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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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About the author 


Daniel Scocco is a programmer and entrepreneur located in São Paulo, Brazil. His first company, Online Profits, builds and manages websites in different niches. His second company, Kubic, specializes in developing mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms.

  1. Hi –
    Boy am I glad I stumbled upon this thread! I was just in the process of signing up for Kontera after a local blogger in my city wrote up an article about it in the newspaper. It sounded good, but I didn’t realize those annoying popups I’ve been getting lately on sites I’ve visited are in-text ads! Like a previous poster, I just thought my popup blocker was not working. But no one in the posts above has addressed another issue with Kontera in particular…that of security.

    When I went onto their site, my program which watches for insecure sites told me their site certificate was broken/insecure/didn’t match. I took a risk and continued on into the site anyway. I started to sign up and got to the application page where you had to give your personal information like social security number and name/address/phone and I realized that page was not a secure page. They have Verisign but recently it has come to light that this is not a guarantee of security (getting more hacker friendly) and Verisign has instituted a new layer of security, which somes sites have updated to, but not all.

    Anyway, I abandoned my application process at that point mainly based on no faith in their security. I e-mailed their support people to see if there was a way to apply securely. They replied prompty (that was good) and just told me to go ahead and complete the application (this didn’t solve my problem with their application process).

    Now after reading this thread I’m glad I did not complete my application for the additional reason of not wanting to subject my visitors to that popup annoyance.

    Thanks so much, Daniel, for writing about this subject.

    P.S. Maybe someone could comment if they have had any experience with the BrandClik business which I see they posted about in a post just above mine. Sounds like it may be a step in the right direction if a person still wants to use in-text advertising.

  2. All of the points regarding in-text advertising are valid, the balloon or bubble that covers the content and interferes with the text is intrusive and affects the user’s ability to enjoy the site.

    BrandClik is an in-text advertising company that does not use any intrusive balloons, but rather direct hyperlinks that allows Content Providers to monetize their content and Advertisers to generate direct, targeted traffic for their brand names or products.

    BrandClik is a Beta program but we would appreciate your feedback and feel free to register for the service or learn more at http://www.BrandClik.com

    Better ads, less intrusion!

  3. I just started to use Kontera because i need a way to support the sites minimum costs. I found that from the first day the ads did start to get clicked. My only problem with kontera is that they pay pennies!

    I dont really care if it interupts the user experience, because by now online surfers should be used to ads already. So stop complaining about ads. Its how websites stay alive!

    I just dont like how the pay out is and how kontera pays you in pennies. Atleast adsense you can earn like 30 cents minimum.

    Intext ads are in my opinion a waste of time as they dont pay anything, BUT they do have a higher CTR than adsense.

  4. It’s interesting that everyone seems to be down on “Contextual” ads. They’re intrusive. They’re !@#$%^. They’re this and that.

    But Google’s Adsense is ok. Clickbank ads are ok. Not!. However, it is a way of life and the internet. You put up with all the junk mail in your mail box. Why? Because it’s there.

    People are trying to make a couple of bucks. What’s wrong with that? What about the mass of ads shown on TV? What about all the junk ads at every major sporting event?

    Are these ok?

    This is the internet. It’s time to wakeup and see the forest for the trees. Quality is not a quantity on the web. The Internet is a sounding board and nothing more.

    You want quality? Open a private site for members only.

    BTW. I don’t use Kontera, ClickBank, or Adsense.

    Okay, I’m off my soap box.

    Everyone live happy.


  5. I completely agree with everyone’s post that the in-text contextual ads are very annoying and it takes away the navigation and user-experience from the site.

  6. I get so irked by these kind of links. Not hating on anyones ability to make money but those links just add to confusion to the visitor.

  7. QUOTE[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.]

    No one has complained but you can bet your life that you have lost traffic – new traffic is probably just keeping the balance.

    I find these ads the most intrusive on any on the web. I steer clear of any site that uses them. I come to the web for information and these are not helpful.

    If you were reading a book would you expect adverts in the middle of a paragraph?????

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Yeah I agree that Snap preview is just as bad. I wonder why TechCrunch is sticking to them.

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

  17. @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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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…

  21. 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 JohnChow.com either. I think that people will get used to it. Of course, this will probably make it less effective.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.)

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

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