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Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 at 11:10 am

The Double-Bottom Line on In-Text Ads

By Ronald Patiro
November 29th, 2007

You may have noticed double underlined links on sites that create a pop up advertisement when moused over. These are “in-text” advertisements, and they’re increasingly appearing on content sites to generate additional revenue.

For content providers, the question remains whether additional short-term bursts of ad revenue will be justified against the potential decrease in brand affinity. Since the ads work under the guise of a regular-old hyperlink, some visitors are completely turned off after clicking on them.

From a usability standpoint, they’re a real pain. Text becomes a pop-up minefield with any slight mouse movement touching one of these ads triggering pop-up advertisements. This creates friction for the visitor, who’s simply trying to do what they came to a site for:  to read the content.

The content’s credibility is also put at stake. Writers, and journalists in particular, are expected to be objective. These in-text advertisement pop-ups are further muddying the lines between editorial integrity and the sales team’s agenda, while posing as unbiased writing.

Speaking of “fair and balanced,” FoxNews.com adopted this measure and claims that they think its great. According to The Wall Street Journal, “FoxNews.com says it doesn´t consider in-text ads to be advertising, because they help provide information about the topic.”

Of course, many bloggers and other writers strive to make money for their work. When the content becomes the ad, visitors may not want to come back. Who in their right mind wants to actively read an infomercial in disguise when they can passively watch one on TV?

The bottom line is that these ads may present a good opportunity to monetize your content, but you risk losing credibility — and once that’s damaged, it’s not easily repaired.

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Comments (16)

  1. That pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter too. It’s a way to earn money, but they annoy me on other people’s sites, so I won’t use them on mine. It’s hard enough to balance advertising with other kinds of contextual advertising. I just can’t see mixing it up with links in the text itself that I’ve chosen to put there.

  2. [...] | read more from grokdotcom | [...]

  3. “Land mine” is right! The pointer moves here, “Ah!” and the pointer moves there, double “Ah!”

    Sometimes I wonder who’s actually engaging themselves with this type of content. I, for one, avoid it like moldy cheese. You can say it adds flavor, but it’s really just spoiling everything – and that’s not Gouda.

    Companies can provide as much additional “information about the topic” as they want. I just won’t be there to read it.

    Thanks Ronald.

  4. My biggest complaint is that it often doesn’t quite match the content. You could be reading an article on car tires with an in-text ad that pops up on tractor tires, or tire swings, etc.

  5. It is an “ad ad” world out there and we are going to be bombarded with promotional material whether we like it or not.

    Coming to think of it, I don’t mind in-text ads so much cause I get sneak previews of the advertised websites without actually visiting them. If a link appeals to me, I will click. Else, I don’t really care.

  6. [...] folks at Future Now highlight the perils of the double underlined link. These are in-text advertisements. I didn’t even realize these existed! Hopefully it’s [...]

  7. Another thing to be annoyed by. Hope Firefox comes up with a FIX. Turn them red and deactivate, I’ll know who wants to interupt me while i use thier product. Kind of like talking to an insurance salesperson about a new restraunt you like. Yep they do have a sidewalk in front you could fall on, break a hip and need long term disability insurance.

  8. Every body hates pop-up windows. Those were mostly by hackers. Most of them are controlled by now. Now this are text pop-ups. Are worst these are not hackers, these are the owners the web pages and the companies that supply the ads. Those are terrible annoying at the worst time during my work. I don’t go to those companies and stump my hand every second on whatever their employees are doing. FireFox and all the browers makers should include a tool to optionally prevent them.

  9. If you use the free Firefox browser and install the plugin available from Adblock, you may better enjoy your browsing experience.

  10. I see double underlined links and click the “back” button pronto. WAFM.

  11. What a fun site! Glad to have stumbledupon you! I just posted at my place yesterday about my mysterious collection of toilet bowl cleaners! Had to laugh when I saw this site come up today

  12. These ads are so annoying, especially as they do not automatically and instantly disappear when you move off them. You’re right they do not look good either!

  13. I completely agree with your article. These ads are deceptive and annoying. I am noticing them on many website/news articles lately. News doesn’t seem to be just news anymore – it’s all about advertising dollars.

  14. Great article! Thank you for the information. I was considering adding in-text ads to my blog, but your article and all the comments below definitely gave me a better perspective. I definitely don’t want my readers to be annoyed! Thanks again :)

  15. You could be reading an article on car tires with an in-text ad that pops up on tractor tires, or tire swings, etc.

  16. adblock on firefox should take care of that

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