Selling to the programmers

While reviewing ad inventory on the StackOverflow, it occurred to me that it’s not easy to sell things to the programmers. If the visitors of your site are programmers, what ads are going to be most effective and perform better than the others? Currently, the only non-job ads on the StackOverflow are promoting SDKs, components, development and related tools, training courses. This is basically all you can try to sell to the programmers. From the top of my head I typed into the browser and got a site with just the same sorts of ads.

Now, one would think that it’s not easy to sell these things to the programmers for a variety of reasons:

  • There are many open-sourced and free alternatives.
  • High piracy rate. Programmers (in general, but not all of them) love to find and download things they need without paying.
  • A lot of programming is outsourced these days, meaning there are many programmers from India, China, Russia and other countries, whose buying power is reduced. In other words, there are a lot of customers who won’t spend an extra dollar unless absolutely needed.
  • Build or Buy thinking, meaning that every time a programmer evaluates someone else’s software, he thinks “I can build it myself and it will be better”.

For me personally, these reasons are scary enough to keep away from programmers market as far as possible. I know there are people who built successful companies selling stuff to developers, like a code review tool or bug tracking system. Well, these people are very smart and lucky. I’ve seen dozens of companies that tried to sell components and crashed into the ground.


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