953445086_24734194cf_oAnd we have since the early days of the site.

It costs a lot of money to run AAR.  First, there are the physical costs to get – and keep – AAR online.  We’re hosted by a reliable company who provides great service, but it isn’t free as many blog platforms are.  And it isn’t cheap either.

Then there were additional costs to move AAR’s message boards onto our own server, a step we felt was necessary for multiple reasons.  First, we were getting crappy service.  Second, the boards went down capriciously.  And, third, we knew in today’s competitive environment that it was important to bring message board traffic onto our own server so AAR’s traffic rankings would reflect our true numbers.

Which they do.  And we’ve seen a healthy boost in our Alexa ranking to prove it.

Then there are the ongoing postage costs to mail books to reviewers – including reviewers in New Zealand and now the UK.  And I can’t forget (though I would like to) the various software packages we had to buy to keep things running smoothly – again, not cheap.  So very not cheap it’s hard to believe, as a matter of fact.

How do we pay for all this?  The way it’s always been done by newspapers, magazines, and other successful Web sites:  Advertising.

Right now we are delivering more than twice the ad impressions we guarantee when we sell an ad. And, no matter how you look at it, 116,000 impressions per month per ad is one powerful bang for the buck.

Not surprisingly considering our numbers, ad sales are booming.  And we are incredibly grateful for that fact.

Publishers and staff at AAR don’t make a dime.  In fact, some staff members contributed their own money to help us through the rough spots when Blythe, Rachel, Lynn, and I first took over last November.  Those days of being stretched thin are gone now and the very good news is that the site is now completely self-supporting.  Thanks largely to advertising.

As consumers, we’re all exposed to hundreds of advertising messages each and every day.  To believe for even one moment that readers aren’t capable of distinguishing between editorial content and paid advertising is incredibly insulting to those who choose to visit AAR on their daily Web rounds.  We know better.

But we are – as we have always been – completely transparent. Reviews aren’t for sale.  And they never have been.  Placements aren’t for sale.  And they never have been.  And, just as important in the quest for transparency, our ad rates and traffic stats are openly posted.  As they always have been.

The bottom line (sorry) is this:  Our integrity is not for sale.  And it never has been.

-Sandy AAR