June 13, 2024


As an experiment, and in the hopes of defraying the cost of running this site, I have started sticking ads onto this site’s individual entry pages. The service uses some kind of algorithm, based on the pages’ content, to decide which ads to place on each page.

Please let me know what you think.


  1. The interesting thing about Google Adsense ads is that their algorithm often leads to ads that would seem incredibly inappropriate for a particular page because they seem to rely heavily on keyword matching. So, if Ed posts a comment on software patents, the likely advertisers are those for companies that have chosen the word “patent” as a key word. Now, who would want pay to reach people who are interested in patents? Patent attorneys. Likewise, a political blog that mentions an opponent or political debate is likely to end up running ads paid for by people who have chosen the politician or political issue as keywords — so, if you say something critical of Bush or Dean, you are likely to display ads selling Bush or Dean merchandise to the least likely purchasers.

    And, because they advertisers only pay based on click-through rather than impressions, it would actually be good practice for likeminded readers of blogs to click on these poorly targeted ads — costing their opponents money and giving a portion of the fee to the blogger.

    While it is against the adsense policy for the web host to encourage this, I would expect that as people become more knowledgeable about this interesting system of incentives, I wouldn’t be surprised if the system started to backfire, forcing Google to incorporate some type of semantic analysis into its algorithms.

    Until then, it seems like a beneficial strategy for blog visitors to click the inappropriate ads.

  2. Rob Shillingsburg says

    I approve! 🙂 This kind of site exactly what the AdSense product was designed for.

  3. I don’t mind the ads. They’re interesting and funny; you might even consider them a source for hot tips on snake oil DRM! 😉

  4. I believe you can indicate you don’t want to receive ads from specific sites, but that doesn’t help much because you have to know the sites in the first place.

    I thought of putting Google ads on my own site. But it looks like the ads would come from censorware companies!

  5. As I said, it’s an experiment. I wanted to see how the ads would look. I wanted to see what ads Google would put on my site. (And weren’t their choices interesting!) I wanted to see what the click-through rate was.

    If I don’t like the results, I’ll remove the ads after a few days. Your feedback will be an important part of that decision.

  6. I dislike it. I enjoy adfree spaces and clean design without distractios framing clean thoughts.

    I don’t buy the cost argument used by many bloggers. Most people have started webloging before there was adwords. The do it as a hobby or something like this and they have decided to allocate certain resources to it. Some decided to use the premium version with an own domain for it and more are using a low cost or even free service. So they have decided already that the cost’s are ok.

    Sure there might be reasons to re-evaluate that decision but just because you now CAN place ads on your site to produce a minor extra income doesn’t mean you have to. It’s sad so many weblogs now have turned in ugly looking advertisement spaces just by nerds urge to play with every toy google provides.

  7. I did the same thing on my blog (adsense on individual archive pages), but I’ll probably remove the ads because they aren’t performing as well as ads on another part of my site.

  8. Positives: It’s waaaaay down on the bottom of the page, and it’s not on the main page. Thus, it’s not a distraction for most users. I think it also meets the “church and state” requirement that Mary mentions above… I would be suprised if Google ever suggested you change the content here, and I would be more suprised if you actually did.

    Negatives: Aesthetically, it looks kinda bad. Is there a way to put the ads in a horizontal box? Or get rid of the gray background, at least? It’s “pull” rather than “push”… So, you only earn money when someone clicks on the links. Are the ads targeted? Yes. But, the algorithm seems to target to birth control to pro-lifers based on words on the page, if you get what I’m saying… Right arena, wrong team.

    If I recall, Amazon has a “tip jar” that might bring in more money to defray the cost of hosting this space.

  9. Okay, now that I’ve stopped laughing, it is kind of strange. Whatever you decide, I will respect, because I understand the cost issue, and I’m lucky enough to have the ucb jschool pick up my hosting. And what you do is amazing and very cool, and you are the only one who can do the exact combination you do, but I don’t know, it’s kind of odd, really, to see your work supported by ads for the BSA, or for DRM. Hmmm. Not sure what the answer is.

    In journalism, the idea is to produce the content and have a big division (church and state is the phrase often used) between the ad/biz department and the editorial department. But this is different, a weblog, produced and edited and underwritten by one person, and understood to provide a particular perspective, verses objective or op-ed journalism. So what does it mean when you have ads for those you criticize? In traditional journalism it wouldn’t matter, except that the advertisers would probably pull the ads in a huff over the conflict with content. But here, since it’s an algorithm, they are matching something, but not getting that traditional journalism context we are used to with ads, where ads in conflict don’t usually get shown. I guess if it doesn’t affect your content, which I have no reason to think it will, it’s not bad. It’s sort of ironic that you have this oddity on your site. I am happy you don’t have it on the front page of the blog. Because that means we get the pure Ed, nothing else. I don’t have a real answer, just questions. Sorry. mary

  10. Ads as served:

    Ads by Google
    Boss Stealing Software?
    Bust your boss! Report illegal software use online today.

    Digital Rights Management
    Persistently protect docs & email Control how recipients use info.

    Trade Secret Litigation
    General Patent Corporation Intl IP enforcement on contingency

    Software Protection Tools
    Get your Powerful Copy Protection & Software Licensing SDK for Windows

    My personal fav: the DRM!

    This is the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.
    Thanks Ed. You totally crack me up.

  11. Joe Barillari says
  12. The ad below cracked me up given this page:

    Copyright Enforcement
    General Patent Corporation Intl IP enforcement on contingency

    Hehe. I wonder if they realize who their ad dollars are funding.

  13. About using the ads, or the algorithm? 🙂

    Let us know know much they yield 🙂