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How Web Ads Work

You visit this blog every day (and if you don't, why the heck not?!). Sometimes you notice the ads on the page, sometimes you don't. Regardless, ever wonder how they help offset the costs of running a Web site/blog? Ever wonder how they get on the site? Well, it's time for a little primer. Web Ads 101, if you will.

There are two basic kinds of ads, display ads and text ads. Text ads are slowly being phased out, though our friends over at Neatorama still use them on post pages. The one pictured to the side for GoPro Cam is a good example. These ads are dynamically fed into the page by Google AdWords, who figure out what kinds of ads to place on the page based on what kinds of keywords they see in the post itself. The title of the post can often influence the Google placement bots, which is how you sometimes get those funny juxtapositions; a post about the benefits of nuclear power can trigger a text ad to sign a petition against nuclear power. A Web site makes money when you click the text and go off to the petition Web site. How much money? It depends on the size of the Web site, the placement of the ad, and a bunch of other factors. But it's not much money at all.

Much more common are display ads. These come in various sizes and shapes known in the industry as leaderboards, skyscrapers, blocks, and in rare cases, page skins where the sponsor takes over a page and wraps the whole site with their campaign. These ads are very rarely click-based, meaning they don't need to be clicked for the Web site to make money. The bulk of display ads usually earn between 25 cents and $1 per every thousand impressions, or views. Some campaigns on popular Web sites earn a lot more, but the traditional "run-of-network" ad (sometimes called "backfill") is generally under $1 per 1000 impressions. With display ads, the advertiser is looking to get the brand out there in front of you and is willing to pay whether you click through or not. On average, .02% of people will click through on any given ad—so it's really more about raising company/product/brand awareness.

Publishers, like mentalfloss.com and other sites, generally work with multiple ad networks that serve up these display ads. If one can't fill the space, they'll pass the code for that ad block on to another network and so forth down the line until something shows up. It's all quite complex and determined by how many times you've visited the Web site in one session, how many impressions the ad network is contracted to serve up overall, how many impressions the ad network has promised to supply to a particular Web site, what geographic location you're in, what the Web site's click-through-rate is (okay, sure, sometimes those clicks do add up to something) and many other factors too detailed to go into here.

Of course, there are lots of different kinds of ads making their way onto pages. Pop-ups, ads that expand when you roll over them, video ads, lightbox ads that need to be closed before you can view a page, gates that prevent you from seeing the content until you watch a few seconds of flash video, and others. But display ads are still far and away the most common because they're the easiest to work into site design and the least obtrusive.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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Why Subliminal Messaging Doesn't Work (Unless You Want It To)
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Subliminal messages—hidden phrases in TV programs, movies, and ads—probably won't make you run out and join the Navy, appreciate a band's music, or start smoking. That's because these sneaky suggestions don't really change consumer behavior, even though many people believe otherwise, according to Sci Show Psych.

We say "don't really" because subliminal messages can sway the already motivated, research shows. For example, a 2002 study of 81 college students found that parched subjects drank more water after being subliminally primed with words like "dry" and "thirsty." (Participants who weren't already thirsty drank less.) A follow-up experiment involving 35 undergrads yielded similar results, with dehydrated students selecting sports drinks described as "thirst-quenching" over "electrolyte-restoring" after being primed for thirst. Experiments like these won't work on, say, chocolate-loving movie audiences who are subliminally instructed by advertisers to purchase popcorn instead.

Learn more about how subliminal messaging affects (or doesn't affect) our decision-making, and why you likely won't encounter ads with under-the-radar suggestions on the regular.

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