My role


Does it always pay to advertise?

The Forum's website for the man in the street malehealth is now taking advertising on most pages. Editor Jim Pollard explains the decision and asks the simple question: is it a good idea?


Sandwich Board ManThe Forum's malehealth site is now displaying advertising or, as the ad trade prefers to call them, sponsored links.

This is not the first time we've taken ads. In the past we've had ads from TV companies looking to cast the latest reality TV show. We've had sponsored sections and we even had a rate-card. But this is different - a quantum leap — as we now have ads on all pages.

We decided to do this because, of course, the site needs money. Our core grant from the NHS comes to an end next month and as a result the financial future of the site is less secure than in the past.

Visitors up 30%

Despite this we now attract over 83,000 unique visitors every month — an increase of some 30% on our last audit period — which is pretty good in the increasingly competitive internet market. Especially when you copnsider that we can't advertise the site, are not attached to a popular offline brand and cannot — yet — offer all the more dynamic features that internet users are getting used to.

The issue that has always caused problems when we have discussed advertising in the past is that of our independence. The Forum's site promises fast, free independent information and the idea of 'sponsored links' tends to undermine this claim. The preferred language of the advertisers — sponsored links rather than advertising — shows what they're really after. Sponsor suggests a close relationship and hints at endorsement which is what the advertisers really want. But the Forum is not in a position to endorse medical or health products and wouldn't do it even if we could. Our trump card is our independence. It is, to use more advertising jargon, one of our core brand values.

To avoid any implied endorsement we're not taking any health ads but ads that might appeal to men in general such as cars. entertainment, techie products, travel and fitness products. We raise revenue from these on a CPC or cost per click basis — each time you click through from our site to the advertiser's site you raise a few pence for the Forum. We're going to trial this for a year.

What do you think about advertising on malehealth? Will it damage the brand? Or are we all so used to advertising these days that we take it all with a suitably large portion of artery-hardening salt?

What about the idea of advertising on the MHF site? Perhaps, given as this site is aimed at men's health professionals and activists rather than the man in the street, we could have a less stringent advertising policy and allow health-related ads. After all, if health professionals aren't discerning enough to make decisions in this field for themselves what are they doing working in it?

Please, let us know what you think of:

  1. our new advertising policy on malehealth
  2. whether we should carry advertising on this site, the MHF organisational site,

Share your views using the box below and, whatever you think, make sure you click through next time you visit malehealth. There's no obligation to buy or even stay on the advertiser's site once you get there.

Page created on March 2nd, 2007

Page updated on December 1st, 2009