I wanted to share this brief update, because you’ll likely see some changes to the DDNet website in the coming days (if not within the next 24 hours). Basically, we’re going to be running a small number of advertisements on the site, and I didn’t want that to happen without having this explanation first.
Ads were not something I really wanted for this website. I am personally tired of heading over to any number of gaming websites and being so inundated with ads that the reading experience is compromised. I didn’t want that for DDNet, however, at the same time, it’s a basic reality that running a website that generates hundreds of thousands of views costs money. A lot of money. Even putting aside the sheer number of hours I work for nothing (and I assure you all, it’s more than a full-time job), there are significant operational costs, such as the cost of hosting the site after we moved from Blogger to a self-hosted option earlier this year. And then there’s the cost of producing the magazine, the podcast, and everything else.
I had hoped that when DDNet moved to the new-look site it would encourage people to subscribe to the magazine, buy our merchandise, and so on. That hasn’t happened, unfortunately, and it’s a simple reality that the overwhelming majority of readers don’t wish to actively pay to support media sites now. So, consequently, now the site’s running at a massive loss each month. And while I can probably absorb that cost indefinitely because I do work 80-hour weeks to earn the additional money I need to cover this site, I feel like 1) I shouldn’t have to do that and 2) I would much rather be able to invest in growing the site even more than just keeping it treating water.
So we’re opening the site up to a few ads. The goal here isn’t to earn millions and go live on a yacht. Rather, we’re trying to calibrate things so that, firstly, we can reach a break-even point for the site and then, perhaps, have a small amount of revenue to reinvest into growing our coverage further.
Now, there are a couple of things I wanted to make really clear here:
- Advertising is just something we’re trialling. If after a few months it becomes clear that it is compromising the reading experience, or it’s simply not generating the returns to make it worth putting on the site, then I’ll pull it. What that means for the site beyond that I don’t know, but I’m not going to let it be dragged down by ads.
- The core reading experience should not be compromised. You should not see ads within the body of the text itself, so from the opening sentence to the score at the bottom, it should be our work, images and videos, unbroken. I was very clear with the agency that will be serving the ads that they need to be distinct and separate from our editorial work.
- The agency that is serving the ads is Network N. This is an agency that serves a lot of sites that I have a lot of respect for, including Pocket Tactics, The Sixth Axis, TrueAchievements, Nintendo Soup, and others. To be clear: we have no role, whatsoever, in the advertising that you will see. We are simply renting the space to Network N to fill with ads. They have no editorial oversight whatsoever over us, and in return, we do not know what ads are going to run. The very last thing I would want was for people to wonder whether we were dealing with developer/publisher marketing teams while also reviewing their games, so to be unequivocal about this, we do not. The ads you see are more like rented space – a digital billboard we hire out – rather than something we manage.
So in short, all that’s happening is that you’re going to see a few ads pop up around the site. They shouldn’t be distracting or obnoxious, and we are not selling them ourselves. Our editorial position is as fiercely independent as ever, and we’ll continue to call things as we see them, even if that ends up dunking us in a sea of controversy every once in a while.
My – and our – priority remains firmly on making DDNet the best reading, watching, and listening experience that we can. I really hope that you can all see this as a positive for both us, and importantly, you as the reader, because for the last 13 years I have invested blood, sweat, and literal tears into this site and it has been almost all on me. Just imagine what we could achieve if it was also making some money for me to reinvest into it? That’s ultimately what this is about. Making the site fly even higher, and that ends up being better for the readers.
I am very interested in hearing your feedback once the ads have been implemented. This is important, because, as I said, the UI and reading quality of the site remains my #1 priority. Expect some minor teething issues for a day or two as we get the website back-end ticking over, but it should all be seamless.
Most of all, thank you for continuing to read DDNet! If you think back to where we were even at the start of the year, with that creaking Blogger site that barely worked, to where we are now with this gorgeous site and everything else we’ve done… there’s still so much we can do and, moving into 2023, we’re going to be hitting the ground running.