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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.
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