Ads on the forum

Well it looks like we are going to make a serious run at not just keeping this forum around for the old timers, but at turning it back into the thriving community that the AO once was.

No idea what that will look like. We are open to ideas and we are working a few angles behind the scenes to offer relevant and useful content for the exam taking community and professional development and networking for all levels of actuaries.

But … all that takes $$$. At some point, you will see ads running here. We are hoping to generate enough revenue to not only keep the lights on but to also reinvest back into the site and keep it growing.

Still lots of unknowns as we strive to gain traction. We will keep the community here posted and I didn’t want the ads to catch you off guard.


I know many people dislike ads but I prefer them to subscription fees. Hopefully we can avoid the more onerous ones though especially let’s not have pop-up ads!


We’ll initially be using Adwords so to start they’ll be a bit onerous but over time should become reasonably targetted. Ads will be inline. I don’t think anyone uses popups anymore.

Relevant, I was speaking with an internet marketer about advertising (not for here) this past week and he mentions those rows of block ads you see on crappy news sites. I laughed because they’re garbage IMO. He tells me they’re working like crazy.

  1. No popups.
  2. No auto audio. Sound should be off unless I, the interrupted, choose to listen.

I probably have others I know you’ll want to read.


Out of curiosity, how much would be needed from ads (and therefore community donations) on a monthly basis?


It’s going to vary. And it’s going to change over time as some things work and some don’t. Right now, the cost to just keep the lights on is fairly low. But we want the community to grow and that means investing in things like giving away study materials, or paying for focused content. We don’t really have much of a budget right now.

It’s more like: Hey, what if we threw some money at this??

I agree that I’d rather have ads than paid subscriptions. And feedback from the community will be needed as we grow. Tell us what you want and we will see if it fits in.

I don’t have any specific suggestions, but thanks for all your efforts!

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Mrs. Hoffman used to be part of a message board that was twin parents. It evolved from a couple places that imploded, and ~100 people landed on a user-made platform that was hidden from the rest of the web as much as possible. It ran on user donations, we did $36/year. The way I thought about it: $3/month for her to keep her sanity as our kids were growing up and for her to have a support network of people she knew and trusted was totally worth it.

I know other places who run on a subscription plan: either that gives you the right to post or it gives you additional perks. If you have skin in the game, you tend to be a little more committed and careful than if it’s free and you can shit-post away.

The AO tried user donations in the long distant past. Some of the regulars stepped up, but it wasn’t sustainable. Plus since part of the purpose here are the exam forums populated by college and university students I think we’d prefer not to actively charge for anything here.

Initially the advertising will be Google adwords because it’s low effort. Still, their system does a pretty good job of targetting so the ads should be reasonable.

And I don’t expect to overwhelm the forum with ads.

College students: I’m not paying say $1/month to be part of a message forum that helps me advance my career - that’s bullshit! What a waste of money!

Also college students: Shut up and take my money for $13/month for Netflix, $12/month for Spotify, $59/year for Amazon Prime, …

“Defector” (group of ex-Deadspin writers) is doing this. I’m considering paying for this.