When I started this website I vowed to myself not to put any advertising on it (save one little link to Kiva, and non-profits don’t qualify. Okay, I also included widgets for my books at Amazon but that’s it). I made this decision on principle. You see advertising everywhere these days. It is estimated that the average North American adult sees over 12,000 commercial ads/images/brands a day. (Don’t ask me how they come up with that number, but that’s what gets bandied about by sociologists.) I may not be rich but I live comfortably. (Of course having two coats makes you rich in some necks of the woods. By that standard I’m an emperor.) So I don’t need more revenue from ads. Why not allow people to get a slice of Randal every day without a pop-up ad for the latest weight loss remedy to go with it? So I made my decision: I’ll have an ad free website.
But then things changed. I got an unsolicited website audit. And guess what? Are you sitting down? My site apparently has the potential to generate $2.47 a day in ad reveue. Yes folks, you heard me right: two bucks and four bits a day, every day. (Even Sundays!) Maybe you’re not that impressed but do the math. $2.50 multiplied by 7 is more bananas a week than my family could ever eat. So now the critical moment when principle meets temptation and beckoning rationalizations. Can my principles survive the lure of a free flow of ad revenue like that?
And then I remember the following passage from Morgan Spurlock’s Don’t Eat this Book. You remember Morgan, surely. He directed that documentary “Supersize Me!” in which he ate only McDonalds food for a month? (An aside: I admit it. I ordered a McD’s breakfast sandwich the other day. There was something green in the sausage patty and it wasn’t vegetable matter.) Well after the success of the documentary (third highest grossing doc in history) Subway clearly saw the film as an opportunity to capitalize on McD’s misery. In the book Spurlock recounts:
“A representative from Subway also contacted the U.S. distributor of our DVD prior to its release in the States. Subway wanted to buy 5 million copies and give them away in its stores to customers who purchased $15 or more of food. ‘It’ll be a great way to get the movie into the hands of the people who are actually buying fast food,’ when the pitchman on the phone. Although we would have made an instant $2.5 million on the deal, it took about two seconds for me to turn it down.” (Don’t Eat this Book? 167)
Wow. That blew me away. Now that guy’s got principles. He recognized that Subway, with its “painted” grill marks on its reconstituted chicken breasts, was really McDonalds with banana peppers and an extra handful of lettuce. And he wasn’t going to compromise his message even if it meant a couple mill. After all, he already has two jackets.
On the other hand, $2.47 a day does buy a lot of bananas…