Sacrificing the user experience for income

I’ve come to a new realization that if my goal is a business on the Internet, profits come first. Ads are a must, a tried-and-true business model on the web. I personally get annoyed by them, but that isn’t a problem thanks to extensions like AdBlock for Firefox. At BigSeminar X, October 2007, I met Joel Comm. I’ve been a fan for quite some time now. He’s the author of New York Times best seller, The AdSense Code. He has also created the first Internet reality show, the Next Internet Millionaire. I was very happy to find that he was just as friendly and easy to talk with as I’d thought.

Elliot Lee with Joel Comm
Me with Joel Comm at Armand Morin’s BigSeminar X

One of the sites I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is Invision Plus. While it has, by far, the most traffic of any website I’ve ever owned, it makes only about twice as much revenue. This is because I run ads only at the bottom of the forums. I have never ventured to be more intrusive than that.

You see, since we are a forum host, the admins have a tremendous sense of ownership over their forums. Putting ads higher up that they couldn’t control would be a terrible violation of that ownership, and I’d always thought the negative effects on the user experience would be inexcusable.

After talking with Joel, however, I’ve realized that this isn’t necessarily the case. Putting ads on the site is one of the best ways to make money online, and not doing this means leaving lots of money on the table. For the users, the money would enable us to certainly provide better, faster, more reliable services. Besides, Invision Plus is not currently profitable due to this, and as a business, profits are what matter.

Now that I’ve realized this, it comes time to take action as soon as possible. Every minute that goes by may mean a lot of lost ad revenue.

2 Responses to “Sacrificing the user experience for income”

  1. Michael says:

    You mean Invisionplus makes half as much money as it should based on traffic. It’s the service vs cost dilemma. Without funds to cover costs and profit to provide incentive for putting in more effort, your service level will drop. To improve or even just to maintain the service level, you need income from ads or have fee-for-service, otherwise you can’t continue operations.

    Most people realize someone has to pay for the service. All “free” service models eventually find someway to make a profit if they are to survive and grow.

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