Don’t screw with your regulars

Notice the ads on this site? Probably not. Advertising has been one of those things that has been hard to nail down properly on the web. What works for some won’t work for others. Not to mention the devious nature that 90% of the ads seem to have; punch the monkey, useless smilies, Windows errors. Most of it is crap.

Google style text-ads are everywhere. You see them arrayed haphazardly across many a templated weblog without too much thought and proceed to read about the webmasters that are disappointed by poor results. I’ve generally avoided slapping a bunch of ads all over this site because people aren’t going to click on them. At least not the regular readers — you’re just punishing them by displaying useless ads on your site. The people coming in via search engine are a different matter though. They’re transient, have little attachment to the site and are looking for something specific anyway. I don’t really mind showing them pseudo-random search-engine generated ads. And that’s what I’m doing.

Search Engines and WordPress

How do you go about doing something like this? For WordPress, I hacked together a plugin using Ryan Boren’s Search Hilite as a base. It’s kind of ugly, could be done better and I’m not going to support it. But I’ll make it available if you want a basic building block for your site — download.

I’ve created a few different functions for different google ad styles that I use via copy and paste. You’ll want to put your own code in, or you’ll be displaying my ads. You can have a number of different styles, just take the code google gives you, insert it into a new function with a unique name and insert function call into template. In theory, you could show ads to almost anyone coming in via referrer and avoid showing them to the direct clicks.

Targeted Ads

The rest of the article aside, showing ads to your regular readers isn’t the worst thing in the world. But they should be targetted, have a purpose, something you actually use and think your readers might benefit from. I have a few personal Dreamhost ads scattered around the site and experimented with showing them on posts older than 60 days.

Here’s one example if you’re with Dreamhost. You can create your own custom promo codes. The idea is that they give you $97 to divide up how you choose. For example, I created a code (DKEF05) that will give you $50 off Dreamhost and net me $47 in the process.

Update: I’m trying AdWords on single pages older than 7 days (Nov 26).