Goodbye AdToll Peel Away Ad

January 4, 2009 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Just short of a year ago I added a Peel Away Ad advertising option to my blog. Located at the very top right corner, the Peel Away Ad was a flash ad which showed a small animated image (about 50×50 pixels). When hovered over with the mouse, it would show a quick “peel away“ animation (hence the name) and reveal a much larger (around 500×500 pixels) image.

I originally added the Peel Away to simply add another revenue source to my blog. I also liked the innovative aspect of the ad.

However, the Peel Away Ad didn’t end up doing well for me and the ad company that I used to add it to my site started to go downhill. As a result, I just finished removing it from my blog.

Here is a detailed list of the reasons why I removed it in case any of you are using it or were thinking of adding it to your blog.

1. Company Sold and Managed by New Owners

I originally heard of AdToll after they purchased a couple of paid reviews on my blog back in June 2007. In addition to reviewing them on my blog and on PublisherSpot, I spoke to the original owners and developers numerous times, giving them suggestions and constructive feedback.

They worked hard on improving their advertising network and actually implemented many of the suggestions I had provided.

However, on October 11th, 2008 they announced that AdToll was acquired by a US Company (they were Australian-based). While I’m sure they got a great price for it, the real losers ended up being the publishers.

Since the purchase 3 months ago there has only been one blog post, as opposed to the 2-3 per week that were usually announcements of new features and improvements. In addition, the site started getting very buggy (as you’ll read below) with no apparent concern by the new owners to fix them.

2. Buggy Site and Stats

I noticed AdToll starting to get buggy shortly after it was sold. Previously, if I found a bug or something minor that needed fixing, the old owners usually had it fixed within a day or two. Now it almost seems as though the new owners have abandoned the site completely.

First, the stats appear to be incorrect. I always thought there was something odd with the stats my Peel Away Ad showed as they seemed rather low. It appears that my suspicions were correct, as an advertiser who purchased my Peel Away Ad for a week contacted me and told me that he received a fair bit more clicks than the AdToll report showed.

I also don’t like how the rate card displays information. It appears to reset the stats each week which is a very small sample size, and is also unfair since it will count RON (run of network) ads too. Since RON are usually untargeted, their CTR will naturally be lower.

Secondly, the same advertiser apparently got an extra free week even though he only purchased 1 week.

Lastly, the RON ads don’t appear to track properly. Looking at my stats, I can see literally several stretches of months where the Peel Away Ad didn’t get a single click. I wasn’t expecting to make much from the RON Peel Away Ad earnings, but stretches of 90+ days with not a single click? Come on…

3. Stupid Publisher Payments

AdToll has a stupid policy where they will not pay the publisher until AFTER the set amount of time the campaign has been run.

Since advertisers choose how many weeks to purchase on your site and are allowed to purchase up to 6-weeks at a time, you can end up waiting a very long time for payment. Since they send out payments on the 15th of every month for the previous month’s earnings, depending on when exactly the advertiser purchases the ads, you could end up waiting 2+ months to receive your payment from when the advertiser purchased the spot on your blog.

Why not just put the advertising blocks in monthly increments instead of weekly, and pay out monthly instead of whenever the advertiser’s campaign ends?

4. Worthless Advertiser Pool

It’s almost always best to sell ads on your site privately for the main reason being that there is no middleman to take a cut. The one reason you might want to use an advertising network is to take advantage of their advertiser pool.

Especially with an ad network like AdToll, where advertisers can purchase advertising space directly on your specific site, it is only beneficial to you if the quality of the advertisers are high. Getting a big sponsor with deep pockets such as Coca Cola or Apple, for example, is near impossible for most people. However, it is much more possible to land a big advertiser through the aid of an advertising network if your site is big enough and can deliver a lot of traffic.

The problem with AdToll is that 99% of the sites listed are “low quality” flash arcade sites. I say low quality because such sites offer very little value to advertisers. Users of free arcade sites are usually kids and young teenagers who can’t purchase anything online and the demographic just isn’t valuable to most advertisers. As a result, you can deduce that there are not many big advertisers using AdToll.

Therefore, it is not beneficial to someone like me whose targeted, niche traffic is worth much more than an arcade site. Most advertisers look purely on CPC and CPM price and not the quality of the traffic, and since my blog doesn’t get much web traffic, AdToll delivers basically zero advertisers to me. In fact, I believe that 100% of the advertisers who purchased my Peel Away Ad came through my own advertising page, making using AdToll useless and giving them a free commission.

5. Can’t Edit Pre-Peel Image

Ad creative, especially graphic ad creative such as banners in my opinion, needs a strong call to action and captivating ad copy.

Unfortunately, AdToll doesn’t let you specify the pre-peel flash image on Peel Away Ads. Since this is the default image/animation that is shown before a mouseover, it is even more important than the 500×500 mouseover image.

Instead, advertisers are stuck with a “PEEL HERE NOW” text. I’m sure advertisers would double or triple their CTR if they were able to submit their own pre-peel image, such as perhaps using “HELP ME!" or “PSSST! COME HERE!” as text instead.

I want my advertisers to get the best bang for their buck and limiting their creative options like this is not conducive to a successful campaign.


Before the mouseover and after:



In the end, I only made $352 from the AdToll Peel Away Ad for the entire year of 2008. That works out to $30/month which is cheaper than my Sitewide 125×125 Banners which are only $40/month.

I was thinking of replacing the Peel Away Ad with one of those top stripe ads (as seen on, but I decided not to. They are too intrusive and I’ll just enjoy the faster loading time without the Peel Away Ad. Besides, removing one ad only gives more value to the others on the site.

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Posted: January 4th, 2009 under Blog Related  

30 Responses to “Goodbye AdToll Peel Away Ad”

  1. I dropped adtoll a while ago because some of their advertising policies seemed a little deceptive. Doesn’t look like they worked that well for you either!

  2. Klajdi Hena says:

    Hello Tyler!

    This is my first post here.

    Anyways, I was considering of using AdToll on my blog, but after I read this, I’m having second thoughts. I’m not going to use them since they suck.

    • They used to be a good service, but the new owners aren’t doing anything with the site – the blog is dead, the advertiser pool is poor and it seems the new owners don’t care.

  3. Blog Expert says:

    I think that this was a great decision. I would never use a company like this. This is just pathetic. Hopefully they realized how bad this is going to make them look now.

  4. Greg Ellison says:

    I didn’t like AdToll either so I took them off my blog and website. Greg Ellison

  5. Beer Monies says:

    I used adtoll a year or so ago for some advertising and it really wasn’t that great. They actually had a hard time spending my money.

  6. Jim Banks says:

    I must admit the first few times I saw those on your site and others I thought they were pretty cool. Then I started to find them annoying as on some sites you hover and it starts flapping like a trouser leg in the wind. So good decision overall.

    BTW, I am sure you’ve noticed but your still wearing your Santa hat in your icons, not sure at what point in time it becomes “bad luck” to still be promoting Christmas……maybe you are 350 days early!

    Love the blog btw, we should talk in Vegas about what you can do for our network. Preferably before we get drunk at parties.


  7. Chris M says:

    I’ve never really been a fan of AdToll, didn’t seem to cater for what I wanted on my blog. I’m curious to know if you’ll be adding something there in place?

  8. Justin Slife says:

    Great choice. The peel and the stripe are both obnoxious. They go right along with those banner ads that vibrate and flash orange, green, yellow, and red.

    It also made your site buggy. Many times the right side of your menu bar would lock up due to this ad. I use Firefox 3.0.5.

  9. I never thought John Chow’s top stripe ad was too intrusive. I actually think it is pretty effective without interfering with content.

  10. Sucks that adtoll is going down used to love adtoll used it all time I’m sure you will get better results if you use your own peel away script

  11. Also, John Chow has a peel away ad for his own ad network with a pre-peel logo that is relevant to the ad.

  12. luq says:

    yeah i wrote a post on adtoll few days back about their supposed downfall, however previous founder Dan commented on the post shortly afterwards stating that the current phase is temporary.hope so, adtoll was a great service before the acquisition.

  13. Pheak Tol says:

    i didnt feel as though the peel away ad would’ve made anymore than what you’ve listed for a year. i guess it’s because it’s too out there for people, but im no expert on peel away ads, just glad you let it go =]

  14. I don’t like AdToll 🙁 I guess I’m going to try AdEngage. Cheers!

  15. Zak Show says:

    Yes, you’re right, Adtoll Sucks! I used them for long time ago but since the company has been sold, everything changed. Recently I bought an ad of about 15$ but the ad does not go live, I contacted the account manager more than 10 times and I got no reply: They stole 15$ for me =( What a shame!

  16. AJ Kumar says:

    I was just noticing that ad peel system on Chow’s blog. It seems like a good concept, but then again it does get too add crazy, so I can see why you pulled it.

  17. About slacking: well, all of us are quite guilty of it. I’m guilty as well, we often procrastinate on things and then end up wanting to finish up everything fast, on the guise of ‘catching up.’ 🙂

    I know how it feels and it can be really exhausting, but glad to know your on your feet now.

    Btw, peel ads are the way to go for ad placements, you’re right about them.

  18. Atniz says:

    I never use this service, so I don’t really know about it. Stealing clicks is a bad way of doing business. Don’t worry, I’m sure you will find better alternative soon.

  19. Win Prizes says:

    It is great that you took off that peel ad. I used one before and boy did it lag a blog, lol. Adtoll is in fact starting to fail, but hey, we can move on 🙂

    If you decide to use the stripe ad, it would actually be ok as long as you don’t have that POP-UP “ebook” signup form that is soooo annoying.

    I wrote a guest post on that and submitted it to John, but he rejected it because I talked about how those type of “force subscriptions” are stupid and wrong.


  20. Izu Mou says:

    To bad to hear about this.that is a very good bye to Adtoll

  21. Those ads were kind of annoying anyways. Thanks for getting rid of them

  22. Funny Quotes says:

    I do think peel-away ads are great as they don’t clutter the content unless the users go to it themselves, but I personally never really like AdToll. I never had much success with them so I always avoided them. It sucks that they sold their company though.

  23. neither did the other ads work fr me frm adtoll.. i din try the peelaway type though..
    frm wat u say.. it looks like peelaway is waste of time n space!

  24. Dan Rucci says:

    Hey everyone! A lot of you may know me… I am the original founder of Yes we did sell the company late last year and yes there have been teething problems. I am now working close with the new team to resolve issues and get things back on track.

    I will apologise even though it’s not really my fault but I will take some responsibility.

    AdToll is far from dead and there are some really good things on the horizon.

    There were some issues with bookings and other things but they have all been resolved now and technically its all back on track.

    I am actually training the new support staff now who will be taking over the account management duties shortly. Thats great news!

    If you have any issues wait until your account manager has been updated then contact your new one, they will be able to help you.

    There is a lot happening with AdToll over the coming weeks/months so stay tuned. We even updated the blog a few days ago with the latest enhancements, have a read at

  25. Cocacolya says:

    hah…:-)….i didnt find your peel away ad

  26. mdshare says:

    A tad late to reply, but I mainly had revenue from my refs on adtoll, so today planned to check what the balance was and seems adtoll is no more … oh well lesson learned to follow up low paying ref links more often…


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