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Is ProZ the right place to advertize agencies?
Thread poster: ViktoriaG

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
Feb 9, 2009

I was somewhat troubled this morning when I logged into my ProZ account. An advertizement for a translation agency's services was blinking at me from the left side of the homepage. No, I don't mean the featured corporate member box - I mean advertizing for a translation agency, just below.

If someone looking for a translator sees such ads, maybe they will find it simpler to just click on them rather than search the directory. I agree that agencies don't necessarily play on the same field as translators, but I also know there are agencies who charge less than I do.

I have nothing against ads for CAT tools, dictionaries, other Web services, etc., but when there are ads whose only point is to keep the potential client from looking at the profiles of the translators who make up this site (not long ago, this was the translators workplace [sic] - do I wonder why that has changed?).

Am I overreacting? Isn't this a little bit unfair, especially knowing that most freelancers will never be able to afford the shiny ads that agencies can afford? If my profile is to be buried under ads from larger competitiors, I might as well stop paying for it and just stick a link to my website on the Dmoz Directory... Are we selling ProZ by the pound?


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:16
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
hmmmm Feb 9, 2009

But how would potential end-users find Proz to begin with, a quick test in Dutch with "fast translation document" gives me a list of local agencies but not Proz.
Similar other keywords give similar results, even in English Proz is not in the top 10.

So I presume that only a handfull of end-clients would go about using Proz in the first place. Presumably a large part of them know how it work (ex-translators maybe? people who have worked for translations agencies and now have a "normal" job?)...

So I guess our livelyhood is still safe...
And who looks at that banner spam anyway??? Wouldn't you rather have a good translator, than some commercial suit who promises quick turnaround, low prices and high quality..


Ed


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 18:16
SITE FOUNDER
No change in policy since 2000 Feb 9, 2009

I can understand your reaction, but I don't think this is anything for anyone to worry about. A handful of translation companies have bought banner ads here over the past eight years, sometimes looking for clients and sometimes looking for translators. I am not aware of this having changed user habits or upset the model here in any way. (In other words, if it has not affected your business so far, I would say it probably will not affect your business now.)

As for your comment on "translation workplace", it would be wrong to ascribe any meaning to that. My memory tells me we have used "translation workplace" off and on from the beginning... and in a quick search now, I see a page saved in the "Wayback" machine from four years ago that shows it: http://web.archive.org/web/20050109090452/http://www.proz.com/


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe our livelihood is safe - but what about principles? Feb 9, 2009

I am not ringing an alarm about mean agencies trying to steal our work and ProZ being accomplices. I am rather having a problem with the principles behind this.

Many of us spend time polishing our profiles, some of us even pay for a premium membership only so they have better directory placement - but these companies, who clearly have a bigger marketing budget, can just blatantly place a banner ad on the homepage. Also, I imagine most of those who do look at the homepage are still freelancers looking for work. It's a bit sad, to say the least, to be greeted by an ad looking to sell translation services rather than looking to buy them.

That ProZ's main interest in this site is not helping freelancers do good business is nothing new to me. But I really find that ad would be better off at the other end of the translation industry spectrum, for freelancers and for the agency in question as well (unless they are only using that banner ad for search engine optimization, which is what I suspect).

In any case, I have principles. Am I part of the minority?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
So far, I've seen no agencies Feb 9, 2009

Thanks for your speedy reply, Henry.

Henry D wrote:

I can understand your reaction, but I don't think this is anything for anyone to worry about. A handful of companies have bought banner ads here over the past eight years, sometimes looking for clients and sometimes looking for translators. I am not aware of this having changed user habits or upset the model here in any way.


I have been seeing the ads you refer to for years now, but what struck me today is that there is an ad for an agency. So far, I've only seen ads for dictionary software, CAT tools and web services. I have never seen a banner for an agency before today. That ProZ makes advertizing revenue doesn't shock me and I probably would do the same if I had a similar portal. But greeting translators looking for work with an ad looking to sell the same services is a bit over the top for me. Like I said, it's not a question of fearing for my business, but a question of principle.

[Edited at 2009-02-09 16:05 GMT]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 18:16
SITE FOUNDER
That is what I mean - translation companies Feb 9, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
I have been seeing the ads you refer to for years now, but what struck me today is that there is an ad for an agency.

I should have been more specific. My point above was that translation companies ("agencies") have been advertising here since 2000 (when we started doing banner ads). This is something that happens sporadically, there is no new trend here.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 18:16
SITE FOUNDER
Really, Viktoria? Feb 9, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
That ProZ's main interest in this site is not helping freelancers do good business is nothing new to me.

Well, it is news to me... I was under the impression that 94% of ProZ.com's customers are freelance translators.

By the way, check out the new invoicing service developed over the last several months -- free for members. (I know, another ad.)


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Then I should have brought it up sooner Feb 9, 2009

Henry D wrote:

My point above was that translation companies ("agencies") have been advertising here since 2000 (when we started doing banner ads).


I haven't noticed ads for agencies before - maybe these are sporadic enough that I didn't notice them so far. My preoccupation is still valid...


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Business is business Feb 9, 2009

Henry D wrote:

Well, it is news to me... I was under the impression that 94% of ProZ.com's customers are freelance translators.


I am sure you are willing to admit that ProZ is not a not-for-profit organization. As such, the prime purpose is making money. Helping freelancers do business does not exclude that the main purpose is still earning money.

I did not say that ProZ wasn't helping its clientele in any way, but I don't think that is the main purpose.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:16
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Business is business indeed, but... Feb 9, 2009

All businesses have to earn money. There are two possible ways to see a business.

1) The business only exists to earn money, and nothing else. (Then why did ithe owner choose this particular form of business, instead of a different one?)

2) The owner of the business really enjoys being in business in this particular way - and helping the customers each day - and in addition can earn a living from doing so, which is simply an added bonus.

I venture to suggest that the most successful businesses fall into the second category, and, further, that a large number of translators see themselves as being in the second category. It is my impression that Proz.com also falls into the second category.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:16
French to German
+ ...
My opinion too... Feb 9, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:


I venture to suggest that the most successful businesses fall into the second category, and, further, that a large number of translators see themselves as being in the second category. It is my impression that Proz.com also falls into the second category.


And there's more than just landing jobs on ProZ.com. I would not have thought of Platinum membership if this site were a mere "market place".

My 2 cents.

Laurent K.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:16
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
This is exactly what I didn't want to discuss Feb 9, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

...I venture to suggest that the most successful businesses fall into the second category, and, further, that a large number of translators see themselves as being in the second category. It is my impression that Proz.com also falls into the second category.


It is exactly to avoid discussing this secondary subject that I made sure to mention in an earlier post that, naturally, ProZ is in it for the money and that it is only natural that they want to earn some through advertizing. That wasn't the purpose of my post and I wanted to avoid going in that direction.

I repeat: this is about principles, not about what ProZ can and cannot do, what ProZ is supposed to do (none of that is my business) or whether anybody feels threatened by agencies being advertized on the homepage.

To illustrate my point, to me, seeing an advertizement for an agency on the homepage here is much like opening the classified section of a newspaper looking for a job, only to find ads looking for and not offering work. I know, it's a free market, ProZ can manage their business any way they see fit, but we shouldn't forget that freelancers can't afford that type of banner ad, whereas agencies can. That's what I have a problem with: the playing field should be level, at least on a site whose clientele is 94% freelancers.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:16
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I guess many freelancers could afford a banner ad Feb 9, 2009

I don't know exactly how much banner ads cost, but we are all in business, and - in the normal run of things - at least those of us who work full-time at the job are usually able to afford such business expenses as we consider useful. I just happen not to have thought of, wanted or seen the necessity for a banner ad for my business to date. For one thing, I am not offering goods for sale on a large scale (even if those goods be translations), but, rather, serving a small and select clientele, whose custom I happen to already have without such advertising efforts. It just so happens to be that way. If I thought, however, that the way forward for my business would be by purchasing a banner ad, then I would jolly well find a way to afford that banner ad, whether by saving up for it, taking out a loan, whatever it might take to get it.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:16
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Fuzzy logic... Feb 9, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
I repeat: this is about principles, not about what ProZ can and cannot do, what ProZ is supposed to do (none of that is my business) or whether anybody feels threatened by agencies being advertized on the homepage.

To illustrate my point, to me, seeing an advertizement for an agency on the homepage here is much like opening the classified section of a newspaper looking for a job, only to find ads looking for and not offering work... That's what I have a problem with: the playing field should be level, at least on a site whose clientele is 94% freelancers.


... is sometimes found in more than TM tools. I fail to understand the problem with "principles" here. If someone wants a freelancer to do a job and comes here for that, no amount of flashing banner ads for agencies will be likely to tempt that person. As for who can afford ads and who cannot - well, maybe I can afford one of those banner ads, but what would I do if people started responding to it? If I say no to the majority of inquiries anyway for lack of time or schedule them far in the future, why the heck would I want dozens or hundreds of people offering me jobs to be done now. Moreover, if I'm looking for more work and I see an agency willing and able to invest in tasteful advertisement, I might consider offering my services to that agency. So from that perspective, I would welcome more such ads on ProZ, because they might be a hint of an agency solvent enough to pay my invoice.

As for level playing fields, the focus here has always seemed to be on freelancers to a very great extent. There are quite a number of agencies and agency representatives among us too, and some of these people are huge contributors to the quality of the site. We have, for example, our agency owner colleague "B." from "t." who has helped many of us out of difficulties with Trados on more occasions than I can count. If he wants to post a big flashing ad here, I'll chip in and help him pay for it for all the help he has given me and others in recent years. I could make a long, long list of other agency principals and PMs who play very well in this freelancer's playground. These people are our allies for the most part, not our adversaries. I think of them as my freelance team working for me. They deal with a lot of hassle I don't have time for and take a reasonable cut for allowing me to focus on the parts of the business I enjoy the most. I'm not talking about the three-cent losers here, but about the serious agency colleagues, and there are plenty of them. If I see a big banner ad from an agency I consider to be unethical, I will certainly send a bitch note to Henry & Co. stating my opinion very clearly. But if it's just an average honest business who charges less than I do - big deal. We probably aren't in the same market anyway.

I also don't like the subtext of the statement that comes up from time to time about ProZ being a for-profit business. Grow up, people. The day Henry isn't making a good profit is the day we should start getting very worried about the benefits we may derive from participation here in the future. I certainly do not endorse every little thing that happens here (I am indifferent to much of it), but I really can't argue with the ROI here. C'mon! About 100 euros a year for a platform that helps bring in the bulk of revenues more than 1000 times that? Saying I'm not getting my money's worth would be the very definition of churlish. The ROI would be good if it were 100 times less. And then I get to vent my frustrations from overwork by spending waaaaaaay too much time late at night posting in these forums. Such a bargain....


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