NetAudioAds: bad idea

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In the last two weeks I’ve received several emails from people saying they represent a new advertising company and they want to advertise on some of the sites I run. The emails are all vague about the types of ads and don’t tell me who the company is. Something about the pitch just seems slimy. When I ask about the ads, I find out they’re audio ads—5 second audio clips that play when your page loads.

Today I dug a little deeper and figured out what’s going on. There’s a reason the sales pitches all seem like they’re trying to get me to try scientology or get into the home cleaning products business. The ad company has set up an MLM scheme to get affiliates to promote their services for them.

The ads are a stupid idea. They’re short audio ads that play on the first pageview from a visitor. The samples are things like "Taco Bell. Open late." There’s no interaction required by the user, they just play automatically. That’s annoying.

But it’s okay, they say. They’ve run the page on 550,000 web pages with minimal complaints. Talk about a useless statement. 550k pages is a tiny sample of the web’s size. There’s nothing mentioned about the traffic to these pages—are these low-traffic sites catering to MLM types? Then of course they don’t get complaints. And since the ad code doesn’t insert any link back to the company, how is a reader going to find them to complain anyway?

If you’re measuring your ad effectiveness based on how many complaints you get, you’ve already got a problem.

Let’s look at their economics for a moment. The revenue share they offer is 25% per impression, with additional 5% commissions on your your downstream affiliates' ad revenue. What publisher in their right mind is going to join an ad network that only pays 25%? Ad networks that respect their publishers only keep a small management fee. They typically pay out 60%-80% of the ad spend.

They’re claiming to pay the site owner a $2.50-$7.50 CPM, although it’s not clear they’ve actually sold any advertising yet—their site talks about a Feb 1 launch date and says they can’t determine actual CPMs until then. At those CPMs and the rate they’re paying publishers, they’re charging advertisers $10-$30 CPM. That’s a big number for an ad that doesn’t have any response tracking mechanisms, no real room for a brand message, and is running on random blog content.

At those CPMs, an advertiser is going to expect ads on high-quality content run by recognizable publishers with a good demographic match to the advertiser. NetAudioAds, however, is out recruiting MLM bottom feeders for publishers. One of the affiliates suggested that instead of running this on my main blog, I just create a spam blog on a free blog hosting site, put the ads there, and drive traffic to it. And for that they’re charging Taco Bell a $30 CPM?

I’m not sure they’re entirely honest, either. On the site that they’re using to sell advertising, the assure advertisers, "907 million people will be online today... 97% of these people [have] audio systems and they are waiting to hear your audio advertisements." Yet on the publisher site they tell you with a wink and a nudge that lots of people don’t have speakers or sound systems, but you’ll still get paid on those.

NetAudioAds says some shady things, doesn’t have an economically sound business model, and will drive your readers away.

(Note to the MLM trolls that will surely stop by now, feel free to comment and debate, but if you stick your affiliate link in the comments, I’ll delete the entire comment as spam.)

Marcel Feenstra
January 30, 2008 1:02 AM

Thanks for the information! I just got spam from the "NetAudioAds Group" and was wondering what *that* was all about...

Tammy Elaine
February 2, 2008 1:47 PM

In case you aren't aware, your link is listed now on the PPP blog site. What exactly is a MLM troll? I represent one of these "low-traffic" sites who, due to budget shortcomings, are reduced to trying things like this to get traffic to my site or make enough off of it to keep it running. I am no big time business, just a disabled lady trying to get by. If it doesn't pay, I will just remove the script and move on with life...won't make my BD disappear or anything. It is hard when you have no cash for advertising and are trying to save the world! I get so tired of people dissing us because we haven't yet gotten 10,000 hits. I tell you what, make a donation and I will take the code off before or if the ads ever play! LOL! The Ultimate Fibromyalgia Resource Center

Adam Kalsey
February 2, 2008 2:11 PM

Tammy, There's no chance at all that Pay Per Play will bring traffic to your site. If you've been led to believe that, you've been lied to. There's no way at all that running any ad on your site will draw people to the site. Publishers pud ads on their sites to earn money, not to build more traffic. And if anything, the annoyance factor of hearing your site talk to the visitor every three minutes will drive people away. There's a simple reason that it's hard to find advertising for low-traffic sites. There's work involved for an advertiser in finding ad space, negotiating a price, managing the creative, monitoring the site, and monitoring the effectiveness of the ads. Large sites are actually easier to advertise on because they have published rates, creative specs, sales people to manage it all, and ad servers that can handle all the reporting. And there's less for the advertiser to do. By advertising on 5 big sites, they've reached the same amount of people as they could by advertising on 5000 small sites. That's why Adsense and other ad networks have worked. They group lots of smaller sites together and with one ad buy, one management interface, and advertiser can reach thousands of smaller sites. I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed by Pay Per Play. They claim to have been developing this for 2.5 years, but they missed their launch date yesterday. You're going to drive traffic away from your site, meaning you'll have less ad inventory to sell. And the company's previous track record isn't great. They defaulted on payments to their affiliates. I wasn't aware there was a PPP blog. There's not an official one I can find via Google.

February 2, 2008 2:47 PM

Yea, I have found that making money is always a bad idea. There has been nothing vague about the program. There is nothing slimy about the promotion. The reason that you were not informed about the company in your emails is that if you were sent a link without asking fot it, that can be called spam. If you had replied to an email asking for more info, you would then have recieved full details, from which you could have made an educated and rational decision about it. But instead, you just called it crap. It is best that people like you do not get involved anyway, because you would only make trouble at every given opportunity. I will think of you when I deposit my checks. The world is full of idiots, and it seems a lot of them own websites.

Stop being so shady PPP
February 2, 2008 5:51 PM

Thank you Adam. I can't believe all the people over on the PPP blog defending this crap! How stupid can people be? PPP did indeed miss their launch date and now sounds like a 9th grader scrambling to come up with a bunch of excuses for why he didn't turn in his final paper, and promising it will be turned in shortly, in a few days or weeks or....what a massive failure. They did nothing to prove the naysayers wrong. I'm only upset at them because they embarrassed me, as I told people on my blog to expect to hear ads on the 1st. When I say something, I like to keep my word. Had PPP simply told me FROM THE BEGINNING it was a slow rollout, none of that would have happened and no one would be upset. Oh and for those questioning my credibility, I'm a lawyer admitted to practice law in California. Not some guy in their basement. Unlike PPP.

February 2, 2008 6:18 PM

Thanks for your comments Adam. I an reminded of "if it's too good to be true ..." Seriously, I am under the impression that the ads play only for 5 seconds, no repeats. That surely would be annoying to visitors. Clearly not a smooth launch with NetAudio -- I wasn't aware of previous affiliate problems -- a red flag. This definitely seems to be a wait and see situation. I don't think anyone is losing out on anything right now ...

Adam Kalsey
February 3, 2008 10:45 AM

Leaving a link out of an email doesn't keep it from being spam, just as adding a link doesn't make it spam. If Tim actually bothered to read anything I wrote, he'd have noticed that I did have full details and analyzed them. It was from this analysis that I determined the program was a poor one. The invitations to join PPP follow a simple MLM formula. Makes sense because they're provided as part of the kit when you sign up. They make vague claims about this new way of making money without clicks and point out that it's completely free. They don't tell you what the ads are, how much they pay out, how they're targeted, or anything else an experienced publisher would want to know. They're trying to hook you into being excited about the idea before you get details. Here's a newsflash... other than the audio, nothing they're doing is terribly unique. * All ad networks are free. If an advertiser wants you to pay them, run away. * There are lots of forms of advertising that don't require a click. It's called CPM ads (cost per impression) and existed long before CPC. Advertisers turned to CPC ads because they'd prefer to only pay for an ad that does it's job. * Ad networks pay most of the ad spend to the publisher. Typically they pay at least 60%, but often as high as 80%. Doesn’t matter to me one bit if you try the program. I’ve founded and run two large ad networks (1 billion+ monthly impressions each) catering to national advertisers, so I know how this stuff works, so I thought I’d try and warn people who might not have the same amount of experience I have, so you’re going into it with both eyes open instead of being blinded by potential dollar signs. My qualifications are well-documented (my resume is linked at the bottom of the page) and my name is attached to everything I write. Tim and others arguing against me are doing so anonymously and attacking me personally instead of discussing the facts. What does that tell you?

February 5, 2008 9:54 AM

I have been a supporter and user of voice2page and netaudioads for quite some time now, actually before they came out with Play Per Play. I use the voice2page feature on my site because plain text pages are usually pretty boring and most people have a short attention span. Attention grabber graphics and video are becoming more and more popular and actually required to try and attract more visitors and hold them for any length of time. So the internet audio concept makes perfect sense …ok try this…go turn on your TV and try and watch it with the sound off…pretty boring right. You have to do something different to hold the visitors attention…why not make it more personable. The netaudioads is a great way to monetize your site and pretty ingenious if you ask me. They seem to have figured out a way to deliver information without competing with overpopulated sites and web page limitations. The big picture appears to be that voice2page is trying to take the internet to the next level of internet communication with endless application possibilities. The facts seemed to be…the search engine giants like it, the advertisers like it, so therefore it will probably become mainstream pretty soon. It does not make a whole lot of sense to try and find fault with the concept because it is probably going to be very successful regardless of the nit-pick negative comments. Anybody heard whether voice2page is going public anytime soon…I think this would be a good stock buy. If you have an opinion about what I have said about voice2page please forward your comments to their email box may be interested in what you think.

eng Tamer
February 6, 2008 4:39 AM

Thank you Adam

February 6, 2008 9:39 PM

you are correct Adam i found your blog after searching for independent confirmation of my own suspicions the whole enterprise reeks of it, nasty nasty

February 29, 2008 9:32 PM

It is February 29th and already funny things are popping up on their forum:

March 1, 2008 10:19 PM

I posted a rather long, but informative message several hours ago. But it has not shown up on the page. Is there a size limit to replies or are they edited or approved or disapproved based on content?

March 22, 2008 5:04 PM

On March 21 an admin on the forum posted this: "We have quite a few members who are at a substantial volume simply because they have faith and understand that the faith in the system is the only thing that causes the success of the system." So now it's about FAITH!!! LOL!

Mark Goldstein
March 11, 2009 1:45 PM

Adam, Anything more to add? It has been over a year? Mark

July 20, 2009 11:14 PM

Dude, you don't have to totally harsh all MLM people just because some of them are lame. Some bartenders are lame, but we don't go around labeling them all. There was a time when the media labeled bloggers pretty badly too, because they did things different than the standard way. You can attack the business model, or personally attack the people that contacted you, but attacking all MLM people as bottom feeders just seems un-called for.

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