An Alternative to Annoying Ads (Is there one?)

I often have brilliant ideas (for websites) while trying to get back to sleep in the early hours of the morning.

If I can still remember them I do a little research, only to discover that the idea has been done, and often done to death and there is now a website listing all the websites that have successfully implemented “My Big Idea” (MBI).

Scamdex/Scamalot uses online ads to generate income to pay for the hosting etc and to give it’s owners a trickle of income to compensate for the significant effort in keeping the sites running.

No one likes ads on websites. It’s a fact, proven by the enormous popularity of ‘Ad Blockers’. This is made worse by deceptive, loud, fraudulent, offensive etc ads that make your browsing experience unpleasant.

Scamdex/Scamalot uses Google Adsense mainly, this is because I trust them not to try to trick my visitors, they use their vast databases to attempt to tailor ads to the visitor’s interest and also because they pay ‘per click’ – so if someone clicks on an ad on my site, I get a couple of cents (the amount varies widely). This isn’t exactly a quid pro quo – I have a Click Rate of around 1% – so for every 100 visitors, one person will click on an ad that they see there.  I also use a couple of other ‘Affiliate’ ads, one for a respectable on-line lottery and one for Amazon.com, oh and one for Spokeo.com, a search engine for people. I am not making much, let me tell you!

So, ads are annoying and they bring in a pittance – what alternatives are there?

Well, there’s only one – a ‘Paywall’ – You need to signup and pay to get into the website. Like the newspapers do. But everyone hates that idea. We all visit hundreds of websites and only the very big/popular sites (Think ‘New York Times’) can possibly expect to get signups (and even they struggle!). A low-volume website like Scamdex would simply not get enough visitors to justify the implementation.

Anyway, you see the problem now?

Back to my early-morning “Eureka” moment – I was thinking of a way for public websites to generate incremental income without showing ads and I came up with this:

  1. Create a website called ‘Pennies from Heaven’ (PFH) or somesuch that allows people to click a link and automatically credit a website that they are visiting and appreciate with a penny (or more), from their account.
  2. PFH would aggregate these micro-donations and, assuming a certain threshold, pay out monthly.
  3. The websites would be free from annoying ad clutter and be free to fill in the gaps with more content.
  4. People would become members of PFH and set a monthly maximum amount to donate. At the end of the month, that amount would be billed to them.
  5. A discrete button on PFH-affiliated pages would invite the visitor to contribute, ostensibly to support the site financially and to thank the site for not showing ads.
  6. Another option would allow visitors to websites to automatically contribute based on page views or some other scheme – monthly, perhaps.

Sounds good eh? A Win-win as far as I can see – except perhaps for the ad companies (and the ad-blocker companies )

Well I went to a website last week and saw a button that just said ‘Flattr us’ –  Flattr this – and knew immediately what it was – My Big Idea! (MBI)

I signed up and you’ll see the button on a couple of pages.

They implemented MBI in a slightly different method, probably due to some major brainstorming sessions and logistics (I’m guessing some thresholds to do with payment processors).

So How does Flattr work?

  1. After signing up, you choose a monthly budget – say $20
  2. Every website you visit (that’s part of the scheme), you can click on the Flattr button and make it a recipient of part of your budget (for that month).
  3. At the end of the month, your budget is divided up between all the websites that you’ve ‘Flattr-ed’
  4. 90+% goes to the website(s) and the remaining 10% is split among the Flattr website and to pay Payment Processing fees.
  5. You can be a Contributor and a Recipient of Flattr income – as I am.

Ok, so it’s not MBI, but it’s close and I can see a great future. I think Micro-donations (and Micro-payments generally) are the way forward. aggregating is (currently) the only way to achieve this, mainly due to minimum charges made by payment processors – I think it’s around 30-75c per transaction.

I haven’t looked around to see if/how other micro-donation sites are doing, but if you know of one, please feel free to let me know – and your views on this subject

 

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