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Author Topic: Are Escape Artists Now Accepting Paid Ads?  (Read 2122 times)
alllie
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« on: March 04, 2011, 01:37:08 PM »

EP282: You’re Almost Here ended with what seemed to me to be a paid ad. Why am I giving you a monthly donation if you are now taking ads. Not that the ad was particularly offensive but it’s very slippery slope. You get used to the advertising money, then you can’t do without it. Then everything starts to revolve around it. A couple of recent book reviews on Escape Pod, I wondered if they were paid placement. I was surprised that the reviewer couldn’t find something better to review than a couple of Star Trek novels, not that I don’t love Star Trek, not that I haven’t read a few Star Trek novels myself, and not that some great authors haven’t written a few of them, but I didn’t recognize the writers and, looking them up, they didn’t seem to be widely recognized for their work.

If you are starting down this path I think you are making a mistake.

Hell, tell me the con ad was just a favor to friends. I’d find that more acceptable than a paid ad.
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eytanz
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 01:42:28 PM »

Escape Pod has accepted paid ads in the past - there have quite a few sponsorships in the early years. Mostly books, podcasts, but occasionally other products too.
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Talia
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 01:54:00 PM »

I would further add that Drabblecast has run a couple promo ad-type things (sponsorships I guess), and Decoder Ring Theater has a mid-show ad every episode, and both those 'casts are excellent (and also still relying on donations).
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eytanz
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 01:58:06 PM »

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that the reason the Escape Pod blog has been running a series of Star Trek book reviews was because someone (i.e., the reviewer) was interested in reading them and writing reviews. If there was a sponsorship, it would have been disclosed.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 04:02:29 PM »

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  Slopes are often not as steep or slippery as they may seem. Paid ads have been happening for some time now, and have generally been very on-topic for the podcast.  If I can take a Toyota ad during my NPR listening, I think I can take an Audible.com ad in my Escape Artists.  Remember, that's Audible.com, where you can join the millions of listeners who've discovered a new way to receive the entertainment, information, and knowledge they seek.
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Balu
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2011, 04:34:32 PM »

Given that not every podcaster is an eccentric billionaire I don't see any problem with running ads to help cover costs.

Pay per review, on the other hand, would be counter productive for all concerned.
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Heradel
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 05:52:42 PM »

We've always taken paid ads (including a fair number of Audible ones). I'd need to ask what the breakdown is, but if I'm remembering correctly most of the money we get is from listener donations, and what we get from ads has never been enough to really cover costs. EA's finances are stable right now, but we're looking to do some more ambitious things across the three podcasts, but that usually costs more money. And ad money can help us build up a rainy-day fund for when we need it.

No reviews that we've run on the blog have been as a result of us getting paid to do them, and we wouldn't do a paid review or paid post without very clearly saying at the top that the content is paid or sponsored, similar to how blogs like The Awl do it. We do ask for and have gotten free copies of books (usually PDFs) to review them, but that's fairly standard industry practice. If one of the reviewers were getting paid to write review unknown to us that would be a really, really big no-no.

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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2011, 06:58:17 PM »

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that the reason the Escape Pod blog has been running a series of Star Trek book reviews was because someone (i.e., the reviewer) was interested in reading them and writing reviews. If there was a sponsorship, it would have been disclosed.

That is indeed the case. I've been a huge fan of Star Trek tie-ins, and I hadn't read any in a while, so I purchased the Typhon Pact novels and reviewed them. If I'd been getting paid I think I would've been a lot nicer to "Rough Beasts of Empire". (Okay, a little nicer. I really didn't enjoy that book.)

Don't worry; after the four Typhon Pact reviews are published, my next review won't be Star Trek.
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matweller
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2011, 08:03:36 PM »

EP has always had paid ads, PP too. Do I remember an episode where Steve talked about the reason for running occasional ads and the money they generate or amy I thinking of something else?

Anyway, if it helps your offended ideals, for four years I had a podcast that never left the iTunes top 100 in comedy. We ran ads a couple times over the years, and I bet if you added up all of the revenue from those ads, you, me and up to three other people here could have one good night in a bar.  Contrary to what people may believe, only about 3 shows in every podcasting genre that weren't started by companies pull enough ad revenue to pay one person full-time.

I don't know anything about EA's finanacials, but I would bet we could make enough from ads to pay one person full time if we really concentrated on it. Of course, that would make the other 20 people on staff a bit jealous. It's worth it to run the occasional ad to see if the climate is changing, but Escape Artists DESPERATELY depends on the generosity of it's listeners and works hard to make sure every penny given renders the most value possible. If you can't donate, then pass the word along to increase the audience. If you can't do that, please consider selling drugs or getting into counterfeiting and giving EA a portion of the profits.
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2011, 08:09:33 PM »

One thing I wanted to circle back and be clear on — there may be cases were we review a book that we also have advertising for. But no one's getting a review because they're also advertising, and the reviewer will probably (ideally) not be someone who knows that we're also doing advertising with the publisher of said book. Publishers like to advertise when books are coming out, we like to review when books are coming out.

The bottom line is that any reviewer for us will have free rein to trash a book that they think is bad, even if we're getting running ads for the book.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 08:38:30 PM by Heradel » Logged

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P.C. Haring
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« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2011, 11:26:37 PM »

I wanted to weigh in on this topic given my role with Escape Artists as their primary bookkeeper and accountant over the past four years. alllie makes a very valid point and I agree that advertising could be a very slippery slope. 

But to be honest, Escape Artists has very good traction on that slope and we have no plan to slip.

During 2010, advertising revenue, primarily from Audible, made up only 3.5% of our total revenues. The remaining 96.5% came from all of you and your AMAZING generosity, especially during this rough economy. This small portion of our revenue pie has no significant impact on the our mission to provide fun and entertaining genre fiction at no charge to our listeners. What it does do, is give us a little bit of breathing room in case donations are low during a given month. That’s really about it. So please know that we’re not getting rich off of our ad revenue. 

Now, the content of the ads is another debate and, again, a worthy one to have. I don’t want to say “Trust Us”, even though I stand by that sentiment. But I will say that we take our sponsorships and advertising campaigns very seriously and have, in the past rejected offers with advertising partners who offer products that we did not feel was compatible with our audience’s interests. Each of our editors maintains the individual right to refuse a campaign if they don’t think it’s a good fit for their magazine. Which is to say that just because Escape Pod takes on a advertisement, does not mean Pod Castle or Pseudopod must also. 

But ultimately, our biggest judges of if advertisements are appropriate for the podcasts is you, our listeners. If we get a slew of complaints about the advertisement for Jimmy’s Sluggo-Cola, the odds are that we won’t renew that campaign once the initial run ends. 

So, thanks to Alllie for bringing this up, and to the rest of you for the topic. We at Escape Artists encourage you to let us know if you don’t like something. We can’t promise the world in any given situation, but I can promise that we will listen very closely.
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Paul Haring
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« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2011, 11:33:00 PM »

I do wonder about if ad revenue is a net add to the podcasts bottom line... I fear that some people who might otherwise donate won't because - hey!  They have sponsors, they don't really need my money...

Obviously if 5% of potential donors have that reaction to hearing an ad, then Escape Artists comes out behind and would be better off ad free.  Though if only 2% had that reaction, the ads would be a net win.

And of course I don't think anyone should be withholding donations because there are a few, relevant ads. 
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alllie
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2011, 07:55:48 AM »

I wanted to weigh in on this topic given my role with Escape Artists as their primary bookkeeper and accountant over the past four years. alllie makes a very valid point and I agree that advertising could be a very slippery slope. 

But to be honest, Escape Artists has very good traction on that slope and we have no plan to slip.

During 2010, advertising revenue, primarily from Audible, made up only 3.5% of our total revenues.

My fears are allayed.
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