Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, co-founder of lifestyle magazine Lagom, founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, and an electronic musician.

A quick word on advertising

Posted on 19 November 2008 Comments

Article illustration for A quick word on advertising

A couple of weeks ago, I started advertising on my site. Before I go any further, please let me start this post by giving you my opinion on online advertising:

The majority of it is evil, shallow, intrusive, and pointless. However, there are a few occasional exceptions to the rule. SidebarAds are one of those exceptions.

The Deck / SidebarAds / Fusion Ads

Most of you are probably familiar with The Deck, the Coudal-organised ad network whose members are very big names in the web community ( Veerle, A List Apart, Dan Cederholm, Twitterrific, etc.). Ads on The Deck are extremely tasteful: a small image and some text to support it, all rendered in HTML so that they can be styled to match the site on which they appear. More importantly, though: the adverts themselves are for great companies and products, and always relevant to the audience.

The Deck model is great, but what about healthy competition? I decided to join SidebarAds, who take a similar approach, for three reasons.

Firstly, I’m friends with the lovely chaps who make up Sidebar Creative ( Dan Rubin, Jonathan Snook, Bryan Veloso, and Steve Smith) and I’m always happy to support and promote anything and everything they do. Secondly, the association is great. I have a huge amount of respect for the Sidebar guys and the other folks on the ad network ( Roger Johansson, Rogie King, etc.), so I freely admit that being associated with this group of people and their products gives me a great sense of pride, as shallow as that may sound. The third and most important reason was that I believe in fair competition, and taking The Deck as a model, SidebarAds offers up a great alternative: an alternative set of advertisers, and an alternative set of sites on which to place those ads… yet still at the same level of quality.

For more details about SidebarAds, check out Snook’s write-up on the process and why it all came about.

It’s worth noting that since SidebarAds launched, we’ve also seen the appearance of Fusions Ads, another great ad network. The principle is the same, they’re also promoting superb products, and they’re also appearing on great sites, such as Sam and Cameron’s blogs. Hats off to them, too.

But why advertise in the first place?

Oh yeah – I guess thats the important question. For a start, you now all know my opinion on the majority of online advertising (and advertising in general, actually), so it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I’ve been approached by many advertisers in the past and they have – without exception – been slimy lizard scum. Ultimately it came down to the fact that if I could make a little bit of money to help support the site (both in terms of contributing to hosting costs and allowing me more time to blog) with genuinely useful and relevant ads, it’d be a win-win situation.

I actually think the adverts have added value to the site. For instance, during a conversation with some friends about e-commerce, I recommended FoxyCart. A few days later, I recommended the service to another friend. Where did I first hear about FoxyCart? From the advert in my sidebar! What more proof could I ask for about the relevance of these ads to myself and my peers?

Thanks for having me, SidebarAds!

The great ad debate

Advertising is something that many people have a strong opinion about (myself included), so I’d love to hear your thoughts. When and how are ads tasteful? How do you feel about seeing ads on elliotjaystocks.com? Have you, like me, found the ads to be useful in introducing you to new products? Please let me know in the comments below…

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