The End of an Experiment

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm sure you noticed that during the past few weeks I've had some ads lined up along the right side of my web pages. These ads were Google "Adsense" ads -- a program that makes it very easy for people like me to place targeted ads on web pages and get paid for doing so. I was intrigued, wanted to find out how it all worked, and hoped to maybe generate a little "coin" to offset some of the costs associated with keeping a website going.

After one month, I'm pulling the plug on these ads. It wasn't an easy decision -- the TDHoch board of directors discussed it for at least a minute or two. These ads generated over 8 bucks ($8.16 to be exact) in a little more than a month. At that rate, I could be into three figures after a year, and could actually get paid from Google. You see, your Google Adsense account must reach the magic $100 mark before they'll cut you a check. So with this obvious success and new-found wealth, why am I killing the ads?

Well, for a number of reasons. First, I've read websites and blogs that encourage readers to click on ads. It may not be stated as such, but the implication is that this is a no-cost way for readers to supplement the income of the website or blog owner. The reality is that this is fraud. When someone clicks on an ad for the sole purpose of creating a "click" in order to generate ad revenue, it's wrong. I felt smarmy asking people to shop by clicking on my ads, knowing full well that it's a rare bird indeed that shops this way. I believe the vast majority of the clicks from the Google Adsense program are fraudulent.

Google might well say that's right... but the program still works. The purveyors and advertisers may even have it built into their calculations... that the one click in a hundred or a thousand that actually buys something is worth all the other fraudulent clicks. But it just doesn't feel right, and I don't get good vibes about the whole deal. It feels like part of the "something for nothing" attitude that pervades our culture these days.

Second, I think electronic ad pollution is as bad an any other kind of pollution. It's really just cyber-litter floating around the net -- very much like the Taco-Bell wrapper blowing around your backyard (or my campsite). Businesses advertise everywhere they can to get a leg up on the competition... they have video screens on gas pumps so they can fill you up as you fill your car up... they have advertising at the urinal so they can drain your wallet as you drain your bladder... it's everywhere and technology is making it easy to put it anywhere.

Well, it's not going to be on our website anymore.

My third reason for killing the Google Adsense ads is that Google's goals and my goals are not in synch. I don't have enough traffic to generate any real ad revenue -- traffic is not the purpose of my website. I put this site up to communicate and share our experiences with friends and relatives. I also had the objective of learning about website technology -- what it takes to build a website and how it all works. I never once had the objective of making my website a medium for advertising to those I care for.

So the experiment is over. No more ads. You can visit, view photos, read, enjoy, and share all you want... without being bombarded by the ad pollution you hate. We are ad-free once again.


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