Ads or No

camping outAdvertising is such a strange beast. I’ve been asked by many people why I’m not running ads of any kind on my site. I remember the conversation on Robert Scoble’s blog. Lots of people have had this same conversation, and lots of them have reached different decisions. My own mind isn’t made up.

Next week, I’m speaking at the Affiliate Summit with people much smarter than me. I’ll also have the chance to meet with people know LOTS more about advertising than me. I’m hoping to ask them for their thoughts and insights.

But what about you? I’m thinking that I might want to put a few ads on my site. I’d want them to be relevant to my community. I’d want them to reflect things I believe you might actually WANT to know about. But does that cheapen our relationship? There are ads in the New York Times. There are ads in Fast Company. But there aren’t normally ads in our discussions.

Your opinion matters a great deal to me on this one.

Photo Credit, Zach Klein

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  • http://www.winextra.com Steven Hodson

    as usual the comments are adding exceptional quality to an oft asked question for bloggers. As I primarily read your writing via RSS feed which already carries an ad I don’t see the problem with having ads on the site.

  • http://www.winextra.com Steven Hodson

    as usual the comments are adding exceptional quality to an oft asked question for bloggers. As I primarily read your writing via RSS feed which already carries an ad I don’t see the problem with having ads on the site.

  • Tim Chemacki

    Hi Chris,

    I typically read your blog via RSS and am a relatively new subscriber.

    I ignore most ads (“banner blindness”) and usually find them irritating – especially when they are not relevant, get in the way of reading the content, flash and jump around, pop-up, overlay the page, etc. At the same time, I have absolutely no problem with you (or anyone else for that matter) receiving compensation for the efforts that go into blogging, and advertising done right could be a win-win.

    What I think might provide more value than ads per-se (at least to me) is embedding inline affiliate text links right into your content if/where applicable – i.e., Amazon.com links for books, electronics, whatever that you may discuss in your posts. Another idea would be a recommended reading list or something like that. I’d be more likely to buy a book or whatever that you personally recommend (or mention in the context of a post) if it has relevance to social media, etc. versus “random” ads on the page (or AdSense or whatever).

  • Tim Chemacki

    Hi Chris,

    I typically read your blog via RSS and am a relatively new subscriber.

    I ignore most ads (“banner blindness”) and usually find them irritating – especially when they are not relevant, get in the way of reading the content, flash and jump around, pop-up, overlay the page, etc. At the same time, I have absolutely no problem with you (or anyone else for that matter) receiving compensation for the efforts that go into blogging, and advertising done right could be a win-win.

    What I think might provide more value than ads per-se (at least to me) is embedding inline affiliate text links right into your content if/where applicable – i.e., Amazon.com links for books, electronics, whatever that you may discuss in your posts. Another idea would be a recommended reading list or something like that. I’d be more likely to buy a book or whatever that you personally recommend (or mention in the context of a post) if it has relevance to social media, etc. versus “random” ads on the page (or AdSense or whatever).

  • http://www.winextra.com Steven Hodson

    @Tim (#27) the only problem with the idea of using things like affilate links within a post is that Google may look upon that as paid text links which could end up with Chris being penalized and when it comes to this Google doesn’t play nice at all. Just ask all the people who saw their page ranks get wiped out in one fell swoop recently when Google changed their policy.

    That isn’t to say it isn’t a good idea except it is also one of the easiest to be abused.

  • http://www.winextra.com Steven Hodson

    @Tim (#27) the only problem with the idea of using things like affilate links within a post is that Google may look upon that as paid text links which could end up with Chris being penalized and when it comes to this Google doesn’t play nice at all. Just ask all the people who saw their page ranks get wiped out in one fell swoop recently when Google changed their policy.

    That isn’t to say it isn’t a good idea except it is also one of the easiest to be abused.

  • http://www.rluxemburg.com Rachel Luxemburg

    I don’t mind a few ads. It’s when the ads start overwhelming the content that they get annoying.

  • http://www.rluxemburg.com Rachel Luxemburg

    I don’t mind a few ads. It’s when the ads start overwhelming the content that they get annoying.

  • http://www.pistachioconsulting.com Laura “Pistachio” Fitton

    It’s not that I mind ads on my blog, it’s that it’s not my business model.

    Lots of good comments above. I especially connected with Chip’s and Marina’s points, but everyone is basically right in what they expressed.

    But the real issue for me, on my blog, is what am I selling? In my case, my brain-share. I haven’t run the numbers, but I doubt advertising could touch that in value. Now. Later, if my consulting and speaking time is 100% sold out and there is *still* traffic in excess (a Scoble situation) I might behave quite differently.

    For now, it’s not for me. But I can’t say a thing about you.

  • http://www.pistachioconsulting.com Laura “Pistachio” Fitton

    It’s not that I mind ads on my blog, it’s that it’s not my business model.

    Lots of good comments above. I especially connected with Chip’s and Marina’s points, but everyone is basically right in what they expressed.

    But the real issue for me, on my blog, is what am I selling? In my case, my brain-share. I haven’t run the numbers, but I doubt advertising could touch that in value. Now. Later, if my consulting and speaking time is 100% sold out and there is *still* traffic in excess (a Scoble situation) I might behave quite differently.

    For now, it’s not for me. But I can’t say a thing about you.

  • http://responsiblemarketing.com Patrick Byers

    Chris,

    Seems most people posting don’t mind ads, as long as they are tasteful.

    I enjoy your blog and would hate to see something tacky pollute your good work.

    Tacky is one thing, but what happens if ads are served for products or companies that don’t approve of?

    Now that ain’t cool.

    I’d suggest you connect to an ad platform that gives you more control, even if it means you give up a little cash.

    YOU are a rockstar and you’ve got a great brand, Chris. It’s worth a hell of a lot more than you may realize.

    Happy Marketing.

    Patrick Byers
    The Responsible Marketing Blog
    http://responsiblemarketing.com

  • http://responsiblemarketing.com Patrick Byers

    Chris,

    Seems most people posting don’t mind ads, as long as they are tasteful.

    I enjoy your blog and would hate to see something tacky pollute your good work.

    Tacky is one thing, but what happens if ads are served for products or companies that don’t approve of?

    Now that ain’t cool.

    I’d suggest you connect to an ad platform that gives you more control, even if it means you give up a little cash.

    YOU are a rockstar and you’ve got a great brand, Chris. It’s worth a hell of a lot more than you may realize.

    Happy Marketing.

    Patrick Byers
    The Responsible Marketing Blog
    http://responsiblemarketing.com

  • http://boldlentil.wordpress.com Bold Lentil

    Great thread. It’s interesting to hear/read other peoples thoughts. I think though if you don’t have a specialty blog, fixed obsession, huge readership, your own franchise to promote, a CRM hooked to an SQL database with mindreading blog platform plug-ins that it’s kind of hard to match esoteric posts with readers with an unfulfilled urge to consume.

  • http://boldlentil.wordpress.com Bold Lentil

    Great thread. It’s interesting to hear/read other peoples thoughts. I think though if you don’t have a specialty blog, fixed obsession, huge readership, your own franchise to promote, a CRM hooked to an SQL database with mindreading blog platform plug-ins that it’s kind of hard to match esoteric posts with readers with an unfulfilled urge to consume.

  • http://justenoughtechnology.typepad.com Michael fitzGerald

    If you want to be actively involved in controlling your ads it will take time for an admin task which won’t benefit you or your readers

  • http://justenoughtechnology.typepad.com Michael fitzGerald

    If you want to be actively involved in controlling your ads it will take time for an admin task which won’t benefit you or your readers

  • http://twitter.com/mdy mdy

    I’m 100% okay with the idea of you placing ads on your blog.

    I also think that the clients you advise will benefit from whatever insights you gain from the first-hand experience of having ads on your own blog.

    My $0.02

  • http://twitter.com/mdy mdy

    I’m 100% okay with the idea of you placing ads on your blog.

    I also think that the clients you advise will benefit from whatever insights you gain from the first-hand experience of having ads on your own blog.

    My $0.02

  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    Man, I really wish you had an opinion on this one. The fact that no one’s said anything is really depressing. : )

    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I appreciate your advice.

  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    Man, I really wish you had an opinion on this one. The fact that no one’s said anything is really depressing. : )

    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I appreciate your advice.

  • Judy-on-the-go-Reid

    I’m also 100% cool with ads on your site. Especially if I get a 50% family discount for advertising one of my newest ventures – selling dust. “100% Pure Afghan Dust – From My Pores to Yours.”

    Of course if it’s not relevant to any of your postings on social media, I’m sure you’ll think of something.

    ;-)

  • Judy-on-the-go-Reid

    I’m also 100% cool with ads on your site. Especially if I get a 50% family discount for advertising one of my newest ventures – selling dust. “100% Pure Afghan Dust – From My Pores to Yours.”

    Of course if it’s not relevant to any of your postings on social media, I’m sure you’ll think of something.

    ;-)

  • http://www.opinionatedmarketers.com John Whiteside

    Running a site like this takes time. It provides benefit to site visitors. You’re entitled to make a little money from it. If the ads start to detract from the content, you’ll lose in the end – it will make people less likely to visit the site – but in general, I think it’s fine to have some advertising here.

  • http://www.opinionatedmarketers.com John Whiteside

    Running a site like this takes time. It provides benefit to site visitors. You’re entitled to make a little money from it. If the ads start to detract from the content, you’ll lose in the end – it will make people less likely to visit the site – but in general, I think it’s fine to have some advertising here.

  • http://suzemuse.wordpress.com Susan Murphy

    Figure out why you really want to put ads on your site in the first place. Is it only about the money? (Somehow, from what I know about you, I don’t think so.) Or is it also about adding value for your readers by providing ads relevant to what you are talking about.

    As a business owner, I can tell you that every decision we make with our company revolves around two things – value for the client and potential for making money. If it leans too much towards the client, we don’t make any money and the business fails. If it leans too much towards making money, we lose all our clients and the business fails. It’s fine balance, and one that we need to continually revisit.

    Take the same tactic when it comes to running your web site and you can’t lose. Good luck!

  • http://suzemuse.wordpress.com Susan Murphy

    Figure out why you really want to put ads on your site in the first place. Is it only about the money? (Somehow, from what I know about you, I don’t think so.) Or is it also about adding value for your readers by providing ads relevant to what you are talking about.

    As a business owner, I can tell you that every decision we make with our company revolves around two things – value for the client and potential for making money. If it leans too much towards the client, we don’t make any money and the business fails. If it leans too much towards making money, we lose all our clients and the business fails. It’s fine balance, and one that we need to continually revisit.

    Take the same tactic when it comes to running your web site and you can’t lose. Good luck!

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/about Don Lafferty

    With all these comments, I’m surprised no one has mentioned the potential to compromise your freedom as a blogger.

    If every social media company becomes a potential revenue stream, won’t that add another layer of personal editing to your work, based not on the company’s product, but on their potential revenue opportunity?

    What happens when one of your primary advertisers makes a bonehead move? Will you call them on it or will you be thinking about tuition?

    Traditional publications have editors and executives who make those decisions, freeing journalists to maintain their impartiality. I know you’ve said before that you’re a blogger, not a journalist, but today your only encumbrances are your relationships, and you know what it feels like to pee on a friend’s parade.

    Case in point, ooVoo.

    In the middle of your first day with ooVoo you made a tepid comment on Twitter about your experience and followed it up with an equally tepid article. If they were a potential sponsor would you have conducted yourself differently, even if that meant saving all comment for some future date?

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/blog/about/ Don Lafferty

    With all these comments, I’m surprised no one has mentioned the potential to compromise your freedom as a blogger.

    If every social media company becomes a potential revenue stream, won’t that add another layer of personal editing to your work, based not on the company’s product, but on their potential revenue opportunity?

    What happens when one of your primary advertisers makes a bonehead move? Will you call them on it or will you be thinking about tuition?

    Traditional publications have editors and executives who make those decisions, freeing journalists to maintain their impartiality. I know you’ve said before that you’re a blogger, not a journalist, but today your only encumbrances are your relationships, and you know what it feels like to pee on a friend’s parade.

    Case in point, ooVoo.

    In the middle of your first day with ooVoo you made a tepid comment on Twitter about your experience and followed it up with an equally tepid article. If they were a potential sponsor would you have conducted yourself differently, even if that meant saving all comment for some future date?

  • James

    I’m biased because I work in internet advertising, but I see nothing wrong with a controlled amount of ads on a blog.

    Some of the key points to consider though:

    I’m going to assume you won’t want to spend a lot of time selling against your blog. Sure, some people might come along direct to you, but you’re probably not going to want to be out there cold calling anyone. As such, you’re going to need to go to a network of some form (and even if you direct sell some, you’ll need a network to fill the gap).

    The problem with most networks though is that you’re going to get pretty big generic advertisers (Verizon, Sprint, Ford, GM, etc) most of the time. You may get some interesting niche products at times but the majority of your impressions are going to seem fairly generic.

    You could try to join a relevant vertical ad network and have them rep for you and sell within a niche at least closer to your readers (Burst Media I believe just launched a vertical network for early adopters/technology innovators for example). If I had to guess though, even in those cases you’ll still end up with a lot of generic ads.

    Also, to the other commenter (Reed Smith): Actually as long as you don’t go with Google (which I highly, HIGHLY advise against using if you want to actually monetize your inventory) you’re probably be paid on a CPM or Rev Share basis. Most display ad networks don’t even do a significant portion of business in CPC (or PPC as it’s also called). In fact, I highly suggest looking at using networks that pay on a CPM basis.

    I could probably go on for hours about this topic, but I don’t want to write an entire article here on Chris’ blog. :)

  • James

    I’m biased because I work in internet advertising, but I see nothing wrong with a controlled amount of ads on a blog.

    Some of the key points to consider though:

    I’m going to assume you won’t want to spend a lot of time selling against your blog. Sure, some people might come along direct to you, but you’re probably not going to want to be out there cold calling anyone. As such, you’re going to need to go to a network of some form (and even if you direct sell some, you’ll need a network to fill the gap).

    The problem with most networks though is that you’re going to get pretty big generic advertisers (Verizon, Sprint, Ford, GM, etc) most of the time. You may get some interesting niche products at times but the majority of your impressions are going to seem fairly generic.

    You could try to join a relevant vertical ad network and have them rep for you and sell within a niche at least closer to your readers (Burst Media I believe just launched a vertical network for early adopters/technology innovators for example). If I had to guess though, even in those cases you’ll still end up with a lot of generic ads.

    Also, to the other commenter (Reed Smith): Actually as long as you don’t go with Google (which I highly, HIGHLY advise against using if you want to actually monetize your inventory) you’re probably be paid on a CPM or Rev Share basis. Most display ad networks don’t even do a significant portion of business in CPC (or PPC as it’s also called). In fact, I highly suggest looking at using networks that pay on a CPM basis.

    I could probably go on for hours about this topic, but I don’t want to write an entire article here on Chris’ blog. :)

  • http://www.disc-of-light.com Kevin Kennedy-Spaien

    Don, While I can’t claim to speak for everyone, I think the reason nobody brought that up is that we all know Chris has too much integrity to be a blind shill.

    I do agree that to do it right will be a time sink.

    Chris, the best thing you could advertise would be your own books. Write them! Compile them even (lord knows you have enough stuff to cull from)! :)

  • http://www.disc-of-light.com Kevin Kennedy-Spaien

    Don, While I can’t claim to speak for everyone, I think the reason nobody brought that up is that we all know Chris has too much integrity to be a blind shill.

    I do agree that to do it right will be a time sink.

    Chris, the best thing you could advertise would be your own books. Write them! Compile them even (lord knows you have enough stuff to cull from)! :)

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/about Don Lafferty

    Kevin,

    I would never expect Chris to go down the shill path.

    I was pointing out a more subtle dynamic. Not that he would just give up his reputation for cash, but that it might have an effect when it comes to pulling the trigger on some of his opinions.

    Not that he’d hold back if he felt passionately, but perhaps he’d have to evaluate the domino effect of his opinions as they relate to his advertising revenue stream BEFORE saying something unflattering about a sponsor or a potential sponsor.

    It would be naive to think otherwise.

    What would happen to us if we were saying bad stuff about our employers in a public forum, even if what we said was true?

    Readers may view him differently when he monetizes his blog, but they’ll keep coming back based on the content, as long as they are confident the sponsors don’t impact the honesty of the content.

    In any case, a revenue diversification strategy will ensure Chris’ continued independence.

  • http://www.donaldlafferty.com/blog/about/ Don Lafferty

    Kevin,

    I would never expect Chris to go down the shill path.

    I was pointing out a more subtle dynamic. Not that he would just give up his reputation for cash, but that it might have an effect when it comes to pulling the trigger on some of his opinions.

    Not that he’d hold back if he felt passionately, but perhaps he’d have to evaluate the domino effect of his opinions as they relate to his advertising revenue stream BEFORE saying something unflattering about a sponsor or a potential sponsor.

    It would be naive to think otherwise.

    What would happen to us if we were saying bad stuff about our employers in a public forum, even if what we said was true?

    Readers may view him differently when he monetizes his blog, but they’ll keep coming back based on the content, as long as they are confident the sponsors don’t impact the honesty of the content.

    In any case, a revenue diversification strategy will ensure Chris’ continued independence.

  • http://nothingbutsocnet.blogspot.com/ Zena

    Thank you for asking, Chris. You are the best at walking your talk. That’s why we love you, man.

    Go for it, go for the advertising. We understand, we have grown up on OLA (online advertising), we get it.

    We want you focusing on your content that we crave. With the advertising revenue, you’ll be able to do that.

    Again, thanks for asking. You never cease to amaze.

    Cheers,
    Z

  • http://nothingbutsocnet.blogspot.com/ Zena

    Thank you for asking, Chris. You are the best at walking your talk. That’s why we love you, man.

    Go for it, go for the advertising. We understand, we have grown up on OLA (online advertising), we get it.

    We want you focusing on your content that we crave. With the advertising revenue, you’ll be able to do that.

    Again, thanks for asking. You never cease to amaze.

    Cheers,
    Z

  • http://fortifyservices.blogspot.com Rowan Manahan

    Chris,

    As ever, you have sparked a superb and highly informative discussion – I hope you do a follow-up post on the basis of the ideas and opinions expressed here by your community.

    I’m not sure I even have $0.02 worth on this topic, but I do have a few questions:
    1. I was fascinated to see Businespundit, in one of hish sign-off posts, state that he had been making about $1000 per month from his blog. Not to be spat at, but not exactly big potatoes either. So, first question – how much do you want to make?

    2. Given that the majority of your commenters fall between the “necessary evil” and “all advertising is invisible to my eye” schools, I don’t see how advertising will enhance the Brogan experience, but it’s probably not going to detract from it in the short term. So, second question – what are your long-term aspirations for your blog? What is it designed to do? (For example, if it’s designed to attract paid speaking gigs in the long term, then advertising is probably not going to have any relevance. If it’s intended as a revenue stream all by itself, then that’s a very different story.)

    3. What about one big button? How effective is the “Buy me a cup of coffee” strategy on blogs? Your blog design is pretty clean at the moment it would be an aesthetic shame to besmirch that …

    I have been a long-term subscriber because you make my brain hurt with your wonderful, provocative thinking. I would be very sad to see a “read more” snip on your RSS feed so as to force me to visit your blog for the purposes of upping your traffic numbers and possible click-throughs – but I’d still visit, unless I detected a real change in your tone.

  • http://fortifyservices.blogspot.com Rowan Manahan

    Chris,

    As ever, you have sparked a superb and highly informative discussion – I hope you do a follow-up post on the basis of the ideas and opinions expressed here by your community.

    I’m not sure I even have $0.02 worth on this topic, but I do have a few questions:
    1. I was fascinated to see Businespundit, in one of hish sign-off posts, state that he had been making about $1000 per month from his blog. Not to be spat at, but not exactly big potatoes either. So, first question – how much do you want to make?

    2. Given that the majority of your commenters fall between the “necessary evil” and “all advertising is invisible to my eye” schools, I don’t see how advertising will enhance the Brogan experience, but it’s probably not going to detract from it in the short term. So, second question – what are your long-term aspirations for your blog? What is it designed to do? (For example, if it’s designed to attract paid speaking gigs in the long term, then advertising is probably not going to have any relevance. If it’s intended as a revenue stream all by itself, then that’s a very different story.)

    3. What about one big button? How effective is the “Buy me a cup of coffee” strategy on blogs? Your blog design is pretty clean at the moment it would be an aesthetic shame to besmirch that …

    I have been a long-term subscriber because you make my brain hurt with your wonderful, provocative thinking. I would be very sad to see a “read more” snip on your RSS feed so as to force me to visit your blog for the purposes of upping your traffic numbers and possible click-throughs – but I’d still visit, unless I detected a real change in your tone.

  • http://www.dazcox.com Daz Cox

    ads make me think the blogger is greedy. why waste the page load time for a few lousy dollars?

  • http://www.dazcox.com Daz Cox

    ads make me think the blogger is greedy. why waste the page load time for a few lousy dollars?

  • James

    As a side note for those complaining about page load times, the problem is easily fixed by putting the ads in an iframe.

  • James

    As a side note for those complaining about page load times, the problem is easily fixed by putting the ads in an iframe.

  • http://www.sekstvizle.com porno izle

    I do agree that to do it right will be a time sink.

  • http://www.pornozirve.com porno izle

    I was fascinated to see Businespundit, in one of hish sign-off posts, state that he had been making about $1000 per month from his blog. Not to be spat at, but not exactly big potatoes either. So, first question – how much do you want to make?