Great stuff, Andy. I really admire you for the integrity with which you run this site.
It's funny, a lot of my friends, especially the technophiles, seem to have a real problem with advertising. I don't: if someone puts on an advert that says 'this is an advert', I'm fine with that, especially if it is subsidising my use of that resource.
I do resent 'invasive' adverts, such as pop-ups. I do not think they are necessary, I deliberately never click them, and mostly I block them out. I do not block banner ads, google ads etc. even though I could, I think it would be wrong to do so. This, for me, is give and take relationship. Pop-ups is someone else taking too much from me, in my opinion. blocking all ads, however, is me taking the piss.
I like it when there are options to hide ads in exchange for a 'premium membership' or fee. This is my ideal world, when ads are annoying me, I can make them go away without taking the piss. I pay for my membership of Spotify for this reason, I simply do not enjoy listening to advertisements in between music, they get stuck in my head and sometimes they work too well and I buy things. it's a better deal to pay for no ads!!
I do have problems with people who advertise dishonestly, and I have always admired your honesty with these things.
Is this disclosure reasonable?
You know more about your readership than I do but my guess is 80 are from the wealthier G20 nations. These citizens are already quite sophisticated regarding commercial advertising, salesmen's zillions of sales pitches and any "hidden" ulterior motives when approached making them keen on being able to TUNE them OUT. By either muting the TV during commercials, by being "blind" to images advertising intend to influence them with and / or ignoring advertisements in a variety of ways.
I'm constantly reminded of this fact when I'm with my wife in any shopping mall or store or when confronted with some new advertisement. She sees P100 I see "FROM", she sees Clearance Sale with the low prices I see "limited stocks available" , With Only U$298 she see's U$200 or U$200 PLUS I see U$300. Advertising experts have incredible understanding of human wants and needs and how their minds process information.
So that said, prospering is one way of survival and you have mentioned seeking to take your thing to the next level and even diversify your efforts towards things like manufacturing and selling the "perfect backpack" so if you believe that such ADS will increase your income then GO FOR IT. I doubt very much whether ANY advertisement strategy they are pitching you can con your readership in some way which may hurt them in the future.
G20 people are not smarter than non-G20 countries, there is no superior or sophisticated skills endowed in these countries that keeps them safe. There is a reason the send all the spam to the G20 nations, because it works.
I will give a rating on all post eventually, trying to explain how I feel I should not be considered unbiased, I am not delusional in belief that I am free of prejudice.
I am positive people who receive benefits will indeed pull punches. I am trying to find the best way to disclose when I feel like I may be influenced, not that I want to be, but better see the issue from all sides.
If you have taken a good hard look at the DOWNSIDE of such advertisers and can live with it, MORALLY then DO IT!! I agree Andy, each and everyone of us maintains some sort of prejudicial attitudes and opinions, often without being aware of it. Sophisticated consumers are created over a long period of time and many long hours of shoppping. When I use to sell fashion assessories and designer copycats I noticed that those making the bags hardly notice small flaws or the wrong choice of color zippers etc whereas in the California flea markets shoppers notice even the most minute flaws. It's the same with price advertising and classic "bait and switch" marketing policies the less sophisticated consumers don't notice these marketing tricks. In real estate my wife and I would joke about the choice of words to describe a property, for example "rustic cottage" might translate to "old shack" . Of course G20 citizens are no smarter nor dumber than the other two thirds of humanity but they are being the sold the majority of higher end and specific niche consumer goods so their demands on quality, salesmenship and customer service guarantees are higher than in developing nations.
Interesting topic, exploring the morality of advertising. Advertisers will continue to push the envelope. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/06/business/media/06paper.html
See McLuhan: http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/