Google AdSense Alternatives: Infolinks
Much like Media.net, Infolinks was one of the alternatives I turned to almost immediately after losing my AdSense account. I had seen it around on a lot of other sites in the past, but never bothered to try it until now. My overall feelings are pretty mixed on this one, and I’ll explain why below.
What is Infolinks?
Infolinks is a bit different than AdSense or Media.net, mainly because of the way the advertisements are displayed. Instead of displaying advertisements in a separate box, the ads are actually embedded within hyper-linked text in a site’s content.
Here’s what it looks like on one of my sites:
Basically, random words are selected and underlined, and when your mouse cursor hovers over the text, a small ad box pops up (as pictured above).
Depending on your site, double-underlined green text may not fit in with your overall design. Infolinks does have a number of options when it comes to customizing the way the links appear.
As you can see, you can select whatever colors you want for the links, and whether you want the links to be double underlined or dotted.
More importantly, you can select how many links you want per page. To me, this option is important if you don’t want your content to look really spammy. Infolinks allows you to select as few as one link or as many as twelve.
Other Types of Ads
In addition to the underlined text, Infolinks offers a few other types of advertisement. One of them is the tag cloud (pictured below):
They also have a type of ad called related tags, which is very similar to the horizontal link unit that Google AdSense offers:
And finally, they have what they call a “search widget” – essentially, it’s a bar that sits at the bottom of the screen, and pops up when the user hovers over it:
What I Like About Infolinks
Although I’m not too crazy about Infolinks, there are a few things I like about it:
1) Flexible customization and variety of ad types.
As I showed above, I really like how you can customize the number of links that appear on a page. Also, I’m a fan of the different ad types. To be honest, I didn’t even realize some of these other ad types existed (or maybe I had forgotten) until I went to write this post. In particular, I like the “related tags” ad unit – ads like these typically have a nice click-through rate (CTR) when placed at the top of a page.
2) Easy to implement.
This is hardly a selling point, considering most ads are very easy to implement, but these are easy too. You just need to add one snippet of code to your site’s <body> tag, and they take care of the rest.
3) It works well with other ad types.
Because Infolinks has ad types that other ad services don’t have (like Media.net or AdSense), you can use them together. For example, several of my sites have a Media.net ad block within the content (at the top, justified left or right with the text), and another ad block in the sidebar.
In addition, I use the hyperlinked Infolinks ads within the body of my content. While some people have become blind to standard block ads, most people recognize and click hyperlinks. In theory, this should make Infolinks a solid addition to a website’s monetization plan.
What I Don’t Like About Infolinks
Unfortunately, I have more to say on the negative side. This doesn’t mean I won’t continue to use Infolinks – it just means, I’d prefer other types of ads to these. Fortunately, I can have both.
1) The ads can appear spammy.
While the customization options allows you make the sponsored links appear less spammy (either by changing the color to blend better, or by simply reducing the number of links), I can’t help but feel the links are slightly intrusive. While it’s easy to ignore a sidebar ad block, sometimes these ads are annoying (i.e. when you accidentally hover over a link and the ads pops up).
I’d be more okay with this if the ads were almost always relevant, but sometimes they aren’t.
2) They are surprisingly picky about site approval.
This is a similar problem I had with Media.net, and I’m starting to realize that perhaps AdSense was the least picky of all, considering they allowed you to put ads on any site, once your account was approved. While Infolinks has approved most sites that I have submitted, they denied my thinner sites. Basically, this was the reason:
“Our quality assurance team has tested your website for Infolinks compatibility and found that the website does not contain enough text for our algorithm to work properly.
Since Infolinks is an In-Text ads provider, your website needs to provide a certain amount of text in it for the ads to work. If the current situation changes, please let us know and we will be happy to approve your website to work with us.”
Clearly, they felt the site was too thin. Although the site is on the thinner side (5 pages of content), the front page is about 1,000 words and the other pages are 400-600 words each, so it’s not as if there wasn’t enough text to support the ads. I’m okay with that though – I don’t mind them being strict, especially when they have a good reason.
3) The CTR and earnings are just plain terrible.
Again, I’m comparing this to Media.net and AdSense, the only two ad providers that I have a decent amount of experience with. So far, I’ve seen some pretty horrible results with Infolinks.
Ever since I started using Infolinks, here are my stats:
- CTR: 3.38%
- EPM: $1.37
I’ve seen other bloggers post their Infolinks performance, and it’s typically higher than what I’ve experienced so far. It may be that I’ve had a bad run, or the 7-10 sites I have Infolinks on right now simply aren’t a good fit. I definitely plan to keep Infolinks on my sites for now, and will hopefully see some improvement in the coming weeks/months.
While this review wasn’t an overwhelming endorsement of Infolinks, I still believe it’s a good AdSense alternative if you can supplement it with another ad provider, such as Media.net. You’ll be able to follow my Infolinks performance in my monthly income reports, so stay tuned to see how it performs in the future.
How has your experience with Infolinks been? Are my results typical, or have you seen better (or worse)? Leave a comment below!