, 18 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
A reader and industry peer wrote in to ask why we don’t have traditional advertising on the site (they were offering some), and my response surprised them. Figured it be a good thing to share with the rest of our audience...
We *do have advertising in the form of underwriters - currently @GuinnessUS and @newbelgium and previously @BreweryOmmegang (in the run-up to their BCTC fest).

But it’s structured differently.
They sponsor a section of the website with a one-time year-long committtment (or in Ommegang’s case, 6 months).

That’s huge.

It means we don’t need an ad sales department, we don’t track and report performance, and they can’t just cancel on a whim. We’re locked in.
And in return, we pursue expensive editorial we otherwise couldn’t, on a topic or in a category that’s also interesting to them.

Right now that’s technical innovation for Guinness and wild fermentation for New Belgium - two things we were keen on.
The stories otherwise have no specific relationship to the underwriter - the contract says they don’t, and can’t, attempt to influence editorial.

And we can ensure that easily - because they already paid. It’s in everyone’s best interest to respect it. There’s no leverage.
So far that’s worked perfectly.

In addition, we have @theFerventfew - a growing group of paying subscribers. And right now that covers about 30% of our editorial costs. That’s amazing. People paying for content!
At best we assumed @theFerventfew would enable us to keep the pressure of having to seek traditional advertisers - an expensive and time-consuming model that’s long been in decline.

But it’s done better than that! It’s actually eating in to our need for funding at all.
There’s a long-shot chance that GBH could eventually become 100% funded by @theFerventfew. A long shot - but we can see it.

In the meantime - we’re still not doing traditional digital advertising. And it’s about more than the expense and time - it’s about options.
Once you pursue traditional digital ads - you’re bullring a different business - one focused on traffic and clicks.

That changes what you write.

That changes who your audience is.

That changes what your goals are.
I don’t have an answer yet for how to make the GBH editorial side profitable. It’s break-even, which is a huge success for us.

And until I know what the solution is, I’m not going to make the wrong choice to break it and pursue a model that would ruin it, to get revenue.
We’ve achieved a break-even profit + loss position through @theFerventfew and underwriting, which gives us financial independence from the studio aide (the core business).

And while some might see that as a missed opportunity - I see it as preserving opportunities.
GBH editorial is debt free, break-even, and supported by some unbelievable talent and hard-working people.

The future is bright entirely because I’ve refused to play a losing hand - which is ad-supported digital content. GBH doesn’t walk on water.
So that’s it. We’re in a defensible, sustainable position. And until I see the next phase clearly (we have some ideas to prototype this year, like we did with @theFerventfew) I’m simply not going to fuck it up.

And not fucking it up is sometimes the best idea you’ve got.
And just to clear up some long-standing conspiracy theories while we’re at it.

GBH is 100% owned by me (@mpkiser) and @hillaryschu). No investors.

All the editorial revenue (as of two years ago) come soley from @theFerventfew and underwriters. No studio-side funding.
And this year we’re working on restructuring the actual business entities to enable more separation and independence for the editorial team, as well as make senior writers and editors employee-owners.

That’s possible because it’s no longer dependent on studio revenues.
So yes, it looks to some like we don’t play by the rules - and they’re right. Just not in the way they think.

We don’t get by with secret funding from anyone. We simply don’t play the game and we live within our means.

And my team punches waaaaay above their weight.
If you’d like to contribute to that kind of effort - and that kind of model - you can join @theFerventfew and join us on this wild ride.

I can’t promise anything but a damn good time.

Shoutout to our underwriters for seeing the opportunity, diverting funds from traditional ads to investing in progressive, challenging editorial with our team. They want to see the industry evolve, and they saw GBH as a way to do it.

🙌🏼 @GuinnessUS @newbelgium @BreweryOmmegang
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