Ceci N’est Pas Une Burned Bridge

by anna on April 22, 2010

Hi there, friends and observers of varying levels of tolerance!

I’m writing today to tell you that I cannot write today. Not really. I have been buried in a post that I have not wanted to write for a long time now — like actively dreading the writing of, in fact, for several months, but which has become increasingly apparent that I need to write. Not to put too much importance on the matter because, fuck man! this is just blogging and I mean, jeez, it’s not like we are saving lives or anything! But we all have our place in the world, right? And this is mine. I guess. I guess we are lucky that we live in a time in which talking shit has a market value. Even if it’s one with a low CPM.

Here’s the deal. Many of you know that BlogHer View definition in a new window turned off my ads yesterday for various reasons. After some back and forth, I complied with all of their demands well before 3:00 pm this afternoon and informed them that I in no way was planning on resigning from their network and that I considered their lack of serving ads on my site a breach of contract. Among the last disputed terms was the serving of third party ads within the top 768 pixels of my site, for which they provided the following graphic:

I pointed out that, if they would serve ads on my site, this would easily be beneath the 768 mark, not to mention the fact that, unless you are blind as a bat, that is well beneath the 768 line according to any resolution with which I’m personally familiar. I thought that this would be the technical loophole upon which they based their dismissal of me from the network, but after I suggested that to continue to refuse to serve ads might be seen as a breach of contract, they started serving them again.

What do you know?

At any rate, friends, let me give you a taste of what I’ve been working on. Sometimes you’ll be in a situation where there’s a competition for resources, and there are naturally going to be some people with advantages. And even sometimes those advantages will be unfair, but you’ll accept that because the people have earned it, or you’ll accept it because it’s the price of admission in a capitalist society. Or whatever. But then a situation will arise, say, where you find out that there are other forces at work that you didn’t know about at first, and then you realize those are game changers.

Let’s say the metaphor is this:

All of us are situated along a pipeline, sharing a limited oil supply. We all have different sized pipes, as is the case with these things. One of us has a freaking huge pipe — it’s like 200 times bigger than the pipe I have, personally — and my pipe is pretty big in comparison to most of the pipes on the pipeline. So the really big pipe is going to get most of the oil, that’s just the way it goes, right? And I’m going to get more oil, too, than a lot of those other smaller pipes, too, because even if I’m not as big as that one giant pipe, I’m still pretty big in comparison, so that’s just the way it goes as well.

But remember, the little pipes are really important because they make up the bulk of the pipeline. And without them, the pipeline couldn’t exist, because the oil producers wouldn’t sell to any of us, because the oil producers are capricious fuckers, and they only like to sell to pipelines with tons of people on them, right? So even though those little pipes aren’t getting a ton of oil, they are super important to the pipeline, even if they aren’t always treated that way.

Are you still with me?

OK, so this is all still pretty much business as usual. The little guy gets screwed at the expense of the big guy and all that. Nothing to write home about. We’re all grownups here.

But what if I told you that the size of the pipes wasn’t the only thing that governed how oil flowed through the pipeline? What if I told you that there was also a valve system — like a secret valve system that governed how oil flowed, and kept it circling around certain areas at certain times of the day? And what if I told you that the valve system was switched around willy nilly, without anybody on the pipeline — save a few precious few — even knowing about its existence? Would that change how you felt about it?

Oh, and by the way, remember that nobody really understands any of this or how it works, and there is a conspiracy of silence about the way it works, and anybody who tries to talk about it is told not to burn bridges and lose the money they are making, or are threatened with having to spend all day looking at spreadsheets and trying to figure out which statistics will lead them down the path to figuring it all out?

Hypothetically. Let’s just say.

Here’s what I think: if this were the government, people would be begging for government to regulate the banks, or the mortgage industry, or could SOMEBODY PLEASE KEEP AN EYE ON WHAT IS BEING PUT INTO THE FUCKING SAUSAGE ALREADY?

And if you’re into unregulated markets, then maybe you will argue with that. That’s totally legitimate. But I’m a commie pinko liberal, and I don’t believe in unregulated capitalism. I believe in stopping things before Bernie Madoff has all of our pension money, and there are little kids’ fingers in our meat.

And also, there are a lot of you out there who have come to me and asked me to do this. So I’m doing it, and it’s taking some time, and some of my sanity. It is making my head hurt, but I have enough to go on at this point to feel confident that I’m on the right track, and it’s OK, because I want better, for all of us. So until I can give you more, this is all I’ve got. If you’d like to help, and you’re currently on the BlogHer View definition in a new window network, you can do so by contacting me at anna at abdpbt View definition in a new window dot com. Otherwise, until next time.

{ 18 comments }

Jett April 22, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I initially read ‘valve system’ as ‘value system’. Hmm.

J. April 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Kiddie finger sausage…mmmmm. No, no, I mean BAD, nasty, yuck!!! I do find your pipeline metaphor fascinating, though. As only an occasional consumer and not much of a participant in the pipeline, it doesn’t surprise me to find out it’s a rigged game. People in control will give themselves EVERY advantage, until heads start to roll in the town square. Then things seem to get a little more fair, for awhile at least. And pardon my ignorance, but what’s CPM?

Alexis April 23, 2010 at 4:33 am

Am I wrong when I say that making money in such an unregulated business might just be about pushing as far as you can before someone calls foul? I don’t condone this behavior, nor am I pointing fingers since I don’t know much about it, but it seems that the “oil producers” are just seeing how far they can go before people demand transparency. Maybe you are that person…

Susan April 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

Anna
To say i am intrigued is an understatement. If it helps the brain and the sanity at all…”you go girl.”
I started reading you because you are honest and say it like it is, I admire that quality in anyone.
Good luck. And, if it helps, no matter what I got your back!!

Brittany April 23, 2010 at 6:41 am

I would say this is fascinating if I wasn’t sitting here experiencing it. Now all I am is insulted.

(OH LOOK. This is me being all jaded and disheartened.)

Thank you SO MUCH for tackling this topic. It needed to be done.

I can’t wait to read about what you found out!

weezy April 23, 2010 at 6:53 am

This is going to be interesting.

Maybe you’ll get enough info that you can start your own blog ad agency and run a transparent pipeline.

Liam O'Malley April 23, 2010 at 8:04 am

Definitely interesting comments and metaphor. Curious to see what, if anything, comes of it.

I’d say more, but as a gentleman I don’t believe it’s polite to discuss the size of one’s pipe in mixed company.

Marcy from The Glamorous Life Association April 23, 2010 at 8:18 am

Finally. Finally someone (with enough of a readership to get any attention) has spoken up. BlogHer has been taking advantage of bloggers FOR YEARS. Manipulating the advertisements in flow, attempting to dictate the content on blogs if no compatible with their ads etc. FINALLY someone has said “what do you think we are? Idiots?”. ENOUGH.
DONE.

I feel a boycott coming on.

And let me tell you all- plenty of money to be made in getting static ads on your sites. Takes a tiny effort. BUT ALL THE MONEY GOES TO YOU.

I kinda think seeing BlogHer ads on a site cheapens it. And I am not the only one who thinks that way…..

let’s take back the control people. Enough is enough.

AJ April 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

This happened in the domain “parking” game years ago. In short Yahoo and Google syndicate text ads to domain owners that dont yet have a site up or are just domain speculators that don’t ever plan to develop. This is big business – 100 million dollars a month or more – and as Yahoo shrank Google grew and then began to cut out payments to about 10% to the “middle man” parking companies. Of course parking companies took even more away from the domain owners since they had to cover their revenue losses. Eventually Google even built their own program http://www.google.com/domainpark/

This will likely happen here as the blog network owners are playing middle”women”. If they aren’t adding much value and now have lost trust with their content partners then start looking around. Ad serving companies appeal to our lazy side since all we have to do is add some code snippets and then collect a check.

Ad networks abound – good content is rare so keep doing what you are doing and start looking around for new revenue partners and new entrants. This will end up being a positive thing.

Ashlie April 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

If it matters at all…I think you rock!

Mary P (Barnmaven) April 23, 2010 at 11:55 am

I suppose if you’re on the right side of the demarcation line between being a blogger who does not have revenue and a blogger who survives on revenue, your concern over how the pipeline valves get handled is exponentially larger and more relevant. I don’t have a dog in the fight (or a pony in the show, as it may be), but your analysis of the situation to a completely outside perspective makes for fascinating reading. I will be staying tuned, being the sort that tends to side with the underdog in any given match.

pamela ~ the dayton time April 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I quit the blogher ads. I can’t wait to see what’s giving you the headache. Maybe you should lay a little more pipe when investigating the pipeline. Might help.

OHmommy April 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Really? Is this really really true?

Maggie McGary April 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm

This is WAY over my head but it’s making me glad I just quit serving BlogHer ads last week.

Heidi April 24, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Hmm. Very very interesting. My pipe is so small that trickle would be an understatement. This post makes me glad that I don’t even qualify for BlogHer ads. Will be eagerly waiting to see how this pans out.

WarsawMommy April 26, 2010 at 5:11 am

I thought that was a great explanation… and it reinforces things I’ve heard and read over the past few months. Well done – and tell us what happens next.

Audrey April 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I’m listening….err, reading, very intently!

Avitable April 30, 2010 at 6:48 am

BlogHer should change their slogan to “Arbitrary and Capricious”.

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