Those of you not using RSS may have noticed a Google text ad appear on this page in the last few hours; if you scroll down a couple of screens from where you are at the moment and look to the right, you’ll see it right there. No, this page isn’t exactly in danger of vanishing from bandwidth costs (alas). In fact, I don’t really expect to make much money at all from it. A friend using the same ad system got 15,000 unique views of his page yesterday—and toted up about $4 in ad revenue. So far, I’ve earned approximately enough to buy a single stick of gum. Given that Google doesn’t cut a check until you make the $100 mark, I think I’ve got a ways to go yet.
So, really, it’s not that important to me if you skip clicking on the ads. If I were dependent on advertising revenue to run the site, I wouldn’t be running the site at all. No, part of the reason I put the ads up is that I have a huge amount of respect for the unobtrusive, unannoying way in which Google does advertising, and I want to reward that behavior by inviting them into my site. But the larger part is due to the way Google does its ads: they try to pick ads appropriate to the content of the particular page.
When you look at the ads on my journal’s main page, you see Google’s thoughts about the “average” of everything that’s been posted to the visible part of my journal. If you click on one of the article links in the right-hand column, you get to see what Google thinks for that one individual article. Thus, not only do I get to advertise, but I get to “read Google’s mind” and see what they think might interest the people who read my articles and other pages.
The results have been mixed, but amusingly so. My Minerva shrine and my Jordan Greywolf art gallery both get topically appropriate ads (for Transformers or toys and Furry stuff or other art stuff, respectively) at the bottom of their particular pages. Likewise, my iPod/Flatscreen conga line gets ads for iPods and flatscreens—in some cases, ads directly from the freeipod.com or freeflatscreen.com people themselves (although for some reason a couple of ads from the Netherlands pop up there, too). What has struck me is the remarkably large number of cases where my journal and the ads next to the journal are humorously at odds.
Click on my screed about how Hollywood’s screwed up Catwoman, and you see ads for Catwoman costumes. Click on my first, second, or third article about annoying things President Bush has done, and you’ll find mostly ads for Conservative causes. (You’ll also often find them on Liberal political journals, such as John P. Hoke’s Asylum in the sidebar. I’ll bet they find that annoying.) Click on my rant about how Coke has been turning schools and the Olympics into its own marketing indoctrination camps, and there’s a big panel of nothing but ads for Coke collectibles. (Oy.) My story about a flight attendant costing an airline $700,000 by panicking over a barf bag marked “Bob” and my article on Senator Kennedy’s trying time with airport security often (but not always) get ads for publications proclaiming The Dangers of Terrorism in tones of barely suppressed panic—when the whole point of the articles is that we’re overreacting.
I think my favorite, though, would have to be my rant about the illegality of peer-to-peer the way most people are using it. This gets advertisements for various peer-to-peer services, about half of which proclaim themselves to be “completely legal.” Snort. Yeah right.
Some people would probably be terribly upset that the ads are proclaiming the exact opposite of what they’re saying in the articles. They would be afraid of sending mixed messages, and would probably spend half the day typing advertising URLs into Google’s “don’t want ads from this source” box. I find it more amusing than anything else, though; for one thing, I think people are savvy enough to know that I can’t choose what ads show up on my pages. For another, I think the ads can sometimes serve as an illustration of what the article is talking about in the first place, or else provide an “opposing viewpoint” or “counterprogramming” that makes it seem more like “real journalism.” Or, if nothing else, they can at least make people laugh at the juxtapositions the way I have.
Thus far, there’s only one site whose ads I’ve permanently banned from appearing on my page, and that’s the Noam Chomsky meetup.com gathering—I have a moral aversion to having anything to do with the man after his behavior in the wake of 9/11. It’s going to take someone or something I find totally repulsive like that to get me to put an actual block in.
All things considered, I don’t really care if you don’t click on the ads. I put them up mainly because they’re unobtrusive and interesting, and occasionally provide a good laugh.