Comparison of Inline Text Ad Networks

Comparison of Inline Text Ad

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been running a test between a few different inline advertisements. The ones I’ve been testing are:

  • Chitika Linx
  • Kontera ContentLink
  • Context Links

All of the advertisements work in a similar way, they double underline relevent phrases on your page which when hovered over popup an advertisement balloon which includes an appropriate image and text which when clicked takes your visitor off to a suitable shop. Both Chitika and Kontera pay you per click whilst Amazon pays you a commission on any thing that is sold.

I only display inline text ads on a subset of my pages (I do not display them on my main index page or new posts as I feel they could annoy regular readers), for the purposes of this test I split page views equally between each network, so there would be only one sort of inline ad on each page. So here are my findings:

Chitika came in with an average CPM (average earnings per 1,000 page views) of $2.56. As the links open in a new window I find they don’t interfere with my other monetisation schemes (like Adsense, affiliates, etc).

I am a premium publisher with Chitika so do get a higher revenue share than normal. Also these figures are before their monthly audit so will likely reduce by about 10%.

Before starting the test I got permission from Kontera to use their ads on a site with similar ads on other pages, they have an exclusivity clause (which I’ve moaned about before) that normally doesn’t allow this but they were cool with it for my test (thanks Mike and Neta).

Overall I found Kontera ads to be the lowest paying with an average CPM of $1.24, they were one of the most consistent though and will likely have different results in different niches. I was also able to modify the Kontera code (with advice and permission) so the links opened in a new window.


Amazon does not report the number of impressions, so I guestimated by taking the average between Chitika and Kontera.

You can see the results above of how the test went. Overall Amazon was the highest earner but the least consistent on a daily basis. This is due to them paying per sale rather than per click, it also benefited by being the Christmas season with visitors in buying mode, so at other times of the year I’d expect it to be less.

Also with Amazon their commissions are on a tiered basis, starting at 4% and working up to 8.5%. Due to my sales via other promotion methods (manually embedded affiliate links) I am at the 8% tier this month which has certainly helped bolster my commissions.

Amazon and Chitika work best for me on my gadget blog. I find Chitika Linx to be pretty consistent throughout the year but Amazon works better in the silly season, which makes sense as services like Chitika do use advertising inventory from Amazon so will be taking their cut before passing on my share. The other nice thing about Amazon is you have the possibility of a big sale which is always a nice surprise when checking stats.

Different networks do work better on different sites, niches and times of year so I would recommend testing for yourself.

What Next
What I’d like to do is continue running all networks at a percentage:

  • 45% - Chitika Linx
  • 10% - Kontera ContentLink
  • 45% - Context Links

and then if I see one network improving I can increase its share, though I will need to see if Kontera will allow me to do this because if not I would have to remove them for obvious reasons.

Also in the test I only used and as only 40% of my traffic is in the US the other 60% would be unlikely to convert, so I have now added geo targetting (thanks Matt, Pat, Vittorio and Derek) to also use for my Canadian traffic and for us UK folk, all other traffic will be shown Linx. It will be interesting to see what extra revenue this brings.

To join any of the networks go to:

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. Interesting post. I was surprised with the Amazon earnings, but I’m guessing that has quite a bit to do with it being December.

    When you say you only ran these on a “subset of my pages,” what was this subset? How did you set it up to work that way … some type of coding/tinkering on your end? Thanks!

    • Yeah I’m sure the timing had a big effect on the Amazon earnings. The subset I use id something like:
      - Show on all individual post pages that are older than 3 days
      - Show on category and index pages after page 1 (or maybe 2), so nothing on my home or category home pages

      I coded it myself and have tweaked it over time.

      • So was this a plug-in or more hand crafting within the theme?

        • A hand crafted plugin is probably the best way to describe it. I used to include things like that in the theme but now find it’s better and easier to do it as a plugin when possible (I can then use it on other sites, themes, etc.)

      • Also with the subset of pages it’s used on I don’t display inline ads on pages that have links to affiliate products, my way of thinking there is I’ll make more from sales than I would being paid for the click as the click cost must be a portion or somebody else making the sale.

  2. If your website is written in PHP you can reverse the visitors IP by using gethostbyaddr($_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR']) and then figure out which country the visitor is from by snapping the country-code at the end. The drawback by using this method is that you might get a visitor from Germany with a hostname like and thus show US-based ads to this visitor, but it’s a quick way to segment your ads.

    • Thanks Bjarke, that’s an interesting solution, do you know how accurate it is, with the example you gave?

      • No, unfortunatly I don’t know how accurate it is. I primarily write content in Danish for Danish visitors so geotargetting isn’t a big issue for me.

      • I came up with an idea on how to see how accurate this method is: Set up a javascript code like
        document.write('" height="1" width="1" alt="">');
        to record the hostnames and put them into a database. Then after a month (or so) compare the database with the result you get from the map overlay in Google Analytics on the same site. This should give you a pretty good idea of how accurate this script is.

  3. Not sure about chitika premium, but tried it and it was awfull, it was also making “paid ads” on MY OWN LINKS. That’s stupid.

    • That does sound a bit crazy, did you ask them about it? For me with Chitika I do best with their RPU ads, followed by Linx then the eMiniMalls. All combined it comes to something like $5CPM which I think is pretty good for an additional income stream.

  4. No, I didn’t. I am doing like 5 USD daily with Kontera at this moment and I think it is not so annoying as Chitika lynx ads. Just my 2c. Great post, by the way.

  5. Are there any other “big” inline advertising networks?

  6. have you tried Adbrite inline text links?

  7. Where exactly do you have amazon context links in this blog?

    And did you know that you have two subscribe to comments checkboxes?

  8. What about TribalFusion? Do you have any experience with their new product for inline text advertising?

  9. Good analysis. It almost seems like these services are really worth the time. With these kind of impressions, you could earn so much more with Adsense or an affiliate program.

  10. As far as I know, Chitika do not readily accept new publishers, unless your site has thousands of hits per day. Correct me if I am wrong, but that is how I ended up using Kontera.

    • I would never try adding inline text. Personally I find them annoying

      Regarding your issue I managed to sign up to chikita a couple of years back with a small amount of visitors a month (talking here less than 100 uniques)

  11. So what about adbrite inline ads? I’d love to see a comparison of that as well.

  12. How To Do Anything says:

    I haven’t really had good experience with Kontera and adsense as a combination. Earnings have been lower. It is as if Kontera distracts readers from clicking on adsense.

  13. By the way, does Kontera allow single line ads? I mean is it allowed to modify their code to display single line?

    Al’s last blog post..How To Get Rid of Acne Scars

  14. Nice comparison. Quite nice CPM you get from them too.

    If is your site, why is the impressions in the comparison just 10,000 per month? Or is that click-throughs rather than ad impressions?

    AdBrite Review’s last blog post..Displaying Random Ads

  15. i am also looking inline text ads for my website and found this article realy heplfull for me, thanks alot selfmademinds you are rocks….


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