We started running ads on our website because it costs money to maintain a website. While no one on the team is paid, it costs around $150/year to own our domain name and host the website through our provider. Being a group of pretty broke college students who self funded it to start the magazine, we're hoping to just be able to earn enough through running ads to pay for the cost of owning the website.
Should the ads earn more money than needed to run the website, we'll be using it to directly fund new shoots for the magazine, donating it to a charity of public choice, or (if we can earn enough) paying submitters a stipend for their work!
We don't have much control over what ads are shown on our website, as we utilize Google Adsense (like most) which chooses what ads are displayed on a visitor basis.
We're always happy to be transparent. If you have any questions, please reach out to us here.