Real talk: Why Offbeat Home & Life is joining the Dark Side with fugly in-photo ads

Empire or die!
I'm either pointing at an ad or my awesome "Empire" shirt right now.

Oh hey, Homies.

So, are you seeing the really fugly ads at the bottom of some of our photos? Most of us in the US probably are. [Edited to clarify: the ads are geo-targeted and only shown on 50% of page loads. It's expected that not every reader will see an ad on every image.]

Yeah… Ariel's been doing some real serious end-of-year entrepreneurial soul-searching, and she's come up with the conclusion that — get this — Offbeat Home & Life has gotta be a profitable subset of the Offbeat Empire. Or some shit. I'm like, "Oh look at me, I'm Ariel, I have employees depending on me, and I want my business to make money. Blahblahblah…" *fart noise*

Some of you longtime Offbeat Empire readers may be like, "But I thought you guys tried and decided against in-image ads back in 2012?" You're right; here's what Ariel had to say about that then:

After giving it a shot for a couple weeks, here's what I've decided to do:

Remove in-image advertising from Offbeat Families and Offbeat Home & Life. (So many Offbeat Families posts are simply too sensitive for in-image photos to feel appropriate, and Offbeat Home & Life doesn't have enough traffic to make the intrusiveness of the ads feel worth it.)

So, what's changed? That, my friends, is a bit of a good news/bad news thing:

Offbeat Home & Life finally has enough traffic (yay!) but it's still not making enough money (boo).

As you know, we tried taking donations . And as much as we have appreciated and love (no seriously, LOVE) your donations, there just haven't been enough of them for us to bring in sustainable revenue. At this point, we'd need 200 of you to sign up for the monthly $5 supporter option to keep Ariel from shitting ads all over your favorite website.

As of right now, we have 28 monthly supporters… so 200 feels pretty far fetched. I started realizing how often I would have to be writing posts to remind/beg/threaten y'all into donating, and I felt like I'd rather serve you up the posts you love, peppered with lame in-photo ads, than continually hound you for money.

So let's talk it out: Did I make the right choice? I mean, there's always the chance that we can miraculously get 200 of you to donate $5 a month. But I feel like the in-photo ads are a necessary evil to keep my (and your?) favorite site up and running, and pleasing to Darth Ariel.

In other words: I'd rather see those ads than see Offbeat Home & Life go the way of Alderaan (or Offbeat Families). What about you?

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  1. I think the ads are a great idea, as long as they don't start becoming like those crazy sketchy sites that have ads that are clearly viruses, but I have faith that won't happen here.

    Simple math: we love Offbeat Home & Life. Offbeat Home & Life needs to sustain itself. Ads are an easy way to sustain Offbeat Home & Life. YAY ADS! =D

    85 agree
  2. Not in the US… so I see your awesome t-shirt, Megan! (Also, very adorable spectacles.)

    Of course, we international Homies want OBH&L to survive too. I'll happily donate some eyeball-on-screen time to your financial upkeep, trusting that you folks will curate your ads with the same sensitivity you have shown in other marketing areas. As Colleen says, YAY ADS!

    16 agree
    • Sigh, I love those glasses, but they're my old ones. I had to break them out after I misplaced my newer bigger ones:

      Seriously, does anyone know where I put them?

      3 agree
      • It's probably because your new ones have those light translucent frames. Harder to see amidst the wash of colours/textures in your house. Camouflage. *nods solemnly*

        Maybe they are in your pile of towels in the bathroom? That's where mine always are. They get lost in the towels when I set them aside to wash my face.

  3. From a UX POV – the ad doesn't show in the blog post preview on the main page, but when I click through, it does come up on the single post page.

    It wasn't terribly intrusive, but I don't really (right now, at this moment) recall what the ad was for, though I just saw it a second ago.

    I don't find them all that intrusive, so if they help the Empire, I am in support of that!

    5 agree
  4. I don't mind them on the computer, but is there any possible way to have them removed on mobile devices? It's really hard to click the little X with my big fat thumb, and accidentally clicking on the image or the ad instead of the little tiny X uses my limited data by going to whatever it links to, then having to come back to the page again. Leaving the ad in place isn't really an option either, since on my little ol phone the ad tends to take up half the image.

    I really really would love to see OBH&L profitable (and am a little saddened/surprised it isn't!). Is there anything we can do besides becoming a monthly supporter? I know not everyone can afford to do so, but so many of us would love to make the site profitable.

    In other news, I noticed your little Octopus Ad Block Guy Thing on the side isn't there anymore. I'm on a different computer with adblock, and completely forgot about it until just now because there wasn't a friendly reminder!

    Edit to say I don't see ads yet in Oregon

    5 agree
        • Ah, Firefox. Octopus Ad Block Guy Thing is cute, but honestly pretty hacky, and I wouldn't be surprised if Firefox has decided it doesn't want to play along. It works in Chrome and Safari, which account for 75% of our readers… but I'm not surprised if it doesn't work for the 10% of you use Firefox. :/

          1 agrees
          • That makes sense! I didn't think twice about the browser, since it's what my family uses as well. I have Chrome on my own laptop, but I typically just use my husband's, which has firefox. Thanks for clearing that up =]

  5. I'm in the U.S. and I don't see the ad. Not that I'm complaining but wanted to flag it so Ariel knows. I'm in Washington, DC if that matters. We're not a state so maybe that is it — you may laugh but DC not being a state has totally messed a few online things for me (like ordering cloths online with a dropdown window for billing address *Grr. Argh.*).

    1 agrees
    • The in-image ads are geo-targeted and only show on 50% of pageloads to avoid feeling overwhelming. This in mind, you may not be seeing an ad on this page because A) there are no campaigns currently targeted to your region, or B) you're on the "right side" of that 50%… you can try clicking around to several posts to see which one it is.

      tl;dr It's expected that not every reader will see an ad on every image. That's intended behavior! πŸ™‚

      5 agree
  6. Not in the US, so not seeing the photo ads. So, to try and make up for it, I've just removed ad-blocker for all the Empire sites.

    6 agree
  7. On my cellphone in California, USA no advert. I tried clicking on the pic, still no ad. If that's what keeps your site profitable and online so be it. I love OBH&L as well as it's sister sites, good luck I hope it covers it.

    3 agree
  8. I love Offbeat Empire. I'm broke (but I sometimes do buy great products!) and can't be a sustaining member. Show me all the ads! Make money! Acknowledge that we live in capitalism, and do what makes sense and is ethical, and thrive!

    Love to you.

    J

    10 agree
  9. Clicked through Facebook app (so I still have the Facebook blue borders) and not seeing an ad

    1 agrees
    • Ditto. I'm in Oregon on an iPhone. No ads, just that obnoxious social media sharing thing at the bottom of the page.

      1 agrees
  10. I was inspired by this post! Live on offbeat community! Also what everyone is saying, ads are a necessary evil.

    2 agree
  11. I'm so fine with this! I contribute monthly at a level that I can afford, but if this means that OBH&L will be able to continue to pump out the content that I love and crave – bring on ALL THE ADS!

    3 agree
  12. I feel a great disturbance in the Force… as if a million comments sections suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

    Seriously, if ads keep ^that from happening, bring on the ads.

    Wait, does this make this a diplomatic mission to Alderaan? Is Megan Princess Leia?

    4 agree
    • I usually think of myself as Salacious B Crumb. But today I am TOTALLY Princess Leia! πŸ˜‰

      4 agree
  13. I am totally cool with the ads! You guys are always awesome about making sure the ads are true to the feel of the site (as least as much as is possible!), and as many others have said, I can spare a little eyeball time for ads that support a great site!

    1 agrees
  14. RE: Tugboat… I've tried to give you monies 3 times… but Tugboat no like my Canadian credit cards πŸ™

    But I had an amazing dream about OBH last night, where Ariel created some sort of Homie Conference out in the Washington Wilderness (I believe my brain concocted a location in Spokane, but having never been there, I don't know if that's legit). Anyway, the concept was that you could buddy up for accommodations with other Offbeat Homies in a dorm / book a double if you had Homie friends, and there were all kinds of sessions about neat things hosted by readers themselves, coupled with nature retreat. People came in via road trip and I personally chose to cross-country Amtrak.

    It was amazing, and I didn't want to get out of bed, because then the dream would be over, I'd lose all the dreamland friends I'd just made, and I'd have to go to work.

    Offbeat Home & Life Conference and Retreat 2015….???

    5 agree
    • Funny, I was just commenting about something related over on Offbeat Bride:
      http://offbeatbride.com/2014/09/offbeat-vendor-meet-ups/comment-page-1#comment-486817

      Sadly, at this point, I don't know that I see an Offbeat Home & Life Con being financially viable. If only 29 readers are willing to fork over $5/mo, how many could possibly be willing to fork out hundreds of dollars for a con?

      That said, lots of folks use the Lovesick Expos as defacto Offbeat Cons. Advantages: they happen all over the country, only cost $10, and there's booze and boobs!

      1 agrees
      • Here I was always thinking "damn, I wish lovesick expo was a thing when *I* was wedding planning!" but it never occurred to me to go just for the hell of it! I DO have more vacation time than I know what to do with…. *begins planning*

    • OMG, that sounded amazing. *I* would go to that! Seriously. I WISH we could pull something off like that.

      But… as Ariel said, Lovesick Expos are kind of the alternative, indeed. It's where you can come and get drunk and watch burlesque dancing with us.

      1 agrees
      • It was a glorious dream…I've been really stressed at work lately, so I chalk it up to my brain taking me to a happy place — OBH in beautiful northwest nature πŸ™‚

        But burlesque also sounds amazing, so, Lovesick 2015 (because I'm too late for this year)!

  15. I'm sorry it took this post to get me to give my 5 bucks to the Homestarmy (props if you get that reference), but at least now I can revel in the monthly warm fuzzies AND give revenue to you guys with my pageviews.

    Long live OBHL!

    4 agree
  16. I'm not getting ads (yet) but, honestly, the free internet is so ad-laden I probably won't even notice them when they do come out East.

    If it keeps the site up, running and profitable, I'm all for it. Unlike other places, you never promised to be ad-free and that you're cluing us into it builds respect from this (do I count as long-time now?) reader.

    2 agree
  17. I'm not seeing them – probably because I'm in Australia and also because I have adblocker turned on. Adblock is semi-okay with this – I can add in things I think are ads that it doesn't think are. But I can't select ads to allow? If I could I would block everything animated (things that pop up when I scroll, things that get in the way, they are my nemeses and I hate them) but allow the sidebar/friendly octopus ads. But I can't get that to work. So all ads are blocked because some ads interfere with being able to use the site easily πŸ™

    1 agrees
  18. I completely understand adding ads. I want ya'll to be profitable to I can keep getting my OffBeat fix everyday. On things like the luggage post today though, having it on every picture almost seems overwhelming. On the other hand, those are probably great revenue generators. For me I would scroll, get to new image, load ad, scroll to new image, load ad. It made it seem like it was loading slower. That was probably just perception though.

    2 agree
      • πŸ™‚ Nah, then I would forget to turn it back off and completely defeat the purpose. I've looked at it a couple more times since the first and I think I just hit an unlucky roll on the 50/50 chance of getting an ad. On first looksy it hit on 6 of the images right in a row and a couple others spread out, but hasn't been that bad since. Overall, I think being able to, in some small way, contribute to revenue is more important.

    • I was just coming to comment about that too, but for this post from a couple months back. Ariel/Megan, is there a way to set a maximum number of ads that will open on the same page? You know I love you guys, but I had an ad pop open on every single image, and it was really distracting. I'd probably forget to re-enable AdBlocker too, so I don't think that's a solution for me.

      Hopefully that can be tweaked, but regardless, thanks for the transparency and making a site so great that I willingly let ads show to keep it around!

  19. Not gonna lie, my new favorite internet game is "Does this ad match the article?" My favorite was the Ore-Ida tater tots ad on a healthy eating article!

    1 agrees
  20. I fell in love with offbeat families about 10 days before it went into eternal slumber πŸ™ so I am 100% for ads if it means we get to keep Offbeat home and life awake and kicking.

    2 agree
  21. Not sure if this is supposed to happen, but there are ads that are popping up outside of the pictures (they stay in the middle of the page and it's a two-click close process). I'm using Chrome.

  22. Aww. Only 28 monthly supporters?! I feel like I'm in some kind of special kick-ass club now. (But seriously, it's only $5 a month people!) I'll always support the Offbeat sites, even if it's been a month since I've been online and I have to binge read five pages of posts in one afternoon. Love you guys! πŸ™‚

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