Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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John Gruber writes about Google's Ad programme (again) because of the ads he recently added to his pages. Even if you're not into ads, it's worth reading anyway as he manages to beef the text up with insights on hairpieces, HTML, Daring Fireball T-Shirts and writing.

While I seriously dislike ads, I am far from being outraged by this. To begin with, it's of course John's site and he can do with it as he pleases. If he found a way to earn a bit on the side this way that shouldn't be a bad thing. In particular, as these ads are unintrusive by internet standards - mereley a distortion of the colour scheme in peripheral vision as opposed to the in-your-face blinking mess you see in many places these days. I am used to worse things. I hardly realise they're there.

This fact makes me wonder who actually sees those ads and clicks on them. Seeing that we're constantly attacked by ads on the web, most people seem to have developed a way of simply ignoring them. I have even been known to overlook legitimate content on a site because it was animated... a kind of psychological blind spot, if you wish. Which also means I don't click on ads (sorry John).

John discusses the opportunities of earning money and the possibility of abuse in detail, pledging for reasonable use of the ads and being smugly vague about whether or not he's in favour of abusing the ads. I don't think that people who see the need to write pages of apologies for putting up a few ads are those who threaten to render the web useless by swamping it with them.

The Google thing looks a bit fishy anyway. They use a JavaScript to insert an Iframe. This is done strangely using document.write('<ifr' + 'ame' +... which looks a bit like they try to fool anti-ad programs. I don't consider that good style. They should at least make it easy for people who don't want their ads to not see them.

Let me at this stage recommend PithHelmet which brings iCab class filtering of unwanted content to Safari, allowing black- and white-list regular expressions for URLs. Most importantly, it comes with a rather fine set of presets that sanitises (etymological question: does sanitise stem from sanity or sanitary? – Both seem appropriate in this case.) most of the web out of the box. Including John's ads, incidentally.

July 9, 2003, 21:56


Comment by Visa: User icon

That ‘<ifr’+’ame’ thing isn’t probably done to fool anyone else than crappy browsers that try to render tags that are inside of a JavaScript string.

July 10, 2003, 6:33

Comment by John Gruber: User icon

Sven, what gave you the impression that I’m “smugly vague about whether or not [I’m] in favour of abusing the ads”?

I’m definitely not in favor of abusing the ads. I do hope people click them, but only if they’re at least vaguely interested in the content of the ad. I think that’s exactly what Google and the advertisers intend.

July 10, 2003, 7:06

Comment by ssp: User icon

John, surely your text is clear about that. It’s more the feeling I had after reading it. What stuck with me is about the following: “Please click some of those ads, perhaps one or two per week. I appreciate it very much, thank you. If you don’t find those ads interesting, don’t.”

So what am I supposed to do? By your words I wont’t click the ads. But thinking that you deserve a little monetary reward for your writing and knowing that you’ll appreciate it, I could as well click one one them. This may not be playing along with the rules but it seems to offer the opportunity to use the money of people who peddle hair growth products on the net for something worthwhile, as long as Google offers us the possibility to do so. In that case you’ve done nothing wrong and I could surely live with lying to someone who gives you some money in exchange for my faked attention.

This, along with the ‘hint’ that you can easily open ads in background tabs, left me with the impression that your seriousness about people being actually interested in the ads they click on was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Your text may state the opposite in places, but that’s the feeling it left with me.

July 10, 2003, 15:23

Comment by John Gruber: User icon

I truly mean both things. (1) If you’re the type of person who deeply dislikes ads and does not want to click on them, it’s really OK it ignore them on Daring Fireball. All I need for them to be successful is if some people click on them once or twice a week. Most people won’t, I know that, and that’s fine.

(2) Regarding Shift-Command-Clicking to put ads in background windows, I don’t think this is devious at all. It’s about convenience.

Remember, when an advertiser pays $10,000 to put a full-page ad in a magazine, they know that most people who read the magazine aren’t going to read the ad. Meople aren’t even going to look at it.

Whereas if you follow the link to a Google AdSense advertiser, you’re probably at least going to look at their page for a few seconds. This is what they’re hoping for — the advertisers know that most people who click the ads aren’t going to buy anything or whatever, but at least they came to look. That’s not dishonest — it’s exactly what the advertisers are hoping for.

July 10, 2003, 16:20

Comment by ssp: User icon

All right.

It seems that all this comes from myself considering ‘appropriate advertising’ and oxymoron and I don’t think there is significantly useful information to be gained from advertising.

July 10, 2003, 20:18

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