Easing Back In, With Ponies


Ahem. Where was I?

Oh yes. The mailbag.

I received two identical emails from this gentleman inside a week:

Dear popehat.com,

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.


Austin Staubus
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:

Hey Ken,

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.


Austin Staubus

Bored now.


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.



Last 5 posts by Ken White



  1. Lizard  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:05 pm

    What if I only want a 75% fill remnant solution?

  2. Anonymouse  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:10 pm

    I have to say, Mr. Staubus is quite a looker.

  3. Lizard  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:13 pm

    Utterly off-topic to this post, and yet, strangely not off-topic. I just discovered that this exists: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/65022/Laser-Ponies .

    I am not responsible for any nightmares Ken might experience if he follows that link.

  4. Kelly  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:13 pm

    "Specific Verticals" is becoming the new taint snorting, but only in the juvenequinallian sense of course.

  5. He really said that...?!?  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:13 pm

    "You magnificent bastard, I read your guest post!"

    Now I have to pull out Patton and watch that again. :)

  6. onehsancare  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:16 pm

    And, he has 20 connections on Linked In!

  7. Josh C  •  Jun 18, 2013 @3:59 pm

    The comment about verticals means that they are only working in certain fields (compare e.g. "horizontal integration"), and is explaining that they are used to dealing with sites like yours (politics and news, hopefully. I dread what other Road-to-Popehat style unorthodoxies might have led them here).

    Otherwise, this looks much more like sales than spam. The grammar is good, and I only see one obvious sign that he isn't familiar with your website (point "D" in his initial response), which may be a boilerplate error.

    Overall, that rates at least a B+, "Would Be Solicited By Again".

  8. Linda  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:16 pm

    onehsancare, that's right because all that matters is how many linkedin connections you have… get a life off the internet you loser.

  9. princessartemis  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:20 pm

    The grammar is only good if one happens to speak the same eldritch tongue from which come 100% fill remnant solutions.

  10. xbradtc  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:33 pm

    The initial mailing was spam. Sure, his second contact was human generated, but the first mailing was pure processed pork product.

    And I'm not sure if he was just using buzzword bullshit to sell, or dumb enough to jargonize his conversation.

    But I'll tell you this, anyone soliciting my business that opens and email with "Hey, Ken" after such short contact would quickly be dropped.

  11. SouthJerseyBlu  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:39 pm

    You'll be gratified to know that a google search for "juvenequinallian" turns up two hits, as of this moment. Both point back here. #booyah

  12. Jaze A Ficarra  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:45 pm

    Ken, I miss you when you have trial.

  13. Piper  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:46 pm

    Lanista? Sounds like a modern day Lannister…

  14. PhilG  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:48 pm

    I think I understood most of the dark tongue of the sales but what in pony-heaven's name is a "100% fill remnant solution."

    Haha, as if ponies had a heaven. Still though, if someone could enlighten me that would be lovely.

  15. He really said that...?!?  •  Jun 18, 2013 @4:56 pm

    100% fill remnant solution? I thought that was concrete.

  16. TerryTowels  •  Jun 18, 2013 @5:00 pm

    I'm feeling cranky, and want to pass it on– and for additional teeth grinding, make sure the sound is on.


  17. Justin S  •  Jun 18, 2013 @5:10 pm

    Long-time reader, first-time poster, but I just ran across an article titled "A Great Response to a Cease and Desist Letter," wherein attorney Stephen Kaplitt responds with distinction to a vague legal threat by attorney Richard Trenk, who represents the Township of West Orange, regarding Mr. Kaplitt's client's website.


    Also, welcome back, Ken!

  18. Sigmadog  •  Jun 18, 2013 @5:11 pm

    Welcome back, Ken. It's been a lonely, lonely internet while you were away.

  19. LauraW  •  Jun 18, 2013 @5:51 pm

    @Josh C
    It's a spam email message offering to provide spam blog posts. That's not just spam, it's meta-spam.

    Oh, and welcome back, Ken.

  20. Dave Ruddell  •  Jun 18, 2013 @6:09 pm

    When I hear Lanista, I think of Lentulus Batiatus.

  21. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 18, 2013 @6:20 pm

    Unsolicited+commercial+email=spam. Doesn't matter how much he paid for the email list or whether it was advertised as "100% Opt-In."

  22. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 18, 2013 @6:20 pm

    And @Terry Towels — that blue-eyed pony is the antichrist, I think. Gives me the creeps just thinking about it. But what has been seen can't be unseen.

  23. George William Herbert  •  Jun 18, 2013 @9:17 pm

    Did you have to bring Clark's specific verticals in? Now it all smells funny.

  24. Jim Tyre  •  Jun 18, 2013 @10:04 pm

    Who is this Ken person?

  25. Deathpony  •  Jun 19, 2013 @4:47 am

    What if they were 100% filled with pony remnants?

    Now that's a thought that's going to fester….

  26. david  •  Jun 19, 2013 @5:05 am

    I soilled my drink. You will all pay. Cry havoc, and let slip the ponies of War!

  27. NB  •  Jun 19, 2013 @6:13 am

    Welcome back Ken! We missed you! Spammers had been breathing easy.

  28. Brett Middleton  •  Jun 19, 2013 @6:22 am

    Juvenequinallian? This is just so delicious I think I'm going to try to drop it into conversations with the rest of the animal science faculty here and see if it catches on.

    Personally, I would be most concerned about Austin's offer to put your junk in front of 3,000 people. Even if it's legal, it doesn't sound savory.

  29. Sam  •  Jun 19, 2013 @7:30 am
  30. manybellsdown  •  Jun 19, 2013 @8:16 am

    @Brett – I'm pretty sure the ladies or Regretsy would have taken him up on that offer.

  31. manybellsdown  •  Jun 19, 2013 @8:16 am

    *of Regretsy. No postee before coffee.

  32. Anonymous  •  Jun 19, 2013 @9:01 am

    I hope Ken was OK a few years back when Slashdot changed it's entire site to an OMG PONIES!!!! theme!!

    And I prefer diagonals to verticals.

    Seriously, though, good to see you back, Ken. I hope your trial went well.

  33. orvis barfley  •  Jun 19, 2013 @10:23 am


    reading those emails from that guy, i realize that english is no longer my first language.  and i don't have a second to fall back on.

  34. JWH  •  Jun 19, 2013 @12:17 pm

    I think you were a little mean to Mr. Staubus. Although he wrote in business jargon rather than English, his email struck me as no worse than the various sales emails that land in my work account each day.

  35. Shawn Young  •  Jun 19, 2013 @12:55 pm

    There's very likely a discrimination suit here. Specifically, in reference to verticals: most ponies are going to be genetically indisposed to clearing vertical jumps, as opposed to typical show horses with longer legs. At the risk of being exclusionary, surely Popehat should lower its verticals so that decent, hardworking ponies can jump them, or at least see over them. Failure to do so may invite a civil suit the likes of which the world has never seen.

    Govern yourselves accordingly.

  36. JR  •  Jun 19, 2013 @1:01 pm

    Mr. Staubus seems to simply be prospecting. Spam e-mails are never fun, but from the looks of the correspondence, he was simply trying to help. We love you Ken, but the post reads slightly over-the-top.

  37. Trebuchet  •  Jun 19, 2013 @3:36 pm

    Welcome back Ken. Since the line I dropped you is no doubt in spam folder could you please look into unblocking my IP addresses? It's a pain getting Pop what fix on just the phone!

  38. Trebuchet  •  Jun 19, 2013 @3:40 pm

    Damn autocorrect!

    Let's see if that works. It gave me "pop what" a moment ago.

  39. AlphaCentauri  •  Jun 19, 2013 @9:39 pm

    Every spammer is simply "prospecting." And every email requires a little of Ken's time to evaluate before reading or deleting.

    If salesman who wants Ken to patronize his business sent him two emails a week "prospecting," Ken's clients would have a legitimate reason to wonder why they were paying for Ken's time when other people can have it for free.

    The fact that sending spam in large volumes is essentially free to the sender — despite taking up a great deal of time and bandwidth from the recipients — has shifted the balance so far toward intrusive salespeople that unsolicited emails is not acceptable business practice.

  40. wheelsoc  •  Jun 19, 2013 @9:43 pm

    "100% fill remnant" basically means specializing in selling as for ad space or airtime that hasn't been filled yet.

    Remnant advertising is somewhat explained by this small business wiki page which has ironically been hijacked and turned into a promo after all the useful information. I'm mostly linking to that example because the funny was too much to resist. If that's not your thing, there's also a Wikipedia page for remnant advertising.

  41. pjcamp  •  Jun 20, 2013 @4:24 pm

    You guys have inventory?

    I hesitate to ask what it is.

  42. twency  •  Jun 24, 2013 @8:40 am

    Ok, total buzzkiller here, but Ken seems to be under the misimpression the ponies are simply juvenile horses. AFAIK that ain't right.