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Adcritic Shuts Down 294

Posted by chrisd
from the no-more-slowly-downloadable-ads-for-you dept.
punt (among way too many others) writes: "Adcritic, the archive for Television and Radio Ads, is no more. Read the reason why here"
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Adcritic Shuts Down

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  • what a great site, it's a shame to see them go
  • by mlong (160620)
    Well obviously I am not them but I don't see why they could not have found a sponsor willing to donate their servers. I see it all the time at sites...like kuro5hin for example.
  • I always thought of adcritic as a problem waiting to happen. On one side, there's the potential legal problems of showing copyrighted content (i still can't belive they never got sued), and on the other hand, there's the enormous expense of the bandwidth & storage space they would need. I will dearly miss ad critic, but am suprised they lasted this long.
    • Why would a copyright holder of an ad sue a site that was basically "broadcasting" their ad to people at no charge to the copyright holder. Ads aren't something you make money from by keeping them to yourself.
      • by jd142 (129673) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:34PM (#2722587) Homepage
        Why would a copyright holder have a problem? I can think of several:

        1) Ads for related materials that actually have the affect of diminishing both brands. McDonald's doesn't want a Slimfast ad associated with its product. They don't want people to think that fast food makes you fat.

        2) Ads for competitors. If adcritic (and I not saying they did this) showed a lame McDonald's ad and a really cool Burger King ad, McDonald's would be upset because it would appear as if the site were using McDonald's copyrighted material to both trash McD and advance BK.

        3) Old ads that are either inappropriate, out dated, or reference an item that no longer exists. Let's pretend that a year ago, you had an ad for your FlightSim game that showed people flying their simulated planes into the WTC? Or showed someone bursting into a cockpit to play with the real controls? Would you want that ad up and associated with your company now? How about an ad that promises premiums for proof of purchases for a promotion that expired a year ago? You don't want people sending in the junk and then being mad at you because the promotion is over (yes, people are this stupid and as a company, you have to protect yourself against stupid people). Or maybe there's a commercial that says "look for the bright blue bottle" only you changed to bright green 2 months ago.

        4) What if the adcritic site is really doggy and people think you can't afford a good server because your commercial doesn't run. Or worse yet, what if they call you for tech support when they can't see the picture. We all know the people who call tech support for even stupider things.

        I'm not saying adcritic did any of this or that these ads were there in this format. I'm simply pointing out that there are very good reasons for companies to want to control how their ads are presented to people.
        • I don't buy that. Once it's made available to the public tough. You might as well take your argument a step further and say that no one can even DESCRIBE an old ad because they may not promote the interpretation that the company wants.
        • Advertising is meant to be seen, seen, and seen again.

          Advertising is the social history of 20th century America- it only makes sense that it be preserved, and especially the embarrassing bits.
        • There is a damn good reason why Ad Critic never got sued. The company that made the comerical had to submit them, pretty much taking out any legal action there ever could have been.

          I knew the site was dead long ago, it used to be my favourite site, then they cut bandwidth, to the point where anyone trying to download something to watch was just stupid. It took hours to download a 30 sec clip on a connection which can normally do it faster than real time.

          The whole model was stupid, and the site should have forced the company the ad was for to host their own damn commerical, as they were getting free advertising anyways, and half a dozen commericals draws not much bandwidth compared to the hundreds on the site.

          I haven't visited the site in months, and then only to see it was still the most useless site on the web, as you can basically preview the commerical name...and thats about it.

          Giving kids a bunch of money to run a business isn't smart, as most kids are stupid (hell, I'm still one).
    • by ncc74656 (45571) <scott@alfter.us> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:18PM (#2722473) Homepage Journal
      I always thought of adcritic as a problem waiting to happen. On one side, there's the potential legal problems of showing copyrighted content (i still can't belive they never got sued)
      What company, in its right mind, is going to complain about someone running its ads for free? They ordinarily pay big bucks to get the word out...AdCritic runs (OK, ran) their ads whenever someone wants (um...wanted) to see them.
    • Yeah, those ad agencies are really tough about unauthorized airplay. They want to make sure that only the stations that pay them for the right to air the ads air them...

      A little common sense, that's all I ask.

  • Irony. (Score:5, Funny)

    by bonzoesc (155812) <bkerley@@@brycekerley...net> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:13PM (#2722435) Homepage
    Oh well, I guess even adcritic couldn't stay alive, no matter how much advertising they got.
    • ...for a long time, that they were getting paid by the advertisers themselves for hosting their commercials. It seemed a perfect scheme. I was honestly surprised when I learned they weren't (and yet the advertisers weren't protesting; why complain about free advertising which they normally had to pay for?)

      If they'd just established a revenue model that way, no doubt they'd still be afloat. Ah well, so goes the market.
    • Re:Irony. (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by plover (150551)
      The real reason they shut down was because too many people were viewing their site with Junkbuster, [junkbuster.com] and it just stopped paying the bills!

      It's like some kind of Steven Wright joke: "I tried surf to adcritic.com with Junkbuster turned on. Junkbuster got so confused it took me to the doubleclick page..."

      John

  • Bleh.. The pages are still available at http://web.archive.org/*/www.adcritic.com , but all of the video content was at movies.adcritic.com or akami. :(

    Surely someone mirrored the content..
  • I love that quote: "We still believe our business model will work, It'll just have to work for someone else?"

    So close to admitting they suck as businessmen....yet still with some optimism. I like that.
  • They probably needed a T17 to transfer all those ads... why didn't they get the companies to pay for the bandwidth?
    • by Juju (1688)
      Companies pay adds to be out when they want them to. Anything outside this, probably does not interrest them

      Besides, how do you want to implement this? Something like banner adds? A little pay each time somebody sees it?

      I don't think companies would agree to pay for that.
      First, it's hardly targeted: no control of when people see it or on who sees it (think in term of countries.)

      Second, how could they measure the effect? This is very important in term of marketing: No way to measure the effect == no perception of benefit. If they can't see it, they won't pay for it. Why do you think banner adds flopped so badly?

      Something along the lines could work if they made company pay to put their adds on-line, but do you think the site would still be successful?

      I think the idea is doomed!

      Have you noticed how many similar sites went down as soon as they started to be popular for their videos?

  • Dang (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhaberman (246905) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:16PM (#2722454)
    This is really too bad. Adcritic was one of those sites that I enjoyed, but never to the level of regular visitation. I suppose that is why they shut it down. I mean, seeing funny commercials you don't get at home is interesting, but for the average joe out there, who would want to pay for it? Not this joe. That's for sure.

    Ya know what... I think this here internet thing is still evolving...

    Jason
    • >but for the average joe out there, who would
      >want to pay for it? Not this joe. That's for sure
      I would, and /am/, as soon as they reply with an address to send the check to. I serioulsy need this source of advertisement, for the reasons I outlined in my previous post. Think about it from the point of view from someone who watched /no TV/.
    • actually they shut down because they got to much business. i.e. the bandwidth charge was killing them.
  • by TomatoMan (93630) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:16PM (#2722459) Homepage Journal
    Is the price of bandwidth the biggest factor in the demise of so many dot-whatevers? I know my colo provider charges a bunch for bandwidth, so I'm afraid to host successful sites. The cost of the server isn't the big deal, nor the cost of maintenance. It's that you pay for every visit - even the spiders indexing you and spammers trolling for addresses.

    If the cost of bandwidth is the main problem, is anybody anywhere trying to do anything about it? Who's at the top of the food chain here? What are their interests? Are there other ways they can be fed?
    • Bandwidth/hosting costs certainly seem to be the most mentioned reason most sites close, at least those that become victims of their own success.

      As for doing anything about it, I'm not sure what if anything can be done in the short term. Big Business owns and controls the fat pipes and backbones, and they sure as hell are going to try and make as much money as they can off of it. It'd probably take a new technology (true wireless?) at this point to wean off that tit.
    • Is the price of bandwidth the biggest factor in the demise of so many dot-whatevers?

      Forget dot-whatevers -- it's now gotten to the point where it's impossible to host a just-for-fun site once it gets sufficiently popular. Look at (I won't drive Lowtax further into debt by mentioning his site's name). People are willing to drop $10 a month on hosting for their vanity site, but they won't spend hundreds to keep it up once it becomes popular.

      The tipping point is where banner ads are insufficient to pay for the bandwidth of a normal site (never mind a monster like AdCritic). I think you're right -- what's necessary is for access providers to realize that growing available content grows their businesses.

    • My suggestions (Score:3, Offtopic)

      by devphil (51341)
      If the cost of bandwidth is the main problem, is anybody anywhere trying to do anything about it?

      If I said, "Use less bandwidth," would you call me an asshole?

      How about, "design ads that don't suck up the bandwidth that you're using the ads to pay for" instead?

      The early AdCritic site was simple and straightforward. One banner ad, medium graphics. The usual "best viewed with" collection of tiny icons. It loaded fast and quickly.

      A month ago I went there for the first time in a long time, trying to find the Clinton "Last Days" movie. I was on a friend's computer, with no filters and all the graphics turned on. Five minutes later it was still retrieving streaming animated banner ads for all over the page, X10 popup and popunder ads were having their gory way with my eyeballs, and the actual text of the page wasn't done loading yet because all the high-bandwidth advertisments hadn't finished hoarding the network yet.

      I gave up and got my Clinton video somewhere else.

      • Re:My suggestions (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jburkholder (28127)
        >because all the high-bandwidth advertisments hadn't finished hoarding the network yet

        Aren't the ads served from elsewhere, though? I would expect that the guy running the site doesn't have to worry about the bandwidth consumed by the ads.

        Adcritic's problem seems to have been his own content. Serving video in exchange for banner impressions wasn't a sustainable business model given the popularity of his site versus the shrinking web advertising revenue, I guessing.
    • by Syberghost (10557) <syberghost@sybe[ ]ost.com ['rgh' in gap]> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:39PM (#2722619) Homepage
      If the cost of bandwidth is the main problem, is anybody anywhere trying to do anything about it?

      Not every problem can or should be solved.

      The primary problem that causes most convenience stores to go under is the cost of labor. Do you want the minimum wage repealed to fix it? (Note: some people do, I'm not attempting to argue the point, just to present the things you have to consider.)

      The primary problem that causes MOST businesses to go under is the costs of something; labor, raw materials, bandwidth, something costs more than what they thought it would. That doesn't mean somebody needs to make it cost less; it often means the folks starting the business need to come up with a better business plan.
      • The primary problem that causes MOST businesses to go under is the costs of something; labor, raw materials, bandwidth, something costs more than what they thought it would. That doesn't mean somebody needs to make it cost less; it often means the folks starting the business need to come up with a better business plan.

        You're absolutely right. Problem is, there is no good business plan available for most sites that want to distribute content or news. If you run a TV/radio station or a newspaper with a regular audience in the millions, you can do quite well off of the advertising $$. If you run an even more popular website, you're going to make a fraction of that amount.

        Some say the scarcity of advertising money is due to the limitations of the format. To a larger extent, thought, it's an artificial situation brought about by major advertisers' unwillingness to gamble on an unproven format. They have the money, so they say which formats live or die.

        A good example of this is advertisers' unwillingness to experiment with time-shifted TV advertising. Right now it's well within the limits of technology to customize the advertising displayed to every viewer with a modern cable box or Tivo. But advertisers don't even want to experiment with this technology because they've got a very reliable system that works purely on the basis of what type of people tune in at a given time. Even though a lot of their money is being wasted on people with no interest in a given product.

        That's business, and I understand your point. However, I do find it to be a shame that such a promising area of business is being starved to death as a result.

      • The primary problem that causes MOST businesses to go under is the costs of something; labor, raw materials, bandwidth, something costs more than what they thought it would. That doesn't mean somebody needs to make it cost less; it often means the folks starting the business need to come up with a better business plan.

        So you're arguing that it's good for small buisnesses to go under? It's certainly not good for the consumer when that happens.. and it's not good for the small buisness owner.. In fact the only people that it seems to be good for is their competition (which is increasingly mega-corporations).

        It's very bad for the competition to have some pressure point to use to drive smaller buisnesses out of the market. If a larger competitor can drive up the cost of raw materials, or labour, or bandwith and he can weather the storm at a loss then he can easily create a monopoly, and raise his prices to a point that hurts the consumer.

        The upward spiraling cost of bandwith coupled with the lowering pay of banner ads and the mom and pop web pages being run out of buisiness because of these costs are definately a bad thing, and something needs to be done to fix it. The internet is the proverbial freeing of the printing press, it's something that humanity has needed for quite some time. Driving the cost of using the internet up is stripping the average person from having a medium to publish his works, and that isn't good. We are quickly returning to a state where mega-corporations (including the government) can destroy any negative speech towards them by driving the average person off the web and stripping their ability to self publish. It's definately bad here on the net, because what's to stop a company from creating fake hits (using a script) to drive the bandwith costs of a small publisher through the roof? If I were to start an anti-phillip morris page (as a random example), what's to stop them from using a script to create so many hits to my page that there is no possible way I can pay it.. they can obviously afford more bandwith than me (so the bandwith they use to create the hits wont affect them).

        This is definately a problem that needs to be solved.
        • p a company from creating fake hits (using a script) to drive the bandwith costs of a small publisher through the roof? If I were to start an anti-phillip morris page (as a random example), what's to stop them from using a script to create so many hits to my page that there is no possible way I can pay it.. they can obviously afford more bandwith than me (so the bandwith they use to create the hits wont affect them).

          Well, there are two ways this could be handled. First, if they use enough of your bandwidth, you could probably charge them with doing a DOS attack on your site; that's a serious crime in the US now.

          Second, many states have laws against SLAPP suits (nuicence suits brought by large corporations against grass-roots organizations). It's not a lawsuit, but if you're being harassed by a large corporation, it's actionable. There are about a billion lawyers who would love to sue a big company and get the "David vs. Goliath" publicity.

          So, yeah, the system works.

          In other stupid things you said:

          So you're arguing that it's good for small buisnesses to go under? It's certainly not good for the consumer when that happens.. and it's not good for the small buisness owner.. In fact the only people that it seems to be good for is their competition (which is increasingly mega-corporations).

          Yeah, it's good for the consumer when inefficient businesses go under and places that can sell the same item for less money move in.

          If being a mega-corporation is the only way to make a deal to get decent prices, why don't mom-and-pops set up an organziation to bulk-buy goods (a couple of mom-and-pops in each town, with a few thousand towns)? I've heard of this new Internet thingie that lets people communicate over long distances...

          Today's lesson: if the only way to win is to be big, get big!

          -jon

          • Well, there are two ways this could be handled. First, if they use enough of your bandwidth, you could probably charge them with doing a DOS attack on your site; that's a serious crime in the US now.

            Doesn't have to be a DOS attack, just generate real page hits.. it wouldn't take but a few extra thousand page hits a day to take these mom and pop companies down.. just require that every person in your mega-corporation checks the competing web sight or the negative publicity websight three times a day to see if there are any updates.. that will easily create enough hits to drive a small website owner under.. ;).. or you can just create a script that checks for updates to the page every second.. if you get called into court (HIGHLY unlikely) you can say: "Hey, we were just trying to keep updated on changes to the site, we didn't know that monitoring them that heavily would cost them so much bandwith"

            Second, many states have laws against SLAPP suits (nuicence suits brought by large corporations against grass-roots organizations). It's not a lawsuit, but if you're being harassed by a large corporation, it's actionable. There are about a billion lawyers who would love to sue a big company and get the "David vs. Goliath" publicity.

            Ohh, and this works ohh so well.. mega-corporations never ever ever use their resources to scare people with litigation into submission(/sarcasm)... Mega-corporations always have more resources than the grass-roots effort, and when it becomes a challenge of who can keep it in court longer (as it always does [guerrillanews.com]) the corporation almost always wins...

            The other completely moronic dumbass statement you made was:

            Yeah, it's good for the consumer when inefficient businesses go under and places that can sell the same item for less money move in.

            If being a mega-corporation is the only way to make a deal to get decent prices, why don't mom-and-pops set up an organziation to bulk-buy goods (a couple of mom-and-pops in each town, with a few thousand towns)? I've heard of this new Internet thingie that lets people communicate over long distances...


            It's obviously not bulk buying that drives mom and pop companies out of buisness (as much as Wal-Mart wants to say it is). It's having enough cash reserves to sell your products at a loss longer than the mom and pop companies can sell at a loss.

            Initially this looks good to the consumer, they are getting products at a rate that is so low that the companies are loosing money to get it to them. However, as soon as the competition is all gone (as it will inevitably happen, when playing this type of last man standing game), then suddenly it becomes very bad for the consumer, as companies no longer have to focus on good prices (so prices skyrocket, as they always do when there is a corporate "You either buy it from me or you don't get it" mentality) and they also loose focus on customer service.

            Today's lesson: mega-corporations and monopolies are bad for the consumer [adbusters.org]

            BTW: My name is also Jon.. It's always refreshing to find someone else that spells their name jon (as I'm sure you are aware it's a fairly rare spelling). ;)
            • when it becomes a challenge of who can keep it in court longer (as it always does [guerrillanews.com]) the corporation almost always wins...

              One example does not a pattern make. And it's not even a good example. According to this article, Coke is being accused of letting its copyright (sounds more like a trademark than a copyright to me, but I'm not an IP lawyer) on the classic bottle design lapse, and then defending itself against some guy who now claims to own the copyright on the bottle image because he used the bottle design in some internal pitch that may or may not have been stolen by an ad agency (and not by Coke). A pox on both their houses. IMHO, this guy is abusing the copyright system just as badly as Coke is.

              If it was something along the lines of this guy being sued out of existence by Coke because he had proof that Coca-Cola causes brain tumors, that's one thing. I'd say you had a point. But Coke trying to squash a suit over an image that's been theirs for a long time? Give me a break.

              It's obviously not bulk buying that drives mom and pop companies out of buisness (as much as Wal-Mart wants to say it is). It's having enough cash reserves to sell your products at a loss longer than the mom and pop companies can sell at a loss.

              Question: how did Wal-Mart get to be the size it is today? Secret government contracts? Murdering its competitors? Or brilliant management? There is NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING that Wal-Mart did that any of a billion other mom-and-pop operations couldn't have done. The Walstons just figured it out first.

              Furthermore, if the modern mom-and-pops want to form their own MegaCorp, they can. They'll end up doing VERY similar things to what Wal-Mart does, because it's the only way to turn a profit on their margins. Retail is a sucky, sucky industry to be in.

              Now, I agree that monopolies are bad things. But there are no monopolies on selling Tide or crappy clothes made by child labor. No one has ever presented evidence that Wal-Mart jacks up prices after it drives all of it competitors out of business. If they did, K*Mart would then move in and eat Wal-Mart's lunch. See, not a monopoly.

              I agree that smaller companies usually provide better services. But you have to pay for those extra services, and most people are unwilling to do so. That's why Wal-Mart wins.

              Before you think that I'm a loony "corporations are always right" Objectivist, I think that Microsoft's illegal tie-ins and restrictions on bundled software are in a totally different category. In that case, MS has clearly violated US anti-trust regulations that prevent a company that has monopoly power in one area from using that power to obtain a monopoly in another area. And, to my non-lawyer mind, intentionally presenting false evidence and lying during an affidavit is perjury. But no one is charging Gates or Balmer with that, so we should just forget about it.

              -jon

    • Yes, that's the problem.

      I was / am running with two other guys swma.net a website that is / was showing Star Wars Graphics / Models (The Star Wars Modelin Alliance).

      We're offline for the past six months because we couldn't find a deal that we can afford.

      Right now we push around 300 GB / MONTH but as soon as the new movie comes up we are toast, I am sure it'll jump above 500 GB, and believe me: There is NO hoster who can give us a deal under $1500/ month for this amount of bandwidth.

      We might be back as we got a sponsor, but I have no clue how we are going to server all the people who are going to swarm it again without killing our donor off again....

      Advertising doesn't pay, and a tip jar gave us 20 bucks in 3 months. Gee, thanks.

      Michael
    • I guess you could say things have come full circle. It used to be that you had to optimize image/file sizes for the people with old modems like the 14.4 . The lucky 28.8 people weren't so much of a problem. Then it became "high bandwidth" on the users end and websites stopped optimizing. Perhaps this is just the beginning of going back to optimizing those files to save bandwidth on the server end. I know that I've been stripping down a few sections on my page here and there (but I've always been more for small graphics, lots of text). A difference of 50k per page can make a huge difference when we're talking a lot of hits.
    • Well, count me in. We run a website that compiles slang terms (again, no link, we get enough traffic as it is) .. one day, we were linekd by memepool.com, and basically incurred 140$ extra dollars on a 30$ hosting plan.

      We had to move hosts, but I dare say that we could outgrow the new one in a month or two if we made a concerned effort to bring in more traffic than we can handle.

      One last point: the online advertising industry is still in the shitter, but it won't always be this way. Remember when the media placements (ie, sites) had all the leverage in negotiating inventory buys by the ad networks? Well, it won't be like that again, but the websites won't remain the advertisers' whipping boys for too much longer either. It should even out over time, and offset some of the charges incurred by bandwidth usage.
    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @06:11PM (#2722828) Homepage
      The bandwidth payment model is kinda broken. Mobile phones really took off once it became established that you pay for _making_ calls and not so much for receiving them (though a flat line-rental charge is acceptable). It shouldn't cost a site more if it's popular; rather, the users requesting pages should pay for the bandwith they consume. (This is a tiny amount of money, and it's not the same as micropayments - you really are paying for usage of a scarce resource, and it's between you and your ISP.)

      The trouble is that for marketing reasons ISPs want to offer nominally flat-rate services (even though in reality they'll kick you off for going above some arbitrary limit) but hosting companies charge for actual usage. And there is AFAIK no payment structure to decide who is 'responsible' for a connection - just packet counting. Billing the side which initiates a TCP connection would be a reasonable first approximation.

      Another way out would be for small or hobbyist sites to run throttling webservers and stop serving pages temporarily when some quota of bandwidth runs out. However, the pages would remain accessible through web caches. This would lead to a demand from users that ISPs run a decent http cache, again pushing some of the responsibility for the surfing habits of 'random hordes' onto the ISP rather than the (un)lucky website.
      • If your walking in the mall, would you pay to go into a shop that Might have something you want, and pay to look at each "type" of item?Plus you know they'l' replace all there .jpgs. with .gifs, so you use more bandwidth.
    • by kriegsman (55737) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @06:18PM (#2722890) Homepage
      In order to keep up a snappy site, AdCritic had to deliver a HUGE amout of data. It's not so much that the needed to deliver it at 90 megabits per second all the time to each browser, but rather that each browser was likely to download several megabytes of data over the course of their visit to the site. And basically, moving a megabyte of data from hither to yon costs something.

      They tried contracting with Akamai to have them deliver the videos for them but two things went wrong: first, many viewers didn't actually see an accelerated performance, due to cache faults on the Akamai servers. And second, and perhaps more importantly, AdCritic was delivering so much data that they were running up a bill in excess of $50,000 per month.

      After several months, AdCritic refused to pay, and Akamai shut them off. They then tried to get another content delivery network (CDN) to carry them "for free" in exchange for promotional consideration, but it just wasn't worth it in the long run.

      Without a CDN to power them, their site ran slowly most of the time, and ultimately the math didn't work out:
      ad revenue < cost of data delivery = RIP.
      I suspect that fundamentally, their business model was flawed from the start, but they had capital to burn, and so they did.

      -Mark Kriegsman
      Founder, Clearway Technologies (the first CDN company, now owned by Mirror Image Internet [mirror-image.com])

    • I'm actually wondering *why* bandwidth seems to cost so much. You're really only moving very small bits of electricity down a wire -- you don't have the costs of housing huge servers and keeps OS's up and running to handle them (yes, I know there are costs in setting up a router, but really it's just a "setup-once, forget it" kind of thing, outside of occasional security maintenance).

      I sometimes think bandwidth is the gasoline of high-tech: a relatively inexpensive resource, presumably finite, that companies can charge extra for when they feel it is "necessary". Hopefully, bandwidth will follow current trends and ride waves of up-and-down prices like gasoline.

      • It seems that it's not so much the cost of bandwidth, but the charging for every {giga,mega}byte of bandwidth at colocations in addition to charging for rackspace.

        For example, for about $2k per month I can get a MPPP dual T1 internet connection, 3Mbit/sec, and run that link for all the wire will deliver all month long. Even at 80% constant utilization that's 800Gbyte per month.

        Most colo schemes seem to want to charge more than this -- at least 30 to 50% more, in fact.

        What accounts for that? Presume a typical site has the disk/ram/cpu to deliver enough content to burn through 800Gbyte/month, is A/C, a router port and electricity worth the extra money? Is it the "strain" on hosting center uplinks that a popular site, connected at high bandwidth to the provider's network?

        Assuming that high-bandwidth direct connections that colo customers have yields high demands on network uplinks, why not give customers a break and provide rate-limited network links for a substantial savings? Or if you're in the market for running a high bandwidth site, buy connectivity rather than colo space and run it for all its worth.
  • Of All Times... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SMN (33356) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:18PM (#2722469)
    I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering this. . . where am I gonna be able to find MPEG'd versions of next year's Super Bowl commercials now? It's often the only sports game I watch all year, and really just for the commercials -- but I like to download the funny ones afterwards. Can someone else recommend another site that might archive the Superbowl ads?

    Also, their Investment Page [adcritic.com] is still up, so you can get some idea of the shear amount of traffic they receive -- 32,500,000 videos streamed last January alone (that's a lot of bandwidth)!

    In case anyone misses the irony, this is a site where people go looking for ads -- you'd think it's the perfect market for any advertisements. If banner ads can't succeed even here, then the future of free websites isn't looking too bright.

    • Re:Of All Times... (Score:3, Informative)

      by benedict (9959)
      How about adforum.com?

      I've had problems making their stuff work on Mac OS X -- their codec is apparently not supported -- but I bet they'd be willing to work on that if enough people complain.
  • by KurdtX (207196) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:19PM (#2722483)
    Wait, a site that was "All ads, all the time" became too popular? And advertisers could track which ads were more popular than others objectively and exactly? I've always said most marketeers wouldn't understand technology if it smacked them in the face. Guess I was right.

    Damn, if they couldn't find funding, slashdot's fux0r'd.
    • by Bearpaw (13080)
      Wait, a site that was "All ads, all the time" became too popular? And advertisers could track which ads were more popular than others objectively and exactly?

      Nope. I mean, they could, but only in that specific context, so the information wasn't useful to them. Adcritic's audience was not the intended audience, and it's unlikely that any statistically meaningful information about the latter could be drawn from the former.

      Advertisers probably have much better methods of judging the actual impact of ads than Adcritic could ever be.

  • I'll miss Adcritic, but I can't say I'm surprised they couldn't make it. The bandwidth they were using must have been mindboggling. Given how hard it is for sites serving mostly text to stay afloat, I can't see how they could have done it.

    I don't think they were getting any revenue from the companies whose advertising they were airing. (They did have permission tp distribute them, by the way.)

  • by Starship Trooper (523907) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:21PM (#2722496) Homepage Journal
    This is just one example of why peer-to-peer distributed systems like the Freenet project [sourceforge.net] need to be developed. The Web is limited in that there needs to be somebody willing to maintain and update the servers on which data is stored, and that when a huge central resource like this can no longer afford to maintain their service, gigabytes of data can be potentially lost forever. What we need is a distributed system, where content is automatically propagated between nodes and can be downloaded from any one node, independent of venture capital and ad revenues.

    Freenet does much of this, but still falls short of the ideal and still needs a lot of work to become viable. "Unpopular" data on Freenet is automatically destroyed to make room for more popular data, which makes it unsuitable for prolonged archival. There still isn't a decent search engine; finding data requires that you obtain the "key" from somebody who knows where to find it, which is inefficent and makes it hard for new Freenet users to locate data. If Freenet data could be made more permanent and easily searchable, or if somebody else could develop and promote a P2P network that isn't just a haven for warez and stolen music, it would become a great alternative to the struggling Web.

    • Freenet is nifty and all, but it lacks a few important things: content control for synchronous updates or deletions, an HTTP gateway, and so on.

      (I know, I know, these things are largely orthogonal to the purposes of Freenet. This is kind of my point. Read on.)

      I've always liked the Akamai model-- static content is distributed to edge servers, and users are directed to their optimum edge server by magic. (If I knew how Akamai did it, I'd be doing it myself instead of talking to you freaks.)

      The thing with that model is that you can put plain old HREFs on plain old web pages, and instead of the content being served by one NetBSD box (or whatever) that explodes every time Taco even thinks of posting a link to it, the actual content comes off these load-balanced servers all over the world.

      There's only one problem with this: it can be either really expensive, or really unreliable. I haven't been able to figure out how to make it both cheap and robust.

      Ideally, the vision would be something like the seti@home model: download a little screensaver to your computer. You configure how much disk space you want to allocate for the program, and then you walk away. The server on your computer registers itself with a central broker, and starts receiving data fragments to cache. (I guess each file-- image or movie or document or whatever-- would have to be on a single server, because it would have to be served up by a single HTTP request.)

      When you're away from your computer, it acts like a little caching edge server for web content. When you sit down and start using your computer, it drops off the content network until it's idle again.

      Because every request goes through a central request broker, the system should be able to handle edge servers coming on and dropping off the network all the time.

      Okay, so there'd have to be a central authority to handle all requests... but there wouldn't necessarily have to be just one central authority. Say I set up "webcache.org" (although that name is taken) and you access content on it by going to "http://webcache.org/cachemonster.cgi?somerandomst ring." Then the guy down the block sets up "getyerowncache.org" and does the same thing, only URLs to his cache network would have to go through "http://getyerowncache.org/...." But all the content lives on a single network, and every broker talks to every edge server.

      (How do the edge servers know about the brokers? Why, through a central registry, of course. Look, if I had it all figured out, I would have done it by now!)

      I dunno. Maybe it's a dumb idea. But I don't think so. I just don't have time to work on it.

      Step right up, folks! I'm givin' 'em away for free, here!
      • Yes, I'm replying to myself. I just re-read my post, and it sounds like a pretty damn good idea.

        The model thusfar: you have a central web server that has copies of all its own content (naturally) that is also running cache broker software. You also have one or more computers elsewhere that talk to the content server: "Hello, I'd like to cache some of your content. I have so-n-so megs of space free. Give me a file!" The broker makes a note of the server's location and sends it some data. The server caches it.

        When the central broker receives a request for a URL, it figures out which content server has the file requested, picks the one "closest" to the requester, and redirects.

        What we'd need:

        • A protocol for communicating between content server and central broker.
        • An algorithm for figuring out how "close" a content server is to a requester
        • A reference implementation of a request broker, probably as a CGI program. How to implement the database: NDBM, or something more complex?
        • A reference implementation of a caching content server.


        Any volunteers?
  • Adcritic, Slashdot, Body Modification Ezine: sites that provide a valuable service to readers and fans of a whole industry, and yet can't pay the bills. How to make it add up?

    Of course they could go the Salon route, and introduce "AdCritic PREMIUM!" with larger vid feeds for a few bux. Or they could hire a laid-off pr0n editor and introduce pay-per-view. But there's got to be a better way, one that rightfully assigns the cost of serving the ads on the advertisers themselves, who surely want people to see the ads.

    Here's the answer: a mandatory annual levy on the advertising industry to support AdCritic. It's commonly used in agriculture, to support those "It's the Cheese" and "Got Milk?" ads; and courts have ruled that it's legal.

    This is the right solution for so many reasons. Advertisers pay for a service they benefit from; advertisers, buyers, and consumers get their ads in full-motion QuickTime, Windows Media, or Divx; and people see the ads and buy more stuff! Everyone wins.

    • Introduce a price per download. Sort of reverse royalties. Mandatory payments only make sense when there is no way to exclude people from the benefits. For example, milk ads benefit all milk producers, so whether, say Berkeley Farms chips in, Berkeley Farms milk will still sell better due to advertising. In the case of ad critic on the other hand, if McDonalds doesn't pay for their ads being downloaded, ad critic will not offer McDonalds ads. Simple enough.
  • "Reason Why..." (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dghcasp (459766) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:22PM (#2722502)
    Ummm, we realized there is no money to be made by showing ads for free...

    It's an interesting comment on our culture that AdCritic existed in the first place; that ads have become entertainment. While *insert-network-here* would probably be rather upset if a site copied and posted *insert-hit-tv-show-here* onto a web site, I don't think advertisers (product or agency) ever complained about getting extra viewers for their ads...

    Are we moving towards a society where the value of product placement will cover the whole cost of entertainment and we'll be able to get free copies of *insert-new-hit-movie-here* because it'll be completely filled with Dr. Pepper backdrops?

    Although personally, I don't feel any grief that humanity has just eradicated the last known resovoir of "Where's the Beef!" I bet the CDC felt this way when they eradicated Smallpox.

    • Coca-Cola paid $100million for Harry Potter rights.

      It could be argued that the Olympics are paid for solely by their sponsors (I'd argue against that, but the argument can be made)
  • It's a small reason, don't know why the /. editors didn't post it because the site it getting hammered.

    Just Choose It Later.

    AdCritic.com has enjoyed a sucessful life as a leader in the area of archiving television and radio advertising and related information for both consumers and the advertising industry. Our business, although strong, has been unable to weather the current economic realities beseiging the United States today. The short answer: we became so popular so fast that we couldn't stay afloat!

    We thank you for your continued support of AdCritic.com, and hope that we will be back in full swing someday soon.

    Interested in helping out? You could always just send us some money... or send your condolences.

    Technically, the economic winds changed for the online world very quickly, and caused us to have to change our business plan to match those changes. The development lead time of those new changes, coupled with a lack of resources to develop our research facilities to their full potential, put us in a position where we simply could not continue our operations without outside funding. We still believe that our business model will work; it will just have to work for someone else, as our timing was not ideal. We'll work on that.
  • Sheer Incompetence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:29PM (#2722549)
    The entire media industry is supported by ads. Giant corporations like AOL Time-Warner have made buckets of money for decades by making the public watch ads only 10% or 20% of the time.

    Here we have a company that had people look at ads 100% of the time. But they couldn't stay afloat even though they were sitting on top of a huge gold mine. Why? It's because they didn't bother to send a bill to the advertisers.

    If they would just hire an administrative assistant to print out invoices, they would be in the black in no time!

    • And the statistics. Companies pay ungodly amounts of money for statistics. They could either find a reseller or a maybe even an multi-billion dollar ad agency. They are the equivalent of selling people popup banners.

      Hardest part is the contacts, many good businesses go out of businesses for not having contacts. Same goes for bad businesses, CEO's with contacts can get people to pump money into a worthless company.

      I made a comment that Slashdot should have a jobs website, now they have one. (Id like to think it was my idea. lol) How about the same cartel take adcritic under the wing and get them up and running.
    • by burrito37 (257042)
      According to Ad Resource [internet.com], the average cost for banner ads is ~$25/CPM (that is, $25 per 1000 impressions). If AdCritic charged this amount for their 300,000 page views per day (according to their own investment page), they would take in $7500 per _day_. This is over $200k / month! Shouldn't that be enough for bandwidth expenses?

      Furthermore, from an advertiser's point of view, 30 seconds of a potential customer's attention should be a lot more valuable than standard banner ads which most people ignore anyway... Perhaps the CPM price charged by AdCritic could be even higher....

  • I felt AdCritic was one of the benefits of having Broadband. Now it is gone and I'm not sure why. The "why" page just says they did not make $. Okay. Why didn't they make enough money?

    There seems to be a missed marketing opportunity here. If their traffic was really so big, you cannot tell me that the vendors whose commercials they displayed could not be approached for some payola. This is more advertising for them. Why wasn't their spiel compelling if they did approach vendors?

    When I first found the site I assumed it would eventually create a new marketing avenue where companies focused on creating funny/appealing commercials with the up front intent of hosting it on AdCritic. The strategy there being the better the commercial is, the more eyes you will have looking at it.

    Perhaps AdCritic was just a little before its time. Maybe the demographic was not right. Maybe it will be back when everyone's mom and grandma has broadband. Maybe it will be back when folks at companies controlling ad budgets really understand the marketing power of the internet.
  • Not uncommon, even in meatspace. You get popular, you expand. In most businesses, income lags behind the service. You give lots of service, but the income doesn't show up for a long time.

    Kinda sucks to see them go. Now that I finally have a cable modem at home, I might have wanted to visit more often.
  • A dotcomm that was dumb enough to get into the high bandwidth consuming game of distributing video streams with revenue coming from banner ads and the like when all around them it has been shown that sites can't even afford to pay for the bandwidth costs of just serving some dynamic HTML doesn't deserve pity but instead a Darwin Award [darwinawards.com]
  • They were doomed from the begining. I mean, people go to their site _only_ to view and laugh over, of all things, advertisements. How in the heck do you sell quality ad space on there? Maybe the Amazon.com solution would have worked better for them:


    People who liked this ad also found these ads enjoyable:

    The new Pepsi Commercial "Do-dad"

    The new "Wazzup" Commercial



    I just don't see them really making money unless the advertisers paid to be listed on the site.
  • Why the hell weren't advertisers paying out the wazoo to be on adcritic? Here's a place where people actually go voluntarily and watch ads. No attempts to push it down their throats. What a great way to get your message out. Imagine that, people WANT to see your ads. They have hard solid numbers of who is watching the ad versus some black magic neilsen crap where most people have switched channels or doing a system dump.

    (They *could* get a better name however. It just sounds so, er, critical...)

  • by bprotas (28569) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:41PM (#2722627)
    Hey guys, here's an idea: let's take a website that's shutting down because it can't afford bandwidth, and post a link to it on the frontpage of slashdot!!! That will show them what REAL BANDWIDTH USAGE COSTS!!!! MWA HA HA!!!!!!!
  • I didnt even knew this site existed, and now Im looking for the Alice Cooper pitching the Marriot Hotel commercial... any place else to look?
  • apple.com/trailers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foobar104 (206452) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:49PM (#2722684) Journal
    (Hope this isn't redundant; I just skimmed the comments at 3 before posting. That's right, baby. I'm bad.)

    I visit apple.com/trailers [apple.com] pretty regularly-- at least once a week. Apple uses it to showcase QuickTime technology, and I'm sure there's some arrangement between Apple and the movie studios to get those trailers out there.

    I wonder if Apple would be interested in picking up Ad Critic's yoke? I mean, the infrastructure is already there; Apple's got their content for the trailers site akamai'd all to heck, so it's as immune to the Slashdot effect as a site can be. And I'm sure agencies would like to get more eyeballs in front of their ads, especially now when PVRs are just starting to give viewers a viable choice to watching them on tee vee.

    (Uh-oh. I mentioned Apple, QuickTime, and advertising all in one post. From the time I click "submit" we'll have about two minutes to reach minimum safe distance.)
  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj@g m a i l.com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @05:51PM (#2722699) Homepage
    we became so popular so fast that we couldn't stay afloat!

    Too bad. Another victim of their own success; trampled to death by an insane bandwidth bill (judging from their content).

    You know what would keep guys like these afloat? When somebody finally comes up with a viable P2P system that acts as a basic "userland akamai" for 'non-profit' fansites. As the audience size grows, the members continue to support the whole (well, at least when it comes to large, static pieces of content), instead of the site being crushed under the weight of its popularity.

    Fat chance?

    --

    • I saw one site (I forget the name) using the Red Swoosh [redswoosh.com] P2P CDN.
    • ...but they aren't getting use. Consider Swarmcast or MojoNation; both offer similar models. Freenet can also serve the purpose (though its performance can sometimes be poor, that's better than not having the content available at all).

      The only problem is that none of these systems has enough (mainstream) content to attract users, or enough users to attract content.
  • I don't know about you, but I sucked up probably several dozen dollars' worth of bandwidth through my company LAN downloading movie trailers from them. Kinda' sucks that they're just giving up now, not even setting up a subscription-based something or anything -- I don't watch TV but do see movies occasionally, and this is a majro blow to my movie-marketing exposure, which we all know is the main way we choose which movies to watch. If you want to show your support, contribute a dollar or something [amazon.com]
    here[1] and maybe we can get them to give us /something/.

    Maybe if they see a few thousand people show their support with a token gesture, they'll think about scrapping together a subscription-based something...

    NOTE: Does anyone knows of a company that has something like Amazon's honor system but without the 15% commission?

    [1]http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/my-pay-pa ge /P32T4TFRI0LWCA
  • CD-R archive of the site. Sell those at cafepress if they'll let 'em. I'd rather shell out $10 for that than wait to download 650MB of .mov files. Have multiple volumes. Have best of. Sell the '01 Superbowl commercials on a CD by themselves. The '00 election commercials. C'mon, it's too damn easy to make money . . .
    • mjgamble writes:
      CD-R archive of the site.
      CD-R? Nowhere near enough capacity!

      I'd pay for a DVD of the entire adcritic site.

      Make it region-free and unencrypted, with access to the editorial content of the site via DVD-ROM.

      Pressing disks is probably still cheaper than their bandwidth costs had been :-)

    • Exactly my suggestion. Put VCDs of the Budweiser frogs on eBay.

      Somehow I imagine the advertisers would have a problem with that, but they sure didn't have a problem with adcritic losing tons of cash streaming their commercials.

  • I mean, what kind of a business model is that?

    It seems to me that they should pursue the anti-pay-per-view model, in which the people making the content (the advertising companies) should pay adcritic for each end-user viewing of their ads...

    The only irony I see here is in the inanity of the original business model. It amazes me that people are still surprised that it's difficult to run high-bandwidth sites and stay afloat, and this has GOT to be one of the highest-bandwidth sites out there.

    Why were they pursuing "taditional" web-ad revenues when their real target should have been Coca Cola, Budwesier, etc....
  • by pgrote (68235) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @06:24PM (#2722933) Homepage
    Let's be honest and call AdCritic what it was ... a place to waste time during the day.

    This is really nothing more than a small site, that got popular, found out it couldn't pay the bills with ads and dropped out.

    When did they become the archive of television commercials? Does it strike anyone else as odd that archives are typically academic pursuits suported by trusts, grants and donations and not commercial ventures?

    And abou the archiving ... did you ever try to watch an older commercial on AdCritic? It was horribly slow and most times you would give up.

    Yes, it was a cool idea. I used to send folks URLs to the ads I liked.

    Is it a money maker? Nope.

    Where they really archiving television commercials? Well, if you call picking out the funniest, most outlandish and humor filled then yes.
  • Too bad companies don't start to release notices that pop-up advertising is too expensive to be worthwhile. That would make my day!
  • fuckedcompany.com (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrpotato (97715)
    Peter Beckman (ex]Founder of AdCritic.com) posted himself that news over FuckedCompany.com: see it and the following discussion here [fuckedcompany.com].
  • AdCritic was unicasting video, which has always been a strange and not very efficient idea. I never figured the business plans of the other video broadcast sites who wanted to send out free video. Looks like the only folks willing to pay are corporate video producers who have a lot riding on it.

    Think about it. On a major TV network, the advertiser pays only one cent for each user who is presented the ad. Why should they pay more than that to a web site like adcritic, even if adcritic did try to charge the advertisers?

    Indeed, why pay more than a cent to deliver a low-res version of the ad with a long wait? Well, perhaps to a more receptive viewer, since some chunk of those TV viewers are in the bathroom or fast forwarding, but still why pay more than a couple of cents?

    And you can't deliver megabyte files for a penny, not that effectively. The internet is great but it's not (without multicast) for broadcasting. Broadcast TV is many orders of magnitude more efficient at getting data out to a lot of viewers if that data is video.

    Plus on TV you watch the ad and you get a free program with it to boot.

    Online radio faces the same problem, though the bandwidth need is not as crazy. But still, regular broadcast is orders of magnitude more efficient.
  • by Nonesuch (90847) <nonesuch.msg@net> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @08:45PM (#2723930) Homepage Journal
    They made the Fucked Company Hall of Fame, and the comments [fuckedcompany.com] are a lot funnier than the ones showing up on Slashdot.

    Dear Pud:

    We're fucked. Damn.
    Peter Beckman
    [ex]Founder of AdCritic.com [adcritic.com]

    Dear Peter:
    Fuck you! Your site rocked. Why didn't you just make it subscription-only after you had the audience? Your "slow-bandwith-unless-you-pay" shit was dumb. Subscription-only might not have worked, but why didn't you try? Woulda cut your bandwith-bill down, and coulda made a couple of bucks.
    Pud

    When: 12/18/2001
    Company: AdCritic.com
    Severity: 100 - new hall of fame inductee!
    Points: 200

  • Ok, so this might just be a start, but I think we all can agree that coca cola ads are some of the most memorable over the years. Believe it or not, the Library of Congress [loc.gov] has archives of information important to America's cultural history [loc.gov], and at

    http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/ [loc.gov]

    you can find 50 years of coca cola ads. I especially like the ones with the polar bears.

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