[Minor update: I moved my CPM real-world stats from the comments to the post so that its more visible]
Whether you're an aspiring writer, an established games critic, or a hopeful webmaster building your first gaming site it would behoove you to read Ben Kuchera's piece on the business of pageviews and ad-funded content publishing, and why posting a photo of breasts to headline this story makes more business sense than attempting to write anything remotely intelligent. You needn't look further than the much-chastised gallery of "40 hottest women in tech" to understand how low some writers will go for pageviews. But I digress.
Web publishers are at an impasse: the terms that the advertising industry and ad-block users demand from each other are completely at odds, and small web publishers like me who rely on both are caught in the crossfire. It's refreshing to see the issue get a little more visibility.
Last week I was invited by NPR's show On The Media to discuss my story. I thought it was going pretty well until Brooke asked why I don't just turn off annoying flashing ads. I truly wish it was that easy, dear readers. I really do. After mumbling what I'm sure was an unremarkable response she then pressed: "So, how long do you think you'll continue to be in business?"
A ghastly technical portrait of the online advertising ecosystem
Replacing third-party flash ads for static ads media buyers have to self-load, self-serve, self-audit, and self-bill is like throwing a warehouse party in the middle of nowhere with no liquor. Nobody will come except your very few best friends, primarily because they feel bad that you're a gimp.
The real-world ad revenue split is lower than any online CPM calculator will tell you
Kuchera mentions that $5 CPM is a starting point (that's dollars earned for every 1,000 ad views) but in my experience that number is much, much lower. Even a $5 CPM is the advertised price, that is not a $5 CPM earned to the web publisher. It is standard, when working with a company like Federated (which I have), that they take 50% commission. At a certain scale you can probably get a better term, but that $2.50 is the real jumping point unless you have ad sales in-house (in which case you're paying half to your ad sales team and then what remains goes to your creative team anyway).
What is more likely is earning less than 0.50 CPM on international traffic, and depending on domestic fill rate and international performance you're praying for a take-home the "true blended CPM" which is closer to $1.25 from $5.00. Next, you'll be wishing that a AAA-domestic title will want to offset that with a $$$ ridiculous campaign when those games come around, and you better let them get a refund when your reviews editor shits on the game or (a) they'll never buy from you again (b) you let them influence your review and your site is a piece of garbage unworthy of existing. That's the business, in a nutshell.
Now, divide all of the above by your ad-block rate and that's your take home, 60-120 days later, when the client pays the advertising agency who then pays you who are trying to feed your super awesome bloggers.
On the bright side, surviving and rising up against this absurd level of adversity is incredibly satisfying if you can keep the lights on. Otherwise everyone would be blogging videogames for a living. It takes a crazy person, or an investment group who will sell your life's work to the highest bidder in a few years. TLDR: I miss old EGM.
Ad-block rates may continue to soar, so we're marching ahead
It's not the readers' problem that the business model I'm currently working on is on shaky ground. Still, sites like mine will inevitably have to move away from online advertising to some degree, and having an honest and transparent conversation is in my mind respectful of the readers. The opposite of that is waking up one morning to find out that 1UP was inexplicably sold three times then shut down, which makes me want to chew foil.
It's refreshing that more publishers are coming forward to talk about this concept of sustainability. Whether its ads, hat sales, venture capital, letting eFax buy you, or whatever -- we're just trying to keep our videogames sites online, because we love our damn jobs.
A writer in the games journalism group pointed to Gruber's SXSW talk, citing a famous quote by Walt Disney: “We don’t make movies to make money; we make money to make more movies.” That's the thing. You could argue that Disney is a little different these days but there's a lesson there too -- don't die (or sell your company) to defend your manifestos.
My role at Destructoid is changing again. I'm scouting new ideas, crowdsourcing
I was your first blogger, then webmaster, then publisher to a host of this crazy cast of Associate Editors and Contributors. Now a hopeful CEO looking for ways to navigate us away from dumb ideas like pay-walling content and steer us into better waters, like crowd-funding the production of stuff we can't afford under the boiler that is advertising. For starters, would you like to see more Holmes, Jim, Dale, Conrad, Hamza, Allistair, Spencer and others on camera? As their publisher I'm their #1 fan, so I sure would, and it's on me to figure out how. Look for shiny new changes you've voted on around here this summer when you'll soon get your chance to become the new boss of us. A more intimate Destructoid, perhaps.
The NPR radio host chuckled at my solution: "That sounds like more work." Truth of the matter is, if I don't come out of this by soon offering readers a plan for a better Destructoid then I don't deserve my job or a penny from them. Please don't pity my position; the challenge to rise above this and see it through is incredibly fulfilling because I care about it so much. Surviving the Ad-Blocker battle peacefully with those who will forever use them has become a fantastic real-time strategy game. We're going to work damn hard for our pylons.
[Header photo credit: Ad Week. Also, cute animal photos rank as the next best thing to breast traffic.]
Cynic without a Cause I just wanna get drunk and listen to J-popextatix Spiel was mightily expensive. Holy shit... Good thing I didn't bring more money with me, too. Saw enough stuff I'd love to own.StriderHoang In memory of Lesser Dog of the snow fields. 1 spaghetti = never forgettyChrisHannard Trialling PS Now - review to come later - has reminded me of a piece of little-reported PS3 news. Owners of hacked PS3s could turn any PS2 game into a 'Classics' title and run them on a bog-standard PS3 with few issues. nanashi Wanna ask a question for tomorrow's PStoid? You still have time! While you're at it don't forget to ask one for Riobux too!!SkarKrow I caught a reflective mumbling about MGSV's open structure and how it doesn't sit well with me, to be published whenever I litter it with images.Gamemaniac3434 Welp, an article today got me thinking about this so without further ado, whats your favorite pokemon?
This is mine:
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/304-305-306_2433.pngClarence Sheridan Winter is Coming and so is the new mobile game: “Frosty The Assassin”
New Mobile Game coming soon...
[img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/RKRBouf0TWO2yTo7CO6X[/img]SkarKrow I cast my little worm in to the pond for a topic to try to make a blog about today. I fish fish fish but nothing bites bites bites.Perro I cracked and bought Final Fantasy Dimensions on Android last night. Half off sounded like just the right price, though I wish this came out on 3DS or even the Vita but at least it gives me something to do on the porcelain throne!Jiraya Coming soon in Mortal Kombat XXX DLC - HUMILITALITY
[youtube]https://youtu.be/gM0y0WhGoMw[/youtube]Robo Panda Z Those N64-era THQ wrestling games have actually held up really well over the years. Take that, nostalgia! Halflocke Underhero a 2d side scrolling rpg on indie gogo
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/underhero-videogame#/extatix Heading off to Spiel in a bit. A whole lot of games there, just of the cardboard variety. I love me some board games.absolutfreak Finally finished The Witcher 3. Definitely one of the best games I've played in my 30 years or so of gaming. Now onward to Ground Zeroes/Phantom Pain.Nathan D *playing an old ps1 game* "START and SELECT don't bring the menu up?! WELL WHAT THE FU-oh, it's Triangle..."TheDefenestrator If anyone's playing Marvel Puzzle Quest (any platform) you should join my Alliance, RedRightHand, and help me kick some Galactus butt for their second anniversary event. (Please?)Shinta MGS Online Day 3. I have 3 character up to level 10 now, one in each class. They're all pretty handy, but I do miss the scout's mark speed the most on other classes.RadicalYoseph The SW: Battlefront is pretty and has great sound design, but the gameplay is so shallow and has seemingly no depth! If the full game is like this I will be disappointed.Torchman *looks at Amazon preorder* This one's for you Chib'