ED#01 : Ad Blocking & Adrian's Rojak Pot
All of us at Adrian's Rojak Pot has been through a lot in the last three months. In such a short time, we have moved from a 20GB shared hosting account to our own dedicated server with 500GB of bandwidth!
Now, most of you would know how that all happened... but for those of you who have not been with us from the beginning, perhaps this would be of interest to you.
It was in the last week of February 2003 when we discovered that we were fast approaching our 100GB bandwidth limit with GearHost. That prompted me to write the following news post :-
The News Post That Started It All
I would like to take this opportunity to discuss a rather serious matter that concerns the future of this site.
As you know, we came close to closing down just one month after relaunching the site. That was because we exceeded our bandwidth quota of 20GB in the first month alone! In the end, we managed to secure a new agreement with our host that gave us 100GB of bandwidth at an affordable price. Phew!
However, right now, we are approaching another bandwidth crisis. We are currently close to using up 100GB of bandwidth and it's only the 25th! At this rate, we will definitely break the 100GB limit by next month. Normally, we would be estatic to see so many people visiting us. Unfortunately, I have reached the point where I cannot personally finance any futher expansion of this site.
As we are a fully independent hardware site, we rely entirely on advertising to keep us afloat. Sadly, we have not been able to even come close to covering our current costs. And this is all thanks to the prolific use of ad-blocking technology.
Initially, we noted an advertising reach of only 11%, which means that only 11% of our visitors are actually viewing any banners at all. The remaining 89% are evidently using some form of ad-blocking software. You will note that I have mentioned this sad trend a couple of times here. I guess no one's really reading because our ad reach is getting worse as we get more visitors and use up more bandwidth!
This month, our ad reach has plummeted to a low of 8%! That means 92% of our visitors are blocking our ads! I don't have to tell you that this is really an impossible situation for us.
We cannot upgrade to a semi-dedicated solution (should we need more than 100GB) and neither do I have the financial resources to keep paying our hosting bills indefinitely. I have been thinking a lot about this problem and I have come to the following conclusions :-
1. Ad blocking is unacceptable. Like many hardware sites, Adrian's Rojak Pot relies on banners to stay afloat and stay FREE! We provide our reviews and articles for free. We are just asking for you to help us maintain the site by allowing banners to be displayed!
2. We should sit down and solve this problem once and for all so that I don't have to waste my time on such problems again. We should be concentrating on writing good reviews and guides, NOT worry about staying afloat!
I know that many of you dislike banners. Frankly, I'm not too fond of them myself, especially those that pop-up or the persistent ones that won't go away until you click on them. However, I am fully aware of just how vital they are to our community.
Without ads, there wouldn't be sites like Anandtech and HardOCP. Without ads, sites would have to charge visitors for access to material. Without ads, there wouldn't be so many sites online now!
Let's face the fact - NOTHING is free. Someone's got to pay somewhere. In this case, we are paying for the bandwidth. Whenever you view a page on our site, we are paying for that. Whenever you click to view a bigger picture in our reviews, we are paying for that.
But are we charging you for it? Nope. Nada. We are providing it all free of charge. What do we ask in return? Just to be able to display some ads so that our site can remain online. You have, in you, the power to make or break a site. Whenever you visit a site and allow banners to be displayed or when you click on a banner, you are essentially voting for the site to remain online.
By refusing to allow banners to be displayed, you are actually voting the site out of existence. Because without the money derived from advertising, a site will have to charge for access or just close down. This is what Adrian's Rojak Pot is going through now.
Right now, we are still getting support from the 8-9% of our visitors who have been extremely supportive of our work. Thanks to you, we have survived till today. But I feel it's time for the rest to show a little responsibility too. It's unfair for the minority to do all the "ad-viewing". Don't you think so?
If you don't like our work, please feel free to continue blocking our ads. Hey... if you don't like our work, what are you doing on our site??? But if you feel that we have contributed something to the community and should continue our work, please vote for our existence by allowing banners to be displayed! I'm really tired of trying to stretch our bandwidth quota to the max each month.
I really hope this last plea of mine falls on some sympathetic ears because if all fails, we will be forced to fall back on our last resort - anti-ad-blocking.
Yes, I'm considering of restricting access to certain portions of the site to those who do not use ad-blocking software. This will allow us to cut down on the number of banners (currently four) on our site and yet remain afloat. This will allow everyone to surf Adrian's Rojak Pot with minimal interference from banners.
You see, if everyone allows banners to be displayed, then we wouldn't need to put so many banners on this site! Logical, isn't it? Adrian's Rojak Pot can probably make do with just two banners IF everyone views ads. That will speed up page loading and reduce the clutter on our site. A WIN-WIN situation for everyone!
The Final Decision
First of all, I would like to thank everyone again for participating in the poll . You have given us very important feedback on what you think about the present state of online advertising and visitor ethics.
Now, it's quite obvious what the majority thinks about advertising on Adrian's Rojak Pot. 59% of the voters say they will allow banners to be displayed, but never pop-ups. Another 12% thought we were worth all the banners displayed, including the solitary pop-up. Thanks!
However, it's quite sad to see that 17% of our visitors are of the opinion that they shouldn't be viewing any banners at all on this site. I hope they will eventually come to realize that the free Internet model cannot survive without advertising.
In any case, Team ARP will be effecting some changes immediately to rectify the situation.
1. I just injected even more money into Adrian's Rojak Pot so that we can have our own server. Hopefully, this will cure the hosting problems that we keep been facing all the time.
2. As mentioned above, we will have our own server. In fact, today is officially our LAST day with GearHost. We will be transitioning to our own server in these few days. Hopefully, GearHost will give us some extra time while we migrate! If you face problems accessing the site, please try again later. We will try to minimize the downtime the best that we can.
3. I already e-mailed my advertising agency (Burst! Media) asking them to stop the pop-up campaign. From now on, Adrian's Rojak Pot will never host any pop-up banners! If you ever see a pop-up banner on this site, please let us know immediately! Thanks!
4. Although the cost of running our own server is much higher than what we are paying for @ GearHost, with the support of 80% of our visitors who voted in the poll that they would help support this site by allowing banners (NO pop-ups!) to be displayed, I'm confident that we will be able to keep afloat. Thank you, everyone! We are counting on you! :)
5. We are also going to set up a donation box so that those who are interested in helping Adrian's Rojak Pot remain afloat can also choose to donate. It doesn't matter how much you donate. Every little bit helps!
The entire Team ARP will be meeting up this weekend to discuss the future of Adrian's Rojak Pot and come up with more ideas to secure its future. We have had an explosive growth over the last few months and we would like to thank you all again for visiting us and supporting our efforts!
You have all given us hope for the future and we will do our very best to make sure you will not be disappointed!
Our transition from GearHost to our own server was relatively painless and we should now be free from bandwidth problems for some time. But if the site is to survive and expand, we are going to need your help. Only you can help keep the site afloat and allow it to develop. We are counting on ya! :)
If you would like to know more about the dedicated server we are now running, please click here!
If you would like to donate a little to help keep the site afloat, please click here!