Stay Away from In-Text Advertising

by Daniel in 111 Comments — Updated Reading Time: 2 minutes

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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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111 thoughts on “Stay Away from In-Text Advertising”

  1. I hate the in-text advertisements. Banners on the top and sides don’t bother me because they just sit in one spot and I don’t have to worry about accidentally mousing over anything and having something popup and obstruct my view of what I was reading. Also, you can just adblock the banner ads on any sites that you go to a lot. There’s no way around the in-text ads. They’re worse than popup ads in my opinion and there’s nothing you can do to get rid of them besides just going to another site.

  2. I don’t want to be mean, but how inept do you have to be, to be interupted by those ads? I mean if you don’t want to read them, don’t click on the clearly visibly highlighted double links. Simple yes?

    I hate the google ads and there is nothing I can do about them. They are not really intrusive, but too much of a good thing. Every site I go to now has them.

    I guess to each their own, but unless you read with your arrow button, then the text link ads are very easy to avoid. You probably have trouble with real links as well I would guess. Those darn clickable things.

    I for one will be using sights with the intext ads, vs sites that are powered by google. The intext ads for me are like a stumble upon. I learn about a product I might be interested in. (I for one routinely place my mouse over them to get them to show what they are offering. I find I still like the experience and it’s been a couple of weeks now.)

    Again nothing against google, really good stuff, but just too much of a good thing.

  3. Hey Gus

    How come the in-text ads popup? In my browser, they only do that when I place my mouse over them, and I guess you are not using your mouse while reading?

  4. IN-TEXT ADVERTISING INTRUSIVE!! I kept thinking, Damn! I thought my popup blocker wasn’t working, and that’s all it is, a way around your popup blocker! I’m trying to read something, and these adds keep blocking my reading, and I have to x-it-out, finally I get frustrated, and just leave the site. I hate it! Is there an IN-TEXT-ADD-BLOCKER? We need one bad! It shouldn’t be too hard to develope one. Mabey they already have, i’m going to search for one, and if it’s not available yet, someone please develope one, you can charge a small fee, and i’ll bet you’ll make more money that those sneeky S.O.B.’s getting around our popup blockers. Seriously, if you come upon a site useing this form of popup, show them your patronage by LEAVING IMMEDIATELY, and never returning!

  5. I get sick and tired of seeing ads by google. I almost have a phobia, and I will surf away from pages with ads by google. I have nothing against google, but I am just tired of seeing that on every website I go to.

    These ads I like. I am aware of what they are. If I don’t click on the double link, I don’t see the ads. I have a choice. I like that.

    I also like these ads. They are interesting to me and they facinate me. I actually go looking for them. It’s entertaining. Mini videos out of a text link. I think with more and more sites, powered by or sorry ads by google, this will be refreshing for some people.

    Intrusive, evil, I think not.

  6. Speaking as an internet reader, I absolutely despise those double-underlined ad links. I hate having an ad pop up right in the middle of the content I am trying to read.

  7. I just hate those hover ads. I have them blocked out via Opera’s built in Content blocker. As you said, it becomes hard to distinguish a real link from a hover ad keyword.

    I was one of those who tried snap previews when it was launched. But, remove it soon after realizing how annoying and useless it was.

  8. @phd: Exactly, those stupid snap previews are just as bad or worse. Good idea in concept, but terrible in execution.

  9. @egon

    oh just like those snap previews i see at some sites often… im using a dial-u connection, i have a lag for 2-3 secs whenever i accidentally hover at those things.

  10. I think as long as banner ads aren’t the annoying flashing ones that give me convusions, then I’m ok with them. The problem with the in-text ads I see is that when I move my cursor over the page, it always hits a couple of these ads and I get an annoying pop-up every time. I would much rather see a (non-flashing) banner ad.

  11. i think in-text advertising much more cool than banner ads. it’s relevant to the content (mostly) and does not annoy noone otherwise you hover on them. the only thing that i dont like is that when there are many intelli text against the page content size.

  12. im not really sure what’s wrong with kontera, but i think they make a site look really clean, without those big horizontal or vertical banners that i dislike even before adsense came…

  13. I haven’t had anyone complain at all! Maybe that’s because my readership isn’t large enough, but I haven’t seen anyone complain at either. I think that people will get used to it. Of course, this will probably make it less effective.

  14. I have to say I heard nothing but complaints from people when I put kontera on my site, and the fact that it was based on CPM before clicks was annoying, but it wasn’t worth the hassle vs the little money i was getting, and most people said they were accidental clicks.

  15. These are wonderful points. I have ditched the Kontera Ads for good. Finally, I understand the true power behind internet marketing.

  16. I just took the ads off my Internet marketing blog, I am happy I did. I really didn’t mind them on the other blogs as much.

    PS. I just recalled a big network of sites that uses intellitext, the developershed network (seochat, devshed, etc.)

  17. I am testing out Kontera ads on a few of my blogs and I both like them and dislike them. I like the money they are making. It’s not as much as Adsense, but it’s not affecting my Adsense revenue.

    However, I think they are hurting my affiliate commisions on my Internet Marketing blog. I find they get in the way of the REAL links in my post. So, I am going to remove them from my Internet marketing blog and for the time being keep them on the other blogs I am testing (they are making more money on those blogs anyway).

    I think that just like with ALL advertising methods there are going to be people (mostly webmasters and techies) that hate the ads and others who don’t care.

    I do think that fairly big sites use Intellitext, since one of their requirements is your site needs at least 500,000 page views a month.

  18. Yeah there are exceptions I agree. They are not the ultimate evil hehe don’t get me wrong. Just a very intrusive form of advertising.

  19. Well I really don’t have time to check them all, I didn’t say that you are not right I just wrot that there people that are using them and they still have popularity.

  20. Daniel you have a point there, kontera ads are intrusive and many people don’t like them, I am trying them for a few weeks on my blog and I don’t have very big earnings but I have to say that there are big bloggers that use them and people still read their blog not to mention that I’ve seen Kontera on big forums and still there are people posting…

  21. Relevant ads?!.. Yeah.. If Sunil Gavaskar’s interview relates to a post on Microsoft’s village connectivity plan and If “XXX wants to know” type of popups relates to everything on my site.
    They’ve got limited inventory I guess.
    Took it off.

  22. As a blog reader for several years now, I have to say that In-Text Advertising is the most intrusive and annoying form of advertising created. In my opinion these text link ads take away from your content and really discourage readers. I have unsubscribed from several great blogs that started using this form of monetization.

    Blogging is about writing content for your readers so why would you put distracting pop-up ads throughout your content? This makes no sense to me.

    Keep your advertising at the bottom of your post not throughout your content or in your template sidebars. I would discourage any blogger from using In-Text Advertising.

  23. Good point, Chris. I hate those stupid snap previews. The idea is nice, but in reality they’re just as annoying as the in-text ads.

  24. I don’t like to be critical of other people’s sites — each is a labor of love, in its own way. But in-text ads really turn me off as a reader.

    They look spammy, which speaks to credibility. They’re also inconvenient when coupled with pop-ups. No naming names here, but there a few sites I used to read regularly that I just don’t go to much anymore, thanks to in-text adverts.

    Couple in-text ads with Snap previews and the thoughtless use of menu pop-ups, drop downs, and animations, and you have an unreadable site.


  25. Here is one code that can make things easy.

    $url = parse_url($_SERVER[‘HTTP_REFERER’]);
    $sites = array(‘google’,’yahoo’);
    $show_kont_ash = false;
    foreach ($sites as $site) {
    if (stristr($url[‘host’],$site)) {
    $show_kont_ash = true;
    <?php if ($show_kont_ash) { ?>
    Kontera CODE
    <?php } ?>

    You can make it available for only people coming from yahoo or google like search engines. Its not working on mine for some reason…if somebody can test…it will be great

  26. It might be true, but I would give it much more credit, if it came from anybody else but Jacob Nielsen.

    He has way long lines of text on his own website. More than 150 characters. They are absolutely onreadable, and certainly not according to what I would call web usability. How he ever became a “guru” at that, I’ve never understood.

  27. I agree with Daniel 100% on this. Every time my mouse accidentally hovers over one of those, an annoying pop-up comes up. I don’t think these are always relevant, and if there are relevant ads that the author believes you should look at, he will rovide them if necessary. These are much more of an annoyance than anything.

  28. Sahil, thanks for the comment it is always good for the discussion to have different views.

    I do not agree with your opinion though.

    “User will click it when he wants to”
    -Not all users know what those links are, some might think its a normal link, and they are being deceived to click on ad.

    -Even if I dont click it the ad will pop up if I run my mouse over it, and this will annoy people.

    “we are actually doing good for the user by letting him know about a new site of his interest”

    -You need to think why readers are going to your site. On DBT most of my readers come to read the content, to get that information and apply it on their blogs. They are not looking for “relevant links”. They can find those on digg, delicious or google, which I am sure will provide much more relevant links.

    – Even if your readers are looking for “relevant links” it would be better to place them on a special section, and not inside your text.

  29. Kontera shows targetted links.. User will click it only when he wants to ( i mean after reading the text on the link ). Take it in positive way.. we are actually doing good for the user by letting him know about a new site of his interest… and for this if we get some $$, whats the problem..??

  30. I just saw these ads in the posts on a cooking forum. So if the thread was on woks, for example, every time the word wok was used it was double underlined with an ad. It was very annoying to say the least.

  31. I’m planning on keeping them on the site for at least the rest of May. No one has complained about them yet and traffic and RSS subscriptions have stayed the same.

  32. I never liked it in the first place and I didn’t even think about signing up for one such campaign….Its too obtrusive…

  33. Ashish, I agree, in fact I am also not so favorable of Adsense units placed “inside” the content. Units on the sidebar, header, above or below the content are fine. But inside the content tends to be annoying.

  34. Armen, glad you posted it. I had read your article, then today I could not find the blog where it was coming from!

    Here is a link for the people who want to check Armen’s article:

  35. One more thought that came into my mind is…..If we should not use Kontera like service as it distracts users then i guess even using Adsense is same. The ads might take them to places which can be absolutely b*********. So thats not ecthical too. Why not just let them read the information what u posted about and be happy….

    What do you think ?

  36. I hear you Daniel. I posted about this yesterday on my new blog.

    I tried it for a while on my personal blog, but I really wouldn’t recommend it.

  37. Mike, if I am not wrong the Kontera ads represent 8,5% of John Chow’s income for the month of April.

    Personally I would rather earn 10% less and provide a good user experience.

    Additionally, what if the in-text ads also have a negative impact on your traffic? Then you would be gaining from one side but losing on the other side, so the effect could be neutral.

  38. I’ve been running Kontera for a few weeks on my site after John Chow pulled some strings to get sites approved that wouldn’t normally meet their requirements due to volume. I’ve been happy with the click through rate and the money earned thus far, but admit they are not my favorite type of ads.

    I wouldn’t rule out never using them, John admits they are a decent part of his income. Right now, they make more sense to me then adsense for my site and the people who read it.

  39. I’ve been using Kontera for a few months and I’m only half way before payout. Would remove it once I reach the payout as even I myself hate seeing them around.

  40. I’m instantly turned off if I find a site using this method of advertising. I don’t understand why savvy webmasters are still using it.

  41. I agree with u on that. Even dont like it but guess I had been experimenting with it for sure. Most probably I might stop using it as soon as I get my minimum payout.

    My Kontera earnings are not good. One of the major reason is I link my tags or posts on major keywords. Sometimes I think its wrong too…

  42. That is true Ashish, but I also find it intrusive. Most Internet users are not familiar with that type of advertising, so they tend to think that those doulble-underlined words are just normal links. Then they see an ad popping up, its quite confusing.

    Additionally while I am reading the content I don’t want distractions, if an advertising window pops up if I accidentally roll my mouse over a link on the text it will annoy me (to say the least).

    My personal opinions obviously.

  43. I agree completely, I hate the IntelliText ones. I get so frustrated when navigating sites that use these sometimes I’ll just leave without finishing my reading. Please stop using these, people.

  44. I agree to the points. But with kontera they show a popup with hover affect one the links. That can give readers a chance weather to click or not

  45. Another point is the fact that those in-text ads do not generate that much money. Usually its like 50-100 bucks for the average blogger.

    Even for popular blogs with multiple revenue sources it stays somewhere around 5% to 10% of the overall revenue

  46. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks so much for validating my thoughts on this.

    Keep up the good work. I enjoy your daily tips and find many of them quite useful.

  47. Very true, I’ve experienced a traffic lost when I added Kontera on one of my websites. It’s hard to get your credibility back once you lost it.


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