Home – New Forums Marketing mastery At what point does marketing overtake product?

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  • #983357
    websitedesigner
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    I have been a Flying Solo fan and active forum contributor for many years. Every interaction I have had with the team has been fantastic. They are an amazing team.

    So I put this forward as well-intentioned feedback, with the most respect and as a legitimate question for your own business.

    At what point does the desire to monetize overtake the desire to create value for people?

    Today I visited Flying Solo and saw 10 (yes 10) ads for Telstra. Most of them were animating. They were all in Flying Solo colours. So the heading on this ‘post new thread’ section, the ‘member spotlight’, the entire top banner, the flying solo navigation, the top navigation, the footer menu, everything the same colour as the animated Telstra ads.

    I’m actually struggling to focus on this post because as I do this thing is animating beside me and I can’t stop if (I’ve clicked on it and it didn’t stop).

    I would love some quality discussion on this. I personally pay for 2 private memberships both of which are great businesses for the founders ($180 and $400k respectively is my best guess for single founders). Both started within the last 2 years.

    Surely there is a way to monetize a community that doesn’t involve annihilating every visitor with a bombardment of Telstra (or any other brand) advertising?

    #1141947
    Greg_M
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    websitedesigner, post: 162197 wrote:
    So I put this forward as well-intentioned feedback, with the most respect and as a legitimate question for your own business.

    At what point does the desire to monetize overtake the desire to create value for people?

    Took the words right out of my mouth. This forum has provided me with great value and entertainment for some time, but it’s now coming close to my pain point with animated advertising.

    I’ve created a “patch” by only viewing it using Safari (no flash), and reducing the browser size to get the worst of the adds out of my peripheral vision … it’s become a bit of a chore.

    I’m guessing, but I’d say this forum “is” the business. Certainly in terms of driving traffic, and that makes it a rare beast. Forums (with a few notable exceptions) are a dying species on the net, go to most of them and you’ll only find a few, often stale, posts and threads.

    If the quality of the info posted, drops off due to usability issues there’ll be no forum IMHO.

    I guess the balance between revenue generation, and value (to a user) is in the eye of the beholder.

    For this user, it’s become borderline.

    #1141948
    Robert Gerrish
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    Thanks Dan and Estim8.

    You raise some good points here and it’s only right we justify our actions. We’re just getting our kids out the door to their respective schools and will be back shortly with a considered response.

    Thank you for pushing us to do better!

    Robert and the FS Crew

    #1141949
    Peter – FS Administrator
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    Hi Dan, estim8 and all,

    Thank you for your kind words and for raising the question of balance of value and monetisation. This is something we consider carefully and always appreciate feedback and comments from the community.

    With this particular campaign, while it may appear Telstra have designed a campaign in our house colours, it’s purely coincidental. The campaign is widespread across a number of media outlets… all in these colours. Occasionally, as with this campaign, advertisers will sponsor a whole section to promote a new product or service – which has created a green on green effect in this particular case!

    With regards to our approach to monetisation more generally, our goal is to create a sustainable business model that enables us to continue to offer more and more value to the community. Looking after our members and visitors has always been our number one priority, so it is essential to find a revenue model that enables this.

    At the moment, like most publishers online and off, advertising is the primary way to sustain content, however this is evolving very fast. We’ve been actively working to design and build an attractive membership model. This is taking time to get right and we’re not there yet. Once we’ve cracked this, we will be in a position to reduce our reliance on advertising to sustain the business.

    Currently every dollar we earn from advertising is reinvested into developing the community, after we pay our little team of editors, admin, design, webdev and cover our hosting and other costs. We’ve got lots more we’d like to add!

    Our aim is to continually add member benefits – both free and paid – and to minimise interruption through advertising and promotion.

    We do always welcome feedback and discussion on this topic as it pushes us to rethink our approach and make sure we maintain a balance.

    Thanks again,
    Peter and FSers

    #1141950
    bluepenguin
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    I honestly don’t notice it.

    #1141951
    websitedesigner
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    Thanks Peter I totally understand the challenges of providing great value for free while also trying to make a living particularly for the small business crowd.

    Obviously you guys do an awesome job. I just wonder whether the 10 ads per page, constant unstoppable animation and use of the FS colours (whether it be coincidental or not) has gone a bit too far? But at the end of the day you are the ones that have to try to find the balance and I’m sure you battle with it every day.

    #1141952
    Peter – FS Administrator
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    Thanks Dan,
    It’s a totally valid point. In this case the combination of the full section sponsorship (all ad spots), use of Flying Solo green and highly animated ads have created a bit of a perfect storm. We’ve been discussing this issue this morning, and ads more generally, and will also raise with our agency too.
    Thanks again
    Peter

    #1141953
    sansamad
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    I direct my centre of gaze only to the forum column and have extremely low-nil awareness of the peripheral surrounds – ads.

    Sandra

    #1141954
    Burgo
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    ’tis nice to see so many forum members loving the forum community as it should be.
    I see the ads but if im not interested in them I am able to ignore them and enjoy the posts, from the new and older members.
    We are very fortunate to have such a team looking after us on the forum.
    Unfortunately FS is expensive to run and the ads help pay for the upkeep.
    Imagine what we would have to pay without these ads
    Thank you FS for the BEST FORUM free to us members

    #1141955
    Peter – FS Administrator
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    Burgo, post: 162250 wrote:
    ’tis nice to see so many forum members loving the forum community as it should be.
    I see the ads but if im not interested in them I am able to ignore them and enjoy the posts, from the new and older members.
    We are very fortunate to have such a team looking after us on the forum.
    Unfortunately FS is expensive to run and the ads help pay for the upkeep.
    Imagine what we would have to pay without these ads
    Thank you FS for the BEST FORUM free to us members

    Thanks Burgo,
    It goes without saying that its all the members new and old that make the Flying Solo community what it is! And your join date of 2008 ( plus a few years before that as a subscriber too if I’m not mistaken) and post count of 1700+ make you one of the founding members :) Thanks for your support over the years and your kind words :) Always plenty of room for improvement thought and sometimes it feels like we’re just getting started.
    Cheers
    Peter

    #1141956
    Cesar
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    Have to agree with Burgo. Truthfully though, I am so focused on delivering constructive, yet controversial comments, I never noticed them. :D

    But, I do enjoy my time here on FS, and to the credible SEO members, I do love you all! Nothing personal, just educational.

    #1141957
    ScarlettR
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    “Adblock”. Google it. It will be your bestest everest friend ever. Available for FF and Chrome and Safari as a plug in.

    I don’t see any ads at all, not on this site and not on Facebook or anywhere. It is a delight, and means I can enjoy the pure experience of FS :D

    (Flying Solo is made of awesome, because it’s creators are made of awesome).

    #1141958
    MatthewKeath
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    ScarlettR, post: 162301 wrote:
    “Adblock”. Google it. It will be your bestest everest friend ever. Available for FF and Chrome and Safari as a plug in.

    I don’t see any ads at all, not on this site and not on Facebook or anywhere. It is a delight, and means I can enjoy the pure experience of FS :D

    (Flying Solo is made of awesome, because it’s creators are made of awesome).So it’s awesome, but not awesome enough to allow them to get some income from it? They spend money to keep this site live – I think they should be able to recoup that money and try and make some profit.

    I don’t mind the ads, but I wish their was some variety, All I see is giant corporations pushing their ‘small business’ products.

    The same advertisers over and over again – that is why i have never clicked on a ad – I never see anything that interests me!

    #1141959
    ScarlettR
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    MatthewKeath, post: 162311 wrote:
    So it’s awesome, but not awesome enough to allow them to get some income from it? They spend money to keep this site live – I think they should be able to recoup that money and try and make some profit.

    I don’t mind the ads, but I wish their was some variety, All I see is giant corporations pushing their ‘small business’ products.

    The same advertisers over and over again – that is why i have never clicked on a ad – I never see anything that interests me!

    You don’t think an adblocker should be used, so that a website has its best chance at spamming me? Or that I should specify that I see ads on Flying Solo, and not on The Age where the entire screen is suddenly inundated with a flashy, loud, video car ad that won’t let me close it?

    I see it like a ‘do not call’ listing, or ‘no junk mail’ on my letterbox. What’s the difference? I prefer not to be pummeled with ads everywhere, and that would distract me from my experience with the website. Considering I’m a paid member and go to events sponsored and promoted by Flying Solo, where is my financial responsibility in this?

    #1141960
    MatthewKeath
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    ScarlettR, post: 162317 wrote:
    You don’t think an adblocker should be used, so that a website has its best chance at spamming me? Or that I should specify that I see ads on Flying Solo, and not on The Age where the entire screen is suddenly inundated with a flashy, loud, video car ad that won’t let me close it?It it happened a lot I would simply stop visiting that website. Thank goodness it’s pretty rare.

    I never use Adblock because website owners need revenue and often advertising is the only way they are getting it. I can choose to ignore the ad.

    Flyingsolo should turn of the ads for paying members.

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