Adverts on WordPress.com Blogs – An update on yesterday’s post

After getting some responses to yesterday’s blog post about adverts appearing on my blog, I did some browsing.

The facts seem to be:

  1. WordPress.com / Automattic have been placing adverts on our blogs since 2006. As they put it: “To support the service (and keep free features free), we sometimes run advertisements, and the agreement for this has been in our terms of service since 2006. We try hard to only run them in limited places. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade: http://en.support.wordpress.com/no-ads/. … If you see an ad with mature subject matter, please send a screenshot to support@wordpress.com so we can report it to our ad provider.”
  2. We implicitly agreed to this when we first created our blog.
  3. Although the ads are supposedly ‘discrete‘ and ‘limited‘, this is no longer the reality, it seems, as many bloggers have complained about very flashy and irritating pop-ups of the “You have won xxxx, click here to claim your prize’-type.
  4. Adverts are only visible on your own site if you are not logged into WordPress.com. (As most of us bloggers are permanently logged in, it’s highly likely that we’ve never even seen the adverts on our own site.)
  5. Bloggers have no control whatsoever over which types of adverts appear on their blog.
  6. If you feel unhappy about the advert, or it is spam, or links to an executable potential virus-file, or is pornographic in nature, then you should take a screenshot and send it to Support.
  7. If you don’t want any advertising at all, you have to fork out US$ 30 a year. Ouch!

I was curious to see what other WP.com bloggers felt about it.

On the forums:

Other bloggers:

After reading all these posts, I got a little worked up, so I checked out my blog using Internet Explorer. I was astounded – and frankly perturbed – to see that ALMOST ALL my posts had an advert running beneath the main body of text. Fortunately, they have now included the faint word ‘Advertisement‘ above the advert, which is an improvement.

World of Warcraft seems to be a popular advert on my blog! Ick! I’ve also seen an advert by the Alzheimer Association inviting me to take a Brain Tour, HSBC Premier who want me to find out more about expats, Adoptuskids reassuring me that lots of kids would put up with me (geez, thanks!), and something about a Smokey hat that you can use to fight fires (?).

So far, I have not seen any of the appalling ads that other bloggers have mentioned, such as frankly inappropriate video clips and automatic file downloads of potentially virus-infected executables, but I guess that the *type* of advert shown depends on the reader’s location, and it is probably only a matter of time before that Sh1T appears on my blog too.

If it does, please send me a screenshot, and I will forward it to WordPress Support.

And I promise to do the same for your blogs.

Although I understand that this is the price we have to pay for a ‘free’ service, we really shouldn’t tolerate crappy, inappropriate, spammy or tasteless advertising!

Or do I now need to end each of my posts like this? Urgh…

———————–

Space for WordPress.com-endorsed advertisement – please do not click!

32 thoughts on “Adverts on WordPress.com Blogs – An update on yesterday’s post”

  1. I remember also reading on the WordPress forums somewhere that the ads may be substantially worse if you are outside the US. I don’t think their ad partners have many (or any) deals with advertisers outside the US, so we get un-targeted drivel.

    I hope you are able to stir up more protest than I was able to.

    1. Hello Geoff, welcome! Yes, I saw you were one of the brave voices complaining and stirring up protest – thank you! If it hadn’t been for you and similar-thinking bloggers, WP.com would’ve continued sneaking in these ads under our radar. It does leave a rather bad taste in the mouth, doesn’t it?

  2. HA! I really like the last line!
    Maybe we should all add it?
    Thanks for your preparatory work by examining ad politics at WordPress!
    I think it’s a really good idea if we help each other to keep an eye on the ads that pop up on our own blog.

    1. Thank you, Truels! :-) Yes, I think we should probably all add such a line. I also think we can help each other in this way.

      You know, it makes such a bad impression on a reader/visitor, if there is a flashy, low-quality or tasteless ad – I know that, whenever I have come across such ads on other people’s blogs in the past, I have never gone back again. Now I realise that the poor blogger was INNOCENT, and that I should’ve complained to WordPress/Automattic immediately!

  3. Reggie:
    I hate to suggest such a negative light, but it has occurred to me that inappropriate ads are especially chosen. When I did what you did and looked at the topics of the ads that were posted on my site, I was appalled. the themes of the ads were so horrific– partially clad women, guns, people being hit, that I had to make a choice leave Word Press or pay the fine for having an ad free site. I paid the money.

    I probably would not have paid, if the ads were selling dishing washing detergent, baking biscuits, and siding for houses. But the ads they use are offensive.

    WordPress spoke with me and asked me send the screen page, which I did, and I never heard a word from them again.

    The ads are ugly when put side by side with a posting on the joys of nature. I’m exaggerating, but you get what I mean.

    WordPress hosts all sorts of blogs, and I am sure some bloggers don’t care. But, if WordPress really wants to show how sensitive they are , they should allow bloggers to choose what types of ads show up on their blogs. For example you could choose one of these categories:

    Sexy urban culture ads
    Home products-pet care and women’s products
    office equipments and cars
    vacation/travel ads

    1. I completely agree with you, Sher. I am grateful to you for highlighting the problem on your own blog, because it made me aware of what was happening on mine. Your ads do sound appalling – particularly when juxtaposed to beautifully crafted and illustrated posts about nature.

      I too would prefer to have some control over what types or categories of ads appear on my blog – however, I think that WP.com won’t do anything unless more of us complain and kick up a fuss. So I’m glad you did contact them – and think it’s dreadfully rude that they never got back to you.

      1. Reggie
        They were very attentive and cordial until I was able to send the screen page of the ad with women, guns, violence- and once they saw that — frankly– what could they say? And so it is then that they did not say a word. :)

      2. Ahhh. I understand.

        But – Sher – it’s not good enough. Sorry. We have placed our trust in them (foolishly, perhaps, in hindsight) and they have betrayed that trust.

      3. The only way to enact any change on this topic is for enough bloggers to complain. Or if people begin dropping their service. It is all about money. If people really yell about it, they may institute change.

        You know tons of bloggers. Perhaps we could put together a signed statement of opposition.

  4. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Reggie. It is the first I’ve heard of it, though I repeat, I don’t remember ever seeing ads on your blog posts. There are none on this one either. But I’d be happy to join any campaign against the practice.

    1. Thank you, Richard, I am pleased – and honestly intrigued – to hear that you have never seen ads on my blog posts. I don’t know when/how/by whom it is decided whether an ad appears either. It is most confusing.

    2. Hello Richard – I just did an experiment, and I’ve finally got it!

      * If you are logged into WordPress.com, and you look at your own blog, you won’t see the ads.
      * If you are logged into WordPress.com, and you look at other WordPress.com blogs, you won’t see the ads. (I think)
      * But if you are not logged into WordPress.com, or are using another browser, it seems, then you WILL see the ads – both on your own blog, and on other people’s blogs!

      So that is why I don’t see adverts on fellow WordPress.com blogs! Because I am logged in almost all the time. The same no doubt applies to you.

      When I just looked at your blog via another browser, there the adverts were! Not on all posts, but on several (and I only checked a handful).

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Reggie. I’ve known for some time about the ads appearing, but since I never see ‘em really keep forgetting. Have never seen them on my parent’s computers, but that is probably because I’ve logged on to my account at some time.

    1. Hi Kathy

      I’ve been in the same boat as you. I also knew about the *theory* that there *might* be adverts appearing, but because I never saw them on my own blog, and almost never saw them on other people’s blogs (now I realise I must’ve only seen them when I *haven’t* been logged in, or using another computer), I actually thought that I might have been exempt… I figured that was because mine really isn’t a high-traffic blog, and that the advertisers would regard me as a very little fish, more like a shrimp. ;-) And thus not worth placing the advert on.

      Not all my viewers/readers are from within WordPress, though, which means that they would’ve been exposed to these ads all along, without me knowing it, and many of them might not have realised that I didn’t know, and in fact that I endorsed the products/services that were being advertised. Not everyone is internet-savvy enough to know that ads may appear without the bloggers’ knowledge or support, and that one really shouldn’t click on such links but just ignore them. What bothers me about this is that offensive, violent, or pornographic ads might have put readers off my blog, which would really upset me!

      After all, we put so much effort into making our blogs look nice, into choosing a theme, into including pretty photographs, into writing our posts well – it’s rather like creating a work of art, and then some selfish whats’it sticks distracting, flashy, popping-up-and-moving-around adverts on it. NOT nice at all.

      1. Frustrating… Not fun. I get so used to ignoring ads on sites like google (or Facebook when I was on) that I probably wouldn’t see them. Unless they were inappropriate. Then, of course, the eye goes to them immediately. Don’t know what we can do about this. (Heck I’m just trying to figure out how to comment on most blogs without ending up in spam!)

  6. Well, it’s generally a sign of a ‘healthy blog’ to have ads on it, as they tend to put them there when you’ve got a certain number of subscribers and hits, I think. If you can afford, it, get an ads-free upgrade (I did for my last blog and probably shall for my art blog, all assuming I keep it here… am having other thoughts about it now). This is just WordPress.com doing their thing, for a change.

    But… I see you’re using Twenty Ten theme – so, ads aside, your problems aren’t necessarily over. Have a look at this forum thread:

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/to-infinity?replies=1

    1. HOLY COW!!!
      When did they implement this idiotic feature?!!!
      I’d noticed something odd happening when I scrolled down on my front page, but thought it was just a temporary glitch!
      Oh for god’s sake, this means I need to choose another theme yet again and spend hours setting up all my headers again. What a waste of time!

      Thank you so much for sending me that link, Val. I am absolutely LIVID!

      1. Gulping for air….

        Trying to breathe….

        Heart’s pounding….

        Man, this is crazy.

        Thank you, Val, sooo grateful you told me, and Kathy, for breathing for me… gasp!

        And now I’m going to write a post about this.

      2. You and me, both, Reggie – you and me both, and I don’t even use this theme. I’m just so pissed off with all WordPress’s changes that they do without asking or telling any of us until it’s too late. I’m sure that it won’t just be these two themes either.

        But to echo Kathy: breathe!!

  7. Haha Reggie I also say thank god for rescue remedy :-)
    I’m going to sign out after I finish writing this comment and see what ads I discover here and on – gulp – my own blog… will be back if I have anything to report….

      1. Sad to say Yes I did Reggie. It was interesting because I didn’t see any ads the first time (I don’t know why) and was just about to say how nice, but went back and looked at another post and there they were. I’ll admit I was *shocked* to see all them – but not surprised -because how else are WordPress going to run their business?

      2. Yeh, I’m sorry to hear that you saw adverts too, Rosie. I understand that they need advertising, but what is frustrating is that there isn’t enough clarity on their policy. I just hope your ads weren’t violent or pornographic?

      3. They were about Alzheimer’s – which is OK.

        btw I also noticed that your page doesn’t carry on til tomorrow morning…. Did you ask WP to change it back to the shorter version?

      4. Hello Rosie, the infinite scrolling only happens on the front page of the blog – not on the individual blog posts. As you scroll down the front page, reading one post after another, the bottom of the page will keep scrolling. You’ll notice there is also a pale floating banner at the bottom of the screen – “Grains of Sand Theme: Twenty Ten Blog at WordPress.com” – floating ontop of the text.

        Well, you can ASK WordPress.com to disable this feature, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to do that.

  8. Thanks for your input on my post. I must add that I found a video ad on my blog and mine is not free. I didn’t upgrade, but its my domain…hosted by WordPress. So my point is that I may as well get my own advertising, of my own choosing, and reap some kind of benefit for myself. The fact that Wordress controls what we can put on our OWN domain is confusing to me. I totally agree with you about intrusive or offensive advertising…and I hate WordPress’ policy on this. Thanks for the information. I’ll be watching…

    1. Hi Szabo –

      I had always thought that, if you have your own domain, and actually pay for this, you were in complete control of what appeared on your site! I am horrified to hear that WordPress is still allowing adverts to be placed on it! This is NOT acceptable, seriously.

      Are you at least allowed to choose your own advertising then? And to advertise your own products or services? Or is this also prohibited? If so, that does not make any sense, and is patently unfair. How can WordPress control what you put on your own domain? I understand that they can control everything we put on our free blogs, but surely this does not apply if you are essentially operating your own website, just ‘hosted’ on WP’s servers, and paying for the privilege? Are you on WordPress.org, or is your setup different?

      Well, all this is bound to make people think twice about having a WordPress hosted domain – or anything to do with WordPress. Which is really sad, because I believe they do have excellent software and they do offer a terrific service, and I have really enjoyed the privilege of blogging here. It seems that this may come to an end in the near future… again, I find this really, really sad.

      1. I have my own domain, but am hosted by WordPress, so I’m not on WordPress.org. And my understanding is that you are not allowed to place advertising on it. Now they are getting ready to open that up, but you have to apply for it first and get approved. I’m getting ready to do that. If you accept their terms, I guess, you will have a toned down, classier version of Adsense, which WordPress has selected for us to use…they said they didn’t want to allow anything that was tacky.

        I also understood that WordPress would not advertising on their hosted sites that were not free sites, but were the user’s own domain. Since I wrote the post and read someone else’s comment, I’ve logged out/in a few times to check it out. On one of those times, there was a video at the bottom of my page as an advertisement that I didn’t put there. That shocked me.

        It seems to be a little contradictory to have two sets of rules–Wordpress can advertise on MY domain, yet I can’t? And I agree that there shouldn’t be ANY rules on MY domain. Hopefully, they’ll loosen up on this. I think it keeps a lot of people from signing up for WordPress, since they can’t use their site as they want it. I’m going to be keeping up with this as my contractual year comes to a close.

      2. Thank you for explaining, Szabo. I agree that this is contradictory too: how can they put adverts in your blog if it’s your domain and you’re paying for it, and then not allow you to advertise on it too. We assume that the way our blog looks to us will be how it looks to others, so when it doesn’t – when WP has allowed advertisers to stick their adverts all over it – it is quite a shock. And it isn’t acceptable. Especially if you’re paying for it, and if you spend a lot of time and money making it look nice.

      3. I’m getting your frustration now. I just posed this question out on a forum and got a forn note that I need to contact Support staff directly. I just sent in my application to be considered for their “accepted advertising” and it notes that you will only be allowed if you have medium to high traffic…that won’t be me. I’m still building my blog. I posed the questions I asked here…it’s my domain, you have advertised on it, yet you’re probably going to tell me that I can’t use the 3rd party that you have chosen to be tasteful. I also noted that this would influence my decision as to whether I renew. Not being really technical, I’m afraid of what I now have to do to convert to another host without changing my site up entirely. I’m not trying to do Adsense tacky ads here. This is the advertising that they signed up for as being tasteful. I’m just venting here, but this isn’t right…

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