I’ve got a special treat for my readers today, an interview with Patrick Gavin, the President of Text Link Ads Inc. I’ve written previously about my (and others) success with Text-Link-Ads as a way of earning money from your blog, however there were still questions yet to be answered. Others had also contacted me asking questions such as “why was I rejected?” or “what determines the price of a text-link-ad?”
Your questions have been answered.
WorkBoxers: Good evening Patrick, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
Patrick: James, thanks for this opportunity and great work with your blog.
WorkBoxers: Getting straight down to business, I’ve had a few people come to me with tales of rejection from the TLA publisher program and I’m guessing this comes down to a number of factors such as traffic, back links and Page Rank. Can you confirm this theory? Is there a minimum PR that sites need before being accepted into the TLA publisher program?
Patrick: Yes it is a combination of: traffic (derived from Alexa data), back links (from Yahoo’s site explorer), and the theme of your website. PR is not a factor in our algorithm but link popularity is a factor and can cause new sites that don’t have much to not be accepted right away. We do re check sites that were denied in the past every couple of months and invite sites that meet our requirements back in.
WorkBoxers: Honestly, I think TLA are brilliant and a great way to monetize if a site is doing poorly with contextual advertising, however I fear that growth could kill it. There’s obviously more publishers than advertisers, is it possible that in the future, there will be so much choice when buying links that publishers could suffer?
Patrick: TLA’s biggest growth obstacle in 2005 was the lack of publishers. We launched our independent publisher program in February of this year and it has been very successfully in signing up new publishers. The blogosphere has helped tremendously in helping the publisher program to grow virally. Now we are focused on bringing in new advertisers. We are doing this by shifting much of our ad spend away from attracting new publishers and instead advertising to potential advertisers. We think we can continue to balance the equation for the foreseeable future.
WorkBoxers: In a discussion with Yaro from Entrepreneurs Journey, I once mentioned that the 50% cut was a hell of a lot. Yaro replied with, “Yeah but TLA sell ads better than I do”. How exactly does TLA market their services? I see a strong adwords campaign, anything else?
Patrick: We have over 10,000 affiliates and run an aggressive banner campaign on many top websites. We drive a lot of eye balls to our sites and work hard with our site to educate the visitors on our product to give our publishers the best chance of selling ad spots through our marketplace. We do believe most sites can sell more spots by using TLA than flying solo. We do automate the ad delivery and payment process which takes a lot of work away from the publisher which is the key to our service.
WorkBoxers: In terms of pricing text-links, my hunches are that page rank has a HUGE impact. Am I close?
Patrick: No. The days of pricing by PR are long gone in my opinion. Buyers pay premiums for quality placement on niche sites. Theme plays the biggest factor with many of the finance, travel, real estate, and law sites drawing the highest prices. Link popularity is a factor but it is not taken from PR.
WorkBoxers: In my opinion, text-link-ads aren’t the type of advertisements that people click. Compare a single text link to Adsense or graphical banners, there’s no comparison. With that said, I see people buying links purely for search engine optimization purposes, is this the bulk of your buyers are doing?
Patrick: This is where we have seen the biggest shift. There is no doubt that even 6 months ago the average client was coming to TLA with a search marking mindset but since we launched our independent publisher program and brought in thousands of niche sites that is changing. You are right that many of the text links are not going to bring in the same volume of traffic as a large banner but the key is they are a fraction of the price of a large banner so you can afford to purchase text link ads across a number of relevant sites and the cumulative affect is some nice targeted traffic.
WorkBoxers: 10 links vs 6 links. Does the price change? If so, can you delve how much? :)
Patrick: This is not exact but it would change about 15% up if you dropped to 6 so in many cases it is best for the publisher to use the maximum 10 link spots for sale.
WorkBoxers: You do realize that Google could change their ranking system any second, and all of a sudden backlinks may not be as important. Is there a possibility of this happening or do you think backlinks will ALWAYS be in demand?
Patrick: I think link popularity will be at the core of the major search engines for the foreseeable future but that being said our focus is building a niche publishing network that can send our advertisers targeted traffic at a price that works for everyone. Our goal is for our ads to send enough targeted traffic to justify the ad cost and any search rankings benefit is just gravy.
WorkBoxers: Anything ultra secret that you can reveal for the future of TLA?
Patrick: We have a big new product launch that should happen in the next two weeks. You will be able to use it to additionally monetize Workboxers.com, more details real soon ;)
WorkBoxers: Thanks for your time Patrick and best wishes for the future.
Patrick: Thanks James, it was my pleasure.