I noticed today that Google Adsense has been added to the USMS Forums which I think is a good strategy to monetize the forum a little bit. USMS needs to make money where it can and I would guess that its large amount of web traffic is one of its biggest untapped resources. Making individual ad deals for the site would probably make more money, but using Adsense is much easier to implement and a good way to test out this type of advertising.
Google Adsense, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a context based ad service program for web publishers. The website owner pastes some code from Google into their site and then Google will serve ads based on the content of the page. When a visitor clicks on an ad Google shares the profit from the click with the website owner. Adsense is very common on the internet and I use it on this site.
There is already a thread on the forum where some people have started to voice some concern about the ads being served revolving around one’s privacy. Many people see a targeted ad on a page that they’re visiting and worry that they have some kind of virus or the website knows more about them then it should. In reality when it is an Adsense ad served by Google it is derived from the content not the individual user. Also you need to remember that there is no privacy on a public internet forum in the first place. Everything on the USMS Forums has been indexed and recorded by search engines.
So even if you’re not a fan of the new ads on the forums, don’t worry too much about them. Adsense is pretty unobtrusive and helps make USMS some money. Would you rather pay more money every year to be a member or ignore some text ads? If USMS starts experimenting with pop-up ads… that would be a good time to lead a user revolt :)