Linkbucks and Adfly are both services that fill a similar role, though they operate in slightly different ways. The core idea is the same; post links somewhere you control, get clicks to those links, and get paid for those clicks. It’s a low-level paid advertising scheme, not quite on par with CPC ads from Google or the like, but decent as a supplement.
I’m going to tell you right now; both of these systems rely heavily on significant volume to make any progress. The reason you see Adfly links on Minecraft mod forums far more than you see them on blogs is because they really don’t generate much income. For a teenage modder it’s enough to buy some candy on the weekend, but it’s not enough to ever be called seriously valuable. Anyone running a blog who is serious about making money is going to be using much more high profile, valuable, and higher volume ad networks.
Have you ever heard the term interstitial? In generic terms, it’s a word that means “the space between objects.”
On the web, when you click a link, you’re going from point A to point B, website A to website B. You don’t have to travel down a road, where you’re exposed to billboards and other drivers; nothing like that happens. You simply leave the first page as the second page loads.
Both Linkbucks and Adfly are interstitial ad services. If you’re website A and you want to link someone to website B, what you do is run that link through either an Adfly or a Linkbucks shortener. This is a lot like a Bit.ly shortener, in that it makes the longer link shorter, but it has more than just cosmetic functionality.
See, when someone clicks an Adfly link or a Linkbucks link, they are not going from site A to site B. They are going from site A to site C to site B, where site C is a page that serves up an advertisement. It’s a lot like the Forbes “quote of the day” page, except it shows up every time the user clicks the link.
The ads that show on the page are generally skeevy ads, spammy in nature, and everyone knows it. They’re casinos, they’re supplements, they’re “offers” that require credit cards, and everything your digital momma warned you about. They’re also pay per view, but not for you.
The way it works from the perspective of sites like Adfly is this. A company decides they want a lot of views to an ad, and pays something like $1 per 5,000 views. Adfly then adds that ad to their rotation for 5,000 views, and earns that dollar. Adfly doesn’t care if anyone clicks the link, though they may get paid more if people actually click, it might be a hybrid model for them. I’m not employed by either of the services I’ve mentioned, so I can’t tell you how they get paid.
From the client – that’s you – perspective, it’s pay per click. You run an Adfly link on your site and you earn a tiny fraction of a cent every time someone clicks it. That’s because a click on your link is a view on the ads for Adfly, and that means Adfly gets paid. They get paid more than you get paid, of course, because they take their cut.
So, on your end, all you do is run your links through Adfly or Linkbucks and start to earn as people click them. You don’t have to care about, monitor, or support the ads that show up in the interstitial. They’re not on your site, they’re not part of your domain, and they don’t matter to you beyond the fact that your audience is being exposed to them.
Now, there are a few risks here. For one, if the user browsing your site has an ad blocker on, it will prevent the ads – and the code that serves them – from running. The user will just see a narrow bar at the top where they can click to proceed to the actual destination of the link. They can click through to the destination without issues, but as far as Adfly is concerned, no click happened because no view happened. That’s a click you might have recorded but Adfly doesn’t, so you don’t get paid.
This discrepancy is part of what has led a lot of people to believe that Adfly, Linkbucks, and all the other similar services are not legit. And sure, maybe they skim a few views off the top to make some extra cash, but it’s measured in fractions of pennies. It’s a rounding error to anyone who gets change from buying a candy bar in cash.
Before we get into the gritty details, I’ll say one thing up front: these services are legit. They are legit in the sense that you can use them and they aren’t going to cut and run with your personal information. They will, in fact, issue payments to you if you make enough money to earn them. However, and this is a big however, the payments are so low it’s potentially not worth using.
On the plus side, both services are quick and easy to use. You can sign up with them very easily, and while you will have to plug in a lot of personal information, there’s no history of that information being leaked or abused.
It’s also a very trivial process to get a monetized link. You take a URL, you feed it into the tool, it gives you a shortlink, and you use that shortlink where you would have used the previous link. Everything else is done on the business end, from ad management to upkeep to tracking.
The payment threshold is pretty low, only $5 for Adfly for example, and they can pay via a whole bunch of different options. These options include Paypal, but also lesser known alternatives like Payoneer or Payza.
On the other hand, there are cons to using these systems. Oh, there are cons.
The number one con is that interstitial ads are annoying. If you want to download a file or visit a page, you certainly don’t want to have an ad thrown in your face. They’re annoying, they get in the way, they disrupt the user experience, and they bring virtually nothing to the table. They aren’t targeted ads, they’re just whatever Adfly, Linkbucks or whatever other service happens to want to show today.
The second con is that their tracking is imprecise to say the least. If an ad doesn’t fully load or doesn’t load properly – not to mention if it doesn’t load at all – the click won’t be tracked. You have significant attrition on your clicks, so you’re not getting paid for every one of them.
Did I mention they’re annoying? It’s even worse that a lot of spam sites will route a user through multiple ad services at a time. They might go get an Adfly link, and then run that link through Linkbucks, so that the user clicking has to see and click past a Linkbucks ad to be taken to an Adfly ad, which they have to see and click past to get to their content. I’ve seen chains like this literally a dozen ads long, and half the time you get to the other side and find the original destination removed. It’s a pain in the butt.
And, of course, they’re low paying. I’m talking, at the top end, .20 cents per click. That means you need five clicks to reach a single penny. If you want to make $1, you need 500 clicks, and that’s clicks that are valid. With all the people using adblockers out there, it’s easy to have to double that, if not more. It’s hard enough to get clicks when the user knows they’re going straight to their destination; knowing they’re going to go through ads is keeping many from clicking in the first place. If you have to get, say, 750 clicks to get $1, and you have to earn $5 before you can get a payment, you need 3,750 clicks for $5.
Remember; that’s clicks to your links. That’s not just views of a banner on your page, or something as simple as that. If you have a 50% click rate – which is high for a lot of industries – that’s still 7,500 visitors for $5. That’s a heck of a lot of traffic for the kinds of sites concerned with pennies and interstitial ads.
If you want to be earning any significant amount of money online, you’re probably not going to want to use either of these services. If you do want to use them, you’re going to have to be prepared for the issues that come along with them, such as user annoyance and low click rates.
To improve your earnings, you have a handful of points of improvement.
Unlike other ad networks, there’s no way to target different industries or audiences with your ads in order to get the higher value links. You can’t target much of anything, really, beyond your industry in general as determined by your site and its content. A site dedicated to Minecraft mods is going to attract a certain type of user, and you can try to entice that user demographic with targeted content. The ads, though, won’t take that into consideration.
So, it can never hurt to improve the number of visitors coming to your site. This can be difficult if your goal is money, though, because one of the best ways to get more visitors is to pay for ads. However, you’re not going to be making money from buying ads for more visitors, because buying ads is going to cost more than the profit you get from your link clicks. Other than that, it’s just organic growth, which can be limited.
You can try to increase the uniqueness of visitors, but it’s not really a factor you can control. It’s tied to the number of visitors you get, in fact, so you simply need to get more visitors to get more unique hits.
You can try to increase the attractiveness of your links, and this is probably your greatest asset. The more users think they want what’s on the other side of the link, the more they will click it. Giving away content – like game mods, eBooks, or entries into a contest – that’s attractive to your audience is a good idea. Simple blog posts generally aren’t going to work.
Finally, the volume of links is probably your number one priority. That’s why sites like, again, a game mod site tend to have Adfly links; there are going to be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of such links that people click through to get at the content. If you can build a site that supports a large database of content in that manner, you’re going to benefit greatly. If you can’t, well, you’re not going to be earning much more than a can of soda per quarter.
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