Goodbye Text Link Ads!

I am proud to report that is now free of AdSense and Text Link Ads. The decision to remove AdSense was very easy, as the multiple banners that were displayed throughout this blog were vastly outperformed by the single text link advertisement in my sidebar, though the unexplained termination of some of my friends’ accounts, including Jim’s, also weighed in on my decision to leave AdSense behind. This really was nothing more than your classic “this isn’t working for me” decision. On the other hand, Text Link Ads was performing quite well, and covered’s hosting charges. So, why did I decide to leave Text Link Ads behind?

The simple answer is “ethics”. About ten days ago, I received a “TLA Publisher Update” which made two unexpected policy changes. The first was down-right unethical, and the second was down-right confusing. Angsuman discussed these policy changes a few days ago, but now that I’m free of their grasp, I think it’s time to share my opinions.

Our advertisers don’t like ad blocks that are titled “Sponsored Links” “Advertisements” “TLA” “Text Link Ads” etc. They prefer no heading but if you do use a heading please consider using an image not text and consider using something like “Recommended Sites”.

“Recommended Sites”? These links aren’t recommended sites, they’re sponsors! I remember the day when advertisers where proud to be labeled as “Sponsors”. Has that changed? If I remember correctly, Text Link Ads was founded on the principle that advertisements should be unobtrusive, but this seems to go against that principle. If you think that’s bad, Scott Yang recently received the following request from a Text Link Ads employee:

Also, can you please change the “Sponsored Links” text to something like “Friends” or something along those lines?

Excuse me?! If they aren’t “Recommended Sites”, they certainly aren’t “Friends”! They were titled as “Sponsored Links” because they were sponsors! By issuing these requests, Text Link Ads has betrayed its founding principle and crossed a line by requesting that we intentionally deceive our readers. These links (aka advertisements) never represented friends, they represented sponsors.

If you are using a “your link here” or “advertise here” “Text Link Ads” or “TLA Links”, link that links back to your listing at remove it.

Despite this policy change, the Text Link Ads referral system still allows you to easily create such links. Furthermore, these links help to direct interested parties towards our Text Link Ads listing and eventually result in more revenue for both ourselves and TLA. This request does not seem practical, unless the owners are planning to close Text Link Ads, or are desperate to decrease ad sales.

I suspected that these policy changes were made in response to Google’s “punishment” of sites displaying text link advertisements, but the incredibly vague response that I got from Text Link Ads publisher support was . . . incredibly vague:

We’ve made these changes and requested you comply with them because we feel the changes will be the most effective for both publishers and advertisers.

With two unethical and confusing policy changes, and one incredibly vague response, I decided to call it quits. As a warning to anyone else planning to do the same, contact TLA to close your account after you receive your next payment. Electing to close your account apparently constitutes a breach of contract, and you will not receive compensation for the ads shown on your site during the current pay period.

The reason behind this is that our advertisers are not billed on a 1-30 day cycle, they all have different billing cycles. Because of this, when you decide to stop showing ads, you break the contract with us and that forces us to break our contract with the advertisers. We need to refund the advertisers and therefor cannot pay you.

Just to clear up a few things, I only asked to close my account, and I did not remove the ads until after my account was officially closed.

It looks like the online advertisement industry is becoming confusing and obtrusive again, so I’ll stick with the basics. The bottom of my sidebar is now left with my donation link, hosting referral link, and two unobtrusive affiliate links for my favorite online retailers.