Must Murder Advertise?

You may have noticed, dear reader, that the Crime Writers’ Chronicle has started running ads.

We decided to do this after conferring together, and with a certain amount of trepidation. If we hate it, if any of us hate it, or if any of you hate it, we’ll stop running the ads.

I have to confess that it was my idea. I was working at the polls during the recent primary election to replace Lautenberg in the senate. I actually had a dog in that fight, the divine Rush Holt, the smartest man in congress. To take my mind off the prospect of my man losing to Cory Booker, a swell fellow but no Rush Holt, I began to complain to the other poll workers about what a lot of work I do on the blog and how it doesn’t pay anything. (Actually I don’t do that much work, and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, but some sort of monetary compensation would be lovely.)

“Why don’t you run ads?” one of the women said.

So I looked into this issue, and proposed it to the gang, not really believing that we would make much but thinking, hey, maybe it’ll be enough to buy us all drinks in a couple of months. Some said, as long as the ads aren’t offensive. Some said, anything but wrinkle cream. Some said, go for it. How high-class do we really think we are?

Google AdSense offered us all kinds of control over the content of ads, but not, as it happens, the delicate precision that I would like. I would like to be able to put the kibosh on, among other things,

  • Anything mentioning a “weird trick”
  • Anything promising to enrage doctors
  • Anything with pictures of bloated lips, huge eyelashes, or rolls of belly fat.

The ads have been running for a week or so now, at the bottom of the latest post. What you see depends on a complicated algorithm involving the content of the blog that day, the cookies on your computer, the personal information that Google has on you (over sixty? Try this wrinkle cream) and who’s offering to show you an ad. Most of the ads we’ve seen are for books, self-publishing help, and things like singing lessons (!) and driving lessons. When I viewed the blog the other day only to see a grotesque image of some woman’s eyelashes I leapt to the AdSense dashboard and interdicted ads for beauty products or health aids. So there. Take that. We won’t be seeing those anymore.

Now that the ads are inoffensive (I think), are they making us any money? More to the point, from your vantage, will AdSense do anything for your blog? The jury is still out on that one. They don’t pay off, for instance, until the total hits a hundred bucks. The stats on our dashboard claim that out of 584 hits the ads have had 5 clicks, which might mean that we earned $3.93, except that it’s really only $1.84 since at least some of the clicks were performed by the Crime Writers themselves, or so Google claims. They have this rule that we aren’t allowed to click on our own ads. Who knew.

At that rate, say, $1.84 a week, it will be 2015 before we can run out and buy that bottle of Champagne and the jar of caviar. In fact Google might just yank our AdSense account altogether after they read this post. I don’t care. I’m sick of censoring myself for fear of angering the powerful. Life is too short. Bleah, Google. Bleah.

Kate Gallison