Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Adult content" wine

Wow -- 671 views before At First Glass had its plug pulled! I hope it wasn't just the "adult content" in the title.

If you will indulge me in a little excursus, I'll fix you a drink in a minute. It will be perfect.

Image from She is French

Did you know, dear things, that in the world of blogging and online advertising, wine is considered "adult content" or "non family-safe," on a par with sex, tobacco, all alcohol, and gambling? I learned this from Dr. Vino's article "Who makes money wine writing?" published on January 12, 2011. (Quick answer to that question: almost nobody.) I learned a little more reading various posts and comment streams on pertinent blogger forums and Google help centers.

Why is wine lumped into such a sinister category? First things first. (Better get some ice and a set up for that drink, as the detective says in Laura.) When you launch a blog, the host platform -- Blogger, Wordpress, or whatever -- assigns it a default setting as being not adult content. You start out all clean and family-friendly. If you intend to concentrate on sex or something equally sinister, you can click a button affirming your site will be adult content.

Second things second. Suppose that no matter your area of concentration, you want to run ads on your blog's sidebar, in an effort to make a little money. Unless you have actual sponsors, the simplest way to do this is to click another handy button and allow ads to be automatically loaded in by Adsense, triggered by the keywords you use. The idea is that ads for, say, the latest Apple product are automatically loaded into the sidebar of a techie blog, or ads for wine in to the sidebar of -- wait for it -- a wine blog. Readers click an intriguing link, you earn a fractional penny, the advertiser gets a potential customer, and Adsense goes on bragging to its clients about how many "eyeballs" it lassos through these triggered placements on a million little fractional-penny blogs. Yes, yes, yes. The joy and ease of keywords, or what is also called SEO, Search Engine Optimization.

No, no, no. Third things third: Not only do all blogs self-sort into either the good witch or bad witch category, but, as we noted in surprise above, among the bijillions of products that Adsense is ready to serve forth in widgets on your sidebar, wine already has been made to stand as it were late at night, hitching up its skirt and adjusting its stockings alongside some ill-chosen company in a cone of lurid pink streetlight. Just because it has been decreed "non family-safe," along with its partners, tobacco and gambling and the rest, any advertising for it can't slouch your way unless you first click that button and identify your blog as adult content. Of course the next problem is that if you click like so, you could -- as Dr. Vino warns -- "open up a Pandora's box" in terms of SEO. I have visions of ads for porn erupting amid my recipes for beef stew and cocktails.

And all because poor, innocent, wholesome wine has been thrust into a category where -- surely we agree -- it does not belong. The blog-sorting arrangement and its corollary online advertising market, taken together, work logically enough. One of the commenters on a Google help forum explained that reputable companies, let's say Disney, want to be sure that Adsense doesn't load promos for its latest princess movie into a beer blog. Or worse. And vice versa; mom bloggers reviewing the latest princess movie don't want casino and Viagra spots in their sidebars. Ditto for me, and my beef stew and porn. The most efficient way to solve this sorting problem, by the bijillions, has been for the powers that be to establish the family-safe fence for both blogs and products, over which climbs utterly nothing.

But precisely because I keep my blog in its family-safe, default setting, in my sidebar one sees, if one bothers to notice and frankly I wouldn't, a lot of pointless material about shower stall windows and replacement auto glass. Adsense knows I'm clean. When it sees the trigger "At First Glass," it yells, Aha! here you go, little lady! -- and there I am. Search Engine Optimization gone most logically wrong. I earn perhaps a few cents a month. To crown all, from Dr. Vino and others I learned that even if I took the plunge and categorized the blog as "adult content," hoping to attract clicks from people who either like food and wine or porn or both, I could thereby instantly put it behind firewalls which computers, servers, browsers, people -- whole countries -- have set up to protect eyeballs from the sight of ungodly stuff. So there would go any revenue stream anyway.

  Image from She is French This is not an ad for Jack Daniels..

This must be why the commenters to Dr. Vino's original post tended to gas on about forgetting any idea of writing for money, and doing it for the love of it instead. Which I have been doing since I was twelve. It only seems longer.

Now -- may I thank you for indulging me in a little excursus which I think would be called, in media, "inside baseball" talk? Did it help set your mind at rest? How about a drink?

The "Perfect" cocktail
Once more from Charles Schumann's American Bar. Stir well over ice cubes in a mixing glass:
3/4 ounce (half a jigger) dry vermouth
3/4 ounce (half a jigger) sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce (half a jigger) gin 
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, twist an orange peel over the glass and drop in.

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