Home News Business News Webcomics ad networks — one goes, one arrives

Webcomics ad networks — one goes, one arrives

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We’re been hearing some rumblings of late that ADSDAQ, a web advertising network, has been dumping webcomics. BookElves had some rumblings back in August:

One of the things that really tripped us up this year is ADSDAQ. We signed on with them early this year, and right off the bat did a terrific month of business. Elf Life earned $500 the first month!

I figured from there we would just keep on growing. Instead, ADSDAQ suddenly realized that their rolls were being filled with–eeeeewwww!!!–webcomics. There were rumors early on that they had to “do” something about us. They were going to dump us, or something, because we were a “problem”.

Arm-in-arm with the rumors of mighty ADSDAQ’s displeasure with us came a suspicious tanking of all of our webcomic site revenue, across the board.

Now they seem to have taken a more proactive stance against webcomics. One of our returning Keenspot cartoonists got this rejection notice from them:

Your site was declined because it is a comic site made up of high images that our system would not be able to contextualize appropriately to serve contextually relevant advertising.

We are currently reevaluating sites to be sure they follow our requirements. If they do not, they will be declined.


Now the purge seems well underway with confirmation that Book of Biff, College Roomies From Hell!!!, and Multiplex were also cut, and there are rumors of cuts across the board. With ad networks a major source of income for web cartoonists, this would seem to be a very bad development.

However, on the plus side, ComicSpace has just announced a new ad network for webcomics and bloggers.

Today, ComicSpace LLC announced that it has launched Webcomics World, www.webcomicsworld.com, an advertising network for webcomics and comics bloggers.

“The idea is simple,” says Joey Manley, CEO of ComicSpace. “There’s only so much money you’re going to make with an automated solution like Google AdSense or AdsDaq. At a certain level of popularity, you need a real salesperson out there making the best pitch to the biggest advertisers for you. We already have a professional advertising sales team. We’re able to take the big meetings, and make the big pitches. And now, any webcomic artist or comics blogger can essentially hire our team, and be included in those meetings and those pitches – and participate in those deals.”


While “contextual words” would seem to be a legitimate concern, one also recalls that comic strips were a most-read feature in print newspapers and were similarly given a cold shoulder by print advertisers.

Let’s call this one developing.

  1. This is very interesting.

    I’m in the midst of presenting one of my new stories as a webcomic right now, and my artist and I are working hard at trying to make it at least worth our time. The contextual words thing has been a challenge, since there are so few words there.

    It’s interesting, though, the various perceptions different people have of webcomics and print comics. You’d think, though, that if people are able to make money, it wouldn’t matter that they happened to be making money off, say, people who read comics . . .

    Very interesting.

  2. Ad revenue is something essential to professional webcomics in that it pays the infrastructure bills. The solid source of income is the merchandising wing. The potential goldmine for a webcomic is that they own it, 100 percent.

  3. Maybe if people included the text below the comic, then it would be able to be categorized, indexed, searched, and “contextualized”. Plus it would be accessible to the hearing impaired. You could even make the text white (or the same as the background color), and it would still be accessible.

    Just a thought.

  4. Considering the number of times I’ve wanted to find a particular strip from some webcomic, but not been able to search for it because it’s a pure graphic and so can’t be indexed, I’d approve of Rivkah’s suggestion to make sure each web page includes some sort of textual representation.

    That’ll take care of accessibility, indexing for searches, and context-sensitive ads all at once.

    (Sometimes I’ve been lucky, and enough other people have already linked to the page using relevant text, like the time I searched for “grammar spork”. The phrase appears nowhere on the page containing the strip, but Google still figured out it should be the number-one result for the search.)

  5. This doesn’t solve the contextual ad problem (we’re working on solutions for that) — but, Kelson, you should definitely check out OhNoRobot.com, run by our friend and friendly competitor Ryan North. That’ll let you full-text search webcomics (the ones who have agreed to participate, anyway).

  6. @ Rivkah – on your idea above about white-out text: this used to be a pretty common practice among dis-reputable search engine optimization practitioners. Consequently, Google now penalizes sites that engage in that practice (sometimes going as far as to ban them from Google results altogether).

    So, while it would be a good idea for contextual ads and serving folks with impairments, the damage it would likely do to a site’s Google ranking (and potential eligibility for AdWords inclusion) would likely far outweight the benefit.

    Your suggestion of text below the comic, Joey’s suggestion of OhNoRobot, or proper use of alt tags would probably be better overall solutions.

  7. Recently I’ve been experimenting with Google ads, which of course have the same “contextualization” problem. In order to provide text for various ad services I’ve been periodically exporting my OhNoRobot database to XML and then using that to inject the transcription text into the page in a hidden div.

    So far it hasn’t really had any effect on the ads that Google’s serving up – I have a feeling that even with the transcript, it’s still just too text-light to work, at least on single-comic archive pages. My monthly pages seem to come closer to useful ads, although it’s still just barely (for example, on a page which has a comic mentioning risotto the ads are all rice-related). I guess the text within my comics still just doesn’t lead to anything useful.

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