We all know that online publishers earn revenue from our free reprint articles. They place pay-per-click ads on the web page that contains the article, and the advertiser pays them whenever someone clicks on the ad. Most use programs like Google AdSense which automatically identify the subject of the article and deliver an ad related to that subject.
But did you know that publishers can do a similar thing within the 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 the advertiser’s website. When a reader clicks on a link, the advertiser’s website opens within the same window. In other words, the page is ‘hijacked’ and your article disappears!
Gasp! As authors, we spend a lot of time planning and writing content designed to hold the 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 the 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 the details of the advertiser and the ad content. Check out voting importance essays for some examples.
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 the 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 the Web?
A: When people can’t trust the links they’re clicking on, won’t they stop clicking? Won’t this have a detrimental effect on the perceived usability of the 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 the misleading use of anchor text, so in that respect, I think they’re detrimental to the perceived usability of the Web. But does this make them bad for the Web? I don’t think so. In fact, I think their overall effect will be good. By bringing more advertisers (i.e. businesses) to the Web, text link ads ultimately make the Web more useful. Users will quickly recognize text link ads for what they are and adapt.
Q: Are they effective for advertisers?
A: I can’t really answer that. I’ve never used them, so you’ll have to ask someone who has. Of course, you could ask one of the companies that offers text link ad technology, but you already know their answer…
Q: Will they become more popular?
A: Once again, I can’t answer that question with any authority. But I have my suspicions; I suspect they will become more popular, simply because there are a lot of web publishers out there who are willing to try programs that offer a revenue return. Ultimately, the popularity of text link ads hinges how successful they are for advertisers, not how well-liked they are among users.
Q: Can I stop it happening to my reprint article?
A: No. I believe that power lies solely with the publisher. Of course, you can forbid it in your reprint guidelines, but that will simply limit the number of times your article is reprinted (consequently limiting your referral traffic and link popularity).
Conclusion – Are any of these questions really important to article submission authors?
In my humble opinion, the answer, once again, is “No!” As authors of reprint articles, we love the Google AdSense arrangement because it creates a demand for quality content. The more high quality articles a publisher reprints, the higher their site rank, the greater their traffic, and the more they earn from the pay-per-click ads on their site. As a result, our article submissions get widely published and we build brand awareness, credibility, authority, referral traffic, and – of course – link popularity (i.e. increased rank).
Text link ads are no different. Like Google ads, they encourage the publisher to acquire more high quality content. It’s as simple as that.
“But my article is hijacked! What if the reader doesn’t return?” There’s no denying we’d prefer to keep our reader. But most readers know where the ‘Back’ button is, so if your article is good enough, they’ll be sure to click it. And if they don’t, well at least you’ve got the permanent link back to your site in the byline of your article. And after all, that’s one of the big benefits of article submission, isn’t it?
Anyway, enough talk. Let’s see how it all unfolds.