Modern Tales, the webcomics service that many associate with a solitary business focus on paid subscriptions, is now selling banner ads across its entire network of websites, for the first time in the three-year history of the business.
Joey Manley, publisher of Modern Tales, had this to say: “Modern Tales is not about a business model; it’s about developing a solid business around great comics. It always has been. We will continue to build our business in any direction which we feel may be profitable. Online advertising spending is at its highest point since the dotcom crash. There’s no reason we can’t earn some extra side-income from that part of the web.”
Subscribers to MT’s subscription-based websites will not see ads on sites for which they have current, active accounts (though the ads are unavoidable on MT’s free sites, such as TalkAboutComics.com and the soon-to-launch GraphicNovelReview.com. Currently, more than 100,000 individuals visit one or more of Modern Tales’ websites at least once in any given month — only 4,000 of those individuals are paying subscribers to any of the sites.
On the “media kit” page, Manley unveiled what he called the “dirt-cheap introductory offer” for large skyscraper banners, with the following waffle:
“Here’s the thing […] because we’ve never sold ads on any of our sites, by choice, we do not have the kind of metric data that many other advertising-supported websites are able to offer â€” you know, things like click-through rates, return on investment, etc., etc. We simply don’t have the accumulated history from which to derive that data. Accordingly, we’ve decided to launch our banner ad business with introductory rates so inexpensive that any comics creator, comics publisher, or website owner can afford to take a chance. Our starting point is $2, and the most money we are willing to accept from any individual advertiser is $20 at a time. […] As time goes on, and we collect more data, we are very likely to raise our prices to match those of our other friends in the world of advertising-supported websites. This dirt-cheap introductory offer is precisely to allow us to begin to collect the kind of metric data we need.”
Manley says he expects that subscriptions will continue to provide the bulk of Modern Tales’ revenues for the foreseeable future. “It’s like when Keenspot launched their subscription service — that didn’t mean they were giving up on advertising. We’re making the same kind of move, only in the opposite direction.”
Modern Tales’ leading competitor/peer in the webcomics industry, Keenspot, and many other advertising-supported websites, often use third-party banner ad networks to fill their inventory slots. Manley said that he has talked to a number of such networks in the past few months, while contemplating this move, but felt that the level of interference Modern Tales was likely to receive from those networks and/or their advertisers, specifically relating to Modern Tales’ sometimes-risque (but never obscene) content, rendered those kinds of deals unacceptable. “They invariably took one look at Fancy Froglin, or The Desert Peach, and declared that they could only sell ads on our sites if we made everything G-rated. We haven’t gotten this far just to have some weasel sitting in a cubicle somewhere tell us what we can and can’t say. We’ve built our business with one-to-one relationships with every customer. Our banner ad business will be no different. Everybody buying an ad will be getting personal attention from us, and will be buying into our site specifically, with a specific reason to reach our particular audience, rather than buying some massive ‘global campaign’ from some third-party ad network that delivers eyeballs but not attention.”
Modern Tales’ banner ad rates can be found here: