Why GardenRant has more ads, and how they’ll make it better

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Yep, there’s an elephant in the room

Readers, we imagine you’ve noticed a recent increase in ads here on GardenRant – in the sidebar AND in our posts. So unlike the first 14 years of this blog’s regular postings, readers have to scroll through ads to continue reading. We’ve heard from some of you about this and understand that it’s been a painful change.

Others have noticed that our new ads are mostly general interest, rather than gardening-related. In the example above, our site has ads for Xfinity, LinkedIn, Discover card and Lowes. We’ve noticed Toyota and Best Buy, too – and some seriously cool coats from Zulily, which had at least one of us forgetting her deadline and going down a sumptuous retail rabbit hole. 

What’s changed is that finally, about two years after our long-time advertising service (Blogads) went out of business, we have a new ad agency – Mediavine. To become part of their program, GardenRant needed to have good traffic, which we do thanks to you!, and we needed to go through a long approval process similar to someone examining your underwear drawer.

So why did we go through all that, despite the resulting inconvenience to readers (and us) of now having to scroll through ads as we’re all reading? 

Improved GardenRant with Comments that Function!

Bottom line: Sites cost money. And good sites cost good money. We signed on for more ads NOT because any of us hope to quit our day jobs, retire early, or even finance a two-week beach-house rental from our new income – after it’s divided among a five-person writing team. 

So it’s not greed, y’all.

The BIG difference these ads will make is in the site itself, which after 14 years is sorely in need of an update. Our priorities:

  • COMMENTS: Number one is fixing the damn comment feature! We comment ourselves – or try to – and get emails about the problems, so we know and we’re so sorry! Composing a comment and getting an error message for your troubles is beyond irritating! We totally hear you. To fix the problem in the past, we moved to a new host, which sadly didn’t fix the problem, so we’ll be moving it again to highly recommended site, and upgrading the hosting account for more capacity. While we all wait for this so-needed change, please be patient and feel free to interact with us on the Garden Rant Facebook page too.
  • EXPERIENCE: Better functionality for all visitors – finding the information they want, navigating, browsing, subscribing, faster loading time, telling us we’re full of shit or it’s the best thing you’ve ever read in your entire lifetime, quickly in the comments — all of it.
  • AESTHETICS: We may be gardeners covered in soil most of the time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about appearances. We’re investing in an updated look by a real web designer – our first – and working with a graphic designer to make the web designer’s job even easier. We’ve hired developers and one graphic artist back in 2006, but never a real designer. ‘Bout time!

Believe us, if we could support the site by pulling an endowment out of our collective hats and live happily ever after in the aforementioned beach rental writing edgy garden prose, we’d do it. We didn’t like it when PBS started airing sponsored ads in the middle of Masterpiece Theater, either. But sadly, we find ourselves where PBS was, and hey, we held out a lot longer.

Meanwhile, please know that we greatly value your input (in the opposite of the way that politicians say they value your input) and will be considering your experience every step of the process.

Sticking with our Original Mission 

We loved our original Manifesto and we’re bringing it back to the home page – prominent and proud. We’ve never written articles based on what’s trending, and we’re not going to start now. We’re not incorporating paywalls or forcing the team to do paid webinars in their spare three minutes a day. Nor will you find key words mentioned nineteen times in 600 words so we get 3.5 million page views from Russian bots. You’ll get the same beautiful, edgy mess you’ve always gotten for free – you’ll just need to scroll past an ad for a pet brush to get it.

But hey, garden dogs get dirty right?  Maybe you’ll find some retail rabbit holes of your own in the process.  Thank you to all our loyal readers past, present and future – we look forward to a new site with anticipation.

Timeline?

We expect improvements to speed and comment functionality in early to mid-November, as soon as we move to our new host. Then we expect to kick off our glorious new design in January of 2021.  

 – Susan, Elizabeth, Allen, Scott and Marianne

2 COMMENTS

  1. I support the need for you to collect ad revenue – knowing the alternative might be putting your posts behind a paywall and that many in your audience would balk at paying for that access.
    One thing I will comment about is that the ad experience is not very pleasant when reading GardenRant on a smartphone. The ads are basically every other paragraph — I think because the side panel ads and the main column get smushed together into one long panel. Maybe that can be tested and adjusted for mobile devices, which is how the majority of folks are accessing the web these days? I am coming here via my desktop computer browser, which makes it a bit better.

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