I'm totally understanding that ad-revenue is how free-to-end-users sites and resources stay that way (bandwidth etc isn't free). I'm not even offended by the notion that SO might want to make a profit. So I'm all for ads as a concept if they are done tastefully and in a SFW way.
I have to say though that so far it isn't exactly filling me with confidence. I understand that mistakes, hiccups and the good ole fashioned unexpected happen sometimes but the experience and communication so far has reflected poorly on SO as an organization. Especially one that is well-funded and with a tech-centric basis.
SE: you won't get animated ads!
Monica: here's an animated ad
SE: Oh yeah actually you will be getting animated ads
I'm seeing a lot of "we didn't know" and "we thought we could" - not exactly coming across as a professional effort there. Rather than giving us "maybes" why not actually go an talk (or email/slack/whatever) to the advertising team (or ad content providers) and get some actual information?
Some things really are unknowable until you dive in and put something live - I get that (I know from personal unpleasant experience - believe me, I wish I didn't!), I'm not sure Animated Ads: No->Yes can suddenly do that 180 flip without something being messed up organizationally somewhere. If it's a contractual issue with an ad delivery partner then internal communications failed (since seems no-one told anyone in the community team about it) and if it's a technical issue with filtering then the QA process failed. Either way it makes a bit of a mockery of the claim about ads being "carefully vetted".
Speaking of which I understand that testing and QA departments aren't (and can't be) perfect, and I understand that their resources are finite. If a new "experiment", especially such a potentially emotive issue as Ads is something of an unknown but SO lacks sufficient capacity to test/QA it sufficiently then why push it live on to one of the busiest non-technical sites lock stock and barrel and see if it floats?
Making it an opt-in test (same as was/is done for the Custom Questions test) seems a far safer option - Workplace SE has no shortage of regulars (and I include myself) who would likely sign up for such a test and be willing to provide feedback in a way that would limit the potential exposure from any of those hiccups I mentioned earlier.
If something gets put live on a main site without even the grace of an "opt-out" option then that's not a "test" - that's production and personally I'm a lot less inclined to be accepting of unknowns and hiccups in that scenario.
As a side note not directly related to the advert-experiment, I found some of the content of the Meta SE threads linked in the main post here problematic - like many SE users I know, a good deal of my SE browsing is done while I'm at work and that means keeping things looking reasonably business-like and "under the radar", at least visually. While I work for myself I spend the majority of my time on-site at clients' offices and appearances do matter. That means I'm cautious about where I visit in the network when in an office setting - that means things like avoiding Movies SE etc (where I might expect to encounter screen captures in questions and answers).
I would normally expect links to the main Meta.SE to be "safe" - especially where they are coming from SE staff members. So seeing posts with a high density of pseudo-memes and animated GIFs was an unpleasant surprise.
Could such content in posts from SO staff be either avoided or at least warned about when linked to in the future? Otherwise I'm going to find it increasingly restrictive on where I can safely click!
PS: The above replaces a.. grumpier version of the same post. The original had led people to believe that I have an issue with Juan M - I don't. I'm not particularly happy with the way this "experiment" has been handled by SE but I don't hold that against anyone in particular.
PPS: For sheer comedy value (given the above) I think almost every advert I've seen on TWP today has been for a Stack Overflow service!