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Piccadilly Circus
Advertising = Tacky? Photo by the Killer Biscuit.

Glaukôpis has been wrestling with the problem of whether she should put advertising on her site. Inkycircus has declared Google Ads the new black. I removed them from most of my site because I was not happy with them.

Glaukôpis asks if putting ads on her site is selling out. Yes says one of her commenters. I think this is probably a non-problem, unless you’re snobbish – and some people are. Originally Classics or most academic research was what someone did if they had a private income. It’s fairly recently that being paid to research has been a possibility to the masses and with top-up fees and student loans that may be drawing to a close soon in the UK. There’s a distaste for commerciality because it’s not what the previous generation did. Glaukôpis asks if it’s selling out and if you change what you write to get better adverts then yes it is.

My own experience is that Google Ads wasn’t usually a suitable solution. Sometimes I write about artefacts and the adverts that came up were for unprovenanced antiquities. Not all of this would have been purchased by dealers from criminals. For example a study of Apulian vases has shown that at least 5% were reasonably likely not to be illicit, but there is a problem in fuelling the sales of illicit material. So I blocked these ads. What then happened is that I got more ads from other dealers with unprovenanced artefacts who weren’t willing to pay as much to advertise as the people I blocked. I blocked these and got another set of dubious ads. When you block enough of these you get to cheaper and less relevant adverts. In the end I was getting sub 1% clickthrough rates on cheap ads.

Faced with rising bandwidth bills I’ve moved to WordPress.com because private hosting was simply too expensive and I thought the adverts Google placed on my site were unsuitable. On the other hand I’m not against Google ads on other sites. On Blogographos they’re perfectly fine, and elsewhere they work, but if you’re going to blog about things that you dislike as well as like then the adverts are going to be dire. If I blog about MRSA then I really don’t want adverts by quacks pushing ineffective or dangerous treatments on site.

You can’t blame Google for the scam adverts, it’s a largely automated system, but it is up to the blog owner to decide if they’re happy being associated with the adverts that appear on a site.