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February 14, 2018 | Will

The State of the Ads

Ads on the internet are without a doubt an annoying necessity. It’s the best passive way to make money and allow websites to do what they do. Without ads, we wouldn’t be able to make our comic as well or as frequently as we do. Lar would have to take up a second job as a shoeshine and I would have to become a sexy shirtless pool boy.

Unfortunately, ads aren’t perfect, and neither is the ad industry. You may or may not know this, but mobile and online advertising is something we’ve been a part of and doing since our inception. I’m telling you this because I want you to understand that the following explanation comes from the experience of us being in the industry, and not just out of our asses.

How Ads Work

We get emails and comments all the time about our ads. The thing that we notice most is that people have no idea how ads work on the internet. Consider this a quick advertising 101.

When an ad appears on our site, let’s say for Amazon, it’s not because we’ve spoken to that site or service and have personally agreed to put their ads on our site. That’s not how it works. It’d take too much time and effort.

Instead, a site chooses some ad sizes and placements, then using something like Google’s Double Click for Publishers they generate a script that dynamically loads the ad every time someone lands on the site. When you land on our site, a series of advertising companies called Demand Partners bid on your view of that page. Whoever wins gets to display an ad that matches that price range, and probably some of your interests.
When it comes to vetting ads, it’s something that we can’t personally do since we can’t see all the possible ads that could hit our site. No one can, it’s not an ability websites have. It’s something that sales guys all the way up the chain do, and it’s done a few more times through the process before it hits us.

Spam Ads and Redirects

Online advertising is a double-edged sword. It helps us monetize our site, but there’s also a risk that something slips through and then provokes people to leave the site or turn on ad blockers. That’s what is currently happening to many sites, including us. It’s one of the reasons we started a Patreon on LICD, because we know that people would rather not have ads, but we still need to survive.

Recently, some redirect ads have snuck their way into the ad exchange. They do this by cleverly cloning sites and legitimate ads so that they get through the vetting process, but then change to something malicious. Sure, it’s might tell you you’re a winner, but it’s an asshole in sheep’s clothing.

This is obviously not something we want as a website, nor as a player in the ad industry. It’s something that the ad industry is struggling to solve and that we personally have been fighting against for a while. It’s probably something that we’re going to continue to fight for a while, but we have a bit of an advantage. You guys. You guys are loyal and have been great with reaching out to us when there’s a problem.

What Can You Do to Help?

While we appreciate the Facebook comments and messages, the Tweets, and the comments on the sites, we’ve created a more direct way for you to reach us about the problem. For those of you who are willing to forgo the ad blocker and would like to help us in this fight, email us at adhunt@blindferret.com and give us the following information:

  • A screenshot of the ad or the site the ad brought you to
  • The URL of the site you’ve been brought to
  • The page you were on when this happened.
  • Day and Time of the occurrence (time zone included please)
  • The device you were using (mobile or desktop)
  • The OS you were using
  • The browser this occurred in

If you’re more technically inclined and able to trigger the ads pretty easily, then these are some additional steps that could help:

  • The network and/or timeline log of the redirect. This will help us track which partner caused the redirect and we can shut them down.
  • If possible, the actual ad script that was used on our site when the bad ad was called. Because of the redirect, this is a lot harder to get.

 

Thanks for bearing with us. Hopefully, we have this solved soon.