43 Folders

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Ads on 43F (and helping improve them)

43 Folders - October 2005 Reader Survey

In deciding to run ads on 43 Folders, it's been important to me to try and get things right. Over the past few weeks you've seen the site go way over the edge, then pull back--mostly just so I could learn where that edge was, although it's also accidentally provided me with a fascinating crash course on how industry standard ad units and software work. I've also listened to you guys, moved some stuff around, and tried to keep things both sane and modestly profitable.

Whether I've gotten that mix perfect on any given day will always be open to debate, but I'll tell you two things that are important to me:

  1. I don't want to lose readers because they've been forced to look at ads
  2. Whenever possible, I'd like the ads to be appropriate for my audience

I've tried to address part one on my advertising page where I show people options for enjoying 43 Folders ad-free, through RSS feeds and ad-blocking. Wherever practical, I've also added an ad class to all divs that contain advertising content, so you grep fans can go nuts on rolling your own filters. Like I say: people who hate ads don't click them, so why should I annoy them?

Part two is a lot trickier because I don't really get to pick my advertisers: they choose me. And sometimes--much to people's understandable consternation--they pick this site because our users don't use their product. That's apparently how advertising works, believe it or not.

Hello, FM

But here's the thing. I work with some very smart people at Federated Media Publishing. This is a company that was started by John Battelle, the same guy who founded (or co-founded) Wired and The Industry Standard (as well as inventing the letter "m," designing the Chrysler Building, and developing the first viable home cheese grater).

John and his talented crew (which includes the devastatingly handsome, Andre Torrez) are smart, and they get blogs and blog audiences. They want to find a match between original voices in publishing and the companies that would benefit from reaching their opinion-making audiences. In case you didn't catch that: we both just got a really nice compliment from people with lots of money. And I'm pretty sure it's not bullshit.

FM is going to try to find advertisers and sponsors who represent a good fit here. If it's possible--and I can virtually promise you that it will not always be--they're going to try and deliver ads that make sense to a big fat part of the curve here. I think that's a really good idea, and so I have empowered them to hop to it. Chop chop.

Get out your #2 pencils

It would be helpful to FM (and to me, and to the notional advertisers and, ultimately, to you) if you could take a few minutes to fill out this survey. I don't have prizes to give away, but if I did, they'd be pretty nice and have your name monogrammed right on the side. If you're comfortable doing this kind of thing, I'd personally consider it a proper.

I understand and respect that for some people ads are an unforgivable use of internet and personal bandwidth. I run PithHelmet and have owned a TiVo for 4 years, so I'm not too far away from that point of view. But, the thing is: ads are the least costly option for you guys and the least time- and resource-consuming option for me. They're easy to not see and they help provide me with what I need to keep growing the site in the way I'd like. Subscriptions seem like a drag to me, and a tip jar ain't gonna cut it.

But with your help, and working with FM, I'm pretty confident that we can attract the companies that want to reach you--and, most importantly--the companies by whom you'd like to be reached.

And if, by chance, you happen to be one of those companies who would be a good fit here, permit me to direct you into the chiseled and loving arms of one Chas Edwards. He will work with you to develop a hand-churned ad campaign for 43 Folders that's packed with old-world craftsmanship and rich, creamery appropriateness. He's also very funny and charming (although I doubt he's as devastatingly handsome as Andre is).

Thanks in advance. For the survey, for hearing me out, and for having the decency to make your web browser come to my underdesigned website sometimes.

Proceed to the survey »

Robert 'Groby' Blum's picture

All filled out. Now please...

All filled out. Now please blog more about devastatingly handsome people ;)




An Oblique Strategy:
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