Frustrating experience with WordAds

This blog has been in the WordAds program for nine months now, which is why you see one or two little ads at the bottom of each of my posts. I signed up to help offset the costs of running this blog, as I explained when I joined the program.

This remains a personal blog, not a bigtime commercial enterprise. I feared that if I crammed the place with ads, or if the ads were abusive (popovers, slide-ins, videos that play automatically, and the like) it would drive you away.


WordAds promised one little static ad placement at the bottom of each post. That sounded perfect. It wouldn’t generate much income (I’ve earned about 50 bucks so far), but it would protect your experience here.

It turns out I’ve had little control over ad placements and behaviors, despite the WordAds site’s original promises to the contrary. And the ads have been buggy. It’s been frustrating and occasionally infuriating. I’m losing patience with it, and if the challenges continue I’m likely to withdraw from the program.

WordAds worked as promised for a while. There were a couple strange issues: empty ad boxes, or a database error appearing instead of an ad. I dutifully reported those bugs to WordAds Support.

And then one day a second ad appeared next to the first. I inquired of support. They explained that the program didn’t actually specify the number of ads that would appear. What? I went back to the WordAds site to check, and it had been redesigned with new copy that mentioned nothing about a single ad placement. I was sure the site had been very clear about that! I felt gaslighted.

And then a large video ad appeared below the two static-ad boxes. After processing some unhappiness over how the ad pushed the comments section so far down the page, I decided to let it ride because I figured it would increase my earnings. But soon a reader contacted me to say that the video sometimes automatically played, and while he enjoys my blog, if that continued he would reluctantly stop visiting.

That’s ad abuse, and I wasn’t going to have it. I contacted support again. The support tech explained that WordAds uses dozens of ad partners. Reading between the lines, I guessed that they just pass ads through from those partners, and don’t themselves have full control of them. The WordAds software probably limits some forms of ad abuse, but an ad partner who codes around it can get by it. The WordAds team finds out only when users complain. In the end, they were not able to fix it. They offered to manually disable those video ads on my blog, and I took them right up on it.

And then the two static ad boxes started occasionally showing video. It was strange stuff: tourist scenes from Morocco, men riding lawn mowers around a field. Text at the bottom said “your ad will play in a moment” but no ad ever played. And occasionally the audio would play for a second or two, and then silence for several minutes, and then play for a second or two again. The only way to stop it is to reload the page to get new ads. I didn’t bother to report this to support. Through writing and previewing posts, I visit my blog far more than anyone, and I see this only infrequently, so I figured you probably never saw it. And conditions you can’t reproduce at will are nearly impossible to troubleshoot. And, well, a man does grow weary of support chats.

But then a couple weeks ago a banner ad appeared at the top of my blog. This infuriated me. Not only did this go against the promises I believed had been made when I signed up for the program, the ad pushed the masthead way down the page. It looked like crap. I immediately contacted support and was clear and firm: this was unacceptable. They explained that ad placement is automatic, that they have no control over where ads appear. I explained that this didn’t even match the behavior their own Web site describes: that this particular placement was supposed to be controlled by a setting on my WordAds dashboard, and I had that setting turned off. Long story short, support manually turned off the banner ads. They do have control after all, glory be.

All I wanted was to have a quiet ad placement on my blog and make a few nickels. Instead, I got a comedy of broken expectations and time lost in support chats. My patience with this is about exhausted. What keeps me hanging on is that WordAds pays only in $100 increments, and I’m only about halfway there. But one more infuriating unexpected ad placement and I’m walking.


27 responses to “Frustrating experience with WordAds”

  1. zorkiphoto Avatar

    Adsense is the way to go, Jim. Much more control, and no pissing about with the placement of your ads. They show where you stick them. That’s the system I use on Zorki Photo.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m on; AdSense isn’t allowed. I have to decide whether it’s worth shifting to self-hosted just to get AdSense.

      1. zorkiphoto Avatar

        In a word? Yes. You’ll cover your costs within six months.

  2. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    FWIW. I read everyday and have not found the ads to be obtrusive.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Glad to hear it. Having them at the bottom of the post does that trick I think.

  3. yashicachris Avatar

    Hey Jim, I just read their terms again and it states that if you terminate that they will pay you what is owed as long as you have earned at least $25. You may want to visit the terms again.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Proving once again that it pays to read the fine print. Nice to know I can recover my earnings if I opt out! Thanks!

  4. Liz Avatar

    I cancelled made pennies, wasn’t worth it. Can you use Adsense as a premium member how owns their domain name?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      None of the WordPress tiers allow ad programs other than WordAds, unfortunately. :-(

      1. Liz Avatar

        Ok thanks for letting me know.

  5. dan james Avatar

    Jim, I had to read this again and check the figures. You’ve made $50 in 9 months? That’s about $0.19 per day. Plus a load of hassle and potentially lost readers. Why on earth are you bothering?? I’d just cancel the ads altogether.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, you have a solid point there.

  6. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    As a person who buys online advertising for my clients…It is interesting and distressing to note that there are now over 600 million connected devices in the world using ad blocking software. In the US, it is estimated that about 25% of desktop computers are now using ad blockers. Abuse by the industry is driving this.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yep. Abusive ads are what drove me to use a blocker. I open it up to sites that deliver ads non-abusively.

      I read a bunch of comics online at I tried, I really tried, to not block their ads. I finally got tired of having to close three or four ads just to see each strip. Bleh. Block.

  7. Richard C. Kraneis Avatar

    Will hosting on WordPress allow you to place an Etsy store on your website to sell the cameras you no longer need? I wonder if that’s a viable alternative income stream.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t think I can place an Etsy store on a site, but I can sell cameras all day long there or on eBay. I’ve actually sold a bunch on eBay already.

      1. dan james Avatar

        Jim I didn’t want to just say “try what I do” but my whole photography hobby is pretty much funded by eBay buying and selling. Though I am rather overloaded with stock at the moment and need to get my finger out and sell off a bunch of stuff!

        There are still a few bargains to be had and I’ve found if you test a lens and provide sample shots it helps in selling. Plus it’s fun to do!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’ve sold a couple dozen cameras on eBay and a handful of lenses. And I instituted a rule recently: 90% of cameras that come in have to go back out again, usually via sale on eBay. I have to fall madly, deeply in love with a camera to keep it now. Or it has to have an important connection. I won’t sell my Olympus OM-1 or my Certo Super Sport Dolly because they came from the father of a dear friend.

          But anyway, I find selling on eBay to be enormously time consuming. Man, I just struggle to make the time. I have a dozen cameras in a box that have been waiting for nine months to get listed.

          1. dan james Avatar

            Yes it can be time consuming I agree. I was just working on the basis of replacing your ad earnings, you can probably make at least $10 profit per item on eBay then you’d only need sell one every month and you’d way more in profit than the ad thing.

            But it’s all about time too, and eBay isn’t something one person alone can do and make lots of money without investing lots of time.

            By the way I’m trying to do a similar thing re keeping the very best stuff and selling on everything else. And hopefully after not too much more time I’ll have all the stuff I want and won’t need to do anything on eBay at all!

        2. Jim Grey Avatar

          I see myself continuing to buy. I love trying new gear and writing reviews. And reviews are very popular on my blog! But yes, I’m whittling the herd down to just the users and the favorites.

  8. fyidivorce Avatar

    Good to know!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I aim to please.

  9. pesoto74 Avatar

    Something I wonder about is how much these companies make because they only pay once you get to $100. I’d guess a lot of people sign up for these programs and never reach the payout point. So the company gets the money for all these ads and never has to pay anything for them.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      A commenter above read the fine print and learned that after you reach $25, if you exit the program they pay you. So I’m covered when I pull that trigger! And I’m thinking I will, after the discussion here and on Facebook about this post. The hassle is not worth the income.

  10. Sam Avatar

    Hey Jim, wow, thanks for sharing this! I’ve never tried WordAds, but have thought about it. Just like one of your readers, I always hate the auto play videos. I’ve made precious few bucks off the programs I’m in that I’ve thought of getting rid of them altogether but as long as it’s not too intrusive I still keep them on for now. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing this!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      None of us is going to get rich from our blogs but if we can make a few dollars in simple enough ways that don’t alienate readers I say do it!

      1. Sam Avatar

        I totally agree with you, getting a little something for all your work is not a bad thing!!

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