Despite ads being such a large component of today’s society, the ethics of advertising are rarely discussed publicly. Personally, I use Adblock Plus to block advertisements on the web on my home computer. I do this because I think most advertisements clutter up web pages and detract from the user experience. At work, we can’t install plug ins like that. From experience, I can tell you that advertisements can make it hard to find useful information on a page.
Furthermore, I detest how some advertisements try to illicit some sort of emotional response by attacking things like body image or personal hygiene. Millions of other sites though contain ads all over their user interface. Some desktop applications even have adds! You’ve probably seen a site like this below- three ads on the page and you haven’t even scrolled down.
In my search for passive income streams, one that’s come up a lot is using Google Adsense or a similar service (clicksense) to generate advertisement revenue. Adsense will pay you per link click, usually 1-25 cents. I used adsense once before in college. I made a resource website for a Screenwriting Club and decided to try out adsense to see where it would get me. It made over $100 dollars in two months time just from students in the club using the page (and a few hits from other countries).
I went to the resource site one day at a library computer and I saw ads for diet pills and teeth whitening. I didn’t want the users of my site to see this kinda garbage! I refreshed the page to see more junk. Again, and again, and again! I logged into my account right there in the library and pulled the ads from my site.
Despite making a profit, I decided to stop using adsense because I did not feel comfortable with it ethically. Sure, it made me money. But it was at a heavy cost. I lost all editorial control over what adds were featured on my site. This meant that products or ideas that I did not endorse could be ‘calculated’ to show up as an advertisement on my site.
I am not 100% against advertising or endorsements through affiliate programs, but I don’t want to loose editorial control over my sites content either. I think advertising is important and crucial to the success of many business and industries. I appreciate creative and clever advertisements that work off of whit or humor to get the message across. Ads like these are rare though. It seems they only show up during the superbowl anymore. 99% of ads are useless junk.
There will never be an advertisement on this site that I have not personally approved. I refuse to make banner ads, popup adds, or to put adds in between paragraphs of text. I don’t want my users to have a bad experience. I would never endorse a product or service as an affiliate that I personally didn’t already think was awesome. I can’t lead people on like that. My goal isn’t to become an internet salesman, my goal is to be free.
I may consider a single sidebar add to help cover domain name costs, but it will likely be curated by myself personally and not by a service. I would want the ads to be relevant to the site, and actually lead the user to useful and helpful information rather than try to make a few cents off of a click.
There can be no denying that advertising on a website can make you passive income, but I personally have reservations about making money off of advertisements. Because of this, you probably won’t see any ads on my blog ever. I will likely not make any passive income from advertisements, and that’s definitely a personal choice. For those looking for passive income… you can do online ads and you will make money… but at the cost of user trust in your site or service if you go overboard with it.
I would love to hear the communities thoughts of advertising and the ethics of it. How do you feel about advertisements on the internet?