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Is advertising evil?

I’ve taken a little heat for hosting advertising – is it a necessary evil? Or just a reflection of how the market should work?

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Listen to the podcast: Is advertising evil?


I’ll be honest, Ask Leo! is an advertising supported site. On every page you’ll find Google’s Adsense. When I surf the web I find Adsense to be the most unobtrusive ads I regularly run across. As an website owner, I try to maintain that same nature, while still positioning the ads for maximum effectiveness … and they are effective. The neat thing about AdSense is that once Google has an idea of what your page is about, the ads will target the same topic – often, in my mind, actually adding value as people search Ask Leo! for answers.

There are a lot of folks that believe that “information wants to be free” – meaning that the information on the internet should be free for all. And, to that end, sure … Ask Leo!, like millions of sites on the internet, is free.

But not free from advertising. And I’ve had more than one person balk at that, which really kind of amazes me.

The bottom line is that it costs money to host and publish anything on the internet. There’s simply no such thing as a free web. So who’s supposed to pick up that cost? And why so some people consider advertising such a horrible approach to doing so?

Now advertising on the web is nothing new really, but as we move into more and more RSS delivered content, particularly including podcasts, the technologies are rapidly moving to implement some form of advertising in those media as well. And, once again, there’s a push back from people who don’t want to see, or hear, advertising there.

The same people who probably are quite happy to sit through the all advertising that turns a 45 minute TV show into one hour, or makes their Sunday paper weigh 5 pounds.

RSS and podcasting advertising has a long way to go to be effective, or as seamless as something like Adsense. But it’s coming. Podcasts in particular are not cheap to produce and deliver. And as I said before, that money has to come from somewhere.

It’s part of what drives our capitalist, market based economy.

And as the technology matures, so should we – realizing that the web, rss, podcasts, are all part of that economy.

I have several links to related items in the show notes for this podcast – visit, and enter 9095 in the go to article number box. Leave a comment – let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.

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1 thought on “Is advertising evil?”

  1. In your podcast you remind us that podcasting is not free to the author who has to purchase bandwidth and equipment to maintain an RSS feed. I just want to remind you, it isn’t free for a consumer either. We spend hunderds of dollars to own computers, and spend $50 or more a month for the connection to our ISP’s. This is overlooked in other media as well. The advertising on ‘free’ television did not buy my TV, pay my cablebill or provide the electricity. There is a definite difference between free and hidden costs. I appreciate your choice of Google adsense because it is clear what your business model is doing. Doubleclick, spyware, and spammers are much less forthcoming in their strategy to gain “eyeballs” to produce ad revenue.


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