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My affiliates/merchants pay out at about a 6:1 ratio verses Ads on most of my sites.
My merchant links look like data, my Ad. links look like menu options.
I like to confuse the user!
The Ads. are well hidden, the merchant links look like an integral part of the site. I figure the user has to click somewhere, and most of them choose the data elements......which is what I desire as it pays better!
For those I miss because the data is of no interest, I try to lure them with an Ad. that looks like an alternative menu option.