Badvertising

Badvertising

Badvertising

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
April 19 2009 8:24 AM

Badvertising

One of the funny happenstances of running a skeptical website that uses Google ads is that I sometimes get ads for services that are not, um, precisely aligned with my goals as a critical thinker. On my site I've seen ads for 2012, for psychics, for all kinds of nonsense (there was even a pro-Moon hoax ad on my page debunking the Moon Hoax!).

I've long held that this is not necessarily such a terrible thing; I think most people on the web are savvy enough to understand that I don't endorse that nonsense. If the ad is particularly atrocious I'll block it, but there are a thousand more elbowing each other out of the way to take its place. It's a losing fight sometimes.

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And there are other considerations too... but instead of explaining them here, I'll let Tim Farley of the Skeptical Software Tools website take care of it. He makes a pretty good case that not only are these ads not bad, but they can actually do some good. [Note added after I initially wrote this post: Fraser at Universe Today has more to say on this.]

He's right... but I do have to say that those ads can be downright ookie and skeevy, and I sometimes wish they weren't there at all. When one pops up here, I let the Hive Overmind know and they block it. If you do see an overly egregious one here, let em know. I need to know the URL to which it links (just saying it's an ad for, say, a creationist camp won't help; I need the web address to block it), and then we can block it.

So in my mind the question is still up in the air: are contextual ads evil or not? Food for thought, to get comments rolling: the ad might be for something which is not nonsense, but may be for something I don't care about... like say a particular movie I haven't seen. People wouldn't complain about that ad's content, I suspect. So what to do?