The Death of Banner Ads
To all you webmasters out there on a major network, let me offer you the following words of advice:
If your site is serving up a bunch of banner ads for other sites on your network, you're going to get screwed.
Why do I write this? Express.com recently sent a letter to myself (and its other affiliates) claiming they don't owe me any money even though I served their banner ads for over two consecutive months without payment. How can they legally justify this? Simple: most of the banner ads I was serving were for other Gamefan Network sites and Express.com.
Yup, since Gamefan's staff couldn't bring in enough companies to advertise on their network and as a result my site was serving up network ads, they aren't going to pay me a dime. They have "contractually fulfilled" all their obligations to myself and my site. When I first signed on, I was simply told that I'd get $2.50 CPM - that is, $2.50 per 1,000 ads served. However, the network failed to mention anything along the lines of, "oh yes, and if our ad guys are incompetent and fail to sell out our ad inventory, which you have absolutely no control over whatsoever, we can legally and contractually refrain from paying you a cent."
Here's the thing that really pisses me off (in addition to the whole "not getting paid" part) - when I signed a contract with GFN, it even prohibited me from even seeking outside advertisers! All ad sales had to go through and come from Gamefan / Express.com! Even if I was somehow able to find an outside investor so I might make a couple dollars off my site, I wouldn't be able to use it! There is more than likely a similar clause in most other major network contracts, as the network wants to be in charge of all advertising so they may take at least 50% off the advertisers' payment.
So, in summary, every time your website serves up an ad for the network you're hosted on, you could be making absolutely ZERO CASH from it. Even if you got paid a flat CPM in the past, your network is not contractually obligated to pay you that agreed upon CPM, but instead pay you merely for the non-network ads they serve. I really worry for anybody hosted by a network that serves a lot of network ads, because if they're financially in trouble like Gamefan was, these webmasters could find themselves not getting a single dime for all their hard work, hits, and ads they served up.
Because of Express.com and Gamefan deciding to "fulfill these contractual obligations", I am now over $3,000 in debt for server bills during the months I was hosted by them. Me, being the naive idiot I am, elected to host SA on a separate server, away from Gamefan. Unfortunately, the service cost $900 a month for all the bandwidth SA uses (we move over 15 gigs a day). Yes, instead of simply making zero income in the three months I was on Gamefan, I have actually LOST $3,000 in three months for running this website... and there's nothing I can legally do about it.
Did you ever have one of those days where you just want to quit the field you work in and start doing something completely different? I'm having one of those days right now. If you would like to share your opinions of Express.com's wonderful treatment of their hosted sites (or have any questions), I'm sure you can contact Jonas Gray, the Vice President of Express.com.
Having not heard from Cliff Yablonski in about a week, I had begun to get worried. What if the old jerk had slipped on the soap and bashed his skull against the bathtub wall? Even worse, what if he had drank some of that bad whiskey and went on an all night vandalism spree like May of '86? My fears quickly disappeared when I got this email.
From: cliff yablonski
Subject: no subject
I went out and remembered there's a hell of a lot of people in Appleton city I just can't stand. So I updated my page with SEVEN pages of people I hate and would like to back my car over. Report this news or prepare for a boot sandwich.
For God's sake, please check out the SEVEN new pages of "Cliff Yablonski Hates You" and gaze upon the newest unfortunate souls to find themselves at the mercy of ol' Cliff!