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.