The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Conditional Advertising

We hope they'll get over it, because they could conceivably take advantage of the same information themselves. A feature we toyed around with and got working (but have been too preoccupied to exploit) was a system that could change the contents of the page you were looking at depending on where you came from to get there. The idea was to take advantage of the context that was being set-up for us by someone else. In an “overlinking” environment, an author could exploit the same information being gathered by the third party and use it to do anything from improving his site's official navigation structure to the information his site offers. For example, if the server saw the visitor arriving by a route that suggests she has technical proficiency, then layman's explanations for jargon and concepts could be omitted.

Via ThoughtS torms: One Way Links, Ghosts of Xanadu

The idea isn't exactly new—SEOs feed targetted content to webspiders in the hopes of getting better search engine rankings, but this method (described four years ago) parallels an idea I had just the other day.

Google AdSense seems to work better on static pages than it does on dynamic pages (and it fails completely on my blog—even individual entries get wierd ads), so I thought that I might put Google Ads on my other websites, but only if the user follows a link from Google.

It's easy enough to do (untested code follows):

<!--#if expr="$HTTP_REFERER = /.*\.google\.com\/.*/" -->
  <div class="ad">
    <script type="text/javascript">
        google_ad_client    = "<i
        google_ad_width     = 120;
        google_ad_height    = 240;
        google_ad_format    = "120x240_as";
        google_ad_channel   = "<i
        google_color_border = "CCCCFF";
        google_color_bg     = "CCCCFF";
        google_color_link   = "000000";
        google_color_url    = "000077";
        google_color_text   = "000000";


And voilà! Ads only when someone follows a link from Google to my page.

Now, it's not without its associated costs. First, all my pages now have to be processed by Apache instead of being statically served, so the load goes a bit higher. And I actually have to add this to each page on all my sites (in some cases this is trivial—in others, not so trivial).

And I could even expand this—for links from other search engines, I could serve up ads from Amazon say (using part of the query as the query to Amazon, like I do for The Boston Diaries) and from other links, no advertising at all.

But do I really want to commercialize all my pages thusly? Would doing this break the Terms and Conditions of AdSense? Is it even worth doing? Is the effort involved worth the selling out? And am I spending too much time worrying about this?

Proof that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt

[This is not Burning Man]

Wierd timing. About two weeks ago I saw “The Wicker Man”, a movie made in 1972 about a Christian cop investigating a missing child on an island of pagans.

Today, via Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin, I learn that Hollywood has a remake of The Wicker Man, staring Nicolas Cage, that is darker, bloodier and probably more “scarier” than the original (but alas, it looks like with much less nudity).

And the only thing I can ask is “Why?”

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