Hey Google, what's with the ads?

Let me take a little time out for a rant.

Yesterday, while reading another entertaining post by Daffodil Planter, I noticed she had a link to a gardening blogger in New Zealand. I clicked the link to find that, regretfully, that particular blog had not only a small bar of text ads descretely hidden somewhere on the page, but two large bars, horizontal and vertical, with FULL COLOR PICTURES urging me to OBEY THIS RULE.

Sort of like a blog with band aids.

As part of my comment to the (really very funny) post about the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, I went to Gardenrant to search for a chicken video Amy had posted a while ago.

And there it was again: I CURED MY WRINKLES.

Now, usually, I don't mind the Google ads I see on garden sites and garden blogs. After all, they are targeted ads, and most of the text ads are links to garden tools, places to buy plants, and the odd "Christian Mom makes 5K/M". But who decided that the readers of garden sites and blogs desparate to fight their wrinkles? Aren't we used to watch things blossom and deteriorate? Look at the Dowager Duchess, she seems quite happy to no longer be a spring chicken.

So, please, whoever decides on target audiences over there at Google: Gardeners are interested in gardening. Please send us some before and after pictures of tomatoes. And I'm really not interested in OBEYING THIS RULE, whatever it is.


Yeah, Google, and even if we ARE middle-aged women we're visiting gardening sites, not beauty sites. And how does it make the gardening men feel?

I posted about a mountain lion "getting his teeth into" a Blotanical discussion and was baffled when there was a huge photo ad about tooth whitening on my site! I quickly switched to text only ads.

Thanks for the link love TM, and I agree, hats (tiaras?) off to the Dowager Duchess.
Pam/Digging said…
The ads are so annoying, aren't they?
Gail said…
Thank you...I am tired of that face! Show me some garden tools or plants! I might even be tempted to purchase them! gail
Anonymous said…
I can tell what the rule is from looking at the pictures! It consists of changing the lighting in the room you're in.

I like the idea of before and after pictures of tomatoes.
Anonymous said…
Wrinkle and diet ad miracles tend to show up everywhere - I guess they figure gardeners are more likely to get wrinkly skin from the sun and less likely to be overweight because of the exericse, so that's why we get one and not the other.

I haven't done Google ads yet but am thinking about it for the new website I'm almost done developing (and will probably be seeing if the mice want to add any Cal natives content) so am paying more attention to how the ads wind up where they do. One thing I'm wondering about is political ads. In the week before the Prop 8 vote in California there was a barrage of vote yes ads on many sites, including garden blogs. It turned me off to the point of deciding to permanently reject those sites as this is one of the few political issues I feel strongly about. After I started seeing the ads everywhere, I concluded that the blog owners must not have okayed the ads.

Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but your post reminded me that I'm wondering how political ads work.
Genevieve said…
I think Susan hit it right - these ads aren't specific to gardening. I see them everywhere in blogs where the blog owner hasn't specified (through their writing) a higher-paying ad click than the one for wrinkles or belly fat.

It's more a sign that us garden bloggers are naive when it comes to SEO and using good keywords than that our target markets are old.

If you don't know what SEO is and how to target keywords, a quick google search should enlighten. I just use text ads and ads from affiliate networks and products to be sure I am choosing ones that are helpful and related to my audience.

That's the point, right? Connecting people who care about gardening with people who serve our needs.
Michelle said…
Yeah, I'm tired of seeing the same before (stringy hair and no makeup) and fake after (clean hair, makeup, and photoshop) shots. I certainly look better after I've showered, moisturized, and done my hair than after a long day out in the garden. And it really is amazing what can be done with photoshop.
Joanna said…
yeah that ad is very annoying.

its almost as bad as the time i posted about our poppies and got a list of text ads about detox facilities. hah.
Town Mouse said…
That tooth whitening story is too funny! Well, I'll try to alert some of my friends at Google, for all the good it will probably do... enough. back to the plants
WiseAcre said…
Part of the problem is with the economic downturn bids on ad placements have fallen through the floor. The result - spammer and scammer ads are now competing and winning placement on sites. These 'advertisers' are bidding on any and all keywords to get their ads placed.

Using the Competitive Ad Filter will keep these ads from showing up again - with one big hang up - these are spammer's ads and they change URLs faster than you can filter them (Google does shut them down when reported - but as I said they keep flooding the AdWords program)

Right now it's almost a losing battle but I've managed pretty much to keep them off my site. If one does appear it's soon gone. ( from having only a couple ads filtered in a year - since November I've put nearly 200 in my filter and only have a couple spaces left before I hit the wall)

I personally have not had that much of a problem except on my Looney Tunes pages - not many ads for that subject. I have a large body of specific - focused content on my site and the Google AdBot has pretty much figured out what's relevant to my site / blog.

As Genevieve stated - use text only ads to help reduce the number of these junk ads since image ads are used most often by the spammers.

Not to say Google can't do better but some of the responsibility also lies with the blog owner. You need to Filter and Report bad ads. (see how often these ads show up with a "good, trusted URL' only to be taken to a spam/scam site.)

Sorry about the rambling - there's just too much to cover in a comment.
Thank you for the post, Town Mouse!
I see those faces every day and they irritate me.
lostlandscape said…
It's hard enough stringing a few words to make a nice sentence, but could you imagine writing about gardens while trying to avoid phrases like "wrinkled leaves" or Daffodil Planter's "getting his teeth into" phrase to maybe try to get around some of these ads popping up on a site? If a blogger we read and enjoy runs a few sidebar ads that might help them pay for blogging in the first place, I'm for it. But some of these spam ads we've been seeing too much of lately...yeah, enough already!
Unknown said…
What she said! They're even more annoying on Facebook, with all these scam ads popping up on the right sidebar. Google wants to rule the world, obviously. I don't have any problem with people monetizing their sites for the 47 cents it might bring (I do too, for all it's worth) but I dislike the visual ads and won't use them myself.
Town Mouse said…
Ah, we've really hit a nerve here! I'm trying to let Google know. I actually think rather highly of them as a company, after all, we're all using their Blogger software for free, even if we don't "monetize".
Let's hope they realize this is evil, which is against the company motto.
Randy Emmitt said…
Guess these ads are a great reson to not have ads on ones blog. They barely would make you any money anyway.
I couldn't agree more with all the previous comments. I have elected to be "an ad free site"
Amanda said…
I've installed AdBlock Plus and find it's great for getting rid of those really annoying ads (AdBlock Plus website).
MNGarden said…
I found those ads offensive myself.
Swimray said…
Google Ad(Non)Sense put up 'Flatten Your Stomach' ads on my garden blog for a month this past winter. The 'Christian Mom' is now playing on my ad space. I have no idea what triggered those. Does Google think that just because we are indoors in winter and not active in our gardens, ...?

I don't mind the ads on most blogs if they are discrete, and do not interfere with reading the blog. I actually click on one once in a while to help 'reward' the blogger for a post I really like, since the blogger makes a bit of money.

Last year, Google discontinued an ad type that allowed you to select the ads appearing on your site. Trouble was, a reader needed to order something from those sites in order for you to receive the commission.

I am seriously considering deleting my ads, since it will be another 10 years at this rate before I ever see a Google check for my ads, and since they annoy some readers. I refuse to make the ads a major feature on my blog layout.
Just an update to say that the New Zealand blogger's site no longer has the ad that sparked the firestorm. And she has a wonderful, beautiful site.