ZinText Take eBay Affiliates to the Contextual Level

John has long since said that you shouldn’t stick all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to monetizing your blog. With the recent changes at Google, more people than ever are looking for advertising alternatives. You’ve heard of Kontera. You’ve heard of AuctionAds. And now you can combine the two ideas with ZinText, a contextual affiliate ad network that ordered up this review request.

In-Text Advertising For eBay

One of the greatest strengths of an in-text advertising solution is that it does not take up any extra space on your blog or website. Contrast this to the ad buttons in John’s sidebar, the Adsense blocks found on most blogs, and so forth. It was that in mind that ZinText was created. In a nutshell, your site or blog will get filled with a bunch of in-text ads — they look just like regular links — which will send clicks over to an appropriate eBay page. You can see the ads in action here.


You might be wondering why they chose eBay as the monetization method. Well, according to the developers of ZinText, the eBay affiliate program “delivers the best payouts, and that’s why we use it.” ZinText does not have an advertising network of its own and you don’t even need to “sign up” with them in the traditional sense. Instead, you just make use of accounts that you may already have.

No Additional Signups

In order to get started with ZinText, you need two pre-existing accounts. First, you must already be a part of eBay’s affiliate network. There are certain requirements and these are outside of ZinText’s control. If you’re not already a member, ZinText has happily provided you with an affiliate link for signing up.

Second, you must already be a member of Commission Junction, one of the Internet’s leaders in affiliate marketing, online advertising, and search engine marketing. This is because all payments are handled just as they normally would through Commission Junction; ZinText is your “silent partner” of sorts. You get to see your own stats and there’s no need to split commissions.

Implementation Requires a Single Step

Like I said, you don’t need to sign up with ZinText in order to use their ad delivery service. Instead, you can grab your ad code directly from the Get Started page after inputting some basic information. The ad code is a single line of Javascript that you can insert wherever you like. For WordPress blogs, I’d recommend putting it into your single.php and index.php templates, for example.


As you can see, there is a field for you to put in your eBay PID and SID, as well as fields for defining the whitelist and blacklist. This allows you to control exactly which terms on your site will be linked to eBay and which will not. If you only want to target the word “iPhone”, that’s perfectly possible.

Revenue Share and Site Design

You might be wondering how ZinText manages to make any money if they don’t seem to be involved in the payment process in any way. After all, you’re getting the full eBay affiliate commission through CJ. Well, the FAQ says that “a (very tiny) portion of the clicks from your site go under our PID, so we make money the same way you do – from the eBay program.” For transparency and trust, I think ZinText should say exactly how big is this “very tiny portion.” There’s a huge difference between 5% and 25%, after all.


The product sounds solid enough, but where ZinText should spend a little more work is on their website. It looks terribly amateur-ish as it stands right now. I like the white space, but there’s far too much of it and the content is a little lacking. There’s only a single graphic and there’s not even a company logo in the top corner. It’s almost like this site was taken from the 90s! More “newbie” language would also be appreciated, because some folks might not know what PID or SID are.

Make Money Online With ZinText

I think that ZinText has a good concept and the revenue-sharing model works for me; they just have to tell me how the clicks are shared. Implementation is easy, but I can’t seem to find any options for changing the color of the in-text links. At the same time, because it requires so little effort — assuming you already have an eBay affiliate and CJ account — there’s little harm in giving ZinText a trial run.

Click Here To Get Started With ZinText

44 thoughts on “ZinText Take eBay Affiliates to the Contextual Level”

  1. Steven says:

    Since it’s in-text, I assume you can’t run it simutaneously alongside with Kontera.

    1. You would get approved faster with Zin than Kontera. I would use Zin and then switch to Kontera, as I am new to the whole blog monetizing idea and my monthly traffic wouldn’t match Kontera’s demands.

      1. Alan Johnson says:

        The performance of a certain website monetization method varies from blog to blog so that this one will most likely be suitable for websites which have experienced positive results with programs such as Chitika.

        Alan Johnson

    2. Yeah. Plus, even if they were allowed together which one would over-ride the other if they were to meet the same keyword ❓

  2. Kind of shady that they don’t tell you how many of the clicks they take with their own PID.

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      Definitely, not specifying exactly what their cut from this partnership is was an important mistake on their part.

      Alan Johnson

    2. Yeah, pretty stupid thing to do. If anything, they should have released a ball park percentage where they are around i.e 40% – 50% cut etc.

    3. zintext says:

      % of clicks to ZinText’s PID is less than 10% FYI

  3. Alam says:

    I think the idea is good, but it’s only a matter of time until a coder makes a free plugin that does the same thing and without all the revenue sharing (maybe one exists already?). After all how hard could it be?

  4. Mike Huang says:

    Great review Mr. Kwan 🙂


  5. I think Zin text needs to tweak their context engine a bit. If you look at the example page there are words like machine, circular, integrity and vertical that will give you vastly different results and in some cases such as the word “machine” you get more than 38,000 results. It has to be more targeted than that to be viable or people won’t use it. It does have potential though.

  6. Fabien says:

    ZinText may prove to be either very good or very bad, it’s one of those networks that you have to implement with eCommerce stores and even then you do not know if they will convert.
    Good for shoppers, no use for bloggers.

    The one advantage that this has is that I believe it is a PPC model and if it is the conversions will be great because unlike Kontera you won’t have a three step challenge. It is two steps, come to the website and click and cashout for the owner of the site.

    I definitely want to see this grow and hopefully improve on a few things like site design, navigation and simplicity.


  7. Jon Lee says:

    My most recent venture, http://www.sujjest.com also makes use of eBay’s affiliate program but in an Ajaxy web2.0 way. I’m not sure what they mean when they say eBay’s affiliate program has the highest payout. In fact it has one of the lowest payouts I’ve seen yet (next to amazon).

    1. They want publishers, therefore they’ll give the publishers information they want to hear 😛

  8. Andrew says:

    I like the idea of Zin text! Like you said, it would be better if you could customize the color of their in-text links. Their website is seriously lacking color & the sign-up process is a bit elongated if you aren’t an e-bay affiliate member / commission junction junkie…

    BTW>>>Thanks for the review ❗

    1. David Chew says:

      Maybe they want to look more professional. 😀

  9. acosmin says:

    Ebay has the lowest payouts in my opinion and I don’t think it worths using this! 😐

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      EBay can be great for certain websites, it is impossible to speak in general terms. It’s all trial and error until you find methods which work for you.

      Alan Johnson

    2. Yeah and they are taking a percentage of that too 🙄

  10. zintext says:

    We simply create href tags in the html so any styles you have applied to the text is used, meaning you can customize the links any way you want. If there is a lot of demand we will let people pass options in their code to change the appearance of just our links, any feedback is appreciated.

  11. Dustin says:

    Definitely worth the try. I will give it a shot and report my findings…

  12. Great Review again Mr. Kwan

    Also as stated above, maybe they need to work on their engine a bit more?

  13. David Chew says:

    Is worth trying, if it is good it will help you gain profit.

  14. Contest Beat says:

    Needing to be a member of CJ is a big minus. Why not do it like AuctionAds did before they went to sh*t

    1. It went down the pan when they started to take a cut 😉

  15. Satish S says:

    Lets give this thing a shot and see how it performs.

  16. Liviu Pantea says:

    Sounds like a great opportunity, i might check it out.

  17. ATV Style says:

    It doesn’t mesh with Konteras terms but thats the least of the problems

    Both eBay and Google will come down hard on this and your site SEO takes a kick in the nads in the process.

    – eBay won’t want the bad press from people begining to hate clicking on blind links to them, they’ve acted on this before. Kontera avoids that problem with a popup (which means a choice), zintext takes the visitor straight to ebay.
    – Google will very likely penalize sites loaded up with blind external affiliate links, its in the webmaster guidelines not to overdo affiliate linking. I won’t bother describing the privacy concern that with zintext you shove your cookie and a zintext cookie onto visitor computers.
    – SEO wise your site gets loaded with affiliate code within articles. Google/Yahoo/MSN/Technorati and a dozen others have made great strides to accomodate blogs by seeking for content within the “container” tags and letting slide affiliate stuff in sidebars, footers, comments etc… zintext puts the affiliate stuff all over the container.
    – releasing this without being FULLY transparent that some of the traffic you send to eBay will profit zintext and not you is absurd.

    I’m giving this a thumbs down, especially since you can get the full commision by using your CJ account and CHOOSING which words to link yourself without sharing revenue.

    I guess this brings us one step closer to a time when every single word is an affiliate link, wouldn’t that be an idea.

    P.S. they’re making 25.00 per person who signs up to even test this thing. Talk about being engineered to profit zintext above everyone else!

    p.s.s. – eBay API’s give out a key, the code contains a zintext key, eBay, Google and anyone else who wants to find sites with this won’t have a hard time at all.

    Harsh enough? I can already feel a backlash from eBay with this one when it gets added to every adsense spam site out there.

  18. rodel says:

    what the! my application has been declined.. tsk tsk tsk.. 😯
    anyway, good luck to whoever owns this program.. 😀

  19. ATV Style says:

    Mr Kwan – you could link to the java file on zintext so that everyone sees exactly what words are available to be linked. the list is rather limited and heavily music based – http://www.zintext.com/showads.js

    1. ATV Style says:

      Hmm, it was heavily music based from the zintext site, clicking on that link from here returns make money links – that implies contextual (its reading the page) and against adsense terms no?

      1. ATV Style says:

        I sent this off to Matt Cutts to get his opinion.

        The zintext java tries to link the words “dead” and “evil” for this site… besides being funny and somewhat useless (eBay doesn’t sell dead anything I hope) it creates a potential problem if you start sending people to lingerie ads with the word sock ya know?

        I’m done looking the service over and this one has “eventual site killer” written all over it imo.

        Ohh, and a final suggestion for anyone who likes what they see. Instead – grab a copy of the affiliate auto linking plugin (like the one that John uses here that auto links words like rss ), then grab your CJ PID and the free version of phpbay, spend an hour creating pages for terms that fit your site, plug your PID into phpbay, slap it into the auto link plugin and voila-you’ll offer a much better user experience.

  20. Igor says:

    Adblock removes these links in FF, it worth nothing…..

  21. My biggest problem with being an e-bay affiliate is the geo split. At the moment I have e-bay affiliate accounts with both the US and UK. The problem is that most of my websites have an equal split of US and UK visitors so as soon as I use e-bay offers I’m eliminating huge amounts of traffic, unless of course I promote offers from both accounts on the same website which is just messy. Until the whole e-bay CJ partnership can sort out an e-bay affiliate accounts for all e-bay websites then I’m not bothering with them.

    1. I don’t see that as a big problem. Use the US eBay program. Many US eBay sellers ship all over the world. I’ve sold on Ebay and shipped to Denmark and the UK. It’s better to get a cut of the pie than no pie at all.

      1. I ran a 6 month trial and it didn’t work, it’s not that merchants won’t ship it’s that people tend not to buy/sign-up. People in the UK want to buy from the UK e-bay, not the US and vice versa.

        I do use them on my sites where more than 80% of the visitors come from 1 location and do okay out of it, not spectacular but ok.

        1. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that but I can see how that would be an issue. I’ve seen something similar with the different country version of Google when doing SEO work.

    2. zintext says:

      ZinText geo targets your clicks. The best way is to apply for every ebay program, as we send uk visitors to ebay.co.uk, australian visitors to ebay.au, etc.

  22. Haroon says:

    yea Alan is right
    Atleast its better to get some thing than nothing 😉

  23. Benny Ong says:

    Looks promising and is worth a try. :mrgreen:

  24. CatherineL says:

    Great review. I personally have become overwhelmed by the number of options available to monetise your blog though. Don’t you ever feel that there’s far too many?

    1. Alan Johnson says:

      The fact that you have a lot of website monetization methods to choose from is a great advantage. That doesn’t mean that you need to use all of them, however. Depending on the type of website you are running, some methods tend to perform better than others, simply stick with what’s working for you and drop the methods which are not.

      Alan Johnson

  25. Usman Money says:

    It really looks like they are using a free template.
    They really need to work on there desgin or else it looks like site that is untrusted.

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