I guess we’ve been doing the advertising wrong

Heather Armstrong, better known as Dooce, is a mommy-blogger — she writes stories about her family and personal life — and she’s giving up the game for a surprising reason. Not because of the trolls (although there’s some of that) but because keeping her advertisers has been a pain in the butt.

The problem, Armstrong says, was that because she felt so beholden to them, she was agreeing to do just about anything to keep the advertisers happy.

“What happened over the last couple of years is the brands have been given a lot more say and a lot more control than they did when I was starting out,” Armstrong said.

“At the beginning, it was, ‘We’re just gonna put the logo at the end of the post. Write something around this.’ … And then it was, ‘Well, actually, we need you to show pictures of the product”. And then it was, ‘We need you to show the product.’ And then it was, ‘We need your kids involved in the post.’”

Wait, what? I’ve never been asked to personally endorse or build an article around the annoying items that we get as advertisements. No wonder we’re not rolling in the big bucks here!

Good for Armstrong for refusing to put up with it, but I’m wondering now how we’d handle it if FtB decided to sell out. Can you imagine the makers of homeopathic medicines, or shills for Bible colleges, asking me to show the product in an article or bring in a heartworming (not a typo) story featuring my godless, snarky kids? Not gonna happen. First try in which I mention some of our advertisers, they’d be frantically phoning me up to never mention their company name again…hey. HEY. I just had an IDEA.

Got something you want to bring to the public attention? I’ll start talking on the blog about your fantastically godless, liberal, feminist hair gel…wait a minute. What’s that poking out of the side of my laptop?

I didn’t know companies could transmit $100 bills through HDMI ports. That’s kind of cool. And a very fast response, Nameless Company That I Shall Never Ever Mention on the Blog Ever Again.


  1. says

    A lot of this is because Internet advertising doesn’t work any more … because of fake views from bots. So Internet advertising is scammers scamming scammers, at literally every level. No wonder they’re desperate to find something, anything, to report up the chain of the Soviet bureaucracy and look like they’re doing something no matter the actual effect, which is to promote adblockers.

  2. says

    The Federal Trade Commission is beginning to take notice of YouTube content providers who don’t properly disclose that their videos are in reality, paid endorsements. The video gaming network Machinima recently had to settle with the FTC when some of their members did not disclose that they were being directly compensated by games companies in exchange for making videos about their games.

    I do like the solution one vlogger, Jesse Cox, came up with. Whenever he gets paid to make a video about a specific game, he includes it as part of his long running, occasional series titled “Jesse Cox Sells Out.”

  3. says

    So I decided to go through the comments (why? Don’t ask.)

    There’s a lot of vitriol from people saying she deserved it, that this is what she gets for selling her kids out without their consent, etc. The hatred seems to circle around the idea that she invaded her children’s privacy without their consent.

    I have never read a mommy blog. This is the first time I’ve heard of Heather Armstrong/Dooce.

    I feel bad for her, though, and her experience is just another piece of evidence, for me, anyways, that the anti-commercialism sentiments of (at least some people in) the 90’s (see: Bill Hicks) was spot on.

  4. johnson catman says

    WHAT advertisements? I paid the very cheap sum of $30 for a YEAR of FtB ad-free. Well worth the cost. And I know it helps support some of my favorite reading material. (Disclaimer: I am not a sock-puppet of PZ or any other FtB blogger, and I do not get anything in compensation for advocating this.)

  5. says

    $30 is “chump change” for SOME People, johnson catman. I have negative dollars in my bank account right now. I suppose I should just pull out the “chump change” from my ass?

    Christ, people. Listen to yourselves. $30 a year is reasonable for some but not everyone just has $30 to throw around for a freakin’ blog.

    For the record, the ads don’t bother me. I deal.

  6. says

    I remember reading an article by Gloria Steinem which explained why Ms. Magazine eventually shut down. Advertising is not gender-neutral. Advertisers insisted upon “complementary copy” which is a term of art in advertising meaning that the content of the article must relate to the advertisement next to it on the page. The way that advertisers gradually stepped up their demands closely reflects Armstrong’s experience.

    Advertisers seldom ask for this from other magazines, but they do so universally with magazines with women as the presumed or stated audience. Steinem could not convince advertisers of products such as cars or other consumer items both genders buy to advertise in her magazine. Eventually, Ms. articles had to discuss products such as make-up, clothing, perfume, etc because the advertisers would not allow any other content. In other magazines related to general news, social and policy issues she saw zero complementary copy. Advertisers meddling in the content of the publications in which they advertise has proven something done exclusively to publications for which women are the intended audience or advertisers perceive such to be the case.

    Ms. Magazine as a result of advertisers demands turned into a pathetic hypocrisy which Steinem could not allow. She tried to re-boot the magazine without advertisements, but after a year subscription revenues could not meet costs then she shut it down. What happened to Armstrong is exactly the same as what killed Ms. Magazine.

  7. Dark Jaguar says

    It may be you’d have to seriously consider going with one of the major blog networks, such as blogspot. I’d still visit it, and you could make a web ring to link yourselves together! Web ring? Remember web rings? Anyone?