Post by Sas148
Welcome to the A.F.A.Q.: Ad Frequently Asked Questions Thread
This has been created to address some of the most common questions about advertising on Wowhead in a more centralized location, rather than expecting users to have read all the various answers made over the last several months across multiple threads. If a question you have is not listed here please reach out via .
Wowhead needs money for server costs, developers, and the content/community team.
- The developers on Wowhead create features for the site such as the News Webhook and Dressing Room, implement data requests from other 3rd-party sites and communities, datamine all the BFA builds (which more often than not involve file format changes and additional work to fix the site so the pages users can comment on do not error), optimize SEO so Wowhead performs well in search results, and improve upon an aging codebase (Wowhead is over 12 years old!)
- Development time is also spent trying to reduce server costs. As ads are primarily optimized for English-speaking users, our non-English domains generate very little revenue but still incur server costs. We have decided to keep these sections maintained as a service to our international community. In addition, Wowhead is a very large site, and when a new expansion occurs, we see sizable traffic which leads to increased server costs. There is also an operations team, shared with other sites owned by Wowhead's parent company ZAM, which monitors the site for instability or downtime.
- The content team maintains the news and guide sections, as well as social media/community outlets. This encompasses a variety of tasks such as being on-call in the middle of the night for breaking-news alpha updates, writing guides on topics the staff specializes in, managing paid contracted guide writers which includes recruiting, invoicing, editing and formatting, moderation in places such as comments and Discord, organizing the Wowhead party, and shipping hundreds of prizes around the world. While news, guides, and social media were not implemented on Wowhead at the start of the site's history, and as such you may not be familiar with these sections if you haven't recently played WoW, they have become increasingly prominent in the past few years.
Wowhead is wholly unaffiliated with Blizzard. Due to the comprehensive and high-quality content on the site, Blizzard does recommended Wowhead to players requesting help, now and then. We receive no monetary assistance for developing and maintaining the site.
Periodically Wowhead articles or database pages are linked in Blizzard news. The Wowhead staff is sometimes asked to disable all ads on the spotlighted pages. Therefore, we operate at a net loss for pages highlighted by Blizzard, paying for server costs but receiving no revenue.
Sometimes Blizzard asks the Wowhead team to maintain the site in another language. These parts of the site do not monetize well, as the majority of advertisements are optimized for English-speaking users. We do not receive monetary assistance translating the site into different languages.
There is also little incentive for Blizzard's marketing company to spend large sums of money for large ad units, aka "skins" on Wowhead. This is due to Wowhead already being an effective way to get returning players interested in WoW again. These sorts of large marketing campaigns are usually allowed for unconventional sites or those covering games unrelated to Blizzard.
We believe that in spite of these drawbacks, Wowhead staying as a site wholly dedicated to WoW, translated into many languages, is a benefit for the community.
We have been experimenting with different types of ads for monetization purposes. Video ads monetize very well, more so than static images. The ads in the video unit tend to be higher quality than the randomly-selected ones elsewhere on the site, so there is a lower risk of auto-playing sound and annoying ads.
We launched with a video unit, intermixed with news reminders, in February 2018. This performed well, however, the dimensions were non-standard for traditional video advertisements. This means we could not properly monetize and take advantage of potential video ads which did not fit into our dimensions. In March 2018 we have increased the dimensions of the video advertisement to be 400px wide. This is the traditional size for video advertisements (ie, enlarging the video in the sidebar further would not lead to revenue increases--hitting 400x is important).
As of May 2018 we are evaluating the performance of the video unit and are looking to see if the site's revenue is impacted by the GDPR before making further modifications to other ad refreshes on the site.
There are either three or four ads on a single page. The number depends on if the fixed ad bar (on the right side) populated a single large ad or two smaller ones
. If you see a page that is displaying more than four ads please let us know via .
At one point there was potentially 5-6 ads on a single page. Due to various site performance issues and user feedback we reduced the number of ads per page in December of 2016. In order to compensate for the loss in ad revenue we compromised with a fixed ad bar on the right side, that moves with the page, displaying no more than two ads.
As of April 13, 2017 we removed one additional ad unit from potentially loading that used to be embedded in our calendar tool.
* Please note cookies are necessary for us to know you've closed it, if you frequently have cookies cleared it may return before the new one is posted.
Ad Placement Examples:
Most AdBlockers are actually referring to requests
when they indicate a specific number. When you see a number provided by an AdBlocker it's almost certainly higher than the number of ads that actually loaded. However. each ad has its own tracking mechanisms that are necessary to know that the ad was displayed, where, how long, and a number of other variables. This means each ad may incur a number of requests that varies, let's say an average of 5 per ad. If you have a page load with 5 ads and each has 5 requests then there's 25 on your counter. Further, we track site usage with Google Analytics, which has its own requests, and other interactions may be occurring that your AdBlocker identifies as an "ad" even though it's not. Our site refreshes ads currently once every 90 seconds, so, the longer the page is open the higher the number will become.
Two examples with assumptions:
- One page open for 1 hour, 3 ads loaded each time, with 5 requests per ad, reloading once every 90 seconds. You would have around 600 requests.
- One page open for 1 hour. 5 ads loaded each time, with 5 requests per ad, reloading once every 90 seconds. You would have around 1,000 requests.
The above is extremely simplistic and doesn't account for all foreseeable variables involved but it should be sufficient for the average user.
Wowhead ads very infrequently serve malware and we utilize ad scanning software to proactively send us alerts if an ad provider serves us one before users report it. No provider is foolproof; here's an example of imgur users finding malware
, and imgur is a much larger site than Wowhead. If we do find malware, we contact our advertising provider and ask them to turn off the channel immediately - we'd rather turn off a batch of ads that has 99% good ones, instead of waiting longer to isolate one bad ad. Malware is also unwanted for the advertising provider - when malware is found, we turn off ads, leading to less impressions/money for the provider.
As Wowhead has tried to solve issues over the last year, disruptive ads, as well as general ads (eg regular ads that are visible through ad blockers due to ad integrity) have been described as malware in various user reports. While we recognize that certain ads are disruptive, and are taking steps to curtain them as detailed in this article, they are not malware.
In November 2016, a Blizzard post made over Thanksgiving described an issue related to Wowhead's CDN & upload rates. This issue, while affecting users on slow connections and definitely annoying, was also not malware.
Any ad that interacts with our site in undesired ways is considered "bad" or "disruptive":
- Plays sound automatically without your interaction
- Causes substantial site lag after a reasonable load time
- Exceeds the prescribed boundaries
- Redirects you to another site/page
- Causes any sort of popups
- Downloads something to your computer
None of the above behavior is inherently
malicious and it's important to understand that very rarely is it ever actually
malware. Malware is software created with the intention
of damaging or disabling your computer. However, you should always be safe and never open anything downloaded without your permission or provide any information to a website/person that demands it without your having pursued it yourself. This is important to remember everywhere on the internet. When in doubt, ask someone.
There is an entire thread about bad ads and how to report them
to us that I recommend reviewing should you encounter one now or in the future.
The staff here proactively monitor the ads they see around the site while performing their duties. Anytime we discover something that is disruptive we'll relay specific ad data to our full-time ad person. That person will then contact the respective ad networks to have the ad removed and/or fixed. Further, we incorporate reports by our users who utilize the 'Report Ad' button on the site and/or click 'Feedback' and select 'Bad Advertisement'. Very specific information is provided to us when users report the ads in the recommended way, two examples are below:
Having all the above information is substantially more useful to us than a forum post, regular email or a message on Twitter. You can use those report functions as often as is necessary. You may not always receive a reply but we do investigate each one. If the issue the ad is causing is disrupting the site enough to prevent you from utilizing the report functions please feel free to send an email to as soon after the incident as possible. There are some additional troubleshooting options at our disposal that we can use at that time.Additionally
, as of May '17, we now use an Ad Screening company that uses various tools and techniques to monitor the ads displayed on our site. If it finds one that is outside our guidelines, or is in anyway disruptive, we'll be notified. Further, those additional type of reports are managed by a new
employee who will take appropriate actions by getting them removed from their respective ad networks. Monitoring these reports, and proactively our ads, will be this individual's primary focus.
If we were to ever confirm genuine malware is being distributed by an ad on our site then we would immediately shut down the entire ad network distributing that ad to ensure it is no longer distributed on our site. We would not even consider restoring that network until it could ensure that the ad no longer exists and what efforts they have, or will make, to prevent such an event from occurring again in the future.
Ads currently refresh anywhere between 60 and 90 seconds after the initial page load and cease to refresh after 90-120 minutes.
Wowhead does not knowingly permit ads that attempt to use your computer's CPU power to mine cryptocurrency nor does our site employ mechanisms to perform such actions. If you believe an ad is behaving in this way, please report it via the methods discussed in this document.
To learn more about the recent trend of ads mining cryptocurrency, please read this article by IT security company ESET
which provides a detailed explanation.Example Ad:
Wowhead does not utilize this. However sites owned by Curse network, a branch of Twitch, including Twitch videos that autoplay as you scroll down the page as part of their advertising strategy. As Curse owns or ad-reps several WoW sites, you may have assumed this was related to Wowhead instead.
Kotaku wrote an article on these autoplaying Twitch streams
Across the Internet, the use of AdBlockers has steeply increased in the past few years. This has affected the revenue of many sites on the Internet, including Wowhead. As such, we've begun working with companies in an attempt to recover some of that lost revenue. It is unfair to expect the 30-40% of users who view ads to cover the cost of the other 60-70% - this simply leads to pushing an increasingly-growing amount of ads on the non-Adblocking users, which raises the likelihood of bad ads or a disruptive browser experience. Therefore, we utilize various techniques to ensure ads are displayed on our site, as is intended, to cover our costs. Those who wish to not see ads on our site should consider our Premium subscription
for $1/month or $9/year.
There shouldn't be significant performance decreases for those using an adblocker (beyond that which would be experienced by anyone loading our site with ads displayed). However, it's hard for us to ensure that's the case due to the large number of options available. It is possible
that running multiple AdBlockers or changing settings in such a way as to prevent our ads from being displayed could interfere with the intended operation of our site. We're happy to troubleshoot with you if you're running one or more adblockers and suddenly have site stability issues. We're not going out of our way to punish
anyone who uses an AdBlocker, or several, but we can't account for the myriad of combinations and settings associated with each of them. Please note:
the mere fact that ads may be displayed on our site while you have an AdBlocker enabled is not a cause for troubleshooting. It is our intention
to display ads to all users, regardless of their AdBlock utilization. If, however, you experience a disruptive ad on our site we still take that very seriously and I encourage you to review the BAD ADS!! - Or how to report advertisements
sticky thread in our feedback forum.
This is part of our ad integrity system discussed in the previous question. AdBlock users may encounter this when utilizing their AdBlockers on our site. It is not dangerous and will not cause harm to you or your computer: it's just there to ensure ads are displayed to everyone. If you experience a negative impact due to this specifically, please contact us via to troubleshoot. If you experience a bad advertisement, please report it accordingly
We have a rather small team here at Wowhead but we still employ a full-time staffer to handle incoming feedback questions, concerns, suggestions and bad advertisement reports. Our offices are located in the Pacific time zone and we operate during normal business hours. Several of our staff work additional hours outside of that time, and even on weekends, to ensure we catch anything that may fall through the cracks and have it addressed immediately if it's urgent enough. Our site is used by people all over the world in all sorts of time zones. We do what we can to ensure they all get timely assistance while still maintaining a work/life balance. Most correspondence received via , our Discord #site channel
or our Feedback forum
will receive a response, if one is required, within 1 business day.
If you should have an urgent matter to discuss the most immediate way to get our attention is via our Discord server
in the #site channel. If it's less urgent, but still very important, please reach out to us via . We also regularly check our Feedback forums for those who need assistance. While we do monitor third party sites as best as we can (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Official Site Forums) they're not the best means of contact for us and can often result in missed communication opportunities. If you have specific site or account related concerns, reach out to us directly, don't rely on third party channels as a means of reaching us.
If the matter is specifically ad related, please, click 'Feedback' on the top of the site and select 'Bad Advertisement' providing a brief summary of what you felt was disruptive about the ad. This provides us necessary information to narrow down the ad you experienced. Feel free to do this as much as necessary, any time you encounter it; even if you had to go back you can still submit this report. If any information is needed we'll follow up with you via email. Please see our BAD ADS!! - Or how to report advertisements sticky
for specific information and additional options.
If it's the weekend, or outside normal business hours, please recognize that staff you reach out to may be enjoying their "off the clock" hours. Most of us are gamers like you, and while we may make ourselves accessible to you via social media it's important to recognize that sometimes we may not be working, and it may not be appropriate during those hours to engage us about Wowhead. Just like most employees, we expect to be able to relax at least some each day, please be mindful of that. Thank you!
We have users all over the world and ads vary by geographic region. What we're seeing in Southern California will vary greatly from what you may be seeing in another state or country. Further, some ads are displayed based on personal histories so our staff may not see it at all. Tens of thousands of ads are displayed on Wowhead throughout the world. We have over a billion page views each year with 3-5 ads displayed on each one of those. It's impossible for the staff to see all
of them. Therefore, it greatly helps if the community works together to report any disruptive ads that they encounter through the report features provided
To lessen the potential burden on the community itself we're researching, pursuing and testing Ad Quality Assurance agencies for additional screening mechanisms, we're working on additional tools that will help us find/remove disruptive ads more quickly and hopefully before they're even noticed and we're even considering additional personnel who's sole duty would be to proactively view ads and remove them before they reach the site. It's unclear how successful each of these pursuits will be but we'll continue to work towards improving the experience for everyone.
The majority of our staff have nothing to do with the ads you see on the site. Their jobs vary from creating tools/features, aggregating content/news, addressing site related bugs/concerns and maintaining the site itself. The vast majority of ads run independently of the site, in their respective ad spaces, and are a complex system that involves many different people, 3rd party companies and policies; changing those companies/policies, for a site our size, is not something that can occur quickly and requires a lot of planning and testing. The only ads we do directly control are the full page ones you may see from time-to-time that are often game related (the most recent example was World of Warcraft Chronicles Volume II) and our marketing staff is aggressively pursuing more ads of this type since we actually have control over them, as opposed to the random (or remnant) ads you see throughout the site. Additionally, we've made tangible changes, incurring a loss in revenue, to try and mitigate the impact of ads on our community while we address the larger issues being experienced with site stability. However, even if all of our plans come to fruition and are successful we'll never be able to guarantee a perfect experience for everyone, everywhere and at all times.
Ads can be complex, and it may come as a surprise that the process for improving them is slow - especially when the other issues on the Wowhead Feedback forum are addressed rather quickly and directly by staff. We've provided a few articles below that explain how the ad system works in more detail:Behind The BannerHow we fought bad ads, sites and scammers in 2016Coalition for Better Ads
In the winter of 2017, we outlined steps to hire a staffer who, in addition to scanning and reporting ads, could also run advanced tests and analysis in the hopes of pinpointing site performance issues caused by ads.
Selecting an Ad Screening company & payment plan, as well as hiring the staffer, was a process that took several months and is now active as of May 2017.
This employee utilizes the Ad Screening company to find and report additional ads outside of our guidelines, beyond those they would personally encounter in their geographic region (ads vary greatly from user to user due to multiple variables). This is in addition to the existing staff members reporting ads as they naturally find them, or gathering data for the ad companies. This employee also runs various types of A/B testing to determine if various site configurations improve performance.
In June 2017, it was determined that a code changes related to ad display, which we hoped was the main performance issue, led to only minor improvements after A/B testing. Since it was still an improvement, this update was deployed along with Wowhead's new front page. However, since it did not solve the bulk of the performance issues, we are pursuing different leads and more A/B testing across ZAM sites.
A/B testing has been taking place on several ZAM sites over summer 2017 with the goal of site performance in mind (eg fewer crashes).
After several rounds of smaller tests including testing varying ad networks, in September 2017 we have made several larger changes. These changes were made after finding a setup that led to less regular crashes/RAM memory hogs, less chance of perpetually-loading pages, as well as more cosmetic benefits such as fewer reported blocked elements in Ad Blockers. Multiple staff members would keep pages open on different A and B setups, and regularly track changes (Activity Monitor, timing performance crashes with a stopwatch), as well as setting up site performance software that generated charts putting the various setups in perspective.
We are hesitant to say a permanent solution has been found, as A/B testing continues for the indefinite future and we hope further optimizations can be set up. We are also closely monitoring feedback, as we have many different browser setups among our users, and while staffers have noticed improved performance, we want to make sure people across all setups are experiencing this. Currently we are looking at crashes that occur after extended periods of time (12+ hours of continuous site usage).
Currently one of our alternate networks, which displayed improved site performance as part of A/B testing described above, did not come with the "Report Ad" option at the bottom right of each ad. While reporting ads can still be done via Feedback > Bad Ad at the top right of the page, we realized our users find the option to report offending ads right by the ad convenient, so we tried to create our own "Report Ad" setup. The method of reporting the ad is slightly different because the current system is Wowhead-created, vs the old system which was created by the ad provider, but the end result is the same.Amazon Affiliates is a program that allows sites to link directly to items on Amazon for purchase. If someone visits one of the links and purchases an item we receive a small referral fee as a result. This is a form of alternative revenue that we think will be valuable to our users because it increases the likelihood of you seeing products you actually want. In addition, Wowhead Staff curates the items directly so we have complete control.
Please review the "How many ads can I expect to see on a page and where?"
question above for examples of Amazon Affiliate links that may be seen around the site. You can also take a look for yourself via our Wowhead Shop
In May 2017 we regularly ran Deal of the Day on Wowhead's front page. In June 2017 we are taking a step back, due to changes with Amazon's affiliate program, and putting less Deal of the Day messages on the front page.
You can buy items listed in the Wowhead Shop
, which use our Amazon Affiliate links, providing us a small portion of the proceeds....and/or...
Sign up for our Premium subscription! It's an optional service for those who want to support the site financially but don't want to see ads that can distract from the content we provide. The prices are currently:
- $1 per month
- $5 per six months
- $9 per year
You can read more about the subscription, its benefits, and sign up
Previously the cost was $5/month or $30/year but we recognized that the price may have been putting the subscription out of reach for some of our users. Also for $5/month some users were expecting we'd develop in-depth premium-only features, and we didn't want that to be the impression since that takes a lot of time away from other activities that would benefit everyone, Premium or otherwise. We instead decided to lower the price by around 80% and keep premium as an affordable way to remove ads and acquire other cosmetic perks on the site. It is not our intention to force
anyone into a Premium subscription but we do
want all our users equally sharing the responsibility of supporting the site.
In May, 2017, we also added a Gifting option to Wowhead Premium. If you would like to show your thanks for someone's useful comment, now you can give them Premium.
In July, 2017, after determining via survey data and user feedback that more than half of our users weren't aware of Premium, and it's low price of $1 (or less) per month, we modified several areas of the site to make Premium more clear and highlight the cost. The following changes were made:
- Premium banner (top right) now mentions the price and explains that Premium entirely removes ads from the site.
- New Premium banner added on the news page, after the first 5-6 news posts.
- Existing Premium banners modified to highlight cost and features of Premium.
- Each ad now has a link to sign up for premium labeled 'Remove all Ads'
- Those blocking ads will now see a clickable, and more clearly defined, request to purchase Premium to support the site.
- New users will see a notice about Premium and provide a direct link to sign up at that time.
- Many Premium notifications are now localized to a users preferred language.