In-Text Ads: Do They Make Any Money?

What Are In-Text Ads and Why Do Advertisers Buy Them?

In-text ads are advertisements embedded right in the text of a web page. Unlike regular links, which are underlined with one line, in-text ads are double underlined, and when you hover over them you’re presented with a preview of the ad the text links to. These ads are created through JavaScript, which scans a web page and dynamically modifies keywords an advertiser has targeted.

In-text ads scan your pages and attach ads to keywords advertisers have targeted.
In-text ads scan your pages and attach ads to keywords advertisers have targeted.

For example, if you’re signed up with an in-text ad provider and you write a blog post about wedge-heeled sandals, an advertiser targeting the keyword phrase ”wedge-heeled sandals” would place in-text ads on those text strings on your page. When a reader clicks on one of them, he or she is taken to the advertiser’s site.

Reasons to Avoid In-Text Ads

The use of in-text ads by news or journalism websites has been heavily criticized for the possibility of ethical breaches that could erode journalistic integrity and blur the line between editorial content and advertising. However, news websites still use them, claiming that complaints about the ads have diminished over the years. Possible ethical problems (or the appearance of such) aside, there are many more reasons why you should think twice before signing up your trade website as a publisher of in-text ads. Here are 5 of them.

1. Negligible Increases in Site Ad Revenue

Some in-text ad networks require that your site receive more than a set number of daily page views to participate, so many sites won’t qualify for them. However, even for popular sites that have multiple sources for monetization, you can only expect to get 5% to 10% of your ad revenues from in-text ads. That may not be enough to make them worthwhile, particularly considering some of the other downsides.

2. Double-Underlines Look ”Spammy” and Could Deceive Some Readers

Some readers say that double-underlined links signifying an in-text ad make a site look spammy and worry that some less-savvy internet users may mistake in-text ads for ”real” links and experience frustration when they think they’re clicking for more information but instead are taken to an advertiser’s site.

3. Many Readers Hate Them

Large numbers of readers are turned off by in-text ads, finding them intrusive, and saying that they take away from the user experience on a site. Many people find these ads to be ”sneaky” and lose a certain amount of respect for websites that employ them. They don’t like accidentally mousing over an ad and interrupting their reading, and believe that in-text ads dilute the credibility of the ”real” links on a site.

He blocked your site, and heaven help you if you get on his lawn.
He blocked your site, and don’t even think about getting on his lawn.

4. In-Text Ads Could Negatively Affect Affiliate Program Success

Some website owners who have discontinued in-text ads cite visitor complaints and say that in-text ads hurt their affiliate commissions. If you are part of an affiliate program (such as Amazon’s), you could find that between people who leave a website upon seeing the double-underlines and those who advertently or inadvertently click on the in-text ads, your affiliate commissions decline.

5. Many Ads Are Totally Irrelevant to the Context

One of the biggest problems with in-text ads is that words have multiple meanings, and rather than being contextual, the ads are often anything but. For example, suppose you have a trade website in the computer hardware industry. Chances are, you’re going to use the word ”driver” fairly frequently on the site. The problem is, in-text ad algorithms don’t know the difference between the software drivers used to power computer hardware, drivers of automobiles and drivers used by golfers, resulting in in-text ads that are completely out of context.

The click-through rates (CTRs) you’ll be quoted if you inquire about in-text ads may sound impressive: 0.5 to 8% for news sites, 0.75 to 3% for social networks and 0.5 to 2% for blogs. You should be aware that the rates paid for click-throughs are much lower than they are for other monetization methods like AdSense ads or job recruitment advertising programs.

The truth is you have many better options for monetizing your website than by using in-text ads. These ads are enough of a turn-off to enough people that you could negatively affect traffic and ultimately hurt your advertising revenues.

Photo Credits: bearvader /, stockimages /

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