I have tried to keep an open mind on the merits or otherwise of having Google Adsense ads on a business blog. The idea of being able to cover some hosting and other costs with a trickle of payments from the Google people is attractive, but I ‘ve wondered for some time about the downside of having ads appear for companies in my business space. The downside as I see it is twofold: some of them might be competitors and some of them might be shonks, so what does that say to people who have clicked through from my site – especially if they don’t actually know that it’s an Adsense ad or what that means anyway.

So recently, looking at the report of a few dollars revenue, I took the link off. Today I thought I’d give it another go. Then I checked to see the effect. What I see is a graphic of a young woman, lightly clad and with impossibly long legs. It’s advertising an online, real time dating site. So how did that get there?

Here’s what Google says about Google Adsense:

Earn more revenue from your website, while providing visitors with a more rewarding online experience. Google AdSense™ automatically delivers text and image ads that are precisely targeted to your site and your site content—ads so well-matched, in fact, that your readers will actually find them useful. And when you add Google WebSearch to your site, AdSense delivers targeted ads to your search results pages too. With AdSense you earn more ad revenue with minimal effort—and no additional cost.

“…ads that are precisely targeted to your site and your site content”? Really?

Looking over recent posts, the best I can figure out is that the Google computers might have found a link to social networking, about which I write and which is the field in which the book I co-authored with Bill Vick and about which I’ve posted recently, Happy About LinkedIn for Recruiting, plays.

I have no problem with dating sites: they no doubt bring happiness to many people and I know people who’ve met online and are indeed very happy. But that’s not what this site is about. So I could understand a visitor to my blog getting a false impression of what this blog is about: I have to wonder is that worth the few bucks I earn from Google?

When I looked just now, the dating site ad has gone and has been replaced with a public service notice by Google about Gulf hurricane relief. That’s fine, but what about when that ad changes – I have no idea what is going to come up or what it might implictly say about my site.

I may not give up on Google Adsense, or not just yet anyway, but I won’t be using the skyscraper ads any more.

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