A history of dealing with ad networks

Written in the feedback form to one ad network as we attempt to find someone to complement our work with H12 Media. Sums up a lot about the murky world of online advertising. It’s to a ‘Google Publishing Partner’, and we know Big Tech lies, but I’m keeping an open mind with this provider. Italics added, some more sensitive stuff taken out. While I’m transparent about Autocade, for some reason I don’t like revealing Lucire’s traffic, most likely tied to the days when we attracted a lot of weirdos to the company (coinciding with the period we were getting a lot of press).

Hi there:
I own a number of legitimate, high-trafficked sites with long histories—Lucire (founded 1997) and Autocade (founded 2008) among them. Lucire was the first website to diversify into print.

In the early days (1990s) the ad world was pretty easy to understand and CPM rates were around the US$75 mark. I signed up once to the Google offering in 2003 and it was terrible—so I never looked again at their products. Over the years we’ve had countless people approach us with a bunch of ad jargon saying they are Google partners, but really all I need is an honest solution.

Now, here’s the big one: ad networks haven’t given me much reason to trust them. Many of them vanish in a few years and take our money with them. Or they hang around but they become inaccessible, without any explanation till I probe them (e.g. [redacted])—and take our money with them. Or they plain lie about the traffic (e.g. [redacted])—I once hard-coded a [redacted] ad into our template, not through Revive, and gave them thousands of views a day, while they recorded a couple of hundred. Fill rates are usually pathetic.

Currently we’re doing some business with H12 Media earning a pittance, and I see colleagues out there with comparable traffic earning way more.

So to your first question on current revenue, I think we should be earning that much online, but the reality is we had to pivot to print in order to make money from ads. But maybe it’s the people we’ve wound up working with, or maybe it’s the tech, but whatever the case, we just don’t see our traffic (as recorded on a variety of platforms) reflected in the ad networks’ websites. There can’t be that many people using ad blockers, surely?

Autocade (https://autocade.net) is on Mediawiki and the stats are publicly accessible. We were serving 190,000 Mbyte of data a month. Daily page views range between 9,000 and 60,000. For most of its history we see 10,000 a day but most recently we’ve notched up a million in 41 days. (If you do find our public stats’ page, note that the counter was reset in February 2022 when the site was reinstalled.)

Lucire (https://lucire.com) gets about [redacted] the number of viewers, according to Cloudflare’s stats, and is one of the longest-running fashion titles on the web.

I’m really hoping to find an honest bunch of people who will give us decent service with the premium brands that we deserve to work with.

These are human-written sites with a high level of editorial integrity and presences online and in print.

Your thoughts will be much appreciated.
Kind regards,

Cloudflare and Autocade have continued to be interesting. Only 9,000 hits overnight, which is on the low side. Some theories: putting the site behind Cloudflare have weeded out anyone scraping the site, and those massive days were down to mass incidents of piracy; or we genuinely earned the higher traffic because the site was updated heaps during 2023 Q4. Even with those big days, H12 did not reflect higher numbers, though this could be down to us cranking up the percentage of our own (untracked) ads. In the 1990s, Gorilla Network and Burst more closely reflected the amount of traffic we saw go through our sites. Is ad tech like bank tech: the further forward you go in time, the worse it is?

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