First two weeks of Google AdSense

by Volker Weber

This seems to work quite well. I spoke to quite a few persons at Lotusphere about them and the general consensus was that the site deserves them. Most people argue that it is a way to pay back for the work that goes into the site. There are also some outspoken critics and I think they have valid points. Everyone is entitled to have an opion that disagrees with mine. Let's talk about some bad and some good ideas.

Bad idea: Opening a bunch of pages and clicking on all the ads, in order to support the site. Google detects that. If you look through your cookies you will find some interesting ones. Also, it is highly unlikely that they would get a large number of clicks from the same IP in a short period of time, especially if the normal click trough rate is a few percent only. Conclusion: If you are trying to support me that way, you are doing something that will make Google angry.

Good idea: When you see an interesting ad, then click it. That is what they are for. Mozilla and Safari allow you to open them in a different window or tab when you crtl-click (Windows/Linux) or cmd-click (Mac) them. So far, Google is not very good at placing the right ads here, but that will improve.

Bad idea: Read ads but ignore them completely. Google does not place them here to be ignored, and in contrast to banner ads they don't compensate for the display alone. There has to be a click-through. Reminder: Don't inflate the click-throughs. Google won't like that.

Very bad idea: Write an agent that spiders the site and clicks all ads. There is a couple of thousands ads on the site and that would blow the click-through rate through the roof. Google won't like that.

Finally: Google won't allow me to click my own ads. That would be unethical to me anyway. But I may click on ads at other people's sites. Which I have started to do. Call it tit-for-tat but it makes good business sense to me. A good deal is where both parties think they get more than they give.

Corollary: You will find that Google sets a cookie that identifies you. They can track what you are searching for. It may be a good idea to delete that once in a while. It may also be a good idea to investigate which cookies AdSense sets and when.


Although it looks like Google, at least at the moment, is swamped with blogging ads, I already found some very interesting ads about products relevant to my work. Only problem is: More often than not I find them on my own site. Sometimes it is really hard work to get them displayed on your site ;-)

Stefan Rubner, 2004-01-31

Since my default behaviour is clicking on "Deny" and "Don't ask again" when Mozilla asks me to allow a cookie, I wonder if any cookies need to be allowed for this.

Too bad if I clicked on those ads without any effect.

Oliver Regelmann, 2004-01-31

I do not know how this has happened but cookies seem to be regarded as evil.

Well, they are not.

Volker Weber, 2004-01-31

Usually I do not allow servers to set permanent cookies. Sites abusing permanent cookies for tracking people are responsible for the the bad name cookies have.

My rule of thumb: session cookies are good, permanent cookies might be evil. And, I would love to see Mozilla's cookie management distinguishing between them ("deny permanent cookies from this site, but allow session cookies").

Steffen Uhlig, 2004-01-31

I set permanent cookies so you don't have to re-enter the values in this form. I would set a permanent cookie to understand your needs better, if I only cared enough. Example: If I know how often you return I can set the size of the front page accordingly. I have no statistics to do that, and I would need to track you in order to get the data.

My rule of thumb: If you want to have good service you need to get away some of your data.

Volker Weber, 2004-01-31

Imho, there are two major problems with cookies.

First, there's no decent support for cookie management in any given browser. Mozilla/Firebird are quite close, going even so far as to treat each and every cookie as a session cookie if I so wish - no matter what lifetime the original site wanted the cookie to have. Also both offer the feature to actually ask me whether I want a certain cookie to be stored on my machine or not. That's close but not good enough for there are cookies I want to stay whilst for the vast majority I want them to be gone once I close the browser.

Second, the real purpose of many cookies isn't easily identified. Whereas for example your site uses mtcmthome, mtcmtname and so on which I can - at least after some guessing - translate to "movable type comment home", "moveabletype comment name" etc. there are sites out there using cookie names like ctrt456_xd43 for the very same purpose. Together with a cookie lifetime of 30 or more years it is no wonder that users will find such a cookie at least suspicious. The same applies to cookies using easy names like "S" while containing a cryptic value.

Together with the substandard management functions it doesn't make me wonder why a lot of users simply don't accept cookies.

Stefan Rubner, 2004-02-01

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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