Sponsored Links

I was reading SEOChat’s How Your Search Data Can Make You Look Like a Star (as opposed to, say, a parallelogram) when I noticed something interesting. There are a number of links that have heavy underlining — heavier lines than for your average link. Hovering over the link with the mouse causes a “sponsor” pop-up to show, like a tooltip:


This is like an interstitial, but it’s not intrusive. Fortunately there’s a “what’s this?” link within the pop-up box, and that takes you to an explanation: this is Vibrant Media’s IntelliTXT technology, which uses some JavaScript and CSS to provide the effect.

I don’t have time to dig into the technology that underlies this, nor what the analytics and privacy issues are, but it looks consumer-friendly, and provides ample opportunity for advertisers. Talk about in-product placement.

Sponsored Links

3 thoughts on “Sponsored Links

  1. This stuff has already seen its heyday… Forbes was the biggest supporter, and when they pulled out in Dec of 2004, so did many of the other mainstream sites.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&hs=qez&c2coff=1&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=intellitxt+forbes&spell=1 gives some links to the various articles saluting the decision. I’m sure there will always be some sites where this works, but for many, its seen as misleading and actually consumer-unfriendly.

  2. Bob says:

    I agree that the line between editorial and advertisement should be a bright one and I can understand why reporters, writers, and editors at Forbes dropped the practice. However, I think there can be a good use for the technology. For instance, if you have links (not text, but actual links) already in your page, one of these tooltips might be useful (e.g. you look at the “interstitial” before you click the link.

    This may still be the wrong way to use it, but I do think there’s something useful here, even if the first few applications aren’t it.

  3. True, if you consider the approach a navigation aid… that is, if you coded the DHTML to put a thumbnail or summary of the landing page instead of it being an external ad, then this is a good idea. I seem to recall a mozilla ad-in that does something similar, but running it on your site (server side) offers the same benefits to every visitor.

    I guess I just don’t like it as an ad. From my recall, it became annoying that as I moused over a page to go to a link or the scroll bar, tooltip ads popped up like bear traps. Good tech, poor implementation.

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