One year later: What we've learned.
It's just over a year since we officially launched and the past 12 months have been a very bumpy ride. Over that time we've come to know 3 important things...
1. Changing the world is expensive.
For a project like this you need a huge amount of funding, a dedicated team, great hardware and a complete understanding of the banner advertising industry. It soon became clear we had none of these things and even though the site was making money our unique advertising model wasn't producing anything like the results we expected.
Soon we had dozens of support tickets from people who didn't understand why RefBan didn't work like other banner networks. We explained that we're different and that the majority of income wasn't generated by user banners, but by referral banners (as the name suggests). Still people didn't understand and they slowly stopped promoting us, reducing sales and daily impressions to the current level.
It became clear that without serious investment we'd never be able to teach everyone the benefits of our new model. Sales and impressions would continue to fall and we'd have to close the site. That's why over the next few weeks we'll be switching to a standard CPM model, just like every other network. It's a shame we have to abandon our original goals but when faced with financial reality, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
2. Nobody has their own website anymore.
A few years ago a new banner network would have no problem attracting thousands of users and generating revenue. The web is a very different place these days. We discovered to our cost that most web users now spend the majority of their time on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. Rarely setting up their own blogs, websites or other places that could host our banners.
To combat this we created a way to generate revenue by sharing links, just like a URL shortener. Although as it worked with our 'complicated' model, we saw a massive increase in sales and impressions for a few weeks, then users once again abandoned it due to lack of understanding. For this reason we'll also be paying users a standard CPM rate for displaying banners on shared links.
3. We won't give up.
Over the last few months we have gone through no less than four programming agencies from all over the world. We've spent thousands of dollars, moved hosts multiple times and have dealt with dozens of people. Now we finally have the correct hardware and skills to push things forward, you can rest assured that we won't stop until we're successful. Many people in our situation would simply take the site offline. We've seen it time and time again, even with major companies. However, we believe that we have the start of something very special and with hard work RefBan can become much more than we ever hoped. All we need is a little time and patience.
Moving forward our action plan is as follows:
1. Week 1 - Starting 12th May.
We've had several requests from users that they want to upgrade their accounts with their earned balance. For this reason we'll be cancelling all currently outstanding cashouts to enable those users to make a choice. We'll be offering upgrades at a cut price of $50 per year instead of $89, so it's a great way to save money while making it. Of course, this will also give us more funds to work with, so please don't just cashout again straight away and give upgrading proper consideration. This price is available for a limited time only and you may not see this offer again.
2. Week 2 - Starting 19th May.
Next week we'll start rolling out the new CPM model. Earnings from referrals will remain unchanged. You'll still earn a flat rate for every day of activity and up to 30% per sale as you do now.
3. Week 3 onwards - Starting 26th May.
Paying a standard CPM rate should increase coverage and everyone's impressions will be used faster. This means advertisers will buy more frequently, referrals will be more active and therefore users' earnings will increase too. We'll be building a brand new dashboard interface for monitoring statistics, then shortly after we'll be redesigning the entire site to provide support for banners of all sizes.
Thank you very much for reading. Apologies for such a long message, but we had a lot to say. Hopefully you now understand that things have been tough, but we want this to work just as much as you do.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us.