Ello, an emerging ads-free social network from last year, is struggling and facing the video ad dilemma


Ello was established by artist Paul Budnitz and designer Todd Berger in March 2014. The founders intended to create a pure land in social media—Ello is a totally ads-free, invitation-only social network that none of the user data would be sold to any third parties. It would not let their users post anything without compromising their no-ads policy. The company, with their invitation-only policy, does not target to appeal to the masses.

Bombarded by tons of commercials in Facebook and Twitter every day, many social media users are tired to be “spied” by data miners of every move on Internet. Ello took off like a rocket, with hundreds of thousands of users when it first came out. But this platform is only in beta testing and running without an impeccable financial plan. Tech media thinks Ello is dying, but the founders are still racing to finish their site.

In January of 2015, founders made a move to let users remember Ello — it began to support video and music content form Youtube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, SoundCloud, and Mixcloud. This move won quarter-million users within a week. But since Youtube videos are all filled with pre-roll ads, it seems like commercials are finding a way in this clean territory though embeds. So Ello compromised by providing a turn-off embedded ads function in settings for the extreme commercial haters.  But most early Ello adopters seem don’t care about the occasional ads in videos.

Dying but still struggling, Ello is declaring a March “Not Safe for Work month”(NSFW) campaign to encourage the world to post whatever they believe in with a guarantee that all the information is safe in this platform. Also, Ello is planning to launch their Apps in May.

You can find more information about this social network:




My questions are:

  1. Do you think it is possible for a social media platform succeed without the advertising funding?
  2. Besides the financial problems, what other factors do you think lead to the failure of Ello?

Peiyao (Claire) Wu


4 thoughts on “Ello, an emerging ads-free social network from last year, is struggling and facing the video ad dilemma

  1. I think it would be very tough for a social media platform to succeed without advertising. People need to realize advertising is now a constant part of our life and we should embrace it. I think most social media platforms that do not utilize advertising money are mainly fads and will struggle surviving in the long run.

    • It is hard for social media platform succeed without commercials. But I think Ello starts with a good intention– to protect users privacy that could be used as business data by marketers. Normally people would not care several advertisements when they use the social networks, but if the ads are related to their previous browse history it could be annoying sometimes.

  2. Maybe it’s extremely hard for a social media to survive without advertising. If Ello wants to survive without advertising, at least it needs to find an different way to make money. Freemium business model is an alternative. But the key of freemium is a large number of users. Unfortunately, if Ello wants to attract enough users, it may have to do advertising to recruit users. It’s a dilemma. Also, Ello should find its real USP. Most of us hate advertising, but we still need to use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin because our connections are on them and we rely on them to do lots of things. Advertising isn’t likeable, but it’s tolerable. Most people would not use Ello only because it’s ad-free.

    • I totally agree with you that most people would not use Ello only because it’s ad-free. A social media needs to create more valuable functions and characters for users. But Ello is invitation-only that not every person get access to it. It seems that Ello is not targeting at the masses but only to those users who truly need to find a peaceful place to share their comment. This month Ello is launching NSFW campaign which encourages its users to speak out and not to care about the censorship. But still, Ello needs to figure out a new financial model with more real values.

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