Skip to content

Please, Not Another Banner Year

Please, Not Another Banner Year published on No Comments on Please, Not Another Banner Year

There are times when it seems like the economics of the web seem to boil down to:

  1. Find some white space on your site.
  2. Fill it with an ad.
  3. There is no number three. Check out these great discount air fares!

It starts innocently enough, with a few AdSense text placements. But before you know it, you have one of those Flash-based monstrosities lurking in your sidebar – the kind you don’t dare roll over, because if you do it spawns some demonic window that extends outside the boundaries of your monitor and knocks over furniture in your family room, while playing The Macarena at 130% volume.

It’s kind of nice, then, when a player in the — oh, god, what do we call it nowadays? ah, yes: the content industry — manages to come up with a revenue stream that’s a little more win-win than just hurling ads in readers’ faces. This week I stumbled across The Washington Post’s Master Class series: online courses that put the expertise of Post writers at your disposal.

It launched last month, and the tuition fees aren’t small; they’re along the lines of what you’d pay for a decent continuing ed class at your local college or university. That puts them in a different price bracket from most of the approaches I’ve seen newspapers take to finding a new source of income, like subscriptions or pay-per-article fees.

I wish them luck. Anything to avoid another banner ad.



The forbidden dance

The forbidden dance published on No Comments on The forbidden dance

Hey, I get it. A lot of people would like to make money from blogging. I wouldn’t mind it, either. (Hence the Google ads on, which so far have earned me a total of… um… excuse me, I have to go cry silently in a dark corner.)

But I’ve met enough people whose level of single-mindedness around monetizing their blogs worries me – for their sakes and their readers’. On the blogs I read and love – including the ones that make a lot of cash – what shines through is the writer’s passion for the subject matter, and for connecting with their audience.

Passion for making money? That’s a distant third at best. (Unless the blog itself is about making money and is still powerfully written and passionate, in which case you’re John Chow.) The blogs that are concerned first and foremost with driving eyeballs and flogging clickthroughs all seem to me to be dead, soulless places.

There’s joy to be had in this business, right alongside analytics and conversion rates. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know it’s my bottom line. And once we start commoditizing our relationships and conversations, we’ve given up something very precious.

By the way, my wonderful wife and partner Alexandra Samuel had a great post on something similar a few days ago. Do have a look!