Monday, November 29, 2010

Site-related: Ads


I don't know if this is necessarily going to be permanent, but I've added Adsense ads to the sidebar to give it a try. And I feel kinda dirty so far, alas.

I am actually not permitted to click on the ads (Adsense is trying to prevent people gaming the system by clicking on their own ads, so not clicking your own ads is something one has to agree to before putting them up.), and in fact may not even see them, so if there's something objectionable in an ad, if it takes you to a site that looks shady, etc., please let me know. I have some power to remove particular ads if they're a problem, though I'm not sure how much.

If you are browsing with Firefox and would prefer not to see any ads at all, there's a plug-in called AdBlock Plus which will remove them for you; I've been using it myself for quite a while without problems, and like it. I assume there are similar plug-ins for other browsers, but I don't know what they are.

To make some room for the ads in the sidebar, I've moved the blogroll and the plants-I-want list to their own pages under the header. That'll probably stay whether I keep the ads or not.

Feedback on the ads is welcome up to a point. I do kinda need some source of income, and although I don't anticipate the ads paying enough to make up for me not having an actual job, the blog might be able to buy itself the plants and plant accessories it needs. Which would be something. However, I get really tired of being advertised to everywhere I go, and I'm sympathetic to anybody who feels the same way, so if the ads are really bothersome, this would be a good time to say so. Something else could be tried. (I don't know what, but I'm sure there must be something.)

So, a poll. You can choose more than one, if more than one applies:

If none of them apply, leave a comment. I'm seriously fishing for feedback here. A decision about whether or not to keep them will probably come next Sunday or Monday, and will be somewhat-but-not-totally influenced by whether or not it seems to be paying off for me financially.


Anonymous said...

I don't mind the ads, especially as they seem to be for such things as paw-paw trees and grow lights. *s*

And NoScript takes care of anything obnoxious for me, so as long as the ads hang out politely in their own little sidebar-box, I think they're fine.

Liza said...

Call it monetizing like Mr. Brown Thumb does, then own it. It's just plain smart.

Anonymous said...

Except for the fact those ads are just plain ugly (although it helps identifying them), I don't really mind. Ads that:
-don't jump at me,
-don't move,
-don't make sound,
-don't launch without me clicking them,
-aren't in the middle of something I'm reading
,are all fine.

In any case, unless you post something long, the ads don't even come on the screen.

Here's hoping you get some money out of it, without people being scammed. :)

shiver from MN said...

I do find ads irritating, but already have the Ad Blocker for firefox so it doesn't bother me too much. I also empathize that with all the time you put into this blog, you need a way to make a little cash if possible. I would never consider leaving PATSP (well, maybe I would if you started linking to porn sites...but I'd be reluctant to think you'd do that to your readers). So do what ya gotta do, and good luck!

Paul said...

They can be somewhat entertaining. The ads associated with Yahoo mail seem to think I'm a single, black, christian lesbian. The only thing close is the lesbian part.

Anonymous said...

Well, doll, I think you should make *something* for all your efforts. I use AdBlockPlus, so I haven't seen the ads. As long as they aren't too cheesy and don't blink and gyrate and are at least a tad relevant, I don't think anyone will mind. On the other hand, my guess is that your readers are a cut above and don't click on the ads as often as say, followers of Britney or Paris, so ads won't help you quite so much. Over at Dailykos, when I first put in ad-blocking, they even gave me a message about how I should help support them with allowing ads. And that's the beauty of Adblockplus, that you can specify particular sites to allow ads to show. Your blog looks so good as it is, but if the reality is that the ads give you the finances to continue it without overwhelming the place, then go for it.

mr_subjunctive said...

Anonymous at 8:07 AM:

Yeah, that idea had occurred to me too. I have personally never clicked on any ads at anybody else's blogs, ever, and sort of suspected that my readers would be less likely to do so as well, especially since I've been kind of harsh on the marketers lately.

So far, Adsense is reporting that I've earned exactly $0.00, after receiving 200 page views. This seems . . . improbable. Maybe it waits until the end of the day to add everything up. I don't know. If it's true, though, then the ads will be gone next Monday.

Rameen said...

I sympathize with Anon's dislike for ads that make noise, move, etc.

My opinion: you should continue using the ads if they bring income. It's the least we can do as readers to accidentally click on your ads and maybe give you $.05 every time we visit your site.

Karen715 said...

For all these people who are talking about whirring and movement and noise, aren't Adsense Ads just those discreet text things with links?

I can't see them because I have Adblock Plus. I wouldn't mind seeing them, but I'm afraid to unblock things. I did that on my last computer and was never able to get Adblock to work perfectly again, leaving my computer open to malware contained in the ads on a slightly shady site that I used to visit.

I also understand the feeling dirty thing. I've been feeling a bit like a whorish myself since I started offering the calendars.

Lance said...

If you can get a little money for it I don't see anything wrong with it. The adsense ones are really rather benign. The flashing, noise, and bouncy ones are really bad, but I'm all for people getting something in return for their efforts.

Maybe you should do a calendar. The plants of Mr Subjunctive's boudoir or something.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I have absolutely no problem with it, Mr. S. A lot of blogs I frequent have ads displayed and I barely notice them. And there's nothing wrong with trying to generate income while entertaining your readers - for free. There are no membership fees to your content, so there's no issue here. At least, I don't think there is. I don't have enough traffic yet to my blog, but if I ever do, I may very well do the same thing.

Pat said...

Nothing wrong with being a whore so long as you are careful.

Those ads are fine. I am not a member of the acquisitive society and never click on ads, I usually find things through Google. However, your ads are all UK based (cor, that's clever!) and I like the occasional random ramble through gardening merchants. Just so long as they can't tell that I am not buying anything.

Sarcozona is using Flattr, I don't know how many people use that but you might feel a bit cleaner getting money given just because you're brilliant.

Anonymous said...

If having those discrete ads helps support this blog - great! If they start blinking at me - not so great. I'd just like to see your avatar higher on the page. You're soooo hoooootttt!

Ivynettle said...

They're fine with me - you totally deserve to make some money with this blog! I mean, sure, they're not pretty, but easily ignored.

Town Mouse said...

Ah, well, I already HAVE AdBlock Plus, so it's really not such a bother.

I appreciate reading blogs that don't use ads, though even with ads spending the time to write a blog is a wonderful act of generosity, so I applaud you either way. Will be curious whether you actually make some money off this.

Matt DiLeo said...

i never would have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out. so far, and i imagine in the future, all the ads are for nurseries, which i cant imagine would seem shady at all. let us know if you actually make money off of it!

MrBrownThumb said...

I do refer to ads as monetizing, but I didn't coin the phrase. I just borrow it. The Adsense ads aren't the kind that jump out of their little box, but sometimes some do have moving parts if the image ads have been enabled.

Mae said...

The ads that you have are visually clean, so that's nice. They're not those annoying, flashing, talking ones. And yeah, you put so much effort into this blog and it's really educational for all of us, so you should make enough money to maintain it. I've always been curious exactly HOW big and popular a blog would have to be to earn enough money using those ads so eventaully, if you don't mind letting us know a ball park, that would be cool. (Unless that was a totally rude thing to ask. I suspect my blog with 10 readers, all of which are family, it would be a joke to have an ad feed...)

And actually, one of the ads is for one of my customers that I sell plugs to! So that ad at least is legit! The AOL Autos sounded somewhat non sequiturish but maybe it reads MY browser history and not so much what YOUR blog is about???

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

I'll be curious too, to see if you bring any income greater than the cost of a plant. My site traffic isn't huge. I could probably get my mom to click on ads every day though. I don't do Adsense, although went as far as opening an account, but wimped out. I figured for the measly couple dollars a year I'd generate, it wasn't worth selling my soul. I'm in advertising and don't have much soul left to sell. Be sure to update us.

Ginny Burton said...

I truly believe you should be financially compensated for this excellent blog, but would much prefer a Paypal Donate button. I like the directness of that: from my wallet to your wallet. That way, the blog stays purely you and you know how much I value it.

Mark My Words said...

Just because you were kind enough to ask, no, I don't really mind the ads. We all have to make a living somehow.

(Some of the commenters here are really funny.)

Grower Jim said...

Don't expect the ads to generate enough revenue to buy anything. I've had them for almost a year and so far my total is $5.01! Granted, I do have them placed way at the bottom of my blog so they're not noticeable.
You can't actually collect anything until you get at least $10 and the only way to get that amount is to cancel your account. So that's my plan. As soon as I hit $10 I'm kicking out the ads! (People who are annoyed by ads can come to my blog and click on them so they go away faster!)

Benjamin Vogt said...

Whore. No doubt about it. I am shocked, truly shocked. :) Actually, whatever. I tried it once for a day but it felt too cluttered, and how much would I make? 10 cents?

VL said...

I sympathize, with both the need to make money and the hatred of ads. In this case, the little rectangle with ads is inconspicuous enough, beneath the archives list, that one can happily read your entry without even noticing them. I'm not sure how the ads will make you any money, though. Like you and others among your readers, I _never_ click on ads: I detest them, loathe them, abhor them, especially the ones that burst into sound when you land on a page. (Only if you put one of _those_ ads up will I never visit PATSP again.) But I like Ginny Burton's idea: a paypal donate button. Honest, clean, bypasses the nasty advertising business. By the way, on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists I found a shocking stat: the average American is apparently exposed to three THOUSAND ads each day. All ultimately encouraging us to buy something. Gadzooks - no wonder our culture is such a mess. (Not to mention the planet itself.)

CelticRose said...

Anonymous said:
"Ads that:
-don't jump at me,
-don't move,
-don't make sound,
-don't launch without me clicking them,
-aren't in the middle of something I'm reading
,are all fine."

I don't mind ads, as long as they're not like the above. Ads are what enable us to have free internet content. Yours look fine: they're unobtrusive, and are on-topic to the blog. I would suggest that you place them above the blog archive. In their current location, if one only reads your first post, they won't be seen.

I don't usually click on ads, but I would like to support you, so I'll click on them once a day. I'll let you know if I run across anything inappropriate.

Daphne said...

Yeah, they're not *so* bad, and you deserve to get paid, but...

What about PATSP merch? Thru cafepress or a similar no-overhead outlet? I'd buy a tshirt or something if the design were attractive. Who designed your avatar? That would look great on a mug.

Karen715: did you try "disable this page only" in ABP?

mr_subjunctive said...


Part of the agreement with Adsense is that you won't talk about how much you're making, so I can only answer that obliquely, but:

Before I started this, I came up with an amount of money that I considered worth having ads. (Please note: this is not "how much money would I need to be making from the blog in order to live off of the blog alone." That's a very different number.) If I was getting more money than that, I'd keep them, and if I was getting less, then I'd get rid of them. I also looked around on-line to see if I could find any information about how payment is figured, and made some guesses about what would be a reasonable expectation based on that.

The ads pay per click, so what I wanted to know was how many people actually click an ad, and how much does Adsense pay for each click. My actual click-through rate so far is about half of what I was guessing it would be, based on what I'd read, but I get 2-5 times more per click than I'd read, too, so it works out to be comfortably above the worth-it point.

Assuming that pay-per-click and click-through percentage are constant, it would have first been worth it to put ads on PATSP about ten months after I started the blog. By that point, I'd already gotten about 60,000 page views, and had written about 300 posts. Not sure which of those (amount of time, amount of traffic, amount of content) is the important factor, but that would have been the moment.

All these numbers (click-through percentage, "worth-it" amount, payment-per-click, number of visitors) would be different for every blog, but hey, you only asked for a ballpark number, so there you go.

I'm not sure how it determines what ads to show people; I think Adsense claims that it goes by keywords in the blog content. Don't know where the auto stuff would come from.

Mae said...

Thanks for the info! That was the best explanation I've found. I've searched all over the net and of course couldn't even find anything in the fine print to see how it worked.

Good luck! I'll click on some occasionally for you!

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton / Vicky Brandt:

Paypal and I have had problems in the past. I set up an account a long time ago for something or another, but the only time I can remember trying to use it for anything, it didn't work -- I got sent to an endless loop of sign-in pages. So I'm hesitant to get involved with them again, because I don't trust them to work when I need them.

Ginny Burton:

I'm also sending you an e-mail.

Vicky Brandt:

I know, on the whole number-of-ads thing. It's completely ridiculous. Unfortunately, I don't see it changing unless government acts to do something. The U.S. government is pretty much owned by the corporate interests who are doing all the advertising, so they're probably not going to help us.

I realize that I'm not helping, putting ads here.

Grower Jim:

I, um, I thought it had to be $100 before they'd give it to you, actually.


Yeah, the placement of the ad block on the page might get tweaked a little as the days progress. Below the archives seemed like the best compromise I could come up with at the time.


Well, the avatar is kind of not actually mine: I did it through this site and I think technically, they may still own the image.

Merchandise has been talked about, but then Greensparrow Gardens and Life Among the Leaves both came out with calendars, and I don't actually have a PATSP logo or anything (not for lack of thinking about it; I just haven't come up with anything that felt right to me yet), so I don't think we're ready for that. (Also, it's not at all clear to me how often people actually buy such things, whether it would actually be worth the time it would take to come up with a logo and so forth.)

Sentient Meat said...

Oh! by all means, monetize! good on ya! who would deny your hard work an occasional check? Just no dancing cowboys.

One of my browsers has Ad Blocker Plus working, but I'll try to put in an exception for PATSP and, rather belatedly, for my husband's blog, (he's not a plant person, so he won't see this... just in case, Hi honey!).

Speaking of my husband's blog, he blogged faithfully for a year or two before he started getting sporadic ads.

I say go for it! Buy some plants! Or containers. Or a new monitor. $20 is better than a poke in the eye. Or being cut off in traffic. Or a paper cut -- those are the worst.

Ginny Burton said...

(If this is a duplicate, I apologize! I just got a new computer yesterday and it's done some strange things, including deleting my lengthy post which I will now have to try to remember.)

About Paypal: I've used it for years, sending and receiving money. Never had a problem, and I am (see above) technologically deficient. It's become the default method of exchanging money via the internet, has an excellent track record on security. The Flattr thing sounds confusing and awkward.

It drives me crazy that writing has become so devalued that people expect it for free. We should support what we enjoy, to the extent that we are financially able. Paypal's Donate system makes it easy to do that.

If, indeed, you give up on this AdSense thing, please at least try Paypal/Donate. One of the blogs I read, Hyperbole and a Half, has the following message above the button: "By request, I have finally put up a Donate button. Please only donate if you absolutely want to." My only additional suggestion to this is that it would be polite to acknowledge each donation with a short email. (Are you reading this, Allie? Ahem!) But you are so conscientious about replying to comments on your blog, I'm sure you would naturally do this.

Ginny Burton said...

Oh, and another thing that I mentioned in the post that got lost: I never click on ads, but after reading Grower Jim's post, I went to his site to help him reach his $10 goal. The first ad I clicked immediately asked for personal information. Worse, the tiny box that looked like what you'd click on to close the ad, turned out to be an agreement of some kind. The print was so tiny, I could barely read it.

One last thought: I am a business owner and this whole idea of pretending to be interested in a business, just to churn money for a third party seems unfair to the business owner. I know it's the risk they take, but still. (I used to say that if someone referred three people to me, then the referring party would receiver her next order at half price. Later, I had to specify that it must be three people WHO ACTUALLY MAKE A PURCHASE, after someone showed up with three friends who just looked around the shop.)

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:

I suspect Allie probably gets more e-mails and donations and comments, etc., to even dream of being able to reply to them all. I'm getting a little buried myself since the Times, and I don't have anything like her kind of traffic.

I'm not sure about unfair to the business owner. The ads do seem expensive, for what they are, but on the other hand, if the keyword stuff is working properly, then they're getting an audience that has already demonstrated enough interest in the subject matter to be reading a blog about it. I don't really know enough about the process to be able to guess whether the ads pay for themselves (and probably couldn't tell you if I did know).

You should probably tell Grower Jim about the ad on his site, if you remember whose it was. We do have some capacity to block specific ads or specific companies, though I haven't tried to test it myself and don't know how far it goes.

Pat said...

Worth it for this ad teasing me with this shiny, shiny plant chamber:

I want one, but I don't think anyone I know could afford it. They don't bother mentioning the prices. If you have to ask...