A Little Righteous Indignation

A few days ago one of my advertisers switched their image, their text, and their target page. The network through which they were advertising, BlogAds, had been a pleasure to work with, but I did not realize that such switches were allowable. When I attempted to defer the ad it wouldn't go away. Rather than pull the ad-code from the site and suffer contractual wrath, I pushed the ad to the bottom of the skyscraper column and hoped it would go away. In hindsight this was irresponsible. You see, the advertisement featured a picture of two romantically-lit naked people preparing for over-the-top chemically enhanced sex (or so the ad said), and this imagery was now running right alongside my blog post about the coloring book. One of the most memorable email complaints I got was from a fellow parent. I've copied it here:
This is my first time visiting your site. I was looking to see if the comic would be appropriate for my three boys ages 8, 10 and 11. I was glad that did. The advertisements you have running on your side bars are appalling! I would never want my young boys to see advertisements with provocative pictures talking about sex products. ( ... )I don’t think I will be visiting again. You sound like a decent person, but your advertisements are highly inappropriate.
She was right. Had I been vetting sites for my own kids, had I actually been paying attention to the drek my advertisers were paying me to display, my own site would have been un-bookmarked. I work hard to keep my comic family-friendly. To that end I've spent years (seven of 'em!) trying to build a reputation I'm proud of. I left Keenspot in part over this issue. And with one foolish act I scuffed and scarred a large measure of my credibility. I should have pulled the code the moment I saw that ad, but I didn't. We can argue all day about how ad approval should work, but that particular bit of folly is my own. I accept 100% of that responsibility. I've had a pleasant email exchange with Henry Copeland, CEO at BlogAds. He apologized, and offered to more carefully vet the advertisers he sends my way. He conceded, however, that they would not be changing their policy. Advertisers demand the ability to alter campaigns on the fly, and will pay a premium for that ability. I can see why. The campaign in question appeared to be extremely successful. Click-throughs skyrocketed in those final hours. Sex sells. I am compelled to conclude that this kind of thing will happen again. It is a proven tactic, after all. So... I'm no longer running BlogAds. It always hurts to surrender revenue, but as mercenary as I may eponymously appear, I know that it hurts far more to have my name sullied by activities that I'm willing to accept payment for. The ad in question paid me all of $90, which I willingly forfeit (though my prorated share of it should have been around $85) when I pulled the ad code and demanded that the campaign be terminated. (Note: I shall not be identifying the ad campaign in question. That would generate more traffic. I will not send any more of my friends and fans in the direction of these diseased troglodytes. If you choose to post links in the comments, I will delete them. If I see questionable trackbacks, I shall delete those, too. These soggy-headed sphinctroids already got free advertising from me one time too many.) Ahem. My remaining ad providers have been excellent. Google rarely sends me anything offensive, and when they do it is a matter of a moment to forever block that domain. Project Wonderful has been particularly good to work with, in that I can choose how much oversight I want to have. Right now no campaign and no change to existing ads can appear on my site without explicit approval from me. I may screw up again sometime, and accidentally let something through that I should not have. But never again will I hesitate to yank ad code if that's what it takes to remove offensive material. To that end, if you see something that you think I shouldn't have allowed in, email me. In related news, I need to re-design that left-hand sidebar. I'm not happy with the current navigation widgets, and it would seem that a large chunk of commercial real-estate has been re-zoned as public lands. I have already demolished the existing skyscraper, and shall shortly put in a park, or perhaps a space elevator.
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