Advertising on Blogs

There has been a huge explosion in blog advertising. The cost to the advertiser is low and blog traffic is high so it is a win win situation..........or is it? My personal hesitation in displaying ads comes from an ethical viewpoint.

What do I consider unethical about advertising?

1. Sneaky advertising: Where a blogger talks about a product relentlessly without displaying a clear message that the product was given to them at no cost or that they are being paid to advertise (If you look at the bottom of the post then you will find tiny writing like this).
2. Advertisements for clearly dodgy products: When you go the website, you find it is incorrectly formatted, poor spelling/grammar or the cardinal sin - mistakes unintentional or deliberate on ingredients
3. Fake Endorsements: Where a blogger promotes a product which they do not use. This is often the case when someone claims that XYZ grew my hair to my knees but in reality they only started talking about XYZ two months ago. Ok so maybe knee length is an exaggeration........but the truth is two months is only 1 inch of hair, 6 months is only 3 inches of hair. Long hair took much longer than a few months to achieve, what the person needs to say is what they DID and used 2-3 years back.
4. Advertisement Overload: I think it is just bad manners to let advertising overtake the blog. There is a sudden influx of posts about a particular product or the the side bars are just littered with advertising.

In the words of  Dr. King: I have a dream......

I say all this because at this point I would love to have relevant advertising. I think it would be a great way to pay for my future plans and boy do I have huge dreams! I would love to do the research that is missing, for example we know coconut oil penetrates hair, how about castor oil or shea butter?

I happen to have the hair and the skills to do the job (all free!) but the cost of running the equipment is not cheap (circa $2000-3000). The fact is, the reason why this research does not get done is because scientists are trying to solve problems and exploratory research (meaning do it just because it is interesting) is increasingly rare and not funded through the usual means. Are we going to twiddle our thumbs and hope it gets done or just do it?

What is your opinion, do you think advertising can be ethical? What do you think about advertisements on blogs? What do you think about a fund to do research that is relevant to us (i.e hair lovers)?


  1. I recently saw a post by another blogger that disturbed me. The blogger was having a drawing for a cool product that I would love to get my hands on.....however, the steps required to to be a part of the drawing were absolutely ridiculous. Not only did I have to promote the blog on facebook and twitter, but I had to promote the product on facebook and twitter. I said NO THANKS! It was too much trouble for a measly $25 dollar product that I might not even win! I think some bloggers go too far. Its sad that its come to this. That blogger definitely lost my trust, and my subscription!

  2. DKelly - Viral marketing works in my book only when people do it out of their free will (Meaning I like it therefore I send it out to my friend). My view on that promotion as you describe it is the same, I wouldn't enter.

  3. Even with me representin' a natural hair salon, I try not to condone such advertising. Although, we have had a few disturbers ship out some products, we put them on display and allow clients to decide if they want it or not. I do attempt to use on the clients that I feel it might be best suited for. However, it isn't about making money, it is about what works for you/client. I have to admit I have seen a few product giveaways that made me wonder if it was worth the hassle. But, at the end of the day it all comes down to what you think....and this is what I think, lol! (Great blog idea Natural Haven!!!!)

  4. OMG!!!!!

    I am so glad you brought this up. I am considering unsubscribing to one because she owns a part of the company and pretends like she is just a regualar blogger. I was reading another blog and the blogger stated that she received free products from the lady in hopes that she would write a review. I was pissed because I felt that Blogger 1 (which we all know) was pretending that this product is sooo fabulous and that the company just teamed up with her blog after she had to think long and hard about joining this haircare company...(yeah right! you own the company!)Uggh!!
    Now everytime I see her blogs I just cringed and feel like she is a big phony.

    The blogger that reviewed her products wasn't too impressed with it anyway and I was laughing because on her site you would think the products were the Mercedes Benz of haircare.
    Give me a big fake!!!

    Thank you for being a great site and for bringing up this discussion.

  5. Would there be a chance you could rather get someone independent to invest in you? I have been reading your blog for long now and I trust you, but not everyone has the time and energy to get into it as deeply, so others might judge by their first impression. And it just doesn't look sensible. Take the advertising on the Beauty Brains website. Each time they mention Neutrogena in one of their posts, I am thinking to myself, well, maybe they fund you for mentioning them. You just become suspicious.
    If you had a sponsor that you can be open and proud about, but who has nothing to do with selling hair products, it wouldn't affect your credibility.
    In Germany, I would approach Bionade. They promote a healthy, "natural" image, and I have no idea how their staff look or dress, but having natural black hair would go so well with the overall lifestyle they stand for. So it would be a situation where both sides profit from their respective image.
    Now this was just an example, and it doesn't apply to Britain, but just to give you the idea what I mean.

  6. Thanks for the comment Nature's Course. I do agree that any advertising has to fit in with the audience otherwise it is pointless.

    Anon you raise a great point on underhand tactics which I think are a big red flag. If the product is good, why do you need underhand methods?

    Gerlinde I love the idea of a private investor and it is not something I thought about before. I think is because I have been involved in the university sector for too long. I will definitely research it further because I would love to do some practical research. Ultimately the investor would have to benefit from it too, so I will really have to research this.

  7. I believe 'advertising' sucks. Talking about products is ok and is bau on brasilian girl blogs, but you can SEE the difference when they're talking about a real experience and when they are just aSSvertising.

    Some companies use to gift bloggers with products to be tested and gifted to readers. But in these cases, I see them actually trying the product and talking about the experience.
    The experience is not always good, so the review is also not always good.
    I think it is pretty honest to do it this way.

  8. Oh definitely agree Liv. I highly recommend Alice at diaryofakinkycurlytransitioner. She is always honest and when it sucks, she says so.

  9. I think that when accepting ads or sponsorships it is easy to do some very shady things, perhaps without realizing they are shady. There are laws in the US about disclosure (and paying taxes on "free" product) but I know plenty of bloggers who don't know that or don't care. I think sponsored posts, paid reviews, and giveaways can be a very slippery slope.

    I think those considering making money from a blog have to carefully consider what types of ad placements they are willing to accept in advance. I think it's also helpful and important to put parameters around sponsorships and giveaways, and stick to them even if it means turning down potential sponsors or giveaways. In addition to full disclosure on individual posts, I like to see a clearly written advertising/sponsorship policy posted on blogs.

  10. I agree with Gerlinde. It is a matter of credibility specialy because you are a myth buster lol. You can look for makeup advertisement, fashion etc. Good luck.

  11. I'm really against advertising on personal blogs. I hate the way our lives are COMPLETELY being taken over by ads--you literally can't get away from them without going completely off the grid anymore. Seriously, does anyone else play "Spot the designer" in music videos or "Count the shout out to x alcohol brand" in songs on the radio? It's really disturbing to me.

    I understand why someone would allow advertisements though, it's a really easy way to make money, something everyone (especially now) needs. I read an article recently that top youtube guru's can make over 60000 a month without doing anything besides talking to a camera and allowing pop ups all over the video.

    Ironically, I'm ok with fair, unbiased, product reviews. Now, what's an unbiased review? A well tested (thought of an tried all the ways something can be used) and a warning that says "hey! This product was given to me but I won't lie to you my lovelies!" if it was.

    And this has gotten really long and I haven't really finished talking yet. @_@ Response post coming soon!

    Thanks for the shout out Jc!


  12. err 6000, not 60000. Here's to hitting the 0 too hard >.<

  13. Jc, you put a lot of time and effort into this blog, and I think you should reap some benefits. What's wrong with a few banner ads off to the side? I'm not sure if that generates much income, but I don't mind those.

  14. Katie you are so right, I like clear explicit declarations on advertising policy.

    Thanks Kadiane, I agree my blog is based on facts. I don't allow links in comments for this reason and I have not displayed explicit ads for this reason too. However in all honesty my little google ad banner has totally irrelevant ads most times.

    Hey Miss Alice - I like the review format as you do it. I could not see myself testing products mostly because I am super picky with what I would put on my hair. I can see myself soliciting other people to do reviews though.

    LittleOne - Thanks :) My personal drive for the blog is just to let people know more about science. I think it would be nice to plough any money made back into the blog and this is why I would love to get some money!

  15. Personally, I love reviews and giveaways. :) I do think that they should be honest though. I mean, really, how many PERFECT products of any kind are out there? If every review is always WONDERFUL!! then I think something is probably shady. I also like to know if it was a paid review, a gift/giveway review, or just straight-up I tried this and liked it review.

    On the other hand, I really intensely dislike advertisements on blogs. I think it's like signing your blog over to someone else. And if I cared what they thought then I'd go and read their blog. I don't like being bombarded with commercials on the hope that I fit their demographic and are lured in by their sparkly pictures.

    I think it's a difference of something being endorsed versus someone trying to bilk me of my money because surely I'm a brainless consumer.

    Just a few thoughts, lol. :)

  16. Good post.
    I'm in agreement with the post; flase advertising or getting paid/freebies to promote products is wrong because you are decieving people. I think you should disclose if you were sent the product for free and also make sure this doesn't sway what you say in your review.

    I'm a beauty & hair blogger (<a href="></a>) myself but I make sure to disclose all the facts ingredients, price etc. I also think promotion for the smaller businesses is good but only if the product/service is good, that's why I make sure to evaluate what I'm promoting - if I would use the product and if it goes with my content and ethics.

  17. I hate when ppl try to promote a product by saying they got shoulder-length hair 6months after their BC... It's like come on! That's clearly not possible. Why not be truthful and honest in your pubbing antics???
    But you're clearly legit and you put alot of work into this blog. I'm sure A LOT of naturals gain very significant information from your posts. I love this blog!
    On a random, toally unrelated to this post note... Can we possibly see a picture of your hair? I'm dying to know what it looks like :)

  18. Thanks for the comments. Mz. T I have not yet decided to put up any personal pictures. I am quite strong on privacy (lol despite having a public blog) but perhaps I will do one day :)

  19. I'm all for affiliate ads on blogs or whatever, but not lies for cash.

    Jc how about amazon affiliate links to products that YOU use or like or trust. It's not big money but you have tons of fans/friends/followers who'd by through your link versus others simply because we know (and love) your steelo.

  20. I'm new to your blog and can I just say: I LOVE IT! I'm also from an academic background and I really appreciate the way you document and cite everything. You rock! You're setting a new standard for credibility and I only hope others will follow.

    And speaking of credibility: I'm so cynical these days about anything remotely resembling product endorsement or blatant advertising. It kills me (laughing myself to death) to see ads for cheap flat irons made in China and kiddie perms on sites devoted to natural Afro-textured hair. What??? So I've learned to tune it all out. That said, it's still income and I can understand why someone who puts so much time and energy into maintaining a website would be interested in seeing some $$$ (or pounds or euros) from their efforts. If you decided to go this route, I wouldn't be mad atcha. Seriously.

  21. lol @ pounds or euros Carol - see I love my blog more than money. The science is more important than anything me!

  22. Exactly. I have a blog and I was going to add one of those widgets that include advertising. UNTIL, I saw that one of the advertisements they were going to add was saying: "Straighten Your Hair"!

    Oh no, I removed that widget with the quickness! I'm not against straightening the hair per se I just would like my PERSONAL blog to be about enjoying the natural hair experience and learning about my CURLY hair. I've done the straight thing already...

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents. HGHG

  23. Make your money, JC. Just don't lose your integrity. You are a valuable resource and should be compensated for your time, research, and professionalism.

    If suitable advertising can pay the bills, then let it pay the bills.

    Perhaps you can apply, or propose, gov't grants for the kind of research you want to do in the future.

  24. Thanks Golden - I have actually looked at government grants and really unless I find some sort of compelling reason why it will be economically or socially viable, there really aren't any categories that it fits into. I want to do it just because I would like to know. There aren't grants for this type of research.

    I do think it is possible to advertise with integrity..............I think it would be a difficult balance but it is possible

  25. You have 757 followers all benefiting from your research and honest analysis. Now just imagine if each of them gave you £3...

  26. Bajan Lily, your comment made me smile. It is not a bad idea. I think a donate button may just be the way to go.

  27. I think we sell ourselvs short sometimes in this area. I don't think there's anything wrong with accredited, veted advertising on your blog. I don't mean hawking products distastefully, but if you decide to add whatever advertising you feel ethically comfortable with, and you've got the following for it, I think its beneficial to you because it takes time and effort to create a blog and put out the content and there is nothing wrong with doing so in order to reach your future goals. I know there are naturals out there who would love to be featured and they have quality products and information to share. I think valuable information in our niche is scarce because we're too afraid to ask for the things that are necessary in order to promote ourselves. Your blog is amazing, and I have no doubt that should you choose to advertise that your blog would still continue to be amazing. I'd support you just because of this fact.

  28. Aww thanks have more confidence in my selection of advertising than I do! I am uncertain because the natural hair industry is so new and it is easy to be duped into supporting what may not be a good product but one which is presented well.

    At the same time I am all for enterprise which means taking a risk and trusting instinctively the judgement on what is and isn't dubious.

    Glad to see that you would trust my judgement though :)


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