Yes, We Sell Advertising

953445086_24734194cf_oAnd we have since the early days of the site.

It costs a lot of money to run AAR.  First, there are the physical costs to get – and keep – AAR online.  We’re hosted by a reliable company who provides great service, but it isn’t free as many blog platforms are.  And it isn’t cheap either.

Then there were additional costs to move AAR’s message boards onto our own server, a step we felt was necessary for multiple reasons.  First, we were getting crappy service.  Second, the boards went down capriciously.  And, third, we knew in today’s competitive environment that it was important to bring message board traffic onto our own server so AAR’s traffic rankings would reflect our true numbers.

Which they do.  And we’ve seen a healthy boost in our Alexa ranking to prove it.

Then there are the ongoing postage costs to mail books to reviewers – including reviewers in New Zealand and now the UK.  And I can’t forget (though I would like to) the various software packages we had to buy to keep things running smoothly – again, not cheap.  So very not cheap it’s hard to believe, as a matter of fact.

How do we pay for all this?  The way it’s always been done by newspapers, magazines, and other successful Web sites:  Advertising.

Right now we are delivering more than twice the ad impressions we guarantee when we sell an ad. And, no matter how you look at it, 116,000 impressions per month per ad is one powerful bang for the buck.

Not surprisingly considering our numbers, ad sales are booming.  And we are incredibly grateful for that fact.

Publishers and staff at AAR don’t make a dime.  In fact, some staff members contributed their own money to help us through the rough spots when Blythe, Rachel, Lynn, and I first took over last November.  Those days of being stretched thin are gone now and the very good news is that the site is now completely self-supporting.  Thanks largely to advertising.

As consumers, we’re all exposed to hundreds of advertising messages each and every day.  To believe for even one moment that readers aren’t capable of distinguishing between editorial content and paid advertising is incredibly insulting to those who choose to visit AAR on their daily Web rounds.  We know better.

But we are – as we have always been – completely transparent. Reviews aren’t for sale.  And they never have been.  Placements aren’t for sale.  And they never have been.  And, just as important in the quest for transparency, our ad rates and traffic stats are openly posted.  As they always have been.

The bottom line (sorry) is this:  Our integrity is not for sale.  And it never has been.

-Sandy AAR

13 thoughts on “Yes, We Sell Advertising

  1. Congratulations Sandy to you and all who make AAR so successful. Great job, wonderful work that shows in the impressive stats.

  2. Hey Sandy,

    Sounds like you’re responding to something that got you stirred up. You’re doing a great job! no ifs, ands or buts!

  3. Hi Sandy,

    I am more of a lurker than a poster and have been a daily visitor for at least the last 10 years! I just had to post to tell you guys that you are doing a great job!!!

    AAR is my favorite site bar none and this is due to the quality of the content and the staff.

    Keep up the good work! Looking forward to the next 10 years of following AAR.

  4. I cannot believe this is an issue for anyone! Advertising allows this marvelous site to continue — free of charge — for all of us. I would HATE to have to choose One Site from among all the marvelous and varied choices on the world wide web when it comes to fresh, involving info on books, authors and so much more … but if I had to, it would be AAR. Not just for the current content but for me, an avid buyer of Out of Print books and a dedicated glommer (really, I need a 12-step programme!), it’s the database of reviews.

    Like no other. Keep up the good work :)

  5. Yes, me too. Am I missing something? Was a charge raised that you were biased? I’m clearing missing something, because the post seems to be defending a position I wasn’t aware needed defending in the first place.

    Sorry, don’t get it. I’ve always thought AAR to be completely bias-free, and of course you charge for advertising. That’s how things work in the real world.

  6. Janet W: Not just for the current content but for me, an avid buyer of Out of Print books and a dedicated glommer (really, I need a 12-step programme!), it’s the database of reviews.

    Me too! I was a daily visitor/lurker at AAR long before I joined the staff, and it was the review database that hooked me but good. I’ve spent countless hours over the years searching through the DB looking for great reads that had somehow passed me by. I’ve discovered so many amazing books and authors that I wouldn’t have otherwise tried were it not for database of reviews here.

  7. Thanks, everybody for the kind words about AAR and our wonderful staff. I just wanted to make it clear that this is how we’ve always done it at AAR.

  8. I was just thinking the other day about how much I rely on this website for the best reviews anywhere. I too have tried authors I would not have known about had I not been browsing AAR; I too am an almost daily visitor. You all do fantastic work; if ad revenue keeps you running, great.

  9. I have found AAR to be a non-biased, open forum for the discussion of books. My debut novel received a very fair evaluation and I have been thinking about integrating the purchase of ad space into my promotional budget because of the high level of respect the site receives and the volume of traffic it attracts.

    Like other posters, I have the uncomfortable sense that someone has made the accusation that certain author(s) might have received favorable reviews in exchange for the purchase of ad space, which is a charge that strikes me as ridiculous.

    I have often seen the same book reviewed by two or more AAR reviewers, very often with opposing viewpoints, which only goes to illustrate the fact that we are all subjective in our tastes. That said, it makes no sense to me that a site engaged in any form of payola would go to such lengths to expose more than one point of view regarding the merits of a particular book. If anything, it makes me more secure in the knowledge that my book will receive the same consideration as the work of any star author from a major publishing house, even though I am a debut author with little name recognition whose work is published by a small press.

    To be honest, I was VERY nervous about what sort of reception my book would receive before the AAR review of Fire at Midnight was published, but the review Rike wrote of my book was balanced and displayed great insight into the type of book I had written. With books by fellow Medallion Press authors having received DIK status, I can only feel gratitude to AAR for showing more interest in the story between the covers of a book than they do the author’s name on the cover or the publishing house distributing the title.

  10. I never buy a book without checking the review on AAR first. I’ve visited other websites, but you guys are the best. Keep up the good work.

  11. Lisa Marie Wilkinson: I have found AAR to be a non-biased, open forum for the discussion of books. My debut novel received a very fair evaluation and I have been thinking about integrating the purchase of ad space into my promotional budget because of the high level of respect the site receives and the volume of traffic it attracts.Like other posters, I have the uncomfortable sense that someone has made the accusation that certain author(s) might have received favorable reviews in exchange for the purchase of ad space, which is a charge that strikes me as ridiculous. I have often seen the same book reviewed by two or more AAR reviewers, very often with opposing viewpoints, which only goes to illustrate the fact that we are all subjective in our tastes. That said, it makes no sense to me that a site engaged in any form of payola would go to such lengths to expose more than one point of view regarding the merits of a particular book. If anything, it makes me more secure in the knowledge that my book will receive the same consideration as the work of any star author from a major publishing house, even though I am a debut author with little name recognition whose work is published by a small press.To be honest, I was VERY nervous about what sort of reception my book would receive before the AAR review of Fire at Midnight was published, but the review Rike wrote of my book was balanced and displayed great insight into the type of book I had written. With books by fellow Medallion Press authors having received DIK status, I can only feel gratitude to AAR for showing more interest in the story between the covers of a book than they do the author’s name on the cover or the publishing house distributing the title.

    What a wonderful post Lisa! I have had some great luck with Medallion authors, but I haven’t tired your book. I’m going to put it on my list. I think Medallion is making great strides in trying storylines that are different and little bit out-of-the-box. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…and that is that I love the covers too. :) xina

  12. Actually, I’d be willing to pay a modest subscription fee each year if it meant keeping AAR going and assisted in covering overheads. I’m probably in the minority but the quality of the site merits it being protected and supported. I

    don’t have a problem with advertising as I think that the neutrality of the site and the openness of the forums is its chief attraction and I agree with others here that it does not appear to have any bearing on the reviews. Of course I don’t read every book reviewed – I rarely consider those less than a B and I look at reviews elsewhere before deciding to read/buy. But the sense of community here and the freedom to say what you like, the high standard of the posts and the sincerity of all who contribute is admirable and well worth supporting.

  13. I would too Elaine…..be willing to pay a subscription fee. I don’t mind the advertising either and have never noticed glowing reviews of the books advertised.
    It seems give-aways on other sites attract a lot of traffic, and I am glad that AAR doesn’t lean on that for popularity. I guess there is nothing wrong with it, but you have to wonder about the number of postings if the give-away wasn’t happening.

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