Why I added ads on my site, specifically Ethical Ads

Written on June 5, 2023

Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone in the world gave you a penny? Think about how rich you’d be!

With 8 billion people currently on the planet, that’s about $80 million dollars.

Not too shabby!

I had this dream when I was in grade school.

At that age I didn’t quite understand the math around it. But thought it was a cool way to make money.

For years I knew people were viewing my site, but the idea didn’t cross my mind that I could collect pennies from them.

Turning on ads lets me do this.

When someone visits a page on my site, I now get paid a fraction of a penny. How cool is that?!

I know it won’t be a penny from every unique person on the planet, but it feels like the essence of what I had dreamt of as a kid.

Why did you turn on ads on your site?

For a long time I never even thought about turning on ads.

I myself hate ads on a website. I find them irrelevant and the majority of the types of ads out on the Internet are quite gross.

But then one day I thought about how I’d love to make some money on the side to afford new experiences and things for my children.

To be selfish, I put my care for my family’s needs above my reader’s needs for a clean and ad-free reading experience.

But ads are quite everywhere when engaging with the Internet and not all of them are gross. Take for example sponsors on podcasts or ads on Instagram.

If done in a way that aligns with the medium and brings awareness for things that might be useful for the audience, it works.

I’ve bought a kettle bell (thanks Bill Maeda + Instagram), a Henson razor (thanks Cal Newport), Athletic Greens (thanks Andrew Huberman + Instagram) based on positive ad/sponsor experiences.

Why I chose Ethical Ads as my ad network

I had admired the way Carbon Ads looked for a long time.

I actually reached out to them several years back but I didn’t have the page views to meet the requirements to join.

I then tried joining AdSense and Ezoic to see what the process was like. I know, I know…but Michael, their ads are gross…I know. But my kids 😉

Thankfully, AdSense and Ezoic both crapped out on me for reasons I have no idea why during the review process and so I stopped pursuing them out of frustration.

Finally, I ran across an ad on someone’s site that looked like a Carbon Ads ad, but it wasn’t. It was from an ad network called, Ethical Ads.

What Ethical Ads does different that I appreciate were the fact that they don’t use user-cookies, instead using the post content so it’s privacy focused (think Fathom Analytics), the tech behind their platform is open source, it is developer focused and it’s run by a small team (think Buttondown).

Not to mention their ads look great!

So I applied to become a publisher.

What’s the Ethical Ads review process for becoming a publisher, instead using the post content?

For me it was a 9-step process for becoming a publisher on their network.

  1. Sign up to be a publisher on their website
  2. Wait a few days
    • I applied on Saturday and they replied on the following Tuesday
  3. Get a response email saying that I qualify for their network and explaining the process for getting onboarded and if I was still interested in joining
    • I, of course responded yes
  4. Same day, they created a publisher account for me
  5. I added their script and div to my site
  6. Checked that their non-paid ads rendered on my site once the latest changes were live
  7. Reply back to Ethical Ads that I had completed steps 5 + 6
  8. They turned on paid ads
  9. Profit

I was actually surprised at first to be accepted into the network because while I do have a lot of developer-focused content on my site, I do have the occasional post about being a dad and productivity focused topics.

I shared this in my application and David Fischer who reached out to me from Ethical Ads thought there were enough focused content to run their ads.

According to my analytics, 6 out of the top 10 most visited pages on my site are developer focused content and so there is alignment there.

Top 10 pages visited on this site according to analytics

Are you making a ton of money?!

I won’t quit my day job as of right now and I definitely won’t be seeing $80 million dollars during my lifetime of running this site.

But as I mentioned, I’m collecting pennies and that’s cool.

I’m only 5 days in since signing up for Ethical Ads and just shy of making $2. Which I think is pretty rad for doing nothing but showing ads.

Here is an idea of what my site could potentially earn.

According to Ethical Ads, publishers will see roughly $2 per 1000 pageviews.

These numbers will vary based on your audience and topics that you write about since advertisers prices vary by geography and by topic. In addition, the performance of your ad placements are a factor since some advertisers pay per click rather than per impression. Generally, publishers see around $2.00 per 1,000 pageviews (CPM). North American pageviews usually bring in a little more than this. Traffic from Europe, Australia, or New Zealand is typically right about $2 while ads shown to users in the rest of the world usually bring in less.

The data in Fathom Analytics says I’m about 13,000 pageviews per month.

Screen shot of analytics for this site in a month

Which means my earning potential could be about $26 per month.

Not bad at all.

That’s like a large pizza and some wings for the family 🙂

What I like about Ethical Ads

First, the ads look clean.

Ethical Ads ad on this website

Second, the fact that they are privacy focused.

Third, they are a small team that really cares about you, the publisher.

With each step of the onboarding process, I spoke with David Fischer, one of the partners of Ethical Ads. He was nothing but cordial and explained things well for me.

Finally, it doesn’t slow down the speed of my site, which means they also care about the reading experience for those who see their ads.

After I added their script to my site, I ran a PageSpeed test and found that it didn’t change anything at all as far as speed goes.

Screenshot of PageSpeed test for the site

I was also surprised to see that in Google’s render of my site, the ad never showed up.

Curious as how they did this, I reached out to David and he shared that their script tag is marked as async which doesn’t block the rendering of the site.

Very nice that they happen to care about a lot of the things I care about.

Final thoughts

While it’s still early in my experience with ads on my site and especially with Ethical Ads, I’ve been happy with my choice and delighted with the experience.

Trust me, adding ads on my site was not something I took lightly. I’ve written on my site for 10+ years without ads up until now.

But finding Ethical Ads made my decision easier.

If you’re someone who writes for the developer community or the likes and have thought about adding ads (or collecting pennies) on your site, I can’t recommend, Ethical Ads enough.

I do hope as a reader, you’ll find value in relevant ads that will point you to some cool products.

I plan on doing a follow up after a month to share how things are going with Ethical Ads.

Oh and by the way, thanks for reading this post and giving me (a fraction of) a penny 😊

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