When I first signed up to Disqus, there was the option to have no ads. But with Lucire we allowed them, because I figured, why not?
Disqus’s rules were pretty clear: you’d earn money on the ads shown, and once you got to US$100, they’d pay out.
The trouble is those ads made so little money it took ages to reach the threshold.
Last year, when looking at the revenue figures, I was surprised things had reset and we had only earned a few dollars. Where did the US$100 go? There was no record of a payout.
I began enquiring and it took them a while to respond. They said they would pay (what would have happened if I never asked?) but what hit our account was NZ$100.
In other words, 35 per cent short.
I guess they’re counting on people not chasing up NZ$35, and I’m wondering if it’s a worthwhile use of my time. Or maybe it’s better I write this blog post to warn others about Disqus.
Disqus either short-paid us by 35 per cent or they have no clue how currencies work. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on their company.
Unsurprisingly, I began taking Disqus off our sites, which was what I had always planned to do once we got to US$100. Off it went from Lucire for starters, though on Autocade it had been quite useful. I had signed up early enough to have the no-ads option, so I left it, especially as we had great commenters like Graham Clayton from Australia, who has a wealth of knowledge about cars himself.
This week, we noticed the no-ads option had disappeared and the bottom of Autocade’s pages had turned into an ugly mess, at least on the desktop version. We already had our own ad in the footer, so we didn’t need multiple ones cheapening the site.
Not only did Disqus pay us short by 35 per cent last year, I discovered their ads don’t even pay. Yes, Disqus was included in our ads.txt. But here’s a site that gets 1,000,000 page views every quarter (roughly) and we had earned zip. Zero. Nada.
Once I understand how to update a Mediawiki database, we’ll have Mediawiki comments instead, and I’ve exported what we had from Disqus.
It’s been a bad run, but there you go.
Media.net also said they would drop publishers from certain countries, without naming them. That was fine by me since they also had odd discrepancies between what I knew to be the traffic and what they recorded. At one point, the Media.net ad code was hard-coded on Autocade’s pages, and still they were recording a minuscule amount of traffic.
With time zone differences (their person was in India) we never solved it.
Maybe an inordinate amount of people use ad blockers?
We had till February 28 to remove their code but I took it off as well—no point dragging out yet another non-paying service.
It really feels like yet another area where Google has wrecked the advertising ecosystem for legitimate publishers. Oh for the days when there was more quality control over where ads appeared.
Ten years ago, we were hacked. That is a story in itself, which I documented at the time, along with Google’s failings. What also struck me was that the hack used what appeared to be Google Adsense code:
I had come across fake ads taking you to malware sites before, even with legitimate ad networks. (I still remember seeing a fake ad for a job-seeking website that wound up on our sites in April 2008.) But for some reason in 2013 it still seemed strange, since I didn’t deal with Google and some legit ad networks were still hanging on.
However, I noted on April 7, 2013, when researching what had happened, that it was entirely possible. And Google makes money no matter what.
I wrote: ‘The publisher’s site gets blacklisted and it takes days for that to be lifted, so the earnings go down. Who gains? The hackers and Google.’
The quotations I included in the 2013 post are sobering, with other publishers negatively affected by Google’s systems and inaction.
This week, almost 10 years later, I came across this.
Google, still useless after all these years. But hey, as long as they’re making money, right? Because the rest of us sure as heck aren’t, at least not through anything they touch. Their core business is a negligence lawsuit just waiting to happen.