Paid Ads for WordCamps

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about the use of online advertising to promote WordCamps. Since 2011, we’ve requested that it not be an allowed expense in WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. budgets and have asked all deputies to help share that expectation. However, it seems like more and more WordCamps are wanting the option to include paid ads in their budget.

So let’s talk about how we could change that rule to better suit everyone. I thought it would be good to get some background and discuss a few of the main ideas that will affect this. If possible, I’d love to focus on the idea of these updates, rather than how we will make it work. If we end up adjusting anything, we’ll all have a lot of things to figure out in the way of “How Things Work” that will merit it’s own post. 😀

The Background

Online advertising has previously not been considered part of our WordCamp budgets for a few specific reasons:

  1. We believe that if you have a well-established community (i.e. a local user group that meets in-person regularly to talk about WordPress); those people will have a high interest in your WordCamp and won’t need a paid ad.
  2. Online advertising has a wide reach and can bring in people who don’t already know WordPress or what to expect from a WordCamp; WordCamps rarely provide content for people who do not already know about WordPress.
  3. WordPress on its own is a great online marketing platform; paid clicks might not be as effective as a good content marketing plan – publish often and share it everywhere.

In our monthly chat, there were a few pros and cons raised that I’ve listed below:

Pros

  • It will increase awareness; WordPress freelancers may not always know about the community.
  • Paid ads will help be more visible in a competitive tech event space.
  • It would add to diversity.

Cons

  • Tracking is an issue overall.
  • Knowing how to define success would be different from area to area.

Implementation Concerns

  • Tracking on ticket sales would be needed for measuring conversion.
    • Tried Bitly tracking without success
    • Jetpack stats/Google TagTag Tag is one of the pre-defined taxonomies in WordPress. Users can add tags to their WordPress posts along with categories. However, while a category may cover a broad range of topics, tags are smaller in scope and focused to specific topics. Think of them as keywords used for topics discussed in a particular post. Manager

The Big Question

If we consider the basic idea that WordCamps are about quality content (both on the site and from the speakers), does it then make sense to add in the work of an online advertising campaign as well? Knowing that volunteer time is scarce and extremely valuable, should we redirect their attention to paid ads rather than better content, fundraising, or all the other work that organizing an event requires?