The Deck: The new ad network from A List Apart, 37signals, and Coudal 24 Oct 2005

46 comments Latest by Lisa

Advertisers wanting to reach an influential and loyal group of web publishers, writers, developers, editors, reporters and bloggers can now buy an ad that runs across three sites: A List Apart, Signal vs. Noise (this site), and Coudal. There are only five ad spots per month across the entire network so there’s very limited availability but very high visibility.

While these three sites serve up millions of page views each month, we’re not following the traditional cost-per-click model (although if we were it would be a bargain compared to other network CPM rates). Instead, The Deck delivers valuable Cost-Per-Influence. The rates are fixed ($2200/month per ad at this time). You get 20% of all page views across the 5-ad, 3-site network. And Deck ads are the only ads on the page — there’s no Google, Blogads, or other clutter to dilute your message.

So, if you want to reach the influencers, buy a card in The Deck.

46 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Mike 24 Oct 05

“there’s no Google, Blogads, or other clutter to dilute your message.”

Except the Google ads above the comment form, right Jason? ;)

JF 24 Oct 05

Whoops! Forgot to pull those. Pulling…

Raymond Brigleb 24 Oct 05

What are you, broke already? :)

pwb 24 Oct 05

cost-per-click is “traditional”?? cost-per-impression (“influence” in 37-speak) is much, much more traditional.

Jake 24 Oct 05

pwb, cost-per-click is traditional on the web. :-P Steep prices, Jason, but I bet the fill up fast.

JF 24 Oct 05

Steep prices, Jason, but I bet the fill up fast.

Actually prices are a steal if you extrapolate the CPM as compared to other ad prices.

Don Wilson 24 Oct 05


Jesus christ.

Don Wilson 24 Oct 05

I guess I am blinded by the amount of money people spend to advertise.

Anonymous 24 Oct 05

Is that really that much money? $2,200? That’s what … $8,800 for all 4 sold spots … about $100 grand a year total — about $25k for a spot for a full year.

For 20% chance of display on pages across Coudal, A List Apart and 37signals/SVN?

Seems like a pretty targeted audience… seems like it’s not that bad to me.

Don Wilson 24 Oct 05

I would rather see a success story or two before I throw that much money into an unproven system.

Conor 24 Oct 05

The A List Apart link is broken.

Tom 24 Oct 05

I had to covert the $ to � to understand the figure (�1,245.60 btw)

Swati 24 Oct 05

I didn’t even know there was an advertisement above the comment box; haven’t seen a google adwords ad for ages. Hey…AdBlock really does work. :)

rob poitras 24 Oct 05

I think this is a great idea.
Selling the ads before they exist by stating up front that only quality companies are going to be allowed to advertise will actually increase the click through initially.
If you think $2200 is expensive then you might want to research up what other ads are costing.
Not sure why someone would think this isn’t unproven. It is just selling ads on 3 different websites that already get alot of traffic.

Jamie 24 Oct 05

I like the idea of cost-per-influence with banner ads… But I bet you all can get a hell of a lot more if you post about someone’s site/project/Flock!

kayvaan 24 Oct 05

you should do cost-per-conversion

(though I suppose that’s only possible for e-commerce advertisers)

Ben 24 Oct 05

For those of you discussing cost-per-click versus cost-per-impression versus cost-per-influence… At first I thought “per-influence” meant “per-impression” (sure sounds like the same thing) but The Deck is using “per-influence” to simply mean (20% of) a month of influencing people. “Per-impression” means paying per page view. Here you are getting close to a million page views (at the moment) for a flat rate… by my math that’s about a third of a cent per view… not bad, especially for such a targeted audience. And very little dilution, only 5 ads total in rotation, so lots of repeated drilling into the brain. I only wish I had something to market to this audience!

jason 24 Oct 05

any chance of developing this into something like adsense? i’d be much more willing to throw an ad for jewelboxing or campaign or basecamp than some random keywords or ads..

Hunter 24 Oct 05

Great idea. Shame it seems to break the page on firefox. Once an Ad loads all page content disapears.

Joe Clark 24 Oct 05

In other words, you’re starting a business that can never gross more than $132,000 a year (5 ads @ $2,200 each for 12 months), split among three partners.

That’s $44,000 each. Who buys the first Porsche?

Anonymous 25 Oct 05

You are forgetting, that they can potentially also get 1 roadblock advertiser (and nothing else) for all year along @ $900 per day.

$900 * 365 days = $328,500
Split among 3 partners: $109,500

Of course, you got to split this amongst employees now…and then taxes…server costs…yada yada yada

Moreover, more than likely, there will be changes to this program in the future. I am sure they are just experimenting :)

Vaibhav Domkundwar - WebVapors 25 Oct 05


This is interesting, especially coming from you folks.

Some thoughts here. If I go by your philosophy of small team-less-smart-customer revenue etc. (which btw is definitely our mantra as well), I just don’t see a point in spending money in advertising. Do you guys spend any money advertising 37S products on website and blogs? I haven’t seen any. Honestly, sounds contradictory to me.

Here’s another dimension. SvN is growing to become more of a web-based app, small business, RubyonRail, Small team, Less is more etc. etc. blog. A List Apart is very design centric. Coudal site seems a broad mix (I don’t read it so forgive me for ignorance). But I don’t a consistent theme across these 3 sites. Why should I pay a lump sum amount for advertising on sites which might not all appeal to my prospective customers? Have you guys thought about this?

James Osborn 25 Oct 05


When I hover my mouse pointer over the link in:

Ads from The Deck support SvN

‘The Deck’ goes from black, bold and underlined, to, ummm white. On a white background.


Faruk Ates 25 Oct 05


I think that calling this “starting a business” is a bit of an overstatement. From the looks of it, I highly doubt that they will spend as much as a month on this over an entire year, in time and effort. For most of the time, they don’t have to do anything (they even save some time by no longer having to use Google adsense) while the money keeps pouring in.

For an easy aside, that’s not a bad amount at all.

misterchris 25 Oct 05

I think you missed a trick by making the ads redirect through an ad server/tracker. Straight test links would have attracted a larger audience willing to pay that type of money.

Jamie 25 Oct 05

Actually prices are a steal if you extrapolate the CPM as compared to other ad prices.

So why not display it as the great-value CPM rather than invent some new meaningless buzzwordy name?

Michael Ward 25 Oct 05

If I was in the biz (not yet, my pretty, not yet…) then these ad spots would be fantastic value. You’re getting a high volume, very highly targeted audience.

It’s a good value proposition for the right business.

B 25 Oct 05

What happened to only advertising things you use?

Matt Turner 25 Oct 05

Er, B, “We won�t take an ad unless we have paid for and used the product or service.”

Coudal 25 Oct 05

misterchris: The ads are direct, just served from central source. We’re not capturing any data. We buy lots of ads for Jewelboxing and The Show and much prefer that method, we’d rather track clicks by our own methods. In general we set up a network that we would want to buy.

vaibhav: we did give that a lot of thought and we think that the three sites have a lot in common in terms of audience and interests. We see a fair amount of duplicated readership while traffic patterns vary greatly. Whether it’s a new product launch or heated discussion here, a new issue of ALA or a movie or contest at Coudal, the combination gives marketers the opportunity to cover the field pretty well. “The Field” being creative professionals interested in web development and design.

Peter Cooper 25 Oct 05

Darn, I was enjoying running CPM full size ads on SVN with AdSense :)

Anyway, something like The Deck is a good idea if you want to move into enterprise advertisers, but it totally kills the opportunities on here for companies who are “getting real” or “keeping it small”.. kinda funny that, but yes, it’s a great value proposition for big businesses who aren’t getting real :)

Peter Cooper 25 Oct 05

Oh, I hope my previous post isn’t interpreted as being sarcastic, it’s not. Just that I think it’s a great opportunity for businesses with the budget, and means you get a more guaranteed chunk of change. I just found the anti-small thing a humorous sidenote. Best of luck!

missing something... 25 Oct 05

What is CPM?

Nick Adam 25 Oct 05

Jason, I wouldn’t call these prices GREAT, but I would call them reasonable. And or the right type of company, they could see a very nice ROI. Good luck.

coudal 25 Oct 05

CPM = cost per thousand

Hugh Roper 25 Oct 05

Cost per M = Thousand

Dan Boland 25 Oct 05

But aren’t these just the same ads you were running before?

JF 25 Oct 05

Yes, they are the same ads. We’ve been running them for a few weeks now, but we just announced the concept yesterday.

Chris S 25 Oct 05

Nifty idea, esp. the roadblocks.

Scrivs 25 Oct 05

I would be interested to hear what you consider the industry average for CPM rates. Looking at your numbers if we assume 3M pageviews a month / 5…that’s 600k per ad. At $2200/mo we are looking at $3.66 CPM.

At 4M pageviews we are looking at $2.75 CPM.

If we jump to a roadblock ad the CPM jumps to $6.76-$9.00.

Coudal 25 Oct 05

A ten-dollar CPM is a pretty standard yardstick for planning a targeted display ad campaign. But $20 and up is very common depending on a number of variables.

Anonymous Coward 25 Oct 05

It seems a bit ironic that commercialism arrives in one post and is slated in the one beneath it - “GWA shines light on Google privacy concerns “

Google provides a service that is free and people use.

37 signals provides a service that is free and people use.

If I use Googles services I accept that they need to get something in return. It is all there in privacy statement. If I don’t like it I don’t use it. I don’t use Web Accelerator.

If I read 37 Signals I accept that they should get something in return. If I don’t like it I don’t use it. But I do use it.

Good luck with the ads of course!

If you are making money out of free information though you are in the same boat as Google!

Scrivs 25 Oct 05

Jim, thanks for the response. If those are the averages you are seeing then this definitely ends up being on the lowend scale of things.

Joseph 26 Oct 05

Since pretty much your entire audience is web-savvy, surely a high proportion of them use an ad blocker anyway? And the pool already excludes those who are just grabbing the ad-free feed.

It seems a little ambitious � if I were an advertiser, I’d skirt the shoals and sail out looking for the depths of ignorance. Or if the target were a web-savvy audience, I’d be looking for what triggers such people to buy things. I’m pretty sure it’s not banner ads.