Generating Revenue From The Remarketing Tags On API Evangelist

I am going through my entire infrastructure lately, quantifying the products and services that API Evangelist offers, and the partnerships that make everything go round. As I do in my work as the API Evangelist, I’m looking to work through my thoughts here on the blog, and this week I have an interesting topic on the workbench–the API Evangelist remarketing tags.

According to Google, remarketing tags are: “To show ads to people who have visited your desktop or mobile website, add the remarketing tag to your website. The tag is a short snippet of code that adds your website visitors to remarketing lists; you can then target these lists with your ads. If your website has a Google Analytics tag, you can use this tag instead and skip adding the AdWords remarketing tag.”

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had 3Scale’s remarketing tags on my site. 3Scale has been my number one supporter for the last three years, and API Evangelist wouldn’t even be a thing without them. They have provided me with financial support each month for a variety of reasons. We’ve never fully itemized what is in exchange for this support, primarily it has been to just invest in me being API Evangelist and help 3Scale be successful, but one of the things on the table for the last couple of years has been that I published the 3Scale remarketing tags on my network of sites.

So, if you visited API Evangelist in the last three years, it is likely you saw 3Scale ads wherever you went on the web. As I’m evaluating all the products and services I offer, quantify my partnerships, and identify the value that API Evangelist brings to the table, I find myself thinking deeply about this practice. Should I be selling my visitors data like this? If you visit API Evangelist, should I allow my partners to target you with advertising on other sites you visit? As I think about the challenges I face in accepting money from startups, I’m forced to look at myself in the mirror as I think about selling remarketing tag access on my website(s).

There are two levels of this for me: 1) having Google JS on my website tracking you, and 2) selling an additional remarketing tag to one or many of my partners. Is if fair for me to 1) track you, and 2) sell the placement of cookies in your browser while you are on my domain. Part of my brand is being outspoken when it comes to the surveillance economy and having JavaScript that tracks you, and then selling access to placing tracking devices in your browser seems pretty fucking hypocritical to me. I do not want to be in the business of tracking you and selling your data–it goes against what API Evangelist is about!

Ok, I take the high road. I don’t sell remarketing tags to my partners. I even take the Google tracking off my website. I’m happy with tracking my traffic at the DNS level, I do not need to do this. Except for the fact that it brings in revenue, I need to pay my server bills, rent, and everything else that keeps me doing API Evangelist. It isn’t easy making a living being independent in the tech space, and I need every little bit of revenue I possibly can. It’s not an insignificant amount of money either. I make a couple thousand dollars a month this way, as the traffic to my website is pretty high quality, at least in the eyes of an API service provider looking to sell you their warez.

I am still thinking on this one. I need to make a decision this month regarding what I am going to do with the remarketing tags for API Evangelist. Do I want to sell them entirely to one partner? Do I want to sell individual ones for each area of my research, like design, deployment, management, monitoring, and the other 70 areas of the API lifecycle I track on? IDK. It is a shitty place to be, with so few options for monetization of my work, beyond just the current advertising industrial complex (AIC)™. I’d love to hear your thoughts, either publicly or privately. It’s a tough decision for me because if I choose to not do it, I risk API Evangelist going away, and me having to go get a job. shudder shudder again I’m exploring other ways of generating revenue, things like creating classes, and other content I can sell access to, so hopefully I can just walk away from remarketing tags without it killing me off.