Many readers who visit this site regularly may have noticed that I have been experimenting with various types of advertisements over the past week.  When I started writing a couple of months ago, generating revenue from the activity was not even a goal.  I was (and still am) primarily motivated by an interest in finance and investment related topics and I enjoy discussions with others who have similar interests.  I think that writing makes me a better investor and hopefully is of interest to others as well.

As I became more involved in the so-called “blogosphere”, I noticed that many sites put up advertisements and we’ve all read about the bloggers who make significant money running their sites.  As a capitalist, who wouldn’t want to see some revenue from an activity if it provides value to others?  There’s nothing at all wrong with advertising as far as I’m concerned.  However, what I found jarring at times were the ads for penny stocks, get rich quick scams, and other questionable ventures that a major advertising engine seems to assume readers of any financial web site are interested in.  Experimenting with this advertising engine was disturbing to say the least.  I would see penny stock ads placed right next to an article about Warren Buffett’s investing philosophy, get rich quick schemes right next to a post on the Madoff scandal, and other troubling visual “pollution”.

I consider such ads an insult to my intelligence and I’m sure anyone attracted to value investing feels the same way.

Responsible Advertising

In my opinion, advertising on a site such as this one needs to adhere to a few key principles to be considered responsible.  First, the publisher should be able to control the types of advertisements that appear on the site to ensure that they are actually relevant to the content and potentially interesting to readers.  Second, it is necessary to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that advertisements do not lead people to products and services that may be detrimental or contrary to the principles of responsible money management.  Third, advertisements should provide some value for readers and enrich the overall experience.  Therefore, ads should not be placed in intrusive locations and obstruct the flow of reading actual content.

Bookstore Concept

Given the fact that I often write about books and other reading material, providing links to books and related products seems like a natural fit for The Rational Walk.  In addition to small advertisements located near posts and in the sidebar listing book recommendations, I have added a “Bookstore” to this site.  The Bookstore contains all of the books I have recommended in my posts as well as others that I have found interesting.  Also included are general topics related to business, finance, politics and other subjects with best sellers from Amazon.com (which I have not necessarily read myself).

I am planning to build Bookstore categories that list reading materials recommended by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger as well as others.  The entire concept seems like a natural fit and hopefully adds some value to the reading experience.

I plan to consider other advertising for the site over time which will adhere to the principles listed above.  Please click on this link if you may be interested in advertising on this site.  I welcome feedback regarding the overall reading experience and the advertisements appearing on the site.

Thoughts on Internet Advertising
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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Internet Advertising

  • April 24, 2009 at 12:56 am
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    I agree that you should have more control over the content you show on your page. If I were reading a mag that I respected, and see an ad for a product within it, I would have a more favorable view of the product. However, this is not the case with any advertising I see on the web, and do not consider ads on a web page to be the same. I think a good advertising scheme that would work well for bloggers would be the Paul Harvey approach of direct endorsements.

    This issue seems to be a big complaint from many users of adsense, but it looks like google is at least hearing it. There is talk of introducing filtering options for the publisher of a website. For more information you can follow @adsense on Twitter.

    • April 24, 2009 at 5:51 am
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      Adsense does provide some control in terms of permitting “blacklisting” of advertisers but it seems like there’s an endless supply of shady operators out there promoting penny stocks. Also, the contextual advertising engine leaves something to be desired – lots of ads that have nothing to do with investing. I didn’t want to bash Google in my post but unfortunately adsense is not usable for many sites due to these problems. I know that when I browse around the web, I tend to be “blind” to ads anyway unless they are very well targeted. Also, I worry about clicking on unknown links in general due to the risk of being directed to a harmful website. I know Google attempts to verify that the advertisers are at least not phishing scams, etc…

  • April 24, 2009 at 1:41 am
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    I agree–the dissonance between the ads and the content can be disturbing. Unfortunately, there is not that much in my case that I feel comfortable “endorsing”; like you, perhaps just a few books, websites, and resources.

    Good luck to you as you search for viable advertisers.

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