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AdSense: Are you talking about this with your visitors?

Pros/cons/techniques for helping your users understand the why/what/how

12:29 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've had affiliate links and run my own text-ads (using phpAdsNew) on my site for quite some time. As part of this, I have included a link on my site that simply reads: "Why ads?" -- inviting curious or concerned visitors to find out more about the why, what, and how of advertising on my site. I figure transparency is good :)

With the addition of AdSense ads on my pages, I decided it was time to update my Why Ads page... particularly since I can't claim to be personally choosing my own advertisers any more.

To this end, I added the following link right above every AdSense box on my site: "Learn about this," and I added the following text to my Why Ads page:

I'm very excited about a new type of ads that I've been permitted to place on my SmileZone. Google -- long recognized as one of the most efficient and accurate places to find what you're looking for on the Web -- is now allowing select Webmasters like myself to carry targeted ads. Why are these ads so great?

- They're unobtrusive. They're text-based and thus load quickly... and they don't blink :)
- They're relevant. On my Travel page, for instance, you'll see useful ads for airlines and hotels.
- They often support small businesses. ANYONE can buy advertising via Google [google.com]!
- They support this site. When you click on ads that interest you, I get paid.

I'd be curious to know what you think of my take on this, and also what you may (or may not) be doing to communicate with your users about the new presence of AdSense stuff on your site.

12:40 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think it's a really, really bad idea to make statements like: "When you click on ads that interest you, I get paid."

Such statements are unfair to advertisers (who are in the business of selling products or services, not subsidizing Web sites).

Just as important for the Webmaster, such statements will discourage advertisers from buying Google "content ads."

1:09 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I did debate about that very issue.

On one hand, I DO NOT want to incent my visitors to click on any ads for which they do not have a sincere interest in. I'm in the process of starting an AdWords account myself, and I have spent as much as $9,000 a month on Overture (in the dot.com heydey), so I definitely can put myself in the shoes of an advertiser!

On the flip side, though, this statement is on the bottom of a page describing the how and why of ads on my site, and I think it's both reasonable and understandable to want to communicate general payment issues to my visitors.

I admit it's a gray area. If I had said, "Please click on the ads!" on that page or if I had posted a "I get paid when you click!" right above the ads, I think there'd be no question that I was out of bounds.

But in my case... I'm really undecided.

What do others here think?

1:22 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rcjordan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>When you click on ads that interest you, I get paid.

I don't particularly care for the wording, mainly because I think it could be seen as a backdoor way of incentivizing the click --though that's admittedly picky.

Other than that, I see no problem with openly discussing your site's revenue streams. I've taken that approach on one site for over 3 years now, even teasing that if they return or surf via typein, they'll be cutting me out of a fraction of a cent of banner income. I also mark some text ads as ads and other links (not affiliate) as just something I like and think would be worthwhile to visit --sort of an open editorial comment. Seems to work.

1:27 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Interesting topic!

I was also a little concerned with the backlash..didn't happen (yet).

I tried to calm the nerves with a little info. and so far no-one has said anything bad about them.

I, also, don't like the verbage of 'click and pay me'.

Even today at work one of my coworkers suggested he should just get his buddies to click away, I told him not to. It isn't fair to the advertisers.

Besides, where is that proverb about the golden goose?

2:04 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think there's anything wrong with saying something like:

"This site is supported by advertising."


"By purchasing from our advertisers, you'll help to support this site."

I object only to the implicit request for clickthroughs in the statement: "When you click on ads that interest you, I get paid."

Also, I think the "support this site" idea works best for hobby- or craft-related sites, nonprofits, and community-oriented sites. Photo.net is a good example of a site where even the most casual visitor could understand the need for support: With its forums and photo galleries, it obviously has a huge bandwidth bill each month and exists as a service to the photographic community. The same would have been true of the Internet Movie Database in its not-for-profit days, or DMOZ before it was bought by Netscape and AOL.

2:35 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The friendly critique has been helpful.

I've changed the sentence at issue to: "The ads you see here help pay for my server costs."

3:27 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've changed the sentence at issue to: "The ads you see here help pay for my server costs."

Perfect! But just between us, let's hope the ads do better than that. :-)

3:34 am on Jun 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I didn't say they won't help me in paying back my student loans, too :D

(let's see... at even a target of 5000 clicks per day, I think that means my loans'd be paid off sometime in 3012...er 3013... hmm... hurts my head!)


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