The answer is money: has Hearing Tracker gone over to the dark side?

#1

Hearing Tracker announced today the official launch of its Inner Circle marketing platform. The new analytics-driven platform was built from the ground up to “drive fresh customer leads and hearing aid sales”.

Among the reported benefits of being part of the Inner Circle program, include:

  • Improved visibility in the Hearing Tracker directory
  • Direct leads from product advertising program
  • SEO boost from the link to your practice website
  • Enhanced brand visibility with Local Clinic Ads
  • Weekly analytics (via email) on your clinic listing and deals ads
  • Exclusive access to our Inner Circle Marketing Forum

Program Costs

For those who register their clinic during July will receive the first year of membership at the early-bird rate of $119 per month for the first location and $109 per month for each additional location. After July, the cost of Inner Circle will rise to $139 per month, per location.

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#2

It looks to me this is all part of a plan to cover the considerable costs of website, at no cost to users.

I think a related service was launched in March that should benefit both hearing users and hearing aid providers. This looks like another part of a bigger plan.

I might be reading this wrong, but it certainly appears to me that is what @AbramBaileyAuD is doing. I know websites can be quite expensive for hosting and bandwidth. I see nothing wrong or evil in doing this, and welcome it. Hearing Tracker and the users here were a tremendous assist in my beginning hearing aid journey. I log in daily to read and learn almost one year later.

Over the years, I have seen many sites that I used and subscribed to their services go down because of ongoing costs. One that I find invaluable is is in jeopardy right now, sadly.

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#3

The other option is take one of the buyout offers from the manufacturers. Which so far we have refused to entertain. Sorry folks, we have to keep the lights on. I’d rather keep our forum and product resource unbiased and support the audiologists that are willing to financially back our platform.

Some other notes:

  • We have invested heavily in software development for the deals platform, and a complete rebuild of our mapping and pro directory systems. Our Google API bill alone is $500 per month, due to the heavy traffic load on our site and reliance on Google software. The money to pay for all that development and the related ongoing costs has to come from somewhere.
  • We are working on adding disclaimers to all the featured listings, etc, to indicate that they are in fact paid advertisements.
  • We still allow practices to list their locations on our map and city pages without paying, and importantly, we allow consumers to filter the practices by services or brands, something that we feel is an important service Hearing Tracker provides to the community.
  • I am extremely proud of all the work we have done, and the manner in which we have monetized the platform to sustain and evolve it. I hope most of you agree.
  • We reserve the right to kick out any practice – for any reason and at any time – and will do so if we get reports of poor service, etc.
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#4

Fair enough, Abram. I value your service tremendously, and I am reassured by your measures to keep things on the up and up.

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#5

As a forum member I never think about the business end of the forum.
I do appreciate the forum and all you have done to make it great place to share.

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#6

I’m of the opinion that nothing is ‘free’ and that there’s nothing wrong with paying a fair price for something.

Too many people shop on price without thinking perhaps that someone somewhere gets the short straw for their ‘deal’.

Of course, no one wants robbing blind either.

I wonder if it’s possible to facilitate a donation option for the site, similar to what Wikipedia does every few years. Totally optional, but say between £1/$1 to £5/$5 from every member every once in a while.

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#7

I don’t see a problem and possibly a benefit to users as participants see a need to be upfront about costs. And added competition knowing what others offer. I just hope enough signup to keep the platform going. Certainly seeing our conversations will help audis understand our concerns and what we value. My concern would be a lack of specifics.

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#8

Found my amazing audiologist at Exceptional Hearing only from a search for providers on this site! There is a hearing aid place on almost every corner here in the Phoenix area, but i now travel 90 min for exceptional care!

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#9

As someone has already stated… nothing is for nothing! We whom appreciate this site, we also appreciate that the “website upkeep” does not grow on trees and has to be paid for somehow! A voluntary contribution box should be available to anyone whom wishes to make a donation to help with the upkeep and pay the bills… This may help to alleviate the pressure on the advertising requirements? I for one totally appreciate not only the site with its wealth of information but also the professional audiologists and dispensers whom give their time and advice freely without fear or favour… tis also very much appreciated all the contributions from the regular hearing aid users whose excellent advice and enthusiasm help make this site what it is, without u guys and girls this site would not be possible… lastly let’s remember why this site is important; hearing loss is naturally isolating, many folks worldwide lose most of their confidence after their initial realisation that they have a problem especially those with “sudden hearing loss” and perhaps they are unable to communicate effectively, then they gradually withdraw from society and this site is a gateway to help them move on, see what aids are out there and hopefully regain that confidence and adapt themselves accordingly to a hearing world:-) Cheers Kev

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#10

Abram: Reality understood. For anyone who thinks this is inappropriate or greedy, I assume you would welcome them to start a competing impaired-hearing message board site with no access fee, no data collection, and no ads?

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#11

@name.withheld I for one am extremely grateful to all the regulars, and the professionals who are only to willing to help every single one of us. I for one came to this site several years ago a total newbie, who didn’t have a clue and I have learnt so much from all these kind helpful folk.
If you don’t like the atmosphere inside the door is always able to be opened.

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