Ridiculous Advertising – or the Case of the Hijacked link

I was reading yet another article about the Oracle-Siebel deal, and clicked on  the “CRM company” link in the second line:

“So here we are, in the midst of’s Dreamforce event in San Francisco, where the hosted CRM company today announced news of the release of its AppExchange sharing service…”

Considering the context, common sense would dictate the link goes either the or perhaps another relevant article.   To my greatest surprise I found myself at the homepage of NetSuite a direct competitor!  Now, I happen to like NetSuite, but even I don’t expect this…  so let’s investigate:

  • Hovering over the link shows the URL of the very post I am reading at the bottom, at the browser’s status line.
  • A second later a box pops up, identifying it as a sponsored link.
  • Yet another click reveals it is IntelliTXT by Vibrant Media.

John Battelle discussed IntelliTXT’s unfavorable reception when they launched last year:

 “Hypertext links that appear within the editorial content of a site, including those within graphics, should be at the discretion of the editors. If links are paid for by advertisers, that should be disclosed to users.  
All online pages should clearly distinguish between editorial and advertising or sponsored content. If any content comes from a source other than the editors, it should be clearly labeled.

Absolutely.  And NEVER, EVER hijack a URL to a direct competitor’s page.

Update (9/12) Apparently I am not the only one disliking IntelliTXT. 

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  1. IntelliTXT does not “hijack” URLs. In reality, IntelliTXT is offering a user-friendly advertisement and the publishers are making the decisions of where and how IntelliTXT is administered on their sites. With IntelliTXT, the publishers are also the ones making money and with the rate at which this is spreading, it looks like they’re successful. It’s good timing too, because publishers are having difficulty making money from their content.

    In my opinion, Vibrant Media is offering a very user-friendly and unobtrusive solution. At the end of the day, it’s the publishers that need to decide how to use it. On every site I have visited that uses IntelliTXT, the ads are always clearly labeled as “sponsored.” In fact, it’s one of Vibrant Media’s mandates. In terms of user expectations, I think people will get used to the green, double underline hyperlinks just like they got used to paid search placements.

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