On Advertising: Part 1 – Before

I’m trying a little bit of an experiment with a few projects of mine.

Advertising.

I am unashamed to admit that I run AdBlock almost all of the time that I’m online. I think that advertising is a shoddy and cheap, albeit necessary way for many online services to derive income, in general. I also think that, in general, ads are effective on a level that is perhaps not in line with the goals of an organization determined to be as introspective as possible, in a lot of ways. That is, they don’t necessarily fit with the goal of the projects I have in mind. Flashy art and animations are great for artists because they show off art and animation skills. They’re wonderful for organizations such as Rabbit Valley and Sofawolf, that offer products for sale because they showcase the products. Even so, I’m left with a few questions about the way advertising works within the furry fandom, and how information is transmitted within a potential audience.

How does one advertise a blog that offers nothing for sale and provides a non-essential service?

How does one advertise for a survey, and in what ways does that impact the results gained from that survey?

Does animation play a role? If so, how much?

What difference does wording make, particularly when it comes to key words such as ‘sex’? For that matter, how does an advertisement that mentions sex differ from an advertisement that does not?

These are hardly deep questions. Ask any advertising agency or the like and you’re likely to come up with some quips about what does and does not work, as well as what works best for what type of product.

If you look at us, however, as well as our sister project, LSF, we are, at best, irregularly-publishing magazines filled, almost entirely, with opinion articles. The articles often have basis in statistics pulled from here or there, but for the most part, the pieces are written more as introspective or observational explorations of the act of participating in a subculture. For us, these questions bear additional meaning, as this advertising experiment is taking place almost entirely within the subculture itself.

Here’s what we’ve done:

  1. I’ve set up four advertisements on two different sites, FurAffinity and SoFurry. These ads are for four different projects: [adjective][species], Love – Sex – Fur, The Furry Survey, and an unrelated project, Bookmarfs!.
  2. All four advertisements have slight differences:
    • All ads except for Bookmarfs! are animated.
    • The ad for LSF contains the word ‘sex’.
    • The ad for [a][s] and for the Furry Survey contain text other than the subtitle of the site.
  3. The ads should rotate fairly evenly among other ads on both sites (though Dragoneer and Tourmal are invited to comment on the advertising systems in place on their respective sites).
  4. All four ads have campaign data indicating their source. These only show up once per click, of course, so we’ll only see these as unique visitors. That is, there’s no way to bolster the numbers by simply clicking on the ads a bunch of times!

Just to start things out, I’ve taken snapshots from before the ads went up of how traffic looks.

[adjective][species]

adjspecies

as-preads

You can see, here, just how the traffic generally looks for this site in particular. You can see, for example, when articles go live, and even when an article that winds up becoming particularly popular or contentious goes live as compared to one that doesn’t: JM published an article on introversion on Monday the 23rd that became the subject of heated discussion, and I published an article two days later that was largely neutral (this is the way of things, we’ve decided: I write introspective pieces, JM writes more provocative pieces). This is a pretty standard few weeks for us, and we’ve had few deviations from that. One can see the effects from conventions at which we have panels or advertising, as we did for Anthrocon one year.

Love – Sex – Fur

lovesexfur

lsf-preads

LSF has been quiet of late, due to my personal schedule, and so you can see a similar graph, lower in traffic, to the time between articles on this site. Visitors come in from various places, usually search engines and old Twitter links (the t.co link-shortener shows up as the referrer in these cases).

The Furry Poll

furrypoll

furrypoll-preads

The Furry Poll, not having any changes over time within the year, shows bumps primarily from links in from outside, such as on this site, or other forums where others post the link. Reddit, FurAffinity forums, FurBase.de, and so on are all sources of the second bump, for example.

Bookmarfs!

bookmarfs

lsf-preads

Bookmarfs!, on the other hand, gains traffic at regular intervals from posts at the beginning of the month (when that month’s book is announced), and at the end of the month (when that month’s discussion occurs). Full disclosure: although Bookmarfs! is not related to [a][s] at all, I do help out with them in a technical capacity.

You can also see the advertisements that we placed, above. These are the different paths that we’ll be investigating as inroads that advertising provides. What it is that we hope to see is how information spreads within the fandom in terms of something sort of neutral and random such as these advertisements, organic social sharing, such as retweets or links provided to friends, and from followers who catch us on FA journals, Tweets, or G+ posts.

Working within a subculture such as ours, I will posit that, while advertising drives some traffic to sites such as these, the majority of our readership found the site through sharing, due to the nature of our content. However, given that these ads will all be live for about a month, I’ll pull statistics again in a few weeks and see just how things have changed – or not!

We’re interested to hear how you found this site (and if you found the others, how), as well as how you think that this little experiment will play out. Will members of the furry community pay attention to the ads? Will they largely ignore them? How do you feel about advertising in general, and on furry sites? Do you treat them differently? Let us know in the comments!

(Note: [a][s] and related projects are, of course, run totally out of pocket, and we have no ad revenue of our own; we stand to gain nothing but information from this little experiment, all of which we aim to share with you!)

About Makyo

Makyo spends her time as a frumpy arctic fox, usually, but she’s all over the map. She’s been around furry since about 2000 under a variety of names. She writes, programs, and screws around with music.

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8 thoughts on “On Advertising: Part 1 – Before

  1. In general I think web-based advertising is unproductive. I learned of [adj][spec] from JM, who tweeted about it and I follow him.

    We’re all accustomed to being barraged with advertising everywhere we go and everything we do. Most of us tune it out so completely that it might as well not exist. I use adblocker because I hate the waste of bandwidth that I have to pay for when some advertiser feels it is his right to stuff flash animations and other time and bit-sucking crap into my screen.

  2. Well I’m going to post my recent LSF article on my journals and link to it. Since I post the full text I don’t know if many people follow the links but they certainly should learn about the site.

  3. I don’t remember how I got here… perhaps through FA? My memory of discovering [a][s] for the first time is rather foggy, and a bit like Alice Through The Looking Glass now that I think about it- the FA ads I’ve seen before & were helpful reminders for me to return here in the past since sometimes I forget to check regularly. D:

  4. I have advertising so locked down, I can’t see your graphs (or, for that matter, the site header) because they’re links with “ad” in the image URL. :-)

    Content is king. Advertising is only worthwhile if you have compelling content which will make visitors stick around if they click the ad banner.

  5. The name [adjective][species] was so clever, IMO, that I had to visit after reading the ad on FA. I was pleased to find the articles equally clever and thoughtful. They appeal to my intellectual side and there’s a niche that doesn’t often get filled by the fandom. I have already raved to my Skype group about this site. And I turned off my ad-blocker, only to be disappointed that I can’t help raise .2 cents per view or whatever. :)

  6. I personally found this website through the Fur Affinity advertisement. I, too, keep an ad blocker on to help speed up browsing and reduce the clutter that is commonly seen on the web, but I like to disable it on certain sites such as FA, Twitch, and small websites that require ads in order to sustain themselves.

    I find that ads tailored to particular interests are naturally much more likely to be clicked on. Fur Affinity’s ads being furry, an obvious interest of mine, I find myself clicking on them much more often than I would anywhere else. In this case, it was actually the slogan that did it: “Exploring the furry world from the inside out.” For quite some time I’ve been very inquisitive on how and why things, including the furry fandom, work. Why are people interested in it? What keeps it running? In what ways is it alike and different from other fandoms? I have been going over ways in which I could more properly explain to people what a “furry” is and why it has such a following — and more importantly, why it’s such a large part in many of its members’ lives. I was hoping to write this as an article and post it online on my blog (or an FA journal, as I presently have no real blog to speak of).

    It was for this reason that the advertisement piqued my interest; I thought that there was already an in-depth analysis and that someone beat me to it. I was a little disappointed at the thought, but at the same time I was very interested in your take on what seems to be such an elusive subject. While that doesn’t quite seem to be the case, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of journalism found here! It’s written very professionally and clean, and I’m very pleased to have found it.

    Back to the subject at hand: With no first-hand experience in advertising and even with the knowledge of ad blockers, I have reason to believe that these ads will, and possibly have been, generating a lot more traffic than you seem to be anticipating. As mentioned before, the fact that you have chosen Fur Affinity and SoFurry to host your advertisements has made them inherently targeted and therefore prone to more click-throughs than an advertisement hosted nearly anywhere else. I additionally predict that Fur Affinity alone, with its high volume of traffic, will double or even triple your readership.

    That being said, the proof has yet to be seen. I look forward to reading the results and the details of them. Looking further, I would like to see how many of these new visitors will keep coming back even months in the future.

    (As a side-note, I attempted to use the Social Proxy Twitter sign-in but it doesn’t seem to be authorising properly.)

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