The Land of Advertising is Full of Surprises.

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Adland, the advertising site with 13 million visits, 35.000 members, and over 17.000 advertising commercials is the largest and oldest site of it's kind, yet it is not financed by advertising.

Over the last few years, one of the more favorite subjects of business news has been how people eschew advertising by switching channels during commercial breaks or programming TiVos to avoid them completely, defacing billboards, canceling subscriptions, complaining up the wazoo, and getting offended over things as simple and silly as hat-wearing monkeys singing about delicious hoagies.

Sure, it's always easy for news outlets to find people who will rant and rave about the evils and destructive powers of ads, guaranteeing them their fifteen second soundbites of fame, but there's another side to the story.

Sometimes, and it's more often than you think, people find that the commercials are more interesting than the programs they interrupt, magazine ads are more compelling than the articles they surround, and publicity stunts are more engaging than what's playing at the local multiplex.

Even more surprising, and contrary to what the mainstream says everybody is doing, some people actually seek out advertising and their quest is rewarded at an irreverent but devastatingly substantial destination called AdLand at ad-rag.com, "a commercial-laden delirium of heaven and hell for advertising addicts 'round the world."

AdLand, with millions of visits, tens of thousands of members (or "AdGrunts", as its citizens like to call themselves), and over 17,000 online television commercials, is the largest and oldest site of its kind.

The site also has an acclaimed Super Bowl TV ad collection called the Claymore Project that spans over three historic decades of the annual phenomenon. "No other site has such a complete archive of Super Bowl ads, and every year after the game, we get hit so hard by visitors that our web servers are in constant danger of bursting into flames," says Åsk Wäppling, AdLand founder.

Long before the fire extinguishers, Adland at ad-rag.com was founded by Åsk Wäppling in 1996. Her initial idea was to build a simple little community where one could write about and discuss advertising, but her then humble website quickly grew into an enormous advertising resource frequented not only by ad industry professionals, professors, teachers and students, but also a shocking amount of armchair advertising aficionados and critics.

The site is run in most part by two infamous ad pundits, Åsk Wäppling and Clayton T. Claymore. "I still burn for advertising," says Wäppling. The members of the site can read and write gossip about the ad biz, and also watch and rate commercials. Many of the community members also make sure that the newsflow never stops, as any member can add news to the front page. For advertising news, Adland has become one of the most important ad resources next to traditional and local trade press.

"We also encourage agencies, directors and production houses to send in their current and older work for AdLand's archive, but it comes with a caveat," says Claymore. "If their spots stink, we're going to call them on it. And if their spots don't stink, well, then they have nothing but good things to worry about. To paraphrase the Facts of Life theme song, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have... advertising. Ok, that sounded better in my head than out loud, but there's no other industry like it, and we love it that way."

Perhaps in its most surprising twist yet, AdLand is one of the few websites of its size and scope that isn't supported by paid online advertisements. "No banner ads, no pop-up ads, no Flash-based web-o-matic-mercials, no paid-for-pseudo-stories or anything else our online marketing cousins can come up with," says Wäppling. "There's millions of other sites out there with that stuff, and we don't play that way."

"We're a pay-for-play site," continues Wäppling. "It's a different route, but if a member donates some of their pocket change to the site, they should not have to see banners or fill in long-winded forms about their income and sexual preferences. Now that many sites have paid links, even in their editorial content, AdLand is doing the opposite. There has never been any paid ad-space on the site and our vision is that there never will be. It's a little ironic considering the site's topic..."

"Ironic is an understatement...well, actually, it's an adjective. It's perplexing to some, but we want to keep things as pure, unadulterated and real as we can," says Claymore. "AdLand is a resource. A virtual salon of advertising opinion and commentary. A modern online museum of the best and worst of the advertising world. Of course, all that noble stuff doesn't stop us from being unabashed smart-arses whenever we find the opportunity."

Becoming a member to AdLand is free. News, links and plenty of other material is free as well, but if you wish to dive into the online commercial archive, a member only has to donate a small sum to help pay for the bandwidth - Two Euros for 30 days unlimited access. "It's not a subscription that one has to cancel, you simply upgrade the time you want to access the archive," says Wäppling.

"Think of it as an incredibly cheap month-long pass to your local zoo," concludes Claymore. "You get to go see the animals any time you want, and we can then afford just enough kibble to keep the animals alive and healthy."

Some people claim that ads are mirrors to the society they're found in. If this is true, then the folks at AdLand are doing their cheeky best to make sure that the mirrors never break.

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�sk Wäppling
AdLand
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