Friends and Adverts

For some time I have been running Google Adsense adverts on my blog. Not long after I started running the adverts the revenue exceeded the amount of money I pay for net access, so it’s worth having.

I recently increased the amount of advertising by including an advert in the middle of the post and received one negative comment from a reader who doesn’t like reading content with adverts in the middle. I have just changed my advertising to have that advert spot in question be before the start of the content rather than in the middle (I’m not sure if that will make them more or less happy). It seems expected nowadays that there will be a moderate amount of advertising on all web sites which have good content and don’t charge membership fees, many of my blog posts cite as references pages on web servers run by media companies that have significant amounts of advertising.

Chris Samuel is considering implementing advertising [1] and is planning to not display adverts to “friends” (which means people who have commented or who are referred by social media sites).

One significant problem with this idea is that sometimes the adverts become part of the blog conversation. Google adverts give an idea of which of the things that people are prepared to pay money for are considered by the Google algorithm to be related to the post in question. In my experience it’s not uncommon for people who comment on blog posts (both through the blog interface and through private correspondence) to reference the contents of adverts. Also while writing this post I updated my post about car sharing because I discovered a third car-share company through the adverts on my own blog [2]. I know one professional journalist who blocks the adverts on his own site so that his writing will not be biased (or be perceived to be biased) by his advertisers (which makes sense given his situation), but for my situation it clearly makes sense to review the advertised offerings of all three companies that compete in this space in Melbourne and there is no potential for bias (incidentally all three of them are advertising on my blog post).

A problem with giving a different version of the content for friends (in the more traditional meaning of the word – as opposed to using the word to mean people who have visited your blog in a certain way) is that they will not be able to correctly review your web site. I regularly notify friends and people who do worthy things of deficiencies that I discover in their web sites and occasionally receive such notifications from other people. I don’t want to have bugs in my site concealed from friendly people who would like to help me out and displayed to random people who don’t care and will respond by visiting another site.

When such things are discussed one topic that is mentioned is putting advertising in an RSS feed. I have no plans to do this, such RSS advertising would not be acceptable to Planet installations, but it would not be technically challenging to give an advert free feed to Planets but give adverts to everyone else. I think that most people who read my blog through RSS feeds will see adverts when they want to comment on my posts or when they want to forward the URLs or reference them in their own blog posts (always click on the permalink before forwarding – when a blogger messes up their permalinks it’s embarrassing if you forward them without checking).

So I encourage Chris to put adverts on his blog and to show them to me.

9 comments to Friends and Adverts

  • […] 2: Russell Coker left a supportive post on his blog in response to […]

  • Thanks for the feedback Russell! Much appreciated. If you want to see ads on my blog (if I go that way) all you need to do is delete any cookies from it.

    I didn’t realise your blog had any adverts in it before I read this though, Konqueror must be blocking them for me..

    Bit puzzled that I saw this through PLOA without a trackback turning up at my site, I wonder if something in the upgrade to 2.5 went awry with that, or if it just got lost in the aether ?

  • I also publish AdSense ads on my blogs and am happy with the results. I usually can’t stand adverts – especially obnoxious (i.e. popup, flashing, overly animated ads with sound), irrelevant ones which occlude what I’m really interested in. I’ve solicited feedback from visitors to our sites and people seem cool with them, as long as they don’t overpower the site itself.

    As an independent publisher of software and content, I find Adsense to be a great partner in “smoothing out” the bumps of sales.

    If people don’t like them, they can always use ad filtering software.

  • I forgot to mention that there is a wordpress plugin called no adverts for friends by a wordpress developer “Holy Shmoly”:

    I tried it out, but in the end I just used is_logged_in() to clean up the interface for authors. I actually like to see ads on my own sites for the most part so that I can evaluate their quality and make sure they aren’t degrading the quality of my sites for other visitors.

  • etbe

    Chris: One problem I have is that intra-site track-backs get munged. There are some problems in this regard but I haven’t had time to track them down.

    Strange that you don’t see the ads, could you please email me a screen-shot of what you do see? I use Konqueror for much of my browsing and see the ads.

    Albert: I agree about popup etc. Google has the right idea and never did such things, every type of advert that Google has ever run has seemed OK to me and most of my friends.

  • Anonymous

    As the author of multiple sites, I have an interest in including ads myself. My main problem comes from the implementation most ad providers use: load a remote script from their site. I don’t trust an ad provider that much, particularly since some of the sites have login information. Fortunately, some ad providers support running their scripts inside an iframe, and loading the iframe from a dedicated subdomain would protect the main site from the script.

  • No ads for me either in Firefox!

  • etbe

    Anon: What aspect of the script are you concerned about? You should not be concerned about Google sending hostile scripts – if Google want to get you then you are going to lose badly anyway. Are you concerned about hostile 3rd parties doing DNS based attacks to send their own code instead of the Google code? If so what aspect of the attack are you worried about, attacking readers or attacking your machine?

    If you can clarify what you are concerned about then I can talk to some JavaScript experts about it.

    Helen: I suspect that your employer has set up an ad-blocking system.

  • Russell, just checked – it’s definitely the KDE advert filter doing it.

    It’s not turned on by default in some distros, check the settings and look for “AdblocK Filters” (sic).