Stay Away from In-Text Advertising

By Daniel Scocco

This is going to be a polemic topic given the wide spread in the usage of such advertising networks. In-Text advertising refers to networks like Vibrant Media or Kontera that place advertising links on your content. The links are placed inside your text (hence the name), and they come with a double underline to differentiate them from normal links. Once the user rolls the mouse over the link the advertising will pop. Should the user click on it the site owner will make some money.

At a first sight this advertising method represents a good way for online publishers to generate some money from their websites. Why should you stay away from it then? Simple, because it is one of the most intrusive forms of advertising and it also goes against the principles of web usability.

The hyperlink navigation structure is one of the most basic and most important features of the Internet. You should think twice before messing up with it. Check out the words of Jacob Nielsen, a web usability guru:

One of misery design’s most insidious recent examples is the idea of embedding links to advertising on the actual words of an article using a service like IntelliTxt. By sullying the very concept of navigation, such ads not only damage the user experience on the host site, they poison the well for all websites. Such links make users even less likely to navigate sites, and more likely to turn to trusted search engines to guide them to the next page.

It is not a surprise, therefore, the fact that virtually no mainstream website is using this advertising approach. Sure if you are a small blogger it could generate some extra money at the end of the month, but are you willing to put your credibility at the stake for it?



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134 Responses to “Stay Away from In-Text Advertising”

  • David

    I think the intext ads will be very annoying to the reader when trying to navigate the website

    It is better to have banner ads after every 2nd post

  • brian laig

    i had to block all ads because of in-text ads. i mouse over everything i read and intext ands are so frustrating. to the point of nearly screaming or leaving the site. there needs to be an ad block just for pop over ads.

  • Rex Dixon

    Anyone try any in text advertising A/B Testing? I’ve heard that Info Links is the best, but the only text advertising that works for me is TextLinkAds.

  • Matt

    With google adsense paying pennies, websites are looking for all the pennies they can muster.

    Remember we put hours and hours into our sites and even have writers we need to pay.

    A few text ads isn’t too much to ask – especially when you are viewing our sites for FREE.

    🙂

  • Shad Vick

    Vibrant requires you to have 500,000 pageviews for the domain you wish to place the intext ads on. They know that if you don’t have a lot of good content – that neither of you are going to make money. Anyone with 500,000 page views hopefully has a credible site and wouldn’t want to tarnish their reputation with a bunch of “fake” links in their articles. This in text ad linking is for the junk sites that happen to have a lot of content. IMHO.

  • richard bel

    ive tried kontera and its terrible. i never want to put readers through that on my site ever again! Ads i believe are just ads and should be as unintrusive as possible . If they offer something users want ..they will click . no need for all this placing ads in the middle of content nonsense

  • Ash Blue

    I hate it when websites use this advertising technique. I click on links expecting relevant information and end up in an unknown website.

  • Muxx

    I have to agree after doing some testing over the last 2 months.

    After playing around with Adsense, Chitika and other ad programs it just doesn’t do anything for the end user – the reader.

    The main problem is that most of the text-link ads are completely irrelevant, it would be better if you could target words as part of an ad group but what often happens is they are attached to completely random words for totally unrelated products.

    I blog about DJing and I would get text link ads for insurance, really?

    I don’t think it really gives my readers any sort of benefit either. I work hard to write quality posts and then I send them away for a few pennies? Not on my blog, not anymore.

    I do keep a small google ads on the very bottom of the post which generally does give me relevant ads but they’re not there to disrupt the flow of the article.

  • Jeff

    There is something about the double line that seems to disturb design continuity. I think internet users are aware of it and mouse over when they want and skip when they don’t. The design element looks bad, in my opinion.

  • Gouri

    And I don’t think the return is encouraging either..

  • how to format a computer

    I’m about to try intext advertising on my site, honestly I don’t find intext advertising annoying (maybe a bit, when I accidentally mouse over a link).

    @David I think the user would “waist” too much time while searching for the answer with the web search ? The point is advertising with google’s I’m feeling lucky function, but then again where will the revenue come from ?

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    @David (word link 360 guy) no no no. One of the biggest flaws in inline ads is the complete disconnect between the article’s focus, and the ads. Grabbing any single word from within an article or other content and attempting to “know the intent, relationship or specific reference” of that is not possible.

    The complete and entire reason to have links inline it for the content writer to provide specific, spot-on dead-accurate additional content that is purely and completely for the sole purpose of providing exactly related additional content or resource reference. To attempt anything else is to butcher the nature, reason and purpose of hypertext links within content.

  • David

    I would like to get people’s opinion.

    I just read everyone’s comments and it looks like most people are against the inline text ads that are currently out there.

    I am a web developer and I have just developed a similar but different idea to use words on your website to generate revenue for the website owner and would like to get people’s opinion’s if they feel the same about my idea as they do about the typical inline text ads.

    My idea turns your interesting words into a link that performs a web search on a search engine which then generates the website owner some revenue and provides the reader with additional, useful, and relevant information to the word they asked to know more about.

    I am trying to follow the principle that we (I know I do) love clicking links on Wikipedia when I am reading an article to get more information and learn more about what I am reading about and I am applying the same principle to words on people’s websites.

    Okay, that is the basic idea – Let me know what you think. Good and bad opinions.

    You can check my site out at WordLink360.com

    Thanks

  • danielM

    I am using infolinks and had no problem with it, but lately my stats were zero in my infolinks account. I emailed them and they told me that it’s one technical problem that they are used to and will do something about it. 2 weeks after that and 3 emails after, no more repies and problem still unsolved. I’ll wait for another week before I’ll decide on removing them.

  • Master101

    Hmmm, I just try using INFOLINK. So i donno yet how it would effect my blog. I dont even know whether they approve it or not. I think i am gonna give it a try myself, before I can start saying:”Ho ho, it’s bad idea!”

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Jai, there isn’t much to say. She is just arguing that they pay good rates. So does popup ad networks, so it is up to the web publisher to decide how far he wanna go with monetization.

  • Jai Sharmy

    Where is Daniel’s reply to Katherine’s(of Kontera) comment?

  • Stephan

    What an interesting article. I’ve seen in-text ads in a variety of places and I always thought that those types of ads were somewhat ineffiective. After reading this article and the comments, it seems in-text advertising is more than ineffiective, its danergous.

    Thanks for the warning.

  • I Love Free Software

    Here is a small update that I wanted to share since my last comment. I kept Infolink on my blog for 2 days. Surprisingly, I did not get even a single Adsense click on those 2 days. Absolutely zero. My personal conclusion is that even though such in-text advertising is claimed to be non-obtrusive, it still gets attention because such text is formatted differently (double-underlined). This draws the attention away from the main article ads.

    This is my purely personal conclusion – but the findings of those 2 days were enough to convince me to get rid of in-text advertizing. I wanted in-text to earn some money in addition to Google ads – not to reduce earnings by Google ads themselves.

    I might still use Infolinks on longer articles, when user is watching some portion of screen which does not have any other ad (by using conditional in-text advertizing on and off), and see how do the results perform then. Will again share the findings here.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Daniel

    Thanks for the blog post. I’ve been seeing in-text ads for a while now and think it’s a very negative model. Polluting the concept of hypertext is surely the first issue. And as others have said, it’s intrusive and obnoxious to say the least. What’s worse, the contextual relationship between an article’s focus, the word that becomes a link, and the offerings are quite often stupid.

    Like today I came across a tech article on GPUs and CPUs. One of the words highlighted was “drivers” (like in computer system drivers) – and the ad linked to an environmental company page talking about annual emission reports for vehicles.

    OMG that disgusts me.

  • I Love Free Software

    Hmmm.. quite interesting article. I have recently implemented text link ads on my website, and want to give them a fair chance for a couple of months. I am not sure if they are obtrusive, but agree that they can dilute the website navigation. One change I made is to implement these only on single post pages, and not on home page, or category pages, as they have all the hyperlinks, and don’t want those hyperlinks to be confused with in text ads.

    Let’s see how do my links perform 🙂

  • Julius

    This is quite an intriguing article, and quite helpful, especially for novice bloggers like me. This is something that kept me thinking because I use infolinks on my site. I’ll be thinking this over and thanks for sharing this.

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