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Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:11 am UTC
by jperezov
Serious question. I went as far as page 3 on google trying to find an answer to no avail.

I can understand not wanting to get pressured by an advertiser, but with programmatic ads instead of direct sales you don't have that issue.

I can understand not wanting shitty redirects, but with "safe frames" you don't have that issue.

One ad on this website would make a killing. Is it to protect the brand? Is it because no one really likes ads? I really don't get it, because from my perspective I just see free money being left on the table.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:46 am UTC
by PAstrychef
Why do you feel that monetizing something is the goal? Perhaps Randall enjoys not having clickbait associated with his work. Here on the fora ads would be antethical to the community ideals.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:13 pm UTC
by doogly
Capitalism is the wooooooooorst

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:39 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
Randall is tech minded and, right or wrong, assumes his audience is also at least minimally tech minded.

Minimally tech minded people know to install adblockers.

He's not getting revenue he wouldn't get anyway.

This isn't "leaving money on the table", this is not shaking down someone for spare change when you already know they have no spare change.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:09 pm UTC
by heuristically_alone
At least Randall would be making money off of jperezov.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:27 pm UTC
by poxic
Iirc, he makes a fair amount from the store.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:36 pm UTC
by Weeks
poxic wrote:Iirc, he makes a fair amount from the store.
GOOMHR!!!

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:09 pm UTC
by ucim
Because Randall is (refreshingly) nice, and doesn't want to be a dick for some small change? Would that more would imitate him.

Jose

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:46 pm UTC
by Weeks
ucim wrote:Would that more would imitate him.

Weeks wrote:
poxic wrote:Iirc, he makes a fair amount from the store.
GOOMHR!!!

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:24 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
The store gives things to people that they want, that people are willing to pay for and that Randall is willing to supply, tangibly.

The comic pages give things to people that they want, things that nobody in their right mind would pay for on-demand, and the option to subscribe would stop many people from starting upon the road of appreciating the material, and then there'd be no reason for a store being started up.


To put it in mercenary terms, the comics are veey much loss-leaders to the real commerce. To put it more realistically, he likes (or, at least at first, who knows if it's wearing thin) publishing free comics and blags and whtavyer, and the store/etc is just a happy side-effect that at least covers the continuation of the entertainment he is otherwise providing for free.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:09 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
That's a good way of putting it. The comics just exist to sell T-shirts

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:59 pm UTC
by jperezov
ucim wrote:Because Randall is (refreshingly) nice, and doesn't want to be a dick for some small change? Would that more would imitate him.

Jose


Why is putting a single ad on a website "being a dick"?

SecondTalon wrote:That's a good way of putting it. The comics just exist to sell T-shirts


I did read an answer on Quora where someone gave some (very) rough math to show he's making a solid amount from sales from the xkcd store. He'd make a lot more from ads though. Also, I think it'd be more accurate to say the T-shirts exist so he can make comics.

heuristically_alone wrote:At least Randall would be making money off of jperezov.


100% he would. I turn off my adblocker on sites I want to support (assuming they don't bombard me the moment I do).

I can understand not needing the money, but it still seems strange to me. In one week, one ad on the site would make as much as his store probably does in a month. He could donate that money to further research, education, you name it.

If Randall announced that he was putting one ad on the site and donating all the proceeds to the Khan Academy, Donors Choose, or to lobby for net neutrality, I bet people would gladly turn off their adblocker for the site and not complain.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:20 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

No they wouldn't.

Web ads pay garbage. Even on high visit sites, the only way to make any money is to deal with sketchy ads that are half scams.

At absolute best, ads pay to keep the server running.

And even then, what's the point? Who the hell clicks on ads except by accident? Other than a few edge cases of people deliberately going out of their way to click the Amazon link through someone's page, if someone wants something online - they go straight to it.

Ultimately, though, Randall's site is a reflection of a Randall.

Randall doesn't want shitty-ass ads the website owner has dick to do with cluttering up the page.

So Randall's website doesn't have shitty-ass ads cluttering up the page.

His ads are for shit he gives a fuck about. Dude advertises stuff like Questionable Content. Or his book. Stuff he's fine with having his name on. "Oglaf - Randall Approved Cartoon Smut".

Or, hell, for Randall, making money is not as important as being sure his visitors don't have an experience he cannot control.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:30 pm UTC
by Zohar
Yeah, you have a really skewed idea of how much ads make for people who share them. I've been reading the webcomic for more than ten years now, never missed one. If I donated Randall a single dollar, he would make more money off of me than he ever would have from my through ads.

However, since I ordered a few shirts and posters off him a decade ago, as well as got one of his books at some point, he's made way more money off of me than even this hypothetical dollar.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:33 pm UTC
by jperezov
SecondTalon wrote:Web ads pay garbage. Even on high visit sites, the only way to make any money is to deal with sketchy ads that are half scams.

At absolute best, ads pay to keep the server running.


That's not true. I've worked with ads; I'm not pulling numbers out of thin air. It's easy to get an average of $1 per thousand visitors on an ad. Easy. Looking online, xkcd gets over 800k pageviews a day. That's $800 a day, or $5600 a week, minimum.

I can't post links yet, so look up "why does xkcd not have ads" on Google. There's a Quora link on page 3 that ends in "What-is-the-annual-revenue-of-xkcd". Super rough estimate, but it comes out to $5620 in a month. I'm not saying it's correct--I'm just saying that's what I'm basing my assertion off of.

I could see Randall not wanting to be associated with sketch brands, but there's ways around that, too. I remember reading the Joel on Software blog about how he didn't want sketch brands on StackOverflow, so he has super stringent rules regarding only static images, and only advertising companies relevant to the audience.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:38 pm UTC
by jperezov
Zohar wrote:I've been reading the webcomic for more than ten years now, never missed one. If I donated Randall a single dollar, he would make more money off of me than he ever would have from my through ads.


Actually, he would've made approximately $1.96 off of you from just one ad, assuming you read all 1960 of his comics at today's ad prices. And assuming the ad tech he was running was minimally optimized. Also assuming you didn't visit the website in-between updates, re-visit to find a specific comic, etc. Otherwise it's slightly more.

That doesn't invalidate your original point of him having made more money from the merchandise you purchased, but most people don't buy things.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:49 pm UTC
by ucim
jperezov wrote:Why is putting a single ad on a website "being a dick"?
It degrades the user experience, throwing something in the visitor's face that they don't want to see. Ads are also well known to carry scripts, cookies, service workers, and other malware that people (who know better) don't want rummaging around their computer.

Nice people don't support their websites with advertising.

Jose

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:54 pm UTC
by Zohar
I am somewhat skeptical of your numbers. For one thing, if ads are so lucrative, why do sites even bother with merchandising in the first place?

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:01 pm UTC
by jperezov
ucim wrote:
jperezov wrote:Why is putting a single ad on a website "being a dick"?
It degrades the user experience, throwing something in the visitor's face that they don't want to see. Ads are also well known to carry scripts, cookies, service workers, and other malware that people (who know better) don't want rummaging around their computer.

Nice people don't support their websites with advertising.

Jose


I think that's a little unfair to say.

There are several ways to add ads to a website. One is a static text / image. You place this on the website yourself, and can get paid on a cost-per-click basis. This method ensures 100% that the user only sees an image (or text), and does not have to deal with malicious scripts or being tracked or whatever the concerns are. DuckDuckGo, which is super conscientious of user privacy, uses this.

The next least-intrusive is to serve ads inside of an isolated iframe. This ensures the ad cannot "break out" of the iframe and inject malicious javascript on the page, such as website redirects. It can be used to serve direct deals (pros: you know exactly what serves on your site, cons: you need to spend time to make the deals), or programmatically (pros: don't need to spend time on the ads, cons: don't know what serves on the site).

Just because lots of websites choose to degrade the user experience, doesn't mean ads inherently do. I don't run an adblocker on StackOverflow because I 100% support what they do, and they respect their users by making sure their ads aren't flashy or intrusive. I refuse to visit Forbes because they stick an interstitial ad before I can even read an article (and they block all adblocked traffic).

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:07 pm UTC
by jperezov
Zohar wrote:I am somewhat skeptical of your numbers. For one thing, if ads are so lucrative, why do sites even bother with merchandising in the first place?


Google "average CPM for websites". CPM stands for "cost per mil", i.e. cost per thousand impressions. You'll see it's well above $1. 100% promise I'm not making any of this up.

People bother with merchandising because it promotes the brand along with providing a means of monetization. I think--that's just speculation on my part.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:12 pm UTC
by ucim
jperezov wrote:I think that's a little unfair to say.
Perhaps a little. But not much. While it's certainly possible to create a non-intrusive, safe, and polite ad, it's still something the user is not interested in seeing. And web advertising has a well deserved horrible reputation. I simply won't risk my machine, my data, or my network to be able to toss somebody a fraction of a cent.

Oh, and rather than double post, it's preferred that you edit your previous post if there are no replies yet.

Jose

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:20 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
Why don't you get on foonetic and ask him yourself?

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:23 pm UTC
by jperezov
ucim wrote:Oh, and rather than double post, it's preferred that you edit your previous post if there are no replies yet.


Oh; sorry. Duly noted. I was getting a little self-conscious about potentially over-editing my previous posts.

SecondTalon wrote:Why don't you get on foonetic and ask him yourself?


Didn't know about that! The forums were the first thing I came across. Never used IRC before. I'll check it out--thanks for the tip!

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:10 am UTC
by commodorejohn
jperezov wrote:I think that's a little unfair to say.

Just because lots of websites choose to degrade the user experience, doesn't mean ads inherently do.

This is a good example of a statement that is arguably true in theory but almost never in practice.

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:04 am UTC
by SecondTalon
Compare and contrast.

And SomethingPositive uses positively unobtrusive ads.

Yet the ads look like distracting dogshit.

Spoiler:
noads.PNG
ads.PNG

Re: Why does XKCD not have ads?

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:11 am UTC
by ucim
Ads are evil and have contributed, yea caused, the race to the bottom that the internet has become.

Jose