Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Get up off my ads - why advertising sucks

Here is where I stand on advertising - I hate it. Why? From the downfall of the American diet to the rise of Rachel Ray, all of this can be attributed to the adverse effects of advertising.

When personal finance blogs open up their page to artificial advertisements, I can't help but notice the irony. You're promoting financial literacy and saving money, yet your ads take me to sites that allow me to spend money or pay more for a given product? Some notable atrocious advertising on personal finance blogs include: $1500 payday loans, buy homes no money down, bad credit loans. The scary thing is, these are on sites I read and like. But the advertisements? No siree, not for me, thank you very much.

In addition to the moral conundrum presented by such advertising on personal finance sites, most advertising is not aesthetically pleasing. What color-blind, harebrained advertiser came up with such creative ads such as these?

If I were a goat cheese merchant, I'd be totally offended. And the thought of being lumped together with those smelly pizza cheese merchants, the audacity of GoogleAdsense!

Another problem I have with much of the advertising is you can't control the content. GoogleAdsense and many other programs, simply find keywords in the blog and insert ads accordingly. Let's say I write an article about how to get 2 Free CDs +$11 in YOUR pocket, but Google picks up the name "Vince" and gives me ads for "How to dunk like Vince Carter" or "Vince Gill guitar licks" What interest do you have in either of those?

Now you may be thinking, "But you have links to all of these places, what's up with that?" Here is my promise to you, the reader. All of the links on my site will be for products that I personally endorse and most likely own or have tried. In almost all of the deals, I take part. In all of the cashback programs, I am a member. In all of the financial institutions, I own an account (unless otherwise noted). In all of the crazy money making ventures, I venture. You get the point.

After that tirade against advertising, I will make some exceptions - call it clearing my conscience or what you will. I have recently become an Associate. What that entails is, I post links to for certain products I endorse. As you can see from my most recent product endorsement, however, I add a disclaimer at the end.
If you're interested in reading this book, I got mine for free from, so I highly recommend that route or borrowing it from your public library.
Why? Because does not offer the best price. But it offers many useful reviews of products, and if by chance you're one of those people that must buy it new, then I might as well profit from it, right?
While many personal finance bloggers look to make a personal profit through blogging and advertising, I have no such illusion. My conscience is worth more than the few dollars I would make by allowing such dishonest advertising on my site. I do this out of the satisfaction of knowing that I am spreading the good word about saving money - earning referrals is secondary to this. Rest assured, I am on your side, and I will always save you money. No link here will ever lead you astray.

Links to my favorite advertising averters:
I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Ask Uncle Bill
Millionaire Artist

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Anonymous mjh said...

Thanks for the post. It is unfortunate that many very sincere personal finance blogs are turned into hypocrites by their ads.

By the way, I noticed that you're using Snap Preview. Have you read this post:
obviously it's about personal preference, but I do feel that this feature interferes with my browsing and thus diminishes my enjoyment of blogs that use it.

January 31, 2007 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger Tiredbuthappy said...

This is really thought-provoking. Thanks for a good post.

January 31, 2007 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger English Major said...

I agree about ads--I'm entirely against them, for the reasons you list and because it alters my relationship with my audience. If I'm advertising, I'm effectively selling my audience to advertisers, as opposed to providing content to my audience.

ISPF and I recently had a debate about acceptable monetization of pf blogs. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

February 1, 2007 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Stingy Student said...

Mjh, thanks for the notice. I didn't realize that the Snap Preview could interfere with some readers' experience. I found it pretty early on before some of the other sites started using it, so I thought it was a pretty neat concept at first, but now that everyone and their moms are using it, it's become a little played out, kind of like American Idol (I'm sorry if you like the show - truly, I am). I just banished the Snap Preview from my blog.... ohhh snap!

February 1, 2007 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Stingy Student said...

That's a great discussion y'all have going on over there. I guess you already know where I stand on ads, but I was actually thinking about putting up a tip jar as well. I would much rather put out a tip jar than ads, for many of the reasons you stated. If someone enjoys your writing, I don't see what's wrong with asking them for a tip. It's not like they have to pay it.
For some of the links in my posts, I do earn a referral, but I have the freedom of choosing how and where I endorse each, rather than having a hodgepodge of ad space cluttering my blog.
One of the reasons I wrote this piece was because I am exploring the idea of putting select ads on my site, and I wanted to organize my reasoning before I looked any further. There are very few products that I fully endorse, so I think finding such ads may be difficult anyways. That's why I've stuck to affiliate marketing so far. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment or email me, thanks!

February 1, 2007 at 2:23 PM  
Anonymous ispf said...

Hey stingy student, like the english major said, she and I got into an interesting discussion over this topic. I personally prefer to display ads rather than have tip jars. To me the ads are the business end of blogging - you sell a space on your blog and the advertisers pay you money for the space. As long as you mark the ads clearly to be just that, and dont try to dupe the readers, I dont think you do any disservice to them. But with tip jars, you just ask for the money, period. For me, asking money doesnt come easy. And thats my main reason for preferring ads to tip jars.

Wow, its amazing how we all can agree so much on so many issues and yet disagree so completely, on some others :)

February 2, 2007 at 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Bill ask uncle bill said...

Thanks for the plug. I probalby would have more advertising if I knew how to do it but ignorance keeps me clean.

What degree are you getting?

Thanks again.


February 2, 2007 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger peter said...

see also

November 5, 2007 at 3:43 AM  

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