Thanks for the questions! I'll respond to each of your questions below:
Can you please tell me what our options are for listing banners and ads for affiliate advertisers on our forum?
You can display any ads you like. The available spaces where you can place your ads include:
a. In the header (set in the Display Settings portion of the control panel)
b. In the footer (also set in Display Settings)
c. As a custom widget in the right column
Option A is used the most... placing an ad somewhere in your site header, but it's also quite common for sites to have smaller ads in the right column.
If we did not need to allow posting by others, would using the alliterative platform of the blog have more options for posting product recommendations and advertisements?
If so, could a blog be integrated with group chat rooms and private messaging functions possible like on or actually on, the forum platform?
You control who can create new blog posts, so you can certainly use the "blog" module for recommendations, if you like. You can even "feature" specific blog posts, if desired. Thus, you could open blog posting to anyone, if you want, but feature the blog posts you want your users to focus on. (Or of course, you could set permissions to only allow certain people to post blog entries.)
Hoop.la has a chat module, so it does indeed support chat rooms, which can be available all of the time or on a specific time schedule. Private messaging is also a module in Hoop.la, so you'd just want to set your permissions to make sure your users can utilize them (if that has not already been done).
I clicked feepod as well as hoopla. I don't really understand it yet. I had a look at it and asked some questions before but I still have a lot to learn about why it might be helpful to us to generate more interest in our content and to generate revenue in new ways.
FeePod is Hoop.la's premium membership module. It is a completely turnkey way to manage premium memberships on your site. With FeePod, you set the price for premium membership and we handle all of the transaction collection/processing for you. You also control which permissions should be reserved for premium members, if any. You can also designate any specific pieces of content as premium-only.
When a user pays for a premium membership, via FeePod, the system instantly grants that user all premium features/access. When the user cancels premium membership, the system also automatically removes the premium features/access for that user. Thus, it is a completely automated process that makes it very easy to manage.
If you have additional questions, please let us know.