Advertising - a necessary evil?

Just so you know: this page was imported from my old blog. Some pages were rather mangled in the process; my apologies if things don't quite look right.

As one of the people who put this site together, I have to admit I'm not particularly fond of the idea of having it's design perforated by adverts of all shapes and sizes because someone, somewhere thinks that loading up a website for students with adverts is a great way to sell something-or-other; as a budding web-geek (ok, I might be a little too long in the tooth - at least when it comes to the www - to be described as "budding") I'm conscious of the fact that most people don't visit a website to see the wonderful adverts; in fact, most adverts are (by their very nature), intrusive, eye-catching and distracting from the page's actual content.

However, I'm also aware of the fact that the site's hosting - and my wages! - aren't paid from money growing from trees in Ravelin Park, and so there is a fine balance between me fighting against having adverts here, there and everywhere, and my bosses deciding to take on a less rebellious web designer (and preferably one with a little more talent and skill, since I know there's no shortage of both attributes among the Portsmouth population!).

So how do we go about trying to get to help pay for itself?

By glancing at the right of any of the pages on the site (with the exception - at the moment - of the Blogs section), you'll probably notice that most of the adverts are in fact links back into This is a conscious decision on the part of the top brass and myself to help raise awareness of the important things going on at the Union. That said, there are many important things going on, so adverts are just one way we try to raise awareness of happenings on the site.

As for paid advertising, this is where my latest back-burner comes in; Google Adsense. You've probably seen Adsense adverts before - they're often text-only, can be hilariously mis-targeted (I regularly see adverts encouraging visitors to a certain website to buy from competitors' websites, as well as a couple of "buy it, sell it, love it - UCAS forms on eBay" oddities), but more importantly are less intrusive than the flashy, full-colour ads you often see bouncing around some websites.

So why Google Adsense?

Well, Google Adsense is something we can set up in a matter of hours. We can say who can and cannot advertise on UPSU (so we can filter adverts out to ones which you'll actually be interested in), we can say how big - or, if I am allowed any say in the matter, how small - the adverts are, and - most importantly I think - we can get you, the students, involved in how and where we place the adverts.

Ultimately, this means we're not going to be letting adverts dominate the site, unless they're for something seriously useful.

Another major bonus - two in fact - is that we can keep a close eye on how the adverts are performing, and any money we make from Adsense can be ploughed back into the UPSU charity as a whole. Ultimately, this means we aren't selling out to keep the money coming in (as if we ever would!) and, hopefully, you shouldn't have to fight your way through a load of adverts to get to the parts of the site you're interested in. In fact, most of the time, you probably won't even look at the adverts unless you glance to the right - or the bottom - of the page.

Spam? What spam!

The other thing I positively detest is junk mail. Receiving it, and as much, if not more so, sending it out to other people. So we've been very careful this year to make sure that the only mail we've sent out to your registered e-mail address has been to tell you about the things at the Union that we think/hope that you, as students in a democratic body such as the Union, would be interested in (plus information on a few fairly fun events we've held!).

As promised in our privacy statement, we have not - and never will - let any outside advertisers obtain your e-mail address. We simply can't see the point in setting you up for spam e-mails. After all, if your inbox is full of junk, you won't spot our e-mails, and we don't want that now, do we?!

Thanks for reading!


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