Ahem. Where was I?
Oh yes. The mailbag.
I received two identical emails from this gentleman inside a week:
I hope this message finds you well. My name is Austin Staubus and I am with Lanista Concepts, a premium boutique ad-agency located in Dallas, TX. I recently discovered your website and wanted to inquire about potential advertising opportunities.
Lanista Concepts specializes in increasing ad revenue through both manual and programmatic efforts and offers the most competitive and complete monetization solution on the market. As such, we are confident we can outperform your existing solution.
Further, we specialize in certain verticals and feel this could become a mutually beneficial partnership. If you would, please put me in touch with the person or department that deals with your business development so we can discuss further.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Lanista Concepts Ad Agency
[address and phone number ommitted]
Today I responded:
Dear Mr. Staubus,
Thank you for your inquiry. I am happy to hear from a reputable agency, particularly a premium boutique.
We at Popehat are definitely interested in increasing our revenue, owing to certain recent expenses that prudence and confidentiality agreements prevent me from explaining in detail. To date our ad revenue has been disappointing. Perhaps that's because we've been focusing on manual methodologies of paradigm interstice optimization. It never even occurred to us to take a programmatic approach to monetization! That's why you're the professional and we aren't.
Though I am eager to hear more, I am concerned at your reference to "certain verticals." Which verticals are these? If our website has a horizontally-focused design, will they still work? Or does verticals refer to things that are very tall?
Also, I assume that we would have some ability to veto certain types of advertising on our own site. We are all men of the world here, Mr. Staubus, and not prudes. But there are some things that our good consciences will not permit to be advertised on our web site. We would have to have a careful conversation about certain juvenequinallian issues.
Very truly yours,
Austin was cautious, but optimistic, in response:
Thank you for your quick response. That was, hands down, the best first response I've ever received. Your website analytics look great, and we feel confident we can increase your revenue. Your reputation for quality content online is nothing short of impressive.
Here are a few facts about Lanista Concepts and how we differentiate ourselves.
A. We're a 100% fill remnant solution.
B. We focus on specific verticals.
C. Every website we work with receives a custom set up to ensure optimization (we're not a "plug and play" solution).
D. We put your inventory in front to approximately 3,000 buyers.
E. We provide seven-day-a-week ad and technical assistance.
All of the ads we run are brand-safe. You won't experience and pop-ups, pop-unders, or ads that would be intrusive. In fact, we have the ability to filter the units so our publishers don't receive ads that are contrary, or questionable, to the aim of their site.
Further, I apologize if my mention of certain verticals was unclear. By verticals, I simply mean the type of website. Our main verticals are politics and news. You would not need to change the design of your site. In fact, the layout looks great.
Finally, Lanista Concepts works with a limited number of sites. We only work with publishers we know, for a fact, we can help. We feel confident Pope Hat is one of those websites. Please let us know we can earn your business.
Thanks for your response! We at Pope Hat are heartened. We didn't know it was possible for someone to focus on our specific verticals. We assumed our specific verticals would go neglected. Especially Clark's.
But I have more questions.
1. You say you have the ability to filter units. Is your filter pony-compliant? Can you assure no pony content? I need assurance with Level 4 safety here. I can't and won't have it, Austin, for a pony ad to slip through and have you telling me you thought it was a stunted donkey or something.
2. What kind of methodology do you use to match appropriate ads to content? For instance, say you wanted to match ads to our series mocking spammers who send us solicitations for guest posts, even though we have been ridiculing that for years (see, for instance, http://www.popehat.com/2013/04/30/wont-anybody-think-of-the-children-and-the-ponies-and-the-ponies-attacking-the-children/) — what would you match to that? What about our series naming and shaming web advertising spammers (like so: http://www.popehat.com/2012/10/24/ponies-have-entered-the-popehat-ponies-have-entered-the-popehat/) — what would you match to that? Would you use heuristic algorithms? Are they vertically programmatic?
Very truly yours,
Maybe you think I'm being mean to Austin, by naming him here.
I'm not. Austin, and his company, need to learn an important lesson: spamming has consequences. It should.
Spamming lets companies send vast numbers of emails cheaply and hope for a few hits. Collectively it inflicts costs — strain on the infrastructure of the internet, wasted time, spam filter expenses, annoyance. That cost isn't paid by the spammers. It's paid by you, and by me.
Spammers need an incentive not to spam. This is one such incentive. Ladies and gentlemen of the marketing profession, when you spam blogs, now and then you're going to find someone like me who is going to name, shame, and ridicule you. You deserve it. You deserve it because, like a telemarketer, you're willing to annoy thousands for a handful of bites. You especially deserve it when you offer me the disrespect of a lie — when you say "Your reputation for quality content online is nothing short of impressive," as if you had any clue who we are, other than a blog email address you've gotten off of some auto-generated list.
I hope this embarrasses you, Austin Staubus of Lanista Concepts Ad Agency. The way you elect to do business makes the world a measurably worse and more irritating place.
Edited to add:
And, as a palate cleanser, one who didn't write back:
I'm looking for a site to do a guest post on and found yours to be a fit. I have several articles on personal injury, DUI, criminal cases (and anything about law) that you might want to have on your site. I understand that you want nothing but the best pieces there so I made sure my articles are all fresh, informative, and original (absolutely free from plagiarism) . The article will have at least 300 words and will contain two links back to the site I'm developing. The piece is free!!
If you're interested, please let me know.
All the best,
You magnificent bastard, I read your guest post!
But I have concerns. 300 words? That's like half of one of my mid-paragraph parenthetical comments. Also, I appreciate that you have posts on personal injury, DUI, and criminal cases. But we have very specialized interests. So I ask you: would it be possible to get a guest post on, instead of driving under the influence, riding under the influence? Preferably the post would be about riding ponies under the influence — of drugs or alcohol, not of the ponies (Of COURSE you're under the influence of the pony when you are riding it. How could you not be? They know all. They see all. We imagine we have free will, we imagine we choose our own path, but we are fools — we merely do their bidding [Their dark, pony bidding]) — but in a pinch it could be about adult horses, I suppose. Or camels. Or dromedaries. (Dromedari?)
I look forward to hearing more.