Text ads have been around from the days of classified ads, but with the advent of the World Wide Web entered a new phase of life.

There are really two types of text ads:

  • Short (>60 words)
  • Advertorial (web pages, microsites)

The latter, advertorial stems for the popularity of doing "micromagazines" or sections within print publications. These are commonly 10 - 18 pages long, and are focused are a product/place/idea.

The former, what is more commonly known as the text ad tends to be much shorter, and is included within the framework of the content publication. These ads can be short as two words or as long as two paragraphs. Many web publishers started using these in the mid 1990s within their e-mail newsletters, and within their web pages, as a side bar. Wired, Internet.com and Andover.net are some of the companies that were using these, as early as 1997.

While Google is known for popularizing it, Google should be given more credit for making them accessible. Google showed that you could, using automated technology and credit card processing systems allow the average reader of a website place their message on it.

For the last year or so, text ads were the rage amongst advertisers. However, their effectivness has diminished (average click thru dropped from 1 - 2% to .5%), and the advertising community has moved away from them, more towards advertorials. In conversations with people like rusty from kuro5hin, and other people, the common thread of poor sales and lack of response from advertisers has been heard. As always, the advertisers want the Newest, Greatest Thing.