Feminist Ad Network?

[UPDATE: The response so far seems positive so far, at which point I have two more questions. 1) Is anyone directly opposed to the idea of running advertising on feminist sites even if the advertising runs parallel to a general consensus of feminist and progressive thought? and 2) Who with a blog would be willing to join this network? Here is an example of how an ad network is sold to buyers.]

I know there are many that are resistant to placing ads on their blogs, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to maintain my website. Someone brought it to my attention that BlogAds is beginning to offer the option of consolidating blogs into groups for more effective promotion (registration required):

With the smaller, blogger-created networks, the bloggers get to decide for themselves, Copeland said, and allowing advertisers to select blogs by categories is much more appealing. “Talking about generic blogs is boring–it’s much better if you can go to advertisers and say ‘here are the premiere food blogs,'” he said.

So far, 17 networks have been created, including ones for evangelical blogs, law blogs, Philadelphia blogs, baseball, and gay issues blogs.

The theory behind the networks, Copeland said, is that the bloggers can group themselves together much better than a top-down organization could. And when the bloggers organize themselves, he said, advertisers get much easier access to the vaunted “long tail” of the blogosphere–the millions of readers who aren’t reading the top bloggers, but are nonetheless very engaged in lower-traffic blogs.

I don’t know whether I’m willing to “sell my readers,” as one blogger (who I can’t remember at this time — pointers?) noted earlier this year, but I know that several feminist and pro-feminist blogs host ads. Though I’m initially resistant to connecting this blog with business interests, I am willing to give it some thought if there is enough interest and perhaps some guidelines that we might set as a group.

I would be completely unwilling to host any advertisement that runs contrary to general feminist or progressive causes. Call this the Pie Fight Clause.

Consider this a fingering of the audience. Any thoughts?

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33 comments for “Feminist Ad Network?

  1. June 9, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    I’d do if you need the “bodies”

  2. randomliberal/Robert
    June 9, 2005 at 11:08 pm

    I say go for it. As a fellow college student, I know that money has to be tight (and I don’t even have a child to take care of). I wouldn’t consider it selling out or whatever as long as it didn’t affect your writing, which I’m confident it wouldn’t.

  3. June 9, 2005 at 11:43 pm

    I think it’s a great idea and also a way to show some of the others that it can be done with taste….

  4. Jenny K
    June 10, 2005 at 12:02 am

    I have issues with the advertising industry, but it does have it’s uses (for consumers as well as businesses) and this seems like a very smart way of diffussing some of the bad parts of advertising and giving a leg up to the better parts.

    I don’t have an opinion on whether or not you should have ads – except to say that if you feel you need the money, I’d rather you accepted ad money than stop blogging, and that since I don’t have much money to donate, I’m more than willing to rent out my mindspace in order to still get access to sites like this.

  5. amanda
    June 10, 2005 at 12:08 am

    I’d rather you accepted ad money than stop blogging.

    I second that. If putting ads up means blogs aren’t just done by those who can afford it, then I see no problem.

  6. June 10, 2005 at 12:29 am

    I would be slightly annoyed if my favorite feminist sites started running diet ads, because to me those are craziness-inducing, rather than merely infuriating. Other than that, I say do whatever offsets your expenses. Young Republicans for Jesus? Fine by me. Naked jello-wrestling? Whatever. I usually don’t notice the ads anyway.

  7. jr
    June 10, 2005 at 2:48 am

    I hope you do it.

  8. June 10, 2005 at 9:29 am

    I don’t mean to pry, Lauren, but what level of “increasingly difficult to maintain the website” are we talking about here? Is it something that could be addressed with a tip jar, and periodic requests for spare change?

    That asked, I wouldn’t second-guess you if you chose to go for a bit of advertising revenue, even if a pie fight ad slipped through the defenses now and then.

  9. June 10, 2005 at 10:10 am

    Chris, I suppose it would work to have a tip jar, but I’ve solicited money that way before and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Basically I incur about $200 a year for hosting and domain, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but quite an expense for me. Over the last year my living expenses have increased greatly and I have a difficult time making ends meet, especially over the summer, and getting back some of my money on hosting would be awesome. If I could turn a profit, that would be even better as far as my non-existent job situation goes, but I doubt I could push that kind of traffic around.

  10. June 10, 2005 at 10:11 am

    I think that if ads make it so that you can continue the site–make your life easier, make things better in some way–then by all means you should solicit advertising.
    Anyway, I think that most of your readers would understand, and especially if you worked at finding ads that really fit the blog.

  11. June 10, 2005 at 10:29 am

    I’ve been a ltitle wary of ads, though I’ve recently stuck a toe in the water by adding GoogleAds to my blog. My reticence is due to a concern about what gets advertised. There are some things I wouldn’t want to advertise.

    However, a network like this might be something I’d be interested in participating in, because it’s a better fit with my personal values. I’d do it more for being a part of and benefiting a community as opposed to personal profit.

  12. June 10, 2005 at 10:49 am

    I don’t know whether I’m willing to “sell my readers,”

    Well we don’t have to buy! Seriously: go ahead, have ads. The bloc idea’s good but if that doesn’t come to anything, have ads anyway. (I am a regular visitor here. ) I do have a reservation, that they will spoil the look of your site — which is lovely — but it’s so much more important that you get money to fund it, and maybe, more.

  13. June 10, 2005 at 11:21 am

    I’ve recently begun using BlogAds for my business so I’d like to offer my perspective from the other side.

    Since I offer services to bloggers, it’s a perfect way for me to reach a very specific niche in a huge internetwebosphere/global market. More than that, I work from the Milton Glasner philosophy that (paraphrase) “You should like who you work with.” So, obviously, I am buying ads on progressive blogs.

    I also want to *support* progressive blogs — so I feel more comfortable putting my ad dollars in that direction.

    Plus, with BlogAds, you do have the option to refuse the ad, if you don’t support that company — you can say no. ;)

  14. June 10, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    Public radio stations have fund drives; I’m sure you’ve heard them. Annonying, but effective. Maybe you could have a fund drive now and then, or a blog-a-thon, set a particular goal (say, 200 bucks) get guest bloggers to come in and for a week or so and ask for donations. Each post would end with a reminder to donate so that you can pay your costs. You can also repost some of the best ones, to remind people what they’re getting here. A week or two later, you have your money, then it’s out of the way for another year or so….And in the blog format, it wouldn’t be anything like as annoying as the radio version…

    (Yes, I am a former public radio dork who spent many an hour asking for money on the air…)

    That said, I’m not opposed to ads. I think the idea of a feminist ad network is great, if doable. Make the generating of revenue an activist thing. But I also think that some of the not-so-feminist ads can end up generating great discussions…

    so, I say go for it.

  15. June 10, 2005 at 12:59 pm

    I guess I’m not sure what question #1 means. If you mean that anti-feminist ads would run, then I’m opposed. We see enough of that crap elsewhere.
    But if you mean including ads with a progressive set of issues, that would be fine with me.
    BUST has created a nice middle ground with their ads, both on the website and in print.

  16. Kim
    June 10, 2005 at 1:21 pm

    The only way I’d be opposed to ads on a feminist site would be if, as others have mentioned, the ads were for diet products or creepy tinfoil-hatter Evangelical anti-anyone-who’s-not-us organizations.

    I’ve actually been debating putting ads on my site, because any extra revenue would help my family immensely right now. On the other hand, I’ve been reluctant because honestly? I don’t think I get enough traffic to make it worth my while — the only time I’ve ever cared one way or the other that I’m small ‘taters traffic-wise! *laughs* However, the idea of a consolidated feminist blog-ad group is making me think about it all over again. Strength in numbers, and all that. What the heck, count me in.

  17. Jenny K
    June 10, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    I think that how much I care about the content of the ads depends on how desperate the blogs are for money and how poor or wealthy their readers are, two things that are impossible for me to measure.

    So I think that discussions like the blow up at dKos are extremely important, but I tend to care more about how bloggers and readers justify themselves than what their actual decision is.

    But I very much appreciate and applaud anyone who makes an effort to try not take money from ads that go against the ideals on the site/newspaper/magazine, whether it’s BUST or feministe.

  18. June 10, 2005 at 1:59 pm

    Wholehearted support. Go, go, go, go, and get those BlogAds. Plus, if marketers smell that there is an active group of women with pocketbooks who will click through on ads that have nothing to do with diet pills and sexy pie fights, they will come. That’s how they work. In short, if you build a feminist network that’s receptive to certain ads, they will come. And you have a huge number of readers who will keep coming to your site despite some ugly ol’ ads.

    Like Kim, I’m a “small ‘tater,” but I would paste up ads in a heartbeat if it meant I could keep up my site going.

    Plus, as more innovations keep coming down the pike, the costs of maintaining a site will grow more expensive. BlogAds is a great compromise for bloggers who have something to say to keep working.

    The big-gun bloggers get paid to blog. And you should be paid, too.

  19. June 10, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    “I’m finding it increasingly difficult to maintain my website.” Ick, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve never had that worry with my blog, because I use Blogger’s site (Blogspot) for it. I’ve never had to spend a single penny on blogging! I know a lot of people don’t like Blogger but if you’re having cash flow problems and are even the least bit concerned about keeping Feministe ad-free, you might seriously consider Blogger.

  20. June 10, 2005 at 2:32 pm

    I’m also quite reluctant to advertize, both because I’m nervous about ad content, but also, you know, ads are ugly and mess with my design. Heh. I am not opposed to a little extra income, and I hate asking for money. I think if the ad content were not objectionable and if the ads looked okay on the page, I’d get on board. Having the ability to refuse an advertizement because you object to its content is key, though.

  21. June 10, 2005 at 4:05 pm

    I’d be very interested in exploring a “bloc” of feminist blogs w/r/t ad-space. After School Snack is nowhere near as big as Feministe, but we’ve talked about doing the ad thing in the past, and the only thing stopping us has been the fear of what would be advertised. Working with someone like Blogads would alleviate that fear, and I personally think it would be great to show advertisers that feminist-oriented blogs have some economic pull! Keep us posted.

  22. June 10, 2005 at 6:45 pm

    I prefer to keep my own blog ad-free, but as my cash reserves dwindle I’ll probably reconsider. So I can’t count as a warm body immediately, but I’d love to be able to join such a network if/when I need to sell out…

    And $200? Wow! If you don’t mind my asking, how much bandwidth do you use?

  23. June 10, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    I don’t generated enough traffic to justify the hideousness of ads. But, I don’t hold ads against bloggers either.

  24. Tex
    June 10, 2005 at 11:01 pm

    Carajo, $200 is a lot of money. I like your idea of a Pie Fight clause, but I honestly have to say, having given up on DailyKos, I first saw said ad on Pandagon, and it didn’t do a darned thing to diminish my mad love for those two. Frankly, even if the aforementioned right-wing hate groups were to advertise here, I would probably laugh off the idea that they were giving their hard-earned money to you trying to buy folk like me.

    Como siempre, I got a minor, bitchy quibble, which is that I really, really love the design of this site and I’m not sure how much ads would detract aesthetically. But, if the options are a cluttered but still beautiful feministe.us or a less open hosting option, I’d take the ads, since all that pretty layout is ‘xpensive. If I had the traffic en mi bloguito, I’d sign my ass up for a feminist adnetwork. Yup yup yup.

  25. June 11, 2005 at 1:32 am

    you should definitely go for the advertising. Offering a feminist-minded consumer entry-point to marketings is actually kind of pomo-activist. Targeted advertising has provided a lot of cash and visibility to the queer media, and it’s only expanding with tv content… Advertising can have plenty of evils, but in an evolving mediated world, it can be used for good too.

    Reviewing and rejecting anti-feminist ad content would not only ease your conscience (and your readers’) but it would also provide feedback to advertisers and marketers, who are often not aware that their work is offensive or hegemonic. I think this is a really interesting idea, and if you decide to go forward, I hope you share the whole process.

  26. manxome
    June 11, 2005 at 10:47 am

    I’m no potatoes, and pretty new to this blog, so I’ll offer a consumer view.

    Being ad-free can be a lofty goal, but when you can’t keep it going that way, it’s understandable. Personally, I don’t like calls for donations (except for small donate buttons below the fold, I find that tasteful). Having the calls as part of the content in entries feels heavy-handed, almost disrespecful in how it steps into your face (one step down from pop-up ads). It’s like having the commercial in the middle of the program, with the actors literally turning to you in the middle of the dialogue to make a pitch.

    Ads off to the side? Well, people are used to seeing a lot of that in general so it feels more the norm. It also means that for the most part I don’t notice the content of any of them unless my passing glance tells me that the content of all the ads are really relevant to the site and therefore likely relevant to me. They get my click-thrus.

    It’s almost refreshing to see ads I would not normally see on a broader site. It feels a bit more like a service than an all-out intrusion because my interest is already there. I’ve discovered new things this way because I have an interest in looking. Sounds like a good blogroll! Think of it that way. Everyone benefits.

    I agree with Ryan above how it sends a message to advertisers. They’re supposed to be experts on delivering the message so surely they’d appreciate knowing more about the audience and what works with them. If everyone were to accept any ad offered, how could we expect anything to improve? Respect the audience, be honest, reach for a higher standard, and find out that they really do come.

  27. June 13, 2005 at 5:17 am

    For what it’s worth, assuming that Pseudo-Adriane didn’t object, and assuming we’d be welcome, “Alas” would certainly join such a network.

  28. June 14, 2005 at 12:13 am

    I’d be interested in joining. I’m a little uncertain exactly what this means: Is anyone directly opposed to the idea of running advertising on feminist sites even if the advertising runs parallel to a general consensus of feminist and progressive thought?

    Isn’t running “parallel to a general consensus of feminist and progressive thought” good?

  29. June 14, 2005 at 12:51 am

    Lackey, there were conversations among feminist bloggers awhile back in which total resistance to ads was expressed.

    All this being said, I’m going to contact my contact and see if we can get this thing in order.

  30. June 14, 2005 at 6:37 pm

    I said that it’s selling your audience because it is. You’re selling them to whoever wants to pay for your ads.

    If you’re comfortable with selling out for $200, then go for it. I’m pulling my link to Pandagon because of the ads, and I’ll pull them anywhere else that they appear, regardless of the intent. I’ve seen far too many sites defend bad ads because the money is more interesting to them than their souls.

    Via la capitalism, I guess.

    Excuse me, I have to go shoot Toto.

  31. June 14, 2005 at 6:55 pm

    Well, in all honesty, Lauren, if the ads come, I will stop visiting the site. I’m force fed ads everywhere else and the last place I want to see them is the final bastion of the free voice… the world of “blogs.”

    Ah, you may argue, your content won’t ever be swayed by the ads that show up on your site! I beg to differ, regardless of how good your intentions are.

    Kos is living proof. When a paid ad showed up on his site and was questioned, what did he do? Did he pull it? HELL NO. He was getting paid for it. His financial bottom line was more important than any semblence of integrity he could muster… or the concerns of his audience. Instead of at least acknowledging the complaints as even remotely valid, he so vigorously defended his “adspace” that it turned him into the jackass of the week.

    Put up a tip jar, and I’ll donate. Put up ads, and I’ll wave goodbye. :(

  32. optimist
    June 16, 2005 at 9:21 pm

    I love the idea of feminist ads.

    It takes time to do a good blog. A persons time is valuable. People should get paid for their work.

  33. June 18, 2005 at 11:59 pm

    Late (vacation!) but yes. I’ve been looking into ads for my blog, kinda lazily. Google turned me down b/c of the word “bitch,” I think. But yes, I’d love to be in on this.

    I really have zero problem with ads on blogs. And I want to get a decent blog design and maybe my own hosting. And I don’t want to have to pay for it, b/c I’m broke. And darn it, I spend a lot of time writing the thing, and people read it, and I see no reason not to at least cover costs/make perhaps a tiny bit of money at it.

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