Crummy Advertising On WordPress.com

It’s a well known fact that WordPress.com shows display advertising but until I read this article on HalfBlog.net, I’ve never looked into what kind of advertising was presented on certain WP.com blogs. HalfBlog.net has a couple of screenshots of ads they discovered while browsing on WordPress.com and perhaps the most insulting one of them all is the Windows Dialogue prompt that tells users they have a chance to win an Apple iPad 2 and to click the OK button.

I decided to fire up a fresh copy of Internet Explorer as I know WP.com loves to show those folks ads to see what I could find. My results range from embedded YouTube videos to flash based videos. The sites I browsed were on the Freshly Pressed WP.com front page and the ads I found had absolutely nothing to do with the content they were displayed under. However, unlike HalfBlog.net, I did see the Advertisement disclaimer above each one. Here are the ones I saw.

Embedded YouTube Video
Flash Powered Video
Embedded YouTube Video

When the issue was brought up within the WP.com support forums, Happiness Engineer MacManX alleviated fears of some that they are not forcing people into purchasing the No-Ads upgrade.

Forcing people into No Ads is definitely not, has never been, and will never be the plan.

Rather, the head-bashing that you described is the plan. The ads are some-what geo-targeted, and at this time, most of the bad ads seem to be shown to folks visiting from outside of the US. I’m not sure if it’s because there aren’t enough fish in the sea for our ad provider in this case, or if they just aren’t vetting their foreign ads well enough.

While Automattic makes an effort to remove ads from the network based on screenshots submitted by users, unfortunately, it’s like playing a game of Whack-A-Mole as Wank puts it.

Complaining about individual ads and getting them removed after the fact is just playing whack-a-mole. It doesn’t do anything to stop similar ads popping up again. Sooner or later you’re going to get malware slipping through (it’s happened a couple of times on livejournal) and the fallout from that is going to be exponentially worse than what you’re getting now.

It’s interesting in that WordPress.com can’t remove the ads because of the extra revenue the small amount of display ads provides but at the same time, it would de-value the no-ads upgrade. So WordPress.com has to find a way to make this work better but when relying on third parties for your advertising needs, there is not much they can do about the quality of the ads that are displayed. I wonder why they haven’t created their own in-house ad network specifically for WordPress.com?

If you feel like going back in time, check out this post from 2006 when ads were introduced to WordPress.com and read through the comments.

Who is Jeff Chandler


Jeff Chandler is a WordPress guy in the buckeye state. Contributing writer for WPTavern. Have been writing about WordPress since 2007. Host of the WordPress Weekly Podcast.

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