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If you go to look at the advertisement info you'll see a nice

Want to Learn More? Call us at (440) 397-5751.

Joel wrote an article about how bad it is to not have a price for a service listed and was usually a sign that they would try to see how much they could charge you and rip you off [link pending]

So I find it odd that on Joel's creation he does the very practice that he talks bad about. I don't care how "ballpark" of an estimate you can give me for what an ad costs, I just want to do some light research without having to call anyone.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Are you referring to Camels and Rubber Duckies? If so, it's important to understand that the context is "cheap" software (i.e. put it on your credit card / charge account):

Bad Idea #2: How Much Money Do You Have? Pricing.

This is the kind used by software startups founded by ex-Oracle salesmen where the price isn't on the website anywhere. No matter how much you search to find the price, all you get is a form to provide your name, address, phone number, and fax number, for some reason, not that they're ever going to fax you anything.

It's pretty obvious here that the plan is to have a salesman call you up and figure out how much you're worth, and then charge you that much. Perfect segmentation!

This doesn't work so good either. First of all, the low end buyers are just going to move on. They will assume that if the price isn't listed, they can't afford it. Second, the people who don't like salesmen harassing them will just move on.

Worse, as soon as you send a message that your price is negotiable, you're going to end up reverse segmenting. Here's why: the big companies you sell to, the ones who should be willing to give you the most money, are incredibly sophisticated about purchasing. They'll notice that your sales guy or gal is working on commission, and they'll know that he's got quarterly quotas, and they'll know that both the salesperson and the company are going to be incredibly desperate to make a sale at the end of the quarter (the salesperson to get his commission, and the company to avoid getting their knees shot off by their VCs or Wall Street). So the big customers will always wait until the last day in the quarter and end up getting a ridiculously good price which somehow involves weird accounting shenanigans so the company can book a lot of revenue that they're never really going to get.

Advertising (here and elswhere) works differently from "retail" software: there are no fixed rates and the prices vary. Why? Because it's more fair that way.

If you spend a million-jillion dollars a year on advertising and pay up front, should you get the same rate as the guy who's got pocket change and says "I'll pay you this... 30 days after you run my ads, I promise!" What about all the other factors, too, such as demand, targeting, etc?

Different people have different needs, and this is why prices aren't listed (both here and wherever else you see a "give us a call!" sort of thing). If you're actually serious about whatever you're doing "light research" for, a few minute phone call is small cost to pay. And if you're not serious... there are probably better hobbies out there.

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We don't do self-service ad sales. Can you go to .. say .. http://youtube.com or http://ebay.com and find out how much it costs to place an ad there?

What you're describing is in fact typical for any website which sells ads.

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As a recent advertiser on Stack Overflow, I must say it is the most difficult and frustrating experience I have ever had on getting an advert online.

I do think that "if you want to sell something, make it easy for the buyer to buy it" should be an obvious mantra for anyone.

However, for those outside the US, for whom it is considerably easier to communicate by electronic means (rather than by phone) I have found the whole process really time consuming and frustrating and the advertising company really difficult to deal with. At least, I suppose, they do rely on us faxing them, so the comment in the bad idea #2 article doesn't apply :-)

The worst thing is that they don't answer emails. Our advert has now (finally) gone live, but we're still waiting for access to their stats system so that we can track impressions and clicks but despite 3 chase up emails, so far no response.

I can see another trans-atlantic phone call is going to be needed. Maybe we're not Microsoft with their advertising budget, but I would have thought that every customer who has at least paid would deserve to be treated like a customer?

(Apologies for the vent on here if it's not quite the right thing to do - I'm at my wit's end!)

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1  
If you're having such a big issue, it may be worth starting a separate discussion about it in a new question. –  Jon Seigel Jun 24 '10 at 21:12

Which advertisement?

I think it's reasonable to click to go to the website to learn more and get pricing. But if there's not a "buy now" or "online store" link that's accessible on their website with a few clicks, I don't bother to read further. I figure if I have to pick up the phone to find out how much it costs, I can't afford it.

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Your last sentence is key, and part of what drives the decision of how a business chooses to present their information - likely what SO has done here. –  Rex M Jun 5 '10 at 1:34
    
... inedomedia.com/stackoverflow.aspx –  Earlz Jun 5 '10 at 1:44

StackOverflow’s advertisement info is self-contradicting

It's not self-contradicting. The co-founder contradicts the business plan, but it's not self-contradicting as such.

If you go to look at the advertisement info you'll see a nice

Want to Learn More? Call us at (440) 397-5751.

Joel wrote an article about how bad it is to not have a price for a service listed and was usually a sign that they would try to see how much they could charge you and rip you off [link pending]

So I find it odd that on Joel's creation he does the very practice that he talks bad about. I don't care how "ballpark" of an estimate you can give me for what an ad costs, I just want to do some light research without having to call anyone.

Advertising in run by Inedo Media (Alex P.), not by Jeff Atwood. (Well, I guess he has some control over it, but he doesn't dictate every part)

Additionally, based on what Alex has previously said, I think that advertising prices range from very, very cheap (say if you want to sponsor a very unknown tag) to very, very high (considering its Quantcast and Alexa rankings are consistently climbing. So the range is potentially so large that it would be meaningless to post.

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