A Change in Financial Times on Windows7Forums.com


Essential Member
Bad news coming over the forum wire.

Due to the unforeseen circumstances of economic worldwide recession and a massive drop in visitor levels according to both our independent analytics data, as well as internal monitoring data, we have taken the unusual and emergency steps of enacting emergency measures to improve website financing. These steps will not be popular for those with a disdain for advertising.

Yet, we have left in the simple option of turning off all advertising whenever you want. This is completely contradictory towards our goal of bringing the website back up to form on a financial level, but we are also reasonable. Users coming to the website are experiencing computer difficulties. We have always disliked ads. But we’re grown ups here – and it is my responsibility to continue to forge alliances with businesses both new and old and to intervene when there is such a real emergency.

The advertising on/off button has been fully implemented for registered members (although we urge you not to use it). We are prohibited from statements that we make concerning how you interact with our advertisers. This includes, especially, whether or not you click on an ad.

We have implemented keyword targeting as an advertising possibility. Advertisers can contact admin@windows7forums.com if they would like to purchase keyword targeting. This means that if a keyword is mentioned anywhere on the website, we can link to your website using that keyword or precise phrase. We will not allow for widespread abuse, but will work with publishers. I will be contacting software publishers and software distributors who I believe may be interested in this technology, including Microsoft’s marketing department. Right now, we are promoting keywords for (repair), and ESET products (anti-virus).

Mike has spent several hours re-evaluating our ad partnership with AdBrite and determined that their offerings are still no longer compatible with site goals. AdBrite is a non-contextual alternative to Google AdSense, and while it could serve us well, we feel that non-contextual advertising is not the future. This means that as a business, the website favors direct partnerships and advertising that is based on user preferences gathered from aggregate data (example: if you search for pizza, Google may show you an ad for pizza). This reaches the best audience and prevents irrelevant advertising.

We are re-initiating our ad partnership with InfoLinks on a contingency basis. InfoLinks serves text-based ads inside post content. The in-line text based ad market is different from Google’s near-monopoly over Internet advertising. It offers some benefits, but ads tend to be of a lower quality, in my opinion are a gross distraction, and, well – you get the picture. More importantly, eCPM is not a consideration for these people and payouts are some of the lowest in the industry. But this could help the website financially.

We are using VigLink, and have tested SkimLinks after a re-evaluation. These types of links are “unseen” in the fact that they simply add a referral ID to products being sold from online stores. So if someone links to the purchase page for a motherboard, we will automatically get a referral commission if someone buys a motherboard. Typically, the site will not see much revenue from this either. The commission rates are too low on most sites for it to make a difference. But the script uses few resources and the company is the industry leader.

It is now possible to donate to the website at the bottom of every page. This is where we hope our members and visitors will consider coming to our aid. It was considered that if the 30 million people we have served in such a short period of time could have donated 1 USD to help keep the site going strong, we’d have 30 million dollars. Instead, we are now looking at a budget deficit for the business as soon as major expenses start coming in. We may delay payment or refuse to upgrade certain technology if this looks like it is required.

One of the secrets of the website publishing business has to been to add what are called rel="nofollow" tags to all external content links. This means if someone posts a link, this tag is appended to the end of it. Forums and blogs often use this method to prevent spam from being indexed by the search engines. This has meant that the entire time we have run the website, if a person managed to spam the site, after all of the precautions and safeguards we put in place, including our vigilant staff and faithful members always on alert (even if they got passed all of that to post a spam link), the spammer’s link would never even be indexed by Google. However, recent indications and studies are beginning to show that Google’s new algorithm may be disapproving of sites that use this method. While we used a whitelist for safe sites, that was likely not enough. Instead, we have removed the nofollow tags to external links altogether.

While working on our advertising on/off switch, a mistake took place where no ads were served for at least a week to most of our viewers. This problem has affected the financial situation of the website to such an extent that it is unknown what the fallout will be when the dust clears. The website literally depends on the serving of ads all day long every day to stay on top of bills and remain competitive. We have implemented, and are using, thousands of dollars of additional software materials for the website. This does not even include the server cost itself, or the costs associated to keep the site running. These additional packages, or products, are often serviced by their respective authors. Some products have been written by me – so those are the easy ones. But the vast majority aren’t – and the really important ones cost money. The effect of the financing problem can be felt immediately – while ads are now being pushed out, possible software testing for vBulletin alpha and beta has been completely put on hold. Hundreds of new bug fixes that would only be available on a couple forums worldwide will not be tested until financing levels return to normal.

An update to our content management portal system will not be applied until the situation improves. No new video tutorials are scheduled. Forum staff will be asked to join regular text or voice Skype meeting to deal with the situation day-by-day as we plan an alternate agenda.

Long-time members are asked to help make the most of this situation by simply doing what you do best: support the website and help others in need of assistance.

Thank you for your time.

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