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Why are ads necessary?


Brock Beauchamp

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Brewers Video

I know some of you have been frustrated with the ad experience and I'm frustrated, too. My vow is that I will attempt to address everyone's concerns to the best of my ability, as it's literally my job to provide all of you with a quality experience on Brewer Fanatic. The following is not an excuse for a bad experience; I simply want all of us to understand and operate with the same knowledge base. I will continue to refine and tweak the ad experience until all (or really "most") of us can reach a happy middle ground.

I'm going to pull back the veil a little bit and show some numbers that explain what was happening not only on BrewerFan.net, but across the internet to almost all independent forum sites. The reality is that Reddit and Facebook are killing independent communities by the truckload and BrewerFan.net was no exception. Here is the user traffic from April of 2017 through the day the site was relaunched as Brewer Fanatic.

bfnet-graph.jpg

As you can see, traffic was accelerating toward terminal velocity and this graph is actually the norm today in the wake of the assault from social media giants. From the outside, forums often look like they're stable until they're suddenly not and a quick death usually follows. Even during the Brewers 2021 postseason run, BrewerFan.net attracted only ~60% of the users it attracted through 2017, 2018, and 2019. I haven't been exaggerating when I said BrewerFan.net wouldn't make it another 3-4 years at the rate it was atrophying. There are the numbers and you can see I wasn't exaggerating. 

I've talked to several forum owners over the past year and this kind of graph is alarmingly common. It saddens me to no end to see all these great communities withering away but it's the reality of the situation.

Now let's compare that user graph to the same time frame on Twins Daily.

twinsdaily-graph.jpg

You probably see where I'm going with this.

What makes Twins Daily different - and where Brewer Fanatic is now - is that we pay our creators. By protecting the forums with high-quality content on a daily basis, people don't naturally drift to Facebook or Reddit and instead, we keep attracting more users. The forums get bigger, we have more volunteers to create great daily content like the game threads and debate forums; the Twins Daily community is exceptionally vibrant. None of that would exist without all those paid roles wrapping the forums in a protective envelope. Which is why we need to run ads and why ad blockers genuinely hurt a community. The people running this site don't pocket advertising money, we consistently reinvest it back into our writers, video creators, and even our moderators.

You'll notice a big jump in Twins Daily's traffic starting in 2019. I'll give you one guess when we finally "figured out" how to implement advertising well and started paying our content creators much more money than we could afford before that point.

And it's working for Brewer Fanatic, just as it worked on Twins Daily. In April of 2022, Brewer Fanatic is attracting 50% more people than BrewerFan.net did in April of 2021.

Again, none of this is an excuse for all of you to have a bad, jumpy experience on the site. I'm going to keep working diligently to improve the experience and I use the site, too. If something frustrates you, it's probably frustrating me as well. I'm here and I will always listen to your suggestions because without users, a community is an empty shell.

But I hope you now realize why keeping things as-is on BrewerFan.net wasn't really an option, either. If this community is going to persist, it needs a stable, robust revenue source and ads are really the only way to achieve that goal.

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I honestly wish you luck and hope everything turns out great. I don't think a single person doesn't understand the need for ads, they just seems over the top, often being over 75% of what's on my screen(mobile). Once you get the ad situation figured out and they load correctly/don't take up as much space, I'll uninstall adblock and go back to viewing the site on mobile again. I hope it's soon because as someone who has survived on adsense revinue in the past I absolute hate adblock extensions/browsers because they drive the internet towards an amazon affiliate universe where everyone loses. 

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4 minutes ago, timpep said:

I honestly wish you luck and hope everything turns out great. I don't think a single person doesn't understand the need for ads, they just seems over the top, often being over 75% of what's on my screen(mobile). Once you get the ad situation figured out and they load correctly/don't take up as much space, I'll uninstall adblock and go back to viewing the site on mobile again. I hope it's soon because as someone who has survived on adsense revinue in the past I absolute hate adblock extensions/browsers because they drive the internet towards an amazon affiliate universe where everyone loses. 

Out of curiosity, what would you pay monthly for an ad-free version of the site? I don't know that we're anywhere near offering this (but we do offer it on Twins Daily), I'm just curious.

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Well, I'll be honest, I don't really care at all about anything other than the forums. Your blog about the ads was the only blog post I've read here and the only one I currently plan to read. So for the forums only, I'd be willing to pay about 2-3$ a month(but only though like paypal or something convenient). As far as the site as a whole? No idea, not interested, amateur sports blogs are just long forum posts without the engagement as far as I'm concerned.

 

How much do you think you get in ad revenue from me in a month, assuming I basically scroll through the game thread everyday and maybe check one or two other threads on average.

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4 minutes ago, timpep said:

How much do you think you get in ad revenue from me in a month, assuming I basically scroll through the game thread everyday and maybe check one or two other threads on average.

I’ll use a base of 1,000 page views a month or about 30 page views a day. That’s $15 of revenue a month for us. 

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4 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I’ll use a base of 1,000 page views a month or about 30 page views a day. That’s $15 of revenue a month for us. 

So if I just hit the game threads like I have been that's around the 2-3$ I'm willing to pay I guess.

 

I based my figure off the 6$ I pay for about a dozen relevant boards through 247,

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2 hours ago, timpep said:

Well, I'll be honest, I don't really care at all about anything other than the forums. Your blog about the ads was the only blog post I've read here and the only one I currently plan to read. So for the forums only, I'd be willing to pay about 2-3$ a month(but only though like paypal or something convenient). As far as the site as a whole? No idea, not interested, amateur sports blogs are just long forum posts without the engagement as far as I'm concerned.

One thing I'd like to touch on a bit more: the point of this blog post is to illustrate with numbers how, whether you use the other site features or not, you benefit from them because the forum is no longer losing traffic.

And all the people operating those portions of the site would not do so without a monthly check for their efforts.

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19 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

One thing I'd like to touch on a bit more: the point of this blog post is to illustrate with numbers how, whether you use the other site features or not, you benefit from them because the forum is no longer losing traffic.

And all the people operating those portions of the site would not do so without a monthly check for their efforts.

Are the page views you showed for the forum itself or the site overall? Honestly the forum seems a little slower but I haven't been checking in as much either.

My response was based on a question about what I'd pay for the services of this site, so I listed the relevant service.

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This site has been a significant improvement compared to what the old site was in terms of other content. I completely understand why ads are necessary.  However with my internet connection, the ad-free experience is probably the only way I will actually consume data on this site.  I'm sorry, it just is.  With my income level, I have no issues paying my fair share to cover my costs.  What would you want me to pay for a year?  I just want to pay it once a year and be done with it.  Its the same reason, I pay cash for cars and don't take out auto loans.  Those monthly subscription payments make me feel like I'm getting nickeled and dimed.

I asked about this earlier in the forum and I don't think I ever got a response other than what I feel as being "shamed" because I won't white-list the site.

A little background on me.  When I come home from work, I try to give my wife a break by chasing around my 18 month old as she has been doing it all day.  When I get some free time in between the chasing, I bust out my phone and will consume information on this site.  I just don't have the energy to put up with the ads or play the "ignore the ad" game. 

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This is a great site with great articles. The whole freaking world needs to visit everyday. Only then will there be true happiness. 

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I'd like to add a few things.  I'm just a mod, not an admin, so I feel like my 2 cents are (fairly) impartial.  

1) I appreciate Brock taking the time to give us this information in a transparent way where it's easy to digest for everyone.  

2) As a mod, I appreciate folks keeping their "I hate ads" comments and suggestions in this post and the suggestions/issues forum, rather than the game threads, thanks!  :)  

I was a member and admin of a super excellent sports-fan site for years (sports-boards.net) and like Brock said, we had a super cool, excellent thriving community, that was probably a few 3000 - 5000 strong at its peak.  We had fan boards for almost every major sports team in North America, and a dedicated college sports forum, and probably had 3000 to 5000 posts per day.  Some days was well over 10K posts  Like Brock said, a few people left, a few more people left, and then one week we literally had less than 100 posts per day, and I was looking at the list of unique visitors and it was 8 - 12 registered users, and handfuls of bots and guests.  

Forums without additional content can die, just like that.  Brewerfan is lucky in that we serve a super-dedicated, tight-nit and niche group, but if ya'll haven't noticed a lot (a lot!) of long time posters are leaving, and not a lot of people have been replacing them.  

I stayed at Brewerfan for 20 years because of the unique, Brewers baseball community we had, and still have.  This new ownership gives us an opportunity to grow and have something more than just a forum with a 2008 interface.  I don't know about any of ya'll, but I didn't go to Brewerfan for the interface, I posted daily for the people I got to talk baseball with.  I said all this back at the "old" brewerfan, but I'll say it again, even if it sounds bit cheesy.  

This is going to have growing pains, change sucks but it can be fun and exciting and frustrating and any other expletive you might throw at it.  Ads suck, nobody is gonna tell you different.  Like I told the guys in the moderator chat, I HAVE to use my phone at work because I'm not allowed to use my computer for personal browsing.  This site is pretty rough on mobile, as any of you who have tried it knows.  But when I have down time, I check in and see who either liked a comment or told me I'm wrong about something, because it breaks up my day.  :)

Alright, jumping off my soapbox.  ✌️

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42 minutes ago, zurch1818 said:

This site has been a significant improvement compared to what the old site was in terms of other content. I completely understand why ads are necessary.  However with my internet connection, the ad-free experience is probably the only way I will actually consume data on this site.  I'm sorry, it just is.  With my income level, I have no issues paying my fair share to cover my costs.  What would you want me to pay for a year?  I just want to pay it once a year and be done with it.  Its the same reason, I pay cash for cars and don't take out auto loans.  Those monthly subscription payments make me feel like I'm getting nickeled and dimed.

I asked about this earlier in the forum and I don't think I ever got a response other than what I feel as being "shamed" because I won't white-list the site.

A little background on me.  When I come home from work, I try to give my wife a break by chasing around my 18 month old as she has been doing it all day.  When I get some free time in between the chasing, I bust out my phone and will consume information on this site.  I just don't have the energy to put up with the ads or play the "ignore the ad" game. 

Thanks for the feedback. I’m starting to believe an ad free option might be the best route forward here. I have a site meeting tomorrow and this will be the focus of it. 

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What's amazing to me, is I literally have zero ads on any device I use. I don't know if this is because I strictly use the Brave browser, BUT, my experience surfing the website is literally just posts, I feel mildly criminal just saying it! 

 

Homer Simpson Reaction GIF by reactionseditor

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2 hours ago, Julio Muchacho said:

What's amazing to me, is I literally have zero ads on any device I use. I don't know if this is because I strictly use the Brave browser, BUT, my experience surfing the website is literally just posts, I feel mildly criminal just saying it! 

Brave has a built in ad blocker that you can whitelist sites on. It's currently what I'm using on my phone.

Brave also has an experimental dark mode setting (I think it is under display in the appearance menu) that makes this site much nicer to read. Chrome has one too, but it isn't as easy to activate on and off.

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3 hours ago, zurch1818 said:

Brave has a built in ad blocker that you can whitelist sites on. It's currently what I'm using on my phone.

Brave also has an experimental dark mode setting (I think it is under display in the appearance menu) that makes this site much nicer to read. Chrome has one too, but it isn't as easy to activate on and off.

By the way, I expect to roll out an official dark mode for the site within the next few weeks.

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Let's be real. Ads take away from reading the articles. I am fine trolling forums.

But in all honesty, I read the Hader article, scrolled to find the next article (was hoping to see one on Lauer since he had a huge 13K game), but instead, found myself ordering dinner from Canes, since I couldn't make it past the six Canes ads without accidentally fat fingering one of them. 

The ads are too much. Period. I am a mid 30 year old guy and it's difficult for me to find the next Brewers hot take article. Imagine how much more difficult it is for my non-tech saavy dad with arthritis? Ads don't provide value and make this website look like an MLB version of OnlyFans. Can't wait for my Adware files to hit my computer followed by Spyware to log my CC info after accidentally ordering a bag of Orijen dog food from a bot that just took over my computer because of your ads. 

People will continue to come to the site without ads. My advice, hire me pro-bono to write your next article on why it's time to move on from Lorenzo Cain and analyze better options moving forward than our current 3B platoon while *LOUD TYPING* and whispering under my breathe *"That's the best we can do, really?"*.....c'mon, Brosseau is who we are sending out? Jace, who loves to leave runners on base? It's time to move on from all three. We might as well start to put Woody at DH. You want more rant? I got it. You want stats? Data is my middle name.

 

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I am old. I know how to turn a computer on and nothing else. The ads don’t bother me at all. I just don’t get it? Seriously, I don’t understand. I’m not trying to troll or cause problems. The site is easy and readable, and the people who post are interesting. 

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1 hour ago, Tbadder said:

I am old. I know how to turn a computer on and nothing else. The ads don’t bother me at all. I just don’t get it? Seriously, I don’t understand. I’m not trying to troll or cause problems. The site is easy and readable, and the people who post are interesting. 

Thank you! This job can get me down sometimes - particularly hard conversations like this one - and I genuinely appreciate hearing people say positive things. This project has cost me a lot of time and money and comments like this, even offhand, make it easier to pick up the next project and keep plugging along.

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But isn't that also the business model? You need content to drive traffic on an ongoing basis to generate the ad revenue?

To be sure, you bought the site, and can do with it what you want (ie. ads, subscription based, etc.) with no complaints from me.

However, instead of a benevolent slant, "keeping the website alive," as to why ads are necessary, be direct: it's a business where the site was purchased with the intent to generate revenue from advertisers for site traffic. 

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6 minutes ago, Jopal78 said:

But isn't that also the business model? You need content to drive traffic on an ongoing basis to generate the ad revenue?

To be sure, you bought the site, and can do with it what you want (ie. ads, subscription based, etc.) with no complaints from me.

However, instead of a benevolent slant, "keeping the website alive," as to why ads are necessary, be direct: it's a business where the site was purchased with the intent to generate revenue from advertisers for site traffic. 

Well, partially yes, but that's not the entire story, at least for me. I've been a part of many forums over the years and watched almost all of them slowly die to the (what I believe are contemptible) forces of Facebook and Reddit.

Instead of all these great little communities that once existed for every niche, each with their own particular flavor, we have a handful of overlords controlling a too-large portion of the internet.

So, yeah, I want to someday make money from this site but it's not as if Twins Daily is raking in the cash for me, either... the work I do is as much out of love of communities and the sport as it is financial gain.

If it was purely financial gain, I'm a developer with 20+ years of experience living in a tech-heavy city. I have lots of opportunities that pay much better than what I'm doing here... but I actually care about my baseball projects, which makes these projects a fair trade-off for me personally.

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