Announcing our new ad platform for native-sold ads: DARTH VENDOR

Updated Oct 12 2015


Since 2007, I've used a tool called OIO Publisher to sell all the native ad placement on all the Offbeat Empire sites. "Native ads" are the ads that we sell directly to businesses, as opposed to third-party ad platforms like Google AdSense, where we're just delivering ads that Google has sold. Native ads include stuff like vendor listings, sponsored posts, social media campaigns, and the non-gross banner ads in the sidebars.

OIO Publisher has done its job decently, but the code behind the tool has always been a bit finicky, and for the last five years I've basically been waiting for it to break. Every time we update WordPress, my developer and I would hold our breath waiting to see if OIO will still work. Keep in mind, this is the tool that processes at least half the Offbeat Empire's revenue! It breaking would be horrifying.

This fall I decided to just bite the bullet and invest the money in having a developer code a custom ad platform tool catered to the Offbeat Empire's needs. Conveniently, my lead developer Kellbot happens to be married to a developer (who happens to be one of the cofounders of Etsy)… so I hired Chris to code the new tool from scratch.

Since this tool will be what all the businesses in Offbeat Bride's Vendor Guide use to purchase listings, vendor spotlight sponsored posts, social media campaigns, and banner ads… we started jokingly calling it Darth Vendor, and the codename stuck.

After several months of coding, Darth Vendor rolled out quietly on Offbeat Home & Life a couple weeks ago. Today, after several weeks of testing on Offbeat Home & Life, we rolled it out on Offbeat Bride. It's not as pretty as we're hoping it will eventually be, but it's solidly built to work like a charm and play nice with our server and be way easier for vendors and admins alike, so I'm fucking stoked.

Big thanks to everyone involved in the process — Chris for coding, Kellbot for helping to guide the dev process, Catherine doing project management, and Tiffany (who's still learning the ropes of her new sales job as we're making this huge transition — pity her!) for stumbling along with us. This project was HUGE, and I'm so proud of everyone who worked on it.

Catherine and Tiffany have done their best to over-communicate with all vendors with current and pending ad campaigns, but a transition this enormous will inevitably have a few bumps. If you hit any snags with purchasing ads, leave a comment and let us know.

To celebrate the new platform and to thank advertisers for their patience during the transition, we'll be sending out a coupon code to our Offbeat Vendor Newsletter next week.

Here's to Darth Vendor!

  1. I just noticed a pop up ad on OB Home for the first time. (It may have been a survey request? I tried to exit it as fast as possible.) And it followed me around when I scrolled through the page. I had to click "close" on the ad, then it made me choose "close" or "opt out". It was really intrusive on my site experience.

    • Hey there, Cass. This sounds like a third-party ad gone rogue. (And defintitely unrelated to Darth Vendor, which doesn't have the functionality to do that sort of thing.)

      Can you email me directly so that we can troubleshoot? Bonus points for screenshots and URLs that the ad is pointing to. That'll help me when I contact Federated Media and/or Google AdSense to request ad removal.

      • Yep, thought something was fishy, since I know your philosophy about ads on the site. If it happens again, I'll try to capture it. Kindof like pokemon. 😀

          • Saw one today on the adorable dog bed article and as I touched the buttons to take a screenshot, it disappeared! It's like it knew I wanted to report it 🙂 It was not the one you posted.

            If I catch it, I'll send you the info!

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