Over the years I’ve tried many ad optimization services and networks.
Some are good, some terrible, some just okay.
While not all want to get you signed to an exclusive contract, some will broach the subject. Some may even urge you to sign promising more money than you’ve ever seen in your life.
I signed one and regretted it almost immediately. I’ll share my terrible experience below.
In the meantime, if you’re like me and you want the Coles’ Notes version, the answer, as far as I’m concerned is “DO NOT EVER SIGN AN EXCLUSIVITY CONTRACT WITH AN AD OPTIMIZATION SERVICE OR NETWORK.”
Okay, if that’s all you needed to know, you can leave and rest easy (or stay and enjoy other blog posts as well as my awesome free reports).
Here’s my horrendous experience signing an exclusivity contract
The bright side, if there is such a thing, is this contract pertained to my YouTube channel. Since the channel doesn’t earn all that much, it wasn’t a big deal, but it sure was annoying.
I set out some key emails that document the entire experience at the bottom of this post.
Which company did I sign an exclusivity contract with?
It was RECStudios.
Here’s what happened.
They contacted may saying I would more on YouTube than with YouTube ads.
I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be?
After a little back and forth, I let them have access to my YouTube channel.
What I didn’t know was that I was locked in for 12 months. That never came up. I’m sure it was in the fine print, but I never read that.
After a few months months when I didn’t notice any increase in revenue I asked to get out.
They said I was locked in for 12 months.
And so I waited for 12 months to roll on by.
To be fair, they did pay each month during the 12 months.
Once 12 months came and went I contacted them asking to be released.
I contacted them again.
They asked for a bunch of information. I gave it to them.
Fast forward almost one year later (after my contract expired) when finally I was able to get them off my channel, but it wasn’t because they disengaged from my channel. Oh no, they didn’t do that.
It was a fortunate happenstance. They had a YouTube glitch which somehow disengaged them from my channel. Or maybe YouTube disconnected them. They don’t say. I do set out the string of emails from RECStudios below.
Anyway, almost 12 months to the day after my contract expired, I was free.
They emailed suggesting I re-connect.
And then they sent an email saying they weren’t going to pay the balance owing unless I reconnected.
What? Are you nuts? That’s theft.
I called them on it. I sent a barrage of emails saying it’s ridiculous and they owe me the money.
It wasn’t much money mind you, but by this point it was the principle, which is really never a good reason to waste time and money, but hey, I’m human.
They did ultimately pay me what was owed, but it took way too much work. I don’t care to work with partners like that.
That’s my one and only experience inadvertently signing an exclusive contract with an ad management service.
Moral of the story: Don’t become beholden to one company who basically has total control. And shame on me cause I know better. Bulls make money. Bears make money. Hogs get slaughtered.
What about ad services that provide ads for your site?
I’ve been approached many times. I always decline. They can be persuasive. The promise of money is persuasive. Fortunately I had the good sense to stick to my guns.
Let’s think this through for a minute.
What could happen if you sign an exclusivity contract with an ad network? What could they do?
They can promise you the world, but if they don’t deliver, they’ll just make excuses that it’s your fault. They may say you don’t have enough ads on your site or make some other excuse.
The real worry is that they require you to load your site up with so many annoying ads, pop ups, interstitials, videos, etc. that while they earn, nobody will ever want to visit your site again. That would be awful. Even worse, they may force ads on your site that Google doesn’t like so your site’s rankings goes down the tubes.
They may be outright crooks and not pay you all that you’re owed. Of course, this could happen with other networks, but at least you’re free to leave any time you like.
The point is I can’t see an upside.
In fact, in my experience there isn’t an upside.
It’s all bad.
You lose control. You might get ripped off. You might compromise your site with too many annoying ads so that visitors never return and Google downgrades your site because it’s the most annoying site in the world.
That’s all I have to say on the matter.
Here’s a string of just a few emails from RECStudios.
The first email here is the one where they say I won’t get paid what’s owing to me unless I reconnected after their YouTube snafu that somehow fortuitously disengaged them from my YouTube account. This of course was the final email from them because I didn’t reconnect. I had to pound the table for final payment, which I believe I did get (with a struggle).
Now let’s back it up a bit:
On March 12, 2016 I asked to end the partnership. Here’s the email:
I emailed them again on June 8, 2016. They never got back to me from my March 12, 2016 request for cancellation.
Finally on June 9, 2016 they get back to me. But they aren’t exactly helpful. Looks like stalling.
After several more emails and stalling, they sent the following on October 7, 2016.
One month notice. Are you kidding me? I was due to be released back in March 2016.
I told them they had notice in March 2016. However, that wasn’t good enough. Here’s their response:
I acquiesced and responded to cancel it in one month.
What did they do?
Nothing. No cancellation. That’s right, they never cancelled. I have payments to prove it (at least they continued to pay me).
I’d still be with them if they hadn’t had some technical issue that disengaged my YouTube channel from them. For all I know, maybe YouTube did it if this is how RECStudios handles all their accounts.
Anyway, we get to the final email which is the first one set at the beginning of this saga.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.