V7N | Adsense – Ethics and Money

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Lots of controversy over V7N and their new contextual links program.

  • Darren questions the ethics
  • Matt Cutts has “Laid into Them
  • Graywolf Delves in Deep (read my comments there btw and the ones by Jeremy Zawodny)
  • Carsten Cumbrowski has made a post I agree with on a link being a pointer, not a vote, or at least should be. I still don’t agree with him on the Wikipedia move as that punishes webmasters who deserve the “vote” as it is currently counted both for positioning and duplicate content. One option is for a couple of Google engineers to spend a week of 20% time fixing their software by adding a voting system for links.
  • John Andrews gives his strong views on Matt Cutt’s current attitude:-
  • Today, Matt’s post was again in-your-face authoritarian. Matt is likely millions richer than he was when he started way back when I tussled with Google for the first time, but I’m not seeing as much “smarts” as I would expect to see. In Matt’s post, he speaks of V7N’s advertising system, and says things like :

  • It seems this is what Matt was really up to at the last Google Whipping Session / SEO Convention

V7N Contextual Links

From what I have read so far, this service is very similar to using the alinks plugin for WordPress – that is used by thousands of bloggers with links to Amazon, Clickbank etc.

Here is what Darren wrote about Alinks last year.

Rachel also points out a helpful WordPress Plugin – Auto links which will automatically link to URLs when you mention certain keywords. This is especially handy if you find yourself mentioning site’s regularly. It also has the ability to turn keywords into Amazon searches (with your associate/affiliate ID) which some will find handy.

There doesn’t seem to be any moral problem with using it, and the V7N system is effectively the same, but rather than hoping for an affiliate sale, you get the money up front.

The requirements seem to prevent specific disclosure as Darren does on his blog, such as (aff)

As I wrote about recently, the Adsense Referral Link program effectively prevents you telling your visitors that you earn money if they download the software, but you are allowed to give a hearty recommendation.
As an example Darren now uses the phrase “Recommended Money Makers” for his affiliate links, but in the past I seem to remember he had “Affiliate Links” or something similar – that would indicate earning money from them, which would be against Adsense policy for the referral unit.

Thus the rules for V7N and Adsense are effectively the same regarding disclosure, but are for totally different reasons.

There is however a difference in regards WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing)

Adsense allow you to express an opinion about the products, V7N I think would prefer you not to even mention them.

There is nothing within the V7N terms preventing you having a general disclosure policy for your blog, and even having a general disclosure with each piece of content you publish.
With Adsense Referral Units, the only way might be to have a general disclosure, and then not place them as advertisements. Maybe they will clarify that sometime.

Many might think that $10 for a link is not a lot of money, but it is just one text link on a page without having to do anything for it.

Google Situation

If Google really don’t like paid links of any kind, they should put their money where their mouth is and add a clause to the Adsense terms banning Adsense on sites which contain paid links.

Lots of web masters would probably react to that by removing…. Adsense, especially from large sites with horrible click-through rates.

Is it Worth Using V7N?

I noticed that they are mainly looking for blog inventory. They are going to get bundles of it – I am also sure lots of forums with 100,000+ pages are going to be pulling on the leash for this kind of offer.

I do foresee that this will also put pressure on other networks to increase their rates, such as PayPerPost. Sorry guys, but in many ways for most of your bloggers, this is a great deal.. but they do go hand in hand.
That being said, PPP is much better value for advertisers, as they do get a review out of it, which to be honest is part of the charm.

I have seen people state that this is too cheap – honestly by not having to do any work it isn’t.

You can buy up old domains that have a large number of content pages and just flog the inventory.

The funny thing is, for many bloggers, just like email marketers, search is not the primary source of traffic, and probably never will be.

I am sure a lot of people will be wondering

  • Do they have negotiable rates for advertisers
  • Do they have negotiable rates for people with lots of inventory
  • Where is the affiliate program?

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m about to run out the door to a wedding – but I’ll quickly say this:

    I tried in my review to put it in personal terms as much as possible. It doesn’t fit with my style of blogging or my own ethical framework around blogging. But that’s what v7N asked me to share when they approached me to do the review.

    I’ll also add that there are a few differences on ProBlogger between my affiliate links/referral links to V7N.

    1. The one’s you’re talking about as ‘recommended money makers’ are not in content. They’re on my side bar. When I have recommended them in content I’ve given reasons for doing so and have identified them as aff links. In fact I used to have ‘some links are aff links’ under that section but in a recent redesign tweak I deleted it accidentally – I’ve fixed that up (thanks for the reminder).

    2. The links are to products/services that I actually have used, recommend and have in most cases done reviews of on my blog.

    3. They are generally labled as aff links or ads.

    4. They are links to services that are widely used and trusted.

    5. They are links that are relevant to the topic I write about and that I believe are useful to my readers.

    While I understand V7N screen advertisers to make sure they’re worthwhile sites that use the service I don’t have the time or energy to surf every link that they want me to include to see whether I trust it or whether it’s relevant or useful to my readers and I kind of doubt most others who use the service will either.

    Honestly – I’ve got nothing against people making money off line – I don’t mind text links – I just think there needs to be a level of transparency around it.

  2. says

    I must stress there wasn’t any criticism about the way you handle the ethics – you do that better than most, and I know you only recommend product you use, trust etc.

    I recalled you had mentioned A links in the past and went digging for it.

    I would watch the referral unit video and decide how you might want to place the unit based on Google’s current policy. They may have been a little ambiguous in the Video

    I haven’t seen a link yet, or extremely detailed ToS for V7N. There may be a way within the rules to add something with CSS to the links as you can with various other link making tools.
    I am sure the guys are open to suggestions at this stage on ways to change the system such that it will be more acceptable to the blogging community.
    Rather than make the link look the same as normal links, they could also be made to look like other automated affiliate links.

    This is all tied in with the various paid links and no follow debates going on as were most of the links at the top

  3. Peter says

    “Rather than make the link look the same as normal links, they could also be made to look like other automated affiliate links.”

    The selling point of V7N links is that they are not detectable to search engines. Then why would they try to do such things?

  4. says

    Google don’t threaten to devalue all your out-going links just because you have some affiliate links on your page.

    I have lots of sites where almost all the outgoing links are affiliate links.

    The point is to make them look like they are not paid links but are still in some way commercial, and most people will most likely be buying them for SEO purposes not clicks.

    Then you can state somewhere in a disclosure policy on your site that green dashed links on your site are commercial links, but that isn’t something that can be detected so easily.

    Ultimately Google need to stop devaluing paid links, or to start devaluing all commercial links, such as those between sites in the same group of companies. If they can’t create a level playing field for commercial links, of all kinds, they should stop victimization of the little guys

  5. says

    I would imagine these links wouldn’t be too hard to detect if Google noted which blogs suddenly started adding contextual links to old posts, and connected them with which urls suddenly start appearing on a network of these blogs, no?

  6. Matthew says

    I still don’t get the disclosure policy. If it gets more people to download and use the product who cares?

  7. says

    Seems that we are splitting hairs over something we have no control over

    Frustrating that the rules keep getting changed on us webmasters. As a newbie to the affiliate marketing arena compared to all of those who have commented above, it really is becoming increasingly difficult to establish a presence online.

    The advantages that earlier marketers had when trying to eastablish their sites eg no ‘no follow’ attributes are not available to us.

    I think I understand that Google is trying to produce a fair system but with some of the rules, I think ethical marketers can be hurt as much as scammers