There have been stories about how Google's AdSense contextual advertising program has helped contribute to the clogging of search engines with useless pages designed only to generate AdSense clicks -- but now some are questioning if AdSense policies are harming journalism. Specifically, Google has always been careful to replace contextual ads with "public service announcements" (the dreaded "PSAs" to AdSense publishers) whenever the contextualizing system believes the content is too racy (evil?) to be associated with Google. However, as Romenesko points out, that means some more hard-hitting journalism pieces may trigger the PSA switch -- thereby killing off plenty of potential revenue. The fear is that reporters (or publishers) will start writing to satisfy Google AdSense, rather than their audience. Of course, that seems short-sighted. Most writers aren't so focused on the specific ads that will show -- and if they are, their content probably suffers for it. By providing consistently good content (even if some of it pulls PSAs), it's likely that a news site will get more overall traffic in the long run for all of its articles.
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