About the ads

Brigitte writes:

As some of you may know (and if you don’t, you can find out more about it here), CFRA radio in Ottawa redesigned their morning show and the new format did not include John. So after 17 years, that gig is off, and that means we are increasingly making our living online.

You may also have heard that the Ottawa Citizen was merging with the Ottawa Sun. This does not affect us, except insofar as it is yet another sign that traditional media outlets are slowly and painfully dying.

It’s not a very surprising development to anyone who’s been paying attention. The invention of the Internet made ad-supported media appear suddenly very lumpy and expensive. Why would advertisers pay to have their ads seen by fewer and fewer people who do their shopping online via search engines like Google or sites like Craiglist or Kijiji or whatever the kids use these days.

I strongly believe there is a bright future for news reporting, analysis and commentary, but not in the old traditional format that’s heavily dependent on ad revenues. I believe the future (well, at least for the next few years) is in user-supported media. That’s media that users pay for – either by buying the product or by sponsoring the creators, or both.

When Sun News went kaput last year John and I decided to devote ourselves to documentary film-making and to finance our films through crowdfunding. We also set up our websites to take monthly contributions from people who like what we do so we could keep doing more of it. (Something our friend Nick Vandergragt is also doing – you can sponsor his work here.)

It’s still a relatively new model, especially in Canada. So much so that there is still no option to work in Canadian dollars – only USD at the moment. But I trust someday soon demand from Canadian content creators for a system that accepts loonies will make it happen.

It’s a new funding model for creators and so far we’re very pleased by the response and grateful for the wonderful support we’re getting from our supporters.

We did also try last year to generate some revenues by putting ads on our websites and our videos. We got rid of the website ads a few months ago and this week I decided it was time to pull the plug on the YouTube ads as well. Not because they’re not working; they are. But personally when I want to watch a video or read an article I strongly dislike having to navigate around the ads and I’m assuming our readers and viewers feel the same… (By the way, if you come across an ad I somehow missed anywhere on my YouTube channel, please let me know.)

So there. Now we are patron-supported, and we find this a very dandy arrangement indeed. You get the product you want, you decide how much it is worth to you, and because we have lots of patrons who each give us small amounts of money each month, we feel we have the independence we need to keep doing our thing without having to worry about upsetting a big advertiser or angel investor.

There, I say, is the future. And I like it.

Media, SponsorsJohn Robson