Passionfruit versus Adproval | The Battle of the Ad Providers

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Passionfruit versus Adproval | The Battle of the Ad Providers

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Passionfruit versus Adproval | Should you stay or should you go? from
Last month, a huge bombshell was dropped in the blogging world. Passionfruit, the pioneering web ads provider, announced that come September 1, 2013, their free service would be discontinued. 

There was widespread panic, hands clutched heads, mouths hung agape, people fretted over the implications of such an announcement and what it would mean for the much loved swaps. It was mayhem as blogging forums were filled with queries, outrage and feelings of abandonment and betrayal. 

Now, with just a handful of days left before Passionfruit as we know it no longer exists, I want to take a look at the company, it's main rival, Adproval, and provide a bit of feedback on which ad provider might be the best option for your blog.

When I signed up for Passionfruit, the company said it prided itself on doing things differently, on not being "in the game" to turn a profit and on making ad purchasing and selling straightforward and beneficial to all parties involved. The news that Passionfruit will now be charging is a shift away from this I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine mentality. I am a bit mystified as to how Passionfruit has stymied their users with this sudden change in direction.

One of things Jason (Passionfruit brainchild) cited when informing the users about this change was the fact that a huge percentage of their users used the site purely for swaps. Swaps on Passionfruit were always free. So, there were thousands of users slurping up the bandwith and the resources with a free product and not so many pumping out the dough needed to keep the operation afloat. It's practical that he would revamp things when he realized this but I can't help but pointing out that this is the result of poor planning and now we users are paying (quite literally) for it.

Ranting aside, Passionfruit is a fantastic ad platform. It does what it says it would do. I've not had issues with it not working, with things going missing or payouts being delayed. When I've needed to contact Jason and his team, I've been pleasantly satisfied with their help, response and general interest in my issues and feedback. From this perspective, Passionfruit is a flawless company.

But I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't consider making the move to Adproval. Because I did. I considered it and I signed up and then I made a couple of realizations that have meant I'll be sticking with Passionfruit.

Passionfruit vs. Adproval: The Cost
As of September 1, Passionfruit will be charging $9 a month or $50 a year (if you sign up before the changes take effect, you can get locked into this price forever).

Adproval is free.

I really struggled to justify the cost of Passionfruit. For new bloggers, or bloggers who don't sell many ads and who have to fund all their blogging endeavors out of pocket, $9 a month can be quite steep. Especially when you're not sure you're going to be able to recoup that cost.

I sell on average five $5 ads a month. Under Passionfruit's old method of taking 44 cents per ad or $2.20 a month, I was left with $22.80. Under Passionfruit's new regime, if I paid monthly, they'd take $9, leaving me with just $16 a month. Alternatively, if I sold five $5 ads with Adproval, I'd be left with $22.50 after they scooped up their 10 percent fee. Clearly, Adproval is the winner in terms of cost effectiveness.

This correction was submitted via comment from Jason, Passionfruit's founder and it replaces the text that has been struck through:

Your math is a little off.  Our rates were higher before.  Previously, we charged $1 per ad no matter how much the ad was. And you're also paying the credit card processing fees, which are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.  In other words, Passionfruit was costing more than you think it was. Updated math:

$5.00: charged to advertiser
$0.44: Visa processing
$1.00: Passionfruit's old fee
$3.56: your profit


$5.00: charged to advertiser
$0.50: Adproval fee, includes Visa processing
$4.56: your profit
** Adproval pockets $0.06 on this transaction

So, in your example, with 5 sales a month, you were paying $5 to Passionfruit, and $2.20 to Visa. Or with Adproval you'd pay $2.20 to Visa and $0.30 to Adproval.

In other words, upgrading to Passionfruit's $50/year plan will actually save you money over what you were paying us last month. And if you used Adproval, you'd be paying a company 3 dimes a month to care for the most important part of your blog business.
 Thank you, Jason for taking the time to comment & set the record straight! (This is just another great example of Passionfruit's dedication & support!)

Passionfruit vs. Adproval: The Services
So what exactly do Passionfruit and Adproval have to offer? You'll be pleased or nonplussed to hear that it's pretty much the same thing with one big plus in Passionfruit's favor. Check this out:

Passionfruit and Adproval both offer:
  • swaps
  • banner ads in multiple locations (sidebar, header, footer, in text)
  • selling social media posts where your customers can purchase Tweets or Facebook posts
  • selling featured post slots
  • selling review posts
  • selling giveaway information
  • selling custom services such as banner and button creation or workshops and training
Here's the big difference though: if you upgrade your Passionfruit to the new paid version, you can start using these features right away. Adproval says that these features are "coming soon" but doesn't really give an indication of when they might be available for use.

Passionfruit vs Adproval: Customization
We all have varying color schemes on our blogs. There's nothing worse than a clunky add-on or widget that detracts from this. Which is why both Passionfruit and Adproval allow you to customize the appearance of your ad shop. A point for each in this category.

Passionfruit vs Adproval: Payouts
Even though Adproval's payout are instant, they're done via Amazon Payments. In order to set up this payment system you'll need:
  1. Proof of identify (in the form of a driver's license or passport)
  2. A verified email address
  3. A valid credit or debit card
  4. Bank routing & account numbers for a US bank account
  5. A social security number
  6. A mailing address
Notice the problem? Adproval only works for people with US bank accounts and social security numbers. As an expat, I'm not eligible because I know longer have any US bank accounts and it's not exactly the kind of thing you can open up over the web.

Probing a bit further into Adproval's use of Amazon Payments, I realize that there is a UK version of Amazon Payments but unfortunately the two do not sync up and I wouldn't be able to use it for Adproval. Also, with Amazon Payments the funds are stored in an Amazon account, kind of like ... an Amazon gift card, ready to be used for all those purchases you'd like to make. Great if you want to go shopping, rubbish if you just want your money.

There is an option for withdrawing funds from your Amazon Payments account to your bank account, but Amazon state here that: withdrawing to a bank account takes 5 to 7 days not including weekends or holidays and sometimes, payment transfers can fail without warning. If this happens the money will end up back in your Amazon Payments account so you can try again.

Hrm. Sounds a bit sketch to me. I think I'll stick with Paypal, Passionfruit's payout provider. Just a quick reminder about Paypal's capability over Amazon Payments: Payments appear in your account instantly after you transfer to your bank account. In a worse case scenario, they take up to 2 hours to clear.

Passionfruit vs. Adproval: Site Useability
When I first started my trials with Adproval, I was both overwhelmed and underwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by the odd layout in the adstore and the offerings section. Hint: offerings is where you go to create ad spaces.

I was underwhelmed by the complete lack of support and navigational help that exists on the site itself. It's a bit clunky and difficult to use. The terminology doesn't make a whole lot of sense and the free ebook you get on maximizing online ad selling doesn't really cover the basics such as how the hell to create an ad spot!

The issue I have is that it's not exactly clear how to delete an offering once you create it! No bueno. Adproval also has something called Ad Group Settings listed when you go to create an ad. I tried for nearly a month to figure this out and searched for tutorials to no avail! I just couldn't figure out how to properly use the system. Sorry, Adproval, that's a fail. Your interface has to be accessible if you want users. Yours isn't.

Over on the new Passionfruit, things are mostly still the same in terms of user interface. The terminology has remained the same as it originally was and if you get stuck, there's loads of information available at the click of your trackpad to escort your through the process. Yet again, Passionfruit gets a gold star for customer support.

Passionfruit vs. Adproval: Which is right for you?
This is going to be mostly down to personal preference and budget. If you have the money in your blogging budget to cover the cost of Passionfruit, I think this is the better option. For me, it seems a bit more reliable. It's more user-friendly. It's a service that I've not had any issue with and I love the way it works.

Adproval may be just as good under the surface, but at the on-set it's not as accessible since it is restricted by what type of bank account you must have. I think in their rush to beat out Passionfruit and poach users who may not be too thrilled about Passionfruit charging, Adproval has forgotten a key element that makes Passionfruit great: anyone can use it! 

If you only want to be able to do swaps, use Adproval. There's no need to pay for something that someone else is going to give you for free.

What if everyone moves to Adproval and you stick with Passionfruit? Can you still do swaps? I think you can. You can set up an ad on Passionfruit the same size as a typical swap button and attach a promo code to it, making it free for your swappers. True, you'll both have a to a bit more work in setting up the swap, but it's possible to do. Or, you can be completely cheeky and set up a free Adproval account just for swaps and run them all through there.

Keep the discussion going!
I'm interest in your opinion: has the cost of Passionfruit put you off? Will you be moving to Adproval or are you happy with Passionfruit? Is there another brilliant ad provider out there that I've not mentioned?

Passionfruit versus Adproval: Should you stay or should you go? From

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