One of my hosting clients was recently shocked to discover an advertisement for penis enlargement on her blog (I won’t show it to you, because I don’t want to give them any more exposure)! Considering most of her readers are women, she didn’t think it an appropriate use of her screen real-estate (’nuff said). The offensive ad was being displayed in one of the 125×125 blocks in her sidebar (similar to the blocks in my own sidebar), which is governed by an ad network called PerformancingAds. But before you jump to any conclusions, read on…
What is PerformancingAds?
Lest you get the idea I think PerformancingAds is a Bad Company, I don’t – or I wouldn’t have signed up with them. PerformancingAds is simply a broker of advertisements, whose role is to bring together advertisers and publishers. In a nutshell, any website owner can sign up (for free) and allocate certain areas of their site to display ads from the PerformancingAds network. Similarly, advertisers sign up (also for free) to get access to the publisher network. When an advertiser finds one or more sites that target their market, with the right traffic level, and for the right price, they can pay to place their ad there.
Naturally, there will be times when not all of a publisher’s ad spots are fully allocated. Rather than displaying blank spaces, by default the network assigns generic ads to those locations. But they also give you the option to upload your own 125×125 buttons, to instead promote your own products, sites, etc. Since you are both the advertiser and the publisher in this case, you can agree to pay yourself nothing! (That’s right, it’s free to do this too ).
You can also create a variation on these private ads by creating Exchange Ads, which will be displayed on other sites in the publisher network as you earn credits, which happens as you display paid-for ads and other sites’ Exchange Ads. And that’s obviously what’s happened in my client’s case. She certainly didn’t receive any money for displaying the ad, and didn’t create it herself, so that’s the only other option.
What’s the solution?
Now whether ads of such a dubious nature should be allowed in the network in the first place is a matter for debate. The question is: what to do about it?
Well, quite simply to filter them out. When creating an ad region, you are given the option of specifying a list of terms and/or domains that you don’t wish to be have displayed in the region:
As you can see, I’ve set it to filter out the usual suspects: penis, viagra, poker, casino, gamble. That should cover it (if I’ve missed any, let me know, will you?), and hopefully we should not be seeing any more disagreeable ads in that region.
One minor complaint is that you have to do this on a region-by-region basis; it would be nice to be able to do it on a per-site basis rather, as a site may have several regions defined.
So have I changed my opinion of PerformancingAds? No, not really. I still think it’s a good opportunity to earn a bit of money from your site, particularly for smaller sites that may find it difficult to otherwise attract the attention of advertisers. How much attention they get in PerformancingAds is still to be seen, but at least it gets you out there. And in the meantime, why not use Exchange Ads to promote your own products, services, or simply your content?