Are You Morally Required to Click Online Ads?

Advertisers monitor the success of their online ads partly based on clicks. The more clicks they get from a web page, the more effective they consider their advertisement and the more likely they'll continue to advertise. Does that mean clicking ads on your favorite site is a kind of small donation to the editorial team? It does!

So readers, thank you for coming and reading and all, but if you really want to do us a favor, click that Hewlett Packard advertisement on the right. Yeah, go ahead. Click it. Click it right now!

Michael Agger of Slate asks whether clicking ads on your favorite site helps. Of course, the answer is yes:

The best general to-click-or-not-to-click advice I found was from Internet marketer Seth Godin: "Ads are the new on-line tip jar." His method is simple: "If you like what you're reading, click an ad to say thanks."

I've often wondered this myself, and I'll sometimes click through ads on my favorite sites like Slate and by opening up the ad page in a separate tab and closing it after a few seconds. Sometimes I'll glance at the re-directed page and close immediately, and other times I'll worry that I've closed it too soon and that my contribution will be ignored because the ad company monitors time spent on their site. So occasionally I'll actually click the ad, and then click twice more on the opened ad page to pretend that I'm shopping for an HP, or that I'm itching to learn more about the new Yahoo! ad campaign, because two clicks should be enough to convince the company that has serious, engaged readers who like ads.

Or maybe I've just thought about this way too much....