By John Gruber
After the Deck Network closed at the end of March, I spent a long while thinking about what I could do to replace it. I’m a slow thinker.
What I finally decided was the most obvious replacement possible: selling Deck-like ads on my own, directly to advertisers, much like I do with the weekly feed sponsorships. It started in June with spots from Field Notes and Rogue Amoeba. So far in July, I’ve added MailChimp and Jamf. These are all longtime supporters of Daring Fireball, and I thank them greatly for helping to get this new thing off the ground. (Rogue Amoeba deserves special thanks: they’ve been the first sponsor of every single ad opportunity I’ve experimented with at DF over the years, including the debut week of the feed sponsorship.)
So here’s the deal. I don’t know how best to sell this spot. For now, I’m going with the following:
I think this ad format is a great opportunity for everyone: sponsors, me, and DF readers.
For sponsors, you get to be the only graphical ad on the page each time your ad is shown. And given DF’s visual style, most of the time the ad will be the only graphical element on the entire page other than the DF logo mark, and the only color on the page other than good old #4a525a slate gray. The ads are relatively small, but I am confident they are more noticeable in a non-objectionable way than ads on just about any other website in the world. The ads on Daring Fireball stand out without being the least bit obtrusive. That’s the sweet spot for ads, in my opinion.
If you’re a prospective sponsor, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, ‘no tracking’ sounds good, but if they’re not tracked, how will I know how my ad performs?” Easy. Do what (for example) Rogue Amoeba did, and provide a custom URL for the ad. Then you can track your own hits to that URL and trace them to the ad on Daring Fireball. Or just look at your referral stats (but I highly recommend sponsors use a custom URL). This is something that’s always baffled me about ad tracking — if you pay (say) Facebook for an ad, why in the world would you, the advertiser, trust Facebook’s numbers for how the ad performed? Measure the performance yourself, and you’ll know you’re getting the truth.
Likewise, if you’re simply a reader, do not click ads mindlessly thinking you’re helping. Sponsors do not pay per click, and even if they did, I wouldn’t want them paying for mindless clicks. If you want to support DF, just take a look at the ads, and when one genuinely seems interesting to you, check it out. That’s all I need.
For me, the ads can generate some money to make up for the revenue that was previously generated by The Deck (maybe more, depending on how it turns out — I really don’t know what to predict here), and I can sleep soundly at night because the ads (a) look good, (b) load super fast, and (c) respect the privacy of DF readers.
I have a few spots open for the remainder of July, and August is currently wide open. If you’re interested, get in touch via the same email address I use for the RSS feed sponsorships. (There are a couple of openings left for the weekly sponsorships this summer too, and they can be bundled with these new display ads at a discount. Get in touch.)