AdSense – Xen
Case study from Nottingham City Council for AdSense on My Nottingham
The rather wonderfully named Xen claimed to have the best subject of the day because he was going to show us how to make money! Yes, that’s right, Google want to pay us a little bit if we allow them to put adverts on our websites.
There are two options with AdSense – putting adverts on search results or adding adverts to content pages. Where the ads appear on the page can be configured so they can be relatively unintrusive at the bottom of the page. In both cases the algorithm analyses the search term or content to deliver adverts which are relevant.
There is no direct manual input into the ads but you can block advertisers by category or specific URL. Google have their own restrictions on who can advertise and you can choose from three broad settings to make sure advertising on your website is family safe, mixed (includes adverts for sexual health for example) or completely open. You choose which pages of your website to allow advertising on and there will soon be an opt out for sensitive categrories (not entirely sure which categories they are or how you opt out).
Rather than talk too much about it though we heard from Nottingham City Council about their implementation of AdSense on their MyNottingham portal (and I will blog about other features of this website such as customisation / personalisation / pulled in data some other time).
MyNottingham is billed as a one-stop shop for Nottingham residents and their aim in redesigning the website was to have the best local government website in the country.
They believe that advertising adds value to their website as they couldn’t manually add all the links. I, personally, disagree with this as I believe there is a world of difference between an advert and true content. Or there should be. But let’s leave it at we have a difference of opinion for this blog post.
They have adverts across their site and say there is no resource needed to manage them other than opening the envelope with the cheque in each month (they say they have made around £15,000 in 12 months from AdSense). However, they do say they have to do some work to manage the ads reactively (I would guess this takes some resource?) in terms of blocking unsuitable ads or adverts in direct competition with services such as fostering and adoption. They also block adverts from political parties.
I’m not sure what process they have behind what gets blocked and what doesn’t? The decision seems to be taken centrally rather than asking services whether they feel they have non-public sector competitors.
I don’t feel totally at ease with advertising on council websites but will formulate my thoughts and articulate my feelings in another post.