What’s your take on advertising on blogs?

These days we’re dog paddling in a sea of advertising. There are no public places and places offline or online where we are free from being targeted by advertisers. Different demographic groups have differing responses to advertising saturation. For the youngest among us it’s the norm. For the eldest, it’s a rude and unwelcome intrusion.

advertisingAdvertising tolerance

I’m a long time blogger, who truly loves living the a simple life on a small forested island with a very low population. I actually draw water from my own well and chop waste wood to burn for heat.

I’m a low income earner who knows that beyond a minimum threshold of poverty, money doesn’t buy happiness. I’m into creating more happiness by making do with with less stuff. When I need something that cannot be found in a recycle spot or charity shop then I buy local.

I don’t take expensive trips to exotic locations around the world and then blog on the the simple life.  Nor do I continually reach into my wallet to purchase tons of books and online courses to create a circle of cyber friends to replace the friends I could have offline,  if I got off my butt and got out to meet people face to face.

Yes indeed, I’m an old-time blogger who can can clearly recall when the blogosphere was not a marketplace as it is today. Granted we are all marketing our thoughts, insights and opinions by publishing blogs today as we did in the 1990’s but that’s not what Courtney is referring to in her post that I’d like to share with you now.

The future of advertising is up to us. If more blogs and businesses focused on what they do best and featured less advertising, perhaps we’d pay better attention to what they have to say.

What do you think? Do you like advertising on blogs? Pop-ups? Lots of stuff going on in the sidebar? From: How I Really Feel About Advertising

Demographics and advertising tolerance

Demographic studies assist with targeting a specific audience with specific characteristics, including gender, age, education, and income level. This year there has been lots of talk about how the media and advertisers are focused on appealing to the young and are ignoring Baby Boomers. 18 to 39 year olds are the prime demographic target for advertisers as they slowly replace their parents in the marketplace. Call me a curmudgeon; I’m not worried about the loss of focus.

I’m not privy to any stats WordPress.com Staff keep with regard to which demographic group is the most likely to (1) apply to have their blogs on custom domains included in the WordAds program, (2) or to purchase a No-Ads upgrade as I have for mine. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if  the (1)  group are the Echo Boomers and the (2) group are the Baby Boomers.

I am a Baby Boomer

For decades, marketers have targeted Baby Boomers, the largest generational demographic in history.  Hence, it’s no wonder that  demographic studies reveal there is the backlash to this assault on our generation. It is university educated baby boomers who are the least tolerant demographic group when it comes accepting on blog advertising.

Baby Boomers constitute a sizable portion of consumers in the European and North American markets and around the world and our spending habits have a powerful influence on all economies.

Many misconceptions surround the marketing viability of today’s Baby Boomers. We have the highest incomes of any age group in developed countries. In North America we are as spending twice the amount of 18 to 39 year olds spend. Baby Boomers Are Surpassing Gen-Y As Entrepreneurs. Though Baby boomers control 70% of American’s disposable income, only 5% of advertising is geared towards our age group.

” Never betray your style. You are who you are, and your audience follows you because of who you are.” (Hat Tip to James for his Your Readers are People article.)

It’s important not to lump all Baby Boomers together as that does not take into account sub-groups and behavioral differences. There are the conventional Baby Boomers who were and are much like their parents. There are the Yuppies who are wealthy professionals with two or more cars in their climate controlled garages and two or more homes, who adore traveling to foreign countries “on the cheap”. There are the Hippies who had the level education to become professionals but turned their backs on the consumer driven society and urban living, Granted, there are other Baby Boomer sub-groups too but their numbers are less significant.

Baby Boomers, 8,000 of whom turn 65 each day in America, have reinvented each stage of life they’ve entered, from young adulthood to careers to parenting. And whether they’re working or retired, wealthy or on a fixed income, living alone or with other seniors, they aim to redefine what it means to be old. – Why companies are failing to cash in on flood of aging Baby Boomers worth US$15-trillion

In the main Baby Boomers aren’t inclined to become faithful followers of blogs that feature advertising.  That’s because most ads are not personally relevant to us and do not offer any value to our lives. Sure we Boomers and Silver Surfers put up with advertising on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, where we communicate with friends and family but we don’t dig it and buy in because we aren’t a “follower” generation.  We are a skeptical generation. Many of us dropped out of the consumer driven society while still living in it and others dropped out completely and moved back to the land.

When it comes to Baby Boomers the few exceptions re: online advertising tolerance are self improvement ebooks and/or courses or other products and services focused on lifestyle changes, many of which are often made available free of charge.

Clearly most Baby Boomers aren’t easily seduced by trendy neuro-bunk.

Molly Crockett: Beware neuro-bunk

Neuroscientist Molly Crockett studies altruism, morality and value-based decision-making in humans. Brains are ubiquitous in modern marketing: Headlines proclaim cheese sandwiches help with decision-making, while a “neuro” drink claims to reduce stress. There’s just one problem, says neuroscientist Molly Crockett: The benefits of these “neuro-enhancements” are not proven scientifically. In this to-the-point talk, Crockett explains the limits of interpreting neuroscientific data, and why we should all be aware of them.

So where do I really stand on blog advertising?

In Minimalist Blogging: Strip it! and Blogging: How to lose me as a reader posts, I revealed I’m a less is more blogger. Given the amount of advertising  I experience everywhere in my life and the fact that I cannot escape it, the tiniest bit of advertising on a blog repels me.

Clearly the commenters on Courtney’s How I Really Feel About Advertising post that I linked to above dislike pop-ups I dislike them too.  Does anyone like them? And, does anyone like banner ads?

  1. Seriously, is there anything more annoying than a banner image that links to a third party site! That’s deceptive linking.
  2. Is there anything more aggravating than experiencing a subscription pop-up in your face before you have read a full post? How arrogant.
  3. How do you feel about sidebars full of  Google Adsense ads and/or junky ads for third party merchandise and services? They distract me from reading content.
  4. Are you seduced into following blogs due to giveaways, gift draws and/or sponsored interviews?  If bribery is your thing or your are susceptible  to it, then clearly we are not compatible.
  5. Do you extend any credence to bloggers who claim they need to make a little income on the side by pimping their blog out for pennies? I don’t.

Without an iota of doubt I’m adverse to all of those approaches. I come only to read your original content so give me break and clear that crap off your blog please.  If you need help learning how to attract more readers honorably read and act on Twenty five steps to increase blog traffic.

I don’t run an AdBlocker

For years I ran an AdBlocker and pop-up blockers on my browsers so I could free myself from witnessing what I did not want to view on blogs.  This spring I made a change and since then I no longer run an AdBlocker and pop-up blocker, so I see it all and grieve the fact that the blogopshere has been completely corrupted by avaricious opportunism.

If you do market products you personally make and or services you personally provide on your blog – good on you. Provided you set up your type of blog with a products and services page and don’t promote what you sell rapaciously in every post you publish, you won’t lose me as a reader.  But do note that I don’t feel the same way about paid or sponsored content and third party advertising at all.

Unlike those who are prepared to accept third party advertising that’s matched to blog content and who ascribe to the PPC little dab will do you in the right place on the blog notion – I reject any attempt to rationalize milking your readers for pennies.

I rarely visit product review blogs so if I’m reading your blog it’s not because I will solely rely on your opinion is re: any commercial product or service or because I hope to “win” a sponsored giveaway.  I’m a skilled researcher who can find anything commercially produced or provided without your help and I don’t need any bribes masquerading as gifts – thanks.  Sharing your brand preference with me is more likely to drive me off your blog than to encourage me to stay because I’m a free thinking no-brand shopper. So unless you reach into your wallet and purchase every item you review, the likelihood that I would ascribe any objectivity to your review will be non-existent.

If I’m reading your blog then we have a common interest and are both likely to be reading the same related blogs in the niche.  Consequently, I already know who is flogging whatever in for example, the personal development niche  – thanks.

Please don’t assume you can still keep me as a reader because you can’t and won’t, if you embed affiliate links and other make money links advertising your blogging buddies’ blogs, products and services into your content post after post. If you do then I won’t be reading your blog frequently and I won’t be commenting. I’ll simply love you from a distance instead.

Advertising on blogs neither informs nor entertains me. At the least, it distracts and annoys me. At the most it angers me.

Now it’s your turn to share where you stand. What’s your take on third party advertising on blogs?

Related post:  Advertising on WordPress.com blogs

100 thoughts on “What’s your take on advertising on blogs?

  1. I am so glad I found this post and have bookmarked it. I love blogging for so many reasons, mostly because I love writing, sharing information, and I love visual images combined with stories. But I have to admit, every once in a while I wonder, “I wonder if I could make any money doing this,” and I do get so frankly pissed off when I find a blog I think I like and then I just get constant “how to make millions doing nothing” emails over and over again. Right now I’m just having fun . . . who knows where it goes . . . .

    1. Best wishes to you no matter which direction you take in the future but do follow your head and listen to your gut. Following your heart is bunk when it comes to making a living. Some say a sucker is born every minute and I think that’s wrong. From what I see I think there must be millions of suckers born every minute.

      Bloggers who think they can make a living from online ads, affiliate sales and book sales are legion but the vast and overwhelming majority don’t last long. Do some longevity checks of monetized sites that you think are similar to one you may want to create in the future. It will be an eye-opener for you as those who actually make enough to pay their basic computing, hosting and related blogging expenses plus a little cash, not their living expenses, are few in number and of that I have no doubt. I’m was so sick of the greed that drives everything online that I blogged this rant last October and I stand by it now.

  2. Hello, TT. Long time. I figured I’d stop by… and online ads is a sore spot for me. I do find them intrusive, overall.

    I do not use an ad-blocker; instead, I have an edited hosts file, which largely accomplishes the same thing, but closer to the source. I have set other family members up with this edited hosts file. Mostly, I defend my right to this solution, but I do feel a little bad when I see a message on a site saying something to the effect of “You’re blocking our ads, please don’t, because we need to pay our bills!” I also wish I had money to purchase a No-Ads upgrade… I’m still miffed that ads might appear on my blog at all. I am not ready for self-hosted yet.

    Speaking of Boomers and Milennials… why no mention of Generation X? I am just barely in that demographic being 39, but my wife is 44. That market targeting is probably hit or miss for us. No, wait… definitely miss. Even online, I get tons of ads aimed at seniors, just by dint of me being on Social Security disability. I think the missus does, too. We are already further away from the regular squeeze that Gen X gets between Boomers and Milennials already (I’m already rambling too badly to explain what I am reading); I cannot even imagine trying to get employment right now (if and how it was possible), much less try to care how advertising targets us, unless, as I said, they get it spectacularly wrong.

    1. It’s so cool to see this comment here but sadly I have not time to reply as I have people coming from dinner and as usual I’m not ready yet. Sending you my best and will reply when I can, ok?

      1. Yes ma’am– I am familiar with the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving (vs. the U.S. version) and did read a few of your posts and comments as such.

        I remembered I hadn’t heard back from you because another blogger I am following made a post asking about going Pro, and I am referring her to your site here. Yet I figured I’d reply just to let you know that I was still awaiting your reply. No rush, honest… I have lots of time.

    2. @jaklumen
      My AdBlocker was been reinstalled on the weekends I cannot stand what I am seeing. It makes me so unhappy that I am choosing to block it all. When I see this:
      a message on a site saying something to the effect of “You’re blocking our ads, please don’t, because we need to pay our bills!” I don’t feel bad at all.

      why no mention of Generation X?

      I didn’t have anything to reference – that’s all. LOL :)

  3. What a wonderful post, timethief! Sounds like we have similar values. I prefer no ads. I buy local. I don’t chop wood, however. Sorry to be so late getting here. Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  4. Well said.
    Blinking dancing screaming ads are annoying on sites.

    I know WP needs to make money and so ads appear on blogs, but it’s annoying. (unless it’s your option and you are getting paid – or your blog is about products and reviews.)

    Recently there was a blog tip post about making sure your blog is visually appealing – which many of us try to do – then there’s some ad that you have no control of subject/style glued on.

    Like Sun up there, headed eventually to paying to keep ads off.

  5. Hi folks,
    This is to let you know I treasure every comment I receive. I do reciprocate and Tweet posts from my commenters too when I do. Please forgive me for not answering immediately this weekend. I’ll be behind in responding to your comments as my friends have arrived to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving weekend with us. I haven’t seen them for months and intend to spend as much time as I can with them.

      1. I did. It was a great Thanksgiving weekend. My friends and I cooked and feasted and spent hours just catching up on everything that happened in the months we hadn’t seen each other.

  6. Argh! I am currently weeping and gnashing my teeth. Why you ask? Well, I apparently am a well intentioned baby boomer who is living under a large rock…..I was not aware that readers of my blog are subjected to advertising!

    I am so embarrassed and ashamed of my ignorance of this issue. As soon as I finish my Monday morning WP reader ritual, I am going to find out how much I need to pay to make my blog the ad free journal I thought it was. To my readers…..I am sorry.

    To timethief…..THANK YOU! You opened my eyes to this abomination. Keep on going!

    1. You’re welcome but please do not be embarrassed or ashamed. The fact you cannot view the ads when you are logged in means most of your WordPress.com readers are not aware of them either. Added to those are the many who use AdBlockers.

  7. I see money cannot even buy manners these days.

    Love ya Time Thief, you are a Queen of the Web. Lots to think about in this post as I am contemplating the .org version of WordPress.

    1. Hi there,
      Ah so you noticed the young woman with the bad manners. Sadly, they are as common and as pernicious online as they are offline but they don’t phase me. They aren’t the majority. I’ve mentored several young people from well to do families as well as those from middleclass and working poor families. They all found that cultivating good manners was a worthwhile investment, because their manners and attitudes helped them get great practicum placements for experience that led to good job placements later on.

      None of the WordPress.com plans http://store.wordpress.com/bundles/ allow you to run advertising or to upload your own themes or plugins. WordPress.com blogs cannot be equipped for eCommerce transactions with shopping carts. If you need a site that requires a custom theme or plugins — e.g., if you want to be able to sell things directly from your site then a self-hosted WordPress site might be right for you.

      Self hosted WordPress.org software is free of charge. All one pays for is hosting and associated site management costs. WordPress.org offers free software that you can install on a web server. You can upload and install themes and plugins, run ads, and edit the database. Learn about the differences here. http://support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

  8. I accept that advertising is here – everywhere – to stay. I suspect there are ads on my blog, but they are not made visible to the blogger. (Advertisers should let us know what they’re running on our blogs.) I would have a HUGE problem with any inappropriate ads or ones that don’t fit the content of my blog.

    The problem for advertisers, as I see it, is over-saturation. People see so many ads that they just tune them out. As for advertisers’ views on the older generation: they’ve always given the older folks short shrift. Which is short sighted. Maybe the older generation (I’m among them) has more brand loyalty than the younger generation, but we also have more disposable income.

    1. Hi there Judy,
      I do apologize for the wait. It was a long and busy week that’s soon to be replaced by another one. Oy vey!

      You needn’t be worried about inappropriate ads as WordPress.com ads are family friendly and many readers are using AdBlockers.

      re: The problem for advertisers, as I see it, is over-saturation.
      You’re right about that. However, I’m not sure you also right about the advertiser’s always giving older people the short shrift. I think there was a time when advertising was targeted at adults ie. after the war. I think that advertising to younger target groups and eventually to kids slowly crept in via TV. Some research demonstrates that baby boomers were a favored target until their kids became teens and that’s when the shift took place.

      Though baby boomers have the highest incomes of any age group in developed countries today, we are also the most resistant to ads and the most likely to challenge any false claims being made. That makes the younger demographic groups who are advertising tolerant and “brand hooked” the most attractive targets for advertising offline and online.

  9. I’ll start off by saying I’m a Gen X-er. I don’t know how that positions me as a consumer but there you have it. Next I’ll say that I do have WordAds on my blog. I debated doing it b/c I find blogs littered with ads up and down the sidebar visually unappealing and distracting. However, I decided to give it a try.

    I put so much time and love into my blog that I wanted to eventually turn what is a passion into my (paying) job. Why shouldn’t doing what I love bring in a little cash flow? I already have a full time job but it doesn’t pay (stay at home moms know what I mean). Granted…the payout for WordAds is pretty terrible but the day that $100 was deposited into my bank account I was thrilled! It may not have been much but it was affirmation that I could do what I love, write w/o compromising my content and get a little pocket change.

    Writing content that is relevant to you and your readers is one thing and clogging your blog w/ sponsored posts and reviews is another. Personally, when I do have sponsored posts I try to keep them few and far between and only accept jobs that are relevant to my life and blog. All that being said I really appreciate your perspective and is important to keep in mind when deciding what type of ads or sponsored posts to put up.

      1. I’ve read through the advertising policy several times since I started using WP.com to make sure I’m not breaking any rules. I run WordAds b/c it seems to be the exception to the rule. Recently I did a sponsored post that was because WordPress presented me the opportunity via WordAds.

  10. I abhor popups. Any advertising should be relevant to the content of the blog/post. Perhaps there should be a website or a dozen wedsites devoted just to advertising, so that if you WANT to read ads, they aren’t forced on you.

    1. Hi there,
      We share that opinion abhorrence of pop-up ads with millions of others. Did you know that the Firefox Adblock Plus 2.4 browser addon has 17,106,090 users. I’m trying to go cold turkey but as you can tell by this post I’m struggling with my advertising aversion. Your idea is an interesting one that would probably go over well with those in more youthful demographic groups. The research demonstrates that they actually find some ads to be entertaining and amusing.

  11. I’m older than baby boomers. For us elders the ads were on newspaper pages, tv, etc. If one is engrossed in an article or story, one merely reads around the ad — i.e., ignore it. If one wants to buy something, one looks for the available advertising, which at one time was usually located near similar actual topics, as in sports equipment on sports pages. What I find both annoying and amusing is something like this: I go visit my usual British site to get away from local stuff and front and center see something like an ad for a local politician. At least it should be a British politician.

    1. Hi there,
      You sound just like my parents who read around everything and who never seemed to notice ads on buses or in public places and spaces either. I don’t have whatever they had that made them immune to advertising. I seem to have developed such a strong advertising aversion over the years. It’s an aversion I wasn’t particularly aware of until I disabled my AdBlocker. Now I’m seeking to let go of it and hopefully reach the point where I no longer feel annoyed by them.

  12. I don’t like advertising on blogs and follow very few blogs which feature any advertising at all.

    As mine is a Blogspot blog, i don’t need to have advertising on it unless I choose to go with Google’s Adsense, which I don’t As a university-educated baby boomer I am, as you say, highly resistant to advertising altogether, and though I regularly (though not very frequently) receive approaches from commercial firms who want me to accept advertising or sponsorship or guest posts on my blog, I always politely refuse. :-)

    1. @Perpetua
      You have a great blog so I’m not surprised that you get propositions by email for ads. I’ve spend years politely refusing and have reached my limit now. My patience has run out so I’m no longer responding to them lest I type something rude in a reply.

      I just read your The joys of country living post and like you I had been through an incident that was a turning point. I don’t take running water for granted since my hubby forgot to turn off a hose in our early years and we learned a hard lesson from that. Suffice to say we have never made that same mistake again. When we have company for the city we have to be on our toes when it comes reminding them that conservation is required.

  13. I agree with this article. My blog focuses on how to achieve a sustainable mindset, which must come before sustainable behavior, and the first thing I like to draw attention to is the way advertisement pollutes our minds. Their ultimate goal is to create artificial needs in us so that we will spend money on stuff that we don’t need, or even particularly wanted, before the constant onslaught of advertisement claiming to sell us happiness, popularity and status by buying objects.

    I don’t watch TV and I have had ad-block installed for as long as I can remember so in my daily life I come across minimal advertisement. So little, in fact, that when I do I often have to pause and take the curiosity in because it seems so silly to me now. But countless studies have proven that when exposed to the same message over time, our brains retain it, no matter how banal. Unfortunately, most advertisement isn’t banal because they are selling us very unrealistic expectations of life (beauty, sexuality, status, income, etc) that have very real life implications and causing a lot of pain and damage in our society.

    So needless to say, I am against random ads and some of the more targeted ones too but eventually you figure out which bloggers who are just trying to make a buck. Once I become more comfortable with my wordpress blog I will also invest in the no-ads upgrade, because having ads on my blog so defeats the purpose of my message!

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks so much for commenting here. It’s so good to meet you and I enjoyed reading your blog BIG TIME. I especially liked your 10 Steps to a Sustainable Life collection and I have tweeted it. We have common interests and are without doubt on the same page as you will discover if you visit my personal blog.

  14. I don’t like having ads on my site, but understand that WP need revenue for providing a great free blogging platform, so thanks – I’ve just purchased the no-ads upgrade.

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