yet another post about ads

Andrew on why the long-promised adsense upgrade remains vapourware.

Here’s what I think the basic problem is. Not all wordpress.com blogs are equal. A personal blog by a housewife or student is in an entirely different league from icanhascheezburger or stuff white people like, and ad revenues will vary accordingly. Automattic are not going to launch any feature which leads to them losing money, therefore the cost of the annual upgrade must equal (and preferably exceed) the annual revenue from the blog. But how do they know the annual revenue? And how do they know what it’s going to be in the future? Your bumpalong bogstandard blog could take off like a rocket overnight. An average figure is going to be far in excess of what the people in the long tail are generating (or willing to pay for), and far below what the handful on the threshold of VIP status can bring in. Pitch it too high and nobody’s going to bother paying up, pitch it too low and you risk losing out. Charging everyone different amounts is an impractical adminstrative nightmare.

On the other hand, the current system is working pretty well for them. People don’t see ads on their own blogs, aren’t informed about them when they sign up, and can blog for months and years in blissful ignorance of their existence. Even if they do leave when they twig what’s going on, Automattic have still profited from the period when they were unaware. In any case, they’re less likely to leave than to stick around grumbling at intervals and waiting for the vapourware upgrade. Far easier just to keep things the way they are and claim to be looking into solutions whenever anybody asks. It ain’t broke. Why fix it?

12 Comments »

  1. options said

    I like that non-paginated post on the root (news) blog with 1K+ comments (and hence with the same number of gravatar images).

    surely, “on the web 80-95% of performance is on the front end.”

  2. Andrew said

    “Not all wordpress.com blogs are equal.” I was thinking of extending my post along those lines before I realized it was time for lunch🙂
    Back from lunch, I see that your first para does a better job than I would have done. Thanks!

  3. Hurry up! Now could disable all ads in your blogs:

    http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/go-ad-free/

  4. I think Wank has noticed that post. I see she’s left a few comments to it.

    I also noticed that Automattic removed the links under her username. Why doesn’t that surprise me?…

  5. yup, when I commented here, her comments wasn’t approved yet.

    Not a surprise the link removal:-/

  6. I was pleasantly surprised they let the comments through at all. Linklove would be far too much to ask for😉

    Further comments here and here. Once I’d written them I couldn’t be bothered to make a post reiterating the same stuff.

    Lorelle’s comments are also worth a read for the failed attempt by Automattic’s latest employee to pimp the affiliate hosting links on .org (do they get a bonus for every link to that page they drop, I wonder?) and the bit where she gets called on demanding Woopra support even though javascript is dangerous. That made me smile.

  7. But we don’t have any place to comment about if the $30 is too low, too high or just right.

  8. Nice post,
    You made a few very good points. I blogged about the upgrade and Matt commented – He didn’t answer any questions though.

    According to my comments section, some people seem to think the current wordpress model is fine and others are outraged at the ‘sneaky’ way ads have been used in their blogs. Two of the people commenting claim to have left wordpress!

    Anyone know why comments have been suspended in Matts announcement post for the past 2 days? Just as the debate was flowing, they stopped adding comments.

    Just bookmarked this blog – a very good read!

    Jim Connolly

  9. Re: “He didn’t answer any questions though.”

    You get used to it.

    Re: “they stopped adding comments.”

    You get used to it. Both are typical responses for Matt and Automattic.

  10. On another note, Jim’s blog there would have been ToS’ed back in our day for all those links within each post to jimconnolly.com. I guess that rule’s gone away just like splogs being reported.

  11. Cat said

    A bit like the pornblogs I reported a couple weeks ago and that are still there, guess they just don’t care any more..

    Two years ago I would’ve been interested in the upgrade, but the stuff I’ve seen/not seen Automattic do since then make me wonder if paying for the update will really remove the ads from my blog. And $30/year seems a little much for me.

  12. Well, at least we now have a ballpark on what a typical wp.com blog makes for them off of Adsense. If it was more than 30 bucks, the price would probably have been higher.

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