What I’m about to say has nothing to do with this site. The only ads on this site are for Amazon, and I only get money if you actually buy something. And then it is only 4% of the purchase price and that doesn’t include shipping which is often the most expensive part. I’m thinking of taking down the ads. But eventually, when the site is getting more than 1000 unique visitors per day (it is now at around 400), I will start doing regular ads. So what I’m about to say could some day affect me, but that isn’t why I’m talking about it.
Click on ads. And not just once. Click on the ad and click on one of the ad site’s links. Don’t click on an ad and click back. Google (and probably other ad companies) see this as a mistake and don’t credit the site. I also recommend clicking on political ads of things you find really vile. I know the natural tendency is to never click on such ads, but this is wrongheaded. Make them pay a dime for you having had to look at their awfulness.
I’m not telling you to do this as a scam. This is an effort to keep the internet strong. Ad revenue is falling fast. Some have suggested that Facebook is doomed in the long run (ten years). This is very important (but I’m not recommending that you click on Facebook ads—I don’t see Facebook’s demise being bad, but if ad revenue is hurting them, imagine what it is doing to everyone else). But it isn’t the only issue.
Many ads are just like billboards along the highway. For example, I just saw one for Ben & Jerry’s. I know from my own experience with Google AdSense, that at least most websites do not get paid for this ad unless someone clicks on it. Yet it works perfectly as an ad; having seen it, I am much more likely to buy ice cream tonight. So I clicked on the ad. I clicked around their site. I made sure that the website got its dime, but much more important, I made sure that Ben & Jerry’s paid their dime.
Don’t think of clicking on ads as a sign that you’re an easy mark. Think of it as a charitable contribution to making the internet viable. Think of it as a way to support the websites you like. Most of all, think of it as a way of making advertisers pay for the services they receive.
Update (25 July 2012 9:36 pm)
When I was at the grocery store early this evening, I stopped and checked out the ice cream. In particular, I was looking at the Ben & Jerry’s. (People who think advertising doesn’t affect them are fooling themselves.) It was only because I remembered seeing the ad that I decided not to buy any. And I’m regretting it right now!
BTW: Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream is a very good ice cream. Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Late Night Snack’ is as bad as it sounds. While it is true that I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to ice cream, you can trust me: you will like AmericCone Dream; you may not like Late Night Snack; and if you have taste, you will think that it is just weird (but not in a good way).