Yesterday we talked about Clickbank Ads and how they can be used to monetize a blog or website. Ironically, this morning an email went out to Adsense publishers regarding changes to the types of ads they'll be showing. You can read parts of that email below:
We're writing to let you know about the upcoming launch of interest-based advertising....
Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user's previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. "sports enthusiast"). To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the "sports enthusiast" interest category. To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Center at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=20310.
For more information about interest-based advertising, you can also visit the Inside AdSense Blog at https://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/03/driving-monetization-with-ads-that.html.
The purpose of the email was to let publishers know that we'll need to update our privacy policies to reflect the fact that Google will now be tracking and using data on the sites our readers visit to display different ads.
First of all, I consider that a serious privacy issue. It's none of my damn busness what sites you visit, and it's none of Google's business either - especially for the sake of earning extra ad revenue.
They do claim in the FAQs that advertisers can opt-out (although not fully - if you've interacted with a specific advertiser before their ads can still be shown more to you). However, when you follow their instructions and go to your account settings page, the opt-out option doesn't currently exist. Umm, shouldn't that have been implemented before telling people about it? I think so.
On another note, Google constantly throws a big stink about writing quality content and linking to relevant sites. It's nice to see the standards are different when they have a buck to be made. Sure, you may be a sports enthusiast, but you're not coming to a writing blog to see ads for sports equipment. And frankly, why would publishers want ads that distract you from their content completely, entice you to click, but then not come back (because at that point you're no longer thinking about that site's content). It's ridiculous. Sure, it might sound good in theory and may even monetize well, but it takes away from the overall experience of spending time on a niche-oriented site.
I've been unhappy with Google for a while now, and pulled Adsense off of many of my sites over the last several months. As of now I keep them on my PR blog and my free online courses blog, but this change has me considering new options to leave them behind altogether (or to at least minimize my usage of them on those sites). I really just find the hypocrisy of all of it very frustrating (Google playing the "big brother" role in who we choose to link to and how, but then wanting to take away any kind of control we have over ads on our own sites through their service - the whole point was that we targeted the ads because they were contextual).
Anyway, curious to hear what others think of the changes. How do you feel about it automatically becoming everyone's default they have to opt out of rather than an opt-in service for those who want to take part?