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Sad, but true... - brad's life [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Brad Fitzpatrick

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Sad, but true... [Jan. 23rd, 2007|07:29 am]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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[Current Mood |sadsad]

czircon writes:
LiveJournal is really going to shit lately. The "sponsored communities" are bad enough; now we have to put up with ads on the front page as well? And not just banner ads, but ads with Flash and fake forms to fill out because they think it's more likely to trick you into clicking on it? Ugh. Unfortunately I'm pretty much stuck here.
*sigh* I feel ya on the ads. (Not necessarily on sponsored communities, if done right...)

You don't know how much I've fought against ads on the homepage. I'm all for ads when users want them, can tolerate them, and tell us so by choosing the advertising level. If ads are a better deal for them than paying money, great!

But ads on the front page affect paid users and "Basic" users who don't want ads because they have to see them when they're logging in. It also taints the image of the site in the eyes of new users who wouldn't otherwise know LiveJournal is different. Flashing Flash ads on the front page? Sure, we're different.

Any short-term revenue gains don't make up for the long-term losses (interrelated: users, paid accounts, advertising volume) due to loss of "cool" image and jacking with long-time users, IMO.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: punk_apple
2007-01-23 03:53 pm (UTC)
Oh I would totally disable flash on my system if there was a way .. so tried CSS filtering, domain blocks ... but I would just want to not see a single flash thing without choosing to. And even then it would be for a game maybe, once every year or so, not for seeing ads.
As long as it doesn't start to look like bravenet ...
Maybe needs more trying to force them to get that the users should be able to select their ad level.

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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 03:54 pm (UTC)
This extension for FireFox is great:
http://flashblock.mozdev.org/
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[User Picture]From: jgrafton
2007-01-23 04:05 pm (UTC)
Is there somewhere useful to complain so it's more than just you fighting against the ads?
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From: jamesd
2007-01-24 12:00 am (UTC)
Set the ad preferences to things you will never buy. Every day click on each ad link that you see, once per ad. This will decrease the buy rate and decrease the value of ads on LiveJournal.
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[User Picture]From: crackmonkey
2007-01-23 04:10 pm (UTC)
Was this decision made after testing to see if revenue went up (due to click through rate), or was it just put in place?

I ask because, even at the heinously unethical advertising company I worked for (strangely enough right down the street from your offices), we did A/B testing with almost every ad we placed, in every position available. Like performance tuning, it's better to know than to guess.

Anyway, I haven't noticed any ads at all, but I have direct links to all the pages I care about.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 04:43 pm (UTC)
I'm sure short-term revenue went up ... I'm not debating that. They probably get a lot of money for that ad, and more than they do for regular ads.

The question is how you quantify the cost of the long-term bleeding.
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[User Picture]From: graceadieu
2007-01-23 04:22 pm (UTC)

:)

If you don't like the ads, just don't access the front page. And I do not agree that LJ is diminishing in quality. There are bound to be some 'packaging' changes when a product enters the mainstream and becomes famous.
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[User Picture]From: popcultureicon
2007-01-23 04:59 pm (UTC)

Going mainstream

That happened years ago, without ads.
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[User Picture]From: rival
2007-01-23 04:24 pm (UTC)
It always surprises me when you say stuff like this -- as the original founder of LiveJournal, why don't you have more control over company policy?
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 04:45 pm (UTC)
You can't be involved in everything. I can give my opinions on lots of things pretty easily, often multiple times and passionately, but I can't follow every issue to completion, making sure I "win". So there's bound to be times that I lose, like this.
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[User Picture]From: dakus
2007-01-23 05:36 pm (UTC)
*sigh* the days before money...
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2007-01-23 10:54 pm (UTC)
you make me all nostalgic...
ahh back when bandwidth rained down from the heavens and the servers grew on trees...

everything is about money- what do you think the paid subs are for?
i think the point is more that there are better ways to make money, for example by including features in paid accounts that people are willing to pay for, versus slapping up an ad on the homepage that only non-users see...
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[User Picture]From: foobarbazbax
2007-01-23 05:51 pm (UTC)
It's so frustrating when people don't think like me. Here at work we send out an email once a week to the members we tricked into opting in touting our latest "sales." Yuck. My argument against them is the same as yours, its a short turn gain with difficult to measure long term losses. I'm confident that this practice stunts our long term growth.

Their thinking is, "I send out an email every Monday night and I always have a great sales the next day! If I stop that I won't be able to meet my numbers for the month." (Yes, it's ridiculous we look at numbers on a monthly granularity).

Like you, I tried educating people, passionately and multiple times, but they really have to shift their thinking to understand this. My new approach has been to get them reading some books. Seth Godin has a bunch of great stuff. Most customer centric marketing book focus on making the right long term decisions. I also enjoyed "The Search" which covers, at least in part, Google's marketing strategy, which I generally agree with.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 06:12 pm (UTC)
Always glad to hear I'm not alone....

And yes, monthly/quarterly arbitrary goals to hit are silly.
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[User Picture]From: way2tired
2007-01-23 05:56 pm (UTC)
I'm actually really happy to hear you put it that way. If it makes you feel any better, the ads don't affect me much, but as one of those users who did the pay-to-be-permanent thing, ads like the one on the front page disappoint me.

I know when you agree to become part of a bigger organization (like 6A) there are always trade offs. Glad to hear you're a sane advocate.
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From: jonasnuts
2007-01-23 06:04 pm (UTC)

Everywhere is the same

Same fight here at SAPO.

For the moment, I'm still managing to keep ads out of our users blogs. I don't know for how long I can fight this war.

:/
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 06:10 pm (UTC)

Re: Everywhere is the same

Good luck. :/
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[User Picture]From: atomic_seamonki
2007-01-23 06:52 pm (UTC)
oh...I guess this might be why it takes longer for lj to load pages? and I'm a paid user.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 07:24 pm (UTC)
No.

What page(s)? Things have been fine server-wise lately... not major load issues.
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[User Picture]From: figg
2007-01-23 08:18 pm (UTC)
Satire is dead

I would link to the Original post but it seems the image there has died
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[User Picture]From: altamira16
2007-01-23 11:31 pm (UTC)
I was disappointed with seeing the ad on the front page before I logged in and was considering not renewing when my paid account expired in February. With the large ads on the front page, there is less distinguishing LJ from MySpace.

When they change something that you had to explain at length to the community as an option, I just wonder when they will think it is a good idea to have a banner ad at the top of your friends' page when you are not logged in or in other silly and distracting locations.

That said, I think the search functionality will be pretty cool. I read that it is set up to respect filtered settings, but will you be able to search filtered content that is available to you? Could I search for stuff that is on my Friends' filter?
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-01-23 11:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the slippery slope is what scares me. Especially since it seems we keep sliding down it.

Yes, I believe you'll be able to search for f-o things that you could see on your friends page... basically it searches everything, then removes at the last second the things you can't see, iirc.
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[User Picture]From: lacey
2007-01-24 03:36 am (UTC)
I don't know what to say, except that I know it must be terribly hard for you to watch this happening to your creation. For what it's worth, even though I know it is hard on you, I am glad that you still fight for what you believe is right. It would sadden me to see you beaten down by corporate life.
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[User Picture]From: algeh
2007-01-24 04:20 am (UTC)
That ad has caused me to change my default livejournal "starting point" from the front page to the login page (I'm a permanent account holder so I don't see ads when logged in and I also don't leave my computer logged in because I want to avoid Teh Dramaz if I let others use it). I am massively disappointed about this.

The upshot is that I feel I should never have to see ads on a site that I once paid $100 to support because I believed in it and its not-screwing-the-user ways, and I'm beginning to wish I'd never bothered. At such time as there is no way to log in without seeing ads, I'm gone (which I know affects the bottom line not at all directly, but before the ads and increased commercialism, I used to buy other people paid time pretty regularly as presents). The immediate result is I'm more likely to miss news posts and important things, which frustrates me but I see no good way to solve (yes, news is on my friends list, but I don't always go to my friends list when I log in).

Bleh. I should have stuck with my first instincts and stayed on my own site back in 2001. I knew this was too good to last forever and I'd get frustrated with the lack of control.
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[User Picture]From: avatraxiom
2007-01-25 02:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, thanks to AdBlock Plus, I didn't even notice them--I've never seen them.

-Max
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