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Friday, 23 May 2008

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The display ads distract from the very excellent content and many of them are actually rather ugly. But we must assume you know that. If in addition they are stopping people seeing your site, surely their inclusion is something to reconsider?

Well, if there wasn't any site at all, then it also wouldn't take any time to load.

Mike J.

What amazes me are the people who complain about the advertisements. What do they think pays for the site? They're getting it for free, and they're still unhappy.

The subscription model has been tried before, most notably by the "New York Times," and they gave up.

TOP looks fine on my iPhone, but if you are interested in making it look better on mobile devices , I can make up some lines to add to your CSS that would change the layout on mobile devices.

Or you can look at this page of instructions

http://nidahas.com/2005/04/04/mobile-css-first-steps/

which look about right

Re: the display ads - don't fret about them. They're fine. If they start moving (i.e. Flash), I'll complain, but as they are they're no worse than the one-column ads in any print magazine you want to name, from the New Yorker to every photo mag.

And if they're what keep the great content coming, I'm all for 'em!

Re: mobile device access to TOP: I'm not convinced that a blog about *photographs* should work too hard to optimize its appearance on any 3" screen. Good photographs are compromised enough just getting onto the internet, let alone onto pocket-sized mobile devices!

As Marie Antoinette might have said, "Let them read text."

Robert,
I'd like a little credit for that, actually. No less a potential advertising client than *Nikon* expressed interest in buying ad space on TOP, but it was for a flashing "animated gif" and I told them I only allow static ads. I'm not rich enough to turn away money, and I would dearly love to have a major camera manufacturer advertise on this site, but I had set a policy of "no flashing ads" because I think they annoy readers, and I stuck to it.

Still pains me to think about it.

Mike J.

Re: Recommended Cameras.

In a 'chicken or egg ' what comes first scenario, often the lens comes first and a body is bought to facilitate it's use.

So how about going beyond the traditional top cameras list and instead compiling an article based around best lenses or best camera + lens ( + film ? ) combinations : after all one is of no use without the other.

Variations on the theme could be classic vs contemporary pairings (Rolleiflex/Hassy 80mm or Leica M +35/50mm + Tri-X becomes Nikon D3 + 24-70 today ? )

"and I would dearly love to have a major camera manufacturer advertise on this site, but I had set a policy of "no flashing ads" because I think they annoy readers, and I stuck to it."

Bravo Mike and THANK YOU!

Cheers, Robin

"So how about going beyond the traditional top cameras list and instead compiling an article based around best lenses or best camera + lens ( + film ? ) combinations: after all one is of no use without the other."

Donald,
That's a nice idea, but you have to consider resources. When I edited Photo Techniques, I was impressed by the degree to which success in a chief editor's job is a matter of doing the best you can within the limitations of your resources. Readers tend to think that magazines can do anything they can dream up, but in truth most of them operate on limited budgets, with limited staff and limited options in terms of what they can provide. A canny and cunning optimization of the resources you do have available is one of the hidden prerequisites of the job.

I admit that I'm pretty lucky here on TOP, because I seem to have established this as a big and popular blog, and I get a lot of help because of it--we have more resources than most blogs do, I imagine.

Even so, what you're suggesting is far beyond our resources. It would be fun, and I promise that when I marry a billionaire heiress, we will do it. In the meantime (in the immortal words of the surviving mountaineer), frayed knot.

Mike J.

Ads? What ads? In reading the 10-20 blogs per day that I do, my eyes have become accustomed to seeing ad space taken out on many of them. For a short time I also partook of the ad banners. When I made a paltry $3 or $4 in the first 6 months, I decided to abandon the mechanism as it was pretty much a labor of personal passion regardless of whether I made money on it.

What seems most interesting is that I do tend to notice ads where I am an interested participant, so links to B&H, UPStrap and a few others always draw my interest.

Regardless of the speed that content loads at, like others have said, it's a free resource and probably one of the most valuable online, so don't put too much stock in the vocal minorities. Keep up the great work!

"Well, if there wasn't any site at all, then it also wouldn't take any time to load."

Hard to understand quite what is meant by this Mike, since it is of course absurdly true. Do you mean to say that you would not be able to produce TOP at all without these long strips of display ads?

There are an awful lot of models of revenue generation that might work a good deal better on a photography (or any visual content specific) magazine site, and I am sure there will be readers and even collaborators who can help install them, if that's an issue.

Moving to a more sophisticated content management system like WordPress or MoveableType would also help in various ways.

I'll stop there though.

"There are an awful lot of models of revenue generation that might work a good deal better [than display ads] on a photography . . . magazine site."

Am I the only one waiting to hear more? Seems to me that if the New York Times, Newsweek, The New Yorker, and almost every other magazine site (including most successful photo-magazine sites) relies on display ads, then Mike J. isn't exactly behind the curve putting them on TOP.

But if the aforequoted poster will tell us about sources of revenue that are both more profitable and less visible, Mike (and several million other website managers) will quickly adopt them. Do tell, please....

I looked at the effectiveness of online advertising techniques as part of a recent University Honors thesis.

Flashing ads might look good to arty designers but not suprisingly readers avoid them.

One of the most effective forms of advertising are the plain jane text ads.

Ads with great photos also work nearly as well, but it has to be a good photo, not just any photo.

Dear Robert,

You are making the assumption that advertising policy is a rational, fact-driven market.

It's not.

It's primarily driven by hearsay, rumor and inherited 'wisdom' that's known to be utterly false (like the myth that folks over 49 are a lousy target audience for new products-- in truth they're just about the best) but that gets repeated by everyone, so they believe it's true.

When companies get more sales, they attribute it to good ads. When they get fewer that attribute it to bad. They only sometimes know if that's true. They almost never know WHY.

pax / Ctein

Ctein says, "Dear Robert, You are making the assumption that advertising policy is a rational, fact-driven market."

Not at all. I said MJ wasn't doing anything obviously naive or foolish in using display ads to generate revenue, because many successful websites have found that such ads do bring in money. Looks to me like you're using this separate discussion to point out the mystical and nonrational effect of advertising on *consumers,* and you'll get no argument on that claim from me.

My only point was to observe that display ads are relatively effective for many successful *sites and magazines* (as a revenue source) - NOT that ads themselves are or are not effective "for marketers" or "on consumers." If Mike finds that having an ad results in $150 in income that he would not receive without that ad, well, that sounds pretty "rational" and "fact-driven" to me.

Perhaps you are confusing me with brendadada, who did imply that she can speak with authority in these matters but has not followed up. Doesn't seem right to heave a brick through the window by saying, "There are lots of better ways than display ads to generate web revenue" and then to run off without a single constructive suggestion (especially when both her own websites - .net and .com - are agonizingly slow to load, and it was slowness to load that started this discussion in the first place!).

You'll notice that I have made a few minor changes to the site to improve the loading speed, mainly by removing the image tabs for all the "Resources" headers and three of the five under "Affiliates" and replacing them with text. Doesn't look quite as nice (not that the site would win any design awards anyway [g]), but if it helps, I'm for it.

Mike J.

Dear Robert,

I didn't get you two confused. I was reacting to your beliefs about how better streams of revenue would be rapidly adopted. Implies rational and informed decision-making, seems to me.

I think you should take your spat with b out behind the bar and settle it the good old-fashioned way with a fierce, to-the-death game of dominoes [grin].


pax / Ctein

Good to see you are still out there! I missed reading this site. I guess advertising is a necessary evil. If it keeps you here, then so be it.

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