I was hired by the Drupal Association in October 2014 to develop a new revenue stream from advertising on Drupal.org. For some time we’ve been trying to diversify revenue streams away from DrupalCon, both to make the Association more sustainable and to ensure that DrupalCons can serve community needs, not just our funding needs. We’ve introduced the Drupal Jobs program already and now, after conversations with the community, we want to put more work into Drupal.org advertising initiatives.
This new revenue stream will help fund various Drupal.org initiatives and improvements including better account creation and login, organization and user profile improvements, a responsive redesign of Drupal.org, issue workflow and Git improvements, making Drupal.org search usable, improving tools to find and select projects, and the Groups migration to Drupal 7.
We spent time interviewing members of the Drupal Association board, representatives of the Drupal Community, Working Groups, Supporting Partners, and Drupal Businesses, both large and small to help develop our strategy and guidelines. Our biggest takeaways are:
- Advertising should not only appeal to advertisers, but also be helpful to our users and/or our mission.
- When possible, only monetize users who are logged out and not contributing to the Project. If you’re on Drupal.org to do work and contribute, we don’t want you to see ads.
- Don’t clutter the site, interfere with navigation or disrupt visitors, especially contributors.
- Do not put ads on pages where users are coming to work, like the issue queue.
- Advertising products should be inclusive, with low cost options and tiered pricing. We want to make sure that small businesses without huge marketing budgets have the opportunity to get in front of the Drupal Community.
- Create high impact opportunities for Partners that already support the Community.
- Address the industry-wide shift to Programmatic Advertising, which is the automated buying and selling of digital advertising.
There are already advertising banners on Drupal.org, however we need to expand their reach to hit our goals. We’re trying to address challenges for our current advertisers, including a relatively low amount of views on pages with ads, which makes it difficult for them to reach their goals.
We’re also facing industry-wide challenges in Digital Advertising. Advertisers are looking for larger, more intrusive ads that get the users’ attention, or at the very least use standard Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) ad sizes, which are larger than the ads we offer on Drupal.org.
We came up with a new line of products that we feel will help us reach our goals, but not disrupt the Drupal.org experience, or the Drupal Association Engineering Team roadmap. We want our Engineering Team to fix search on Drupal.org, not spend time developing and supporting major advertising platforms.
2015 Advertising Initiatives:
- The ongoing development of curated content with banner ads including resource guides, content by industry and in the future, blog posts.
- Continued display of banner ads on high profile pages like the Homepage, Marketplace and Case Studies Section.
- Sponsored listings from Supporting Technology Partners (similar to Hosting Listings).
- Opt-in email subscriptions with special offers from our Supporters.
- Audience Extension: a secure, anonymous, non-interruptive way to advertise to Drupal.org visitors. It allows advertisers to programmatically reach the Drupal.org audience while on other websites through Ad Networks and Exchanges.
I wanted to spend most of my time explaining Audience Extension, since its unlike anything we’ve done in the past, and it may prompt questions. This product makes sense because it addresses all of the challenges we’re facing:
- It’s affordable for small businesses; they can spend as little as $200 on a campaign
- We don’t need to flood the site with ads and disrupt the user experience.
- It’s relatively easy to implement – we won’t interrupt the engineering team or their efforts to improve Drupal.org.
- We will only target anonymous (logged out) users.
- We will support “Do Not Track” browser requests.
- This is an industry-wide standard that we’re adopting.
- Anonymous users will have the option to opt-out.
- This improves the ad experience on other sites with more relevant, useful ads that also support the community.
How does Audience Extension Work?
- The program is anonymous. No personally identifiable information (such as email address, name or date of birth) is gathered or stored.
- No data is sold or exchanged, this merely gives advertisers the opportunity to buy a banner ad impression within the Perfect Audience platform.
- It’s easy to opt-out. You can just click over to the Perfect Audience privacy page and click two buttons to opt out of the tracking. Here’s the link.
- Drupal.org will support “Do Not Track” browser requests and only users who have not logged in (anonymous) will be included in the program.
- It does not conflict with EU privacy rulings. Advertiser campaigns for Partner Connect can only be geotargeted to the United States and Canada right now.
- Only high quality, relevant advertisers who have been vetted by an actual human will be able to participate in this program. Some good examples of Perfect Audience advertisers would be companies like New Relic and Heroku.
- Perfect Audience is actually run by a Drupaler! The first business started by founder Brad Flora back in 2008 was built on Drupal. He spent countless hours in the IRC channel talking Drupal and posting in the forums. He understands how important it is to keep sensitive pages on Drupal.org an ad-free experience and he’s very excited to be able to help make that happen.
- This program has the potential to generate significant revenue for the Drupal Association and Project over time as more advertisers come on board.
It’s important that we fund Drupal.org improvements, and that we do so in a responsible way that respects the community. We anticipate rolling out these new products throughout the year, starting with Audience Extension on February 5th. Thanks for taking the time to read about our initiatives, and please tell us your thoughts!