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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do NOT Click Here

Ads are NOT the new online tip jar, despite Seth Godin's assertion:
If every time you read a blog post or bit of online content you enjoyed you clicked on an ad to say thanks, the economics of the web would change immediately. You don't have to buy anything (though it's fine if you do). You just have to honor the writer by giving them a click.
Forget about the writer for a minute. Think about the advertiser. Since Seth Godin founded Squidoo, a site which is advertiser-funded via Google AdSense, his blog post was particularly troubling. Aside from inadvertently condoning click fraud, the idea doesn't even make sense since many ads are CPM- and not CPC-based. Just reading the content generates an impression which will help authors who use CPM ads. For advertisers, this is yet another reason to keep search ads completely separate from contextual ads.

To be fair to Seth Godin, he wrote a follow-up post, attempting to explain he wasn't suggesting click fraud. However, that explanation shows a lack of understanding of who is paying for clicks. He writes:
The irony is not lost on me. The people who so desperately interrupt everyone all the time are now squealing because I'm recommending that more people pay attention to their offers.
The problem with this logic is that the advertisers buying clicks are not necessarily the same ones buying traditional advertising. In fact, I suspect many of the companies paying for clicks are small businesses who buy search (and contextual) ads via Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing instead of advertising which will, in Seth's words, "interrupt everyone all the time." The kind of click behavior he suggests will, indeed, change the economics of the web for these small businesses. So, getting to the title of this post, do NOT click here.

FYI, this post is my entry in the Killer Titles - Group Writing Project. If you are visiting from ProBlogger, take a break from reading the other entries and play a game of Squidoo TagMan. Think twice, though, about clicking on the ads on Seth Godin's Squidoo. ;-)

squidoo game

P.S. As a search engine marketer who came from an engineering background and a career in software development, I have a great deal to learn about advertising and marketing. That's why I read blogs like Seth Godin's. Despite my strong reaction to this particular topic, I find most of his posts very educational.

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Anonymous Robin ~ PENSIEVE said...

I can't believe there are no comments to this post! I'm here via Problogger and thought your title was spot on for getting clicks.

The post itself? I'm probably guilty as charged at least some point in time.

Wed Aug 27, 09:57:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Annie Binns said...

Great title - how could anyone resist??!!

I read Seth, too, and wondered the same when he posted about clicking ads. I don't use AdSense on my site because I like to pick my advertisers (Pepperjam lets me do that). But it's not like I make any money with it anyway. It's more of a curious experiment.

Wed Aug 27, 10:29:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Gil Gerretsen said...

Well YOU certainly know how to write a great title! Take it from a professional marketing guy. Good job. Hope Problogger notices you too.

Wed Aug 27, 12:00:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

@Robin - Well, I'm glad you liked the title. ;-)

@Annie - I think quite a few people are scratching their heads regarding Seth's view of ads as an online tip jar.

@Gil - Thank you!

Wed Aug 27, 02:21:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Kat said...

You're not the boss of me!!! Clever title and good post.

cheers & best of luck with Problogger's contest!

Wed Aug 27, 02:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Sandy said...

Clever Title...Good luck with the competition...I think clicking the ads just for the sake of clicking does not help at all...The advertiser will end up with many visitors but not many conversions...This will make the advertiser believe that he is advertising on a site which does not cater for his targeted market.

Wed Aug 27, 10:23:00 PM EDT  
OpenID JustinLL said...

Nice title.

good luck in the contest.

Thu Aug 28, 12:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jaxx said...

yes, i also found your title irresistible. and i am with you 100% on this topic. what seth suggests may not exactly be click fraud, but it's surely a close relative.

Thu Aug 28, 05:41:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous David Walker said...

Hi Richard, great title and great article! However, do you think Seth made a "mistake" writing that article or was it an ingenious piece of linkbait from the master of advertising?

Thu Aug 28, 01:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger loringparks said...

Fabulous post - I'd missed the post referenced, so thanks for the heads up. I've been a fan of Seth for awhile, but find this suggestion unsettling.

Loring Parks at More Fun Than A Silk Teddy

A ProBlogger entry

Fri Aug 29, 12:06:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

@Kat - I enjoyed your entry, Facebook Reports Open Sores. Clever title and clever post.

@Sandy - You are right about those Credit Card Sneaky Tricks.

Fri Aug 29, 09:22:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

@David - I do think Seth made a mistake, a rare mistake by him. Even his explanation didn't quite add up.

Sat Aug 30, 08:56:00 AM EDT  

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