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Archive for November, 2003

Morning cereal

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

Amy Langfield makes Christmas gift recommendations, then warns “In case you’re my mom and you read this list and start thinking you’re going to buy me stuff listed above – stop now. It’s listed because I own it and think it’s great.”

Matt Welch heaps scorn Vaclav Klaus and those who buy his PR.

This morning, we’ve added per blog click/view granularity for advertisers who buy on multiple blogs with one payment.

I’m going to be on the road for the next few days. I’ll check e-mail, but if you need anything urgently, please write info at blogads.com rather than me personally.

Blogads on DailyKos

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

Democratic blog giant DailyKos is now running blogads. He took a poll a couple of weeks ago: Should DailyKos run blogads? 417 of his readers voted yes, 143 voted no and 175 voted “don’t care.” And there were 195 comments. A sampling below.

Pro:

Since there are ads in nearly every opinion journal in print now, having ads in an online journal that reflect your editorial point of view should neither be unexpected nor unwelcome.
(Saying that confident that none of us will see publisher ads referring to the latest from knuckleheads like Coulter, Cavuto, O’Reilly et al. except as a matter of hilarious biting satire…)

Go for it as far as I am concerned, for what that’s worth.
Superskepticalman

Go for it. Far be it from me to let some namby-pamby librul thinkin stand in the way of American Entrepreneurship creating millions of jobs. Just don’t outsource your comments to New Delhi.

See if you can get some Bush ads that pay by the click. I’ll sit here clicking for two hour a day, just helping you suck up as much of his $200 million as possible.
TX Dem in TX

Do it bro
ten nights

A blogad on Atrios led me to a terrific site on preserving our oceans. I was able to alert some friends to pending legislation nonsense from that bastard, Ted Stevens. I vote yes and hope that the ads are topical like that.
opus

Very Dean-esque to ask us, Kos. I say go for it, because I’ve always wanted you to devote more of the site to fundraising for worthy causes anyway.
leftist

Hm. I voted No, and I was going to go drop another donation in the jar. But after reading what people have to say here, I think if I could change my vote, I would. It’s not really practical for Kos to depend on forgetful people like me, when the expenses of running the blog are constant. He needs some sort of slow and steady income stream, and I’m afraid I’m not it.
So, Kos — when you’re looking at the votes, could you please mentally add one to Yes, subtract one from No?
Canadian reader

There is a white space running down the entire left margin of the page. It’s crazy not to use it for everyone’s benefit. Kos, I say go for it if you need to.
FLDoubleBushed

You would also be helping out the guys/gals who are coming up with the imaginative products like the BushCards and “Bush-Orwell 2004″ bumper sticker I have.
BobNJ

Take advertising. Use it for any use you deem appropriate (ie rent, food, lavish vacations, etc) Blogsphere is our answer to Rush Limbaugh and the yahoos on the radio. You have played a critical role in helping build something important. We need to blogsphere into a mechanism that can help us combat the Fox News orgs of the world. In that effort, the idea that you should not take easy money seems really silly to me. This is a marketplace of ideas. To win in this marketplace, we need capital – don’t be shy about taking it.
fladem

Kos, please change my ‘I don’t care’ to a ‘Yes’.
Thanks!
mwjeepster

Tongue in cheek:

Are you kidding me? Do what you have to do! Atrios has already opted out, and he’ll kick your ass if you don’t do the same!
Frankly, when I see such a vast array of fine products and services being made available to me, I feel immeasureably empowered as a consumer.

Let me tell you, I grew up in a household of deeply committed shoppers, but I’ve never seen an advertising medium quite so powerful, so capable of reaching new consumers with new sources of disposable income as the ‘net. It’s flat out revolutionary. …
Kagro X

This is just a cover! You already decided in a boiler room 2 weeks ago that you would forgo ads, and now you’re just trying to get cover for your decision! What kind of image does it portray to ask for your supporters opinion on something? What’s next, a poll on whether you should support abortion or your stance on our relationship with Israel?
You and Howard Dean both suck for asking your supporters whether they’re actually willing to give you money! Blablabla!

[End anti-dean parody]
Asak

Can you get that “Friendsurfer” ad that atrios had?
mmmmmmmm…. friendsurfergirl
mdhatter

Ambivalent:

I’ll take the polution in order to be sure that this site does not take food of the plate of the new addition to the Kos family.

Hate blogads, personally, but let’s be realistic:
It ain’t THAT big of a deal if he runs some ads down the left side of the page. If it helps keep this site going, which is one of about 3 sites I can’t do without, then I’m all for it.

Not to mention the fact that Kos is a new dad…any time-saver is a bonus.

In other words, Kos, do it and get some sleep.
Malthus

Because I see advertising as part of the cancer in general, I would vote no, but born and raised into ad culture, I tune them all out anyway. So if you can scam them into paying you to show their stuff, in some deluded belief that they are going to profit by it, go for it, dude.
OTOH, I have no problem giving to my local NPR station, and I’m sure your operation costs less than a radio station to operate. I’d feel inclined to help you if you needed, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask. What does it cost you, anyway? You got some kind of budget you try to follow?
claude

Competitive:

I’m a bit biased here, as I work for Google, specifically on their AdSense contextual advertising product….
Maxwell

No:

Can’t you get some of that Soros money instead? Just ask him nice. I’m sure after he checked out the fine work you do he’d put up some loot. MoveOn.org should set up a blog fund to support independent progressive bloggers. No ads. They’s ugggggly. I like you a lot more than Atrios, Kos. And it’s not because I’m all that fond of orange.
Jumbo

I’d give $10 month….
cat

I feel pretty strongly that you should avoid ads. The problem is you need to make some money. I think ads should be a last resort and you haven’t begun to exhaust other ideas that would probably generate more revenue anyways. …
Tropicana

I agree 100% with Tropicana. I would most likely spend less time here if there were ads. It starts out with just a few and next thing you know it’s Salon (which is used to read religiously each morning until the ad pollution completely overwhelmed the content).
However, since prevailing sentiment seems to favor ads, please consider an ad free subscription option if at all possible.

Sigh, I hate change…
Valkyrie

A few posts mentioned that blogads look ugly on Atrios. We’ve looked into this and concluded that Atrios’ HTML is a little tangled. When we have a spare moment, we will help him fix it.

The TVidiots

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, November 25th, 2003

Look at the following chart, showing a report just released by the Pew Foundation.

With many of America’s most influential consumers so Internet-biased, why does the Internet get only $7 billion in advertising every year when television pulls $50 billion?

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I was just talking with a contact inside one of the Democratic presidential campaigns. He reminded me: television advertising is a giant and lucrative value-chain (read: “gravy train”) with numerous players each taking a slice. These TV careerists are fighting tooth and nail to keep the online players from getting their share.

Evolution will make sure this changes, of course. The gene for buying television ads will slowly get weeded out. (Via Buzzmachine.)

The mystery of Iveta

by henrycopeland
Saturday, November 22nd, 2003

My friend Doug Arellanes lives in Prague and is somewhat obsessed with what he calls “Blesk’s Iveta Bartošová thing.” Blesk is a popular newspaper. Iveta Bartošová is a vapid Czech celebrity. Blesk covers almost every step Iveta takes, down to her car, haircut, album, boyfriend, shopping in Vienna, and day of sailing.

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After noting this trend, Doug started keeping count and blogging it. His Blesk/Iveta count just hit 104.

Doug is a former journalist and understands that tabloids feed on celebrities, and that there are not many newsworthy events on the Czech celebrity circuit. But he’s still puzzled: “Even though this is a small media market, there are still lots celebrities around. So what is it about Iveta that gets her in the papers more than others? Heck if I know. By blogging her appearances in Blesk I hope to understand this better.”

Maybe there’s some tie-in with the power law… that theory of popularity that says that one player gets 1 million Xs, 10 get 100,000 Xs, 100 get 10,000 Xs and 1000 get 1000 Xs, etc? To put it another way, perhaps you could plot the distribution of Czech press mentions of celebrities on a log graph and get a straight line. Maybe Iveta gets 10 times more mentions than 10 other celebs, who themselves get 10 times more mentions than 100 other celebs.

This doesn’t sound logical. But it definitely happens all the time. Power laws seem to apply to the distribution of wealth/marketshare/synapses among brain cells, browsers, blog traffic, high-school friendships, network hubs, and capillaries. To anthropromorphise a little, it seems that complex systems comprised of autonomous but interdependent units often end up creating “celebrities” (or hubs) among themselves, and eventually, celebrities among celebrities. The rich get richer and Iveta gets another mention in Blesk.

Basically, it seems there’s some natural efficiency in doing things this way. After studying people entering a building with multiple swinging doors, urbanologist William Whyte wrote, in his fantastic book City, that an open door “is enormously attracting.”

Given a choice, people will head for the door that is already open, or that is about to be opened by somebody else. Some people are natural door openers. But most are not; often they will queue up three and four deep behind an open door rather than strike out on their own.

Why? Maybe people are lazy. Or maybe evolution has taught us that the crowd often knows something we don’t — “certainly someone would use that door if it was any good. Maybe it’s jammed.” Is it worth betting 10 steps, 15 seconds and 20 watts of mental energy that the crowd is wrong? Easier to line up for the open door.

And easier to write another story about Iveta. So, to return to Doug in Prague watching Blesk watch Iveta. Maybe fetishizing Iveta means Blesk photographers don’t have to waste time paparazzing outside random nightclubs and so charge less for their work. Fact checkers sleep easier. The old ladies who read Blesk have to remember and discuss the facts about only one celebrity. People stranded at a bus stop know there’s one reliable thing to talk about other than the weather. And Doug gets something to blog about.

Doug, of course, insists he doesn’t read Blesk because it covers Iveta. It’s the stories, he says. “I learned a lot of my Czech by reading Blesk. The stories are short, and they’re written for ten-year-olds. Which is exactly my level.”

Laszlo Barabasi’s book Linked is a great overview of this weird power law world.

Can you top this?

by henrycopeland
Friday, November 21st, 2003

Paul Libman, the impressario behind Oy to the World, called up to tell me the impact of his blogad on TalkingPointsMemo on sales of his Klezmer Christmas CD. I took notes and confirmed them later with Paul:

“After my ad for Klezmer Christmas started running yesterday on TalkingPointsMemo, my traffic was up five or six fold. I was up late last night processing orders. This is fantastic. I think blogads are going to be much bigger than banners. You are able to so closely target the sensibility of the people you are advertising to. I just knew Josh’s audience would appreciate the humor of my album and I’ve been proven right.”

I hate to sound like an internet utopian, but this is one of those win/win/win/win/win situations. Paul Libman finds customers he could never affordably reach otherwise. Lots of shoppers will sleep easier having crossed a few names off their holiday gift lists. The gift recipients will have a (rye) laugh. Josh Marshall makes some money doing what he loves. And Blogads gets to pay for some of its new server. Oy to the world, indeed!

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Morning message

by henrycopeland
Friday, November 21st, 2003

pic

Thank you (and $5) to the Church Sign Generator.

This morning I’m listening to this.

Condor flies…

by henrycopeland
Thursday, November 20th, 2003

As of 4AM EST, Adstrips are being served from a new server dedicated to ad caching rather than the overloaded backup server. We’ve moved this server from Serverbeach to Rackspace (“Fanatical support is the difference.”) Advertisers will be credited two days. (This probably won’t happen until next Monday while we catch up on a backlog of other work.)

We screwed up by relying on a cheap-and-solid-but-less-than-responsive hosting company, and I apologize for the outage.

New server coming up…

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003

OK, I’ve ordered a new server at Rackspace, with the help of salesman Freddie Garcia. (Call him and order something yourself at 800 961 2888 X 1418.) Rackspace promises 99.9999% uptime, which is, in our experience with other servers, what they deliver. The contract says “one business day,” but we hope to have something live by the end of today. Go Freddie go!

Update @ 10:10 PM Talked to Sarah at Rackspace, who says our server is in “final configuration and QC,” and should be “on the rack in the next hour.” (What a pleasure to be able to talk to intelligent people rather than waiting 24 hours for the second half of an incoherent e-mail.) So Tamas will be up early and configuring the new Rackspace server for pure unadulterated Blogads caching.

Some trivia: our servers are all named for birds. The faulty server was nicknamed magpie, after an orphaned bird Tamas adopted a few months ago (see photo.) That bird flew away, which Tamas now declares was a bad omen. So we’re going with an unflappable and high-flying name for this new server: condor.

Advertising compensation…

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003

Well, I’ve been up since 4.30 talking to Tamas and Csaba. We’re still mystified by Serverbeach. The backup server at Rackspace is doing OK, but we want to get a server dedicated to serving adstrips running away from Serverbeach ASAP.

Current ads will get a one day extension in compensation for last night’s two hour outage. Blogs not currently running their javascript should put them back in.

We’re still on hold with Serverbeach — amazing. Unfortunately, it will take a 24 hours to get a new server running, so we’re trusting our backup server can handle the fun today.

Server outage…

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

Another weird outage on the server that caches some Blogads. This server, hosted at ServerBeach, has been flaky. We just tried to restart using our Serverbeach console and, after ten minutes, the message came back “Support Ticket Open to Investigate.” We thought we understood what was going on a couple of weeks ago and had fixed the likely suspects… but apparently not. I apologize for the outage and will keep you updated.

(Update1: we’ve now got a backup server carrying the load. Will hardwire this backup switch in coming days.)

For any bloggers who enjoy coding, we’ve got some perl scripts that cache ads on your server and eliminate any risks… although, we sure plan on getting this current server glitch exterminated fast.

(Update2 turns out Serverbeach sent this note immediately after our server went down:

//Hello,

I’m currently working on your server. There were some hardware problems,
so I put your hard drive in a new server. However, the nic appears to be
bad, so I’m putting your hard drive in another server. I will let you
know when I’m done.

Thanks,

ServerBeach Support//

Nearly twelve hours later, no updates from ServerBeach. Looks like we need to head back to Rackspace, which prides itself on “fanatical support.” It is four times as expensive, but we’ve always had great experience with our servers there.


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