Users are wary of being tracked and monitored, of wondering how their data is going to be used and to whom it is going to be sold, of being re-targeted with ads when they have already bought a product, and of being spammed by random companies because their email address ended up in a marketing database somewhere. They are increasingly interested in using privacy-first products, even if it means paying a small subscription fee.

And indie makers are listening. This is why advertising products that are respectful of users and their data, as well as designed to work with smaller websites, are starting to emerge. Let’s have a look at the current landscape and your options if you want to implement ethical ads on your website.

Unobtrusive ads for makers

MakerAds is a simple rotating carousel everyone can embed on their website in seconds. It is free for makers to include their products in the rotation, and offers sponsored advertising spots to companies looking to specifically target the maker community.

They have a fair and transparent revenue share system, where all makers get 90% of the revenue made through paid sponsored listings. The revenue is distributed based on the number of referrals each maker provides, and the top referrers are displayed on the website.

“There were discussions in the maker community about wanting to monetise their products with advertising, but not wanting to show visitors irrelevant or ugly ads served from big bad corporations. Plus makers struggle with self promotion so by allowing independent makers to advertise for free MakerAds tends to helps with both these issues.” – James Ivings, co-founder of MakerAds.

MakerAds hosts all ad images, and they don’t use any third party tracking scripts. They don’t track the users or sell their information, and all of their metrics are public. They even made their code open source, ensuring full transparency into how the product is working.

An easy way to monetise your community

If you want more flexibility as to what ads appear on your website, Intravert is a newly launched product that offers an ethical and privacy-first way to set up native ad spaces that can be purchased through your own website.

Dominic Monn created it when he realised CPC did not pay off for small communities. “It’s intrusive and often not targeted enough,” he explains. “Community ad spaces make sense because the ad space purchases comes from within the community – and it just pays off a lot more to have a one-time sponsor worth $200, than monthly CPC payouts of $10. Finally, thanks to the community aspect, no tracking is needed.”

Managing your ads the solo way

The author of Dense Discovery, a popular newsletter with content at the intersection of tech, design, and culture, shared his DIY way of managing advertising space and sponsorships:

  1. All available spots are listed on a Google Spreadsheet;
  2. Clicking on a slot to book it refers the potential advertiser to a Formsite form where they can enter their details and pay for the slot;
  3. The payment kicks off a Zap which automatically adds the booking to another Google Spreadsheet and updates the original spreadsheet to show that particular slot as booked. Voilà!

Want to learn more about ethical ads? Read the Acceptable Ads Manifesto.

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