Recently, one of our readers seemed to be pissed off with what seems to be our attempts at getting some ‘advertising’ revenue (see the exchange at A little trick to snipe profits from the market- ?52 Week High Friday Rule?). Technically, that was not advertising in the traditional sense- what we were doing was to send relevant traffic to our affiliate business partner.
Of course, in the ideal world, information is free and there’s no hidden agenda and advertising. Bloggers would write just for love, passion and sacrificial good-will. We would love to live in such an ideal world. Many of our readers would love that too.
But unfortunately, the real world is far from the ideal. As another fellow blogger wrote,
Like many other sites recently, I am now starting a fund raiser. Blogging is a very time and effort consuming activity. And while advertising provides some revenue, it is nowhere near enough.
Like you, we are still humans who have to pay the bills, eat, sleep and suffer the demoralisation as any humans do. Eventually, our finite human limits will be breached. Worse still, the evils of inflation and moral hazards (which the governments everywhere seemed intent of achieving), is making a bad situation worse for society as a whole.
And you know what the problem for bloggers like us? As we wrote in Google vs Rupert Murdoch- who will win?,
So, here comes the crucial point to understand: information (collectively) is free and abundant, but consumers? attention (for each individual information provider) is scarce. Actually, each feed of one another in a positive feedback loop- to attract the attention of consumers, businesses are forced to give more and more information away, which in turn causes information to be more abundant (collectively), which in turn makes consumers? attention even more scarce (for each individual businesses), which forces businesses to give yet even more information away.
Unlike say 10 years ago, what is happening today is that the cost of producing free information (e.g. researching, writing, reading, etc) and services is exceeding the revenue gained from scarce attention (e.g. advertising, sending traffic to affiliates). From what we can see, information producers on the Internet are bleeding dry. Newspapers are going busts left, right and centre. If well-capitalised Rupert Murdoch is complaining, then it is very telling that a significant percentage of online information producers/service providers are in pain.
From an investors’ point of view, it is a no-brainer that Google’s business model is much better than Rupert Murdoch’s. As Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist/philosopher wrote in a FAQ of his book,
The only business model for aggregated or collectivized information- information that isn?t bought and sold directly- is the routing of advertising.? Everything but advertising becomes free.? It isn?t the advertisers who become rich in the long term, because there are fewer and fewer things to be sold, other than ads.? It is the owner of the ad exchange that becomes rich.? At the moment this means Google for most purposes, though in the financial sphere there are other parties playing an analogous role.? (I should say that I personally know the Google folks, and like them.? They didn?t have an evil plan- but they did find themselves in a niche that is problematic.)
That’s why most of the free stuffs on the Internet seems to have ‘hidden’ agenda and sales hype. As long as the price of information are pushed towards zero, such conflict of interests will be the norm.
That’s the reason why we advertise.
Some of you may find that irrelevant advertising because you are not into trading. But please look at this from our perspective. We have a wide variety of readers, many of which are into trading, forex and penny stocks (assuming that our Facebook community is indicative of the general readership of this blog). We even have a sizeable number of American real estate investors (it’s a surprise to us). So, what we were doing was to try to direct the traders (among our readers) to our affiliate business partner.
From the perspective of the non-traders, that particular business partner’s wares can be seen as sales hypes and hidden agenda. But personally, we find that we can trust them more (relatively), compared to the heaps of crap you can find on the Internet. That’s why we promote their trading products because we ourselves use them and find them useful. The truth is that, with so much sales hypes, hidden agendas and crap on the Internet that it is pretty much getting more and more difficult to tell the difference between the crap ones and the gems. To be frank, we have other businesses who wants to promote their wares through us and they either failed the hype-test or we aren’t sure whether they are scams or not.
And here is our problem. In the Internet, everyone can remain anonymous. But we can’t tell the traders among the investors (other than the few who engage in conversations in the comments). What we see from our statistics are a sea of faceless numbers. Whenever statistics are involved, the only way to go is to run on statistical probability (in reality more towards guestimates). So, for example, if we guestimate that x% of our readers are traders, then we will ‘advertise’ a specific way so as to ensure that the least number of readers are pissed off. If the percentages are much higher for a specific segment, then our ‘advertising’ will be louder because based on statistical probability, the chances of the ‘advertising’ being relevant are much higher and therefore, less likely to piss off someone.
One of our readers suggested going to the donation route. Well, we are not sure whether this is a better route. Certainly, it will piss off less people. But would that be even less sustainable in an already unsustainable situation? Also, some of us are resistant to the donation route because it smells like begging. But would that be worth a try?
One fellow blogger is going along this route:
So, to enable this blog to continue at the current rate of activity or to expand, readers really need to start donating. I am letting future activity depend on this. No donations means no blog. Few and/or little donations means little activity.Many and/or large donations means unchanged or more activity. The future of the blog is in your hands.
Donate according to how much value this blog gives you and your ability to donate. So, press the “donate”-button in the right side bar, and donate now (or as soon as possible)!
We are going to try donation as an experiment and let our readers’ donations drive the level of activity and quality of this blog as well as the level of advertisements (i.e. more donations, less advertisement). In other words, donate according to how much value this blog gives you and your ability to donate. Please note that a few advertisements cannot be removed immediately due to contractual obligations with the advertisers.
Also, please leave feedback on what you think in the comments below. Without feedbacks, what we see are just a sea of statistically faceless numbers. Also, to help us understand our readers, we are conducting an anonymous poll here.