The Rise and Fall of The Deck Epitomizes the Last Decade of Web Publishing
I have on occasion blogged about how it is now harder to make a living as an indie blogger than it used to be. Ads aren’t paying what they used to, and web traffic has changed as more people spend their time in social networks.
Now it seems ad networks are just as badly affected. The Deck, one of the few ethical ad networks, announced this week that it was shutting down:
We started The Deck in 2006 and for the first couple years it struggled. By 2008, it was an OK business and by 2009, it was a pretty good business. From then through 2013, The Deck was going along just fine.
THINGS WORK, UNTIL THEY DON’T
Things change. In 2014, display advertisers started concentrating on large, walled, social networks. The indie “blogosphere” was disappearing. Mobile impressions, which produce significantly fewer clicks and engagements, began to really dominate the market. Invasive user tracking (which we refused to do) and all that came with that became pervasive, and once again The Deck was back to being a pretty good business. By 2015, it was an OK business and, by the second half of 2016, the network was beginning to struggle again.
Over the past few months I had reached this exact same conclusion, that advertisers were chasing page views in social networks. I could not put my finger on that trend in 2014 and 2015, but in retrospect that is exactly what happened.
It explains why so many sites like Techcrunch are asking you to turn off your ad blocker, why sites like the LA Times areblocking ad block users, and why sites are stuffing in more and more ads.
Online ads are increasingly becoming a failed business model, and it is only going to get worse as advertisers cut back on the number of sites they work with.
image by Steve Snodgrass