What if you could visit your favorite content driven websites without the leaderboards, the pop-ups, the medium rectangles, peel aways, and ad modules? Penny Arcade has just offered its users exactly that through a Kickstarter campaign. Users can pledge amounts from a dollar all the way up to $100,000 and receive various special rewards with their donations, with the goal of making the Penny Arcade website completely ad free.
Ad support is the most common way to “keep the lights on” at content driven websites, and this proposed method breaks all the traditional rules. If your users are willing to invest in an ad free site, this means a lot less dealing with clickthrough rates and pageview counts and, presumably, a lot more creating content users are coming to the site for.
Sometimes the relationship between advertisers and sites can be a bit blurry - A game review, for instance, sandwiched between two enormous banners spewing accolades of said game is inevitably served with a touch of coppery taste. No matter how genuine the review, there is always the question: Did that title really deserve that perfect 10/10 or did the giant ad blaring to the side influence things just a bit?
Penny Arcade’s stated goal of $250,000 will remove the leaderboard ad from the homepage. $525,000 will remove all ads from the homepage, and the magic $999,999 number will remove all ads from the site. There are a number of hidden unlocks as well. These changes would last a year, with the current ideology behind it being similar to a pledge drive-
(From Twitter) @cwgabriel yes I think the NPR analogy is a good one. A yearly pledge drive to keep the site ad free would be the model.
Will Penny Arcade’s users rally behind this proposition? If they do, will this kind of method begin being used for other sites? It’s an ambitious attempt to throw a wrench in the established cogs of the internet machine, and the results could impact website and content design in the future. If it doesn’t happen? Life at Penny Arcade will continue as normal -
(From Twitter) @cwgabriel I see no downside. It is an experiment. If it doesn't fund nothing changes. if it does we will have done something pretty amazing.
Will the the idea of an ad free Penny Arcade take off? Check out the Kickstarter, there's an excellent FAQ there that has a lot of information.