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Advertisement Situation at LowEndBox.com

Hi all. This is a “house-keeping” post so please ignore if you are only interested in cheap virtual private server offers :) I am posting here because “advertising” has been a frequently asked question by the hosting providers.

LowEndBox.com was started back in early 2008 as I was hunting for cheap VPS boxes for my processing nodes for one of the projects I had at that time. Basically the rule was simple — I only wanted to pay up to $7/month for VPS in multiple locations, and I did not really care about memory, disk space and bandwidth. The nodes just need to connect to my DB and MQ (hosted at Linode), download requests, process them and send it back. Done! Any VPS with 64MB memory can do it.

However it turns out “my cheap VPS hosting notepad” has grown in popularity over time. According to Google Analytics it has received 130,000+ page views over the last 30 days from visitors all around the globe (top 3 being US, UK and China). So for the last year or so I have been selling banner ads on this blog via BuySellAds. Due to popularity I have to increase the price of the ads twice (and maybe 3rd time soon). However there is still a long queue of advertisers. When PingVPS gave up their spot 2 days ago, BuySellAds was swarmed by the requests from advertisers (31 waiting on the spot when I last checked). HostVillage got in first, and sorry for others who are still waiting.

BuySellAds - LowEndBox (By the way it was a mistake by myself at the beginning to grant Yomura Holdings 4 of the 8 125×125 spots. All ads now need to be approved and I won’t let the same provider take more than 1 ad space.)

BuySellAds has suggested to make dramatic increase on the price — which I think would not suit this niche where I actually promote “cheap” hosting. So what’s from this point onwards?

  • I am still taking the “no affiliation sales” stance. I know you guys fought for the advertising spot and sent me heaps of emails each day because it actually converts for you. But I much prefer to keep this blog independent from hosting providers. The only one I am sort-of affiliated to is QuickWeb as they provide this 80MB Xen VPS to me for free. No kickbacks from any sale made here.
  • I have suggested to BuySellAds on whether I can increase the number of available slots instead of increasing price (for example, show random 8 out of 12 available spots). So more can have chance. I’ll see what BSA says.
  • There is a possibility to move to another platform (Google AdSense?) that supports more dynamic bidding. One potential problem with AdSense is that whoever has the biggest pocket (usually) wins, regardless whether it is in context or not. LowEndBox is about cheap VPS providers, and I don’t want to see Rackspace or LiquidWeb taking over all spots.

Anyway. So here is the message to all potential advertisers — I am working on it! Yet I don’t have enough time in my day so please be patient.

Latest posts by LEA (see all)


  1. I guess I should ask, what are you going todo about delimiters 4 ads? I highly doubt they’ll ever just release them and bet they were in the queue waiting for more :)


    August 18, 2010 @ 2:07 am | Reply
  2. I had one in my cart before HostVillage snatched it up, I didn’t get my Creative added in time.

    Ad Rotating would be a good way to do it though, It would give other providers a chance to get their advertisement on this blog. Delimiter taking 4/8 spots is kind of ridiculous.


    August 18, 2010 @ 2:19 am | Reply
  3. Yeah. At the beginning I did not ask the ads to be approved, and Yomura has quite a few brands so it got sneaked in until I realised that hey, these are from the same company! Then they changed all 4 spots to Delimiter.

    I can certainly ask Yomura Holdings whether they are willing to give up a spot or 2, but I doubt it. Nor do I think it is BSA’s habit of kicking off advertisers. Still waiting for BSA’s response on having more available slots than display slots.

    August 18, 2010 @ 2:28 am | Reply
  4. @LEA – Does BSA not give you the option to remove an advertiser? I know it’s mean towards delimiter but it’s also unfair to the others. I’ll be honest, i’d love to pick up a slot but with that queue as deep as it is, that’ll never happen :)

    If you do somehow chop down on their list + increase the rotation size, i’d love to see at least one thing brought into consideration of signups:

    Must have a history of operation. I’d hate to see blazeVPS2 start up just because they were able to swing an ad on here.

    A price raise would help widdle the list down a lot and bring in only the serious ones, not just the ones with some allowance money. While some will hate me for saying it, something in the $60 – $70/m range wouldn’t be unrealistic. I know it might seem like a lot, but if they wanted to advertise on WHT, they simply couldn’t afford it.


    August 18, 2010 @ 2:38 am | Reply
  5. Hey LEA,

    Our ads at the bottom is due for renewal soon! (did not realised it is hot real estate now lol) I noticed the increase in price to $40 will that price stay or will go down again to old price once rotating slot request is increased?


    August 18, 2010 @ 2:40 am | Reply
  6. I agree with Francisco, The waiting list is horribly long and it’s going to be a pain for any new advertiser to get on the blog. I mean I’ve been trying to (3) months now and no such luck except for the other day when pingvps got rid of theirs and HostVillage got that one while i had it in my cart lol.

    Rotation + Price Increase would surely help a lot as well. I personally wouldn’t mind paying 75$~100$/month for a 125×125 banner on LEB. I’m sure LEA will think of something to help the rest of us out though :)


    I don’t think you can revoke banners once they are paid for unless you refund them, Which I’m not sure how BSA works either. You might be able to revoke them at any time?

    August 18, 2010 @ 2:45 am | Reply
  7. re: delimiter, well they are a long time advertiser here during the early days of this blog, i say you guys wait till they let it go hehehe unless LEA have other ideas, why not create another spots at lowendtalk? as I see there’s nothing in there at the moment.

    August 18, 2010 @ 2:58 am | Reply
  8. Why not just add more zones in the sidebar? Or raise the prices until there is noone in the queue, then lower them back.

    Adsense will never work as well as the targeted bsa sales on this kinda site, imo.

    And btw, what do you care who advertises and how much as long as they are paying for it?

    And what’s with the “no affiliate links” stance? Just doesn’t make any business sense. If you are providing a useful service — to both your readers and the providers — what’s wrong with getting paid for it? Your criteria for inclusion on the list are pretty simple and straightforward, so it’s not like your are going to prefer providers with affiliate programs to those without. *shrug*

    August 18, 2010 @ 3:00 am | Reply
  9. @Roel – true enough, but it sounds like they got their slots in some odd kind of way. LEA could always look into some sort of ‘1 banner per brand’ kinda deal.

    The only other ‘easy’ option would be to make the site 3 columns instead of two. If LEA could think up extra content to put on a left side column, he could make more of those slots. Then again, that might end up geocitiying the whole flow of the site :P


    August 18, 2010 @ 3:03 am | Reply
  10. Nope. No “Click here to boot an advertiser” button on BuySellAds. A few things require support intervention. All new ads need approval now so I’ll definitely watch out for BlazeVPS2 or others.

    @Roel — the leaderboard at the bottom won’t change (although according to BSA there are 23 in queue for that). With the buttons, I would prefer to have 16x showing 8 at the current price, than having 8x slots at double the price. I know it’s already pretty low margin for you guys so no point for me to bump up the price even more :)

    As of Delimiter, yes they got in from very early on. There is an option at BSA on whether ads require approval and it was off before, and they had multiple brands. It wasn’t until a month ago (IIRC) that they changed all to Delimiter (and sometimes RentAVPS).

    August 18, 2010 @ 3:08 am | Reply
  11. @Fran

    One banner per brand would still get delimiter on here more than once since like LEA said they have numerous different brands, I like the “One banner / provider” deal better. It keeps the advertising spots open for separate providers instead of the same provider advertising different brands.

    August 18, 2010 @ 3:08 am | Reply
  12. Well actually we can flash 3 different Ad banner versions (and 3 different landing pages), if anyone is keen i can put your ad on board lol.

    August 18, 2010 @ 3:25 am | Reply
  13. Srikanth:

    Hi LEA,

    though this is completely off topic, i just thought this would be the best place (as we are not discussing boxes). Could you please have your outbound links target _blank or _new.window. Coz i really don’t like leaving your site, specially when its one of those when more than 1 provider has an amazing offer. I know i could use the right click, but then its disabled at my work place. Some offers are so good, i don’t even want to wait till i reach home.
    Thanks for all these amazing offers.

    August 18, 2010 @ 10:07 am | Reply
  14. @Srikanth — yes, that invention is called Middle-Click. Disabled at your work place? Did you have the privilege of working with one-button Macintoshes? Haven’t seen them for quite a while :)

    Alternatively, Ctrl-Click also opens the link in a new window/new tab.

    @MrYu — seeing the “hosting review” industry is littered with afflink-packed rubbish sites, I just feel that I need to make a stance against it.

    August 18, 2010 @ 11:24 am | Reply
  15. this is Todd from BSA – I’m happy to answer all of the questions right here :)

    1 – If your traffic has grown dramatically since people first purchased and you expect it to continue to grow, rotating ads in there is a generally acceptable thing to do.

    2 – If you ever want advertisers ads removed form the site, we can most certainly do this. Part of the BSA mantra is that publisher should have total control over their ad space, so whatever you say goes.

    3 – I know that you don’t want to dramatically raise prices on loyal advertisers; however, with greater than 20 people on your waiting lists that shows there is enough demand to warrant a higher price. You might be surprised how well these ads convert for the advertisers.

    4 – You could also add a 728×90 at the top of the page below the logo before the posts start. Sell it on a CPM basis (we just enabled this for your account) and it will give you greater flexibility with pricing over time.

    5 – It’s very exciting for us to see you doing so well with the site. Keep up the great work!

    If there’s ever anything else you need from us don’t hesitate to ask.


    August 18, 2010 @ 12:08 pm | Reply
  16. ^

    That is some very good service!

    August 18, 2010 @ 2:04 pm | Reply
  17. Spirit:

    Well… lets not blame Delimiter. It’s all about oportunity – for all involved parties. They saw chance and use it before some others and I am pretty sure that their money contribution was also more than welcome ages ago when there wasn’t so big advertizing interest here as nowaday :)

    August 18, 2010 @ 3:59 pm | Reply
  18. How many clicks can the average banner expect in a 30 day period on your site?

    August 18, 2010 @ 5:47 pm | Reply
  19. Steven:

    I believe LEB should stay with BSA.

    I’m up for the idea of a slight increase in price and more ads in rotation versus moving to Adsense.
    Why you say?
    Do you think Delimiter is bad hogging up all the space?

    With an Adsense model of the highest bidder winning ad space, you can kiss good bye to the all the hosts who is already working on a low margin providing budget VPS and say hello to hosts with big pockets for advertisement such as LiquidWeb, WiredTree, etc. buying up all the ads.

    That’s person 2 cents. You don’t have to agree, but it would be nice.

    August 18, 2010 @ 7:50 pm | Reply
  20. @Jackk — range from ~160 to 230 clicks. Not too sure why the wide spread — could be affected by the creative design I guess. Even at 160 clicks it’s 25c/click — not to mention that many were still paying the old rate at $15/month (which should be fixed this month).

    And I actually have pretty good experience with AdSense — got an account manager there so have a reasonable response time. But Steven is right. When some big company runs a campaign, they’ll buy out all your placements, which I think might not be fair to the startups/underdogs.

    August 19, 2010 @ 12:03 am | Reply
  21. We actually get 229 clicks last month from bottom ladder ad (shared with 3 others), though I think the small box on top give better result.

    August 19, 2010 @ 12:08 am | Reply
  22. @Joe — you’ll be surprised how good the leaderboard at the bottom is, comparing with 125×125 squares, despite the spot is shared with 3 other advertisers. Putting pricing on the banner ads also have pretty good effect on click throughs (I can’t tell whether those click throughs actually converts, but hey, that’s your problem :)

    For example VPSVillage’s $5 square (although GrokThis no longer sells $5 VPS) gets quite a bit more clicks than EuroPhrase’s 5 UK pound square…

    August 19, 2010 @ 12:17 am | Reply
  23. well honestly being featured/posted on your blog (front page) is the one that actually give sales :) and it’s free lol… maybe time to update our banner ads as it is over 3 months old I think ^^

    August 19, 2010 @ 12:22 am | Reply
  24. I think LEB has become one of the best community promotion site by keeping itself independent. This way customer will feel comfortable as they have an unbiased information that in return would benefit the service providers listed in this site.
    Exposure on how a service provider deliver its service also become one of the readers attention.
    So LEA, thanks for the good service, and keep it up, and to thanks to the service providers for listening what customer need through commentaries in this site.

    August 20, 2010 @ 1:40 am | Reply
  25. We at Europhase have had one of the 125×125 spots since May.
    We average around 100-125 clicks/month.

    I see that LEB has now increased the number of sidebar buttons (125×125) to 12 and enabled a rotation.
    Can you let us know the exact date this change was made, so we can see how it affects click through rate?

    Perhaps you could also consider setting up a mailing list to notify advertisers of any future changes as we received nothing from Buysellads to alert us.

    All the best!

    August 22, 2010 @ 12:04 am | Reply
  26. @Thomas — Changing the total spots from 8 to 12 for the 8 125×125 square there happened 2 days ago. As of keeping the advertisers updated — well I am hoping there won’t be much change until year end.

    August 22, 2010 @ 11:43 am | Reply
  27. Adam:

    How about the rules for banners ? Do they not need to pass the rule: … virtual server deals for less than USD$7 per month.. “

    August 24, 2010 @ 8:05 am | Reply
  28. @Adam

    I figured LEA would have implemented that rule as well, Since it is a global LEB rule, I would think it would apply to advertisement banners as well. I mean who wants to see LiquidWeb & The planet banners on LEB?

    August 24, 2010 @ 9:56 am | Reply
  29. In that case Europhase and Delimiter would have failed the rule. VPSVillage would to as their $5 package is no longer available.

    By the way, last 125×125 square spot left. Grab it quick! :)

    August 24, 2010 @ 11:15 am | Reply
  30. How have we failed? We have weekly offers on multiple forums such as WHT that drop us below the $7/mark however they never get added to LEB anymore for whatever reason. Even without any offer our £5 package comes in at 6.41USD/month if paid for annually or 7.67USD/month which is just above the mark and that’s only because we are realistic with our prices and have been trading fully registered longer than any other advertiser on LEB with a large customer base and real fulltime staff/office.

    I honestly cringe at half the offers on LEB sometimes knowing that some of the offers are completely unsustainable in the UK market. A few ‘unnamed’ UK sites that have offers on LEB have reseller accounts with us that have multiple invoices outstanding and pay X% per month to pay it off yet they offer cheaper and cheaper annual packages each week. Good luck with that!

    So I would hardly say we have failed in anything Admin?

    August 24, 2010 @ 1:18 pm | Reply
  31. @Thomas – I sure hope you aren’t talking about who I think you are….

    As for the ads, LEA has full say on them now so he only accepts who he feels deserves it. Thankfully this will help stop mass buying off of ads. I’m not sure what interest LiquidWeb would have with LEB when their pricing is so much higher than anything around here would be willing to pick up. Maybe LEA should open a few more sites for each market? :D


    August 24, 2010 @ 9:51 pm | Reply
  32. @Thomas — GBP needs to devalue quite a bit for 5 pound to drop below $7 greenback. But I know what you are saying about the yearly payment — it’s just not that obvious though from the ads.

    And it is indeed a cut throat market and I personally have no idea how some can survive when you take out the calculator. However I have never been in the hosting industry so I have no idea about the cost, and some might just want to broaden their market share to bring in customers for their higher margin business (consulting, business solution, etc).

    @Francisco — Yeah. I see LudicrouslyExpensiveBox.com has not been registered yet. Maybe Rackspace will want to advertise on that :P

    August 24, 2010 @ 11:53 pm | Reply
  33. Ron:

    Kind of off topic – but I was not even aware that LEB even had any ads until I saw this topic – apparently AdBlock Plus does an excellent job of removing them – just something advertisers may find useful to know.

    August 26, 2010 @ 11:54 am | Reply
  34. Omio:

    Just today found that some website named, “Grok Cloud” – “We grok cloud computing” offer in LEB advertise box “XEN from $20/mo” …. Just want to ask is that price called lowendbox? And did LEB admin supports advertising higher than 7-8$/mo. ads over there?

    Also found delimiter changed their ads to 20$/mo. Good… :)

    August 31, 2010 @ 3:48 am | Reply
  35. @Omio — GrokThis used to run VPSVillage which *had* a $5/month VPS plan. I think they have now moved away from lowendbox market, but they still have a spot that they are free to put whatever ads on.

    August 31, 2010 @ 4:58 am | Reply

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