16, 2006 10:43 PM

You already have a good sense of what makes most ads horrible: animation, blinking, unexpected noise, etc. I trust that you would find a way to work ads seemlessly into your design aesthetic. I'm with Christian though. I'd actually love to see ads for local restautants, theaters, & other businesses.

clodius / June 17, 2006 8:05 AM

The fact you're even asking your audience tells me that you'll probably handle the addition of more ads in a tasteful way. Do what you have to do. Make some bank. As for the types of ads, I agree with the others: go local with the ads if possible.

Pete O / June 18, 2006 8:50 AM

A five line story
[Next Page]

should not
[Next Page]

force a user to
[Next Page]

click '[Next page]'
[Next Page]

five times
[Next Page]


Like some site (*ahem* ZIFF DAVIS and TOMS HARDWARE) make you do.

VinceJose / June 18, 2006 10:00 AM

I don't think it's the number of ads so much as containment that bothers me. For instance I can't handle the pitchfork front page. I can't tell if something is an ad or a header and the ads are ridiculously oversized compared to the text. It's the equivalent of the volume getting jacked up when a TV show goes to commercial.

IMHO you can include as many ads as you like as long as you don't disrupt the layout of hte homepage.

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