Entrecard – the only question is "Why?"

Admittedly, I haven’t been the most active with Entrecard dropping and getting my blog advertised on other blogs (in fact, I’ve got over 10,000 credits now just kinda sitting there at the moment). As I was browsing the site today, however, I noticed some new things – most of them good, but one of them quite confusing.

First, (somewhat like I did with WordPress), let’s go to the good stuff.

Drop Statistics

One of the new things you’ll see when you view the profile page of a blog on the site, you’ll see this new addition to the blog information –


That’s a pretty cool feature, because it lets you see if a potential advertiser has taken an interest in your site before they decided to commit their credits to advertising with you. For me, if I have a whole bunch of ads queued up in my queue, I can go through and see who’s had the most drops and kinda order them as to that, instead of trying to make a personal preference sort of thing…

Navigation in the Inbox

By far, this is the coolest new feature that they’ve added. You can now see everyone who has ever dropped their card on your widget in the inbox, instead of the “old” way of the last 70 or so. Also, to fix one of the more tricky problems of the old inbox, they’ve added a dropdown so that you can choose if you want to show the cards you have or the ones you haven’t dropped on yet today.

For both of these, I think the answer to “why” is fairly obvious – it’s something that there has been demand for in the past. However, something that I don’t understand the reasoning behind is something that kind of blindsided everyone – the new Ad pricing structure.

New Ad Pricing

As I was looking in my dashboard, I noticed that my price to advertised had almost halved itself from the around 200 that I’d been maintaining for quite some time now (thanks to averaging about 100 drops on my site per day, multiplied by 2), to 128 (or 27).

The strange thing is that, if you look at the post announcing this change, there are some of the same generalities strewn about, somewhat like WordPress did. In my (and probably about 90% of Entrecard users), apparently this was discussed in the Forums, but like WordPress, the changes seem to have no bearing on what users have been used to – a system that (for the most part) worked.

Just as an explanation of how the old system worked – the price to advertise was based on the average number of cards dropped on your blog over the last 5 days, multiplied by 2. Now, it’s based on varying exponents of 2, with the number of ads determining the exponent used for 2. For example, if you have 1 ad in your queue, then it costs 2 credits, 2 means 4, 3 means 8, et cetera.

Now, all those cards dropped on your site? Well, that just means you and the dropper get a credit for it, along with positioning on the popularity rankings (which are now available in the Browser feature).

In the end of it all, this (as they call it) Long-Awaited change to the pricing structure sounds to me a bit like WordPress 2.5 – a half-baked “fix” to something that really didn’t need fixing with little to no explanation as to why it was done. The old system was simple to figure out – you drop a card, that site’s price goes up by around 2/5th credit. Now, we have a system where if you want to advertise on even a moderately popular blog, you need to have a ton of credits bankrolled.

The only question, which for all intents and purposes is rhetorical, I have is “Why?”. Why, when you’ve made such good changes as the new features in the inbox and on the individual pages, did you drop the blog information from the Browse by Category page? Why did you drop the Nearby tab, which was useful for bloggers to connect to folks in their country? Lastly, why did you change your advertisement pricing from a stable one based completely upon merit to one that becomes based upon daily fluctuations in ads appearing or not appearing, with anyone with more than 7 or 8 ads in their queue (128 and 256 ec per ad respectively) having drastic jumps in the price of an ad?

Perhaps, a suggestion would be that beyond 8 ads in the queue, the next “level” of ads would be at a set separation – say, 128 or even 256, thus making a progression of 256, 512, 768, 1024, 1280, etc. (with the 128 progression being 256, 384, 512, 640, 768, etc.). That would eliminate the exponential growth problem that is natural with the exponential system in place, along with making the most popular blogs more accessible to everyone out there for advertising once again.

6 thoughts on “Entrecard – the only question is "Why?"

  1. I think the new pricing system has the potential to be a lot better than the old system. Where I think it falls down is in the doubling of prices beyond the first few stops on the price meter. 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and even 512 are reasonably acceptable prices (though the jumps increase too much at the end). But then it goes to 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, … and anything above that is even crazier.

    I was the one who raised the drops inbox ideas, and I was very glad to see the changes going ahead. This happened in one of the developer chats at the weekend. The pricing system may need work but the developer chats were so worthwhile that I personally think they offset the problems with the pricing, at least partially.

    The real test, both with WordPress 2.5 and the Entrecard pricing system, is whether our concerns are heard and changes are made as a result. Sure, it wouldn’t be great if huge changes were made in the future, then hastily changed, when getting feedback in the first place could have got things right first time. But for now, I’d like to know what the developers of the respective systems will do next before I decide how I feel about the changes in the long-term.

    By the way, I think you forgot to finish your post. 🙂

  2. I think the new pricing system reflects supply and demand better and it will be interesting to see how it pans out over the next week or so. I don’t mind the price escalator but I’m inclined to think the double, double, double …. formula is a bit crude and will need to be refined. It will be interesting to see how well some of the prices set on day 1 of the new pricing system go over time. I think realistically they’ll all drop to a point of affordability with not much getting above 512. Even there I’d be hesitant to buy much – I think the trick is to look for popular blogs that have a short waiting list (I believe the popularity order in the categories is still based on number of drops received) …and I think you can find good bargains if you’re looking at the right time – makes me think some sort of sniping application would be a goer – like with Ebay, so you could set it to bid on ads with > x popularity if price < y, or that sort of thing.

  3. The Why is actually the simplest question to answer. The old system wasn’t doing a good job. It was based on a very limited merit (I like that term) system, which only had a weak correlation with the actual quality of the blog itself. This correlation was further weakened by the rise of reciprocal dropping, where your advertising price now become essentially a factor of how often you dropped (or gave the appearance of dropping) on others.

    The new system rewards more diverse behavior, you can increase your visibility on Entrecard alone, or you can improve your blog, or your site statistics, or any number of other mechanisms – all of which can be taken into account by buyers.

    The question of the pricing scale is somewhat different. The primary effect of a shallow slope is not to reduce prices, but to increase the number of ads that can be in the system at any given time. At the moment, the average queue length is 7, which means we have “space” at this price level for 50,000 ads purchased. If we halved the prices across the board (assuming for a moment that we weren’t in the state of flux that we are in immediately post-change), the average queue length would double and we’d have space for 100,000 ads, but the final result would be the same – once the queue lengths hit the average, the number of ads in or out of the system would remain static at roughly 7,000 ads per day.

    The question at the end then is simply one of balance between the benefits of a finer grain (more accurate price) and the benefits of a shorter queue length (more dynamic market with a faster response to changes in your performance). We took the current choice because it seemed both the best, and the simplest, balance between the two, but it is fortunately something we can slowly and carefully change over time in response to user feedback.

    Our sole concern at this time is to get the new structure settled so that we can see how well our predictions worked out in practice, and then so we can begin responding to any remaining concerns in a sane fashion. We freely admit that our communication on this issue was not what it should have been – we didn’t even realize how many people we hadn’t managed to get the message out to until it had happened – and we will not compound the errors by wavering all over the place on such a sensitive issue, it’s slow and careful on pricing from here on out.

    Nearby will return in a more effective form tho, I promise 🙂

  4. Doesn’t the new pricing structure force people to clear their inboxes?

    I must say that I didn’t see the notice of the change and was rather bemused to see my price jump to over 4000… I couldn’t work out why but now – thanks to you – I know to clear out all my ad requests.

    The thing was… in the “olden” days you might choose to look at the price of the ad as an indicator of traffic, now it’s an indicator of laziness!!


  5. I can’t even get my head around it all. And I can’t seem to load many sites containing Entrecard at the moment. Aaarrrrgggghhhh. I’m just hoping in a few days it’ll all settle down and make some sense. I’m a “one change at a time” kind of person. Allows me to get used to each change gradually. I too had found myself in a nice groove of dropping around 100 cards a day and was happy with where my ad price was sitting. Now I don’t even know what ad price the cards that have applied for advertising are even paying me.

  6. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I had already lost a fair bit of interest in Entrecard and this will surely do the trick of losing *any* interest I had in it.

    Sigh, another good thing bites the dust. 🙁

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