AdSense IS Content
When was the last time you saw a web site that wasn't selling something? Can't think of one? Neither can I. Every site I've been to in the recent past has either been directly selling a product, offering to trade something you have for something less valuable that they have, or showing you advertisements (either fixed or adsense).
My first thought on the recent overabundance of advertisements was "When the hell did everyone get so greedy?" At what point, did content get bumped to second-place behind ads? At what point did we start to not only tolerate ad-filled sites, but to accept them as the norm? That thought, of course, was followed by "Damn... I've got to get that ad-blocker plugin for Firefox..."
As a server administrator (that's part of my day job), I know that hosting is expensive. I know that shared hosting rarely works out once you've got enough visitors coming to your site to pay for it. I know that Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are overpriced and often perform worse than the cheaper shared hosting does. I know that dedicated server hosting generally means that you either need to be a server admin yourself, or that you've got to dish out a few hundred dollars per month to hire someone to do the work. I understand the problem. What I don't understand is why the perceived solution to that problem is to fill your web sites with tons of advertisements.
I was over at Tom's Hardware this morning checking out the new article on 15 Years of Hard Drive History and decided to take a closer look at the article, the content, and the ads. If you take a close look at the first page of the article, you'll notice that the page content is only about 30% of the viewable page (scrolled top to bottom) and that of the code that I had to download, I'd say less than 5% of it was content. There are ads in the banner, there are ads in the right column (both of them), and there are ads in the footer. If I randomly click somewhere on the page the odds are with me I'll hit an ad. It really makes me wonder how many of his ad clicks are intentional and how many are accidents. The funny thing is that they're so well integrated, the site doesn't really look like it has that many ads...
In any case, I was discussing this very "issue" with Dave (the same one that was the subject of my PubCon 2006 Night Life post) while we were still out in Las Vegas and it suddenly came to me. What if the ads aren't there as ads? What if the ads themselves are contributing to the content?
It all comes back to the first sentence of this post. When was the last time you saw a web site that wasn't selling something? We've become so desensitized to ads in our browsers that sites that don't have them just don't look right. It makes you wonder, "Who is this author that he can freely publish content on the web?" I very rarely look at ads on the sites that I visit but knowing that they're there makes me feel a little better about what I'm reading. Sure, the author is trying to sell me something, but at least he's being honest about it.
P.S. - We all gotta eat, click an advert on the right if one has something interesting to you.
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