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I've seen the advice in several different threads to avoid telling people you know about your websites in order to prevent the risk that they might try to "help" you by clicking on your AdSense ads.
Obviously, that's sound advice, but of course being an overexcited newbie who has experienced real traffic for the very first time, I have already blown this advice to smithereens (It's human nature...I was excited). I did learn quickly that the first thing that pops into people's heads is the notion that they might "help" you, and I have been very emphatic that this would not be "help" at all.
However, I am tempted to go a step further by creating a "safe mode" for friends and family. Instead of sending them directly to the home page on my site, I would instruct them to visit a special "friends" page, which would drop a cookie on their machines and write their IP address to a data table. Then, on the rest of my site, if my php code sees the cookie or IP address, it would not render the ads but instead display a non-clickable "safe mode" graphic in the same dimensions, perhaps with a friendly message in the graphics letting them know they are special visitors to me and thanking them for using my "safe mode."
I will of course be more discreet going forward. But since the horses have already left the barn, this seems a reasonable way to do some damage control. Additionally, because I have a need to show my sites to prospective employers, I won't always be able to maintain my silence completely.
Does this sound like a reasonable approach? Does anyone see problems with doing this or have any advice along these lines?
Regarding 'ad safe' mode - consider using an ip to location database to cut out your whole town or city. Unless your site targets that particular area it is likely only a very tiny fraction of your overall traffic and a loss worth taking.
If the people asking the questions aren't too technically inclined, one solution might be to toss out a jargon-laced explanation that will make their eyes glaze over. Something like:
"I'm doing working independently on an internet project optimizing a click-stream revenue model."
They'll tend to nod off at the point where you say "project optimizing." When their friends ask what you do, they'll say:
"I don't know. It's something technical with computers and the Internet."
You may be right about this...I might be fretting over not much. Everyone I spoke to seemed to grasp that it was important not to click, and none of these people are likely to attempt sabotage.
Thanks for the suggestion on location blocking. I'm a little hesitant to completely block my own town because my site does in fact have a lot of location-specific ad channels, and my home base is one of the larger ones. But I will definitely look into bringing myself up to speed on how to resolve locations by IP address, as this would be very useful for me.
But nowadays I just lie and tell people it's either CPM or affiliate based, sparing me a long boring explanation.
Safe mode by special user agent string
One of my internet promotion clients has a fixed IP and works in the same business as my most important online magazines write about.
Safe mode by fixed IP
In case of safe mode, I show Amazon ads instead of AdSense.