Dr Dobbs is Closing

Sun 28 December 2014

Last week, Dr Dobbs, the respected, elder statesman of programming journals, announced that they were closing:

Why would a well-known site, dearly loved by its readers and coming off a year of record page views, be sunset by its owner?

In one word, revenue. Four years ago, when I came to Dr. Dobb's, we had healthy profits and revenue, almost all of it from advertising. Despite our excellent growth on the editorial side, our revenue declined such that today it's barely 30% of what it was when I started. While some of this drop is undoubtedly due to turnover in our sales staff, even if the staff had been stable and executed perfectly, revenue would be much the same and future prospects would surely point to upcoming losses. This is because in the last 18 months, there has been a marked shift in how vendors value website advertising. They've come to realize that website ads tend to be less effective than they once were. Given that I've never bought a single item by clicking on an ad on a website, this conclusion seems correct in the small.

This is too much whimper and not enough bang for such a great, old property. I'll miss it.

It points at the larger cosmic shame of advertising suitability, which is that there is very little correlation between the quality or worthiness of a piece of content or property and its suitability for advertising.

© 2018 John Martin