Today I sent documentation to an online advertising agency that wanted me to point a subdomain of method.ac to a server where they will serve skinny content with tons of ads. They pay a generous amount ($2,500 USD/mo) and it will not be associated with my brand. They promote this spammy content on social media, and since my domain’s reputation is pristine I suppose it helps them bypass spam filters.
It feels like selling out. I’ve never wanted to monetize in vulgar ways, and this is as vulgar as it gets, but it allows me to completely separate creation from monetization. The ads are not inside my games, interfering with the user experience, there’s just a shady business going on at my backdoor, where most people can’t see it.
I feel equanimous about it. I made a big effort trying to monetize in tasteful and honest ways. It didn’t work out. I was about to place inter-stage ads (by carbon) but this required less effort to implement, less annoyance to the user, and provides more revenue.
But it does make me a bit sad: why is it so difficult to do things in an honest way? How is it that a company can write mind-numbingly stupid articles (i.e. 20 reasons why Kanye West is crazy), divide it into 20 screens, plaster it with ads, and make enough money from it to pay its contractors and providers and still make a profit?
An acquaintance once remarked that he’d love to create a horoscope app.
“Why is that? You don’t believe in horoscopes”, I asked. “Well, people who read horoscopes are stupid enough to pay for in-app purchases if they want to dig deeper into it”, he replied. “Nothing good can come from thinking that your users are stupid”, I countered. “I disagree. Many modest and not so modest fortunes have been made from exploiting stupid users”, he replied. “Can you name one?”, I asked. “Yes, Phillip Morris”. I put out my cigarette and conceded my loss.