the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Golden Era of Advertising


I didn’t read many blogs when I started Citizen of the Month in March, 2005.  My initial model for my blog was the late Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes.”  Every day I would write a short post based on some personal off-kilter observation such as, “Why do we still lick envelopes in the 20th Century?”  It’s a tried and true comedic technique.

Seven years ago this week, my father died.   I was blogging for a little over a year.  Sophia, my wife at the time, sent a message to my blog readers that I was called back to New York.  There was no Twitter or Facebook at the time, so I used my blog as my diary, writing about my emotional state at the time, detailing all the chaos, the sadness, and even the frequent bittersweet humor of dealing with a parent’s death.

My father’s passing completely transformed my view of blogging.  Writing a personal blog was not the same as writing a short story or a magazine article.  It certainly was not like Andy Rooney doing his shtick on “60 Minutes.”  For one thing, blogs had comments, and the feedback from others were frequently more interesting than the original post.  Readers also CARED about me in a way that I never cared about Andy Rooney.   And I CARED about my readers.  Blogging was something revolutionary — a hybrid of writing, community forum, therapy, and friendship.

Life continued on, as did my blog.  My writing changed in tone to reflect my experiences.    Sophia dealt with breast cancer.  Sophia’s mother passed away.  Sophia’s step-father passed away.  Sophia and I divorced.  I moved back and forth between Los Angeles and New York.  I flew to New Zealand to meet a new woman.  Life.

Last night, I put an advertisement onto the sidebar of my blog, or more accurately,  I installed a Javascript “advertising-tag” into the code which sends you creepy Big Brother-like advertisements tailored JUST for you, based on the cookies in your browser.    At first, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong with the code, because the advertisements didn’t show up in my browser.  I realized that I was using the Chrome Extension, Ad Blocker, to hide YOUR advertisements, so I was blocking my own ads!  I turned off Ad Blocker, and BOOM, it appeared — a 160×600 banner ad for Buick.

I glanced over at my last few posts.  One was a mediation on happiness.   Another was a photo essay.  The third was a conversation with my cock.   I turned to the Flashy Buick ad and… I started to cry.  It wasn’t an unhappy cry.   It wasn’t a happy cry.   It was just an emotional release, of what I can’t tell you.

Placing this advertisement on my blog is a very big deal to me.  It scares me, but it also gives me a slight thrill, like I’m losing my virginity to a prostitute or going bungee jumping.  Will I keep the advertisement on my sidebar?   It depends on how much money I can earn by keeping it there.  If we are talking less than ten bucks a month, it’s not worth it.

I know my eight year obsession over putting advertising on my blog is crazy, and has annoyed the shit out of some of you.   I realize that most of you couldn’t care less what I do.  But I’m pretentious.   It’s one little secret that I try to keep to myself.  My blog is powerful… to me.  It is a reflection of my life, my manhood, my attitudes towards money and ambition, and an expression of sex and desire.   My blog is also about my father, the kind man who died seven years ago this week.   And my father would never put advertising on his blog.   So, it’s a big change.


  1. Jessica Brookman (@jessicabrookman)

    You’re definitely going bungee jumping.

  2. Stasha

    Your blog doesn’t change if you find a way to pay for a few bagels a month. But why in Earth do they think you need a Buick?

  3. The Honourable Husband

    You’ll be delighted to know that your adserver has me picked for a wrinkly. It’s touting the German-language edition of the Reader’s Digest. That’s a great idea for a product, since pretty much everything written in German could use severe editing.

    As an incentive to subscribe, it’s offering me a free gift. Wait for it. A watch. Like I didn’t have a smartphone to tell the time!

    This bot sure ain’t reading my cookies. Otherwise, it would have shown me something a little more buff and NSFW.

    • Neil

      I think I might get more traffic today with just people coming to see what the ad is for them. That would be a genius Tumblr. All it is IS an advertising server and people come just to see how accurate it is each day.

  4. Alexandra


    Just now figured out why I enjoy your blog so much.

    It’s like I”ve been left home alone, and stumbled on someone’s diary.

    You let me peek in on your diary. I love it, Neil.

    Thank you

  5. alejna

    I’m not getting an ad to show up in my regular browser, and I even tried playing around with the settings just to see what ad I’d get! (I keep Java disabled, but tried turning it back on, but still no ad.) I was very curious, and so tried a different browser. The result: “Get your Smokey On: Only you can prevent wildfires.” This feels like a lot of pressure on just me, though. Is Smokey really blaming me for the fires ravaging the American Southwest? I live in New England.

    • Neil

      What kind of ad is for Smokey the Bear? I’m serving PSAs?

      • alejna

        Yeah, pretty much a PSA. But my cookie jar for that browser is basically empty, since I almost never use it. So maybe they had no idea what to sell me. But I did click through. Smokey wants me to sign a pledge:

        I’m still curious what sort of ad I’d get based on my actual browsing.

  6. Kerstin @ Auer Life

    I’m quite disappointed. I tried three different browsers and don’t get any ads… Either I have an ad blocker I don’t know about, or I am too mysterious for the ad server to figure out. I’ll go with mysterious.

    • Neil

      You’re just too cool for these ads.

  7. Redneck Mommy

    Move your ad above the fold. (By that I mean, place it either above the instagrams thingy or directly below it, above recent comments.)

    Also, good job. I’m high-fiving your therapist right now.

  8. Nichole

    Your blog wants me to go to Disney World.

  9. Shannon

    How did your blog know that I am out of toilet paper? Running to the store now.

  10. Absence of alternatives

    I need to visit more risque sites more often. Right now I am seeing SPG. If this is based on the cookies in my browser, the ads app should know that I am ALREADY very much into SPG and they should have served me an ad for a competing hotel chain. But because it’s SPG ads, your blog remains looking quite classy.

    Don’t worry, Neil. I am not saying your content is classy. That would have been an insult to a NYC writer, right?

    I just realized one thing: this may be the first time in online ads history when readers actually visit a site more often because they want to see what kind of ads are served. You should blog about that too.

  11. Absence of alternatives

    Just want to report back that ad app knows I am obsessed with hotels. I am seeing a Westin ad now. It works!

  12. Kizz

    OK, it’s slightly creepy. I got an ad for a local business, a cabaret club. That might be tailored a little too well to my likes and to “conversations I have had with Neil and we only just met!”

  13. Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers)

    It isn’t the money that makes me put ads on my site (god knows, there’s little money); it ‘s that they make such pretty pictures.

  14. Neil

    I’m not sure I like that the ads are Flash and move around like little movies. It is distracting. Which I suppose is the point.

  15. Father Muskrat

    Your blog thinks I start forest fires, it appears, as Smokey the Bear is telling me not to do it.

    • Neil

      You do like playing with fire.

  16. Natalie - The Cat Lady Sings

    I respect you for doing it, and for writing about it. I’m still new-ish to blogging at 13 months, but I struggle A LOT with the whole idea of advertising. Will I be selling my soul if I do so? Will it cheapen my material? Will my blog become a black hole of flashing gifs and selly-sell memes?
    That you wrestled with the questions for so long and still remain cautious earns my admiration. Not that you need it, but thought I’d let you know.

    • Neil

      Thanks. There is no right or wrong. I hardly notice the ads on other blogs.

  17. Neil.

    2PM update — earnings since last night: 11 cents.

  18. Marie Nicole

    I don’t see the ad. And I know I don’t have the nifty ad blocker plug-in. I am however on Google Chrome, and on a Mac. I know Macs struggle with java stuff. Or I think it does. I’m just glad to see you went with an ad exclusively in your sidebar. I really hate it when ads take-over the content area. Hate it when ads are actually above or below the header, and between the post content and the commenting area.

    I’m really sorry to read that it has taken you so long to do this. Sorry to hear that it tore you so hard apart, that it was a big deal knowing many people just throw ads up without even thinking about it.

    I don’t have any, but I did my first sponsored post not too long ago. I was glad that I was able to write it in my own weird awkward way and still got paid. I would gladly accept more offers if they all went the same way…

    Good luck, I hope you do see some income from these ads!

  19. The Animated Woman

    Sorry about your dad. Was he funny like you?

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