Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blog ads: Here to stay

Ever since advertising on blogs became a possibility for your average blogger instead of just on professional sites, people have been for or against them. However, mostly I found there was an ambivalence until the day that Heather at dooce.com decided to help draw in enough income to support her family by changing her site's design to allow for intense advertising. All of a sudden people spewed forth incredible venom over her ads in particular, but ads on blogs everywhere in general too.

I don't get it.

I run ads on my own blog and I don't even understand how it's bothersome. I'm not like geocities; when you visit my blog you won't be overwhelmed with pop-ups or pop-unders. There's no music or obnoxious audio embedded in my ads. I even currently use a three-column layout for the simple fact that I can have my content on the left, my sidebar info next to the content, and all my ads in the far column. People don't have to really take notice of them if they don't want to. I run Blogads where I can make the choice as to whether I want something shown on my site so if I disagree with the principle behind the product I can veto it. I also use Google Ads and Ad Brite. As soon as I get the papers filled out and sent off, I plan to run the BlogHer network ads.

What's the big deal?

I don't charge a fee for anyone to read what I write, because frankly, I don't write anything brilliant enough to warrant that, and I wouldn't want to do that even if it were possible. However, I do share my life with strangers on the internet. I post pictures to make my site interesting (and also because I'm like that crazy person at the grocery store who pulls out a wallet full of kid pictures, I just happen to do it in the virtual sense), I try to remember things that will be of interest to write about, and I try to inject my posts with emotion so that people reading it will either laugh, nod with understanding, or maybe even cry.

If I can share that much of myself -- and although there are certainly things you will never read about on my site, I am very open -- I don't think I'm asking too much to expect people to understand that I'm willing to put ads on my blog on the off chance that it will bring in a bit of pocket change for me. People tolerate ads in between segments of their television shows (assuming they're not using tivo or some other PVR), we flip past ads in our magazines, we drive past them on the highway. I don't write my posts with my advertisers in mind. What I write now is still the same thing I wrote about pre-ads. I don't write specific posts in an effort to attract new ads. I haven't actually had anyone use my blogads in quite some time (that just occurred to me now; what's up with that, do I smell?) and that's fine. If I get advertisers, great, if not it doesn't matter.

Personally, I applaud Heather. I doubt my site will ever skyrocket to her level of popularity so I'll never be paying my bills and feeding my family because of the ads that run on my blog, but if she can actually do that? Well, dammit, I say GOOD for her. She deserves it; no one is forcing her readers to click through on the ads, no one is forcing her readers to visit her site at all. They go because they like her writing, because they care about what's going on in her life, and because you can usually count on at least one gut-busting funny entry somewhere on the front page. If she can draw in that amount of readers because of the intimacy she offers to them, then she absolutely deserves to have the compensation for it if advertisers are willing to pay her for it.

If you don't like ads, you don't need to run them on your blog. But I don't think they're going away. People once hated blogs too, saying they were fluffy versions of the old online journals. Blogs are quite obviously more than just a passing fad, and I think the same will be said about ads too. Just avert your eyes to the left when you visit my site and you'll never have to worry about seeing advertisements, because I certainly don't foresee removing them.

---Sherry is a work-at-home mom of two in Canada who does indeed run ads while she blogs about the Chaos Theory in her life, although she will never be able to put a down payment on a house because of the money she makes there.

You can find me at Sherry's place today, taking the opposite side of this debate on blog advertising. For this month's Blog Exchange, we're doing a series of debates on issues that matter. Visit the blogroll to find the rest of these op ed pieces. And if you'd like to participate next month, send an email to kmei26 at yahoo.com.

7 comments:

TB said...

I don't have a problme with ads on blogs. Like you said, I mostly just ignore them and I've never clicked on one. To each her own.

But to be honest, I don't know much about how blog ads even work. What is the point of running them on your site if you're not making any money off of them? It seems like it just needlessly clutters up the design.

Kristen said...

I'm fine with ads on blogs. If they are distracting, it's annoying. Pop ups? UGH.

But I say do what you can to make some $. You're spending enough time doing it!

roo said...

I suspect that running ads on my site might make me write differently. I'm leery of acknowledging my audience so directly, because part of the reason I started blogging was that I wanted to speak more honestly than I can when I'm worried what people will think of me.

But then, I'm neurotic. I envy your clear thinking on judging the merit of your work.

jennster said...

i just don't get why people hate it so much? if you can make a little extra money by having ads on your blog- why is that such a bad thing?!?! they don't bother me at all, although i find that i rarely click on any of them (probably because i don't have a baby or toddler)..
but bottom line is, i don't understand why they're so repulsive to others?

Her Bad Mother said...

I just joined the BlogHer ad network, so, um, no problem here. I get why some people have a problem with covert advertising (where advertisers pay bloggers to do 'product placement' without being upfront about it), but straightfoward ad network stuff is pretty inoffensive. Why shouldn't writers receive some compensation?

Nancy said...

Thanks for a good post on a provocative subject. I'm not against the ads, I just don't want them on my site -- but I think you made a lot of good arguments for why they can be valuable. And my ultimate belief is that it's a personal choice, as you also said.

tallulah said...

Hey! I thought I lived in Mayberry! My blog is Way Down in Mayberry...kind of like Mayberry in hell.

I've always been on the fence about ads. I haven't added any yet (I certainly don't get enough traffic to warrant it anyway).

I'm adding you to my blog roll. Great post!