Conditional Advertising

Phil Ringnalda has piece on advertising in blogs and one piece of it led me to develop an old idea just a little further than I’d seen before.

I do think, though, that the people who farm Google searchers for money by only showing ads in their old archives, where most of the viewers are people searching for bizarre terms that they are a horrible result for, have a much better idea than trying to show ads to the people who subscribe to an RSS feed because they want to know what you say.

All the way back in February of last year (though I thought it was longer ago than that) Aquarion announced that he was selling out by putting ads on posts more than three months old. The point was to give some value to those people stumbling across old posts that aren’t really relevant anymore. The trial must have worked, since the ads are still there.

So here’s the extra bit: It’s trivial to see when someone is coming to your site from a search engine. Some sites do it all the time, listing recent search terms that led to the site, tracking what search terms lead to the site most often, even highlighting the searched terms (that last one is a favourite of mine). Why not fine-tune the ad serving a little more and only serve ads on pages reached from searches? That way links from newer posts to old ones, links from outside sites that specifically refer to the contents of your post, and links from systems like SoylentRed’s own nostalgia list ("This time last year") will continue to point to ad-free content. Meanwhile random search-engine traffic can continue to generate revenue or, in Aquarion’s altruistic view, Google can at least give people something relevant if they’ve stumbled across an old post of yours that lacks current applicability.