Yesterday afternoon, my friend Scott Thompson, publisher of MyFederalRetirement.com, which I used in our Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report as an example of good content supported by Google AdSense ads, received hate mail from a site visitor. The email read in part, “Your site is a f*** farce filled with useless information that you throw in with the blatant intent to get users to click on a Google adsense link. Do you think we are idiots? I am sure there plenty out there, but don't expect me to help you get paid for nothing!”Thing is, although the web is almost overwhelmingly littered with AdSense spam sites, MyFederalRetirement.com's content is not spammy. Not by a long shot.Scott himself comes from a premium content background. In fact, we worked together at B2B premium content companies in the 1990s, publishing subscription newsletters that sold for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars per year. So, he knows what truly worthwhile editorial is. Unlike the majority of crap AdSense sites that exist on new visitors who quickly leave never to return – MyFederalRetirement has such high quality content that tens of thousands of Federal employees and retirees have joined its email list, which has less than a .001% unsub rate, and they return to the site again and again and again. Scott's editorial team work hard, continually publishing new, expert articles to help their readers. It's pretty good quality without the premium price-tag.So why is Scott getting hate mail?To me, this is a clear sign of an Internet user backlash against the nearly unavoidable TONS of dreadful AdSense-supported content out there. People are sick to death of it. It's gotten to the point that when I visit a new site, if I see an AdSense ad block, my immediate gut-reaction is “Oh no, this is probably crap.” It's nearly the same emotion as when I open an email and discover it's spam. Nearly any chance of impressing me with the value of your content just went out the window. In fact, having an AdSense ad block is almost like having a big giant “CRAP” stamp on your page.Chances are for most new visitors, the AdSense block brand is way more famous than your own logo, so it gives more of a brand impression than anything else on the page.You can't mitigate the branding problem by minimizing the ad block's visibility. You won't survive that way. AdSense publishers need to put ad blocks in multiple, prominent places on each page in order to generate income. Top, bottom, side, search box….Due to its quality and loyal readership, MyFederalRetirement.com is doing fairly well financially. But, the time is coming when Scott may have to reconsider that site's business model. He's already begun testing paid content through some of his company's other ventures. He'll be ready when the time comes to make the jump.
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