Home News A plague on all your ads: Google Adsense goes incontinent

A plague on all your ads: Google Adsense goes incontinent


While I was in Germany this week I noticed random panel advertising appearing on Macfilos. In some cases, advertisements were placed in between comments. I soon started getting letters from readers who had also noticed this ad incontinence.

What could be causing this? Had Google Adsense become Google Nonsense? I did a quick search and was dismayed to find that the site could be infected with malware, causing random ads to pop up.

On getting back to London, I asked our web agency Worcester Web Studio if they had any clue as to what was happening. They couldn’t find the reason but, at least, they were able to confirm that the cause was not the effects of malware. Then the penny dropped.

Today, I received an email from Google asking me to review my “Auto Ad settings”. I didn’t know I had any:

A few weeks ago we introduced you to a new, more customisable and powerful Auto ads. We tried to match your previous settings as closely as possible, and sent you a notification on your AdSense homepage about the settings you needed to review. Because you didn’t make any changes to your settings, we applied our default settings for you.

Incontinent messages

I certainly don’t remember being introduced. So I lost no time in checking the settings and disabling the auto ads which Google had so kindly assumed would enhance Macfilos. I also entered a few choice words in the “feedback” box, not that they will do any good.

Settings I didn’t know I had

Rather curiously, these intrusive advertisements appeared to be targeted at a rather mature audience — retirement homes and incontinence pads featuring large in the repertoire — so full marks to Google for profiling. At Least. I am sure readers, and Tena will have benefitted.

I resent this sort of high-handed tampering and believe the default choice should have been Opt-Out, not Opt-In.

After nearly ten years without advertising, I agreed to place just one advertising panel at the top of the site when we changed over to WordPress in February. This was a major step, but I did not bargain with allowing Google unfettered access with irritating pop-up ads. I thought, maybe, that the presence of advertising might help with SEO.

The modest amount of advertising doesn’t bring in a lot of money. In the nine months since we started it has just about covered domain management and subscriptions for the theme and other necessary services (including Mail Chimp and Dlvr.it to cope with social media). In all, over a good year, it should bring in about 15 percent of the total running costs of Macfilos. It’s a token, nothing more, and it is worthwhile as long as it doesn’t annoy readers.

Now, I hope, we are back to normal….. Shout if you still find advertising popping up all over the place.


  1. Sadly we live in a world where the default is someone else’s settings, not ours. It seems to require an awful lot of mental bandwidth to understand these setting “choices” and then to over come the inevitable “Are you sure? You will destroy all of your castanet settings if you do. There will be no way to recover your castanets if you subsequently change your mind.”

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

  2. I use an app on my phone to create a virtual private network that filters out pretty much all adverts. According to the data reports I get it has saved me 8.6 GB of data use from ads over the past 12 months. It also noticeably speeds up page loading times. This I find useful as internet speeds are pretty slow out where I live.

    • Oh, and I’d be quite happy to forward the money saved through not having to pay for the extra bandwidth for all those ads across the internet to Macfilos. It would probably come out at £50 a year!

      • Thank you Steve! I use an as blocker on the Mac as well. But thanks for your very kind offer. I have never wanted to take money from readers (as with the Patreon subscription thingy) because I do Macfilos as a hobby, and as a way of keeping me focused on retirement. It is like a little job which helps physiologically — a focus for the day. And look how many nice people I meet along the way. Still waiting for your additional shots to complete the article, by the way.

  3. Good news, Mike. No more ‘socks for seniors’ then. I never read such ads and certainly make a point of not buying stuff advertised in pop up ads. I imagine that a lot of people feel like I do. One thing I do find annoying, though. Most of the time (probably at least 99% of the time) I do a Google search, I am not looking to buy anything, but when the results come up the top search results are usually people or firms who are trying to sell the thing that I am searching about rather than providing the information I am searching for. My rule also applies here; absolutely no business from me for such persons or firms. The aspect of this that annoys me is the time spent disposing of such search results. It was not like this 5 or 6 years ago before Google decided to monetise its search engine. Such is the price of progress. My rule about not dealing with such advertisers also applies to cold callers either at the door or on the phone. My line if they don’t get lost immediately is ‘I won’t waste your time and please don’t waste mine’. Unfortunately, we don’t get a chance to say this online.


  4. I advise you to use duck duck go as your standard search engine instead of Google. Duck duck go has the policy of not following you. Using safari or firefox as your standard browser and a vpn service also helps. If you want to be completely sure an app like 1Blocker helps in removing all those unwanted advertisements, unwanted cookies etc. With this app you can manage your own dose of wanted advertisement and pop-ups to your own liking.



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