If you visit this blog on a regular basis you might have noticed that some small text ads have been popping up in several places. In the past I've been quite vocal about not including ads on this site, so it's only fair to give you a little background information on why I've decided to include them anyway. I'm not sure if I'll even keep them, but in case I do you'll at least know why. Bear with me for a second.
it's all about the moneys
To make one thing clear from the start, I don't have any cashflow problems whatsoever. Keeping this site up and running doesn't cost me anything so I don't need the extra cash to keep the domain name, pay for traffic and webspace or to the keep the servers ticking. That's all been taken care of for me. And even if I had to pay for it myself that would still be fine. So there's no need to worry, this blog isn't going down any time soon.
On the other hand, there's a pretty big mortgage that demands a serious portion of our paycheck each month and the property itself isn't exactly cheap to manage either, so a little extra money does come in handy. Small stuff like curtains, floor tiles, lights ... they're all remarkably expensive and after going through the investment to buy an apartment you can't leave it half finished. All these things added up made me look at the ad proposition from a slightly different angle.
And finally, I do spent a lot of my free time on this site. Toying around with the html and css is nice but not exactly company-sponsored, and I'm not even talking about writing two or three articles per week. Asking money for that is against my ideologies, but getting a few bucks from those who like to follow an ad seems hardly offensive.
Before continuing, let me remind you that clicking like a madman on random ads won't really help me, so please refrain from doing so. Google keeps a rather strict policy and I'd like to keep to it.
why I don't like ads
For ads to work well, people need to notice them. This means that ads will usually be placed in spots that somehow intrude on the regular browsing experience, yanking the viewer away from the content and pulling them towards the advertisements. Especially popular on blogs is to place the ads between the introduction and following paragraphs of an article. Google text ads in particular are made to blend in with the rest of the content, so you're making it harder for your visitors to focus on the content, actually trying to confuse them to click on the ad links.
I've read about how to maximize profits and most methods focus on getting your ads noticed. While this means more money, I definitely don't want the ads to demand much attention. So I took a good look at my site, trying to find spots where the ads would not intrude on the browsing experience. Pretty ironic, I know, but there are just some lines one doesn't want to cross. That's also the reason why I don't want image ads on my site. They just demand to much attention, pulling people away from the content on my page.
where to put them
When looking around on my site I found a few interesting places where the ads would not intrude too much, often filling spaces that were empty anyway. First pick was of course the IE6 Fixer tool page. As it is a little service people use to save time and work, it's not unfair to add a few small ads there. I shortened the intro text a little and put the ads right in between the intro and the tool itself. It doesn't intrude much for regular users but it's visible enough for those who want to click.
I found another empty space that could be filled in the right column of the blog overview and detail pages. The left column is usually a lot longer than the right column anyway, so filling the empty space there was no big deal. It's a shame Google doesn't offer any better-fitting banner formats (the ads are a little small for the available space), but all in all it looks pretty nice.
There are possibilities on the homepage (near the footer), but I don't really like to place ads on the first page people most likely encounter. The page grid is quite tight on the homepage, so adding them there would ruin the design. And so I left it at that, these three spots will suffice for now.
about google adsense
Google Adsense is pretty easy to use but quite limiting indeed. I understand they like to keep some control, but their banner formats aren't exactly all that easy to integrate on my blog. I don't see the harm in tweaking them a bit more than possible now.
What's worse though (and really hard to understand) is the undeniably crappy code the ads generate. Luckily it is hidden away in an iframe, but for an extremely simple component like this it is hard to grasp why they would invalidate their code and litter it with non-semantic tags (tables - really?). You're not telling me that these simple ads are impossible to create cross-platform, cross-browser with semantic code and clean css.
Toying around with Google Ads was a pretty nice experiment in itself. As a website owner it's another fun stat to play around with, but one with monetary value behind it. The implementation is free of charge, every click (and how implausible it may sound, people do click) generates a little revenue.
I hope I've made my case clear, if you still find the ads to be intrusive or too big of a diversion, you can let me know in the comments. I'm still planning on tweaking them a little bit, but as for now I'm pretty happy with the result.