Heavy Traffic & Ads

Many of you have noticed that the site has been gradually getting slower over the last few months. Since last summer, our server load has increased by about 50% and that means that our database server is now running at about 90% CPU nearly all of the time.

To combat this, we have designed a new storage system that should significantly reduce the required server resources, and we will be migrating to this over the next few weeks. Hopefully this will give us the performance improvements necessary to keep up with the demand. If not, we will need to make some very substantial investments in new server hardware.

10,000 Users Paying for 1,000,000 Visitors
While doing analysis of our web traffic we realized that the majority of our 8,000+ daily visitors never do any business with us. This is probably because our google search results so frequently put us near the top, and we end up getting a lot of people on our site that have no interest in ever buying cards. This means that the revenue generated by the minority of you that care to buy and sell trading cards paid for server processing and bandwidth that was used for free by more than 1.1 million unique visitors last year.

Our solution… show ads to the millions of visitors that come to the site who don’t care to buy or sell cards, but don’t show ads to the 20,000 dedicated users that have done business with us.

If you have ever purchased store credit or sent us cards on consignment, you will not see any ads while you are logged in.

Who knows… maybe this can help pay for some new server hardware. Let us know what you think.

72 thoughts on “Heavy Traffic & Ads

  1. I think the addition of ads to those who are new to the site, or who haven’t ever purchased anything from COMC is a reasonable idea. If and when they do become customers consider dropping the ads, or give them the option of ad-free future visits to the site!

  2. I think that’s a great idea. Obviously, you have to do something, otherwise the performance of the website suffers for all of us. This is the least intrusive solution to the problem. Good luck with the migration. I look forward to seeing the site get better and better.

      • Dalkiel, this is the best idea I have heard yet!

        I suggest allowing each seller to set their “affiliate” options on what percentage they are willing to pay to bring an off site person to buy their card.

        This way it doesn’t cost comc anything, but helps us sellers move more volume.

    • Don’t you think it would be better to fix the performance issues of the site first, rather than generating more website traffic when there is already too much for the site to handle?

  3. I find it absolutely fascinating how adept the COMC team is at putting themselves in the shoes of their customers. We don’t see this kind of innovation in the other sites we frequent. Keep up the excellence!

  4. I saw the title with “Ads” in it and was thinking “uh-oh”, but this seems very clever and should only benefit regular users of the site.

      • Hi Tim,
        How about discussing the fact that COMC is a free subscription to Beckett? I think that’s why you have so many people who aren’t registered frequenting the site. They can look up cards for free, otherwise they’d have to buy a Beckett subscription for all the different sports or buy magazines/go get one. I think you have a lot of people buying across different sites and using COMC when they want to know what “something is worth”. Maybe they’re registered and maybe they aren’t. Any thought of having no book price available to non-registered visitors? Maybe they could only see the ask price and the percent savings. Perhaps the effort of having to do math might deter leeches who solely use COMC as a free online price guide. We obviously want to attract more buyers/sellers but the site is bogged down many, many times during the day with “visitors”.

    • Thank you for addressing the issue. It makes sense to me that people who have not registered as buyers or sellers should view ads as long as it is simple for them to sign up to be buyers or sellers. If possible, i would engineer the site in such a way that lookers have a more limited functionality than those registered as buyers and sellers, particularly functions that are resource intensive. Anything that provides “better performance” to those whose activity actually generates revenue for COMC.

  5. Wensy.com is just as bad. I don’t understand why we can’t log in for the day like ebay or forever like on Sportlots. I’ve never logged off their website and no disaster has befallen me.

  6. This is an okay idea and it wouldn’t affect me, but two years ago when I joined, I didn’t send money in untill about two months and If I saw a bunch of ads, I would have never sent money in. I think if you put up ads then you should tell viewers that if they sign up, the website will be ad free to them.

    • This is common on sites today. UI content like “Our customers don’t see these ads, and neither do you. Register for free” placed below the ads should do the trick!

  7. Logged in and see the ads 1/24 20:30 EST; Trying to think if any of my many orders have been placed while logged in and the answer is probably not. Yet this should be tracking by email addy anyway, which you’ve of course had.

    The ads are *real* annoying; I see your POV on it, and it’s a fair solution, but you need to make sure the people who are supporting you don’t bear the brunt

  8. good idea. It is not so important to protect payers from minor ads though. Make as much money through ads as you can, and reduce fees accordingly. :)

  9. I think we are all missing the obvious here. When someone clicks an AD, they are leaving the site and as sellers we are getting nothing!!! No card sale.

    COMC, you should think outside the box here with me for about 1 minute:

    Card collectors are all about eBay / COMC. So naturally doing google ads will not bring the largest amount of revenues based on the sheer fact most card shoppers don’t buy from ad sites, they buy from their place they know and trust.

    That being said, why not allow COMC sellers to revenue share with COMC in the ad revenues on the Ebay Partner Network? Since card buyers are ALWAYS buying new cards, we shop ebay daily. This could be a 50/50 revenue share and be accredited based on the page.

    So the more cards you have on a site, the more money you can make. So if you are the only unique seller on a page, only your 50/50 ad with comc will show. A lot of the time you will make 1-2 dollars a click VS selling a .25 cent card.

    If there are 10 cards, it will swap the ID out randomly with one of the 10 sellers. If people are browsing a page that has lots of cards on it, why not place an ad there and split the 50/50 with everyone who has cards displayed on that page?

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a steady flow of money being put in all of our pockets? After all without COMC sellers there would be no COMC and vice-versa.

  10. I don’t have a problem with ads either way, but I’d prefer it if they were for products and services I would actually use, rather than some scam artist trying to put malware on my computer.

    How about a way for COMC users to buy ad space, or to earn free ad space? Like if someone is accepting 50% offers on COMC, they could buy an ad, or if they are looking to promote their card store or a card show, they could also buy an ad?

    I agree with the others that COMC should spend at least a portion of this revenue on ads to get people to come to COMC.

    I would like to see some place on COMC where I could print a professional – looking flyer for the site, that I could then distribute at appropriate places like card shows, antique shows, Magic The Gathering tournaments, bulletin boards, outgoing eBay packages, etc. You could have full page flyers, half page flyers, quarter page flyers, etc. Trying to explain COMC to a person off the street is like trying to explain The Matrix. Some visual aids would be helpful.

    Maybe a person distributing the flyer could put a coupon code on the flyer, and if the customer enters that code (for some discount / benefit), then the person who distributed the flyer gets something as well.

    You could also have some sort of deal where you’ll advertise card shows, CCG tournaments, comic conventions, card stores, etc if they’ll reciprocate by putting out flyers for COMC.

  11. Speaking of directing traffic, once I get into this blog, it’s almost impossible to find a link back to COMC. Clicking the large COMC logo in the upper right corner leads back to this blog. Of course, I can get back to COMC by the usual method, but if some newbie stumbles across this blog, they might not easily find their way to the main site.

    • That’s why it opens in a new window. It technically is a WordPress site. That said, a link to the main site seems like a good idea.

  12. It would also be useful if COMC had a “buy port” button, where you could buy every single card in a person’s account for a percentage of the asking price (set by the seller).

    The seller should be able to set the percentage of asking price at any amount, even if the amount is less than 50% of asking price. For instance, if they have a $1000 book value that they’re asking $600 for, and would sell the whole port for 40% of asking price, then someone could buy it for $240. Or, let’s say the seller sells some cards and the total asking price is now $500. Someone could buy the port for $200. The port price automatically adjusts to the percentage of asking price.

    The buyer could either take the price or leave it, with no offers.

    If COMC had such a system, I think it would work well. I’ve bought several ports through the BlowOutCards forum, but the process is clunky at best. I know you have the auction system, but most ports I’ve bought are a few hundred cards for a few dozen dollars. The seller already sold a big chunk of the cards through the regular selling process and just has a few stragglers in the account. Also, much of the time, the price they would take is less than 50% of their asking price. Then there’s no easy way to do the transaction through COMC. Either they have to lower their price to where a 50% offer is the selling price, or there has to be some sort of off-COMC transaction. (Offer 50% on COMC, then get a partial refund from the buyer or something like that).

    Anyway, the reason I’m bringing this up in the ads section is that if COMC had an easy one-click buy port feature, and if COMC were to accept ads from COMC users, then this is exactly the sort of thing that a COMC user might want to purchase an ad to promote.

    Once that system is in place, it would be useful if a seller’s ports could be subdivided into mini-ports, by sport, set, year, or defined by the seller. Then those ports could be sold with the “sell port” feature. Say you want to sell all of your basketball cards as one lot, or all of your 1960′s baseball as one lot, or all of your Dan Marino cards as one lot, you could do it with that feature.

    • It surprises me how often people want to sell their ports, but this would be a nice feature. An interesting counterpoint: If it is easier to sell ports, the ports will sell for less because more will be available. Of course, as a buyer of ports, I would like that! :)

      • Hello all i am interested in selling my basketball port it has just about 5000 cards and a B.V. of over $11,000 i will consider offers if anyone is interested thanks -shawn

  13. Bottom line what is the plan when the server is paid for? What will the income be used for then? Advertising, reduced fees, more income for you?

  14. I would just like to go on record now as “loving” the idea of a “buy port” button, or a way to sell “subdivided mini ports”. For example, after 20 years of suffering through rooting for a losing franchise, I recently moved to St. Louis and have started rooting for the Rams. I have begun sending in the cards I no longer wish to keep in my collection from that “other” franchise, but if there were a way I could lot them up and move them as a group to someone else, I’d be quick to do it. As long as they’re mixed in with all the other cards in my port though, that’s not going to happen, because I have no interest in selling my entire port.

  15. I agree with Affordablecards. I’d also like to point out that if we could add tags to cards / players / sets, such as team name, Hall of Famer, autograph card, memorabilia card, college, etc, that it would drive even more internet traffic to individual card listings and hence, generate more ad revenue for the site.

    I don’t think too many COMC users would object to ads in general, so long as a chunk of the ad revenue were spent on improving the site, promoting the site, and driving eyeballs to our product.

    • The ability to “tag” items would be so beneficial!

      I made my first trip to the site about a month ago and I wanted to find some Indians cards to add to my collection. I had to do player searches for every Indians player I could think of and then try to find the cards of them in Tribe uniform. Pain in the butt? You betcha! The process was long and tedious, to say the least.

      Overall, I was thrilled with my purchases, I just feel that the searching process could have been simplified with tags.

      As for ads.. I personally don’t mind them. Possibly because I’m so used to ignoring them that I barely even notice them anymore. If there were a few ads for users, I wouldn’t mind it… If it meant quicker searches, I’d be all for it.

  16. Just saw the ads for the first time today. I thought they were tasteful and unobtrusive, though not particularly interesting. Is there some way to make them more relevant to sports or sports card collecting or collecting in general, or is it just luck of the draw?

    If someone clicks on one of the links in the ad, do you guys get anything for that, or do you get the same amount either way?

  17. Hey Tim, DJ. Sounds like a good idea. Just keep an eye on what kind of ads get put on the site. It would be great if you could make sure non-family friendly stuff does not show up there.
    God bless you and your staff, keep up the good work!

    DJ

  18. Gotta love these guys who decline your offer and raise there price after they decline!! Thats just great business!! Hide behind the no communication barrier!!

    YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!

      • The price was wrong to begin with. The bulk uploader tool mispriced a bunch of my cards. For someone with his screen name, real name, address, email address and phone number all over the Internet, I don’t see how I am hiding behind the no communication barrier.

        Did you pick an 13-day-old blog post to make your comment to hope I wouldn’t see it?

      • I also sometimes adjust my asking price DOWNWARD when I reject an offer. All I am doing is making it a penny cheaper than the least expensive card available.

      • Who are you to tell sellers how to price their cards? If you want the card buy the thing. Most sellers who get offers realize the card is priced so cheap to begin with and adjust to reflect the market.

    • Ahahahahahaha!!! Yep he is 1 of a few on this site but in the end travlncard they only hurt themselves, i haven’t even thought about going back to him since.

      • he’s only hurting himself? last time i checked, you weren’t the only buyer on the site. don’t be pissy just because you tried to lowball instead of buyin the card outright, only to have the price raised on you when you could have bought it outright for a lower price.

        genius.

      • hey chump or cbo whatever u call urself i went to buy a chipper jones card 4 my personal collection and the flipping offer was $2 under the high bv which was $.50 under his asking price and then he rejected it and jacked it up to full bv so take ur comment and stick it! I am not here to lowball any buyer/seller or any other person on this site i was only stating a fact and talking to travlncard at that. And yes hurting himself cause i may only be one buyer but i will prolly never buy from him again so YEA hurting himself

      • Hey buymore, maybe if you’d buy more instead of making offers, you’d get the cards you want! Joel can charge whatever he wants, however he wants. You need a major attitude adjustment.

      • lol KK guys cause i dont buy like $10000 + in bv every month I just happen to make joel a offer and he pulled that! No thing thou i am only 1 little meaningless dude that should just read the blogs and not comment :0

  19. I can’t tell you how many times I have rejected a low-ball offer only to “then” look at the card and wonder why an offer was made all of the sudden. When I realize that something just happened in the sports world that should make his card go up, I adjust my price accordingly. It’s not my fault the potential buyer made an offer instead of buying it outright at a great price.

    More often than not, those same cards get purchased for my new asking price within a few hours. I LOVE COMC!

  20. Don’t ads slow things down even more? I have purchased store credit several times but that doesn’t mean I sign in every time I visit your site. Every little thing that makes this site slower makes me less likely to come back.

    I spend time researching and reviewing before I buy things as I bet a lot of people do. I rarely sign in until I buy something. Unless you are going to block the ads based on my IP address I am going to get really irritated that you are treating me worse.

    It also seems rather strange that you would treat “potential” customers worse than current ones which is essentially what you are proposing to do. It is nice you want to treat you loyal customers better but don’t we all do better if you have more of those customers? Such an idea is actually a disservice to you current and future patrons.

    This isn’t some free email service where I can pay some money each month to skip the ads. You are a store. Could you even comprehend Walmart pulling such a stunt? Would they ever make people read some ads before they bought something, but only if they have never bought anything before.

    I personally think it is a really bad customer service idea to treat people so drastically different.

  21. ~~~~~Super Steal Saturday! Accepting all 50% off offers~~~~~

    Today on my comc account I will be accepting ALL offers of 50% off!! Plenty of deals to be had!! Dont miss out, theres money to be made!

    Bundle some things up your sure to end up with a killer deal! Majority of the prices are already the lowest on the site, and your getting an additional 50% off of that!!

      • Thanks Bud, Glad you were able to get a few deals on some cards you wanted…

        Sucked the site was down most of the day, wasnt really able to reach the number i wanted. so ill probably just keep it goin so more people can actually see it! could use the staff to post somethin in the main blog

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