Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Selling out

I've sold out to The Man and have started running Google AdSense ads on various entries on this site.

I debated this for a fairly long time, trying to solve the problem, "Can I place ads on this site without you (my friends) your myself ever having to see them?" Running this site costs money, so ads would be a good way of defraying those costs. I wasn't able to come up with a satisfactory solution for several months, but what finally tipped the balance was the data that was coming in from MyBlogLog.

The stats from MyBlogLog were interesting to me, not only because they provide a better measure of traffic than my Web server stat logs, which are polluted by spammers, but they also happen to tell me the most popular entries where people are clicking on links to leave my site. In other words, in examining these stats, I can find older entries people are using to find information not on my site. This, in many ways, is my target audience for ads: people whom I don't know, who are directed to my site by a search engine, and are interested in content not on my site.

Armed with this information, I have placed ads on about 50-60 entries on this site (about 5% of the total entries). There are various rules that I used to determine these entries, and while I may violate some for convenience, they are:

  • entry no longer displayed on my front page
  • higher traffic relative to other entries
  • unlikely to be visited by me or my friends (i.e. not journal-like, not my photos, not my notes)
  • keyword friendly (e.g. 'Google', 'Microsoft', 'Backpack', 'Gehry')

I hope that these rules will create enough extra effort in adding ads to entries that the number of entries with ads continues to stay very low. For now this is an experiment, and if it fails, either due to a lack of revenue or because it does not satisfy my original criteria ("only strangers see ads") I'll pull the ads as it won't be worth maintaining.

If you're curious, here are some example pages with ads: one two three four five

Update: I'm $0.03 richer! I can quit my day job!

Comments (4)

M Author Profile Page:

If you look at this site's source, they have a javascript that only displays ads to those who visit via google.


That's a good find, though I think it's against the AdSense terms of service: you're not allowed to edit the script that displays the ads in any way. Even though the guy has been using it successfully for 6 months now, it's very easy for Google to catch this alteration. The server-side solution that the javascript idea was based on seems a little better solution ( but I'm probably too lazy to do it.


The script has not been altered. In fact, it's not even loaded, so no bandwidth is taken. And it's better than the server-based solution, since it does not take server bandwidth.



Google TOS: "Any AdSense ad code or search box code must be pasted directly into Web pages without modification. AdSense participants are not allowed to alter the ad code for any reason, include changing the ad layout, behavior, or delivery of ads."

I examined your page source, and it appears that you do a document.write of the show_ads function after a browser detect. Although this does not alter the function of the Google code, if Google were to search the text of your page they would not find an intact call to show_ads. I read Google's TOS to mean that you have to accept their code intact, start-to-finish.

While I believe that what you did is ethically legitimate, I think that it is technically a violation of the TOS, and it will also look like a violation to a Google automated page checker.

IMHO, a server-side solution would not violate the Google TOS, though an automated page checker would probably also mark it as a violation.

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