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Speak Up Sells its Soul?

Well, no, not really. But I’m sure many of you will think of it that way. And from the start I will like to emphasize that nothing will change… I mean, things will change, because everything changes, but this will not affect the way Speak Up works. You know what I’m getting at: Advertising.

Yup. Advertising on Speak Up. Starting June you will see Advertisements on the left-hand sidebar right below the book reviews. They will rotate every time you refresh your page, with a maximum of ten of them each month. They will also all be housed in their own page for quick perusing.

For a year and a half I was able to sustain this effort with little to no money intervention. When I needed your help to pay for more roomy hosting you all helped. And when I required some extra cash to get the T-shirts printed you also chipped in. But as projects we have in mind grow bigger and more ambitious it is hard to launch them with no capital and I can’t really keep asking for money. Not to mention, that another hosting upgrade to accommodate archives and bandwidth will be necessary this year.

Before anybody goes out on a detective spree and throws back my words in my face: yes, I did say in the Emigre interview that I thought banners were the “excrement of the web”. And I did ask Rudy if I could take it back as I had written that comment sitting at 5:00 AM in Mexico’s busy airport. But nonetheless I said it and all who like to twist things around will think that my including of “banners” on Speak Up is being hypocrite. I have to clarify that my comment was in reference to these types of banners. The ones that stand out like sore thumbs on most web sites. To do something about it and try to back my senseless criticism (and graphic elitism) with some action, the banners on Speak Up will be part of the design, rather than being relented to the side or the top where hopefully nobody will notice them. Also, animations are prohibited, so they will not be distracting when reading the site. And lastly, the companies who have been approached for this opportunity cater to designers so hopefully we will see some nicely designed banners.

But most importantly, I sincerely hope that you find this helpful in some way. And if, at some point, you are going to buy something from these companies (whether it is fonts, images or paper) why not do it through Speak Up and help make this a useful resource?

Speak Up is not selling its soul… its just selling 200 x 100 pixels of web real estate. I hope we have your support.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 1954 FILED UNDER Speak Up Announcements
PUBLISHED ON May.19.2004 BY Armin
marian’s comment is:

ooch, ouch, eek.

Well, i have to admit that the presence of advertising will pain me ... But yeah, I can see how it would be unreasonable of us to expect you to keep doing this unsupplemented.

I have lamented to someone else, at some other time, about "what ever happened to e-cash" and its variants that seemed so close to becoming reality over a decade ago. I was told they were killed by the credit-card companies. Whether true or not, I continue to lament the fact that there is not some way to have virtual accounts out of which small sums could regularly be taken. This would, imho, be by far the most viable way for anyone to run a website: members pay a small fee (pennies) each time they visit. Most of the sites I visit on a regular basis, I'd be glad to fund with a steady trickle of cents out of an e-cash account. It's when you ask people to make a commitment to a paid subscription that they balk.

So in the absence of sensible e-cash, i guess advertising is the only senseless option. Can you post a pic of you eating a big, messy can of beans before the first ad goes up?

On May.19.2004 at 09:52 AM
Greg’s comment is:

The thing I worry about is sponsorship. If I post something negative about, I don't know, say, an Adobe product, and you've got an Adobe banner (I'm using this as an example), is that going to affect my post? This is the reason that I don't like a number of graphic rags.

All in all, I get it, I understand the need to be compensated for something that you've worked hard on. And besides, you've been doing free advertising for various designers via your Word Its anyway.

But the crap you use this money for better be pretty freakin' cool.

On May.19.2004 at 10:08 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> If I post something negative about, I don't know, say, an X product, and you've got an X banner, is that going to affect my post?

Greg, that is legitimate concern. Most companies will know what they are getting into. We have built Speak Up as a place where we can say whatever we want. And that won't change. If a comment upsets an advertiser and they want to pull out: good ridance. This should not stop anybody from saying anything they want, seriously. I'd rather lose a few advertisers — who don't see our comments as opinions and critique — than lose the openness of the site.

On May.19.2004 at 10:14 AM
justin m’s comment is:

I think it is great, not necessarily the advertising, but it is a sign that Speak Up! is obviousily a highly visited site and could quite possibly support itself?

On May.19.2004 at 10:20 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:


Revenue is alway Great.

As long as they don't interfere !!!!

You can better use your revenue to put into Underconsideration. And host your first Speak Up Conference.

Ginger or Mary Ann, Chicago or Seattle.

Come to think of it Armin. That may be my first

Speak Up Column.

Where should the First Tri-annual SPEAK UP Conference be held ???

Sorry, I wasn't an active member of SU's community when you nedded Dinero.

Yeah, I'm suggesting every three years. Don't have the money to travel every year.

On May.19.2004 at 10:35 AM
Zoelle’s comment is:

Go for it Armin. You deserve something in return. I just pity the company that places a sloppy ad on a site full of designers. Man, talk about pressure.

Do you think Jason is searching for your photo now? :-)

On May.19.2004 at 10:40 AM
Chris from Scottsdale’s comment is:

I'd suggest Google AdSense. Seriously, I've made $30 the first month having ads on BrainFuel.tv. It's an extra pizza party at the office (without drinks but pizza is pizza).


On May.19.2004 at 10:44 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

members pay a small fee (pennies) each time they visit.

Good idea. Similar to NPR. You can listen all you want and support only if you want. Plenty of people do that and it seems to work albeit they have a much larger audience but none the less.

I don't mind the advertising one bit. You need to support this site and future Speak Up projects like any business. But the fact that you are willing to keep Speak Up the same without the pressure from the people and companies behind the ads is commendable. And way cooler than Google ads. That you will get design type companies to advertise, like you said, will hopefully lead to great ads and great product to boot.

Good design, revenue, good products, unobtrusive... Good idea - necessary in fact. You have my support. And hey, if it doesn't work, you can it!

On May.19.2004 at 10:45 AM
David Weinberger’s comment is:

Armin, frankly I am much more concerned with Design Maven writing columns than I am about some small advertising on Speak Up.

I absolutely support what must have been a difficult decision. If it can help Speak Up grow on-line and off-line, I am all for it. Just kidding about Design Maven.

On May.19.2004 at 10:49 AM
erica’s comment is:

you're obviously making a great effort to keep the advertising to a level of understatement, good design, and genuine helpfulness that banner ads and such should have been kept to in the first place. the screaming, flashing, painful colors of banner ads has really gotten out of hand and, i think, only cheapen and make easier to ignore their message.

i've always wondered how you were able to keep a great place like this going out of your own pocket, and i don't think anyone here would complain about your efforts to continually improve speak up with advertising revenue.

it benefits all of us in the end!

On May.19.2004 at 10:52 AM
James Craig’s comment is:

Absolutely. To repeat what you've already emphasized:

1. The advertisers will not run/influence the site content or discussion.

2. The ads will be tastefully implemented (this includes no animation).

Then I'm all for it.

PS. Can you serve the images from a different server like "ads.underconsideration.com" so I can block them all anyway. ;) j/k

On May.19.2004 at 11:10 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:


Payback Tomorrow. With the new launch.

FYI, I'm contacting as many BIG FISH Alumni as I can to come online to

discuss your work.

If I get the U NO WHAT. (private joke)

I'll Recuse myself!!!!!

You guys keep me young!!!!!!


I'm trying to contact a contact at Wolff Olins to

see if he will Chime in on your Post.

I'll have him contact Armin. To rekindle the Unilever Discussion.


Apologies for going off topic!!!!

On May.19.2004 at 11:17 AM
Tan’s comment is:

..eh, no biggie. Surprised you didn't do this earlier.

Just don't get carried away, and ruin a good thing like The Onion. I've got no fundamental objections to ads for beer and soft porn, but you've got to draw the line with Visa/MC crap.

And I can't wait for your first thread Maven.

On May.19.2004 at 11:17 AM
Christopher Risdon’s comment is:

It's all a matter of intention/motivation. If you were trying to exploit Speak Up to make some huge profit - or to sell it out, or whatever, that would be different. But since you've made clear that the intention is to support the site itself (and associated projects), then who can blame you, it's a necessary evil, but also a good idea.

On May.19.2004 at 11:22 AM
Gahlord Dewald’s comment is:

Sure would be hypocritical if any of us were freaked out about ads here.

I hope the ads are good. If not, I'm sure there will be interesting commentary.

I have no trouble with animation in the ads either as long as it isn't "punch the monkey" or other horrific epilepsy-inducing stuff.

Make some bucks Armin. You deserve it.


On May.19.2004 at 11:44 AM
Paul’s comment is:

This creates the potentital for a very interesting dynamic: advertising that supports a site upon which criticism of those very same ads can (pontentially) be found. The publishing world reels from the meta-ness of it all...

On May.19.2004 at 12:22 PM
Jeff G’s comment is:

Armin, cool. Makes sense.


If you were trying to exploit Speak Up to make some huge profit - or to sell it out, or whatever, that would be different.

Let's say we change the word exploit to use. Would that still be a problem? As long there is no exploiting involved, I'm all in favour of huge profits. I would be perfectly happy for Armin to get rich & famous off of Speak Up as long as he avoids exploitation & bad compromises (& sends me a royalty cheque for the six comments I've posted).

On May.19.2004 at 12:32 PM
Jose Nieto’s comment is:

Even Dot Dot Dot has advertising, so why shouldn't Speak Up? At least here we won't have to deal with those annoying cover-stock samples

Armin, another potential non-intrusive revenue source (which you may have already considered): job postings. I was recently looking for a senior designer, and would have paid a premium to reach the Speak Up audience.

BTW, I do like the NPR membership model, as long as you don't hold NPR-style fundraisers.

On May.19.2004 at 01:09 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:


Payback Tomorrow. With the new launch.

FYI, I'm contacting as many BIG FISH Alumni as I can to come online to discuss your work.

If I get the U NO WHAT. (private joke)

Sorry, this has nothing to do with the advertising thread, but the U No What had the logo live yesterday on its site...

On May.19.2004 at 01:10 PM
Christopher Risdon’s comment is:

You make a good point Jeff, if I knew that Speak Up was the way it is now, and I knew that Armin was making a proft from it, then I would probably still would've started to read/post to it. As long as the assurance of openess (i.e. not cenoring something critical if a sponser) was still there.

Although part of the charm is that this endeavor doesn't seem about money, I couldn't say that I wouldn't want a little reward for my hard work if it were me.

On May.19.2004 at 01:12 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>job postings

you know, that's a damn great idea Jose. Maybe a mini version of Craig's list somewhere on the site.

On May.19.2004 at 01:22 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

a mini version of Craig's list

Except with real clients willing to pay real money, right?

On May.19.2004 at 02:03 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Armin, I'd be interested in what the rates are. Perhaps Sam Potts Inc. will run its first ad? Those leaflets dropped over Felix's house were a damn waste. I'd be more interested in how you arrived at the rates.

Couple of things to consider:

Will you incorporate Speak Up or in some way slice it off as its own financial entity separate from Armin Vit, citizen (pending)?

Will you ever go whole hog and pay the authors? Pay for commissioned articles? In other words, adopt the basic magazine model?

Back when you changed the author requirements, it occurred to me maybe you might want to consider going this route (despite the wailing this comment alone might induce). Once you're dealing with real money, you can control quality with a lot more leverage.

On May.19.2004 at 02:20 PM
Valon’s comment is:

> a mini version of Craig's list

Armin, you know I just found out about SpeakUp two months ago and fell in love with it. I don't mind advertising as long is it will be part of the SpeakUp design and not stick out like a "sore thumb"... I think that should be it though. No job postings, no craig's list or anything like that. I think this website is a great hidden gem that not many people know about. If SpeakUp starts having all sorts of posts with profit motives behind it, then we are all going to go commercial and that will be the end of what SpeakUp stands for. I am little bummed to be honest that we will have to look at an ad, but hey whatever keeps this site going -it's ok.

Here's an idea: Maybe the companies that will advertise on SpeakUp should comission the main administrators of SpeakUp and Underconsideration to design the ads. This way the ads can look and feel like they belong...and also some extra $$$ for the godfathers of this place.... :) [just an idea]


On May.19.2004 at 02:23 PM
Jose Nieto’s comment is:

a mini version of Craig's list

..except that the job postings would be paid for (like AIGA's) and would be vetted by Armin and Co.

that will be the end of what SpeakUp stands for

Valon, I understand your concern, but since the site has now been covered by pretty much every design publication, I would guess that it no longer is a "hidden gem." Considering the amount of work that goes into putting it together, and the value that it brings to the design community, I would encourage Armin to develop as many revenue streams as necessary. Besides, if there is anyone I trust to preserve "what SpeakUp stands for," it's Armin.

On May.19.2004 at 03:17 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Man, thank you all for the support. This morning when I hit "publish" on this entry I was on the verge of paranoia, thinking that my head would be had for lunch for doing this.

There are many ways in which this can go and perhaps it will only last a few months, or maybe forever, I don't know. But the opportunity and interest is there so I thought it was the appropriate and timely thing to do.

> Armin, I'd be interested in what the rates are. I'd be more interested in how you arrived at the rates.

Sam, always so inquisitive… I don't exactly enjoy talking about money, so I will leave the rates undisclosed and available to those who have a real interest in spending the money. But to answer the second part of your question: I looked at many online sites to see what their rates were, what type of advertisers they had and how Speak Up fit in all of that. I looked at Gawker, Typophile and Typographica, Communication Arts and others. After that I came to a price and sent it to potential advertisers. A few mentioned it was a bit steep, so acknowledging that this is not the best time to get picky I reduced the price by 25%, and that seems to be more attractive. To avoid much speculation I can say that the monthly rate is less than 1K.

And as it stands, I'm trying to figure out a way to offer a lower rate for smaller ventures like fellow blogs and such. So stay tuned.

> Will you incorporate Speak Up or in some way slice it off as its own financial entity separate from Armin Vit, citizen (pending)? Will you ever go whole hog and pay the authors? Pay for commissioned articles? In other words, adopt the basic magazine model?

Maybe… it's not out of the question.

> Armin, another potential non-intrusive revenue source (which you may have already considered): job postings.

See above answer, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

I have a question now… does the term "classifieds" feel weird? I was trying really hard not to call them banners, but I'm starting to think the medicine was worse than the sickness.

On May.19.2004 at 04:24 PM
Paul’s comment is:

When I read "classifieds" I first thought "Oh, cool, they'll just be text based, and therefore will create no visual dissonance." If that is in fact true, then Classifieds is a good term. If they are in fact more likely to be some version of what we call "banners", then the term seems ill applied.

On May.19.2004 at 04:42 PM
laura’s comment is:

In this business? We're concerned with whether or not to advertise? Really? You just gave someone a job, and made some coin yourself. Lets just call the kettle what it is - black.

On May.19.2004 at 04:47 PM
Peter Scherrer (ps)’s comment is:

I have a question now… does the term "classifieds" feel weird?

to me classified implies "selling stuff" i would prefer "sponsors" or something of that nature as some ads might mainly be supportive of the forum. classified to me implies, cheap, little stuff. with 10 sponsors per month this seems off. now, if you'd have a classifieds section with job postings, used computers, etc for $50 an ad. that would be classifieds for me.

On May.19.2004 at 05:15 PM
Rick’s comment is:

Oh, you fools!

Isn't it obvious that this is just like the Sex Pistols reunion? A desparate ploy to line the pockets and further the evil reach of Armin and his henchmen?

I say the SpeakUp conference should be held in Vit Manor, and I call dibs on driving Armin's Ferrari first!

On May.19.2004 at 05:47 PM
Feluxe Socksmell’s comment is:

Those leaflets dropped over Felix's house were a damn waste.

No more SoHo... I'm in Jersey, bitch.

Keep your filth in Brookland, yo.

On May.19.2004 at 06:58 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

I think "sponsor ads", "classifieds", and "banners" probably connote different things and have inherently different values (pricewise and other) to potential advertisers. "Sponsor ads" seems to fit best, since they'll be custom designed and not a banner that could be used on many different sites.

Anyway, it's a good idea. It would suck to have you call this whole thing off because you can't afford hosting or something. Where would we get our Design Maven fix? Where else can we get called bitches by Felix?

On May.19.2004 at 07:24 PM
Sam’s comment is:

They should be called "advertisements" and it must always be pronounced ad-vert-iss-ments. No exceptions!

'Sponsors' implies something else, a different level of commitment--might want to keep that option open for Ferrari and such.

Only a New Jerseyite would be throwing around 'bitch' like it was 2002. Good luck finding the exit, snoogles.

On May.19.2004 at 09:29 PM
Sam’s comment is:

And your caginess was not unnoted, Mr. Vit. But at those prices, I'm better off with my chalk & sidewalk plan. Anyone know the cross-street of 204 Fifth Avenue?

On May.19.2004 at 09:35 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

>They should be called "advertisements" and it must always be pronounced ad-vert-iss-ments. No exceptions!

Oh Sam! How about this: patron?

As in patron of the arts.

(italics intentional)

I kinda like that.

Congrats, Armin. I think if it helps you keep Speak Up going, it is absolutely fine.

On May.20.2004 at 08:04 AM
Armin’s comment is:

I do like advertisements and was one of my options… Patrons, I dig that too.

I'll decide on something by next Monday.

> But at those prices, I'm better off with my chalk & sidewalk plan

Unless you get fined… then you'd be better off spending your money here.

On May.20.2004 at 08:15 AM
coudal’s comment is:

One of the unexpected benefits of starting a consumer business is that it allows us to support the efforts of colleagues through advertising. Pretty much our entire marketing plan has been to try and reach ppl like ourselves. So, count Jewelboxing in for one of the first spots Armin. Or, if you really are going to list advertisers in alphabetical order, book that initial schedule in the name of 'AAA Jewelboxing.'

On May.20.2004 at 09:16 PM
Armin’s comment is:

As I have received feedback and comments I would like to add something to this advertising ordeal.

Every month I will give one advertising spot pro-bono. Meaning that — under my sole discretion and decision — someone will not have to pay for their advertising spot.

As of now, the criteria for this is rather loose. The pro-bono spot will be reserved for:

— Individuals trying to promote a product or service (no blogs, personal sites apply)

— Start-ups with less than one year in business (no design firms please)

— Must somehow be related to graphic design

— Demostrate passion and care for what they are trying to do

— "Ideas" can't be supported, it has to be a product or service that is ready for distribution.

I will try my best to be fair when deciding who gets the pro-bono spot.

We'll see how it goes.

On May.25.2004 at 08:59 AM