Annoying Ads

 By Shamus Oct 26, 2007 102 comments

I notice my Google ads have gone nuts lately. Time to clean house again.

Since the ending of DMotR, this site has been pretty tightly dedicated to a couple of core subjects, so Google should have no problem figuring out what ads should be running here. But instead of better targeting, I’m getting ads for all kinds of stupid stuff. One of them is for some sort of “enviro-friendly waterless toilet. (Enviro-friendly? Is human waste no longer biodegradeable?) Whatever. It may or may not be something my readers might want, but Google seriously needs a checkbox labeled “NEVER EVER ADVERTISE PINK TOILETS ON MY SITE, EVEN IF IT’S A CHOICE BETWEEN THAT AND FURRY PORN.” Selling toilets on my website? Not in this lifetime.

That ad has been nixed, which means it should stop showing up in the next 24 hours or so. I’ve also killed some unwanted stuff for ringtones and that sort of thing. Still, I’d like to ask for your help in tracking down crap ads. Here are the sorts of ads I want to kill:

  1. Ads that are NSFW. Pretty girls are ok. Pretty girls in bikinis are not ok. Pretty girls with nothing on but some text or bits of cloth covering their naughty bits are right out. This is a geek site, not Maxim.
  2. Crap ads. I have no interest in mortgages, “Win a free “XBox 360″, ringtones, and other trashy, cheap, scam-like junk. I resent ads from these people (since they often ALSO send spam) but they make it worse on themselves by making their ads blindingly ugly. Jerx.
  3. Political ads. I keep my politics to myself on this site, so I’m not about to give the next batch of tyrants and cannibals a place to sell themselves here. Presidential ads in particular are very unwelcome.

If you see one of the above appear, please drop the domain name of the site in the comments, here or in any other post. If you tell me “I see an ad for free ringtones” that doesn’t help me, because I don’t know where it goes so I have no way of blocking it. If you tell me, “I see an ad for ringtonespammers.com” then I can block the ad. Note that the URL should be listed underneath, so you shouldn’t have to click on the offending ad.

Also: I see on other sites they have great ads for videogames and nothing else. I’d hate to give up on my existing ads, which include RPG dice and other cool stuff, but if Google is going to continue behaving like this then I’m going to look elsewhere. An ad for videogames or dice enhances my site. An ad for toilets detracts from the value of the site in ways I can’t begin to calculate. This ain’t no Home Depot.

But where do you go to run those videogame ads? I Googled around for an hour (er… maybe “Googling” was a bad idea in this case) and couldn’t find anything except services that wanted to provide advertising FOR me. Maybe those ads are only available for “large” sites and they don’t want to deal with hobby blogs. Still, if anyone knows about who provides those ads and where I can go to check it out, please drop a link in the comments.

(Also: If you are using some sort of ad-blocking and never see the ads, you really don’t need to brag about it. It’s a free net and I don’t object at all to surfing on your own terms. But, I pay for bandwidth with this ad revenue, so this isn’t a case where I’m going to give you a high five for your efforts. I’m not going to join you in cheering, “YEAH! Stick it to The Man!” in cases where The Man is me.)

EDIT: The ads at Kotaku are what I’m looking for. Videogames and technology stuff. I wouldn’t use that many (and I don’t need to, since I’m a lot smaller than Kotaku) but one ad that is reliably relevant and technology / videogame focused would be perfect.

A Hundred!2102 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


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  1. M says:

    …you have ads here?
    I hadn’t realised, Firefox blocks them automatically for me.

  2. Shamus says:

    High five.

    For doing exactly what I said not to do.

    Ass.

    EDIT: Bah. I was the one being an ass. I apologized below.

  3. Lochiel says:

    But Shamus, its a pink toilet /in the woods/. I don’t know about you but when I’m in the Colorado wilderness and I have to go, nothing says “Mother Nature” like a pink toilet just sitting under a pine tree in the middle of nowhere.

    Just be sure that the toilet paper isn’t Posion Ivy.

  4. Phil says:

    In the Google Referal ads section of Ad Sense, you can tweak which ads you want to see. There are some pretty nifty Videogame and RPG looking ones. But you don’t get money for pageviews (unless my traffic volumes are still too low to show). I think you get paid for people who register on the sites that advertise.

    As for Ad Sense (the pay per 1000 pageviews) I don’t see where you can tweak adds.

    There are alternative add services also. I just don’t know much about them. Look at Ferret’s Home on the Strange Webcomic, he seems to sell his own publicity and uses an alternate service for other stuff.

    Oh and dude, I’ll go click a few right now :)

  5. mikeful says:

    Kotaku seems to used ads from http://www.doubleclick.com/. I don’t know if you can filter somehow their ads.

  6. I don’t know about AdSense, but other companies such as Double Click allow you to “opt out” of their profiling (which I did, for example). I think they show you ads based your browsing history, not based on the current site you’re on. So if you decide to switch, be sure to look at how they determine which ads to show to you. Similarly, if you visit a site and think to yourself, “oh, useful stuff” then perhaps they just managed to profile you well enough. Other people might still see pink toilets (and be happy about it, if they’ve been using the same browser with cookies enabled for a long time)…

  7. Phlux says:

    You might want to reconsider the “reliable videogame ads” category. The videogame ads that you DO have invariably contain copious amounts of cleavage.

    And you are not alone. Even Penny Arcade, which hand-picks which products it will advertise, ends up with ads like that.

    I have no problem with the ads, really, I just don’t want them on sites I visit at work. Plus they’re tacky, and games that stoop to that level to get my attention are usually not worthy of it. I’m a fan of beautiful women, but I have never once bought a game because of “OMG teh h0t ch1x!!!”

  8. Roy says:

    But instead of better targeting, I’m getting ads for all kinds of stupid stuff. One of them is for some sort of “enviro-friendly waterless toilet. (Enviro-friendly? Is human waste no longer biodegradeable?) Whatever.

    I can only guess it’s all the talk about “portable” in the Portals thread- maybe it’s a localization thing, but we call waterless toilets “portables” or “porta-johns” around here.

  9. Frederico Pinto says:

    I’m a happy firefox/adblock user and, darn it, you’ve forced me to discover this nifty feature of adblock: disable for http://www.shamusyoung.com

    I’ll proceed now with my tiny contribution… clicking away!

    DMotR brought me, but you’re the one that made me “stay”.

    Kudos!

  10. ngthagg says:

    Hey, uh, how do you get the furry porn ads to show up? Just curious.

    In seriousness, for an example of a RPG ad with fan service, I have Flyff showing up right now (flyff.gpotato.com). I don’t know if I would classify it as NSFW, however. It’s nothing like those awful IMVU ads.

  11. Shamus says:

    In firefox, I wish you could blacklist bad sites instead of blocking all and then whitelisting GOOD ones. You can’t tell if a site is good (one well-aimed ad) or bad (GIANT animated ads EVERYWHERE) until you see the site in action. I actually enjoy seeing the ads on Penny Arcade, Kotaku, et al. But when I get to IGN or GameSpot the ads interfere with my usage of the site. I leave ads ON, so I wish they had a right-click feature for “disable ads on this domain” or whatever.

  12. Shamus says:

    ngthagg: I’ve seen the Flyff ads. I’m okay with them so far. (Some don’t even have girls in them, and the ones that do are, like you said, way better than IMVU.

  13. Mari says:

    OK, you win. I’ve disabled adblocking for your site because now I feel all guilty for not contributing to the income side of things when I’m contributing substantially to the bandwidth usage/outgo side.

  14. Lebkin says:

    All this discussion about toilets probably isn’t helping your add problem. I am seeing another toilet ad on the site from enviroletbuzz.com.

  15. Tango says:

    I only see two ads, on the right side of this page where I’m commenting. They’re always for Star Sonata, Pox Nora, or similar.

  16. Shamus says:

    Thanks to those who un-block the ads. I don’t mind if you block them, although I DO mind when people taunt me about it. It just seems… rude.

    Block or don’t block. I’m glad you enjoy the site. :)

  17. BillZeBub says:

    Just wanted to let you know I’ve got an ad for http://www.verti-crete.com, selling Precast Concrete Walls. Seemed like an odd item for this site.

    And yes, I’ve disabled ad-blocking just for you. :)

  18. Belzi.ET says:

    I’m not sure about Googles AdSense.

    But for me it’s not impossible, that those ads are influenced by my ip-localization.
    I’m from Switzerland and I could swear I saw some german ads on your site.
    That would be a hard way for you optimize to your favoured ads.

    P.S:
    At this very moment there are both ads for some kind of games (browser-games it seems to be). One is for “Star Sonata” (www.StarSonata.com) and the other vor “Virtual Vilagers” (www.Genimo.com).
    Perhaps this can help you to optimize your ad-layers.

  19. Shamus says:

    BLOCKED: Astonia – I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but it was pretty edgy.

    Again, nothing wrong with that sort of thing. Just not ’round here.

  20. kat says:

    One of them is for some sort of “enviro-friendly waterless toilet. (Enviro-friendly? Is human waste no longer biodegradeable?)

    This would be either a composting toilet or simply one that doesn’t use water (probably the latter). Human waste isn’t particularly earth-friendly; as with most environmental issues it’s not the biodegradability but the concentration that’s the issue. Everything’s poison in substantial enough amounts. And lack of water looks like it will be the problem of the twentieth century; best-case projections are looking at major shortages across the American south, midwest, and southwest for some time yet. So either option would qualify said toilet as “enviro-friendly”.

    For the pink, I have neither explanation nor excuse; y’all are on your own there.

    Thanks for talking about this stuff, incidentally. My site doesn’t have ads, but I’m looking at a project that may require I either get a far better income or run a few, and it’s interesting to see what people already running them have to say.

  21. Ozy says:

    Your site had ads? Oh, right, it does. Hadn’t noticed them until you mentioned them; now I see these sidebar ads to the right of the page that I had previously blocked subconsciously, apparently. Every thing looks good from here, though; I’m seeing Advancing Hordes and Dragon Fable.

    Though, I do wonder if when you say “NSFW,” you’re just repeating the common internet euphemism for nudity, or if you actually support people visiting game blogs on company time and want to make it safer for them.

  22. Mike says:

    Don’t call your readers asses, Shamus. That’s the best way to lose them.

  23. Roxysteve says:

    Adds for video games “have cleavage”?

    What a surprise. I mean, it’s not like hordes of geeks buy the games to see idealised long-legged women in their underwear (I won’t go into the psychology of playing a game where you are an idealised long-legged woman in her undewear). Why on earth would the ads feature them?

    Steve.

    This message brought to you by the Mango Council of Greater New York.

    Mango, the other brightly-coloured fruit, and the only really nice one for curry and chutney.

    Put more mango in your tango today.

  24. Ozy says:

    I wouldn’t go that far, Mike. Though it hasn’t happened yet, there may come a time in which I might desire to call Shamus an ass, and if that happens, it’s nice to know that such dialog is considered appropriate for this site.

  25. Ozy says:

    And so it happens that I’m seeing an ad for the infamous pink toilet. ( enviroletbuzz.com ) That’s some fine context-based advertisement there. What better place for an ad for pink waterless toilets than a post that explicitly mentions just that?

  26. Mica says:

    Hmmm…I’ve never seen a pink toilet ad on your blog, shamus, but then I never pay much attention. Seems to me to be an advertisement for really shiney metal D20s, and chainmail every time I see it.

    Good luck with that!

  27. Shamus says:

    Mike: I asked politely for a very simple thing, and commenter #1 made a point of doing exactly the opposite. I don’t know why he did that, but if he cared what I thought he would not have done so. I doubt he will be around long or care much about what I have to say.

    I should have just nuked the comment, but in any case there is no reason to be polite to people going out of their way to be rude to you.

  28. Shamus says:

    Ozy said, “Though, I do wonder if when you say “NSFW,” you’re just repeating the common internet euphemism for nudity, or if you actually support people visiting game blogs on company time and want to make it safer for them.”

    The latter.

  29. Matt` says:

    Even with the site whitelisted in Adblock I don’t see any ads.

    If I allow scripts for shamusyoung.com (with NoScript) I get the block of Zazzle ads for your shirts and mugs and such, but still no external ads (same applies with all scripts allowed)

    I’m actively trying to find ads and failing…

  30. Mike says:

    Whitelisting this website in AdBlock works for me, as does disabling AdBlock altogether.

  31. Matt` says:

    Never mind – remembered the Greasemonkey script “Google Ads Remover”

    Now I see them, and they’re very relevant – advertising classy looking metal dice and chain mail dice bags.

  32. maehara says:

    Know what you mean – I’ve been trying to clear out ads for bootleg / download sites that keep appearing on my anime site (call me old fashioned, but I favour people buying legit discs), and it’s not easy. A bit like fighting a hydra, really…

    Strangely, while like Twenty Sided I get lots of Flyff ads, mine feature men instead of fanservice friendly girls. I’m not sure if I should feel jealous or not…

  33. Taelus says:

    Admittedly, I rarely click on adds I see at various sites because I’m always afraid of them, but yours has put up some games that just made me think “huh? What the heck is that?” So I clicked them anyway :-) Star Sonata was a good example. If you’re looking for games in particular that toss pretty adds up you don’t have worry about being too edgy, go for stuff from Eve Online. I stopped playing the game a good while back, but the adds are still pretty and I know people (read: one person) who’ve brought in more than a thousand dollars a month with those adds. Just my thought on it though.

  34. Rick says:

    Hitting refresh a few times I got:
    Shiny metal dice about 10 times
    Pox Nora once
    Tiger Balm – Create a YouTube video and win cash and prizes about 5 times
    Some TiVO add one.

  35. Rick says:

    PS – Only the shiny dice had the URL underneat the add.

  36. Zonga says:

    Another webcomic I read, Diesel Sweeties, uses http://indieclick.com/advertisers.htm which supposedly caters to the “independent” 16-34 crowd, and I don’t ever remember seeing something like what you don’t want as an ad.

    There’s also http://projectwonderful.com/ which has a nifty feature that people can bid to advertise on your site.

  37. Zonga says:

    Oh, and when it refreshed after the comment, there’s a huge ad for “Enter Tiger Balm’s YouTube Video Contest!” that is not clickable, nor does it have a link on it. Which I know is not all that helpful, but seriously, why would they have an ad that’s NOT CLICKABLE?

    The weird thing…I went to the Tiger Balm official website to see if they had anything about it, and they do not. It’s all being done through some sketchy youtube user: http://www.youtube.com/user/tigerbalmcontest

  38. Shandrunn says:

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the people who block Firefox from their sites because they “have a right to cram ads down your throat and make money, dangit!”
    I hate those people, and I would gleefully leech their sites over and over with adblock on, if they had any content I might even be remotely interested in.

    However, if someone I respect and like for what he does tells me that he doesn’t really like having his ads blocked because the revenue does come in handy, I’d feel like a real jerk if I kept blocking. Therefore, I am right now whitelisting your website.

    There, done. Enjoy your couple of cents per week you’ll earn from me =P

  39. Zonga says:

    Sorry for the multi-comment, but there’s another one! mobularity.com/usLuvCompatibility …it’s the love button. I am going to stop now, or there may be a million comments from me.

  40. Althanis says:

    Forgive my ignorance: NSFW?

  41. Shamus says:

    Zonga: Thanks!

    Mobularity / love button blocked.

    That thing was just stupid.

  42. Josh says:

    I do not block ads, but I never see ads on the front page. It’s only when I click on a thread to read comments that ads appear. Is that intentional? And please, no one mock me for my utter lack of knowledge concerning web design.

    As for annoying ads, I don’t usually see them, but as I write this there is an ad for a “love button” that is asking me to “push me hard” that certainly doesn’t fit the tone of your site. If you’re interested it’s mobularity.com/usLuvCompatibility

  43. Shamus says:

    NSFW=Not Safe For Work, as in, if your boss sees it on your screen from 20 meters away he’ll KNOW you’re goofing off.

    Half-naked women tend to attract the eye, as well as giving away that you’re not working, and so they are among the most dangerous.

    “Give me the URL for that website and get back to work, Jenkins!”

  44. Josh says:

    Well, I checked again, and I actually do see an ad on the main page. It’s just all the way at the bottom. On the comment pages I see two. One, right above the search and another at the bottom. Sorry for the confusion.

  45. Shamus says:

    Josh: Yes, no ads on the top of the front page. I don’t want too many. I want the “first view” of the page to be as uncluttered as possible.

    I tend to aim ads for the BOTTOM of the page, so that once somebody finished reading they might look over and consider clicking. Who wants to stop mid-article to click an ad? I’ve never understood sites that mix ads and content.

  46. Jonathan Usmar (aka "This Person who points out") says:

    FYI – that Enviro toilet is for places where water is a limited resource, like planet earth. It has nothing to do with the biodegradability of human waste.

  47. Rob says:

    New game to increase ad revune: Spot and report the bad ads? ;)

  48. Ian says:

    HAI IM A FIREFOX USER AND I HAVE ADBLOCK AND…*thwack*

    Anyway, I did some refreshes and got some Tiger Balm ads, but that’s about the only irrelevant thing I saw today. Doesn’t seem like you’re getting ads for Furcadia anymore. XD

  49. John Fiala says:

    Hmmm. With your current style, the ads are at the bottom of the page on firefox, nowhere near the content. Since I never read all of the comments on your blog, I never even see the ads.

  50. Ian says:

    @John Fida: There are two ads, one below the categories and one on the bottom, near the reply dialog. Looks to me like one of them is always Shamus’s shop on Zazzle and the other is always Google ads and the two of them randomly switch places on each page load.

  51. viktor says:

    I [i]haven’t[/i] whitelisted you, though I was going to after reading this, but as I still can see the stupid love button and that random youtube thing, I wonder if I need to.

  52. Katy says:

    Only odd google text ads I see just now are for dice.com (which is a job-hunting site), and the precast concrete walls (verti-crete.com).

  53. Ian says:

    Actually, scratch that. Looks like the Zazzle shop just comes up every now and then.

  54. Katy says:

    Oooh, and sidewalk display signs (mdiworldwide.com). These are just things showing up in the text ads part; I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary on the image ads.

  55. viktor says:

    http://www.Chatterbean.com/Romantic

    Random romance ad, not NSFW, just not topical.

    Also, can you fix your comments section to support html? Those stupid [i]s are going to stare at me in my sleep.

  56. Erik Lund says:

    I, for one, welcome cannibals and tyrants screaming at each other. Why else have an Internet?
    Seriously, I remember at one point an ad for a machine tool wholesaler on this site. I thought it was kind of cool, although some have said I have strange tastes.

  57. Shamus says:

    http://www.Chatterbean.com, killed.

    Thanks viktor!

    Sorry, I can’t do anything about comment functionality.

  58. Coogan says:

    I didn’t know NoScript would/could block ads, too. I don’t run AdBlock with Firefox, but I added shamusyoung.com to my trusted list (inside NoScript), and the ads now show.

    I feel so … exposed … now. :O

  59. Roxysteve says:

    Katy:
    Only odd google text ads I see just now are for dice.com (which is a job-hunting site), and the precast concrete walls (verti-crete.com).

    Gotta love people who write regular expression-driven data mining bots to script their ads.

    A whole generation is relearning the maxim “data is not information” (while telling everyone how they don’t re-invent the wheel) :o).

    [Shamus] NSFW implies a whole lot more than “this content will make it obvious that you are goofing off“. It is usually used to indicate “pulling up this content will probably get you fired“.

    Nitpicker Steve

  60. Davesnot says:

    Uh.. what about Flyff.. pretty girls wearing not much over their naughty bits.. but they are cartoons AND animated in a Japanese style liked by this sites owner…

    And can I make a joke about not seeing the ads because I block them.. even though I’m blocking them with my mind.. if I look closely and force myself to comprehend the images my eyes are seeing.. well.. there are ads there.. ok.. I won’t make that joke.. tis a silly joke… not even a joke, really.. nevermind.

  61. Katy says:

    Saw an ad for http://www.AmericanSingles.com. Not sure if you still want a heads-up, but there ya go.

  62. Nazgul says:

    I’m seeing dice.com too, which seems to be coming up because it thinks it is related to real dice.Many others don’t seem related at all but don’t fall into NSFW or other banned categories.

    I think of NSFW as containing material that’s inappropriate for viewing in a work environment, like bikini girls, “hate speech”, bad language and such. At the tech companies I have worked for, it was perfectly acceptable to take a break and use the web on occasion, like catching up on the news while you ate lunch at your desk. It wasn’t an issue if you didn’t abuse the privilege. But it wasn’t acceptable to be checking out Victoria’s Secret babes or whatever when a coworker could walk in at any time.

    I use Adblock (which I dearly love) but have also whitelisted this site (and it’s the only one.) I have to say that so far I haven’t seen any truly relevant ads, and animated Flash ads like the Tiger Balm one drive me up the wall and only detract (distract) from the site content. But I’ll stick with it for a while and see if things improve.

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