Doing an Ad Test

I’ve put a test ad in the sidebar as an experiment to see how such a thing would look here at the Whatever, and to get feedback from you folks about it. The ad is not “real” (i.e., paid for, or, for that matter, professionally designed, since I whomped it up myself), but as it happens, the book mentioned did just come out, so I figured, what the hell, why not pimp my friend Elizabeth Bear.

Let me know your thoughts about placement, content, etc, as well as how you think having an ad in that position will have an impact on your interaction with the site. Thanks.

117 thoughts on “Doing an Ad Test

  1. Unless it is some very eye catching graphics I doubt I will notice it.

    I have trained my eyes to gloss over ads very well.

    Unless I know it is a site that I wish to look at the ads (Where I know the authors vet each ad, which is verra verra rare)

    A comment on the ad itself. I had to scroll my screen to see the whole thing. Which can be good to get people’s attention or bad if the ad just doesn’t catch the eye.

  2. An ad will probably not change my interaction with the site as I’m reading it mostly through the Google Reader.

  3. I’m fine with the placement of the ad, and I doubt it would affect my perusal of the site. I’d be more likely to click on ads that are for books or movies – any way to limit your ads to topics relevant to Whatever, if you decide to go the ad route?

  4. Ad? Meh, these are so ubiquitous in the blogworld, it’s not really something I’d have paid attention to if you hadn’t pointed it out.

  5. My interaction with your site is unlikely to change due to the presence of ads here. Especially if the ad is where you’ve placed it, where it wouldn’t really interact with the content in anyway. But, I am in fact more likely to buy things from sites who advertise on my favorite blogs. How else does one find things to buy?

  6. DavidK:

    At the moment I’m thinking that if I do go for ads, that I would place the ads myself rather than getting them through an ad network, precisely because I want ads that would be of interest to my audience.

  7. Like others, I read via RSS and only come to the site for real when I want to comment. That ad location wouldn’t bug me, looks fine.

  8. It seems minimal, not too terribly invasive. I’m for it.
    I would suggest keeping the advertising to things that are relevant to the general theme of your site.

  9. Like lysambre, I generally have your posts delivered to my RSS reader. I will say, however, that a small, tasteful ad at the end of such posts wouldn’t be too obtrusive. A couple of the other bloggers I read have started doing that, and I haven’t minded. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I’ve never actually clicked on one of those ads, but they haven’t made me stop reading or anything. I’m not an ad-clicker in general.)

  10. Oh and another comment. Admit it.. you have been having this site for the past 10 years doing strange shit (baconcat) and talking shit up just to build a readership so one day you could then include ads and retire.

    Admit it.

    (damn wish I had thought of the idea)

  11. tasteful and unobtrusive.

    Of course, Elizabeth Bear has a kick-ass title, so I think that helps some.

    :)

  12. An ad? Where?

    Oh, it’s over there >>

    I don’t think I would have noticed it, if you hadn’t pointed it out. I think the part of my brain that looks at data from there has become numb to ads, and doesn’t see them unless I look intentionally; sometimes I do notice ads that have authors, products, … that I enjoy.

    Probably why advertisments are becoming so conspicuous, sprawling all over the page, on other sites. This does not work, advertisers; it merely makes me irritated, and then determined to find a substitute for your annoying product.

  13. I have no problem with you putting ads on your blog. Especially if you are doing things like promoting csi-fi books. You could become an Amazon affiliate and pick some of your favorite new books, CDS, DVDs that are coming out and if any of your audience buys it from your ads you get a small percentage of the purchase.

    As someone in the internet advertising business you actually could do quite a bit of advertising that way and not advertise stuff you would not want to buy or use yourself and because your audience trusts you and is loyal and large you actually could probably make a pretty decent chunk of cash.

    Your weekly book Pimp could include a link to buy that book that you get a percentage from.

    I can’t believe you do so much work at this blog without any advertising except self promotion of your own work.

    Even PBS has a ton of advertising/promotion now.

    Do it. Do it right. Don’t feel guilty for putting ads on your blog.

  14. ooh. Fantasy by Elizabeth Bear? /me follows link …

    If the ads are targeted, as you say, it would be a Fine Thing. If we end up looking at vacuum cleaners, not so much. Well, unless it’s a fusion-powered vacuum cleaner with a tiny black hole in place of a bag.

  15. Static pictures off to the side as ads are fine by me.

    As for the possible effectiveness of the ad, I can’t really say–I’ve become used to not looking at the right side of the screen when I’m here, since what’s there generally doesn’t need my attention.

  16. mjfgates:

    Yeah, that vacuum cleaner would rock.

    Rob:

    I’m looking at various ideas but am opposed in a general sense to festooning the site with ads and/or making everything an income-bearing link. I’ve avoided putting ads on the site this long precisely because I didn’t want it to be a focus, so anything I do from this point forward will be, I hope, somewhat restrained. Which has the advantage of also focusing attention on the one thing that is advertised here on any given day, should I go that route.

  17. I’ve disabled adblock for your site, but could see it before that. The graphic size is good, and does not distract from the page. Now, as long as you keep annoying animated ads off, I’m fine with it.

  18. I had to scroll to actually see the ad which I find annoying. Otherwise, I don’t mind the size or placement and might actually click through to a book I am interested in.

  19. The ad seems fine to me. As long as it isn’t invasive (like those annoying animated ads they stick in the middle of news articles at MSNBC) and doesn’t feature inappropriate content (i.e. those ‘find local singles’ phone sex ads), I don’t have a problem with it.

  20. I like it.. it’s enough to notice, but not so much that it’s just distracting from the page. As long as you don’t get ads with sound, I’ll be happy. I tend to get away from pages with those ads pretty quickly.

  21. I’d be pleased to see ads like this one– I like the size and placement and I like the idea of you vetting the ads. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting.

    On the other hand, the vacuum cleaner would not rock. It would suck– all that spare change, gone. The earring on the floor, gone forever. Those useless but vital bits of the playmobil set, gone, gone, gone. What, you think you can empty your black hole once a month? I suppose you think this would be some sort of learning experience, i.e., “I told you not to leave your tail on the floor, Zeus….”?

  22. Oooh! I think I like it!!! Methinks it fits right in with everything else!!!
    Gotta go check out AtWS now :-)

  23. John,

    I’m fine with it. Looks good, is reasonably unobtrusive, etc. A few thoughts (and I do understand this is experimental and you’re considering redesigning at some point):

    1) Lose the calendar. Unless analytics show a lot of clicks from there, that’s kind of wasted space and could be used for an ad.

    2) tighten up the Whatever tagline (Taunting the tauntable…) and the search box to pull some stuff up.

    3) Design the ad section so it allows for 2 ads like the Bear one side by side in the, er, sidebars OR so that you can use 4 half-height ads.

    If it were me I’d think about doing one of the affilate programs for Amazon etc and linking the Big Idea book images to that using the affiliate code. Purchasers don’t pay extra and that could be nice revenue. I can imagine this presenting some issues for a well-known author though.

    Also think about sponsorships vs CPC ads. And if you’re placing them yourself… how are you tracking impressions, CTR, clicks etc? Or are you just thinking of using an ad network but manually approving each ad?

  24. As someone who recently found your site by a recommendation on “Boing Boing” and is now “hooked” on both your books and this site I will be happy to look at any ads for books etc. that you recommend.
    I am always on the lookout for SF/F books that I think I will enjoy and have already found some that have been mentioned by either you or your contributors, so the more the merrier.

  25. Just don’t give in to those stupid acai berry diet ads that are presently infesting Facebook. Quite frankly, I see nothing wrong with pimping books and things very relevant to readers of your site. Perhaps I click through to your entry and I discover someone’s put out a book I’d very much like to read, thanks to your ad system. Neatopete!

    I think the problem that most people have with ad systems is that they devolve into “Latest Hollywood Diet” and “Get your MBA in Dubai” with flashy graphics or random Google Image grabs and guess what, NO ONE CARES ABOUT THAT CRAP. It seems almost de rigeur these days on the larger websites one visits daily so everyone assumes that’s how it will always be.

    I see nothing wrong with the ads or the placement thereof, especially since you are planning to oversee it yourself and will, most assuredly, keep it relevant. As a matter of fact, I think it’s wonderful.

  26. The ad looks fine to me. I am, however, surprised to find that I’m the first to comment that “pimp” is a remarkably unfortunate choice of verb in that sentence. :)

  27. cranky usability girl here …

    If you’re going to include graphics in ads like that, please make sure that you’ve got text in the “alt” attribute of the image tag. In this instance, “tweaked version of *All the Windwracked Stars* cover image” would be sufficient.

    Doing that makes the graphic more usable for folks who’re using text/screen readers, reading your site via a smart phone or other lower bandwidth tool, etc.

  28. I’m with the many other RSS users. I only come “here” to check/participate in a potentially interesting comment thread.

    However, your cunning plan to get RSS junkies onto the site itself for a change has been noted. I came here to see what I’d be forced to see if I came here, which I don’t*. Well done.

    * Except when I do.

  29. As others have said they do, I read Whatever at Google Reader, so I would never know the ad was there. And if I *were* reading on your site, my God, man, how would I ever notice the ad with that day-glo leafy background?

  30. Ditto reading Whatever through Google Reader, mostly so I can avoid all the distractions on blogs and pages. I do check in on the actual site now and then to see what’s new on your sidebars/background/header.

  31. Seems fine, but large. Rather overpowering for my tastes. Having said that, if you put two ads at half that size that would be fine.

  32. I had to scroll soooooo far down the page to see if there were any new Whateverettes. I may have sprained my scrolling fingers. The lawsuit’s in the mail.

    ::Saved by Zero, Saved by Zero::

  33. Kenneth @ 34 and John @ 35: I think the leafy background and the turkey photograph up top are gorgeous and absolutely rock. I wanted to say so earlier, but it’s a bit off topic, so thanks for giving me a halfway plausible opening.

    I am fine with the ad. Like others, I might not normally have noticed it, but as I also read EBear’s site and have noted her latest book, it caught my attention as other books might not have done.

  34. I tend to read Whatever from Bloglines, so mostly I would never have seen it, and I’m enamored of Bear’s writing, so I certainly would never mind that one.

    It’s unobtrusive, but I hope that if you do decide to put up real ads that you do it pretty much in the way that you just did – off to the side and for something bookish – and that it is for something that you personally support or wish to advertise in some way.

    There’s nothing wrong with advertising for, say, cialis, but it would just seem out of place here.

  35. Ad is good. I am a big fan of the penny arcade ads. They fit with the theme and are generally reasonable. Pure text or cool pictures of book covers seem both good for this literate site.

    As though the site could be literate, eh? You get my drift.

  36. I think the ad works; it’s in an expected location, does not distract from the real content, and is contextually relevant. It doesn’t scream “sell-out!” to me…I would hope that people understand the sense of adding advertising to a successful site. We’re free to ignore the ads as we browse the content; why should we prevent you from receiving a financial return from this investment of your time?

    Of course, I *like* Bear. :-) If you suddenly started advertising for the John Birch Society, I might raise an eyebrow.

    cheers,
    L

  37. I think it’s fine. An ad or two on books or other stuff I’d probably like is a small burden for my eyes and the ad income to help keep Whatever from becoming a burden to you is large.

  38. If you are hand-selecting ads for interest to the Whatever target audience, I heartily approve. I think you know the audience well enough to do that.

  39. The location seems fine, and as long as the ad’s for stuff that you’re willing to be associated with*, I don’t see why not.

    *For example, Ann Coulter’s new book

  40. I’ve probably picked up a dozen books, and started on that many author’s works, because you’ve pointed them out here. A very sincere “Thank you, John” (and to those authors, too, along with a hearty “write more, please!”)

  41. I like it so far. Particular reasons:

    1: It’s not obtrusive or flashing or obnoxious.

    2: It’s related (somewhat) to the site’s content, and therefore something I’d bother checking.

    3: Whatever you’re using to host it, it isn’t being blocked by my script blockers. Then again, this may just be because it’s a mockup. Nevertheless, not using intrusive ad scripts is good in my book.

    4: The description is kinda nice. If you keep that up, I may glance over there when I’m thinking about new books.

  42. I approve of the ad placement. The giant turkey, however, is scaring the crap out of me. (But it does put me in mind of a fun Terry Pratchett reference — “his eyes! Like gimlets!!” — so it’s all good.)

  43. Thank you for not making it a processor-sucking flash ad. I’ve had to stop checking some sites as often (*cough* boingboing) because my computer freezes up for two minutes every time I load the home page.

  44. Doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I have clicked on several sidebar ads that seem interesting to me. On PVPonline. for instance, there are ads for different games and books and comics that go very well with the site.

    So, yeah, if they are tailored to this site and, obviously, to your taste, I would actually enjoy seeing good ads on this site.

  45. What sidebar? Oh, in http. Nice ad. I love eBear.

    Sorry, you don’t use scalable text on your website, so I always read the RSS version. Your web site text is too tiny to be read comfortably.

    Hey, nice turkey. Shame about the tiny text, though.

    Regards,
    Jack Tingle

  46. No Flash ads!

    For Adobe Flash is the language of the devil, written in the blood of the innocent, and a hideous sevenfold curse falls upon any webmaster so foolish as to employ it.

    The curse involves boils. Followed shortly thereafter by blood falling from the skies, the unsealing of the Outer Gates, and impotence.

  47. Looks good, John. The appeal is enhanced by the look and subject of this ad; if you continue to hand-pick (or, hypothetically, build) ads in this vein, they could become an attractive feature of the site rather than merely a cost of doing business for your readers.

    But unless you start running ads that are stroboscopic, they won’t affect my reading habits. And even if they did, it would only mean that I read a higher proportion of your posts via RSS instead of on the site.

  48. I believe that bloggers should be able make a living from their efforts or at least buy a cup of coffee from time to time. I second the idea of being an Amazon affiliate. I would actually click through to see what you were advertising. I think that some ad networks give you control over the categories displayed, but “hard sf written by my friends” may be too fine grained. As others have said, no animation. Go for it. Get rich.

  49. No flash ads, no sound or music. Therefore – I’m cool with the ad.

    Won’t selling ad space be more work when the point is to work less and make more money? I really don’t care if you have a vacuum cleaner ad – I’m in the market for one, an ad would be useful to me – as long as I don’t have to worry that you’re gonna ruin my tunes or I have to censor ads from my kids. As Athena is roughly the same age as my daughters, I’m not worried.

  50. The placement is just right for me, I can see it if I want to and ignore it if I want to do that.

    What Elaine said @32 about alt text.

  51. Also, after actually clicking on the ad, the book sounds really interesting. I don’t want to shell out the money to buy the hardcover right now, but I’ll have to put it on my ever-growing list of things to read.

  52. I generally read your blog via an RSS feed but often click into your actual site to see the comments depending on the content on the blog. The ad is fine with me. The ones I find annoying are the ones that temporarily obscure the content that I’m interested in and then scroll up or disappear. I don’t think that you’re likely to resort to that sort of advertising, though.

  53. John, what you have is fine. Three thoughts, though:

    1. Lots of people, me among them, are reading via RSS and coming to the site just to see comments. These people probably won’t even see the ad in its current location; there’s too much competition for the eye, and they’re likely to skip past the first chunk of real estate anyway because they’ve already read the post. I personally only look at that part of the screen if I want something specific (e.g., to go to a certain recent post).

    Put the ads right below “The Blatherations of Others”, just to the right of the main content, and this segment of your readers be more likely to see and click them.

    2. Along the same line, you’ve got prime real estate to the right of the “Leave a Reply” section. That’s a perfect spot for one or two ads.

    3. I know you want to hand-select ads, and more power to you, but you might experiment with Google ads. I hate Google, for the most part — they’re Microsoft 2.0 — but they’re really good at making sure that their ads are contextually relevant.

  54. >>>3. I know you want to hand-select ads, and more power to you, but you might experiment with Google ads. I hate Google, for the most part — they’re Microsoft 2.0 — but they’re really good at making sure that their ads are contextually relevant.

    They might be relevant, but they’re also invariably ugly. This test ad (and, I would hope, other ads that John might pick) is relatively attractive and doesn’t seem too out of place. The only way to have a site with ads that isn’t hideous from both a design and aesthetic perspective is to have a style of ad that fits in with the site’s design. This sample ad does. Google ads wouldn’t.

  55. If the ads are handpicked by you, because they’re things you like and think we would like too, then that’s just dandy. That’s basically an extension of the Big Idea and other concepts, and I’d look forward to those sorts of recommendations.

    I find myself clicking on pretty ads mostly when they’re linking to books or other fannish things anyway. A generic ad like the ones we’re seeing all over the left blogosphere, that one about “5 tips to get a a flat stomach”, just annoy me majorly. Please don’t do that, though I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t.

    Nicely designed fake ad, BTW, from one design-dabbler to another.

  56. The ad is fine: small, subtle, contextually appropriate.

    The screaming red-yellow-orange Autumn migraine theme off to the sides, however… AARRGGGHH! MY EYES!! I may never recover.

  57. As long as it doesn’t flash at me, or scroll, or otherwise go out of its way to annoy the hell out of me, I’m good with it. Placement is good.

  58. Didn’t even see it until you pointed it out. And even then, I didn’t really look at it. So it’s a great success from my point of view. If you can find someone stupid enough to pay you for that kind of thing, more power to you.

  59. It looks nice-and if you’re going to have an ad, a tower ad on the right sidebar seems like a good choice for placement. A bunch of tower/banner/button ads on a blog do make it feel a little less like a blog and a little more newsy but that’s obviously not the case on here.

  60. I would have to go with the others who said that they wouldn’t have noticed it _as an ad_ until you pointed it out as such. However I certainly did look at it which should be music to an advertiser’s ears. After all the whole point of paying you to advertise on your site would be to have people look at the bloody advert!

  61. No problem with the ad at all, especially if it’s the sort of tightly focused on-topic thing you’ve got now. And I suspect there’s a few different ad groups you could actually work with that would help you do ads that are still very specific anyway (or you could organise something like this: http://decknetwork.net/ — a small and specific ad network for designers and web people. Something should exist for writers/SF/fantasy people, what with all the major bloggers in that group.)

    Design-wise, it does seem a little too big, especially with the graphic, followed by the text. It would be better to either make a smaller graphic then add the text, or put all the text within the graphic.

  62. Okay, thinking outside the box here, but maybe you could kill two birds with one stone, and just have ads for your own stuff. You’ve already got probably the best target audience right here on your blog, right? :)

    Oh, wait, the people here have already bought your stuff. Nevermind.

    Definitely ads for bacon, then. And cats. Good thing the Web doesn’t have smell-o-vision technology yet.

  63. I read many blogs daily including this one. Many via an RSS feed, but I often click through to the website.

    I honestly couldn’t tell you which of my regular blogs carries ads and which don’t.

    If you hadn’t mentioned it, I might never have realized that you don’t carry ads. I probably won’t notice if/when you do begin to carry them.

    You put an awful lot of work into this website and it shows. If you can make money from ad placement, you should.

  64. I don’t mind the ad at all. Heck, you found me something else to read, and for that I am always grateful.

  65. The ad looks quite nice actually and I think any ads for books to sci fi sites or other related topics could actually be a benefit to the site rather than a detraction, in the same way as site links are.

  66. Relevant static images off to the side as ads are just fine, but if you go the route of blinking flash animations, I will start browsing Whatever with My Favorite Text Based Browser!

  67. Speaking as someone who’s run ad-supported sites in the past, I’d say it’s way too unobtrusive over there. If you’re being paid per click (and IME the best-paying campaigns always are per click), you’ll not get very much from it.

    Personally, I’d be putting a small horizontal ad across either above the main article text or between the article and the comments. If I really was set on a vertical layout, I’d move the column containing the ad onto the left of the site, rather than the far right, in order to keep the ad close to the main article.

    And I second the suggestion that a small, unobtrusive (i.e. text) ad at the bottom of the RSS feeds would be a good idea.

    If you decide to keep the current placement, I’d say the ad is a little too tall. On my browser (currently 990×855 pixels) I can’t see the top of the graphic and read the reviews underneath the graphic without scrolling between the two, which isn’t ideal.

  68. The ad size and placement looks fine and is about how I thought it would look when you posted some time ago thinking about putting in ads on The Whatever.

  69. I’m also coming from google reader, so I generally won’t see it. I think it would look better if there were a little more space between the image and vertical dotted line to its left (like The Big Idea has). Pretty minor nitpick though.

  70. Like a lot of people, I wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t pointed it out. The only other site I ever really notice the ads is Penny-arcade, as I know they vet each ad and only put up stuff they’re genuinely positive about.

    If you do the same thing, then I’ll add you to my mental whitelist too ;)

    Also – I second the no animated/flash ads suggestion. The only reasonable response to those is mild annoyance when they somehow manage to slip through the blocker. Maybe “instigating mild annoyance” equals “any publicity” in some people’s minds, but hopefully you are not one of those people.

  71. I don’t find that ad intrusive – I’m not sure I would have picked up on it as a nad if you had not pointed it out. Like several others, I would find an animated or flashing ad offputting. Other than that, go for it

  72. Hi John,

    You worry too much about the whole “placing ads on the Whatever” issue.

    Just do it John, get some money, buy a Porsche.

    Love from Buenos aires,

    Diego

  73. I don’t mind ads as long as they don’t blink.

    If they blink, well, then there will be head-screen, head-keyboard and keyboard-screen impacts. And a cluster collision of the previous items against the nearest wall.

    That sample ad is fine. It doesn’t blink.

    It would be bad if it did.

  74. Although I have broad-band access, some of unlucky souls do not… 112KB is a heckuva download on dialup just for an ad!

    Drew

  75. I too read mostly through RSS and so didn’t even see it.

    Another blog I read through RSS puts the ad as pure text in the last line of the feed.

    Assuming they’re relevant that would be good.

  76. I’m with others: if it blinks at me, it dies. But of course, I have control over that. If not, especially if it’s “stuff Scalzi likes” as well as the money, go for it. After all, haven’t you been regularly running ads for “stuff Scalzi might like” IN the blog for years? So much so that you have chosen to make a page just for the ads? Happy to have you make money on the idea, especially if it offsets bandwidth costs.

    But if it blinks at me, it dies. And as collateral damage, so does anything else that appears in that spot.

  77. Mycroft W & others:

    “If not, especially if it’s ‘stuff Scalzi likes’ as well as the money, go for it.”

    Well, to be clear, I would happily accept an ad that’s for a book I’m not personally interested in, but which I think might be of interest to folks visiting here. I do that already with “The Big Idea” — I haven’t loved every book that’s been feature in that, but I thought the writer might have interesting things to say nevertheless.

    The bottom line for ads would not necessarily be personal enthusiasm, but general appropriateness.

  78. I didn’t notice it before you mentioned that it was there, but then again – I don’t look much at the sidebars anyway – except for when I’m bored, that is. I’m not bored right now. I’m tired – I’ll go make some coffee now.

  79. I had to scroll back up to see the ad, because I hadn’t even noticed it. Should we say that here? I don’t want to bring down your ad revenues… I can imagine potential advertisers scanning your site and seeing a bunch of people saying, “There’s an ad? Really? Where?”

    But of course, then they would look at your traffic counts and get over it.

  80. Hi John,

    That looks good but I think you could do better by using the 320×200 rectangle ad (standard size) and having it sit atop your two right columns. It would still be out of the way but it might be noticed a bit more than the skyscraper way over on the right. Make your advertisers happier.

    Also, it’s hard for a novice artist to work with such a narrow vertical space, the rectangle is simply easier to design for. This would mean you could take ads form individual authors that would be that much more meaningful to us your readers… and they would be able to leverage friends and cheap labor to create the ads.

    Cam

  81. For some reason I mind it less knowing that you made it yourself.

    I think it would bother me a little if someone else had produced it. It’d seem like some stranger put up a garage sale sign arrow in my front-yard showing the way to someone else’s house.

    I don’t mind them as long as you keep making the ads.

  82. The ad is fine, fairly unobtrusive in placement, doesn’t get in the way of reading the posts, but still prominent enough to notice.

    Also, that’s some interesting armor she’s wearing.

  83. That ad is fine, it’s placement and it is not distacting. I just don’t like those animated ads, they distracy me. If your advertising books or thing of that nature, I could see myself automaticaly looking in that direction to see whats being sold today. I may want to buy it.

  84. Great choice for a book, John. Everybody else, go and read! 21st/22nd century contemporary Norse mythology (sorta); what’s not to like?????

  85. Ewan:

    “The right-hand-side placement is (for me) much better than the between-post-and-comments option you trialled previously.”

    Those weren’t ads, they were just (allegedly) related links.

  86. Sidebar ads look fine – I skim them and occasionally click through if they look interesting.

    But please for the love of bacon and other holy things, please don’t use animated / flash / javascript / etc advertising that jumps out over the articles, makes noise, or causes obsolete browsers like mine to crash. I already had to stop reading my local newspaper online because they’ve got some advertiser running the latest, greatest version of something on their front page that gives my old G4 some terrible indigestion.

  87. Hey! There’s an ad. Never noticed it. If you start doing anything that moves or flashes, I will probably start having to read your site in text-only version. It’s a hassle to switch back and forth, so I probably wouldn’t visit as often if that was the case.

  88. I’m just chiming in to say “Oh, there’s an ad? What? Where? Does it mention bacon?”

    Didn’t even notice it until you pointed it out, as others have mentioned, I think my brain just completely blanks out unobtrusive ads.

    Which is good in the sense of “unobtrusive ads on Whatever would not bother me” and bad in the sense of “I would probably not ever be influenced by one” which kind of defeats the purpose of an advertisement.

    Heh.

  89. John, I just didn’t see it.

    That is my bad eye, but I think I am just used to seeing ads on the right rail, and my brain didn’t engage with it.

    I would have no issue with any ads here.

    That book? Gonna read it anyway. ;)

  90. I think too many people have commented on the fact that they like it because it’s unobtrusive. It shows that they won’t notice your ads enough to make the kind of revenue that you could. Ads obtrude. (Is that a word?) They don’t have to be flashy and distracting — I hate those as much as anyone else does — but if your ads don’t get noticed, then they don’t get clicked, and one of your key metrics is going to be cost per click.

    I’m not saying that you should change the placement, just that if your goal is revenue generation then you’ve probably chosen a non-optimal placement.

  91. I noticed the ad, but didn’t mind it at all. Three reasons:

    1. It didn’t flash. I hate flashing ads, and will never, ever, ever buy anything that is advertised that way, even if it guarantees I will look like Cindy Crawford and have a billion dollars magically show up in my bank account.

    2. It is site-appropriate. This is a blog that (mostly) talks about writing and the state of the publishing industry, with specific focus on SF. The ad is for a new book by a contemporary SF writer. Other commonalities (your age and EBear’s, your relative prominence and paths of success) make it that much more appropriate. People who read Scalzi may very well enjoy reading EBear.

    3. It is low-key. It doesn’t tout the book so much as simply remind the blog-reader that the book is out. That is the proper role of advertising: to remind the consumer that something they may want to know about is available. The hard sell doesn’t work in print advertising; it puts consumers off. This sort of low-key ad is a win/win: people who are interested in EBear’s stuff get a useful reminder, and people who aren’t yet interested get a ping that her books exist.

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