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text link ads Archive
Yesterday Kontera announced a new $15.5 million dollar round of funding. Kontera provides in-text ads which are the ads that typically are double underlined on a page. When you mouse over one of the in-text ads, a “window” opens with a bit of info and images about the ad and a user can click on the ad if they are interested. Publishers are only paid if the user actually clicks on the window and visits the advertiser’s website.
I’ve run in-text ads from Kontera competitor Intellitxt for about a year on our sister site HTMLCenter. The results were strong in the beginning but have since slowed to a point where I will most likely remove the ads at some point in the near future. Earlier this week I noticed that Bing appears to be running a massive campaign with Intellitxt.
When the Kontera funding news hit the wire, Techcrunch writer Robin Wauters posted about the news and called the in-text ads “annoying”. He noted, “I find this type of contextual advertising annoying from a reader perspective…”
Last night a friend of mine messaged me after a “conversation” with Robin on Twitter about his Kontera post and comments. Here’s the conversation (my emphasis):
- Till – Do you realize the double standard when you call Kontera annoying while TechCrunch runs snap.com?
- Robin – why? you can turn Snap off as a reader.
- Till – That’s beyond hilarious. Next time, for full disclosure, I suggest you add, “TechCrunch runs the also annoying snap.com”.
- Robin – did you fail to grasp what I just wrote? you can turn snap off. clue. find it.
- Till – You can disable Kontera with an ad blocker. Snap isn’t less annoying. Just like spam, “please unsubscribe here”.
- Robin – you’re either retarded or trying hard to pose as one. disabling snap is a snap setting.
- Till – You don’t see my point. You call out a service, while you run something very, very similar. That’s a double standard.
- Robin – why do I get into insane arguments with hopeless idiots so late at night? night all!
- Till – Aside from personal attacks (Congrats!) – if you had your homework, you would know that you can turn off Kontera as well.
It’s very disappointing to see a writer for the so-called tech blog leader calling people names when asked about their posts. Insults aside, Till has an excellent point – one that Robin appears to have missed. I am unsure if Techcrunch is paid by Snap but the magic 8ball says “all signs point to yes”. Earlier this year I had several chats with the Snap team about adding the paid publisher service to CN and they confirmed that TC was part of the same program.
Patrick Gavin is one smart marketing guy. Patrick is one of the founders of Text Link Ads and after TLA was acquired by Media Whiz, Patrick joined their team. Most recently, Patrick was co-founder of Auction Ads, an eBay affiliate monetization option and it too was acquired by Media Whiz recently. Media Whiz is a NY-based company located in the financial district of Manhattan.
I first came across Text Link Ads in early February 2005 at the SES Conference in NYC. My buddies Till, Darshan and I were walking around the expo when a sign called out to me. It read, "$100 in free text links" and since I had sold a few text links in the past on my properties, I thought I would go speak with them. They had offerings for both the site publisher and the advertiser. The publisher would make 50% on any ads they sold (net-30!) and the advertiser would receive $100 in free text links (minimum purchase $125). As a publisher, if an advertiser uses a coupon, you would receive the net-after coupon amount.
Till, Darshan and I left and headed for lunch and I kept talking about how smart of an idea this is. They didn’t have tons of publishers or advertisers yet but they had a great infrastructure built with plugins. What does offering new customers $100 off $125 really cost TLA? Let’s take a look:
- Customer orders $125 in ads and pays $25
- Assuming the $125 went to one site, TLA pays the publisher $62.50
- So the net loss for TLA is $37.50
- Most customers order more than the minimum $125 and if they order at least $160, TLA loses nothing and gains a customer and a publisher
- In month two, they are already a profitable customer for TLA – and in the two years I have used TLA, most of the ads have remained for at least a year if not longer
Now let’s take a look at Auction Ads. Auction Ads launched earlier this year and is a very simple way to become an eBay affiliate. They offer lots of options and are geared towards the blogger. They pay 100% of the earned commission from eBay. So how does Auction Ads make money if they pay out 100%? Easy. eBay pays bonuses to their affiliates based on total volume and since all Auction Ads publishers appear as one affiliate to eBay, they make money on the bonuses. And so far the Auction Ads growth has been exponential. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offer programs with other companies in the near future.
Ok so Auction Ads can help me generate revenue from my blog, great. But what makes Auction Ads even smarter than your normal affiliate program? Two things: referrals and bonuses. They offer 5% (just raised from 2%) on anyone who signs up through your Auction Ads ad. For me, this is how I have been able to generate revenue through the program. It hasn’t worked well on CN, a bit better on HTMLC, but way better on the referrals. And last week they announced a $25 bonus to any new publisher. Sounds like they start in the negative, right? Think again! They changed the payout minimum to $50 and so it should be a wash once someone gets to $50 and since the more sales a site makes, the larger a bonus they receive from eBay. Smart!
I share this with you because sometimes the easiest route from A-B is not always the smartest route. Patrick has been able to create two great companies that not only generate revenue for him and Media Whiz but also for his publishers and creates great value for his advertisers. As you create your startups, clear the whiteboard and think about creative ways to generate revenue and also make your publishers and Web site visitors happy and more importantly, loyal.
Editor’s note: Text Link Ads is a Mixer sponsor.
A big thank you to all of our readers. Our RSS numbers are going up and that means a lot to me. I appreciate all the feedback about tweaks and things you would like to see. Keep it coming!
I would also like to thank our sponsors. I asked each sponsor for some updates and here are the hot and new things they are working on:
AdaptiveBlue – The guys at AdaptiveBlue (makers of the BlueOrganizer Firefox extension) have launched a pretty cool new option to their site. Called the BlueShowcase, they are showing some web celebs and their badges. Currently, Seth Godin, Richard McManus, Emily Chang and Fred Wilson. Our badge is on the left menu under Interviewed!.
Text Link Ads – The team over at Text Link Ads launched a new offering for bloggers and site publishers last month. Auction Ads allows you to monetize your website by displaying live eBay auctions next to your related copy.
We have more exciting things coming for CenterNetworks in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
Yesterday Google started a beta test with their Adwords product with regards to PPA (Pay-per-action) advertising. Mike has an excellent overall recap of the service. I want to discuss my views on a couple of his points from a publisher standpoint.
Mike says… "Affiliate marketing networks like Commission Junction and LinkShare are screwed."
My belief is that CJ ruined themselves with their horrible signup process and poor customer service. But from this Google announcement, I have to disagree. Sure Google will pound on them like they P&G pound on everyone, but from what I can tell, from the publisher perspective, this will probably follow the other Adsense model which is: tell them nothing, pay them whatever and they will like it. Will publishers see what the PPA amount is? If so, there is nothing that says this on the blog post or FAQ.
Whether you use CJ, Jim Kukral's blog kits, or most other PPA ad options, you know how much you are going to make. 25c, 2% of sale, etc. If Google shows me what I am making before hand, that will certainly change things. If not, I am not sure publishers will be so willing to move to this. We already deal with the lower and lower earnings from Adsense.
Mike says… "And Yahoo is now in the unenviable position of playing follow the leader again, even as they catch their breath from the massive Panama release earlier this year."
Yep! Yahoo should have moved forward instead of moving closer. When you take one step forward, you are in reality not moving at all. Yahoo needs to innovate and the simple truth is that text ads are text ads – no matter how much fancy icing you put on them, they are still text ads to most advertisers.
Mike says… "Google also announced a new “text link format” ad unit today. They’ve crossed a hazy ethical line here. If this product was announced on its own, it would be heavily debated by the blogs and press."
Google notes the following in their FAQ… "For example, you might see the following text link embedded in a publisher’s recommendatory text: “Widgets are fun! I encourage all my friends to Buy a high-quality widget today.” (Mousing over the link will display “Ads by Google” to identify these as pay-per-action ads)."
Now correct me if I am wrong, but is this Payperpost or not? So Google is suggesting here that you make up good wording to "sell" the product. They don't even suggest you should try or test the product first. And their "disclosure" is only a mouseover. Everyone bitches and moans about PPP and their disclosure, yet this is ok? I am very confused. I agree with Mike about the ethical line. I just don't get why Google has been pushing and pushing lately.
MediaWhiz Acquires Text Link Ads
Acquisition Adds New Product Offering and Thousands of New Advertiser and Publisher Relationships
NEW YORK, NY and CINCINNATI, OH / November 7, 2006 / BusinessWire / -
MediaWhiz, a rapidly growing provider of performance-based online marketing
services, today announced it has acquired Cincinnati-based Text Link Ads
(TLA) to expand MediaWhiz’s online marketing services platform to include
text link advertisements. Lake Capital, a private equity firm that invests
in growing services companies, first invested in MediaWhiz in August 2005
and provided additional capital to fund this transaction.
Founded in 2003 by Patrick Gavin, president, and Bill Fish, chief financial
officer, TLA is the leader in the text link advertisement and related
services space, providing an automated, comprehensive marketplace for
advertisers and publishers. TLA is recognized for having the broadest and
fastest growing network of advertisers and publishers, a user-friendly
platform, and a high degree of flexibility in ad type and placement. TLA
will continue to operate under the Text Link Ads name, with continued
leadership from its existing management team.
“We are thrilled to be working with Patrick and his team to bring this new
service offering to our thousands of publisher and advertiser relationships,
while also being able to cross-sell MediaWhiz’s existing services to TLA’s
growing client base,” said Jason Cohen, co-president of MediaWhiz.
“Adding TLA’s recognized expertise in text link advertising is a perfect fit
with our strategy of creating one of the broadest platforms of online
marketing solutions to meet the diverse needs of our advertisers,” noted
MediaWhiz co-president Yannick Tessier.
“This is an exciting time for our team and our clients. We have found a
great partner that will be able to help our publishers and advertisers
profitably drive more traffic to their web sites. We are looking forward to
delivering more great products and even better service in the months ahead
as a result of this partnership,” said Patrick Gavin, president of Text Link
RBC Capital Markets served as the exclusive financial advisor to Text Link
Ads on the transaction. No transaction terms have been disclosed.
About Text Link Ads
Text Link Ads is the premier targeted traffic and link popularity ad firm.
TLA specializes in placing static html links on high quality, high traffic
web properties. More information about TLA is available at
MediaWhiz is a rapidly growing provider of performance-based online
marketing services, offering an integrated suite of programs including
affiliate marketing, lead generation, e-mail marketing and search marketing.
Through acquisitions and organic growth, MediaWhiz is establishing a leading
position in the highly fragmented online advertising business. Unlike
traditional advertising agencies that profit from their clients’ overall
“spend,” the MediaWhiz model is based on generating measurable results for
advertisers, using proprietary best-of-breed technologies. MediaWhiz was
founded in 2001 and is a portfolio company of private equity firm Lake
Capital. More information about MediaWhiz is available at www.mediawhiz.com.
About Lake Capital
Lake Capital is a private equity firm that focuses on investments in
service-based enterprises across various industries. The firm is currently managing more than $1.3 billion in equity commitments and seeks to build leading services companies through organic and acquisition-enhanced growth. More information about Lake Capital is available at www.lakecapital.com.
Technorati Tags: text link ads | textlinkads
I have liked Text Link Ads since the first time I met them at the Search Engine Strategies conference a year ago. And it isn’t just because they have provided HTMLCenter with some nice revenue. It is mainly because, unlike most of the other text link players, they are legit. They provide great customer service and their technology is MUCH better than their competitors. I wanted to find out more about where Text Link Ads comes from and find out about their new product Feedvertising. Also, wanted to pick Patrick’s brain about any tips he has for new web app creators.
Patrick was generous enough to participate in an interview with me and below is a transcript of our discussion.
Allen: Can you provide a brief bio?
Patrick: Sure out of college I co founded a reclaimed brick and stone business with my father called Historical Bricks. It was in 2000 when I learned about search engine marketing and it helped grow the brick business shipping bricks locally to a nationwide provider. I saw an opportunity to offer these same search engine marketing services to other small businesses so in 2001 co founded with my college roommate a pay per click management service.
Pay per click management services lead you into offering natural search engine optimization services for those same clients and that lead to learning the importance of inbound links into client’s websites. Put simply, the number and quality of inbound links to a website is a top factor in top natural search engine rankings. This knowledge led to the creation of Text Link Ads Inc which we have been operating under since 2003.
Allen: What does Text Link Ads do?
Patrick: At our core we are a marketplace for advertisers and publishers. We manage this marketplace through our technology which allows advertisers to purchase ad space off publisher’s websites through a central automated system. For advertisers, they can come to TLA and purchase ads off thousands of unique niche sites and manage their ad buy under one roof. For publishers, we offer the ability for you to list ad space available and reach thousands of potential advertisers that you can sell ad space to without having to deal with: billing, ad placement, edits, etc. Publishers simply have to install our ad script and most of their work is done outside of receiving a monthly payment via PayPal or check.
Allen: Why do you believe you have succeeded when so many others in this space have failed?
Patrick: It is probably a combination of many factors. We have been fortunate to have been involved in this space since 2001 so we have benefited by observing many trends and opportunities and have made some great friends in the space that help guide our strategy. We have also been very committed to getting our message out to the public through ad campaigns, trade shows, etc, so I think that persistence has helped us get our reach deep enough to run a successful businesss.
Allen: I met you at the SES conference in NYC in February and was impressed and obviously others are as well by your great success. What do you think helped to make TLA so successful so quickly?
Patrick: I think most people don’t know that we have been operating as Text Link Ads Inc since 2003 but just this year we released our automated ad serving solution for publishers and that has been our biggest success in terms of growth. Our ad serving technology allowed for individual website owners to be a part of the TLA marketplace and once publishers start making money they tend to talk about it which can lead to viral growth in publishers. Once you have quality niche publishers on board the advertisers follow. So we really have just seen some great growth in publishers and advertisers in 2006.
Allen: Compare TLA to adbrite.
Allen: Are ads being purchased for SEO or for publicity or both?
Patrick: Both. Our biggest accomplishment this year has been growth in quality niche publishers. Our goal is to have a marketplace where advertisers can buy ads for traffic purposes first and reap any positive link popularity benefits second. We are on our way in doing that.
Allen: What is Feedvertising?
Patrick: Feedvertising is our RSS advertising solution. The key difference between Feedvertising and other RSS advertising solutions is the ads are served as simple html and not graphical images. The result is a very clean look that blends well with your content. It allows for publishers serve ads within their RSS feed for personal use or sell spots commercially through our marketplace. Feedvertising allows advertisers to reach RSS readers on individual blogs.
Allen: How many publishers do you have so far for Feedvertising?
Patrick: We have over 750 active publishers using our Feedvertising technology and that is under three weeks since launch so we are very happy with the growth.
Allen: How can someone get started selling Feedvertising within their feed? What is involved?
Patrick: Right now they do have to be running their blog on WordPress 2.0+ to use feedvertising. That is the only requirement. This is done through a simple WordPress plugin. We are adding on additional platforms in the near future.
Allen: Where is TLA going in the next 1-2 years?
Patrick: We plan to keep expanding our publisher reach and will be exploring additional ad units to complement our core Text Link Ads product and our rss advertising product, Feedvertising. We are looking for additional ways to make our publishers more money and to send our advertisers more targeted traffic.
Allen: Where is the text ads market going in the next 1-2 years?
Patrick: We are seeing advertisers are demanding higher quality, targeted sites. To answer to this demand we have to keep attracting the best publishers. The text ads market is here to stay but the market will demand more targeted inventory.
Allen: What do you think are the most important characteristics that are needed for a startup to be successful?
Patrick: Great people. Solid technology. A great product but also the capital to advertise the product so people take notice and can then help spread the word virally. All of that and of course a little luck wouldn’t hurt.
Well we have reached the end of our interview with Patrick. Thanks to Patrick for participating and to you for reading and listening.
If you would like to participate in a conversation on CenterNetworks, drop us a line.