Generating online advertising revenue is often the primary goal of most websites and blogs. Selling products or services can only be done by those who actually have a product or service or a connection to one via affiliate marketing, etc. However, anyone can create a site about any topic of interest and hope to be successful getting good traffic. Upon reaching certain thresholds, sites are eligible to participate in Google Adsense or other online advertising revenue programs.
I often advise my clients not to jump into accepting advertising too soon in the development and roll-out of a site. The out-of-the-box systems implement easily but cheapen the look and feel of a site, in my humble opinion. It makes the site look desperate and fly by night.
Whether or not you agree with this approach, there is one caveat that I always insist on for my clients – and that is maintaining control of the ads that appear on their site. A site can simply sign on to Google Adsense or other programs and simply advertise whatever the program sends their way. For a self-respecting site, this is not a good approach.
Of course, there are general rules that can be implemented – no ads related to gaming, adult content, etc. However, even with the best rules there are simply too many things that can go wrong. It will bring bad press – and perhaps even lead you to have to spend time and resources on reputation management.
I recently came across a very well respected site about Judaism, and right on the home page I was presented with an ad from Scientology.
You may argue, that this could have been prevented. But there are times when even an innocent chain of events could turn a normal, well controlled online advertising into a major faux pas.
The tragic news about the Costa Concordia, and the ad that appeared right below the image in this news story is a perfect example of an ad gone wrong. This image is taken from a major international news website. Wedding and marriage jokes aside, this is an example of an unavoidable coincidence, when an online advertising revenue campaign runs automatically. An ad like this can go viral, and actually be damaging to the hosting site, requiring some costly reputation management. (It could go viral and bring benefit too, but that is usually not the case).
I re-visited this site an hour later and there were no ads site-wide. I can only guess that in the scramble to avoid such an ad from appearing again, they simply turned off their entire campaign. One can only imagine the complaints and comments the site received from visitors.
Bottom Line: Be wary of jumping too quickly into participating in online advertising revenue programs. Once your site is ready (meaning a respectable amount of traffic, quality content, etc) , and can be more selective about advertisers, focus on selling banner ads that can be pre-approved and controlled. In doing this, the ads should be more relevant and targeted to your site’s demographics, and you can avoid unforeseen and “uncomfortable” moments like we saw today.