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28 Jan

For the first project, I’m starting with a Facebook “suggested post.” This is a post that a page, or even an individual can make and “sponsor” or “suggest” it through facebook’s ad platform. People tend to lament and sometimes deeply hate the “sponsored post,” so I thought it would be a great place to start. I saw this ad and clicked it.



Someone paid for me to see this ad, I clicked it and it took me to It contained a discount code which I used to order $64 worth of recipes. This gave me 2 different meals, both with servings for 2. The original cost was $64 with $12 shipping. I only had to pay for the shipping because of the Facebook ad. That means my total cost for the meals was $3 each.

Due to shipping constraints, Plated is only available in certain areas. You can also get memberships to make the plates cheaper. I opted against that for my this tryout, plus I had a free code.

I chose the Provencal Steak and the Chicken with White Wine Pan Sauce. The Plated box came about 4 days later. It contained lots of things:

My images show the “Provencal Steak” dish. It wasn’t difficult to cook, but the directions were a little lacking and some of the ingredients weren’t very intuitive.
Over all it ended up looking a lot like the picture, but the steak was a bit tough. Likely due to only marinating for a short time, when we could’ve marinated up to 24 hours. Plated isn’t about learning to cook. They provide pre-portioned ingredients and a recipe. Follow the directions and you have something decent. Learning to cook requires understanding what you’re doing, not just mindlessly following the directions. My cooking and dining companion actually said, “I’ve seen boxed cake mix with better documentation.”
The four people who tried the finished dish generally liked it, every one of them added butter and salt to their vegetables and said the steak was tough.
I split the 2 servings into 4 servings so my friends could each taste the full meal, here are their ratings:
Diner A – 4.5/10
Diner B – 7.5/10
Diner C – 7/10
Diner D – 6/10
My overall feeling was that this slickly-produced startup isn’t going to be successful. The website is visually very well done and the app itself works well. However, the directions need to be refined and the price is clearly only for a novelty. The ingredients are not rare, hard to find things, they’re regular grocery items at an increased cost, plus a wait time for shipping. It just makes sense for people to learn to cook on their own. Sure, some people might not have the time to go shopping, but at that point, why not just go out? I think the one aspect that would be worth pursuing for Plated is the gifting aspect. It would be a sort of fun gift to a family member who lives far away and then you could buy them dinner once a month, but they’d still have to cook.

Plated encourages others to post their meals to twitter and instagram with the hash tag #plated. You can check those sites for more pictures of dishes that their users have made.


I’m clicking on and purchasing from 12 ads in 2014. To learn more about this project, check out the introduction to “Let’s Click on Ads

Let’s Click on Ads

28 Jan

A lot of people online say they hate ads on the internet. They never click them, they use adblock and make sure to never, ever, ever see an ad. And certainly if they did see an ad somehow, they would never, ever click that ad.

Hate to break it to you, but we’re atypical. Most internet users do see ads. And some of them even click the ads! Shocking. I don’t really mind ads. I consider them the price I pay to receive great content for free. I’ve been on the other side of the equation and depended on ad revenue to keep my sites up. I value the fact that we not only get web content for free, but we also get television and radio for free and have for decades. All supported via advertising.

Not only do I see ads, I sometimes enjoy them. I sometimes click them or purchase something I found out about via ads. I thought it would be interesting in 2014 to really embrace advertising more. To not make them peripherial to my internet experience, but to make them central. To give ads importance, interact with them – click and buy from them.

I’m going to click 12 ads in 2014 and purchase from them. I see ads all the time and often don’t give them a second thought. While other times I’ve clicked and purchased things without really paying much attention. I thought I’d turn myself into that mythical unicorn – the person who mindfully, purposefully clicks on ads online and spends money.

Below is a list of ads I’ve clicked on and my write up on the results:

January 2014 – Plated