The dark side of advertising.

5 August 2007

I have never been too enthusiastic about advertising on blogs. Before yesterday, I always thought that ads were a necessary evil – nobody wants to see ’em but nobody wants to get rid of them either. As if you could get rid of a jillion-dollar industry on which most Internet business models and blog monetization schemes are built on anyway. I’ve given much thought to the nature of advertising, the fact that it seemed to be a driving force in the Internet economy, and whether or not that was a good thing. The mental exercise really left me hot and bothered (and not in a good way).

Not all ads are created equal.

Advertising is necessary. Whether it is right that advertising should appear everywhere is debatable but whether advertising is objectively good is not. In a world as big as ours, there is presently no better way for businesses to make consumers aware of their goods/services. Contextual advertising as made it easier for consumers to find the goods and services they need.

However, not all ads are created equal. I know that there a lot of good advertising campaigns out there. There are also a lot of ‘evil’ ads, which fall under two categories:

  1. Ads that mess with your mind: If you use me, you’re going to be like a star!
  2. Ads that mislead: Make money fast! Hot Pinays from Quezon City want to hook up! (with corresponding pictures of Caucasian women)

I wonder if you, as a blogger, have ever considered that whenever a sleazy company swindles a naive consumer through ads on your site, you are an accessory to the crime.

Not all bloggers are created equal either. 

A lot of “pro”-bloggers talk about how to optimize ad placement to maximize CTR. Even many of the ones who care about their readers only go so far as to provide ‘relevant ads’. What seems to have escaped everyone’s notice is the content of the ads themselves, and how this will affect consumers.

Much of the conversation in blogvertising (in all its forms) is between advertisers and bloggers. Since advertisers are the ones shelling out the moolah, most bloggers only care about making them happy. There are people who write paid reviews about products they’ve never tried. Even more reprehensible are those bloggers who review without full disclosure. In this set-up, readers/consumers are relegated to statistics.

Leveling the playing field.

I think it’s a good thing that people who advertise on their blog make money. In fact, good for them! What pisses me off is that they’re making money at the expense of other people. What pisses me off even more is the fact that some of them don’t give a damn about that.

It’s a good thing that there are people out there who care about this. In fact, I’m part of a team that’s developing something that will empower consumers. It might even kill off the dirty side of blogvertising.