As the vast pools of V.C. funding have dried and hardened over the course of the past year, more and more of the ad networks that support sites like this one have been going belly up. The list of formerly big, now-dead networks grew by one yesterday when word got out that CNET will be dissolving its affiliate network of gaming sites, including Stomped, Counter-Strike.net, and GamersDepot. The owners of those sites will have to look elsewhere for advertisting revenue.
Here is Stomped's reaction to the news. Off the top of my head, that means we've seen the failure of GX Network, Gamefan, the CNET alliance, and (from what I hear) the contraction of the MaximumPC network. Others have failed, too, and already faded from my memory. Naturally, the constant stream of bad news has led some to question whether or not enthusiast-oriented (and usually enthusiast-run) sites can survive on the current banner ad model. And a lot of folks in the know are downright pessimistic. It's depressing.
As for TR, if we were in this for the money, we'd have quit long ago. We're like tech monks. If our ad network, UGO, tanks and we can't pay hosting fees, we'll host it out of our homes or whatever it takes. I have a killer self-hosting idea involving an array of phone lines, V.90 modem emulator software, a 1GHz T-bird, and round-robin DNS. And duct tape, of course.
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