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When you're browsing a site - Stack Overflow, and beyond - do you find yourself clicking an ad as a thank-you to the site owners... as opposed to clicking because of a bona fide interest in the product/service advertised?

EDIT: Just to clarify, we don't want you doing this. I'm only curious who does and why.

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Nice try, ad guy. –  random Sep 18 '09 at 14:25
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Also do you every click on an advert to punish the advertising company because you don’t approve of what they do? –  Ian Ringrose Sep 18 '09 at 14:31
    
@Ian, death by 10,000,000 pennies –  Nathan Koop Sep 18 '09 at 14:35
    
@Ian: that's a new one. I've never considered that folks would do that. –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 14:36
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As the "ad guy" I think posting this question is rather inappropriate for you (regardless of the "EDIT"). –  LeakyCode Sep 18 '09 at 14:38
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What ads? –  TheTXI Sep 18 '09 at 14:45
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@Mehrdad: huh? So... we shouldn't be informed about the frequency of 'thank you' clicks when having conversations with our clients? –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 15:09
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We like ads don't we? –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 17:42
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NO! we don't like ads! Every site should be free and contain no ads! –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 17:42
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Bu- But master has been so good to us, they deserve to pay their bills. –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 17:43
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No, they don't they downvoted us once, don't you remember? –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 17:43
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We could just use adblock, couldn't we? Yes, YES. My preccioussss Firefox. –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 17:44
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Thank you, thank you. Will be here all week. –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 17:45
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@smeagol how can a start up website survive without selling ads? and if everybody do that, where does Google make $$$ and provide those free apps you are enjoy everyday ? –  Jonathan Sep 19 '09 at 17:25
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@Jonathan Actually, I think smeagol is ironic here. Anyway, AFAIK, no one forces you to create a startup website and, if it can't survive, maybe the business model was wrong. In other words, if selling ads doesn't allow you to pay your bills, you can of course blame people ("OMG, they block or don't click on my ads, you bastards!") but you can stop crying too and find a better and viable solution to make money. Seriously, when a model fails or isn't adopted, is it because of f!ù#ing idiots or because of the model? –  Pascal Thivent Sep 19 '09 at 18:25
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10 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

No, I only click ads if I'm genuinely interested in the product. I do unblock ads on sites that I use a lot, like SO and reddit. I think allowing them to show me their ads is thanks enough. ("Thanks" probably isn't the right word here. If I'm getting value out of the site, I think it's more like "not stealing" to unblock the ads that pay the site's bills, but I digress.) It's still up to advertisers to show me something that I'm interested in that will earn a click.

Edit: Just for the sake of completeness, I do occasionally click on the ads on SO, since I do find them relevant to my interests.

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This sums up my stance: sites which I enjoy get the opportunity to show me ads. They can lose that opportunity by having obnoxious ads (sound, distracting me, and interfering with content are the big three), but they at least get the shot. Whether I actually click on them depends entirely on the ads themselves. –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Sep 18 '09 at 14:54
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That feels too close to click fraud for my taste. I'll click on ads only if they interest me.

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I think in some sense, one could argue that it's worse than click fraud... because at least CF has a pattern of recognition (same IP, repeat clicks, etc)... this, not so much. Just artificially high Click-Thru-Rates, which then makes ppeople wonder "why isn't anyone buying?" –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 15:20
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No. Because if you click on an advert without ending up buying anything, that just devalues adverts in the long run.

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Oh yes it does. It's ok to click if your actually curious though. –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 14:37
    
Absolutely - I was going by "as opposed to clicking because of a bona fide interest in the product/service advertised" in your question :) –  Jon Skeet Sep 18 '09 at 15:09
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Nope. Generating click fraud is the last thing I'd want to do to a site I care about.

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No, not really. I only click on ads if I find them interesting. Sometimes I even end up buying a product or service as a result (rare but it has happened). 

Ads should be relevant and interesting, for that monetising scheme to be successful. No amount of 'thank you' clicks will change that. 

From listening to the podcast I believe Jeff et al are very well aware of this, and they're not doing that bad with the hand-picked ads (as opposed to Adsense).  

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You're correct. We work very hard to hand-pick relavent ads. –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 15:13
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I've clicked on SO ads, but usualy I can't buy their products because I'm not in USA/Europe :S

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That's interesting to hear - are they not avaiable for sale, or do you not have the budget? –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 15:11
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Some things are only available on credit card (I've chosen not to have one and many young developers I've known don't own one either), some don't do international shipping, and others seem sadly expensive. You have to keep into account that I'm paid little more of U$S500 for a programmer position :S –  perbert Sep 18 '09 at 15:53
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This happened to me with Woot! the other day. I clicked through, read the FAQ and that was it. Wonder if you could target ads per 'country' –  John Nolan Oct 2 '09 at 16:43
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@John Nolan: They could, using our profiles Location and/or our IP. –  perbert Oct 2 '09 at 17:42
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I've done it, but extremely rarely.

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tsk tsk tsk... I appreciate the honesty though! –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 18 '09 at 15:14
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I only click on ads if they look interesting. A couple of times I've even made a purchase (the Regex tools from JG Soft).

That said, most of the ads so far have been interesting/targetted enough to click through on.

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Sure, why not? I don't think it amounts to click-fraud and if I were an advertiser I don't think I'd mind too much.

After all, they get another shot at convincing you to buy their product/service with all the benefit of an entire web-site rather than a small banner. The people who are already interested in your products aren't the tricky ones to attract after all....

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I appreciate the candidness, but remember that it's about buying, not clicking. If you have a bona-fide interest, that's fine... but clicking on something that has zero relavence to you (.NET tools for a Java guy, for example) is an overall Bad Thing. –  Alex Papadimoulis Sep 20 '09 at 17:15
    
I understand that, but think about it like this. Have you ever walked into a store with no intention of buying something and walked out with something? If I were just clicking and dismissing the window that's completely different, usually I'll have a look around the advertiser's site even if I don't initially think I'll need it.For example, I am pretty sold on my current SCM, but if I see an ad for one I haven't heard of, I like to see what they've got. –  JohnFx Sep 21 '09 at 14:40
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Nope. Seems a bit false.

(Although I’m very ill-informed about, and sceptical of, the efficacy of advertising.)

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