As of July 2017 ManitoNetworks.com is going Ad-Free. No more banner ads, no more embedded ads, just no more. At this point they are simply doing more harm than good. We will continue to produce great content and in-depth Solution Guides, and listen to what the community wants to see deep-dives on.
Over two years ago I started ManitoNetworks.com as a MikroTik blog. It was part blog, part knowledge store, and generally supported by banner ads. The ads covered the Squarespace hosting fees plus a few bucks, and at first it wasn't too bad. Don't get the wrong impression, it wasn't much revenue, but it was something. That initial boost of revenue-fueled excitement led me to start writing about other things like Ubiquiti and Security.
Now the ads don't even pay for the time it takes me to manage them.
Like other websites out there I can see the specific points in time where ad revenues fell off. They fell off not just a little but a lot. These points are offset by site improvements that bumped up ad visibility but the downward trend could only be slowed. Generating new content regularly slowed the downward trend as well but it became clear that it was a losing proposition long-term. Perhaps if I brought in a slew of other tech writers and churned out content daily the whole thing could be funded by ads but I'm not aiming to start a media company.
The Ugly (Ads)
I did my best to make ads non-obtrusive, and I flatly refused to display ads for offensive content. This is a professional site for technology pros and ad categories like gambling, porn, "nutritional supplements" (often related to porn), and sometimes less-than-reputable money lenders have no place on my site. It's a personal stance as much as a professional one, and unfortunately it meant I missed out on revenue.
In order to chase that elusive ad money it seems inevitable that more intrusive ads have to be enabled. This means text ads, graphical ads, and full-screen ads that momentarily take up the entire screen. Not to mention the awful auto-play ads that everyone (including me) hates. I don't want to see them on your site and you probably don't want to see them on mine but that's the direction the industry is going.
I don't know why ad revenue has tanked on my website and others. It'd be easy to blame people using ad-blockers but they aren't the cause. People use ad-blockers because of the intrusive, terrible ads so many sites use. They are using technology to defend one of their most critical resources - their attention.
The banner advertising landscape is shifting out from under online publishers. Complaining that the ground is moving won't stop it, so it's time to get nimble and find a solution.
While at the same time ad revenue was tanking the revenue from my new long-form Solution Guides expirement was taking off. I was skeptical of demand for a 47 page deep-dive on the finer points of MikroTik Router Hardening but I was proven very wrong. Having a longer format allows me to add notes about best practices, quotes from industry resources, and warnings about potentially dangerous changes. It allows me to do all the great stuff I couldn't otherwise cram into a typical blog post. I'm very passionate about technology and tech writing, and this seems to be the thing that brings it all together.
So with that being said, I'm now in the process of removing ads from each and every page and blog post. Honestly, it feels good to be purging ad code. From this point on the website will live or die by the quality of my Solution Guides and book writing. Thank you for your support so far, and I'm excited about what's to come.