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March 13, 2005

'Google's AdSense a Bonanza For Some Web Sites' — but not bookofjoe


Above is the headline of this past Friday's USA Today story by Jefferson Graham (one of the paper's very best reporters), the most balanced piece I've yet read on the pros and cons of using Google's AdSense program to bring in revenue with one's website.

From the article:

    The downside of the AdSense economy, critics charge, is that the avalanche of ads has created a new form of spam and is destroying the integrity of sites.

    "This is a program that rewards people not for creating the best content, but for how to create sites to attract more advertising," says Danny Sullivan, editor of the SearchEngineWatch online newsletter.


    "AdSense has nothing to do with search. It effectively turns the Internet into a billboard for Google's ads."

    Tales of AdSense riches range from a few hundred dollars a month to $50,000 or more a year, though high-dollar paydays are rare.

    They require a website with tons of traffic and the ability to put in 18-hour days working the system.

    Small website operators have flocked to AdSense as a way to attract advertising.

    To participate, they sign up at Google, which reviews the site.

    Once a small piece of computer code language is implanted on an accepted site, Google does the rest — matching ad links from its warehouse of clients to appropriate sites.

    There's an art to optimizing a site to attract more links — and generate more revenue.

    Website publishers need to be creative, says Dave Lavinsky of TopPayingKeyWords.com, an AdSense advice site.

    A house painter advertising his services on a home-made site is leaving money on the table if he mentions only house painting, Lavinsky says.

    "'Housepainting' is a 20-cent word. 'Home improvement' is worth $2, so you should create content for that."

    But Sullivan says keyword tricks hurt the editorial integrity of sites.

    Another problem, he says, is the proliferation of computer-generated directories with links to hotels, restaurants and entertainment and no real editorial content, fueled by the availability of "Ads by Google" checks.

    "Click fraud" is another nettlesome issue for Google and Yahoo.

    Some competitors click ads just to run up the other guy's bills.

    Web publishers with AdSense get their friends to click ads so they can get more money.

    Some savvy webmasters have set up automated clicking models called "Hitbots" or "Clickbots," which click away all day, and cost the advertiser.

    University of California researcher John Battelle, who is writing a book on search, says the success of AdSense has built a "growing, extremely sophisticated offshore industry."

    "There are more of these sites than you can imagine," he says.

    "The robots click on the ads and then none of the clicks turn into leads for the advertisers. That's not how it's supposed to work."

    Google and Yahoo say they are working on the problem, but Battelle doesn't think that's enough.

What I liked about the story is that it gave me a rational, specific basis to undergird what has been my feeling all along, namely that putting ads on bookofjoe is not a good thing, regardless of money that might accrue as a result.

As I think even a casual reader will notice, this blog is as uncluttered as I can make it without losing function.

Thus, I have no list of links, as do most blogs; no list of recent posts; no buttons to send you to Amazon, or let you "Donate" via PayPal," or anything at all beyond a button linking to Blogcritics,


a site I've been a contributor to for some time, and where I bumped into the incomparable Phillip Winn, technical engineer and philosopher extraordinaire (a rare combination: I guarantee you Ray Ozzie or Tim Page do not think as deeply about what forms the basis of all our interactions with others as does Phillip — but that's a subject for another post on another day), and a link to Technorati,


so you can see where I reside among the eight million+ blogs in the expanding blogosphere (bookofjoe's around number 2,000).

Phillip has Google's Adsense on his website, and finds it brings in $50-$100 a month.

I could probably earn $500 a month by adding AdSense.

Not worth it.

The added clutter, first of all, the actuality of something appearing on bookofjoe that I didn't put there, is very off-putting.

As is the sudden injection of exhortation to do something by the ads.

Then there's the element of creating content to increase AdSense income, as detailed in the USA Today story above.

I don't think I would do that, but it's hard not to be affected even by the very possibility existing.

I'm reminded of the HMO model, and why in the end it is always bad for the patient.

Simplified, here's how it works: an HMO tells a family doctor who joins its provider group that she or he will have X number of families a year who will use her as their primary physician.

She will be allotted, say, $1 million per year for all lab tests, x-rays, consults, referrals, hospitalizations and surgical procedures on her patients.

At the end of the year, all the money that hasn't been spent is hers as a performance bonus.

Now, would you like to be one of her patients, and have a recurrent headache?

I wouldn't: because there's an overwhelming incentive on the doctor's part to simply say, "Go home, take some aspirin, and rest."

Sure, perhaps a CT scan or an MRI would be more appropriate, especially since the headaches increases with coughing or sneezing or anything similar that increases intracranial pressure, but those tests would automatically pull $1,000 out of the doctor's performance bonus, wouldn't they?

Easy for you to say it shouldn't affect her judgment but hey — if wishes were fishes, we'd all be in the sea.

The rest of us see an inherent conflict that is very adverse for the patient.


And that's why there won't be AdSense on bookofjoe.

March 13, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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ps - regarding technorati - are you tagging your posts, and if so is there any benefit?
(email response if you can!)

Posted by: charles | Mar 13, 2005 6:34:54 PM

good post - i like the idea of public spaces on the internet that aren't logo-prone, corporate fiefdoms. i'd like to clean my site up a bit but fear that dropping my link list would insult people. no adsense on my site, though. unless they make me an offer i can't refuse.

Posted by: charles | Mar 13, 2005 6:31:58 PM

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