AT on Advertising: Is Google Evil?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You may have noticed that we’ve been playing with our Google ads lately and there is now a new placement in the extended entry of each post.

This means that you won’t see it on the main page, but when you click through to the rest of the post you’ll see a bunch of key words right in the middle of the post that are Google key words ads. Click on one of them and you are visiting an advertiser.

You see, it’s right above this here.

You will also notice that they are tuned exactly to the post you are reading (most of the time) because they scan the text for relevance. You’ll also notice that we’ve got more ads going than six months ago. All of this brings with it somewhat mixed feelings, but basically we’re glad we’re making money, and we believe that we’re doing it in the most aesthetically pleasing and reader first/advertiser second way possible.

BUT we know there are some out there that find some of this new ad presence objectionable, so we thought we’d take a moment to share our thoughts on the matter.

We like our advertisers. We only take those that have relevance to our mission, and we like all the companies and people that have bought advertising with us so far.

We also like Google. Maybe we’ve drunk too much Cool-Aid, but we really like their technology as well as the way in which they’ve used it and integrated it into a whole bunch of applications that are FREE for us to use. We like Gmail. We like Google Maps. We like Google Earth. We like Google desktop.

Like Google, we are also free to readers and we like that. That does make us dependent on advertising, however, so we do need to be smart about employing it and integrating it into the site. That’s what we’ve been doing. We will always put our reader first and the advertising second and you will know this by how much space we devote to blogging and how much to advertising. In our mind, the top of the page and the upper left hand are the sacred spaces. This is where your eye naturally goes to first. We will never have advertising in these places. Our post space will always be the biggest space on the page and the most prominent. It’s about reading after all and we trust that as long as we do a good job, we’ll always be able to support ourselves with advertising on the margins and between posts down the line.

There are other approaches however. Some feel that as long as you are advertising based you will ultimately always be serving the advertiser and not the reader. Some media organizations work with a subscription system which makes the reader the real patron and allows the company to serve the reader first. This all makes sense, but you do then have the problem of losing many readers who will not pay to subscribe. There are good ideas on both sides.

For the time being we’re staying totally free to the reader and using advertising to pay our bills. It’s just what works for us right now and it feels fine. However, this may change in the future as the future is always more complicated than that the present and we’re open to that. Nothing is set in stone. We are flexible. And we’re always open to suggestions from readers, because that’s how this blog became what it is today.

Best, Maxwell