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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Perils of Advertising

About six months ago we updated our PCs to the latest protection suite from one of the well-known vendors. The manufacturer of the software is irrelevant, both of the top two providers of such “Total Protection” software have similar facilities built in. IE7 has a phishing filter and pop-up blocker, and I’m sure that there are various built-in functions and plugins from other browser vendors and anti-virus firms/projects.

Actually there’s a point if anyone wants to write an informed article on PC security/AV protection software, or can point at some unbiased sources of information on the subject, that would be most welcome. As adult bloggers we all visit many sites with less than savoury content, pop-ups and what have you, so being protected is vital.

One of the features of our new protection software is a site advisor that indicates if a site is a known spammer, links to dubious sites, contains content that tries to breach browser security etc. It is flagging up more and more sites, blogs and listings … but not because the sites themselves are fundamentally dangerous, or the owners up to no good. The problem is advertising.

When you sign up for banner ads either directly from a company or from an ad broker you don’t have a huge amount of control over what you display. You can choose not to take adult adverts, but as an adult blogger you’re hardly likely to exclude that are you? Indeed you may choose only to take adult ads as they are in keeping with the theme of your site.

You can’t really blame (most) of the ad brokers either. They have to take ads based on what their advertisers are willing to provide. Dependent on where the actual content is served from they may not be able to screen the ad content for problems and/or follow every click-through link and check for rogue content.

However you have to be aware that if one of the monitoring firms crawls your site and finds you display an ad with perhaps a dodgy pop-up, or link to a site that tries to drop a Trojan on your reader’s site, you will be marked as a “problem” site. If we visit a site that’s carried iffy content a balloon pops up to warn us. On searches sites are red-flagged, so we simply don’t visit them, and on previously friendly sites, even if they aren’t flagged before we enter them the banner ads are starting to cause Trojan warnings to pop up.

So, think very carefully before you take advertising on your site.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first comment would always be 'Buy a Mac' but I do know that not everyone wants to switch or can afford to.

I think that there's always a risk when you blog on the subjects that we do that we'll be marked as inappropriate, it's a risk and a hazard. Advertising is each person's choice and as such it's a 'Live by the Sword, die by the sword' moment.

Tue Sep 25, 07:22:00 pm GMT  

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