HubPages, This Can't Go On

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  1. EricDockett profile image97
    EricDockettposted 20 months ago

    I am writing this after seeing yet another recent low for my traffic this morning. It seems an unending downward trend.

    HubPages, please file this under constructive criticism. Or whatever. I feel like I am screaming into the void at this point anyway.

    Getting rid of the top video was a good start, but I hope there is a lot more in the works.

    When I look at one of my pages with my adblocker on it is clean, well-organized, and easy to read. The layout is really nice.

    Turn the adblocker off and it becomes a hellscape.

    In the article I am looking at right now, I see 5 ads before I get to the bottom of my first 400-word text capsule. Two of them are identical and break up the text, only a few dozen words apart.

    Then there is the popup that blocks the screen if I move the mouse in the wrong direction.

    We use bullet points to make information easier to digest, but that doesn't work when almost every list is broken up by an ad, several ads, or several of the exact same ad.

    Pages are hard to read when every text capsule is interrupted by an ad, some of them spammy and icky.

    HubPages, I can put in no plainer language.  People hate this. They do not trust sites that look like this. They are hitting the back button, remembering the site, and not coming back.

    That is why traffic is falling. Horrifically at this point.

    We need ads for revenue. Everyone understands that. But other sites manage to balance reader satisfaction and profit.

    Surely HubPages can too.

    (There may be a part II to this eventually regarding those "News" stories, which, by the way, aren't news. They are, however, adding thousands of thin, low-quality pages to the niche sites. I don't have the energy for that right now.)

    1. Jodah profile image90
      Jodahposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      You couldn't have stated it any more clearly, Eric. If only the blind could see.

      1. Miebakagh57 profile image66
        Miebakagh57posted 19 months agoin reply to this

        Well, if we're blind, we all are seeing...lol!

    2. Misbah786 profile image82
      Misbah786posted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Well said, Eric. I hope HubPages see this and take a minute to respond. smile
      Blessings to you!

    3. charlesnuamah profile image90
      charlesnuamahposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Well said, Eric. Earning has never been this low for me especially in November.

    4. viryabo profile image94
      viryaboposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Bullseye!

    5. chef-de-jour profile image95
      chef-de-jourposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Thanks Eric. It's good to keep up the pressure with observations and comments (and parables, Solaras!) regarding this abominable issue of ads abusing our articles.
      It just doesn't make sense to persist with a dire regime that demeans - from writer to reader to accountant - we're all suffering. It's plain nuts.

      Yet, HP is now aware of the ill-health. Not before time. The encroaching video has gone, a crappy ad too. Someone somewhere in the office has cottoned on and hopefully will get cracking - we need unbroken text and ads to one side or both sides of the capsules to give us a neat design with THE WRITTEN WORD AS KING, central, with no rude, vulgar, intrusive, repetitive ads interrupting.

      I'm still optimistic. I'll continue to add fresh material.

    6. SerenityHalo profile image94
      SerenityHaloposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Until things start to go up... they'll only continue to go down.

    7. Everyday Miracles profile image83
      Everyday Miraclesposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      I just took a look at one of my articles about how to choose an ocarina for beginners, and it is so riddled with ads that there is no possibility that someone interested in the topic would take the article seriously.

      It looks like just another spammy clickbait article when it was written for the purpose of helping people with their quest to learn to play an instrument I love.

      Very disappointing.

    8. Sherry Hewins profile image93
      Sherry Hewinsposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      Truth. Not only is it bad for the authors, but it is also bad for the advertisers and for HubPages. Nobody is looking at all those ads, they are just annoying.

    9. Glenis Rix profile image94
      Glenis Rixposted 18 months agoin reply to this

      I have now used to option to turn off ads on some of my articles as they way they are distributed liberally and indiscriminately amongst the text is annoyingly distracting. I don't imagine many people spend much time on pages that that are displayed in this way - as a reader, I certainly don't. I wish that whoever is responsible for advertising would take another look at the policies, which are possibly counter-productive in respect of earnings for all involved.

  2. theraggededge profile image87
    theraggededgeposted 20 months ago

    Well said, Eric.

  3. Solaras profile image95
    Solarasposted 20 months ago

    A Parable

    Once upon a time there was a small capital city in the South.  It was a land where people ordered coffee and cocktails, to be delivered simultaneously. Aunt Fanny's Cabin, celebrating Gone With The Wind, was a family evening out comprised of fried chicken, collard greens and young black boys who wore wooden menu placards around their necks. Wait staff in dew rags sang "Gimme Some of That Ole Timey Green Stuff," and passed around a jar for tips, to uproarious applause.

    In 1964, the unsophisticated public was dazzled to learn that a French restaurant was to be opened, in the then suburbs of their city.  So electrifying, even the mayor of the city oversaw the groundbreaking of the new restaurant, a well-attended groundbreaking ceremony, constituted of the city elite.

    The Chateau Fleur de Lis was resplendent in midcentury modern opulence. The two story white cube's portico was girdled with delicately overlapping, elongated gothic arches. Within, red carpets, plush velvet banquets, a jazz band and French cuisine of unparalled excellence reigned for nearly a decade. 

    Then, in the early 1970s a new group of businessmen and restaurateurs descended on the city from the North.  They brought with them a new business paradigm. They bought the clutch of restaurants on Cheshire Bridge Road, Nino's Italian as well as the Chateau among them, and things began to change within and without this now well established restaurant scene.

    Banking on the reputation of the well regarded eateries, the quality of the food served declined precipitously. At first diners thought it was a bad night; next time the meal would be right. But the bleeding of the establishments was the essence of their business plan.

    It took time for diners to realize that their beloved restaurants would only offer up lower and lower quality meats, cheap jarred sauces and premade frozen foods.   As the restaurant's fare dwindled, the character of the diners declined in unison. The new owners opened other businesses near their new properties to complement their restaurant clientele's evening proclivities. Naughty, Naughty Girls, Live Lingerie Models and The Cheetah punctuated the once charming bridge road.  Here the city's first and well loved deli, Happy Herman's, poisoned a neurosurgeon with stale food containing bacteria that attacked his brain. Happy Herman's, the Chateau and Nino's entered a period of relentless decline, until even their dirt had dirt.

    The Chateau was initially converted into seedy business offices for her owners, but as time passed she was too squalid even for the Cosa Nostra to inhabit.  She stood abandoned for another 20 years, with plywood nailed over her double door entrance, decaying in the shadow of a high interstate overpass, tall weeds pushing up through cracks in the asphalt parking lot.

    Eventually the city took over her management and plowed her down to store DOT materials for highway repair.  Today, where she once stood, glamorous, shimmering white, a granite boulder lawn prevents runoff to the entrance of a new city greenway. It's a tale told a thousand times a day, year after year.

    1. EricDockett profile image97
      EricDockettposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      I've had a somewhat less sophisticated analogy in mind lately.

      At the risk of exposing my inner geek, for decades I have been a fan of the Sim City franchise. This is a strategy game that puts you in control as mayor/planner/God entity of your own city that you build from the ground up.

      You have to plan everything, from traffic to zoning, public works, services, etc, and manage the budget, which of course means revenue as well.

      When you first start your city, people move in and build houses, start businesses, and before you know it you have a thriving little community of a few tens of thousands. You even have a profit on your books every month at that point.

      But then people stop coming and you hit a wall. You need to start providing services to people and keeping them happy, or else they leave and more people won't want to come.

      Think of the quality of the services and the city as the quality of our articles. The people, obviously, are the readers.

      So you add a school, a water system, waste collection, police, medical, etc, except now you aren't making a profit anymore. At this point, a lot of players panic and start raising taxes.

      Glomming the pages with ads.

      At first, your citizens will be cool with it and city growth will explode. But more citizens need more services and again, many players will just keep raising those taxes to pay for them.

      Money now. Figure it out later.

      Eventually, your citizens get sick of paying 2-3 times the normal tax rates, no matter how great the city is. They will begin to leave.

      Your city is losing traffic.

      So, maybe you crank up taxes, even more, to make up for the lost revenue, and maybe you allow a toxic waste dump to move into your city limits so you can make more revenue (news stories).

      It's a downward spiral.

      People keep leaving because your city has become a disaster. It doesn't matter how great the school is or the library system. If people are paying 20% residential taxes and living next to a toxic waste dump, they aren't going to like it.

      Your city has become a ghost town of shacks and boarded-up businesses.

      The smart city planner grows a city slowly with an eye on the future. A toxic waste dump might mean more revenue now, but how does it affect the city over time? Raising taxes might make your books look good now, but it will impact your future.

      A city with a 5% tax rate and a million citizens is much better off than a city with a 20% tax rate and 15,000 citizens.

      So there is my Sim City/ HubPages analogy, along with a short tutorial on Sim City finances.

      It seems HubPages has latched onto so many sketchy revenue streams that are hurting the site in the long term. I don't know how they step back and get into that growth mindset again.

      I do know I was better off when I had more traffic and there were fewer ads on the page.

      1. Solaras profile image95
        Solarasposted 20 months agoin reply to this

        +1,000,000

        And of course you were better off with fewer ads and more views, because we only get revenue from one or two of those ads per pageview.  I counted 17 ads + sponsored content links on a middle size article of mine.  Yet my impressions are set at 60% of pageviews, not ad impressions.

        16 for HP and .6 for the author.  The bare minimum they can get away with.

        I looked at Sports Illustrated, one of TAG's flagship products, and by all accounts the brand is roaring.  They have added SI product lines, betting and ticket sales to the website. The site is based on a $5.99/month subscription price, and is still loaded with ads, that repeat themselves ad nauseum, yet they load faster and are in some way less obtrusive - you can still see that there is more content coming. (Also it had a video related to the content at the top and a bottom ad that rode with the content.)

      2. Jodah profile image90
        Jodahposted 20 months agoin reply to this

        What an appropriate analogy.

    2. Miebakagh57 profile image66
      Miebakagh57posted 19 months agoin reply to this

      A thoughful post...More than a parable. Worth making the comment  into an article.

  4. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 20 months ago

    Is anyone experiencing this drop in average time on page since the video was removed?

    https://hubstatic.com/16236389_f1024.jpg

    1. dylananthony4u profile image41
      dylananthony4uposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Yes maybe just minimize the ads a little bit or fit them in strategically with the content...I'm sure there's a workaround for this and it shouldn't be that complicated...I'm not complaining though smile

      1. Eurofile profile image97
        Eurofileposted 20 months agoin reply to this

        Well said Eric. My views have plummeted recently. I noted the advice of editors to tweak bios and add a selfie. This seems to have made matters worse not better. I am seriously thinking of reverting to my old Eurofile image. I just hope the editors take note and do something soon to reverse the trend. Surely this site should be more about quality writing than an endless stream of ads that put readers off? I accept that ads have their place to finance the site, but the sheer number makes them counterproductive.

  5. Kenna McHugh profile image92
    Kenna McHughposted 20 months ago

    Eric, thank you for communicating this issue so clearly. I remember HP's original mission statement: delivering to the readers quality articles (something like that). The format of the ads ruins the quality of the articles. They do not help the readers' experience. It's backfiring ten-fold. Let's concentrate on servicing our readers, not trying to make money. We'll benefit, in the long run, financially.

  6. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
    PaulGoodman67posted 20 months ago

    I don't feel that I have the expertise in advertising, coding, etc. to say that it's the adverts that are the cause of the traffic/earning issues. I don't think that an accurate assessment can be made purely by judging the appearance of the page. More data is needed and only HP have it. So I keep an open mind on the ads issue.

    It's frustrating that the site's been suffering for so long, though. Really, aside from 5 good months, the site's been struggling since fall of 2019. It's pretty depressing for those of us who rely on the income to some extent and have put a lot of time in over the years.

    I do earn a reasonable amount still, even if it's half of what it was. There's also no great alternatives for this type of site. Medium is in an even worse state, in some ways, as far as views and earnings go. So I'm left still hoping for an HP recovery.

  7. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 20 months ago

    I'm not seeing ads breaking up lists. I wonder has this problem been solved? The ads don't particularly bother me, as regards their appearance, especially since the video and top banner ad were removed. I would be more concerned about them affecting load time of images and causing readers to back out. The coinciding of ads and images creating long white spaces, as I mentioned earlier, is annoying.

    1. EricDockett profile image97
      EricDockettposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      You are not seeing what I am seeing then. In all of the articles I reviewed today and yesterday with ads on, I did not see one that did not have ads breaking up every text block and every bullet list. It is so hard to follow the text, I can't imagine anybody making it all the way through.

      I wonder if it is a difference by country or something.

      1. eugbug profile image95
        eugbugposted 20 months agoin reply to this

        Is this on desktop or mobile device?
        There's no breakup of lists on this. Maybe it only happens with long lists.
        Ads are still breaking up thumbnails and pushing the caption away from the image. I don't like them because images are displayed much smaller too (the actual image when displayed, not the thumbnail). When editors put them in, I usually reverse the change, because they're crap.

        https://dengarden.com/gardening/A-Guide … eeds-Names

        I still can't get a reply to my query about how ads are placed. I guess it's automatic and they look for a new paragraph HTML tag so they can slip themselves in. If the character or tag they look for could be changed, maybe they could be repositioned.

  8. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 20 months ago

    Maybe that video was a good idea, but it was just in the wrong place. Was it keeping people engaged? This is a graph of average session engagement.


    https://hubstatic.com/16237863_f1024.jpg

    1. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
      PaulGoodman67posted 20 months agoin reply to this

      How people interact with a page can be very complicated. I learned this from when I was doing ads for my own sites. You add, remove, or move one small thing and it can alter the entire dynamic.

    2. Jan Saints profile image87
      Jan Saintsposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      I think the video was also making the pages more media-rich, thus sending a good signal to Google. One of my best performing articles on Pethelpful lost 30% of traffic a few days after they removed the video.

  9. liesl5858 profile image83
    liesl5858posted 20 months ago

    Yes, I understand that we do get revenues from the ads they put in our articles but our articles are swimming with it and I can't even see my articles to read them so I now understand why readers get feed up and not read the articles they want to read at all hence we have low views and visitors to Hubpages. I believe this are some of the reasons for low visitors to the site. Thank you Eric for pointing this out to Hubpages.

  10. profile image0
    Vladimir - Val Karasposted 20 months ago

    For one, I don't see that we have any say in this matter; HP is a business using our literary work where some useful ads can be placed -- period. We accomplished nothing by complaining about removal of comments. Now and then some minor things may be changed on our initiative, but ads are bringing revenue, and how grotesque that is making our articles/poems -- doesn't matter.
    I don't want to be "politically correct" here by saying how I don't really care anymore and whatever they do is fine with me -- but it's true without my trying to be politically correct. "Take it or leave it" is the message from any business in existence. Hey, maybe we should even be grateful for having this chance to express ourselves literally, and still enjoy some socializing.

    1. EricDockett profile image97
      EricDockettposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      Not everyone is here for fun or as a lark. Many of us spent years building something significant alongside HubPages, rolling with the constant changes, and trying to keep up with what they wanted us to do so that both the writers and the site could succeed together. 

      If you follow the history, it is much more complex than you seem to be gathering. You may be able to brush it off after 2 months, but if HubPages keeps going as it is many of us are losing much more than a place to express ourselves.

    2. eugbug profile image95
      eugbugposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      That's true. No business exists to keep its employees happy just for the sake of it. The sole objective is to make profit. If a business has a reputation for keeping employees happy and being a good company to work for, it's only to encourage them to be more productive and create better quality "product".

      1. EricDockett profile image97
        EricDockettposted 20 months agoin reply to this

        We are not employees.

        1. eugbug profile image95
          eugbugposted 20 months agoin reply to this

          I was including freelancers/contributors.

          1. EricDockett profile image97
            EricDockettposted 20 months agoin reply to this

            Fair enough. I'm being too literal.

            I've never thought of myself as working for HubPages or anywhere else I earn online. I work for me. I create things, in this case, articles.

            If another company like HubPages is around and I can partner with them, we can both benefit. I make the content. They handle the other stuff. We both make money.

            That was the original deal. But things are getting weirder and weirder over the past few years.

            1. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
              PaulGoodman67posted 20 months agoin reply to this

              Eric - I agree that the lack of transparency shown by HP causes them issues that seem unnecessary and undermines trust.

              If interests go up, my bank will write or email and tell me. HP don't even make an announcement when the Amazon rates change, which is poor. We have to find it out from other sources.

              I also agree that we've been left wondering what our actual status is as writers in recent years. I'm not even convinced that even HP know anymore.

              It started out that they pushed the "community" and "partnership" aspect. I understand why they drifted away from that (Panda etc.) but it's left us writers in a kind of no man's land.

              However, regarding the ads and earnings, I'm still not convinced that your main charge, that the revenue is not being maximized because of a bad advertising strategy, is correct.

              I think it's always good to be skeptical and critically constructive. But all I generally see is people saying that the ads are aesthetically ugly and cumbersome and therefore our earnings are down. I don't think that it's quite that simple and straightforward.

              The statistical data that's presented to prove the case seems, at best, ambiguous.

              I therefore maintain an open mind on the matter.

              1. EricDockett profile image97
                EricDockettposted 20 months agoin reply to this

                So, if you were to take a guess, what is the problem then?

                There is obviously a problem, right? Traffic and earnings have been on a downward trend for some time.

  11. PurvisBobbi44 profile image90
    PurvisBobbi44posted 20 months ago

    When I clicked on my earnings, I have this message: Revenue is accurate, but impression counting was broken from 11/2 to 11/9 on a few Network Sites.

    Has anyone else see this and has it been corrected I wonder.

    October was good in earnings, this month I have almost eight dollars. Not enough for my kitties to eat.

    Bobbi Purvis
    Country girl from the back woods of Florida

  12. profile image0
    Vladimir - Val Karasposted 20 months ago

    Eric -- Technically, yes, I've been here for only 2 months, but only because I closed my account twice, after some 6 years of writing on HP, and after hundreds of thousands views that I voluntarily lost -- so please don't think I don't know what a "frustration" is -- since yours never brought you to the decision to quit -- and quit twice.
    I am just trying to be realistic here, as I say that, if they really wanted to make us happy, it wouldn't be about getting a mug as a recognition of excellence -- and beyond that I have given up expecting anything but having fun.
    You can have your own reasons to be frustrated, if that's the right word -- I usually call it "pissed off" in my satires -- and I respect your sense of being involved in how the things work or they don't. But at the same time it reminds me of my usual comments to people who are deeply into politics -- you are not changing anything, those in power are bound to keep doing whatever they please.
    So, I'll just keep expressing myself, and you just keep complaining about the status quo, we are all different people here.

    1. Sue Adams profile image92
      Sue Adamsposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      If people didn't complain, nothing would ever change.

      1. Justine Guiao profile image91
        Justine Guiaoposted 20 months agoin reply to this

        This is so right in many aspects.

  13. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 20 months ago

    I wonder what would happen if we put up a road sign and diverted traffic from articles to copies on our website? I did that on Medium for a few weeks and diverted traffic here. Luckily I didn't get banned. It would be interesting to monitor the GA stats and see if there's any difference in performance as regards time on page.

  14. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
    PaulGoodman67posted 20 months ago

    This is the fundamental problem.

    The bottom line with internet advertising, if you look at the big picture, is that the main way to make money nowadays is generally through selling goods and services directly.

    The revenue from text/image/video ads that are focused on impressions and an occasional click are generally pretty poor which is why the method has declined so much since the glory days of Adsense.

    Many businesses have switched to other methods, such as subscription systems, over the past ten years.

    It's difficult for HP, as they need search engine traffic, a subscription system wouldn't work, so they've remained reliant on the old text/image/video ads.

    My earnings on here, as well as HP's I presume, have been hit worst by Google's attacks on Amazon.

    Some years back, Adsense/HP Ads was essentially a sideshow. You used to be able to make dollars/day from a good Amazon hub, rather than just cents from HP, in the old days. That's extremely difficult and very often impossible nowadays, thanks mainly due to the pressure from Google.

    HP has to find a new approach, but what that is, I have no idea.

    Just adding more low value ads to the page, whether it's affecting traffic or not, isn't really solving the underlying problem, as far as I can see. So I do agree with Eric, Eugene, and others, on that.

    However, just minimizing the number of ads won't necessarily solve the problem either, in my opinion. The page might look better, but if the revenue shrinks, that's a problem for everyone.

    That's the dilemma, as I see it.

  15. psycheskinner profile image82
    psycheskinnerposted 19 months ago

    I am sure a lot of us have seen content sites die this way.  Today.com for example.  They load on ads because more ads means more money -- but eventually it destroys the user experience and starts being penalized by search engines.  As traffic tanks they ad even more ads that have sound motions popover popunders etc, to try and make up for the income loss from lower traffic.

    Then they go broke and close.

    Hubpages was literally the last content site standing because they managed to avoid this trap, until now.

    1. janshares profile image92
      jansharesposted 19 months agoin reply to this

      I've already started to choose which of my poems on HP will fit into my poetry book. I have a feeling it won't matter if I publish them elsewhere, especially if it's my work. It's all very sad if true. A couple weeks ago, Matt Wells posted in a forum that HP isn't going anywhere and we're fine. Do you not believe him? I don't recall which forum.

  16. AliciaC profile image92
    AliciaCposted 19 months ago

    I think the interface definitely plays a role in the site's problems. I'm interested in knowing how much influence spam posts on the forums are having, though. There are frequently new ones posted. Some are on old posts that show that spam posts have been left on the site for a long time. They appear to be increasing in number. If HubPages is developing a reputation as a good place for spam via its forums, that may be increasing the problems.

  17. Kenna McHugh profile image92
    Kenna McHughposted 19 months ago

    Good point!

  18. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 19 months ago

    Halving the number of ads might help indirectly too to boost income. I just took a look at an article I published recently on Owlcation. None of the ads loaded as I scrolled down the page. There were just white spaces. So the only way I could earn if someone was doing the same thing would be if they either waited or scrolled down and scrolled up again somewhat later, when ads eventually got around to loading. I don't know whether ads load in parallel or in a sequence or what way it works. If there are less ads, do they all load quicker? In any case, we're losing lots of revenue because people aren't seeing them if they don't have fast phones, or at least Hubpages is and we're losing our small fragment of the revenue also.
    Ads don't bother me too much. I just wish they wouldn't break up text and load faster and Google would give the sites a break and not post crap stuff at the top of search results. I don't think they know what they're doing themselves. I wonder do they blacklist us on SERPs for search if we give them enough flack on their socials and they can identify us?

  19. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 19 months ago

    They're all autoplaced ads from Googleadservices. I wonder are there no other services that can provide ads? How about Bing?

  20. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 18 months ago

    Looks like we're into the CPM doldrums for January. Down to less than €4 now, 2/3 of what it was in 2020.

 
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Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)