Content Marketing, WordPress

Ads on the Home Page?

Perception is reality. I’ve always believed that, to some extent, that this true. The perception of the employee is the reality of what kind of company or boss they work for. The perception of the market is how the stock responds. The perception of your customer is how successful your company is.

The perception of a blog’s success is how well it is monetized.

As I look around the net, there are some who don’t believe in monetizing their blog, and some that do. As I saw each of these sites modify their styles and add more advertisements, their readership grew as did their income.

Would you choose the real estate agent that drove a Cadillac or a Kia?

Probably not. Perception is reality. Though my site is still growing in success, it was time that I did something to graduate to the next level. More and more companies are approaching me to advertise on my site and I didn’t really have the room, nor an adequate system in place to keep track of those ads. So – I did some work on the theme.

The MarTech Blog 3-column layout

I did some very careful work on the theme, though. I wanted to provide great placement for those companies who wished to sponsor the site, but I did not want to detract from the content. Many of the monetized blogs that I see actually block the readers path to the content with advertising. I believe that’s intrusive and unnecessary. I personally despise scrolling through ads for content, so I used the golden rule when implementing ads on my own blog.

The ads are a typical 125px by 125px, a pretty good standard in advertisements and found in abundance on Commission Junction and Doubleclick. When the position isn’t used by an actual sponsor, I can fill it with an ad from one of these services or with an advertisement blank.

If this angers you, I hope I don’t lose you as a reader. The RSS feed usually has a single sponsor on the bottom of it, but you’ll find much less advertising there. Please also know that I regularly turn down advertisers. This week I was approached by someone who wanted to pay me handsomely to put an ad up. When I did some research (aka: Google), I found that they were despised on the Internet for placing adware and spyware. I let them know that I would not support an organization that utilized deceptive techniques like this.

One last note, friends of mine kept commenting on the ‘glamour shot’ on my header. Someone even got nasty about it. Perception is reality, so I took a shot of myself last night with the MacBookPro iSight camera and photoshopped it into the header. This is how most of you know me… graying and smiling!

23 Comments

  1. 1

    Looking good Doug! You’re right, those ads aren’t intrusive a bit. Plus, I like the new style. It’s very fresh.

  2. 2

    Doug,

    Usually I read your blog through RSS, but today I had to have a look at the re-design.

    Hmm… for me it now looks way overcrowded, and especially blinking flash ads are a nuisance to concentrated reading. They constantly try to grab away the attention from the text.

    While I am not against monetizing a blog, I support giving the Text its space. Whitespace is a friend, and not something that should be filled with ads.

    http://weblogtoolscollection.com/archives/2007/11/15/lessons-from-eye-tracking-studies/

    As to the photo of you, I think it would gain from some digital darkroom (aka. Photoshop or similar) work. The colours seem a bit weak, and there is something weird on the right side, that makes your face look bigger. Also it seems that you do not look directly into the camera, just slightly off. Together with the airbrushed white around you head, this gives an eery, guru-like feeling.
    I’d re-take the photo with a shirt that matches your blog’s colour scheme. Shoot the portrait with a longer lens, give some more contrast. Maybe a little flash, to get a sparkle in your eyes.

  3. 3

    Happy Thanksgiving, Doug. I liked your glamour shot, but I like the new shot too, it’s definitely more indicative of your personal smile. I like the new format, too. I can ignore the ads if I want, or look at them if I want, which is how it should be.

    Cheers,
    Jules

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    Hey Doug, sorry about that video in the Google feed.. *oops*

    I notice you have some ad spaces available. What do they go for? Shoot me an email when you have a chance.

    I have a video that is going to make a LOT more money than Jaime’s $70,000 in book sales that allowed her to win the Next Internet Millionaire.

    Take a look when you have a chance.

    Happy Turkey Day!

  6. 7

    Hi Doug,

    This is actually my first visit to your site so I can’t comment on your old layout. I like your new layout though, it looks fresh and clean without too much advertising.

    I’m not sure about having a picture of yourself on your blog though. i suppose it makes it a more personal experience if your readers can see who you are.

    I hope you can fill up the ad spots on the left column soon!

  7. 8

    Hey Doug, I think the new layout looks nice. I didn’t have a problem with your old “glamor shot”, but the new one is nice too.

    Keep up the great work!

  8. 9

    Made some minor changes – some was based on feedback:

    1. Photoshopped some color into the picture.
    2. Posted the Advertising Rates Page

    One thing you may not have noticed is that I didn’t actually consume any blog space when designing this layout.

    In fact, the actual content is a little wider. I simply expanded the width of the current layout. I also shrunk down the size of the header so that folks could get to the content faster.

    Thanks for letting me know what you thought!
    Doug

  9. 10

    It might not mean much to you, but you´ve lost me as a reader. I´ve long felt ill at ease with the constant commercialisation of the web and blogs in general and I think it´s time I started severing my ties to that part of the internet. So, yeah, goodbye I guess; I enjoyed my stay here, but right now I feel the charm drowned out by a barrage of flashing pleas for money. (And, as an aside; the Content Link pop-over ads must be one of the most vile forms of advertising ever invented)

    • 11

      Hi Myk,

      I appreciate you letting me know and I’m sorry you’re leaving. I’m not pleading with anyone to give me money, but I don’t think it’s a sin to provide so much advise at no cost and attempt to monetize the blog to it’s fullest capacity.

      I think some folks think I’m wealthy or something based on the success of my blog. As a single dad of two, with one in college, I can assure you that I’m not. I’m solid middle class, don’t own a home (yet), and work hard to keep money in savings. If I can get a few hundred dollars more out of my blog each month, it’s not going to get spent on vacation homes or fancy cars… it’s just going to make paying my son’s college a little easier.

      Thanks for hanging around as long as you have!
      Doug

      • 12

        I agree with you on this one Doug. I don’t understand how people like Myk can expect blogs and other web sites to deliver such useful content without making a few bucks.

        If you’re John Chow that’s one thing – he’s definitely gone a bit overboard with some of his monetization schemes. But like you say in your comment above Doug, you’re just a middle class dad (like myself) trying to put your son through college. I completely understand and respect your desire to make a little money from your blog. With all the great content that you have provided to your readers, you deserve at least that much.

        • 13

          First off, Brandon, people like Myk – boooh.

          I was talking for me and myself alone, so please don´t make me look like I was making general statements.

          To each his own was what i was trying to say. But you know, I am also allowed to choose which Blogs I read and which I don´t, and let Douglas know why.

          And lastly, I´d choose the real estate Agent that woudln´t ask me if I´d tried the latest brand of mouthwash, or if I´d tasted this really tasty sausage while trying to sell me a house – but, again, that´s just personal preferrence.

          (I am also a dad, and currently the only one bringing home the money, so I´m surely not adverse to earning money, I´m merely doubting that this is necessarily the right way.)

          • 14

            I’ll have to stick up for Doug here; you mention that you doubt that advertising is the right way to go about generating income based on the significant efforts Doug invests in his blog, yet you don’t offer any suggestions for an alternate monetization strategy. So I challenge you Myk; if this isn’t the right way how about suggesting to Doug a way that is ‘right’, and one that is also financially viable?

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            You see, Mike, I defy the notion that blogs should have a monetization strategy at all. I´m sorry, that´s just the way it is with me. There´s no use in arguing this point really.

            And I hope that I didn´t come across as suggesting that Doug should change something for me. He shouldn´t. He should do what he thinks is the right thing for his blog.

            And just the same, I should have the right to chose to like it; or not, as is the case here.

            Maybe my comments came across as condemning him, personally. Which is not what I was trying to do. True, I don´t like the way monetizing strategies have moved to the forefront of blogging. So what, if this is the way this blog will go, fine. It´s just not what I want from blogging and I think I´m entitled to act upon my feelings.

            As for challenging me. Well… let´s see. I think it´s important to know, that I´mk not one of the people that wants stuff for free. I don´t download music, I don´t download movies.

            That said. I would gladly pay a subscription fee for this blog (unless it´s, like $300 a month). Now, I understand that there will be a legion of people screaming no way because it´s the internet and it´s free.

            Well, yeah. It´s free save for the annoying ads and texlink popups for stuff I didn´t come here for.

            Are there ads in the books you read?

            I don´t like ads in my TV-Series. That´s why I buy the DVDs. I don´t like to sit through half an hour of commercials before a movie starts, that´s why I buy a DVD.

            I do not believe in free everything at the cost of mutilating your blog with ugly third party advertisements.

            I am ready to spend money. Only I´d rather give it directly to Doug instead of going through some shady “click through channels”.

          • 17

            Myk,

            I definitely empathize with your point of view and appreciate your honesty. When folks like Facebook and YouTube start the monetization process, I start to roll my eyes.

            I’m not going to argue that it’s somehow ‘different’ because it’s my blog – I’m just being up front that a) it can generate more money and I could use it! and b) I do think there’s a perception with monetized blogs that they are ‘successful’.

            One last note: My “Buy Me a Starbucks” button has probably made me about $25 in the last 6 months – so my ‘direct’ money making efforts have been somewhat of a flop. 🙂

            I hope you stick around – you’ll add a lot to the conversations here!

            With Respect,
            Doug

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        • 19

          @Myk: You see, Mike, I defy the notion that blogs should have a monetization strategy at all. I´m sorry, that´s just the way it is with me. There´s no use in arguing this point really.

          I won’t argue. It’s your opinion and I’m one who believes you have the right to it. Of course I think you are being unrealistic, and similarly I have a right to that opinion, but they are both opinions and nothing to *fight* over, right? 🙂

          @Myk: Are there ads in the books you read?

          Yes, they are called “Magazines.” 🙂

          The irony is that I was just yesterday researching advertising in magazines and found research on magazine.org that shows all the stats show that many magazine readers view the advertisments as an important component of the magazine, especially when those ads are targetted to the readership.

          @I don´t like ads in my TV-Series. That´s why I buy the DVDs. I don´t like to sit through half an hour of commercials before a movie starts, that´s why I buy a DVD.

          You are comparing apples and oranges in many ways. I can tell you dislike the ads simply because you are predisposed to dislike them, but many people dislike them, like me, because TV ads significant impose on their time. Blog ads are much less intrusive than that and (with the exception of pop-up ads) don’t waste people’s time, except for those people who choose to spend their time brooding over them. ‘-)

          @Myk: I do not believe in free everything at the cost of mutilating your blog with ugly third party advertisements.

          Well for many blogs: “Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

          @Myk: I am ready to spend money. Only I´d rather give it directly to Doug instead of going through some shady ?click through channels?.

          My guess is you are in a drastic minority. If not, it might be worth Doug and other bloggers to develop the infrastructure required to support such an option, but it would have to be an option because certainly more than 90% would not pay. I doubt there are enough people that would make undertaking the development of such infrastructure worthwhile, but I could be wrong and I certainly wouldn’t insert myself to block something that someone else wanted.

          @Myk: True, I don´t like the way monetizing strategies have moved to the forefront of blogging. So what, if this is the way this blog will go, fine. It´s just not what I want from blogging and I think I´m entitled to act upon my feelings….I would gladly pay a subscription fee for this blog (unless it´s, like $300 a month). Now, I understand that there will be a legion of people screaming no way because it´s the internet and it´s free.

          You are absolutely entitled to act on your feelings, as long as your actions are legal! (for example, firebombing Doug’s house wouldn’t be an appropriate way to act on those feelings, of course. 🙂 But as someone who likes to study human nature I find your feelings categorical. It seems you’ve developed an attachment to the aspects of something that was in transition and now that’s it has further evolved you don’t like it even though for it to stay the way it started is unrealistic.

          History has many examples of the disaffected, and they all become footnotes in history. For example, there are those who hated CDs because they preferred vinyl, but their discontent did not signficantly impede the transition to digitally encoded music. Similary those who hate advertising on blogs will won’t cause blogs to revert back to free; blogging it too much trouble to do well (I know, I tried and I don’t do it well!) that people need an economic incentive to do it well. And given all the other choices a reader has, subscription models don’t work but advertising models do. Even New York Times has moved to advertising; NYT found that attention was far more valuable than protection: http://www.mikeschinkel.com/blog/attentionhasbecomeworthmorethanprotection/ (But you might not want to ‘t follow the link because I have ads on the page.)

          Anyway, the bottom line in my argument is that your dislike for ads really only affects you (and those with similar feelings) and it affects you negatively; IOW you are the one who looses from feelings that you choose to have. There’s an old saying “A man got kicked by a jackass. He considered the source and went about his business.” You can get worked up about ads on blogs and cause yourself some heartache, or you can just accept it.

          You said “Don’t argue the point” so you probably think I am arguing the point but I’m not. I’m discussing the issue of being upset about something that has evolved and that won’t change back to the old way and how that only really diminishes the quality of life for the person who gets upset. So in sum, if you learn to accept this evolution, you’ll be a happier person.

          FWIW.

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    LOL! Your post sounds like your are trying to justify your position just a bit too much! ‘-) Making such a big deal of it just draws attention to the fact. Just do it and move on. If people want to bitch about it, well that’s their problem.

    BTW, I’d rather use the Kia owner for a real estate agent; I’d figure that they had a better chance of being ethical. Besides, who that drives a Cadillac today has any class anyway? Well, that is besides Kate Walsh… ‘-)

    • 22

      Absolutely, Mike. I definitely was wanting to justify the ads – in the past I used to criticize people that ran ads all over their home page. I did, however, take some care in the placement on this theme.

      I don’t think there’s a relationship between profit and ethics – and I love the new CTS and would love to drive one… but it will be quite a few years before I waste money on a luxury car – if ever.

      🙂

  12. 23

    Oops, I mean to say “rationalize” not “justify‘… (Doh! 🙂

    And as for profit & ethics, maybe I was just chanelling my stereotypical opinion of the “blue hairs in Cadillac” a bit too much (quote taken from a local radio ad spot about most real estate agents.)

    Anyway, great blog (besides this post ‘-p)

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