Are Text Link Ads spam?

Filed as Uncategorized on June 25, 2006 10:31 am

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Adam Kalsey asks this question in a post earlier this week.

I’ll start with a disclaimer – we use Text Link Ads across our network and they have advertised with us in the past.

There’s an argument to be made that by selling organic text links on a site that a blogger is committing some type of ‘sin’ against Google and the other search engines. But I disagree.

Web site owners have sold text links in some form or another on websites for as long as I can remember. Advertising may have started with the banner ad, graduated to the larger rectangles and skyscraper ads, but text links have always been there to be had.

I find nothing immoral or unethical about selling text links on our blogs. Sure, some purists may not like it, but then again there are some that think any advertising on any blog is a sin. Course, there are also those that believe gas should still be 25 cents a gallon as well.

Calling the Text Link Ads team spammers is just flat out wrong.

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  1. By dan zarrella posted on June 25, 2006 at 11:19 am
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    Did you really just defend TLA with an affiliate link?

  2. By Mike posted on June 25, 2006 at 11:44 am
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    TV has commercials, golf tournaments have sponsors, stadiums are named after some company, newspapers have ads, etc.

    How in the world could someone deny a blogger a right to get help paying for bandwidth, time, effort, design, etc ?

    Maybe if the goober who wrote that sold some ads, he could afford a designer to fix his whacked design !

  3. By gaman posted on June 25, 2006 at 1:34 pm
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    Text Link Ads will never be evil if one uses the “no follow” tag

  4. By Adam Kalsey posted on June 25, 2006 at 4:39 pm
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    Matt, it’s disingenuous to suggest that my argument is predicated on the fact that I feel blogs should not carry advertising. As the founder of Pheedo, one of the largest ad networks for blogs and feeds (I’m no longer with the company, however), I obviously have no problem with selling, buying, or serving ads on blogs. You’ll also notice that I carry advertising on my site, although not on every page.

    I have no problem selling text-based ads either. Adsense, Yahoo, Pheedo, and others sell and serve text ads. The difference is in the technical details of how those ads are presented, how search engines view them, and the ultimate prupose of the ads.

    Text Link Ads (the company) sells ads not for the purpose of enticing people to click on them, but to trick search engines. Engines that rely on links and the text of those links don’t see Text Link Ads as an advertisement at all. They instead see them as organic links, essentially votes for the advertiser’s site. This is because they’re delivered as plain text instead of delivered as JavaScript, flash, or some other embedded object, like banners, skyscrapers, and even the text advertisements from reputable providers like Google, Yahoo, Pheedo and others.

    The entire purpose of the ads is to game the search engine, something that Text Link Ads freely admits. How can you not call that spam?

  5. By Matt posted on June 25, 2006 at 4:46 pm
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    Adam,

    I didn’t state that you were against blogs selling or having ads – but there are many who are – and have made that quite public.

    Matt

  6. By David Krug posted on June 25, 2006 at 5:54 pm
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    Adam,
    To be frank. Advertising blows. Saying Text Link Ads is spam is like saying billboards are evil. The argument doesn’t hold up. It’s like trying to blame the person who provides the billboard space for the car accident. It’s a load of crap.

    We don’t all have to drink Google Koolaid. It’s really not are problem they view something as spam. But you know they really like the revenue they make off us through other methods.

  7. By Hob posted on June 26, 2006 at 2:11 pm
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    1. Advertising is advertising regardless of the delivery methods. I don’t see why I should be forced to use a certain technology to display ads because it makes life easier or harder for the search engines. They get paid a lot of money to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    2. I haven’t sold any Text Link Ads, but I believe the process allows for the publisher to accept or decline the listing. Doesn’t that acceptance count as a “vote”?
    3. Shouldn’t technology be working for us? Why should I or my non-technical writers be bullied into spending our time adding “nofollow” to links? Shouldn’t Google be learning how to sort the links better with their algorithms? Google makes money based on the public’s perception of how well they sort the web. If their technology can’t keep up with the latest advertising techniques, they will be passed by someone that can do it better. (I know, this seems unlikely now, but Google itself seemed to come out of nowhere when the early search titans got lazy/un-focussed.)
    4. All publishers have an interest in eliminating comment and trackback spam. The main reason is because we don’t get paid for it and it takes work to keep it off our sites. The problem is that “nofollow” didn’t solve that problem. Should publishers forego a seemingly valid revenue stream to protect a system that doesn’t do what it is supposed to do anyway?

    Just some thoughts.

  8. By Beer234 posted on July 1, 2006 at 3:23 pm
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    Spam would possibly be the content behind the text link ad not the ad or process of placing a text link on mine or any other website. Why should Google or other engines say what I can or can’t put on my site. One persons spam is another person’s useful content, I think it should be up to the owner of a given website or blog to place links in any format and of any nature. Who is to define the nature of an ad? Certainly not Google. As to the point that TLA is solely to “game” the search engines? I have a friend who buys text links at TLA to promote his business. He picks sites with traffic directly related to his market and indeed sells product based on click throuh from ads purchased at TLA.