To ad or not to ad

This blog has, and always will be, a hobby site. It will always be free. I won’t ever charge you for reading the content, and if I’m honest even those bad people who are scraping my content and posting it elsewhere, don’t really get me mad enough to be bothered with them (some days they do, some days they don’t).

In the process of setting up my other blog, I have been considering putting in adverts (on single pages only, not the front page) as it has been shown that successful blogs can make a decent amount of money. Now I’m not sure I have the time nor inclination to spend a huge amount of time on promoting and selling this blog, but I’ve always wondered if I could, at the very least, break even.

It was with some interest that I read this post from Matt over at Fortuitous which mirrors some of my thoughts. I certainly don’t want to bombard my dearest readers with flashy whizzy adverts that pop and bang every time you load the page.

But you know me better than that of course.

What Matt has found, and my stats are eerily similar, is that the large bulk of visitors to this site don’t ever return. They are delivered by Google searches, obviously don’t find what they are looking for, and leave, never to return. As such, targetting adverts at those readers might be a solution, and with a little bit of Javascript cookie magic I can serve up an advert for first-time visitors only.

That does mean that you will see text based adverts on this site, but if you maintain your cookies* you will only see them once. The next time you visit they will have disappeared. I’m expecting some teething problems and I’m sure someone will object but consider it an experiment. If it works, and it doesn’t piss people off TOO much then they’ll stay. If not, they go.

Thoughts? Are adverts evil and the first step towards all out commercialism? Or are they tolerable as long as they remain non-intrusive (un-intrusive?)?

I’ll guess that most of you probably aren’t bothered as long as the adverts aren’t annoying.

* If you don’t know what that means then chances are you are doing it already, even though you don’t know it. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe, and I will never dunk your cookie in room temperature milk, or anything else equally abhorrent. Promise.


  1. Dragon said:

    I’ve had thoughts about this at the back of my mind too in relation to ever mythical notion of redesigning my site which I’m growing to hate with every passing day. As one of the features I want to implement is “gravatars” which require people to register with the blog, that would seem to be the way to do it. If you’re registered, no ads. If not, would you like to buy some stuff?

    However, as I’m currently asking people for money to contribute to something else (nudge, nudge), now is probably not the time to do anything about it.

    June 14, 2007
  2. David said:

    Meish Meg found a WordPress plugin that does this very same thing which you might find handy.

    June 14, 2007
  3. Gordon said:

    Cheers David, I knew I’d seen something else about this recently. Will look into that.

    June 14, 2007
  4. MisssyM said:

    I think ads for first timers is an excellent way of almost cheating the system. Go for it I say. I personally don’t have the know how to do anything like that. (So a blog about how you did that would be great- I am sick of random people just popping in to link to a Jude Law pic I put up on a blog months ago!)

    Surfers are used to ads on sites, so i don’t think they put people off. I think they would almost go unnoticed. I mean how many times have you ever clicked on an ad in a website intentionally? However, ones that pop up and play music/cover over your actual blog copy until you close them; they are a pain in the arse!

    I have to say that what really makes me think less of the blogger is when they have those “If you like me, then make a donation” type Paypal things. I would NEVER do that. At best it’s cheeky, at worst, it goes against everything blogging is about. As for putting up your Amazon wish list…we’ll…grow up!

    Ads are a fact of web life. Why not?

    June 14, 2007
  5. razorhead said:

    I use the WP MoreMoney plugin so that people coming via google get advertised at. It helps pay the bandwidth. You need to mess with the code to get it to work with

    June 14, 2007
  6. JonnyB said:

    The problem with asking a question like that, Gordon, is that people will start answering it with sentences beginning ‘blogging should be…’ and ‘blogging shouldn’t be…’

    No objection at all. Thanks for the free content.

    June 14, 2007
  7. Peter said:

    “Surfed in by mistake” people generally press the Back button next. There’s an advertising outfit which inserts an interstitial at that action, meaning you monetize only from the “mistake people”, and your intentional visitors don’t see the ad.

    Sounds great? Well, maybe it is. I came across this around the time I was considering Google ads, but can’t for the life of me remember the name. Let me know if you go any further with this.

    (From your favourite Web 2.0 Silver Surfer.) Incidentally, Google Ads are fine, just they don’t yet pay enough for me to retire. They provide a quick easy way for your kinder readers to “leave a tip” for something they’ve enjoyed.

    Naked Blog hosting is expensive indeed, so I don’t feel too bad about the ads, which have been there for about a year. Now I’m only donating time and talent, not cash also :o)

    June 15, 2007
  8. bobbins said:

    Nooo!! Ads are evil!!! Ad-free quality sites like this are getting rarer by the hour – don’t give in!!

    June 15, 2007
  9. Gert said:

    I have Google ads and also Amazon Associates and I have decided that because I am carrying them, I have a duty of disclosure to my readers. They don’t cover the hosting etc costs, but I am happy to provide occasional updates on how much I have earned. I am not suggesting that that duty of disclosure extends to other people, however, I think that being transparent I am actually doing myself a favour!

    June 15, 2007
  10. Dragon said:

    I tried full disclosure once and nearly got arrested.

    June 15, 2007
  11. Gordon said:

    bobbins – you’ll need to give a reasoned argument! WHY are ads evil? I was quite explicit in stating that I won’t be plastering the site in flashy, noisy adverts, and hopefully repeat visitors won’t even see an advert at all.

    So with that in mind, why would adding those kind of text-based adverts be consider evil?

    June 15, 2007
  12. Peter said:

    Ads are clearly not evil. What your commenter means is that he/she doesn’t like ads. And that’s fair enough. It would be a wonderful, caring/sharing world if everyone offered their internet efforts in a vast pool of altruism. But that hasn’t happened. Isn’t how it’s gone. With one or two notable exceptions, (BBC, Wikipedia), site providers now seek some return on their investments. Some to cover costs, others as a business to make profit. It’s a harsh world, possibly, but I don’t see J K Rowling giving that many of her books away for free. The kiddies have to pay.

    Ads are clearly not evil. But many people, including myself, don’t like them. Those people might find some other way to pay the author of the work they enjoy, possibly by contributing in return their own efforts to the common good. It would have been nice if that model had prevailed.

    June 15, 2007
  13. bobbins said:

    I don’t like ads. They’re a waste of screen space – I never pay any attention to them*, other than to think in passing “oh go away”. I don’t like the way they’re plastered all over the net. I don’t like the fact that people seem to be accepting them as inevitable – it’s getting to the stage now where some sites have little more than a third of their screen space given over to actual content, with the rest just ads. I don’t like the way that seemingly everything – even reading blogs these days – is boiling down to a means of making money. I know, I’m a hopeless idealist!

    * the few that get past my ad-blocking HOSTS file, that is 😉

    June 16, 2007
  14. Gordon said:

    Inevitable? Of course, we live in a commerical world. And I think everyone agrees that the websites that are purely about the adverts are wholly loathsome.

    As for ‘making money’, as other bloggers will testify, if you are successful then this hobby starts to cost you money. I give my content away for free, have done for over 7 years. I run a directory website, arrange blogmeets etc etc. I doubt I’ll even earn enough to pay for my hosting but if I can make even half of my costs per year FROM THIS POINT ONWARDS then I’ll be happy.

    I have no desire to get rich using adverts on this website.

    June 16, 2007
  15. Blue Witch said:

    Given that one makes so little money from ads en blog, and the number of regular readers who find them offensive on blogs (myself included), have you thought about totalling your blog-costs per annum and working out just how little work of a different sort you might have to do to cover them? I can cover all my costs with an hour and a half’s normal other work (or less than 20 minutes if I did the right sort of stuff that I disapprove of!).

    Personally I will never, ever, carry adverts of any sort. Believing that there are few enough outposts in the world untouched by commercial greed (and those wanting a share of it), I’m not going to sell out. If I was worried about the monetary aspect, I’d simply use blogspot and put up a redirect from my domain name. There are free ad-ons for practically everything else I might want too.

    Why does everything have to have an extrinisic value these days? Why isn’t blogging an intrinsic reward in itself any more? It’s a cheap hobby. Let’s not cheapen it further, eh? 🙂

    June 17, 2007
  16. Adrian said:

    Meh … I did this ages ago. 😉

    But I guess everyone’s starting to do the same kind of thing with different variables.

    I also don’t show adverts on the last 6 months (what I consider most current) of my blogs. I’m sure putting adverts on these would increase my income. Lets see how much I want a new snowboard eh …

    I also show adverts to people 10 times before I hide them. Unless you comment.

    This way I feel the user experience is good for my regulars, and I can make a bit of money from the google hordes.

    I don’t see it as selling out. I see it as a new snowboard. Eventually.

    June 17, 2007

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