Google Ads Blocked at Sheraton Boston Kiosks

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 01:04 PM with 0 comments

screen shot of AboutIceland.com with Google Ads and Maps blockedWith most larger hotel chain charging at least $15.00 per day for in-room Internet access, I was pleased to find on a recent stay at the Sheraton Boston several computers available in the lobby called “Link @ Sheraton” with free Internet access.

But as they say, you get what you pay for. A couple of the machines did not work at all, and the ones that did required me to go thru the authentication process similar to if I was in my hotel room, but there with no charge. Once I did get online, I found a stripped down version of Windows and the Internet Explorer browser worked though did not handle pop-up windows as I would expect.

Another thing I expected to see that I did not was Google Ads – on several sites I visited that I had been to before, there were blank spaces where Google Ads would normally appear. I then did an unscientific experiment to prove this was the case, first visiting one of my own sites, About Iceland, and as you can see in the accompanying photo (click it for a full, larger view), the right side is blank where there should be ads and Google Maps does not appear at the bottom of the page either. Next I tried a parked domain name page, which did show paid ads. But upon clicking on an ad, I got a warning from the browser that the URL, which is to Google’s Ad network, was blocked. There was a text box on the page where I could “appeal” for the blocked URL to be displayed, and I put a short note in there about not blocking ads.

Why would they do this? Does Sheraton not want ads for Marriott to be displayed? Do they want to ensure inappropriate ads are not displayed? Or do they want a cut of the ad revenue for this “free” service they offer their hotel guests? Whatever the reason, I see this as an all-around disservice. Web site visitors may find the ads useful and blank spaces on a Web page awkward. And don’t forget the Web developer who may not have counted on content not appearing on a Web page.

Where I do send kudos to Starwood Hotels for offering these kiosks – I was able to find train and travel information using the PCs – I also recommend people invest in a broadband mobile card or tether their own computers to their mobile phone (as I did) to ensure you get the real, open Internet.

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