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I finally got around to asking the Starlite teacher more questions about online advertising. To recap, she was a media buyer for a tech company, and had a lot of interaction with ad agencies, including online agencies. She didn't know a lot of details about online advertising, but her answer to my question about how money is made was "it's based on the clickthrough rate", which is acceptable.

So then I started discussing AdSense. She didn't know what it was; had never heard of it. I mentioned that it was used by web publishers to cover the costs of their sites. They place the AdSense code on their sites, and when the ads are clicked on they are paid a percentage of what Google collects from the advertisers. She said that sounded like a good idea.

I had previously asked her if in her past experience as an ad buyer, had there ever been situations where her management became concerned about the money that was being spent. She said no, basically she was given a budget and told to spend it or else it would go away. This is actually rather common, based on things I've read on WebmasterWorld and elsewhere.

Getting back to last night's conversation, I then asked if she thought there were any problems with the AdSense program as currently implemented. She said she couldn't think of any. I reminded her that the publishers were credited a percentage of what the advertisers paid Google for clicks on the ads, but she still couldn't think of any problems. I then asked "What if the publishers clicked on their own ads?" Her response surprised me:

"Everybody does it."

(Not what advertisers want to hear, I'll bet.)

I don't quite remember the rest of the conversation, but we're going to pick it up again later. In the meantime, I suggested she talk to one of the other teachers, who set up a forum for the students and teachers to communicate with each other. It features AdSense ads. He and I have discussed AdSense a bit; he knows what click fraud is, enough to know not to click on the ads (with fraudulent intent). It'll be interesting to find out what she thinks of what he has to say.

(To be continued ...)