Introducing The Syndicate: a new opportunity to sponsor

Since I started Asymco, I vowed to avoid clutter, noise and distractions for readers so that they may reward me with attention. I did not want to waste your time because I trusted I’d receive better feedback in exchange. So far this has been a successful policy. Over five million views, and 21,000 thoughtful comments are evidence that respect for an online audience is reciprocated.

To that end, I’ve avoided advertising designed to take attention away from the content. I am not opposed to advertising in general, I just don’t want to orient the site around it. We’ve all observed how that business model works out. I also don’t want to orient my time around obtaining sponsorships.

I believe that advertising should add value to the site. You should find something relevant in the ads and they should lead to discovering products or services that could be hired for jobs you have to do. It also helps me devote time to this project without too much sacrifice.

So it’s with a lot of relief and gratitude that I welcome a new sponsorship organization called The Syndicate which shares my priorities. I’ve agreed that The Syndicate should place appropriate advertising on this site.

The Syndicate is a new ad network of select web writers. Initially, advertisers have the opportunity to sponsor nine sites, including the site of Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper;, the site of Khoi Vinh the designer of the theme I use (Basic Maths) and a tech- and design-centric website. Together we attract more than 92,000 supremely intelligent daily readers and over 1.3 million views per month.

Consistent with the goals of this site, The Syndicate values the readers’ attention and will offer only quality ads that readers might find useful.

If you are interested in promoting your product, service, or company, visit The Syndicate and place your order. One sponsorship week remains in 2011 at a special introductory rate.

  • Christian Brendel

    Horace, I’m very glad to hear you finally figured out how to make some money from this. You truly deserve it for all the effort and thought you put into this and for making us (your readers) smarter every day. Keep up the good work!

    P.S.: You should really sign up for and claim your fair share (readability a great tool for distraction-free reading and for compensating writers; I already hinted at this in a tweet to you). Please also note that Marco also integrated readability into Instapaper.

  • Duncan

    I assume that Milo Minderbinder has already signed up for sponsorship.

  • Horace, one of the things that’s part and parcel of your success is not viewing your followers as second-class citizens, but rather highly-regarded participants. There are tons of brilliant and amazing people in the world, but there are only a few slots available for fame and notoriety.

    When the “feel” of the playing field we share is kept level, (the writers and the participants) well, we like that and respond to it. This is obvious to you, and we all appreciate it. And the way that you are handling sponsorship is consistent with all this. In other words, thanks for keeping it real, man. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    This website offers more value than any other I can recall visiting.
    I’m happy to see that you’ve found a way to monetize it without selling out your core principles.
    I hope you don’t get too wealthy from it, I’d hate to see you retire 🙂

    • No need to worry. Another year and I might be able to obtain income equivalent to minimum wage.

      • Omar Grant

        You deserve so much more than that of course Horace, but I hope it pans out for you financially with this venture.

  • JonathanU

    Horace – thank you, thank you, thank you for selling my eye balls! I have for a long time felt that you should be gaining financially from your hard work on this site. I for one am completely in favour of this. Monetise your audience every way you possibly can I say. It would take far more than a few ads here and there to keep me from coming back to this site. And I bet 99% of the readers on here feel the exact same.

  • One thing that gives me pause, Horace, is this sentence in The Syndicate’s promo page: “Daily roadblocks are available for $3,500 USD, and ensures that every blog will write about you on the same day of your choosing.” For all its sins, Time Inc. in my day was always careful to separate church and state. The daily roadblock seems to cross the line. How can you write critically about your sponsors with a clause like that?

    • Well, I’m not sure how this is crossing the line. I take it to mean that all the members of the syndicate will write on the same day, but they can write whatever they want. It’s more about scheduling than what is being written.

      You can consider it similar to the embargo on reviews of the iPhone 4S. Apple gives away sample products to journalists on condition that they publish on a certain day. As a result, all the reviews come in simultaneously, maximizing coverage and coinciding with the availability of the product. I don’t think it means that reviewers are paid to write favorably about it.

      Am I missing something?

      • The relationship between advertising and editorial content is a delicate one. My experience is that once an advertiser pays to appear anywhere in your publication — even on a magazine page far removed from your column — they start behaving like they own you. When I worked at Time Magazine, ad salesmen were not allowed to promise that something would be written about their clients. The most they could do was sell “adjacencies” that guaranteed an ad would appear near, say, the Technology or Health section. But whenever the content of those sections contained anything that could be construed as critical, the advertiser was offered a chance to move, postpone or pull their ad entirely. Classic example: the Japanese car makers yanking all their ads from a special issue about World War II.