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Damien

Our stance on ads and ad blockers

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For a long time, I've been meaning to write a post explaining our stance on ads and website monetization in general. I just want to make sure everyone (those who will read this, at least) understands why we have ads on the website, how we obtain these ads, how much control we have over them, which ads we accept / do not accept, etc. I also want to say a few words about Ad Blockers and donations.


Contents:

Why ads on Icy Veins?


Vlad and I work full time on this website. We put in as many hours as we would in any other job, if not more, which means that we need to have the same kind of income for us to be able to continue working on the site.


Eventually, we want to expand to other games (with the same approach) and hire people to help us, because there is only so much we can do with just two people working full time (even if we do receive quite a bit of help from our wonderful crew of moderators).


So, proper monetization of the website is important. To monetize the website only slightly, (for example, so that it pays for its server hosting) is not viable, because it would mean we would need to get full time jobs elsewhere and only work on the website in our spare time. This is something that we cannot do if we wish to maintain the standards of the website.


The easiest way to monetize a website like Icy Veins (with a lot of written content and nothing to sell) is to use ads, which we do. You could say that this is a necessary evil, although I don't think things should be seen this way. Advertising is not a bad thing in itself, but a lot of sites have abusive practices when it comes to ads, with popups and whatnots, which really damage the image people have of online advertising.


There are other ways, like donations (which we tried and were not very successful with; more on that later) or setting up a premium system, where users can pay to remove the ads and get some goodies. Premium systems do work, and we'll eventually get there, but it requires a significant development effort (that we will need to hire someone for).


Ads -- How does it all work?


We're too small to contact other companies to advertise on our website, so we need an intermediary. Larger (much larger) companies, like curse.com, have sales teams that are dedicated to the task. In our case, we work with Intergi Inc., an ad agency that is #1 in the US for advertisement on gaming websites. They do all the advertisement-related work and we share the revenues earned on Icy Veins. They negotiate with big companies in the video game industry (Blizzard, Activision, Bioware, Sony, etc.) to sell ad space on the sites they managed (including Icy Veins).


What ads do we allow on Icy Veins?


The ads we allow on Icy Veins are ads that we would not mind seeing on other websites. That is a rather vague and subjective statement, so I will try to clarify things, so that you can decide to contact us if you see something that isn't allowed.


There are two ad formats on the website, 728x90 and 300x250 (these sizes are in pixels). Anything different than this is not allowed and if you see ads that are bigger, then you should definitely notify us. That said, 300x600 ads may occasionally show up in 300x250 ad units, but only on pages where it will not break the design.


Regarding the content of the ads, we do not accept ads that auto play sound or video, popups, popunders (same as popups, but the ads open up in the background), interstitials (ads that show up before the page you're trying to browse loads). We try to avoid "con" ads, like the ones that tell you that you've won an iPad 2 or that you're the latest lottery winner, but as I'll explain in the next section, that is hard to do.


From time to time, there will be website takeovers. When this happens, the background of the website changes and features advertisement. The 728x90 and 300x250 ads will match the content of the background (and sometimes even complement it). You can often see that on mmo-champion.com or wowhead.com, so that shouldn't be anything new to gamers. All these takeovers are handled by Intergi, so they're exclusively for video games (they recently had one for Saints Row 4).


Here, you can see one that we have right now in a few European countries:


 

icy-veins-playstation-store.png


In my news about the new design, I mentioned that we had to make a design change for advertisement purposes. For a given takeover, there will be many other websites handled by Intergi that will participate, so there's a single background image and it only leaves about 1000 pixels in the middle for the site to fit in. Our previous design was larger than that, which made takeovers look really bad:


 

icy-veins-starcraft.jpg


So, we had to reduce the width of the website to make takeovers fit. Well, we didn't "have" to, but no video game company wanted to pay to do takeovers on Icy Veins, and these takeovers bring money we simply cannot pass on.


How come I still see bad ads? How much control do you really have?


We have very little a priori control and the same goes for Intergi. One problem is that Intergi doesn't have enough video games ads to fill 100% of our impressions every day (it's usually the case for ad agencies that specialize in a particular domain), so they need to complement them with ads they get from Google and other 3rd parties. With these 3rd party advertisers, what we can do is very limited. We can ban ads when we see them on the website or when someone is kind enough to notify us (and even then, they need to describe the ad very very precisely, so that we can find it amongst the millions of ads proposed by these 3rd party networks).


So, there will always be bad ads, redirects/popups/etc. There are many checks, done at different levels to ensure that the ads are acceptable, but finding every bad ad is a very difficult task. Let me give you an example. A year ago, many MMO websites, including us, were seeing complaints from their users in the Netherlands browsing from mobile devices. These users were being redirected to pornographic websites when arriving on these MMO websites. People seeing the same ad from other countries or from the Netherlands but with a different device were not redirected. It took several weeks to track the ad that was causing that and finally get it removed. That's only one example, but you can see how sneaky people who submit bad ads can be.


How to report an ad?


Since we will always have bad ads coming up from time to time, it is important to notify us when you see them. See it as a collective effort to keep the internet clean. If a reader of a different website sees a bad ad and reports it, then chances are this bad ad will be banned across all advertisement networks and it will never make it to Icy Veins, and vice versa.


The easiest way for us to get an ad banned is to get a copy of the HTML code of the Icy Veins page where you saw the ad. To do that, you need to use the "Inspect" feature of your browser. All major browsers, except IE, have it. Simply right click the background of the website, and select "Inspect this element" (text may change depending on browser). Then, select the body tag, right click it, and choose "Copy HTML" or "Copy Inner HTML". Paste in a text editor (notepad being a good choice, for example), save the file and send it to us at advertise@icy-veins.com with a short description of what happened.


What do you think of Ad Blockers and what do you do against them?


About 35% of our readers use Ad Blockers to prevent the ads from showing on the website. This certainly means lost revenues, but we don't want to discriminate or take any kind of measure against it. Everyone should do as they feel and if they feel that their browsing experience on Icy Veins is better without ads, then so be it. Every reader is valuable to us, because it's not all about the ads and money. Many people who block the ads do contribute in other ways (forum posts, recommending the website, giving feedback, etc.), and that is totally fine with us.


As a result, we don't do anything against Ad Blockers and don't currently intend to ever do anything against them. We actually try to make the website look good even when Ad Blockers are used. We're aware that there is a slight issue on the right side of the website when using certain Ad Blockers (the highest box on the right side is 15 pixels lower than it should be), but we intend to remedy that in the near future.


There is one thing that we have in mind though. Every now and then, we would like to display a message to readers using Ad Blockers to remind them that they can whitelist our website if they wish so or make a donation (this message would display in the 728x90 ad unit below the navigation bar). We're still working on the content of the message. We need to be careful about the wording of this message, because the last thing we want is to coerce people into disabling their Ad Blockers by making them feel guilty (something some other websites do).


What about donations?


Donations are more than welcome smile.png We use Paypal and you can find links below for your currency (we only made links for currencies from the countries where we get the most visits from).

Previously, we had a Paypal button on Icy Veins, but we were receiving maybe 2 or 3 donations a month, so we decided it wasn't really worth having a button for that on every single page of the website tongue.png


Conclusion


Many readers have a bad opinion regarding advertising, and we can't really blame them for that. I simply hope that this post will have shed some light on how things work in the background and why we don't have much control over the ads. Things should get better and better though, as advertisement networks take more and more proactive measures against bad ads.

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I gotta say I agree with the whole thing.

 

I do not use an adblocker although I have thought about it on several occasions. I must say the adds on this site are not too overwhelming. Even the takeovers are always game related (as far as I've seen) and lets be honest here, we're all gamers. Adds do have a bad name out there and I'm glad you guys show us it can be done without any hassle too.

 

I shall not donate immediately, but I shall try to work in a steady amount of money each month (probably every time I buy game time), it will not be something you can call a full time salary, but it will help out.

I like the prospect of a premium account possibility and I also have a few questions regarding that.

  • At this point, are you certain this is going to happen in the future (however long that may take)?
  • You said you are looking for development. Does this mean you need a programmer, or sooner someone to help think about what this should become and manage such sections?
  • Do you have any idea what kind of benefits might be gained by going premium?
  • Would there be only one level of premium or more? I know of sites that have a 'silver' premium and a 'gold' premium the latter giving more benefits but costing more money(quite obviously).
  • Would it require a one time only payment or more a 'Buy a month of premium for $XX.XX'

 

I myself have some ideas as to what premium would give as benefits, I may open a topic about it after I get back from vacation, unless someone else has done so before that.

 

Well, That's it.

Cheerszz

Shine

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One of the many things I really like about Icy-Veins, is how thorough you guys are in explaining the choices you make.
It's great to see a site where the owners are so dedicated to making sure everybody interested knows not only what is going on, but also why.

I use an Ad Blocker, and I must admit that even the limited forms of ads run on this site is a distraction to me that I would really rather avoid. Therefore I will not be whitelisting this site, but I will try to make a donation every now and then, when my finances allow it.

Once again thank you for managing such a great site :)

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I gotta say I agree with the whole thing.

 

I do not use an adblocker although I have thought about it on several occasions. I must say the adds on this site are not too overwhelming. Even the takeovers are always game related (as far as I've seen) and lets be honest here, we're all gamers. Adds do have a bad name out there and I'm glad you guys show us it can be done without any hassle too.

 

I shall not donate immediately, but I shall try to work in a steady amount of money each month (probably every time I buy game time), it will not be something you can call a full time salary, but it will help out.

I like the prospect of a premium account possibility and I also have a few questions regarding that.

  • At this point, are you certain this is going to happen in the future (however long that may take)?
  • You said you are looking for development. Does this mean you need a programmer, or sooner someone to help think about what this should become and manage such sections?
  • Do you have any idea what kind of benefits might be gained by going premium?
  • Would there be only one level of premium or more? I know of sites that have a 'silver' premium and a 'gold' premium the latter giving more benefits but costing more money(quite obviously).
  • Would it require a one time only payment or more a 'Buy a month of premium for $XX.XX'
I myself have some ideas as to what premium would give as benefits, I may open a topic about it after I get back from vacation, unless someone else has done so before that.

 

Well, That's it.

Cheerszz

Shine

Thanks for volunteering to donate smile.png

Regarding premium, we do need someone else to program it. Starting September, we'll have our first employee, a computer science student I know who will be working part time for us. He'll work on our upcoming profession guides (when you'll see the guides, you'll understand why there was a need for a programer for that tongue.png). If all goes well, he'll probably then help us with the premium system. I'm a software engineer myself, but I don't have time to do everything I would like to do on the website.

We haven't really thought much about the perks yet. Surely, there'll be one that will remove the ads, but for the rest, there is nothing decided. The thing is that I don't really want to brainstorm on something that is many months away.

Regarding the payment, we would most likely go for a subscription system (let's say $1/month or $10/year). The thing is that from a financial point of view, it is much more comfortable as you have a very precise idea of how much income it is going to bring. It helps plan the expenses.

With advertising, things are so dependent on the campaigns that are running that one month you can earn twice as much as another month, so that makes it very hard to plan anything tongue.png

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Donated.  Waiting on premium to subscribe.  You guys do amazing work.  I'm glad to hear that you are soon expanding your content.  I like the idea of a one-stop-shop for all my character-planning needs.

 

On that note, any chance of a leveling guide any time soon?  laugh.png

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Donated.  Waiting on premium to subscribe.  You guys do amazing work.  I'm glad to hear that you are soon expanding your content.  I like the idea of a one-stop-shop for all my character-planning needs.

 

On that note, any chance of a leveling guide any time soon?  laugh.png

Thank you smile.png

We realize that the leveling guides are long overdue sad.png It's one example of what happens when you don't have enough hands tongue.png

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Thank you smile.png

We realize that the leveling guides are long overdue sad.png It's one example of what happens when you don't have enough hands tongue.png

But But But.... Moderators are helping as much as they can!

Just keep up the good job! :)

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I hope to make a more substantial post after work but I think people should really try and read this. The fact that you are addressing the issue is important in itself. Most websites just do what they want to do without taking into consideration their audience.

Ultimately although the information is 'free' it isn't 'free' to produce. I think having to view a few targeted adverts isnt too much to ask to access one of the better websites dedicated to WoW and in the future gaming as a whole.

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I don't have much money to donate right now, but I'll start clicking on ads occasionally to help out. smile.png

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I don't have much money to donate right now, but I'll start clicking on ads occasionally to help out. smile.png

Don't worry about that and you shouldn't click the ads just to help out tongue.png

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I am an  ad-blocker.  In fact I do everything I can to make myself anonymous.. Not because I fear getting caught doing something I should not be doing.. but out of principle.  Our privacy is being chipped away every time we surf, buy, click, call, etc. This irritates the bejeevers out of me! That being said, I have whitelisted your site because you took the time to explain why you have adds, gave me a choice (as opposed to strong arming me) and because  I appreciate and benefit from the work you do.  When you do go premium, I will be at the head of the line.  Thank you!

Edited by CascadiaSnow
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I am an  ad-blocker.  In fact I do everything I can to make myself anonymous.. Not because I fear getting caught doing something I should not be doing.. but out of principle.  Our privacy is being chipped away every time we surf, buy, click, call, etc. This irritates the bejeevers out of me! That being said, I have whitelisted your site because you took the time to explain why you have adds, gave me a choice (as opposed to strong arming me) and because  I appreciate and benefit from the work you do.  When you do go premium, I will be at the head of the line.  Thank you!

Thanks, that is great to hear! Please let us know if any unpleasant ad comes your way. Also, how was the message? I set it to display once every 10 pages viewed in average. I just hope that the wording and the color is ok.

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I'm an Ad blocker as well, though for different reasons - at this time, my only 'net access is my mobile, and as a result, I have limited data. Ad Block reduces how much data I use, and on sites like FacespamadsFTWlololololbook, it's an absolute godsend. In the last month of using it, I've noticed a reduction of roughly 50mb a day in data usage - may not seem like much to those with 1TB broadband plans, but with 4Gb of data for the month, it makes a BIG difference to me. 

 

Edit: How do I whitelist you in AdBlock?

Edited by LordBelthaz
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Ever considered taking Bitcoin as a donation method? It is growing as a currency and will ensure that people from any country can make a donation, rather than just the countries listed.

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Hey guys,

 

Thanks for the elaborate explanation, that really makes it much more palatable to see ads.

 

Just to let you know I've white listed your site and would be very interested in having a premium account to support you guys.

 

Keep up the good work!

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Long time user, even longer time adblocker >.<

 

I just donated some money your way, just because I really do benefit from your services. I think alot of us tends to forget how much work and effort goes into webpages aswell. We may think something like "Its on the internet, its free!" and forget everything else.

 

Anyhoo, thanks for the services rendered, and cheers for taking the time to explain your decisions to your userbase.

 

/Ed

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Ever considered taking Bitcoin as a donation method? It is growing as a currency and will ensure that people from any country can make a donation, rather than just the countries listed.

 

Does Paypal prevent people from making donations in EURO or USD? I think they allow it, just that they take a small commission.

Hey guys,

 

Thanks for the elaborate explanation, that really makes it much more palatable to see ads.

 

Just to let you know I've white listed your site and would be very interested in having a premium account to support you guys.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

Thanks for whitelisting us smile.png Premium accounts is something that we want to do in the future, but the website is entirely static (as in plain HTML) and that does not go to well with premium accounts (because you need dynamic pages).

 

I'm an Ad blocker as well, though for different reasons - at this time, my only 'net access is my mobile, and as a result, I have limited data. Ad Block reduces how much data I use, and on sites like FacespamadsFTWlololololbook, it's an absolute godsend. In the last month of using it, I've noticed a reduction of roughly 50mb a day in data usage - may not seem like much to those with 1TB broadband plans, but with 4Gb of data for the month, it makes a BIG difference to me. 

 

Edit: How do I whitelist you in AdBlock?

I think it depends on your ad blocker, but I only ever used Ad Block on a computer, not on mobile, so I don't know how it works there. On Chrome, you just need to click the AdBlock icon next to the address bar and choose to whitelist the website you are currently on. I imagine that on mobile, there may be an option in the settings or something like this.

 

 

Long time user, even longer time adblocker >.<

 

I just donated some money your way, just because I really do benefit from your services. I think alot of us tends to forget how much work and effort goes into webpages aswell. We may think something like "Its on the internet, its free!" and forget everything else.

 

Anyhoo, thanks for the services rendered, and cheers for taking the time to explain your decisions to your userbase.

 

/Ed

Thank you Ed! This is a very generous donation and it is greatly appreciated smile.png

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Ever considered taking Bitcoin as a donation method? It is growing as a currency and will ensure that people from any country can make a donation, rather than just the countries listed.

I've just added the possibility of donating BitCoins tongue.png

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I just got facesmashed earlier today by a site-redirect ad.  it never loaded properly, so I was unable to get the content.  It was while I was attempting to enter one of the forum pages of the home page.  It was going to make me wait as many as 30 sec. to return to my content.  so i closed the tab, opened a new one, and reentered.  I'm sorry I didn't get more information, I know you're looking for stuff on these things.

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I just got facesmashed earlier today by a site-redirect ad.  it never loaded properly, so I was unable to get the content.  It was while I was attempting to enter one of the forum pages of the home page.  It was going to make me wait as many as 30 sec. to return to my content.  so i closed the tab, opened a new one, and reentered.  I'm sorry I didn't get more information, I know you're looking for stuff on these things.

That sounds terrible, sorry it happened... If you ever find more information about the ad, I would be more than happy to report it smile.png

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We're aware of a problem with a campaign for the Rio 2 movie. We're doing our best to have it either fixed ASAP or removed from the site.

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I am an  ad-blocker.  In fact I do everything I can to make myself anonymous.. Not because I fear getting caught doing something I should not be doing.. but out of principle.  Our privacy is being chipped away every time we surf, buy, click, call, etc. This irritates the bejeevers out of me! That being said, I have whitelisted your site because you took the time to explain why you have adds, gave me a choice (as opposed to strong arming me) and because  I appreciate and benefit from the work you do.  When you do go premium, I will be at the head of the line.  Thank you!

 

I fully support this effort. In fact i'm using two different browsers - one for surfing around "safely" and one for trusted sites (e.g. IV wink.png ). That works quite fine for me and i don't have to weaken my ad-blocker and firewall.

 

BR ph34r.png

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Nice to see you guys working hard. I am using adblock internet explorer and chrome extensions by adguard.com and had no issue related to pop ups and security. If you guys are not satisfied with the current adblockers you're using, you can try it too to see the results. Good luck!

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Just wanted to pop in and say thank you for your stance on ad blockers. I made a donation even though I'm short on cash right now. You have been an invaluable resource of information for me as a returning player getting back into raiding. Thanks and keep it up!

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Hello!

 

I am an adblock user because i hate "bad" on-line ads. When i say bad i do not refer only to the lying ones, i include here the aggressive ones (visual and copy), especially the inappropriate ones that ruin the website design and my surfing.

 

But i have to say, you guys do an awesome job and you are so kind and clear with your wording and information structure that i can only salute this kind of sincerity on a website.

 

O course i have white-listed your site and i would really wish to contribute in a way or another to your work. I cannot donate for now 'cause i'm in a likewise situation. I create art (graphic design, copywriting and music) for a living and i always choose to be a turtle, rather than a shark. That doesn't bring as much revenue but it comes with respect and appreciation. So if i can contribute with may trade i will happily do it.

 

Stay true and keep on the good work!

 

Thank you,

Ciprian

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