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Operation Fabulous Interviewauthor: Kiba
published: 2011-03-21 22:24:18 UTC
As you may have heard, Operation Fabulous, an advertising clearing house, launched recently. I was really excited about this project, since it would allow me to earn bitcoin in another way. So, I decided to interview Myckel Habets, aka BioMike, about this long running project.
Kiba: Before we get started on the topic of Operation Fabulous. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
BioMike:People on the Bitcoin forum might know me as BioMike. But in real life my name is Myckel Habets. I'm a 28 years old PhD student from the Netherlands, doing a study in the field of Plant Biotechnology on the University of Leiden. I'm a Free and Open Source software enthousiast for already more than 10 years and are contributor to the Gentoo Linux distro as an x86 architecture tester.
Kiba: So, Operation Fabulous was a three month long project, roughly speaking, from the time you announced that you are working on it to the time that the project was finally open to the public. So, why do you decided to engage in this project versus the other projects that you could have done in the span of three months?
Biomike:Talking about an advertisement clearing house was already started a lot earlier and initially Noagendamarket planned to set up such site, but it never got from the ground. Because he saw a need for it he offered a bounty. After some time nobody had picked this up yet, so I thought that I might give a shot on it. Knowing that it would be quite a challenge, because I had never really build such site. The reason that I picked this project instead of others was that this project was already wished for by some people for some time and this was the only project that I felt that I would keep supporting it for a longer time.
Kiba: I see that you named your project Operation Fabulous. Is that a word play on Project Wonderful, which was the model advertising site discussed in the forum?
Biomike: Yes, it is purely a word play. I couldn't come up with something better. Many sites that get released with bitcoin support have "bitcoin" or "btc" in their name. Although in principal that's fine I didn't want to put the focus on the name itself, but rather on the fact that you can use bitcoin on our site and that it works. People will also relate you less with the Bitcoin project itself. On the other side there are many advertisement platforms that have "Ads" in their name, because most nice name combos would already have been taken, I didn't bother to look into that, so I decided on a Project Wonderful name word play.
Kiba: We were discussing account-less ads space buying feature long ago as a way to get advertisers to gauge the system and hopefully create an account there. (For those who don't know, account-less simply mean that you can buy advertising space without creating an account) I never been on the publishing side, so you have to enlightened me. Did you implement the feature? Why or why not? If so, can you tell us how it works?
Biomike: Although it could be possible to implement such things, it would be hard to do it properly. Both advertisers and publishers have wishes on how things should work. Removing the idea of account makes things a lot harder to track. In its basis "account-less" would be that you don't register anything of the advertiser or publisher. Only Ad -> Website (read: display ad on website) should be the only possible link. How would you do the payout for the publisher? If the publisher gets an ad on his site that he/she doesn't like or finds it offensive to the visitors of the site, how would it be removed from the site without an account? On the other side, the advertiser would most likely want to know how often his ad was viewed and how much is left on his balance (using a balance would indicate the requirement of an account). All these things would have need to be solved and of course you would need proper security measures to prevent misuse as much as possible.
In total it needs a lot more thinking and testing than just putting a piece of code in place that does taking care of accounts.
Kiba: When I was playing around the site, I learned that you create two separate user account for publishers and advertisers. So if I want to do all above, I have to register two accounts. Why did you create such division in the first place?
Biomike: Currently the advertiser site is much more complex than the publisher site. The publisher wants to only register his site(s) and see the bids on his site. The advertiser site however needs to track multiple ads that the advertiser uploads, track all the bids and have a possibility to add bitcoins to his account. My view is that there will be more publishers than advertisers and by not exposing all the options of the advertisers to the publishers makes things, hopefully, a lot clearer and easier to understand to them. Also advertisers might not be interested in being a publisher, because they are there to advertise. It also allows to build in some security and performance features in the underlying code. Another nice feature that I could implement because of this, is the fact that publishers get automatic payout when their account accumulates a specific amount of bitcoins, which means setup the ad space on the website and forget about it! Bitcoins will come rolling into your wallet!
Due to the things above and the fact that I have limited knowledge how people would use an advertising site (the assumption that there will be more publishers then advertisers) I decided to do it this way.
Kiba: What's the most difficult part of the project?
Biomike: The speed that I wanted to have it released caused it that I missed quite some bugs. Now that the site is online for a few days and people start using it I'm a bit overwhelmed with the amount of feedback. People have been providing bug reports, requests for changes, but also positive feedback. And from the positive feedback I get to know that people where actually waiting for such service, which gives a good feeling that people actually value the service.
Kiba: Do you have any sort of grand plan for the future? Do you see yourself working on new projects beyond Operation Fabulous?
Biomike: My current plan is to keep supporting Operation Fabulous. I don't see myself yet working on new projects. I'd rather put all my time in one project have it going good, then in 3 projects that are only half done.
Kiba: How long would that be? Six months? A couple of years? What about paying others to maintain the site while you work on new projects?
Biomike: At least a few years, hopefully. It all depends on the users, if they still see use in the site. It would be nice to have it reformed into something that I could use as a paid job after my PhD. I might work on side projects, but it will be be related to this. I spend a lot of time on this and various people have already offered help, but I prefer to do this on my own. I might have people doing jobs for me from time to time, but it is still to soon to tell.
Kiba: Do you have plans to support new ads format such as full blown page in a magazine like our The Bitcoin Times?
Biomike: One of the things on my todo list is to include new formats of ads on Operation Fabulous. Providing ads for other media is currently not a goal for me and at the moment also not within the scope of Operation Fabulous. The bitcoin community is currently small enough for people to know who is involved with different projects, like The Bitcoin Times, and my guess is that people who want to advertise in The Bitcoin Times know who to contact. I do however have other ideas for targeting audience with ads that might be interesting for people to implement. One is to have "ad mails" send to people who receive a few bitcoin cents for reading them(through clicking a link in the email that sends them to a landing page). Although this idea is older then Operation Fabulous I won't have time to implement this, so hopefully one of the readers might be interested to take up this "project", like I took up the project to develop Operation Fabulous.
Kiba: Last question. How large is the advertising network right now?
Biomike: here are now 5 publishers registered with 3 websites, so not every publisher has set up his website yet. Of these websites there is one that is generating already a lot of views (about 1 view every 2 minutes) and that is not the Operation Fabulous main page. There are currently 3 advertisers, but one is the highest bidder on all sites.
As you can see, after 3 days we have already some activity going on, but it is still rather limited.
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