This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I’m probably going to be launching a few new blogs in the next few months and I want them to start paying for themselves and from seeing what is out there in terms of revenue generation, I’m frankly appalled at the advertising offerings. Google might dominate contextual advertising and all online advertising (Yahoo! and MSN, what’s the story like?) but god almighty they are the ugliest blots on the web landscape, more like boils than interesting notices and they aren’t very contextual in reality either. I’m sure I’ll offend many people with my views on this but I really have issues with ads on blogs and especially on personal blogs and now I’m listing them 🙂
My blog seems to rank well for everything but I got so sick of crowds approaching me to advertise on my blog that I stuck up an “Advertise here” page, which if people read, they’ll realise is me taking money off people and not giving them anything in return if I feel like it. While I don’t have ads, what I do have is a notice that appears above a blog post if the person has not visted my blog before. Just the once it will suggest that if they like what they see, why not subscribe. This is done by a wordpress plugin called “What would Seth Godin do.”
If you want to make money online you need some kind of revenue stream and unfortunately the easiest and laziest route to that is Google Adwords but in my view it also seems to be a route which encourages people more and more to start being “creative” with ad placements. Google used to be a lot stricter in their rules but obviously as the net population got used to the ads and started to ignore them, Google allowed more camoflaging techniques to creep in so they got better clickthru rates. I guess in their views deceptive does not equate to evil. I wonder do the 1000s that work on the Adword systems think they making the world actually better and take pride that people are being conned with the system they are working on? It’s a damned shame as the idea for these ads was supposedly to provide relevant information but why would you need to allow ads to wrap themselves into the genuine content so much if they were really relevant? I’d much prefer standard less profitable ads that I can choose on my commercial site and which look nice besides something obviously designed by an engineer of the Dilbert ilk.
Personal blog and business blogs/websites:
More and more I’m seeing personal blogs infected with Google ads. I agree with Robert Sweetnam on a lot of this. Why on earth if you have a dayjob and earn a living would you impose spam on your readers? To pay for the hosting? Hosting is cheap nowadays. My blog is a place for me to unleash and extract oddities from my brain and stick them on the web. If a friend called over for a cup of tea, I wouldn’t subject them to a charge to use the bathroom, or free usage in return for listening to an ad while they use the bathroom. Yet people do this on their personal blogs. I don’t expect them to have to see ads on my front door so I can pay my rent. If people come along and read my blog, great, I don’t think pushing ads on them is at all polite. True, there are plugins out there that remove Google ads for regular visitors but that still tells new people to the site they are not as welcome as others. I’d like people to feel welcome from day one. Welcome mat on door, come in and say hello and please do come back. Would you come back to a restaurant if the only started being nice if you came back a few more times?
And then there’s these “Get Firefox or fuck off my my site, oh and I make a dollar if you download it from me” ads doing the rounds. That’s telling people if they don’t wear the proper attire they’re not welcome to hear what you have to say. Your loss not theirs. Lovely.
In relation to businesses, why kind of message does it send out if you have your company reception full of advertising, why would you put ads on your own website either? I noticed that the IIA actually run ads on their website. That’s a shame.
Text Link Ads
Text link ads are designed to fool people into clicking links to gain website owners at the expense of making fools of their readers. I’ve seen some blogs that jam them in areas where you think they are navigational links. That’s complete deceptive and totally dishonest and is an awful way to treat visitors to your site and potential subscribers. It’s a total “fuck you” to them. Google doesn’t like them either because these are rigging the DNA of Google search which are links. You are being paid to change the rankings of sites by linking to them. It’s plain bribery. Google suggests adding nofollow and they’ll be happy but it still means you are running a switch and bait scam on visitors to your blog. That’s just bad manners. What impression are you giving to people by cheating them? And Google is well guilty here too. Look at these ads, for the general web user they are not going to realise these are ads before they click them.
Content rewriters/link injectors
We’re slowly moving down the rankings gettting to the more sinister advertising that I’ve seen around. These ads are scripts or plugins that you write and they’ll rewrite your blog post or webpage and add links to words in your text and these links either go to ads or else cause popup ads right there on the page but these “links” are structured to look like proper links. They not only add tonnes of links to a single blog post and make it uglier but they also piss off people with useless popups, all for the sake of a few cents. This is just spyware on a page in my view and is pretty much an assault on a website visitor. Here’s an example of this:
Pay Per Post and their ilk
Because there just isn’t enough ways to be dishonest and deceptive are there? These are the boyos who pay you to write nice things about products in order to boost the Google rankings of products as well as astroturf the net and making it look like there are a lot of people out there who love such and such a product. There has been a hell of a lot said about these guys but I find it very disappointing that people use this service to make a quick buck without thinking of the consequences. This is OUR web that is being polluted by these gangsters. This is the web version of perjury in my opinion.
So what am I going to go with?
Jeremiah Owyang says we have to get used to advertising and get over ourselves if we think it can go away. Funnily enough, if Google gets search to work much better than it is, advertising will surely decrease since the search results will always get us what we want. For me and for the blogs over the next few months, what I’ll go for is plain sidebar ads but as well as that I’m going have sponsorship for the blogs too. It’ll be way more work to get sponsorship but I think I’d rather have happy subscribers and well-treated new visitors than try any sleight of hand tricks for short term gain while losing long term readers.
You can of course just block ads on blogs but I don’t like that idea either since it just turns into an arms race and the spam arms race ain’t going well, is it?