What Happened to the Ads?

You may have noticed that Google ads have been disappearing from my site. I took them out of the convention list pages about a week ago, and removed them from the blog just a few minutes ago.

I’ve had Google ads on the site for the past five years. The initial intent was mainly so I could look at the ad statistics and find out how many people were viewing the site (with JavaScript turned on) as opposed to the various bots which just scrape the pages. There was also a fantasy that perhaps I’d generate enough ad revenue that the site would pay for itself.

The ad revenue never really amounted to much of anything and although some of the ads were relevant, an awful lot of them weren’t. Most people visiting the site were looking for things related to various fandoms, a lot of the ads were for hotels and convention centers, not necessarily in the same cities as the conventions. And then there were the rather “spammy” ads for alleged weight loss programs.

The final straw came a couple weeks ago. Google announced that they were changing the way the ads worked. Instead of just making them (allegedly) relevant to the page content, they were going to track the sites you visited and base the ads on the type of sites you visited.

OK, sure, that way the ads are more interesting to you, and perhaps you’re more likely to click them that way. But having a company track my movements for marketing purposes just feels icky. And to make it worse, not only did you have to explicitly opt out, but Google made it the content owner’s responsibility to notify you (via a privacy property you’d probably never look for) of Google’s actions.

So, I’m removing the ads. I do feel that content owners deserve to be compensated for their work, but I think Google crossed a line.