We all know that online publishers earn revenue from our free reprint articles. They place pay-per-click ads on web page that contains article, and advertiser pays them whenever someone clicks on ad. Most use programs like Google AdSense which automatically identify subject of article and deliver an ad related to that subject.
But did you know that publishers can do a similar thing within article itself? They can turn any word within your article into an ad! They use programs like TextLinkAds to turn select target keywords into hyperlinks to advertiser's website. When a reader clicks on a link, advertiser's website opens within same window. In other words, page is 'hijacked' and your article disappears!
Gasp! As authors, we spend a lot of time planning and writing content designed to hold reader's attention. Surely we should condemn anything which hijacks our audience?
The answer to that question is most definitely, “NO!”
As a heavy Internet user, I'm personally not a fan of text link ads. However, as an author of free reprint articles, I think they're great. Before I explain why, though, let's cover off a few basics...
Text link ads – some FAQs
Like every other form of advertising, text link ads have their detractors. The most common questions asked are:
Q: How can I tell if it's a text link ad? A: Although text link ads look same as text links, you can identify them very quickly simply by mousing (hovering) over them. When you hover over a text link ad for about a second, a popup displays details of advertiser and ad content. Check out this example.
Q: Are they ethical? A: Text link ads are more covert than regular pay-per-click ads like Google AdWords. They look like normal text links, but they don't actually jump where you expect them to. For example, I clicked on a text link ad with anchor text “MSN” expecting it would take me to MSN's search, but instead it took me to website of some sort of SEO service provider. As we all know, it's quite common for people to link to their site using unrelated anchor text. That's all text link ads are doing. So, by nature, text link ads are no more misleading than any other kind of link.
Q: Are they bad for Web? A: When people can't trust links they're clicking on, won't they stop clicking? Won't this have a detrimental effect on perceived usability of Web? I said above that text link ads aren't really any more misleading by nature than normal text links. In reality, though, I suspect they may encourage misleading use of anchor text, so in that respect, I think they're detrimental to perceived usability of Web. But does this make them bad for Web? I don't think so. In fact, I think their overall effect will be good. By bringing more advertisers (i.e. businesses) to Web, text link ads ultimately make Web more useful. Users will quickly recognize text link ads for what they are and adapt.