Why You Should NEVER Use The Adf.ly URL Shortener
There are two things in this world that humans tend to universally hate: flies and ads. They both often spread diseases and viruses, either biological or virtual, and do whatever they can to relentlessly annoy us. This is exactly why Adf.ly, a monetizable URL shortening service couldn’t have possibly chosen a better name for itself.
A few months ago I was going around YouTube watching videos on how to make money online with least effort, to find myself a little side hustle. After several hours of procrastination, I came across a video of some pale, sleep deprived man who introduced me to the concept of monetizable link shorteners.
The idea behind these online services is actually quite genius; a person creates an account, shortens a long URL linking to downloadable files, like e-books, software or pictures, and profits. Whenever a person clicks on one of these shortened links, they are taken to a page displaying several advertisements, before they can actually move on to the final destination — that way the person can be compensated for providing possibly hundreds of people with virtual goods, while those seeking them face just a minor inconvenience along the way.
After I finished viewing the video I was pretty excited and I quickly registered an account on the biggest and allegedly best paying URL shortener of such variety: Adf.ly. It all went really well at first and I quite honestly thought a financial renaissance was upon me, however I was soon to be shaken awake from my blissful daydream.
It just so happened that at that time I was in the process of writing a seminar paper for the English class at the faculty I am currently attending. I thought it was a brilliant idea to link all my source materials through Adf.ly, since it makes the links look prettier and has the ability to earn me some much needed money. I shortened a few links already, when a thought crossed my mind and I clicked on one of these links to test things out. To my horror I was thrown on a page violently littered with pop-ups and while I was distracted with closing them new windows and widgets were being opened with unimaginable speeds. Unable to defeat the mighty army of pop-up ads, inviting me to download questionable looking files, I closed the initial tab. While most of the new windows and tabs failed to load anything, those that did load, revealed a bunch of sites trying to persuade me into giving them my credit card information.
This mildly traumatic event led me straight back to the Adf.ly website, this time paying a bit more attention to their ridiculous claims. One of the first things you read on their front page is: “All advertising is strictly family-safe with no popups. Anti-virus and malware servers are scanning the adverts 24/7.” Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as my and many other people’s experiences tell us. These anti-malware servers either went out for a cigarette and never came back, or they never existed in the first place.
Another one of the things they tell you is to share your Adf.ly links on social media, which is pretty much the same, as telling someone to jump off a bridge and fly — it’s simply not doable. Why? Because all of the bigger social media websites realized how harmful the Adf.ly service really is and they collectively decided to block it. I tried to send one of the links through Facebook Messenger and it refused to send it. Twitter also prevents its users from posting URLs shortened through Adf.ly and YouTube automatically moves all comments containing them straight into the spam folder.
However, this is by far not where Adf.ly’s problems end. It is stated that on average Adf.ly pays about two dollars per 1000 clicks which sounds a lot at first, but when you realize that you can barely post these links anywhere, and that people generally avoid clicking on them due to their reputation, it paints a grimmer picture. With all these factors in mind spamming the internet with Adf.ly links no longer sounds good enough, rather it sounds like a terrible thing to abandon your dignity for.
In the end I think we can all learn a few things from this venture. Firstly, if something is so easy and promises a lot of income, there’s most likely something fishy about it. Secondly, whoever came up with Adf.ly is an evil mastermind, who’s intelligence we can all respect just as much, as we despise his creation. And finally, all those people that bot their Adf.ly links are even bigger masterminds for successfully making good use of a service that scams both, its users and its visitors.