Is Advertising the Future—Or the Past?
Hank and I have always felt varying degrees of discomfort supporting our YouTube videos with advertisements. We don’t control the content of the ads or who sponsors our shows, and many times we disagree with the advertisers.
I do not, for instance, think gold is a good investment, or that Obama is a terrible President, or that sexy geeks are just a click away. I also don’t particularly enjoy being supported by for-profit universities, oil companies, and Super PACs.
Recently, some nerdfighters have been upset about ads they’ve seen on vlogbrothers videos, and we share their concern. But these videos are a big part of our jobs—we spend a lot of time making them and trying to be good leaders of this community—and while there are other ways we make money (t-shirts, books, music, etc.), the ad revenue is a vital part of how I buy diapers.
But it’s not really that much money relative to the size of nerdfighteria, because online advertising rates are so low. Even so, I still think that most nerdfighters would rather glimpse an ad than use kickstarter or something to create a delightfully ad-free world of vlogbrothers. But with ad rates pretty stagnant and the success of kickstarter projects like Ze Frank’s, I’m beginning to wonder A. if I’m wrong, and B. if creators of online video might find themselves turning to new models of supporting their work rather than continuing to seek corporate patronage. Also, C. these days, I find myself personally more inclined to support online video projects and their creators directly.
EDIT: To be clear, I am not suggesting some awful subscription model in which you have to pay to watch videos. That would be gross. I’m suggesting a model like the one you find here in the US with National Public Radio: some people pay to support the station, but the listening experience is available to all, regardless of whether they pay. (There are bonuses for members, of course: tote bags or This American Life CDs or whatever.)
Mostly, I’m curious what you think. Do you want to watch stuff supported by ads, or supported directly by viewers? Are there youtube channels (not just vlogbrothers or crashcourse or scishow but any YouTube channels) you’d give $5 or $10 or more per year? Or do you like the current system and believe that advertising should continue to play the central role in visual media funding it has since the earliest days of television?
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- experimentallyyours answered: a) I don’t mind the ads as is. Yes they are annoying, but not in a manner that seriously detrments the viewing experience
- princess-neville said: you’d have a problem advertising things you don’t support. I’d definitely pay more than ten bucks for vlogbrothers and a few other channels, though.
- princess-neville answered: I don’t mind ads at all and I think it’s pretty fuckin’ great that you get money doing what you love that way, although I can understand why
- lisasbrandy answered: If I had my own money I would give money, but being a teenager I do not have a way to pay for things on the internet
- maraudingmischiefmanaged answered: Personally i dont mind the adds i just ignore them & I would support financially if it was small sum and i had the spare money at the time :)
- frenchthellamaitsharrypotter answered: O.o i don’t know if it’s just my ad-blocker, but i’ve NEVER seen an ad on any of your channels. EVER. so yeah. but i’d be willing to donate!
- dpecs answered: I’m more inclined to watch ad-supported stuff, but being a listener of public radio I consume listener-supported media as well.
- photogirl93 answered: i like the ads u have. they slide up during the video and i can x out of it if needed. i don’t like the ads if they are 10sec b4 the vid tho
- subconscious-on-parade answered: I don’t mind watching ads. I like how convenient youtube is. We all understand that YOU don’t put the ads there.
- aflylikethee answered: I’m financially dependent on my parents for online $$ (teen = no credit card) - contributing wouldn’t be an option. I don’t mind the ads.
- thecrookedfriend answered: I think YouTube is a new platform of social media and like any other type of media, it comes with advertisements.
- therisingtithes answered: The ads never bothered me - I zone out to them mostly - but I think we’d benefit a lot from finding a new model for Nerdfighteria.
- rebelelegance answered: I think that this community is committed enough to the videos that you could raise enough money to continue the project. I
- itisimpossible answered: you can have 10% of my money any day thats not very much but I’d do it in a heartbeat
- anokayhuman answered: I don’t really have a problem with the ads, I’d have know problem giving $5 a year to each channel I subscribe to as they’re all brilliant.
- fillwithfire-exhale-desire answered: I would never mind paying some of my money to support you guys and get rid of any ads!
- plz-call-me-winnie answered: I believe in the current system. Glimpsing 5-15 seconds of an ad in order to watch a video-no matter the content of the ad.
- notthebestautomaton answered: I’d pay you guys $20 a month as long as you send me an e email reminding me!
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- thewolfshapedgun answered: not supported by ads, but directly by views. yes there is and no i dont
- watashially answered: I don’t mind the ads really, but I’d pay 5-10 a year to watch you guys. But JUST you guys.
- sweetlikedaim answered: I would pay up to watch Crash Course but not vlogbrothers vids. While endlessly entertaining I could handle the ads I don’t like this idea.
- ardentthrowaway answered: I would support Vlogbrothers the same way I support NPR, whenever I have the means.
- joshuavoiles said: I think the current model works fine (although it’ll always change, so we’ll see). I also think people are always forking over cash for entertainment, and since video creators bust their chops for pennies, a subscription would be well-deserved.
- wheatfornoone answered: I’m so for this! i’d be willing to pay, to support people i like and just for the principle of showing we don’t need ads.
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- fieldsofdandelions answered: I like the current system.you guys don’t have to campaign to get paid regularly.just let everyone know the ads are our of your contor
- balthatzar answered: I’m fine with it either way. I wouldn’t mind putting up some money if you did the kickstarter thing.