Kottke joins The Deck Jason 17 Apr 2006

62 comments Latest by Danny Cohen

Starting in May, Kottke.org, becomes the seventh card in The Deck, our targeted ad network for creative, web and design professionals. Soon after we started this network we chatted about which site would be the next logical addition to a group based on the principle of Cost Per Influence and every single Deck member had Jason Kottke’s site at the top of their list. We couldn’t be happier that one of the web’s most engaging voices has decided to throw in with us. Jason brings curiousity, wit and a huge daily audience to The Deck. Limited advertising opportunites are currently available May through July.

62 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Dan Boland 17 Apr 06

Kottke now? Man, did you guys steal my bookmarks file? =D

me 17 Apr 06

what software does the deck run on? is it a ruby app?

me 17 Apr 06

guess not ruby, i see the url ends in “.aspx”

JF 17 Apr 06

It’s a simple PHP include. There’s really no “software.”

me 17 Apr 06

I meant the ad server itself. curious if ruby could scale to to ad serving…

JF 17 Apr 06

The ad server is a standard web server that’s already running a bunch of other sites. There’s no special tech. It’s PHP/Javascript serving up a little include that the Deck sites put on their site. Nothing fancy.

And yes, Ruby could handle this. Any programming language can handle this.

Aaron Blohowiak 17 Apr 06

JF, you’re just airing that 37s arrogance all over the place. “Any programming language can handle this.” Gosh, why dont you guys just get over yourselves. Go ahead, try to do it in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfuck if it can be done in “any programming language.” Sheesh!

</sarcasm>

Wooo! Good luck.

Anonymous Coward 17 Apr 06

Aaron what are you talking about? I think when JF says any he means any major language that most people around here are familiar with. PHP, Ruby, Python, .NET, Java, etc. Those are “any” and any of those would work to serve up a simple include.

sj 17 Apr 06

What in the world? where did that insane outburst come from?

Jason, have your advertisers given you feedback as to the effectiveness of these ads so far? I’m sure some ads are doing much better than others….noticed any strategies that are working particularly well for generating conversions?

RS 17 Apr 06

Anon and sj: Aaron’s “</sacrasm>” tag was eaten by MT. You can see it now.

August 17 Apr 06

Jason Kottke? For real?

Great post by Adam Greenfield on Kottke’s micropatron thing:

http://www.v-2.org/displayArticle.php?article_num=996

Edward 17 Apr 06

Well done. Well done. You could not have made a better choice in Kottke.

Sam 17 Apr 06

Kottke now? Man, did you guys steal my bookmarks file? =D

yeah me too, but I guess that’s the point then, right?

Sam’s prediction: mezzoblue and plasticbag are next.

Bill 17 Apr 06

I’m curious as to why the Deck image has the sites in order they way they are. With Kottke not at the end.
It’s not alphabetical … hmm

Edward 17 Apr 06

Theory for Bill: the circles are placed in between the other more distinctly shaped logos. ALA isn’t really a circle but it still looks nice the way it is.

Either that or it’s a secret code to advertise for free…

Edmundo 17 Apr 06

Waxy’s W reminds me of Wikipedia or Wordpress, and daring fireball reminds me of Odeo.

Jamie 17 Apr 06

Edmundo, The Morning News reminds me of Kenny Roger’s Roasters.

Jim Coudal 17 Apr 06

Just the way I thought they looked best. No secret formula.

Aaron Blohowiak 17 Apr 06

Thanks for the assist.

Fringelicker 17 Apr 06

A sad day for readers, to be sure. Kottke makes Nike and Dow Chemical very proud.

Anthony Y. 17 Apr 06

Hypocrite.

Joel Mueller 17 Apr 06

J’s site is great, although I wonder what’s going to come of it in the near future. I seem to remember him saying he was going to change gears and do something else.

As for your ad network, I understand you’re trying to get sites that have big impact on their audience, but your rates are a rip off! Total respect for you Jason, but I had to say it. :)

JF 17 Apr 06

Actually, Joel, on a purely CPM comparison our rates are well below market. Then when you factor in the highly targeted nature of the ad network, and that the products are actually endorsed by the sites running them, our advertisers are getting considerably more value/dollar by advertising on The Deck than they can most anywhere else online.

Spike 18 Apr 06

3/1 Jason Santa Maria is next.

Former Kottke Reader 18 Apr 06

Kottke you nut, give me my money back. I gave money to become one of your micropatrons and then you used it to go a vacation to Asia and write mostly crap on your blog.

I’ve been ripped off!

And now you’re going to have ads on your site? Didn’t you once write that you wouldn’t do this?

Steve 18 Apr 06

When I go to Jason Kottke’s site, I see mostly random urls to interesting things, and the occasional longer post. The content is no better than lots of other blogs out there, and I see no editorial focus (unlike the superior Daring Fireball).

So why is he so worshipped in these circles? Everywhere I see his name tossed around like a brand; it’s not “Jason Kottke said”, it’s “Kottke™ said”.

I’m not a hata, just wondering…

Jason Santa Maria 18 Apr 06

3/1 Jason Santa Maria is next.

Why would I be next? I don’t have as much traffic as these sites. Just lump me in with ALA, I’m already part of the Deck family :D

Adam 18 Apr 06

Can I just say - and I’m sure I’m speaking for the minority here - that all this “CPM” and “highly targeted” stuff is a total turnoff? With all due respect, I don’t care what a great deal The Deck may happen to be in terms of “reaching influencers,” because as far as I’m concerned it means you’re selling your audience out.

Here’s one influencer the above seven sites won’t be reaching any more.

JF 18 Apr 06

…because as far as I’m concerned it means you’re selling your audience out.

Huh?

Adam 18 Apr 06

Huh?

I don’t expect you to agree, of course, Jason, but you should know that some people find advertising to be fundamentally offensive - even small, tasteful, “highly targeted” advertising.

This is what I wrote a friend yesterday: “Maybe I’m naive, but I think we’re all going to look back on this era as another mistake - not quite so blatant as the “pets.com” interval, to be sure, but a mistake nonetheless. We’re going to wonder how it came to be that we took these, our most personal expressions online, and plastered them with commercial appeals à la NASCAR.”

Which is why conversations like this one - in which the bedrock assumption is apparently that it’s a good thing when a cohort of interesting voices is reconceived as a one-stop ad buy - kinda spin my head around. I think it’s a shame, I’m resigned to being in the minority, and I’m OK with that. Just don’t expect me to applaud.

JF 18 Apr 06

but you should know that some people find advertising to be fundamentally offensive - even small, tasteful, “highly targeted” advertising

Are you really “offended” or are you just mildly annoyed? I can understand when people are offended by racism, bigotry, xenophobia, but to be offended by a little 120px ad up in the corner of a weblog, well, maybe you need to redirect your frustration into something more constructive. Annoyed, sure, advertising can be annoying sometimes (especially when it’s ugly, blinking, repetitive, blocking content, and in your face — none of which our ads are), but OFFENDED? A little high strung maybe?

Adam 18 Apr 06

No, offended! To be sure: mildly offended - it’s like like you’ve got GOD HATES FAGS in blink tags, or anything remotely close.

Look, you of all people should understand this, coming as you do out of the Cluetrain moment: when you publish something online over a period of years, you establish a relationship with your readers. And I think those readers can be forgiven for feeling chapped if the terms of that relationship change drastically.

The moment you slap an ad on your site it changes what that site is. It changes the terms of the dialogue. It just does. Doesn’t matter how small the ad is, or how putatively useful: it indicates to me that, rather than being a respected peer with whom you are interested in having a conversation, you now understand me as an eyeball to be monetized. How can that not skew things? It does. Something’s getting lost, and I held that “something” in great esteem. I’m sad to see it go.

Why is that “high strung”? Not everybody’s going to see this as a great thing - no reason to depict those of us who don’t as hysterics.

Adam 18 Apr 06

not like.” Excuse me, it’s not like you’ve got GOD HATES FAGS in blink tags.

J 18 Apr 06

Adam chill out dude. SvN content has been getting better and better, richer and richer. 37s now has more incentive to produce even better content now. So don’t worry about things that aren’t a problem yet. If they become a problem down the road, then worry about them, but for now the content is still great, getting better, and I for one really appreciate the tasteful selection of ads approved by all Deck members. That’s a great middle ground and it feels more like endorsements than advertising to me.

Adam 18 Apr 06

Well, OK, that’s great for you, J. I’m sincerely delighted you feel that way. I don’t think the presence of advertising necessarily degrades a site’s content, and I certainly didin’t suggest that SvN’s content has been affected by the presence of advertising. But I do think it changes the context that content is seen in, profoundly.

I don’t know where the “chill out” is coming from. I’ve said my piece, I’m not particularly wound up about it, and I don’t necessarily expect anyone posting here to agree with me - I’ll just be visiting other sites in the future.

sj 18 Apr 06

Thing is, 37s is a business. This blog is certainly designed to be entertaining, informative, useful, etc. But it is a blog for a business. The business blogs because it finds blogging to be a useful/critical piece of their marketing arsenal. They use this blog to get the word out about their products and services in an effort to generate revenue and profits.

Being offended that a marketing medium is marketing other resources in addition to its own is a pretty interesting use of one’s energy. I’d go outside.

Darrel 18 Apr 06

“I’d go outside.”

Because billboards are *so* much nicer to look at. ;o)

Scott 18 Apr 06

I’m just fascinated by this whole “deck” thing. Fine, you run ads. That’s great for you, and I hope you make lots of money.

But everyone in this “deck” seems to think their readers actually care about which ad program they use. Just use Google Adwords like everyone else in the world and stop talking about it.

Coudal 18 Apr 06

Joel: The Deck ads are pretty cheap relative to the rest of the online display ad world. And they work too. That’s why so many of our partners stay on month after month. We bought a slot this month for our Jewelboxing (http://www.jewelboxing.com) brand and it paid for itself in new sales in the first nine days of the month.

As a bonus, I am making impressions against my target audience. I do believe that share of market follows share of mind. Since, for our product anyway, the purchase decision is not usually an emotional or impulse one, reaching that audience with some frequency can influence decisions in the future. All we need is a fair shot, our product is superior but if people don’t know it’s out there, that means nothing.

Gayle 18 Apr 06

I am actually excited every time a new Deck member is added. I trust 37s’ judgment more than a googlebot to bring me informative, interesting, and useful sites. For instance, unlike the (seeming) rest of you, I’d never heard of kottke.org, but now I have all kinds of new things to read and places to go. The Deck ads are possibly the only ads I’ve ever clicked on.

Chris Mear 18 Apr 06

Scott: But everyone in this “deck” seems to think their readers actually care about which ad program they use.

You only have to read Adam’s comments to see that, for some people, advertising is a sensitive issue. It makes sense for them to explain their motives, and to explain how this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill, heartless advertising advertising programme.

Of course, it also makes very good business sense to promote the product you’re trying to sell. Don’t forget that the target customers for Deck ad-space are exactly the kind of people who read the Deck websites…

Egor Kloos 18 Apr 06

It’s all very interesting. The fact that the Deck even exists is mainly due to the fact that many advertising brokers have very little or at least exercise very little control over the injected advertising. It’s shame that this isn’t managed much better. It also makes me wonder why they don’t seem to be bothered about maximizing conversion instead of taking the more spam like route.

But if the Deck can prove what it can do then maybe, just maybe, we will see the larger players take notice of this kind of long tail bannering.

August 18 Apr 06

I’m going to have to agree with Adam on this. Back when my site was getting 15,000 visitors a day (and yes, there was actually such a time) would it have made sense to me, financially, to run ads? Of cousre it would have. But that was not the kind of dialogue I wanted to have with my readers. Because they were readers, not patrons, not customers, and I had started my site with the notion that there was something of inherent value in it, not only for them, but for me as well. Augmenting that value for myself with money might have been fine for me, but it would have annoyed my readers and possibly even damaged my credibility.

37Signals is a business, so it makes sense for them to have ads. Likewise Coudal Partners, and I’d even be willing to make the case for ALA. But Kottke? There’s a reason I didn’t contribute to his micropatron experiment; what he does seems driven more and more by the fact that he has a large audience rather than because he sees inherent value in what he’s doing. And I suppose that’s fine, but like Adam says, the minute I become a customer instead of a reader, I’m no longer interested. An audience should have inherent value rather than merely instrumental value. Kottke isn’t worth paying for, and I don’t just mean money.

Advertising, whether it occurs in semi-public places (like websites; privately owned but publicly available) or in genuinely public space (like a town square) doesn’t make itself available for debate, and it’s invasive. There are already few enough places I can go in this world without having my mental space invaded by advertising, no matter how subtle or targeted or otherwise inoffensive. Can we just ignore it, or run ad blocking software, or whatever? We can try. But many of the same people who are endorsing this are the same people who raged with righteous indignation against other opt-out debates. “Just ignore it if you don’t like it” is a perfectly sound answer in regards to SvN, because it’s a business and the blog exists as a marketing too. But it’s borderline disrespectul to his readership in the case of Kottke, whose following developed partly because, I would argue, he was doing something personal rather than motivated by financial gain.

Dan Boland 18 Apr 06

Why is everyone in a pissing match about who The Deck chooses to have in its network? Who gives a shit? And why are you bitching at 37s and not Kottke himself? Is it because the world can’t see your rants on Kottke’s site, but here you can? Sheesh.

August 18 Apr 06

Jason almost never opens up comments to anything he posts that he knows will be controversial. And here we have a forum for discussion, yes. I don’t think anyone here has said anything that would qualify as “bitching”.

I’ve seen some reasoned arguments both for and against.

If this level of disagreement is too strong for you, I can’t possibly imagine how dull most of your conversations must be.

D 18 Apr 06

I certainly see Adam’s point, and I’m generally very critical of ads. I’d go so far as to list the ad industry as one of the more dangerous industries, right up there with weapons manufacture and private health care. Yet I do see these Deck ads as a very positive development, and that cognitive dissonance has been a source of some interesting thoughts - although I’m not sure I’ve really figured out any concrete answers.

I suppose when I think of the ads I hate, mostly I am thinking of TV ads: disruptive, broadly targeted, appealing to emotion. Or, of billboards gradually destroying the cityscape. And the gradual commercialization of the public sphere, both the airwaves and environment, that both create.

The Deck idea for one seems to put the advertiser in their place in terms of the size of the ad. But more importantly, they seem like a good tradeoff. I’d rather there be no ads on my favourite sites, but if a small ad - especially if it makes a rational appeal for a product I might actually be interested in - can help one of my favourite authors support themselves doing what they love and therefore write more, well that’s a good thing innit?

There are still dangers. The targeted ad approach could make authors feel constrained in terms of their subject matter (it will be interesting to see if the deck works with more general interest sites like kottke and TMN). Or, the temptation to add a second little box and double revenue could eventually lead to the BoingBoinging of all these sites. But it’s an interesting experiment, and I’m curious to see how it plays out.

sj 18 Apr 06

A website is no more a semi-public place than a McDonalds is. It would foolish of me to walk into a McDonalds and be offended that they’ve partnered with the latest Disney movie and are using their happy meal to influence my kid via a stuffed Pooh.

Some blogger deciding to put AdWords on their site to pay their hosting is not different than a blogger deciding to try and see if they can live off donations for a year, which is no different than them devoting screen real estate to a contexually relevant ad - except perhaps that some actually make money for said blogger.

A web visitor voluntarily visits a site like Kottke or 37s. That site is published by someone else as an expression of their ideals and goals, either for their business or for themselves (or increasingly, both.) The web visitor being offended by content or advertising, claiming that it somehow invasive is like you being upset at me for having commercials on in the background when you come over to my house.

There was a time when my site had 100 visitors a day. Only took $10 too - $5 for each parent.

JF 18 Apr 06

There are still dangers. The targeted ad approach could make authors feel constrained in terms of their subject matter (it will be interesting to see if the deck works with more general interest sites like kottke and TMN). Or, the temptation to add a second little box and double revenue could eventually lead to the BoingBoinging of all these sites. But it’s an interesting experiment, and I’m curious to see how it plays out.

Worry about that when it happens. It’s not a problem till it’s a problem (and it most likely won’t be).

August 18 Apr 06

It would foolish of me to walk into a McDonalds and be offended

Adam’s point (which I agreed with) is that Kottke’s site is not of the same nature as McDonald’s. Kottke.org did not begin as, and with the exception of the micropayment experiment, is still not a business (to the best of my knowledge, anyway). Most of us have a fundamentally different relationship with things presented to us, and aknowledged by us, as a business, than we do with those things that are not presented and acknowledged as such.

(Although it would be interesting to discuss if there’s any good reason that we shouldn’t feel offended by walking into a McDonald’s, paying for our food, and then being bombarded by the marketing material for an unrelated product made by an entirely differnet company. I think the fact that we have been socialized to find it inoffensive is not at all the same thing as it actually being inoffensive.)

J 18 Apr 06

Get over it people. You don’t have a “relationship” with Kottke or any other blog. Kottke or any other blog doesn’t owe you anything for reading their sites. You are not as important as you think.

August 18 Apr 06

Well, you’re entitled to feel that way, J, although I don’t recall saying that Kottke owes me anything (nor do I recall anyone else saying it).

JeroenR 18 Apr 06

So why is he so worshipped in these circles? Everywhere I see his name tossed around like a brand; it’s not “Jason Kottke said”, it’s “Kottke™ said”.

Jason is consistent and a great editor. His “remaindered links” are almost always well-chosen and fun to read, with sharp and concise commentary. What’s more, while he’s not really a ‘Life-blogger’, he’s one of the few bloggers I know who are able to tell a story and give an impression of personality through his links (Waxy.org also fits that bill).

Coudal 18 Apr 06

No system is going to be perfect but what we’re trying to do with The Deck is to construct a simple mechanism that works for all three people involved. The reader, the publisher and the advertiser. For us, the “one ad per page” concept in combination with a fairly picky attitude about what products and/or services can advertise using a limited inventory makes the most sense.

I’ve been running ads on coudal.com for a while and I’ve bought thousands of dollars of Goog and display ads on other sites. From those two perspectives we’ve struck a pretty good balance with The Deck and a big majority of the response from readers has been positive too. So far so good. Plus, the ‘punch-the-monkey’ ad scheduled for May is really hilarious. You’ll love it.

clifyt 18 Apr 06

“There’s a reason I didn’t contribute to his micropatron experiment; what he does seems driven more and more by the fact that he has a large audience rather than because he sees inherent value in what he’s doing. And I suppose that’s fine, but like Adam says, the minute I become a customer instead of a reader, I’m no longer interested. An audience should have inherent value rather than merely instrumental value. Kottke isn’t worth paying for, and I don’t just mean money.”

You know, his is one of the first sites I check every day, but no — I wouldn’t pay either. I thought about jumping on the bandwagon during the whole micro-payment thing — but there was something just a bit off-putting about it. [1]

And after the year went by and nothing new had been done, nor any new insight as to why folks were supporting him — I decided it was a wise decision. If he had said I’m Going To Keep Doing The Same Thing Either Way, I would have probably donated. But it actually felt like we got less content. [2]

Good luck on this – I actually prefer the advertising to the micro-patronage model. Or even a mixed model where micro-patronage allows one to be more selective with their advertising (I do this on my own site, and I use this as a way to find advertising that will benefit them – and have turned quite a bit of advertising in the past because my people were helping out).


To Steal Kottke’s footnote style:

1. I’m not against Micro-patronage…in fact I ‘donated’ to DaringFireball during the same time period as I derive value from reading it. I was going to give like $19 for the site because nothing was promised but then decided for $10 more — I get a freakin’ cool ass t-shirt. Honestly, I would have given either way. It didn’t seem like a Trendy Look At Me I’m On The Bandwagon thing…probably way more so with the shirt.

2. Folks have asked how to support my site financially in the past. I have put up ways that they can do so. I also actively discourage folks from supporting us — and tell them not to expect us to do ANYTHING different. With Kottke, we were promised more and in-depth content. Never happened. I’ve seen this in the music industry as well. Folks are signed to a deal and get a lot of money to do what they claim they want to do, and then sit around and waste all the money they are given. 100% freedom sucks. And then they run out of all their money, and then start sites complaining that the music industry screwing them :-)

And this is to be expected. The same stimuli that you had before that gave you the creativity is no longer there when you are told that you can do as you like and still be compensated. Seeing it happen to others in the same situations, I am not as inclined to complain about. It was a great and honestly failed experiment.

Dan Boland 18 Apr 06

If this level of disagreement is too strong for you, I can’t possibly imagine how dull most of your conversations must be.

Look, we’re all blown away by your eloquence, but let’s can the petty insults, okay? I wasn’t referring only to you.

Adam 18 Apr 06

Why is everyone in a pissing match about who The Deck chooses to have in its network? Who gives a shit? And why are you bitching at 37s and not Kottke himself? Is it because the world can’t see your rants on Kottke’s site, but here you can? Sheesh.

Dan, I think it’s fair to say that you’re the one who lowered the tone of what has otherwise been a fairly restrained and respectful discussion around a highly charged topic.

August is merely - and, yes, rather eloquently - expressing a point of view. He’s explicitly not complaining about who comprises the Deck, or questioning their motivations, or any of that. In fact, nobody is suggesting that any of the participants in the Deck are bad people - but a few of us are presenting the idea that people with personal sites, like Jason Kottke, may be losing something intangible by opening those sites up to advertising.

I’m really not sure why you find the mere fact that other people have reactions or opinions that differ from yours so troubling. But in any event, I’d respectfully suggest that more light than heat will only come from our discussions if we can avoid using terms like “bitching,” “rants,” and “pssing match.” Especially in the manifest absence of anything that even remotely resembles same.

bazinoz 18 Apr 06

I can’t say I find these ads offensive, in fact it’s a relief to have just the small ads rather than the usual bombardment.

As far as I can see 37s produce great software, at a good price, and it is entirely appropriate to advertise on their site, so thanks for doing it in a ‘nicer’ way.

JF 18 Apr 06

Thanks bazinoz.

Why Kottke? 19 Apr 06

Today he’s stumbled across the Gospels of Judas story, and posted an essay about not getting lettuce on a pizza. I don’t quite see what is special about Kottke’s site other than the nice design.

Anon 19 Apr 06

Today he’s stumbled across the Gospels of Judas story, and posted an essay about not getting lettuce on a pizza. I don’t quite see what is special about Kottke’s site other than the nice design.

Exactly, he’s been producing nothing for the past year. I mean, who the hell cares about his PIZZA? I find nothign funny about that.

Sebhelyesfarku 20 Apr 06

WTF is Jason Kottke?

Danny Cohen 29 Apr 06

The ads are nice because they provide funding for this free blog, and sometimes they might actually be relevant to the readers!

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