The odd and frustrating case of the disappearing ad revenue

There’s a little tradition around this site. It has to do with how we make our money as it pertains to how we do business. And it looks a little something like this…

About once a year we get a notification from our oldest advertising partner letting us know that there’s some sort of violation of their terms of service. It’s never on a recent, or even a popular article. In this case, it’s a 12-year old article. Twelve years and all the sudden there’s an urgent problem, with mere hours to fix it, if any time at all.

It’s ridiculous. This site has been an ad partner for maybe 15 years now, at one time relying solely on income from them, but even then it was a precarious alliance.

There’s no customer service and no recourse. They decide how much traffic the site gets, then decides how much revenue we get from that traffic. Maybe this is normal for them, but we end up effectively earning less than minimum wage, and this is just how it’s supposed to go.

They’ve tried relentlessly to get us to share our current revenue model, but we’d have to be crazy to share such proprietary business data. They want us to tell them all the networks we use and how much each one pays. We’d have to be crazy to do that.

But the latest notice is sheer insanity. They let us know a twelve-year-old page was in violation, so we deleted it and let them know it had been taken care of. Done, right? Not even close. Instead they deactivate ads across the entire site because, wait for it, THE PAGE HAD BEEN DELETED. Wait, what?

We’ve been publishing original content on this site every day since the turn of the century, but that’s not good enough. We’ve tried to obey their every whim, publishing material far less offensive than many sites in good standing, but that’s not good enough either.

It’s bad enough the revenue they generate has fallen by over 75% from the peak, but all this hassle on top of it?

They pull the same zero-recourse nonsense on videos on their sister-site as well. They decide how many views your video gets, then decide which ones get ads, then decide how much you get paid from those ads. And our average is very, very low.

A top YouTuber can expect to earn as much as $10-25 per thousand views. A small potato producer makes around $1.50 per 1,000 views. My channel only has about 1.3 million views, but we only get about 55-cents per 1,000 views. Our traffic is almost exclusively US and Canada based, but we just can’t catch a break.

These ad and distribution networks are amazing for enterprise-level producers, or maybe even aspiring ones, but for a regular small business just trying to grind out an existence, it’s the absolute worst.

There’s a reason they removed “Don’t be evil” from their mission statement. It’s because it’s an idealized notion they have no interest in living up to.

Author: Brian K. White

Brian first began peddling his humorous wares with a series of Xerox printed books in fifth grade. Since then he's published over two thousand satire and humor articles, as well as eight stage plays, a 13-episode cable sitcom and three (terrible) screenplays. He is a freelance writer by trade and an expert in the field of viral entertainment marketing. He is the author of many of the biggest hoaxes of recent years, a shameful accomplishment in which he takes exceptional pride.

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