AskMe Dis-ad-biguation December 17, 2011 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Google ads on AskMe pages makes them very confusing to read (for non-members who see them). Is it possible to visually separate them a bit more from the content? Or move the ads below the "More Inside" content?
posted by spiderskull to MetaFilter-Related at 1:26 PM (69 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

To me, the solution for non-members to be able to read the site easily if to become members. Pay the 5 beans. Or, use adblock.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:40 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since that doesn't affect me, I support whatever layout generates the most revenue for this site.
posted by gman at 1:46 PM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


The ad layouts are heavily suggested by Google's Adsense team to me and I've turned down a lot of the options they've fielded towards me (stuff like an ad every five-10 comments or so). We used to put them between the question and the first answer, but for a lot of long questions that meant the first ad was way below the fold. Putting them in between the More Inside section made the placement more consistent and the revenue was steady. There's a steady drop off in revenue with how far down the page the ads appear (the bottom most ads get like 5% of the activity of the top one).

I'm not trying to trick non-member readers, but the google ad folks were the ones that mocked this up and said I should run with it, and it does work pretty well (and also why I got to hire two more people this year to help run the site as well as a handful of IT people behind the scenes).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2011 [22 favorites]


What about setting it apart from the content a little more? The placement isn't so much the issue as the inability to distinguish ads from content. Different background? That dotted line boxing the ads all the way around? Even google search results have the sponsored results distinguished with a (very faint) background.
posted by carsonb at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Everything is relative.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:14 PM on December 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the response, mathowie. I'm all for good ad placement and Mefi revenue, but I worry about the impression the site makes when it's this difficult to visually disambiguate ads from the content. I was actually thinking more along the lines of what carsonb is suggesting -- even a slightly darker 1-pixel border would help, without messing with the ad placement itself.
posted by spiderskull at 2:53 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


mathowie: I've turned down a lot of the options they've fielded towards me (stuff like an ad every five-10 comments or so).

OK, it's weird you mention that because I was just dicking around on askme not-logged-in and saw google text ads every several comments. For instance here, just after the best answer.

Sure, OK, put them wherever for the sad peeps not logged-in to the site, but please do something to set them apart from the site content. The way it is now just looks shady. =(
posted by carsonb at 3:40 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, spiderskull's example makes the confusion really clear. I had no idea that's what they looked like in AskMe. I just logged out to double-check and the ads appear below the "more inside" on the blue, as they've always done. I wonder when that changed in AskMe.

I understand the ads generate more money if they break into the questions, but Matt, surely there's a way to indent the ads in a box or something so it's more clear to new users that they're not part of the questions themselves. Seriously, spiderskull's example looks awful. Center the ads and put a box around them. Or something.
posted by mediareport at 5:25 PM on December 17, 2011


Wow, videos in between comments. I had no idea! How do people live like this??
posted by cmoj at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2011


cmoj: Wow, videos in between comments. I had no idea! How do people live like this??

Thus began the Occupy AskMe Movement.
posted by gman at 5:53 PM on December 17, 2011


The only thing I think it might be worth adding is a small line with a similar visual effect to the comment bylines, so that the ads are more clearly separated from the next person's comment. That said, given that I'm commenting here this obviously doesn't really affect me much. Overall, I think the ads seem fairly polite compared to the rest of the internet.
posted by lucidium at 5:55 PM on December 17, 2011


Wow, the Google ads actually look pretty awful but if that's what's required to keep Mefi going...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2011


I think it's fine just the way it is.
posted by Sailormom at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If this isn't a perfect example of concern trolling...
posted by odinsdream at 6:19 PM on December 17, 2011


Foci, the question is whether MeFi can keep going without blurring the line so much between ads and content. I'm with carsonb; if I didn't already have a good feeling about MeFi my first thought after landing on one of the AskMe pages when not logged in would be "jesus the way that site places its ads is among the more shady ways I've seen online recently." I don't think it's "concern trolling" to honestly wonder if other folks coming here from search engines might feel the same way, and to think what that might mean for the reputation of a site I love.

Bottom line: I think it's worth asking if a few tweaks might eliminate the worst of the blurring while interfering not at all with the revenue-generating. But that's it; I've said what I want to say. I never log out anyway so it's easy to forget about.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If this isn't a perfect example of concern trolling...

I think that's a bit unfair. We pride ourselves in the quality of the site's content, and part of that is in the sincerity and caliber of AskMe responses (both members and moderators expend a lot of effort keeping it that way). I think the way the ads are presented is counterproductive to maintaining the site's integrity, but I'm also not interested in disrupting the revenue stream. If it's something we live with, then so be it.

mathowie -- are you open to a trial run where there's e.g. a darker background or some sort of border? If it brings fewer clicks, then we can always go back to the old setup. If not, we haven't lost anything and the site is a little more usable.
posted by spiderskull at 6:41 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thus began the Occupy AskMe Movement.

Does that make us the 1%?
posted by cmoj at 6:46 PM on December 17, 2011


I'm pretty sure that blending the ads right into the content is purposeful, and any attempt to differentiate the ads, even a 1px border, will directly correlate to reduced ad clicks.

That said, is this really a problem? These ads are hardly the shadiest or most offensive you'll see on a given day on the web. Also, keep in mind that this doesn't really affect a lot of potential new members who might be turned off to Mefi; AskMe questions are frequently in the top results for various google queries, and I imagine that most people stumbling on AskMe questions have no intention to do anything more than find the answer to their question.

For the rest of us, well, we're logged in, so whatever.
posted by malapropist at 7:05 PM on December 17, 2011


Are there really people out there who don't use adblock? If so, surely those are the sort of people who (a) are used to looking at stuff like this so they probably have better visual recognition of ad-vs-content and/or (b) use the internet less frequently so are maybe less attuned to the clues you or I might use to distinguish good quality sites from scammy ones. Either way, maybe these ads don't bother them as much as they would me.
posted by lollusc at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Data point: I see the ads when I click through in my RSS reader on my phone (I'm not logged in through the browser in the reader or Twitter or other non-Safari apps on my iPhone). Because I know the site, I can tell what's going on, but it took me a minute or two the first couple of times to figure out what I was seeing.
posted by immlass at 8:15 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


and also why I got to hire two more people this year to help run the site as well as a handful of IT people behind the scenes

A handful of IT people? Why is it that pb is the only one known to us?!??!

I think you owe us a MetaTalk post introducing all your new minions!
posted by hippybear at 8:47 PM on December 17, 2011


if I didn't already have a good feeling about MeFi my first thought after landing on one of the AskMe pages when not logged in would be "jesus the way that site places its ads is among the more shady ways I've seen online recently."

Well, everyone gets their opinion, but seriously, MeFi is a very clean, well-done AdSense implementation. If you think this is shady it's because you're not looking very hard.
posted by GuyZero at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2011


A handful of IT people?

We've had people helping us out doing various project-based stuff. There are no new minions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:58 PM on December 17, 2011


are you open to a trial run where there's e.g. a darker background or some sort of border? If it brings fewer clicks, then we can always go back to the old setup. If not, we haven't lost anything and the site is a little more usable.

I used to do a 1px border, and I used to have them be different colors, the drop in revenue is large. You'd be amazed at how far a few small tweaks go towards the overall revenue, even adding in things like 5px of whitespace padding here and there can drop the revenue by 10%.

I do see that the space between the ads and the middle of questions is a bit tighter than I recall. I'm open to adding in a bit more padding to space that out to make it clearer it is an ad, but a border or color change are pretty much out.

Keep in mind that I've removed all flash ads from the site (I quit Federated Media a few months ago and removed the last of their content from MetaFilter), and I pretty much turn down everything my ad reps throw at me, asking me to go farther and do more ads and put them tighter into the content. The way it looks now is getting a bit heavy in the UI of Ask MeFi, I agree, but it is working out pretty well and leads to the longevity of the site.

Honestly, I really wish we could go ad-free like Quora, if there's one thing I really envy about Quora, it is the much cleaner UI, but then they took something like 25million in funding so they don't have to put ads on their site anytime soon.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:15 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


A handful of IT people?

From time to time I have contractors help out with stuff, tweak some big queries here and there. A guy just stress tested the server and tweaked server settings, another person runs Google Analytics studies of our traffic, two members of the site have helped run our linux server boxes since that stuff is mostly foreign to me and pb, a SQL dba came in and evaluated our entire backup plans and came up with a new approach. pb is stretched pretty thin as the sole tech guy behind MeFi so it helps to have specialized experts drop in and give us tips on how best to do things.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:20 PM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Keep in mind that I've removed all flash ads from the site (I quit Federated Media a few months ago and removed the last of their content from MetaFilter), and I pretty much turn down everything my ad reps throw at me, asking me to go farther and do more ads and put them tighter into the content. The way it looks now is getting a bit heavy in the UI of Ask MeFi, I agree, but it is working out pretty well and leads to the longevity of the site.

Okay, that makes complete sense. I guess it's one of those unfortunate realities of a website that's free to look at. I appreciate the full response.
posted by spiderskull at 11:13 PM on December 17, 2011


Ohhh, the idea is to make the ads indistinguishable from the quality content on the site! That's the point!

It's a revelation of sorts for myself, and at the same time I am not surprised as much as I thought I'd be.

Fucking advertising. *shakes head*
posted by carsonb at 12:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: We've had people helping us out doing various project-based stuff. There are no new minions.

Speaking of people tied up in Matt's basement, whatever happened to the Dominic. Allen kid? Do you guys still enforce that once-you've-seen-the-inner-workings-of-the-site-we'll-make-sure-you-don't-tell-the-plebs-about-it policy?
posted by gman at 4:00 AM on December 18, 2011


"concern trolling" is the new "straw man"
posted by nathancaswell at 5:30 AM on December 18, 2011


I used to do a 1px border, and I used to have them be different colors, the drop in revenue is large. You'd be amazed at how far a few small tweaks go towards the overall revenue, even adding in things like 5px of whitespace padding here and there can drop the revenue by 10%.

What's funny is this essentially means people are clicking these ads by accident. I never really understood how that turns into revenue. Whenever I click an ad by accident I always spam command-w. I can't really imagine a situation where I get distracted by oooh boner pills must buy.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:34 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about... get rid of all ads, and change $5/year per account?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:16 AM on December 18, 2011


Why would I, a member who's already paid their $5, be willing to commit $5 a year just so John Q. Google can read can-I-still-eat-this Ask.Mes without having to suffer through a couple ads?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:20 AM on December 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's the tricky balance to the whole thing. I have no problem in theory with the idea of a universe where everybody actually wants pay a small yearly subscription fee so that the site can be absolutely, positively ad free, but I don't think it's at all clear that that would actually happen and my priorities are more with maintaining the logged-in user experience here rather than making sure people who click on google ads in the first place don't I guess click on as many google ads.

It's strange voodoo to me that people click on that stuff at all. That sort of browsing experience is fundamentally alien to me. So I'm glad it pays the bills, which seems like a kind of miracle.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:44 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's funny is this essentially means people are clicking these ads by accident.

I'm not sure if that's it. People have unconsciously developed advert-ignoring mechanisms that are triggered by stuff like borders or different backgrounds or animation, but when an ad is tweaked to look as much like real content as possible, they think "Hey, that link goes to something I'm interested in" rather than completely glossing over the ad in question. This is especially true of context-aware Google ads - I bet tons of inexperienced users hit an Ask MetaFilter question from a Google search and deliberately click on a relevant ad without even reading the answers.
posted by jack_mo at 7:00 AM on December 18, 2011


I used to do a 1px border, and I used to have them be different colors, the drop in revenue is large. You'd be amazed at how far a few small tweaks go towards the overall revenue, even adding in things like 5px of whitespace padding here and there can drop the revenue by 10%.

Wow. I guess that shouldn't be surprising. But honestly, I don't see how you can square that with "I'm not trying to trick non-member readers." That seems to be the entire point.
posted by mediareport at 7:53 AM on December 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


To be fair, the non-member readers in question are almost certainly those coming in straight from a google search. They're not specifically looking for a community question/answer site; they're looking for whatever they typed into Google. So if the Adsense contextual magic serves up ads that are relevant, then they're probably not going to feel like they've been tricked.
posted by nobody at 9:09 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ohhh, the idea is to make the ads indistinguishable from the quality content on the site! That's the point!

and

What's funny is this essentially means people are clicking these ads by accident.

I think it's more likely that this kind of formatting tricks people into reading the ads in the first place, rather than tricking them into not realizing they're ads. When I see web ads, I don't even parse the content if I can help it. So in a perfect world, what's happening here is the poor unsuspecting Google searcher lands at AskMe looking for help with their basement, gets tricked into reading an ad for local foundation repair, and thinks, "huh, an ad for local foundation repair, maybe I'll ask them for a quote." Whereas when you add the colored background, they'd never even read it.

As opposed to, say, "huh, mathowie personally vouches for Julian Construction? Good enough for me." Which would definitely be shady, and I'm not saying it doesn't happen.

I have no problem in theory with the idea of a universe where everybody actually wants pay a small yearly subscription fee so that the site can be absolutely, positively ad free, but I don't think it's at all clear that that would actually happen ...

For the record, if I could sign up to pay $5 or $10 yearly without ever thinking about it again, I'm 80% sure I would go for it. You wouldn't have to promise to do anything in particular with it, or give me anything in return -- just tell me that it makes it easier to run the site, somehow or other. I trust you guys.
posted by jhc at 9:45 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the record, if I could sign up to pay $5 or $10 yearly without ever thinking about it again, I'm 80% sure I would go for it. You wouldn't have to promise to do anything in particular with it, or give me anything in return -- just tell me that it makes it easier to run the site, somehow or other. I trust you guys.

No, I totally believe you, and I bet that would be pretty much true for something on the order of several hundred, maybe even a thousand users. There's plenty of people who call this place home and for whom that sort of yearly subscription fee would not be a hardship. And the fact that they'd be willing to do that is kind of awesome and says something good about the feelings people have about this place.

But at a thousand users at ten bucks each, that'd be ten grand a year in revenue. In raw terms that's not nothing obviously, but in terms of covering hardware and service costs and paying a small team, it might as well be. It wouldn't pay even a significant minority fraction of the bills.

And that's setting aside entirely the effect that going to a subscription model would have on the size of the existing community. Lots of people like this place but won't necessarily feel comfortable being put in a retroactive pay-up-or-get-out position, even for a nominal fee. Moving from an ads-for-non-members model to a subscription model would be a seriously disruptive thing to do, and isn't something I think we'd want to think about unless there was a really serious upheaval in Metafilter's basic viability.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:08 AM on December 18, 2011


So for those who think users are getting "tricked" into clicking ads, Google's AdSense measures a thing called "smart pricing". This essentially measures post-click conversions and then compares individual publishers to a baseline of expected conversions per click. If people consistently clicked ads and then simply closed the window on mefi and never performed the measured advertisers' conversion action, mefi's smart pricing score would go way down and they'd be paid a lot less. This is to ensure that advertisers aren't paying the same amount for a "less valuable" click.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that believe it or not the brain trust at Google has much of this all figured out and again, believe it or not, some people click on ads because they see the ad and very much want to click on that ad.

I know that all you cool people on MeFi are way beyond advertising. Let me assure you that lots of people click on ads very deliberately and that those ads are what pay for a lot of the sites that you know and love, this one included.

I like Adbusters as much as the next the next hipster, but the ads on Mefi are contextually relevant, not excessively ugly and if you don't want to click on them, that's great. No one is required to view an ad to read old AskMe questions.

If it wasn't obvious, I'm biased as those very ads pay my salary. But I want to be clear - no one is interested in tricking users. Different ad layouts get tested and the ones that work the best are the ones web publishers use. It's difficult to predict which layouts will work best for a given site and I have honestly given up trying. Ad layout are produced pretty much by a random evolutionary algorithm where the fitness function is user clicks. Except it's not really random, but it's not like the humans creating the layouts have a priori knowledge of what the results will be either. Furthermore, Google has policies that require ads to be labelled as such (every ad unit on mefi has the text "Ads by Google" above it) and if you click on that text you're taken to Google's advertising policies page that allows you to adjust your advertising preferences or opt-out of advertising targeted to your user cookie. Furthermore Matt has the option to block any offensive advertiser and in general the ads that run on Mefi are pretty good quality - they don't tend to be "lose belly fat now" ads or ads for obvious scams. This aren't Quigo's or MSN's shit ads!
posted by GuyZero at 10:38 AM on December 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ohhh, the idea is to make the ads indistinguishable from the quality content on the site! That's the point!

It's a revelation of sorts for myself, and at the same time I am not surprised as much as I thought I'd be.

Fucking advertising. *shakes head*


*tiny violin*

If it's somehow news to you that Metafilter costs more than the $5 you paid almost a decade ago you really, really aren't paying attention.
posted by odinsdream at 10:58 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This aren't Quigo's or MSN's shit ads!

Lose 2 hurfs every durf with this weird old trick, discovered by a mom
posted by en forme de poire at 1:51 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


the bottom most ads get like 5% of the activity of the top one

I guess that's at least in part why my desperate-for-funds-to-pay-the-bills experiment with Adsense at MefightClub has failed so wretchedly. I just can't bring myself to do anything but bury the ad space out of shame at the worthless nonsense that Google serves up (to me, at least).

But I totally understand and sympathize. I continue to struggle a lot with issues of (I hate the word) monetization, to have a secure source of money to pay the bills, if not put a few bucks in my own pocket (at a much smaller scale of course).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 PM on December 18, 2011


Part of the difficulty with MFC is you don't really have driveby traffic—because it's a registration-only community, you aren't gonna have a lot of low-engagement eyeballs on the threads anyway, and the regular mefighters aren't there for the ads so there's not gonna be a lot of clicking action.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2011


Yeah, as someone who has run an AdSense campaign before, I agree with GuyZero that many people deliberately click on ads, especially content-aware Google ads. Sure, advertising in general is a blight, it's patronizing and intrusive, but Google's ads are pretty benign, and sometimes even useful.

Yeah, there are tons of people like us, who will never buy something just because they happen upon a web ad, we just want to browse the internet. Look at reddit. I've heard that their ads have terrible click through rates, which makes sense because most people are there to spend some time being entertained for free.

But AskMe is a lot different; a lot of people land on those pages with a problem to be solved, often a problem that involves buying something. What makes Google ads so effective is that well, a lot of the time their ad results are relevant, and may take you right where you wanted to go anyway.

I think that a lot of more casual Internet users are less naive than we think; they develop a filter when looking at web pages as much as anyone, and a lot of what gets filtered out are the banner ads and blog rolls and whatever else. They want to get to the content as quick as anyone. So if you seperate out the Google ad results, they'll happily ignore them. But if you intersperse them in with the content, they'll actually glance at them for a moment. The difference is, though, once they look at them they're a lot more likely to find them worth clicking on than say, the "one weird tip for a flatter belly in 30 days" or "boner pillz" ads of the world.
posted by malapropist at 4:15 PM on December 18, 2011


Yeah, I feel your pain for MefightClub. There's some sites that simply don't generate ad clicks. AskMe is actually a very unique site that has a broad range of real content (I'm lookin' at you, eHow.com) and that generates a lot of referral traffic from google as a result. But I've worked on sites that see millions of pageviews daily and that generate barely more than double-digit daily ad revenue.

Lose 2 hurfs every durf with this weird old trick, discovered by a mom

Seriously. I just don't get those other ad networks. Who is paying money to run those awful ads for awful products? Some of them are downright dystopian.

Now, on the flipside, my direct coworkers are responsible for this kind of stuff: http://awesomeboats.com/ so my high horse isn't all that high.
posted by GuyZero at 7:17 PM on December 18, 2011


As happy as I am that I don't have to see the ads, it's interesting to read a bit about the behind-the-scenes stuff. Thanks for the great replies, mathowie.
posted by deborah at 10:45 PM on December 18, 2011


I tried browsing Ask Metafilter this weekend on an iPhone and the screen size made the ads seem even more ridiculous. Not completely unusable, but pretty alarmingly bad. I'm curious about the difference in revenue between the desktop and mobile versions of the site and whether there's any room for the mobile site to diverge slightly in the interest of readability.
posted by Jeff Howard at 11:33 PM on December 18, 2011


It's funny that anyone would click the ads on MeFi, since they are surely getting here from a Google search that showed the same ads on the search results page.
posted by smackfu at 6:50 AM on December 19, 2011


I agree with deborah, this is interesting. The new surprising thing is how few of the ads seem relevant to the question at all - about one in three, usually vaguely.

Folks who think the word "shady" is an overstatement, well, we feel what we feel, I guess. Log out for yourself and see what AskMe looks like. The new question about the one-cent price difference between medium and small Coldstone Creamery ice cream sizes pulls up an ad for Glenn Beck's favorite site, Goldline. You know, the criminal Goldline.
posted by mediareport at 7:14 AM on December 19, 2011


alleged, sorry.
posted by mediareport at 7:18 AM on December 19, 2011


When I've had concerns about specific ads, I've found the mods very willing to talk about them through the contact form, though you need to note what URL the ad is going to in order for them to be able to filter out the site.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:39 AM on December 19, 2011


They haven't mentioned the intern. I'm worried now.
posted by Melismata at 8:56 AM on December 19, 2011


He finished his internship and went to college in the fall, I think.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:00 AM on December 19, 2011


Ah, yes, about ad selection.

Ad selection is actually a pretty complex thing and depends on a lot of variables, where page content is only one.

Ads in AdWords (the advertiser half of AdSense) can be targeted based on keywords, geographic location, specific websites, groups of websites (e.g. entertainment sites) as well as more complex targeting like interest-based advertising, demographic targeting and cookie-based remarketing.

So mediareport sees a Goldline ad. On the same article I see an image ad for "juicystar07" on Youtube. For some reason I see a lot of YouTube ads when my browser is in incognito mode.

It's really not possible to asses ad relevance in bulk based on a single user's observations. Sometimes individual users will indeed see irrelevant ads. In general, it works ok. Also, ad selection will vary based on advertiser budgets. Sometimes advertisers will really want to generate clicks so they up their bids. That generally doesn't go on indefinitely.

If you want to really have fun, go do some online shopping and then see if you have adsense ads following you around for days showing you ads for what you were just looking at. This sort of remarketing is mostly done by other ad companies, but we have some inventory for it in AdSense too.

If you see a lot of odd ads, check your interest ads preferences at google.com/ads/preferences. If for some reason Google think you are actually interested in gold ads, you can remove that category and you won't see those ads any more. You can also opt-out of interest-based ads altogether.
posted by GuyZero at 9:08 AM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


So mediareport sees a Goldline ad.

Only sometimes, actually. I get "juicystar07" too. Again, I suggest folks log out and see for themselves what AskMe looks like to non-members. (With the caveat, of course, that google is always trying to figure out what ads you might like to see based on what it knows about your online browsing habits.)
posted by mediareport at 9:58 AM on December 19, 2011


I tried browsing Ask Metafilter this weekend on an iPhone and the screen size made the ads seem even more ridiculous.

If you're looking at MeFi via the mobile stylesheet (which is the default on an iPhone) you should only get 1 or 2 small ads. If you switch to standard view, you will see larger ones as it renders the page full size.

mediareport, are you logging out and viewing the site or just launching a new incognito window in Google Chrome? I find I get completely different ads if I'm in whatever browser makers "cloak" mode is since Google doesn't know anything about me, they send junky ads. If I'm logged out of MetaFilter but into Google, I get ads that are either relevant to the thread or relevant to my recent searches.

And as always, if you see a truly shady ad, send us the full URL of the destination. We have dozens of pro-life, scary religious, right wing think tanks, and other crappy ads blocked.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2011


Also FWIW one of the standard AdSense reports is a breakdown of ad metric by "platform" - desktop, high-end phone or tablet. In general, tablets perform really well with AdSense. Even text ads and their teeny-tiny finger targets. Hopefully we'll get a breakdown by screen size some day as some usability form was complaining about 7" tablets like the Kindle Fire where all the links are too small to be accurately clicked by normal humans.
posted by GuyZero at 11:15 AM on December 19, 2011


I'll say upfront that I'm okay with the way the ads are, but --

I just want to say, it's not only non-members who see the ads.

I have a job where I can take occasional internet breaks but I'm not assigned to a specific computer and I always clear out my internet history and logins when I'm done with a computer. (I'm also not allowed to install AdBlock or similar programs.) So unless I'm at home, I don't log into MeFi unless it's to comment, and I do see a fair number of ads as a result. It's not a big deal. But I doubt I'm the only member who often looks at the site without logging in, so it's not something that only affects non-members.
posted by Jeanne at 11:17 AM on December 19, 2011


are you logging out and viewing the site or just launching a new incognito window in Google Chrome? I find I get completely different ads if I'm in whatever browser makers "cloak" mode is since Google doesn't know anything about me, they send junky ads.

Well, I'm at the library now. Good lord, junky is certainly the right word. Seems like every other question displays cashfordiamonds.com. Yech.

But, to answer, no, at home I was in normal cognito mode in Firefox, with cookies turned on. Honestly, Matt, while it's been interesting to be reminded of what drives the site's cashflow, there's really only one element to this episode that really strikes me as so skeevy I'm surprised you decided to do it (let's leave aside the assumption from GuyZero that my objections would go away if only creepy Eric Schmidt knew more about my browsing habits - um, no).

Here's the one thing that I think is kinda sorta capital-w wrong about what you're doing, Matt: Stop inserting ads into the middle of members' questions. Everything else is relatively easily dismissed as part of the zeitgeist/the way things are/necessary for donuts/whatever. But inserting ads in between the initial question and the 'more inside' strikes me as really, really skeevy. The questions drive the site. Don't disrespect them like that.
posted by mediareport at 5:25 PM on December 19, 2011


Again, I'll note that ads appear *after* the 'more inside' on the blue.
posted by mediareport at 5:28 PM on December 19, 2011


My only position is that there should be transparency in how ads are selected and placed on the page. We have data that shows that advertisers get better results from their ads if they're able to use anonymized data to help target ads. But honestly my position isn't that we need more data, just that things should be transparent.
posted by GuyZero at 9:19 PM on December 19, 2011


mediareport, I understand what you're saying. Just viewing ask.mefi questions and comments interspersed with ads that are placed to be as indistinguishable as possible, made me feel really alienated from the spirit of ask metafilter.
But personally I put that on account of my naiveté. This ad thing is the business side of metafilter. And that's about ads and making money off the questions and comments.
posted by joost de vries at 12:46 AM on December 20, 2011


Here's the one thing that I think is kinda sorta capital-w wrong about what you're doing, Matt: Stop inserting ads into the middle of members' questions.

Yep, you're right, and that's the big thing that I'm not entirely comfortable with, since I think it does make the site look pretty ugly, does look kind of tricky, and would be best undone. We'll start changing it back soon (we have to regenerate nearly 200,000 static files so it actually takes a few days to complete). Ideally, early next week we can roll this back.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:58 PM on December 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ok, we've updated it on the live pages (less than one year old) and are slowly going through regenerating the archives, which should be done by the weekend.

Thanks for pushing me on this mediareport, and distilling it down to the absolute simplest problem.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:40 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well shit, that was classy Matt.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:49 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damn. Yeah.

Thanks, Matt. I stayed away from the thread for a couple of days because I thought I'd obviously gotten too emotional about it and staying away seemed the best thing, especially since it wasn't my salary at stake. Then, this. Very cool. Thanks again; I hope the dropoff isn't too steep for everyone.
posted by mediareport at 6:06 AM on December 21, 2011


Thanks Matt. I know I would personally rather take a pay cut than see the ads this way but I figured it was one of those things we just had to suck up. I really think this is the right decision.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


And here I was convinced by nobody and jack_mo. Classy is the right word.
posted by spiderskull at 12:20 PM on December 21, 2011


So, has the site seen any significant shifts in revenue since the change? (Just curious)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:34 PM on January 12, 2012


« Older Better late than never: Issue 8 of MeFi Mag is...   |   Stop click and listen Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments