It’s not a secret that most websites on the Internet are able to operate because of revenue from advertisers and Internet ad companies. Without these streams of income they would likely have to downsize their staff or shut down completely. Competing sites to ours such as The Verge, re/code, Mashable, TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, Technobuffalo and the large popular Android sites all use a large amount of ad services. From the industry staple Google Ads to larger ad services like Google’s Double Click and AdX, there are several others far too many to name. Here at Techaeris we run a stripped down ad campaign only relying on Google Ads. With iOS 9 ad blocking emerging and the public in general using ad blockers from desktop to mobile, here’s why I think this could be a good thing in the long run.
The Packaging Sells
Right now websites like The Verge and Engadget drive millions of views to their websites and YouTube channels with very well produced videos, impressively enhanced photos and well edited articles. These mega sites are able to gain traffic in large numbers because they have the firepower to accomplish a well packaged presentation. Not so with us. If you compared our video presentations to The Verge or Marques Brownlee you’ll probably come to the conclusion that Techaeris’s packaging stinks and users tend to react to visual stimulus first and internal content last . While we would love to be able to produce packaging to the level of the aforementioned sites, we also refuse to degrade the user experience of our site by cluttering it with advertising.
If you visit many of the large Android websites and mainstream sites you’ll notice they get heavier and heavier every year with advertising. From full page pop ups to a drop down ads at the top of the page to auto loading videos, sites are whoring out their space so they can understandably pay to make their sites better looking. Packaging sells, but sometimes the content of the packaging isn’t as great as the packaging itself.
Performance And User Experience Matter
While you’re getting Tesla level packaging from many of these large sites underneath you’re getting a Ford Pinto. Even if you are running adblocker load times of websites that run a huge amount of advertising tend to be slower. This results in a poor user experience and it continues on once you get their pages to load. While the pages, videos and photos all look fantastic, the shear weight of the website starts eating away at a smooth user experience.
There are a variety of things I have investigated and looked into to try and monetize and make some actual money from what we do here at Techaeris. Everything I’ve managed to find always leads me back to user experience and performance issues. Sure there are “ad partners” out there and we have had opportunities with a few and othjers of them have signed us up. But after further investigation and testing none of these “ad partners” have impressed me and their advertising software ends up making for a piss poor experience for our users. I decided to allow one mobile advertising company work with us about a year back and within hours I had users emailing me about hijacked browsers and hidden redirect links. I dropped their service quickly.
Why iOS 9 Ad Blocking And Ad Blocking Might Change Things
With ad blocking becoming more mainstream, I have come to the conclusion that our future cannot be built on advertising revenue. No, people are tired of being bombarded with things. People are tired of someone trying to sell them something 24/7. This is why I believe the future of Techaeris and the future of content creation is user supported. If Apple gets its way and ad blocking in iOS 9 is successful at clearing out ads, we could see some of these larger sites have to scale back their production.
This isn’t a bad thing though. I see ad blocking as an opportunity for us. As people start to abandon large and mid-sized sites they’ll start seeking out sites that aren’t pushing ads and have faster load times, which gives us the chance to show off what we are able to create. Without a doubt, sites like The Verge, BGR, TechnoBuffalo and many others need big ad revenue to support their shear size. So that leaves these sites somewhat obligated to their advertisers which leads to websites catering to their revenue stream rather than catering to their readers.
User Supported Content Could Be The Future
As ad blocking becomes more prevalent, and if the larger sites can’t figure out how to maintain their revenue stream through advertising, we might just see a trend towards user supported content. I’m talking about the users themselves paying for the content they read and paying the amount they wish to. Imagine websites who owe nothing to anyone but their readers. Imagine the level of unbiased articles and honest reporting that could grow. Currently it’s very hard to trust a website who reports stories on AT&T and in the same breath has large pop up video ads paid for by AT&T. User supported content would eliminate the layer of big corporate money and replace it with people who just want honest opinions, straight facts and zero spin.
User supported content is the model we’re looking at relaunching in the very near future. Previously we ran a Patreon campaign that hadn’t really done well at all. We started that campaign about a year ago but we were far smaller and not very well known at the time. This time around, we’re hoping that the fact we do not run major ad campaigns combined with our increased traffic and better quality content will encourage our readers to contribute their support to what we do.
We think that operating a website where the user is the revenue stream will result in better content a better user experience and a better Internet. Of course, we don’t know this for certain but what we do know is ad blocking is most likely here to stay and we all need to find ways to pay the bills. Why not trust our users to do that while they trust us to bring them the best content we can provide?