Testing Ads

We’re always experimenting with new stuff here on WordPress.com, and we’ve always been fans of keeping the lights on. (And all those servers have lots of lights!) To support the hundreds of hours of development and support we do every week and provide rock-solid and fast hosting with constant backups, it adds up. Ideally I want WordPress.com to be as free as possible for everyone, so options like advertising have always been interesting.

We’re starting a contextual adsense test tonight on WordPress.com to see if it’s worth investigating or not.

The experiment will conclude next Wednesday. We’re keeping the ads to a bare minimum, so you’ll probably never see one, but if you do be sure to let us know what you think. The ads will only ever be shown to a subset of users, and they will always be plain-text so as to not distract from the rest of the page.

Depending on how this goes, it could enable you guys to put your own ads on the site, or some sort of share. We don’t know yet. The main thing is that if ads aren’t going to be worth it on the site, we’d rather not have them at all for free users. (Yours or ours.)

Anyway there is no reason to freak out, I think our track record of doing things you guys like is pretty solid and that’s not going to change now. (Look at all the features that have been rolled out in the last 3 months, from custom headers to import/export to translation.)

Update: There have been no complaints from people actually seeing the ads, even though people got awfully scared about the possibility of them in the comments here. We’re going to keep them running for now to see how they trend. As always, send in feedback if you have any thoughts.

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  1. satish

    Now we bloggers can finally earn some cents!!
    Thank you WordPress!!


  2. rea1

    holy snappers!!


  3. Shari

    Well till now i don’t see any add. If i see i’ll defiently send a feed back


  4. thehype

    Sorry, I’m new around here parts, and this probably will sound dummy-like, but what’s “contextual adsense” anyway? Are you putting ads (or testing in this case) into individual blogs?


  5. Adi

    Our own ads would be the best, and wordpress.com could get a cut of the profit. Since we, the bloggers, know our audience best it would probably be better for us to deliver more targeted advertising or even allow us to place ads within posts that are related to certain words. That way we get the most control, and can drive more profit since we know our audience the best. (since both parties — the bloggers and wordpress.com — will be in it together). What do you think?


  6. Babbler

    this probably will sound dummy-like, but what’s “contextual adsense” anyway?

    IIRC, it is something like google’s ads. They look at the page content, and match it the ‘appropriate’ ads. For example, if you write about sports, then there will be an ad for various sport related apparel.

    BTW, where are these new ads?


  7. bizwriter

    Sounds interesting.


  8. onecoolsoul

    I hope that this will work out! I would not mind making a little money on my blog.


  9. Matt

    Shari, ideally neither you nor your readers every really see the ads.

    thehype, it’s Google Adsense like Babbler says. This is similar to the ads you see when you do a search on Google, they’re text-only and non-intrusive.

    Babbler, like I said above, you probably won’t see or notice them. You could do like a treasure hunt though. 😉

    Also guys I updated the entry to clarify a bit. We’re also keeping the ads off any private or mature blogs.


  10. Matt

    Adi, the problem with allowing anyone to slap up adsense or similar is that it attracts sploggers in droves. (Look at how much spam is on blogspot.)

    If our experiment goes well, we’ll investigate allowing folks to put up their own ads, but only trusted blogs. If it doesn’t go well either in terms of performance or user feedback, I’d rather just continue to disallow all ads.

    Also I don’t like the idea of people blogging for money. Blog because you love writing, blog to communicate, blog because you can’t do anything else. Don’t blog just for profit, it’s too personal to sell it so cheaply.

    Finally, don’t knock them until you see them. THEN you can send in you feedback, positive or negative.


  11. Brent

    I’m confused Matt. I thought this would pose a security problem.


  12. webreakdigg

    Yes , We want Ads. We want Ads.


  13. Matt

    Brent, this doesn’t change anything security-wise. Javascript is still not allowed on WordPress.com, we’re just testing out Google on a few pages for non-regular users.


  14. Cem Basman

    I want the ads. Period.


  15. Brent

    Okay, I hear ya. I’m just pulling your leg anyway Matt. I hope it works out that we can use AdSense on here. I probably won’t make more than $1.87, but lack of profit never stopped me from blogging before.

    I think it is worth the test. If it works and is cool, then that’s great. If it totally sucks, at least nobody can whine about not being able to have AdSense, right?

    Keep going Matt. You rock! 8)


  16. Rui Martins

    I think that you should already have done something like these contextual ads, it´s vital to keep worrdpress alive and running, and as the the ad can represent a way to generate income to support the best blogger system ever found by me until now, then, you should implement it. I will welcome it very much!


  17. Dario Salvelli

    I think that WordPress have to remain free,do you know the case of the Materazzi’s blog ? (http://materazzi.wordpress.com): he sell the blog (the username and pwd) on ebay. Now i don’t see any ads on my blog,but if this help the community to be large…i have already ads on my personal blog (www.dariosalvelli.com) and this is great 😉


  18. adam

    it all sounds so very cryptic.
    treasure hunt it is!

    ideally neither you nor your readers every really see the ads.

    so no ads for logged in users? interesting…


  19. drmike

    *chuckle* Maybe we need a “I spotted an advert!” thread in the forums. 🙂


  20. umair

    this is a strong move and definatley a logical one … bravo !!!


  21. Jimbo

    WordPress.com is free free free free free free free.

    Why do all the spongers want a blog, for free, then bitch and whine when they can’t make money from it? What do you want? Security or Adsense.

    Cam Basman (Comment #14) said “I want the ads. Period.”

    Here’s a thought – PAY FOR IT THEN!

    Jeez people. You’re gonna tell me you want free healthcare and dental next… 😉


  22. Brent
  23. drmike

    What bothers me is that folks are thinking they’re going to get rich off of Adsense or other ad programs overnight. I do hosting and I’ll tell you right now, I make more money off of each paid client than I ever would with my clients that are advert driven.

    satish in comment 1 said it best that we’ll be earning “cents” off of these adverts.


  24. vjp

    Haven’t seen any ads on my blog (thank goodness). I personally don’t like ads on blogs – the clutter is amazing. I hope that there will be an option to NOT have ads, even if it costs money.


  25. Shane

    Are the ads going to be banner ads at the top of the site, or are they going to be small text ads?


  26. Matt

    vjp, an option for people to pay to never have an ad on their site is interesting, I don’t know what the best balance for that is though.

    Shane, it’s only text ads.


  27. Shotgun

    Thanks bosses 😀


  28. webmacster87

    I cannot believe that you guys are saying that you guys like ads. I hate advertisements. If any advertisements are necessary on WordPress.com, I hope they are kept to the barest minimum possible.


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  30. E@zyVG

    Good to see this feature … tnx


  31. ياسر

    Text ads like google the google ads shouldnt be to evil or bothersome. Once again, good work guys, thanks!


  32. Chittaranjan

    Well, I’d say the Users should have the Option to turn the ads On/Off 🙂


  33. sewwhacko

    I’d almost prefer to pay a small fee for no ads as an option for the user.


  34. SippinWhisky

    Yes! Please! Advertisements!


  35. ansel

    Count one here that does not want ads on wordpress or his blog.


  36. realestatemarketing

    I’d love to see the option to put advertising on my blog and would even pay for the priviledge (rev. share or otherwise). I would consider moving my blog off wordpress.com to a hosted solution as I understand the need for security but I have built significant equity in my URL here (Google PageRank etc.) I am worried that I would lose all that if I moved.


  37. el lobezno estepario

    NO to ads!

    I think it’s people who want ads in their blogs who should pay for them. After all, not only are they to recoup their money later (at least they’re supposed to, as they seem to say), but they’ll also make more benefits out of them. So i dont think fair at all it’s us who DONT want ads that should pay.

    NO to ads!


  38. vcmike

    Matt, interesting diversity of opinion. As for WordPress.com, I am sure you’ll be thoughtful and use good judgment where to put what type of ads. As for ads on individual blogs, seems to me like many want ads, but those who don’t feel pretty strongly about it. What about giving bloggers the choice whether or not to have ads on their blog?


  39. trasi

    Ads would be great, no reason to resist it, anyhow most of us won’t make much money from them. Also some sharing of the profits between the host and us would be fair enough.


  40. allthingsnerdy

    I think this would be the greatest idea you could have. Allow for ads which many people want but limit it to maybe one area via a sidebar widget that way you get the best of both worlds.


  41. big3

    can you mention a few blogs included in this testing ?


  42. blumoon

    My two cents worth: I would prefer no ads. That is one of the things I like about wordpress. 🙂


  43. estung

    Matt, With or without the ads feature, WordPress has done the blogging world a whole lot of good. It has transformed how content management looks on the web. But as said earlier by allthingsnerdy, use your useful sidebar widget for ads. This wont cause page clutter and hacks by users. Already I think you are on the right track with the sidebar widget.


  44. Eshwar S

    So i guess you should have been done with the tests. So what’s the outcome?


  45. ouroboros

    It’s not clear from the title post whether the intention is to allow us to place ads on our own blogs, or whether every wordpress.com user would have to host ads. I sincerely hope it’s not the latter, and that whatever happens, ads remain optional.

    If they were non-optional in any way, I’d definitely switch platforms. I chose WordPress.com over the competition in part because of the non-commercial look of the sites, and in spite of a lot of restrictions that I find annoying (inability to edit template, inability to use innocuous javascript, etc.). If I had to put ads on my site, it would probably push me over the edge to self-hosting (still using WordPress software, probably, if only for the Connections theme 🙂 ).


  46. Bulong Sa Hangin

    I saw the ads three times in my blog and dont mind having them. But after few refresh, its gone.


  47. mukund

    i can see those ads on some of my pages. and they looked good. Only thing is they were a bit bigger in size.
    So provide us an option of customizing them. And Sharing Earnings will be a great idea. But How are u gonna track them?


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  49. maxx

    I do have moved to wordpress and jumped back again to blogspot few times ago because I want sometime later to place an ads on my blog, but I love wordpress because it’s features are rich so that I could you some blog client such as Windows Live Writer to fully functional. In the other hands, I still want my own ads to be on my wordpress blog… I am confused, is it the wordpress ads or people’s ads?


  50. Heather

    @maxx: No, these are not ads created by or added by users. The revenue generated allows us to keep free features free. We don’t currently support AdSense or similar programs for users, but we may introduce this feature. See this post for the latest on our ad policy.


  51. David Costa

    Having ads sounds like a good idea as long as they’re not intrusive.
    You guys have done great work with wordpress.com so far so I’m sure that ads will be implemented in a tasteful way.
    This being the case, I say bring it on 🙂


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