Blogging & Social Media Tips, Op-Ed

Reputation Matters: Beware Ad Servers

11 Mar , 2018  

Are Ad Servers Worth It?

I have thrown in the towel and removed AdSense from my blog for the second time. In just over ten years, I’ve earned $96.37. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have to cut me a check until I’ve earned $100. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could manage to earn that last three dollars and change before I retire or die, but it’s not to be.

It’s the principle of the thing. I’ve essentially let them run ads on my site, for years, and now they get to keep nearly the nearly $100 they owe me for it. I’m sure they consider me as “low value” as I do them, at this point. It’s just galling to leave nearly $100 on the table and walk away. But it could be costing me my reputation to leave the ads running.

What’s the Risk?

The first time I removed AdSense was during the election season of 2008. I logged out and looked at my site the way any visitor would, and saw political ads – diametrically opposed to the views I shared in my posts – running in my sidebar. That might be fun for bloggers whose primary (or only) motive was profit and controversy, but that’s not my style. It wasn’t me.

Later, I learned that Google had made changes to allow those running AdSense to block certain types of ads: political ads, ads for porn, ads for gambling, ads for alcohol, and so forth. I decided to give it another try – at least long enough, I hoped, to earn the few dollars it would take to finally get a payment.

This morning, though, I had reason to rethink that logic. I had a message on Twitter from my friend, @JackYan:

He is, of course, referring to Louise Matsakis’s article, “FACEBOOK’S MANDATORY MALWARE SCAN IS AN INTRUSIVE MESS” If her exposé finally got the attention that Jack’s post, mine, and countless others had not, then fewer views to our blogs might signal a welcome change on Facebook. I clicked through to read Jack’s latest post, “Has Facebook stopped forcing its “malware scanner” on to users after being busted by Wired?” and not two full paragraphs into it, this screen popped up, obscuring the post:

Now, I trust Norton. There are a number of toolbars out there I don’t trust farther than I could throw an elephant, but Norton? It’s kept me safe for the past 10+ years. Here’s the dilemma: I trust Jack, too. So I clicked View Full Report, and found this:

The only explanation I could think of is that there’s an ad server running on Jack’s site. With an ad server, there’s no way of knowing which ad appeared during a previous page load, and each fresh load is like playing Russian Roulette. Sure enough, he’s running OpenX there, and it’s serving up relevant ads – ads for things like anti-virus and anti-malware:

Anyone who has browsed the Internet for more than six months has surely been bombarded by fly-by-night sites promising to scan for and clean up the malware on their PCs. Often, these sites are, themselves, the source of malware and viruses. (The irony of how we got here, from a discussion of diminished views of Jack’s post, “Facebook forced me to download their anti-malware, and my own antivirus gets knocked out” is not lost on me, at this point.) I believe Norton caught links in an ad, not anything originating with Jack’s site.

I don’t believe that Google AdSense, or OpenX, or other established ad servers are serving up malware or phishing sites on purpose. In fact, I think they make an effort to screen such ads out. But it’s worth considering whether the benefit to us, as site owners and bloggers, is worth risking our own reputations on, at all, when security toolbars report our sites – rather than the spurious ads or ad servers – as a risk, and send visitors scurrying away as fast as they can click out.

My reputation is certainly worth more to me than the $96.37 I’ll never see in my own bank account.

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9 Responses

  1. Anklebuster says:

    Holly, welcome to the Day-Late-Dollar-Short-Adsense Club. I joined back in 2006, when Writingup.com went bust. I was struggling to get my 100.00 payout and suddenly, Google switched the revenue sharing rules. I really don’t recall the details, but I think it had to do with devaluing clicks.

    I am also a member of the Inactive Facebook Account Club. That’s mandatory, because I haven’t found a way to pull all the FB digital leeches from my leg.

    I understand that the Internet is forever. Five years from now, today’s malware miscreants will have morphed into blockchain tunnel worms: impossible to track, impossible to stop. Maybe then, people will listen to my cries for an updated Commodore 64!!! (Operating system in ROM, which is copied to ram during boot up.)

    I realize that this can be achieved with Virtual Machines, but that is a software layer, after all–just as vulnerable to hacking as Windows, Linux or MacOS.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Apparently, YouTube changed their terms in February, too – you now have to have 1000 subscribers and 4000 viewing hours in the last 12 months. Now, if only they’d make it that easy to turn monetization off (I hope THEY did) on all videos.

    • BUT…I may get that payment yet! I did not realize it, but if you cancel with over $10 balance, they send you a payment. That’d be sweet.

  2. Anklebuster says:

    Wait, what??? No Way! I may yet get that grossly deflated 67.00, yet. How does that impact the Adwords side of things? I was thinking of dabbling in that.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Yep! But you have to cancel to get a payout. Or just keep trudging along at about $0.18/year. It doesn’t look like it affects AdWords at all. At least not the keyword planner.

  3. Anklebuster says:

    Trudge? I don’t even blog. LOL Thanks for the info. I should go see…

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • DOOOOO it. Maybe if enough people do, they’ll (a) be happier with fewer accounts to manage going forward; or, (b) change their policies. I have a theory that eventually, all they’ll have LEFT is splogs and scrapers and that they really don’t care as long as enough people are duped into clicking through. (Kind of like Facebook Ads. Never mind that half the accounts are overseas bots and now number more than the living breathing humans on the planet, eh?)

  4. Anklebuster says:

    Google seems reluctant to comply. It tells me that my AdSense account isn’t associated with the email address that I thought was associated with it. LOL My memory does not serve. I think I may have reset my main Google Accounts password. Dang it all!!!

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  5. Mitch Mitchell says:

    I’m still running Adsense on a couple of blogs and one of my websites, and I’m earning enough to get my money… once every 4 months. The weasels; I was making good bank until some point last year. Still, at least I’m getting something, and as that woman I’m married to says, it’s better than a zero.

    Course I’m not allowed to run it on IJS; don’t care! lol

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