The Ads as Tip Jar Suggestion

It struck me as a pretty good idea: Ads Are the New Tip Jar by Seth Godin.

He suggested:

If you like what you’re reading, click an ad to say thanks.

It made sense at first read. But maybe I was multitasking a bit, doing three things at once. I often do that … see, I’m off the subject already …

But then I saw an interestingly negative reaction titled How Do You Help a Blogger at Zen Habits, which linked to Ads Are NOT the New Tip Jar on Get Rich Slowly. Two very thoughtful posts on high-quality blogs. Both of them objected to Seth’s idea and offered some suggestions of their own, things they’d like to have you do instead of just clicking on ads. Which included:

  • Add a comment. Any normal blogger wants as much input and feedback as possible. Make a comment.
  • Tell people about it. If you really like a blog, tell people about it.  Word of mouth is the best advertising, especially from those who really like a blog.
  • Link to it. If you’re a blogger, and you like one of my posts, link to it! That’s always appreciated greatly.
  • Subscribe. I’ve posted on this blog about metrics. Every blogger wants more subscribers.
  • Amazon purchases. Most bloggers are affiliates, so that when they recommend a book and you click the link on their blog, they get a small commission. I receive a small commission on this blog, when, for example, I recommend a book, link to it at, and I include my affiliate code in the link.

And so on.  I’ve left some out. I like controversy.

By the next day, in Beating the Status Quo, Seth acknowledged the criticism. Here’s what he wrote:

It’s pretty clear that this post and the one before were seen by practitioners of click advertising as just plain stupid. If you read them the way they read them, that interpretation is entirely possible, and I apologize. My intent was to point out that we’re creating a culture of surfers who just don’t click on ads, which has far-reaching effects for our medium. For those that saw some other intent, I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better next time.

To be fair, Seth’s suggestion was not self-serving. He doesn’t have the kind of pay-per-click ads he writes about. His model is different. He links to his books, and he makes money if you buy them, not just because you clicked the link.

Which is a good reminder that business models vary. Not all blogs are created equal.

And that some very good writers and thinkers — all three that I’ve linked to here — can differ.

For the record, I don’t have pay-per-click on this blog either; my model is a lot like Seth’s.  I’d love it if you do any of those four things on the list above, or buy my book, or my company’s software. Or, if you like the book or the software, review them on Or anywhere else .


  • ppc services San Diego says:

    It is a very thoughtful posts on high-quality blogs. Both of them objected to Seth's idea and offered some suggestions of their own, things they'd like to have you do instead of just clicking on ads. Thanks for the post. I really like it.


  • Chris Peters says:

    Amen! I was thinking about this recently and had the same conclusion in terms of linking:

  • artcheck says:

    That's some point of view…………never thought about it that way………….

  • Tim Berry says:

    @Tim Trent thanks, very interesting comment, you remind us that controversy generates traffic and that's good, right or wrong. He is, after all, the king, practically the inventor (was it his term originally?) of viral marketing.

    Me, though, I like his writing so much I have trouble criticizing. And I like an apology now and then, we all get it wrong sometimes — not that he is necessarily wrong on this one, but he did at least generalize too much.

    Thanks! Good addition,

  • Tim Trent says:

    I am not an advertiser, though a business I am associated with is. For that business we view CPC and CPM ads as fast food. You get calories, but at great expense. A Godin follower clicking those adverts willy nilly would soon empty the budget for that channel.

    As a blogger I carry adverts. I'd infinitely prefer folk to engage my consultancy services, because a couple of bucks a day from an advert is nowhere near a consultancy fee. But a buck is a buck!

    Do I want folk to click my ads? Damn right I do. But I will not ever ask them to or hint that they should.

    I don't much care about Godin's later apology. He's old and ugly enough to know what he was doing by posting it in the first place. It's viral marketing, just like Heinz's botched attempt with their "gay deli mayo" advert fiasco here in the UK.

  • Greg Melton says:

    How about CPD (cost per duration) as a viable alternative to CPC, CPA, CPM? We've developed a widget which allows anyone to sponsor your content. This can be used in the exact same way as Seth is talking about. If you'd like to tip a site then upload an image and set an amount. Your sponsor runs for 30-days and there is no click-fraud with our system. Everyone wins. The publisher gets an alternative revenue stream and the sponsor receives promotion, unlimited impressions, and possible click-thrus for 30-days.

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