In the past, I’ve never been a big fan of advertising. It’s very often irrelevant, obnoxious, and almost always diminishes user experience. While there are clever TV commercials, print ads, and outdoor campaigns that win worldwide acclaim, I’m not sure any user would shed a tear if every ad banner disappeared overnight. (It’s no wonder that the Firefox Adblock extension is downloaded 100,000 times weekly.)
The rapid rise of contextual advertising takes a step in the right direction by attempting to recommend ads related to the page you’re currently reading. I’ve been minimally running Google Ads on the Waxy.org archives since May 2004, and I’ve generally been happy with the results. The ads themselves were still a bit ugly and only occasionally relevant, but it was an acceptable sacrifice since they covered my hosting bill every month. (About $150/month, if you’re curious.)
First, every advertiser must offer a product or service that the Deck members have used or paid for, and we’re very picky people. Second, the ad slots themselves are very limited (currently only six slots), forcing us to choose best candidates. And the ads are cleanly designed and unobtrusive, without animation and limited to one per page.
I’d like to see a world where online ads are meaningful, representing the ideals of the writer and the interests of the reader. Careful moderation and unobtrusive presentation will hopefully lead to a better experience for everyone, which in turn means better results for advertisers. It’s an interesting experiment, and I’m proud to be in the company of net legends like Jeffrey Zeldman, Jason Fried, and John Gruber. Neat guys with very good taste.
Anyway, I’ll report back in a few months with the results. For more information, read John’s explanation of why he switched, and Mister Snitch’s analysis some trends in blogger ad networks. And if you have something to advertise you think we’d like, get in touch.