I see you're reading about execution by stoning. Would you like to buy a bong?

In these days of belt-tightening and margin-cutting, have "contextual" ad companies like Kontera finally been forced to actually live up to their promise of delivering ads that're relevant to the text they link from?

Irrelevant contextual ad

That'll be a "no", then.


You'd think that contextual link-ad companies would be in a deadly downward spiral.

They can only deliver ads that're actually relevant if they've got tons of advertisers to choose from (like Google, who often deliver ads that contradict a page's content, but are at least talking about the same subject). But anybody with half a brain can see that, at the moment, actual relevant contextual ads seem to be very much in the minority.

So if you pay a contextual ad company to advertise your product, you can't expect anything better.

But then again, the big contextual ad companies have been in business for several years now, and most of them still haven't gone broke.

As I write this, RealTextAds (who contacted me in 2004) seem to be out of business, but Vibrant Media are more than eight years old and still going strong. So are Tribal Fusion, as mentioned in passing in 2005 and looked at specifically here; they're about as old as Vibrant. And Kontera, responsible for the ad in the picture above, is six years old. They run ads under their own name, and also as "ContentLink".

So somebody must still be paying for this crap.

Perhaps the ads actually do work - get clicks, and create sales. I'm sure plenty of people at least click on these weird little pop-ups, even if they're only trying to make the thing go away.

I can't see how the cost per conversion can be good, though.

10 Responses to “I see you're reading about execution by stoning. Would you like to buy a bong?”

  1. corinoco Says:

    Couls someone please tell companies who use contextual ads that by using them, their names go into my own private killfile to never, ever be dealt with?

  2. timix Says:

    I think part of the problem is that very few useful businesses actually participate in that sort of advertising. I've never seen like an ad for new motherboards or computer hardware; the closest I've ever seen was in a forum thread about linux binaries, where there was an ad for a binary LED clock.

    I've also seen entire five-page-long reviews of computer hardware with five or six Intellitxt ads that were all to do with life insurance.

    Ads can't be relevant if there aren't any ads selling relevant things, but they're still forced to be there like badly placed billboards.

    PS. The CAPTCHA *and* forcing people to register to leave a comment? Is your blog spam really that bad? :P

    [The posting setup for this blog isn't something I'm especially proud of. You actually can't post a comment at all if you haven't made an account; the comment box and CAPTCHA are... they're DECOYS, that's what they are! You shouldn't see the CAPTCHA if you're logged in, though. -Dan]

  3. TwoHedWlf Says:

    Raise your hand if you tried to click to get rid of the annoying popup add right in the middle of this article? *Raises hand*

    I feel stupid.

  4. iworm Says:

    Re question at (4): Errrr, well me too ac... no a FRIEND read the article and said he also tried clicking it. hahahahaha. wot a fule. fnar fnar. Not me though. No no. As if.

  5. Bern Says:

    Well, I initially thought, "Oh, crap, don't tell me Dan has started including those damn annoying pop-up ads?"

    This was swiftly followed by, "Hang on, I have the NoScript addon installed, I shouldn't be seeing that!"

    Then the penny dropped. And I, too, wonder how these companies stay afloat. I suspect that they're propped up by the companies that sell services in the genre of "How to make $$$ selling stuffs on teh intarwebs!"

  6. RichVR Says:

    While I didn't try to click on it there was a momentary flash of extreme annoyance. My usual reaction to this type of crap.

  7. Stark Says:

    I love the other random links in the source article. The phrase "server platform" linking to "EcoPure Coral Calcium" supplement particularly tickles my funny bone... for no reason I can discern. Seems I odder than even I knew. Then again it could be the lack of sleep due to this pesky Swine Flu outbreak (I work for a Public Health Department - this is the first few free moments I've had in 3 days). I'm thinking of leaving the country until it all blows over... maybe Dan will let me sleep on his floor. ;)

  8. TwoHedWlf Says:

    Probably not so random, Stark. They probably figure anyone reading something about server platforms is probably a stereotypical fat IT dOOd that lives on cheetos and Mt Dew and could probably use some dietary supplements...


  9. Stark Says:

    I'll have you know it's Wasabi Peas and Diet Coke in my cas... oohh... you meant in general.... ;)

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