Google getting greyer – Inline text ads?

Search,SEM by on March 22, 2007 at 7:40 am

Rahul pointed me to this Techcrunch article that covers Google’s launch of In-line text ads. For those of you unfamiliar with text links ads, these are the incredibly obnoxious, usually double-underlined links that are actually ads that appear in many forums and sketchy content sites.

I think Arrington sums it up well:

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. But by burying it in other, bigger news, they’ve mostly avoided the critical analysis that this actually deserves

Yes, we should have seen this coming. The most recent change to the AdSense TOS raised a blog storm when publishers realized that they inline text ads violated that TOS. Google backed down and ‘clarified’ the policy, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the old policy return.

I’ve fought to keep these things off of Judy’s Book. The typical pitch is “incremental revenue”, which may be true, but it is typically accomplished by tricking users. I haven’t seen an implementation of the Google text link ads, but their FAQ suggests that the links will be indistinguishable from from true text links until a user mouses over the link.

Oh, there’s a great negative SEO impact too for advertisers. Here is the example Google gives for the type of phrase that would benefit from text link ads:

“Widgets are fun! I encourage all my friends to Buy a high-quality widget today.”

If you invented this widget the author would typically give you a link. However, if the publisher has text link ads installed, the publisher would instead provide a link to an ad. No PR gets passed to you. Widespread adoption of Google’s text link ads will penalize the organic search results of advertisers that choose to participate. Not to mention degrade the user experience of thousands of sites across the web.


  1. […] UPDATE: Dave also has a good post about this where he talks about some of the potential page rank implicatio… […]

  2. […] Google Getting Grayer – Inline Text Ads? (Dave Naffziger) […]

  3. Sorin — December 31, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    So if I use Kontera in-line-ads for example, means that I give PR to the sites that are in in-line-ads, but also to all the sites that have links in google adsense on my site?

  4. Dave Naffziger — December 31, 2008 @ 7:01 am

    I don't believe that in-line ads pass PR. They are typically inserted
    via javascript (like adsense ads), and since js isn't parsed by
    crawlers, the links are 'invisible' to Google.

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