Hey, happy Mother’s Day everyone!
I’ve been poking around in the code today and have made a few changes I wanted to talk about.
First, I’ve made some tweaks to the Google ads around the site. I’ll be writing up a detailed post about PB’s financials as we get closer to the [subscriptions/donations/whatever] conversation in the coming months, but the short version is that over the past two years site traffic has dropped 50% and ad revenue has dropped 75%. When I say that PB barely breaks even, that’s what I’m talking about.
Here’s a graph of PB’s ad revenue over time:
Why has this happened?
Well, while there’s no one big thing to point at, the content-driven parts of the internet overall have been trending away from ads as a reliable source of income. The numbers just aren’t there anymore. Users are getting smarter, clicking on fewer ads, and running ad blockers. And hey I get it, I hate ads and run an ad blocker myself!
So, what do we do?
Big [subscriptions/donations/whatever] Conversation aside, I’ve been quietly running a few ad experiments over the last few months to see if I can bring the numbers up a bit. One surprising result was that lowering the number of ads shown per visit from 100% to 32% actually kept revenue steady while improving the overall experience.
Another experiment ties into the changes I’ve made today. You might notice that everyone’s favorite line “Sidebar content coming soon” has disappeared. Surprise! Turns out the content that was coming soon is (drumroll please) an ad unit! I’ll be running this test over the next two weeks, and if numbers improve they’ll stick around. Though as you can see with the other test, more ads doesn’t always mean more revenue. If the numbers get worse or stay the same, the ads will quietly go away. I’m also exploring the idea of using Amazon as a provider instead of or in addition to Google.
Do you or anyone you know have experience in this area? I’d love to chat.
All that said, I’m very optimistic about the idea of [subscriptions/donations/whatever] and am looking forward to having that conversation in the coming months once all of the server work has been completed. I’ve heard some great ideas in the comment threads, and I can’t wait to start diving in.
Finally, as an added Mother’s Day bonus: the toolbar now follows you down the page when you’re writing an entry. Hooray!