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Unread 7th May 2009, 11:01 PM
Olin Coles's Avatar
Olin Coles Olin Coles is offline
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Text Link Ads is bad for business

If you own a web site, chances are very good that you've tried to monetize it to cover costs. With the added expense of purchasing computer hardware to complete my review articles, I know that feeling better than anyone. So when I first started Benchmark Reviews, a colleague suggested that I use Text Link Ads to help make a little money.

At first, I liked the idea of placing small text links (anchor text links) deep at the bottom of Benchmark Reviews, and making a few dollars in the process. If enough advertisers purchased a text link on our site, after a few months of payments I could actually pay off the entire web server hosting bill for the year.

But that was the upside to working with Text Link Ads. The downside, I would learn, made it not worth the money. To begin my woes, first Google punished Benchmark Reviews by reducing page rank from a 6 down to a 3. Apparently pay-for-link advertisements are a big no-no with Google. As a result, the articles we publish are no longer ranked at the top of search engine results, and thus draw in fewer visitors. This was a big hit, but because TLA was helping to pay the bills I considered it... for a short while.

Eventually I became fed-up with the punishment, and decided to experiment with the rel=nofollow attribute. Within a day or so, the Text Link Ads spider-bot generated a message to TLA servers that my ads weren't displaying correctly. As a result, my account was immediately suspended mid-month. The writing was on the wall, and I had a decision to make: keep Text Link Ads and suffer a low Google Page Rank, or conclude business and enjoy more visitors. I decided more visitors was worth more than the small amount of money they paid each month.

But here's where my problems end, and begin again. You see, TLA pays at the end of each month. If an advertiser quits the campaign during the month, you're paid a pro-rated amount. So the end of April came, and I wasn't paid for 13 days of displayed ads prior to the Spider-Bots visit. I wrote to Brock Boser, the COO of Text Link Ads, and requested my payment. In short, he said that TLA was not going to pay me unless I reinstated their ads without the no-follow attribute in the links. I explained that he still owes me for nearly half a month, and to that I received no response... or payment.

So the lesson learned is: Text Links Ads is bad for business, unless, of course, you're just not trying to get paid.
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Unread 8th May 2009, 06:16 AM
tinfoil tinfoil is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 35
TLA is awful. It's probably worse than interstitial ads in my opinions.

I understand your pain regarding the bills. Back in its prime, tinfoilmusic was getting over 2.5M views a month, far more than any shared hosting setup would handle. And my monthly bandwidth, due to the fact that I at one point hosted music & video was measured in dozens of terabytes. Thankfully this was before things like AdBlock became so popular as signing up to one of ad networks (UGO, I think?) did somewhat offset my monthly bills. Dedicated hosting at the time was quite pricey and bandwidth was nuts, so even the couple hundred a month didn't cover it.

Now advertising isn't paying nearly as much as it used to. I remember some popunders offering an astounding $0.50 each. Thankfully hosting and bandwidth is pennies compared to what it used to be. Also thankful that I didn't have the cost of review material to deal with as well.

I was running the site on phpNuke at the start, which certainly contributed to many of the server load problems. Also, it was as secure as a screen door, requiring third party utils to fix many of the screwups that the maintainer didn't deem important enough to fix. After loosing the database for a third time (well, it was of course backed up) I switched it over to Joomla 1.0.7. That was bloody difficult, lemme tell ya.

Have you considered a donation drive? A mystery auction (akin to what the fine people at Neatorama do)? The forums aren't yet a big enough draw to pull an Ars Technica, so that's out...

Last edited by tinfoil : 8th May 2009 at 06:46 AM.
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Unread 8th May 2009, 09:51 PM
Olin Coles's Avatar
Olin Coles Olin Coles is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,951
Complaining about Text Link Ads online reminded me of how Kontera robbed me. I ran their (very lousy) contextual ads for a few months, and after about five months I decided to leave them for a different company. The problem was that I had accumulated only about $80 for my efforts, and they pay at $100. So even though I was done with them, they wouldn't pay me.

Benchmark Reviews is also big enough now to where most manufacturers will agree to send us samples, although I try to get keepers for the writers here and I often take loaners. Some companies just don't like how we compare their product to so many others, and flat out refuse to work with us (Seagate, Thermalright, NVIDIA).
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Unread 22nd May 2009, 01:29 PM
Party Pants Party Pants is offline
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I was in the same boat with TLA, but about 2 years ago. Was a good income generator ($350/month), but then Google decided they didn't like it and my PR went from 6 to 1. I kept going with their ads, as the reduced PR seemed to have no impact on anything on my site, but eventually I dropped TLA as I decided to sell my own text ads to eliminate their 50% fee. Worked well for a few months, but I lost the ambition and time to keep it up (selling direct ads is too much like work) and just eliminated them.

So... after a year or so with no text link ads, I emailed Google and they gave me my PR back... Well, most of it... back up to a 5.
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