Does CONTACT have more self-respect than most?

How many web sites do you visit, where there’s six, nine or even 12 “Promoted Posts” listed at the bottom of every page?

Sometimes these “Promoted Posts” are called something else, such as “From Around The Web” or “Sponsored” – and sometimes not called or categorised as anything, they are just there as part of the parent web site.

More often than not, these “Promoted Posts” are totally irrelevant to the subject of the post or even the theme of the whole web site.

Yet there they are, ‘polluting’ the content you visited the page to read.

Almost everyone seems to be doing it – from Defence Connect, to The Canberra Times, from special-ops.org to 7 News9News and Fox News.

   

(And kudos to Ten Eyewitness News, Australian Aviation and Soldier of Fortune among the few samples I found where free content is offered without ‘selling themselves’ with this stuff)

CONTACT once had a very ‘sweet deal’ with another military-news web site in America. We had admin rights on the site and could post our stories direct to their site, giving us amazing exposure in a massive market.

But when our stories began to be ‘contaminated’ by irrelevant (often offensive and sometimes pornographic) ‘sponsored links’, we asked our gracious host – “why do you let your web site and our stories be contaminated like that?”, and he replied, “because I make about $1000/month from it and can’t afford to turn it off”.

In my mind, that’s prostitution – “the unworthy or corrupt use of one’s talents for personal or financial gain“.

And, before you point fingers – NO, it is not the same as ‘ordinary advertising’, where I have complete control over who advertises on my platform and retain the right to veto their artwork if it does not live up to my standards or is not relevant to my audience.

That said, is $1000/month enough to tempt me to ‘prostitute’ the CONTACT web site too?

HELL NO. I have more respect than that for my body of work – and for my audience.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND: If you think I’m a fool and should just shut up and take the money, please let me know in comments below.

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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

4 thoughts on “Does CONTACT have more self-respect than most?

  • 01/07/2018 at 9:53 am
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    The rubbish ads are, at the same time a pain, but may also be a boon. Sometimes I spot one that I’ll follow up for interest or a specific benefit. But they often generate a flow of spam email or facebook posts trying to entice one further into their net. Overall though I agree with you Brian, they are best avoided.

    On the subject of your commercial viability have you considered an annual subscription arrangement for we individuals? That requires an accounting system adding to your workload or you would have to employ a part-timer which is more admin to handle. I’d be happy to make a monthly donation (I”m retired, can afford a smallish amount, say $10 per month) and I assume other readers get sufficient interest from Contact to maintain their patronage would they too? What is the view of other readers please?

    Reply
    • 20/03/2021 at 11:10 am
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      Hi Ray. Sorry about the nearly three-year delay in responding to your comment. I came back to this page today because I got notification that there was two new comments on this page that were possible spam. And, yes, they were – two comments containing links to pornographic sites. I’m guessing my use of the term “‘prostitute’ the CONTACT web site ” attracted some unwanted Google searchers 😉
      In response to your suggestion re paying for subscriptions, I did actually try that, shortly after you suggested it.
      It didn’t work. I offered to #printCONTACTagain if I got just 2000 subscribers to pay just $2 a month.
      After months of pushing the idea and the subscription model – I actually got 69 subscribers (via Patreon).
      Some of those people amazingly paid way more than was asked. Four people even opted for the US$30/month rewards level! And less than half (including the top-tier people) quit when I announced that the print plan was dead. In fact, most didn’t quit until I actually closed Patreon (mainly because Patreon wouldn’t charge in Aus$ (but, I think that’s coming soon).
      The bottom line is, even with a target of ‘just’ $2000/month, I didn’t even get close. So I canned the idea. But, that whole exercise proved to me that a paid-subscription model doesn’t work (for CONTACT). AND, I don’t think it was the $2/month that was the problem – I think it was the simple fact of handing over credit-card details on the Internet – especially for something that most people think should be free.
      And I don’t disagree – I actually thought it was so before I tried. But at least I tried – and proved my theory.
      And CONTACT soldiers on regardless – still free and still free of those ‘prostituting’ advertisements.

      Reply
  • 29/06/2018 at 11:54 am
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    I can appreciate the lure of the extra revenue. Whilst I personally loathe those endlessly scrolling sponsored content sections that contaminate the internet, my loathing is in principle, not practice. That is, I think the fact that stuff seems to ‘work’ in the first place is a very sad indictment on people in general, sickens me.

    That said, in practice, I believe that for web sites like yours, hardly anyone scrolls “past the fold” anyways, so having them on your site probably wouldn’t impact your reader’s experience very much.
    Put another way, I reckon for most of your readers, once we’ve read the story and checked out the pics, we bugger off til next time, so if all that crap at the bottom of the page was there, we’d barely notice.

    I see only two possible ‘red flags’ to keep an eye out for:
    1) Making sure that stuff doesn’t unduly slow down the loading of your pages (many people will click away if a page takes too long to load), and
    2) Would having that stuff on your site dilute your credibility in the defence community?

    I guess you won’t know the answer to those two until you tried.

    So in short, as long as you continue to have a bunch of relevant ads near the top (I’m a kit whore, and can’t get enough ads for equipment suppliers :-), I suspect giving the sponsored link stuff a try wouldn’t hurt.

    Just my thoughts.

    Reply
    • 29/06/2018 at 12:01 pm
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      Thank you for your thoughts Mike.
      Rest assured, I have no plans to put these rubbish ads on CONTACT.
      I don’t care that principles are costly to have – I’d rather go under than prostitute my site.
      I’ve always been a bit pig-headed 😉
      I only wrote this whinge piece as a vent after yesterday seeing several too many of those things on sites that should have more self respect – and respect for their audience.
      Brian Hartigan
      CONTACT Editor

      Reply

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