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30 November 2005

The Commercialization of Blogging

Fascinating post on New York Times which adds further credence to the slow march of blogs into the periphery of mainstream media.
Here are some of the key points:
  • Bloggers who started out for fun are now finding that they have full blown businesses on their hands.
  • More and more companies are considering post product placement on blogs.
  • It's important to be honest about advertising on your blog.
  • However, in the words of Anita Campbell quoted on NYT "I also don't apologize for accepting advertising, and I make it clear that just like everyone else I have to earn a living and pay the expenses of keeping the site going." couldn't agree more with this sentiment.
  • It's becoming apparent that more businesses are noticing the influence of blogs and have spent an estimated $50 million to $100 million this year on blog advertising and marketing according to Forrester Research
  • Interestingly US Web an online marketing firm has paid people $5 to mention a company or link to it's site. Examples include and Terra Entertainment who offered MySpaces users a mention on film credits if they included a trailer in their personal profile pages.
  • A Forrester Research survey found in February that 64 percent of US national marketers are interested in advertising on blogs.

Will Chitika Strike Gold With Google?

I recently wrote on Performancing about giving some consideration to your blog business exit strategy. My post was spawned from an excellent piece of journalism on Business Week titled Googling For Gold which basically looks at the phenomenon of starting niche tech businesses with the intention of selling out to Google 12 months later. It was while reading this post that I spotted a particularly intriguing paragraph:
"Google is creating a whole new ecosystem for entrepreneurs, says Baris Karadogan of U.S. Venture Partners, a high-tech VC firm in Silicon Valley. Karadogan says he's closely watching a group of entrepreneurs who are designing a highly specialized online advertising tool, hoping to sell it to Google for $50 million. "Before," he laments, "you needed a VC. Now you can build a Linux-based data system for $100,000 and survive long enough to sell without ever raising a venture round."
Umm, which company is running a beta version of a "highly specialized online advertising tool" at the moment? Is it just me, or am I seeing a Google future for Chitika!

29 November 2005

Blog Advertising Totters Forward

Blog advertising seems to be taking some more tottering steps towards hitting the main stream with this positive write up in the New York Times about the Up Your Budget treasure hunt campaign. The throng of advertisers now willing to chance their arm within the world of blogs seems to be growing and for interesting reasons. As Scott Deaver executive vice president of Budget (a car hire company) says "I've got to be smart and make my brand feel smart to the consumer. I can't just out spend Hertz," Mr. Deaver added, "but I can outsmart them."
For me this speaks volumes for how innovation is often born out of adversity, and that may well be the driving force behind the growing flirtation with blog advertising.
Also something that was of great interest in the New York Times article was how certain blogs were selected for advertising the Up Your Budget campaign. Jay Arnold, president and chief executive at the Impax Marketing Group in Philadelphia who coordinated the Budget marketing strategy outlined the process:
"With the help of a consultant, B. L. Ochman, using criteria like how frequently a blog is updated and how interesting they are to the so-called technorati. In fact, Mr. Arnold said, the tracking service was used to help pick the blogs."
Whilst I think Technorati is an excellent tool on a number of fronts, it is a little hard for me to accept that it will continue to be a benchmark for selecting blogs in future ad campaigns. What is really needed is a comprehensive database of blog traffic statistics. I suspect that this need will become more acute as every week passes.

24 November 2005

Yahoo Publisher Going Direct Deposit

Looks like Yahoo Publisher is following the lead of Google AdSense by adding a direct deposit feature. More on Jensense.

Booming Internet Ad Revenues

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau internet advertising revenues for publishers have risen to new dizzy heights exceeding $3 billion for the third quarter. Full story at ClickZ Total annual revenues for 2005 could beat $12 billion compared to last years figure of $9.6 billion.

UpYour Budget Delivers Value For Money

When Budget the car rental company began their Up Your Budget campaign there must have been a sense of trepidation. But the whole venture which centred around a "Charlie and the Choclate Factory" style treasure hunt has turned out to be an unqualified success. Most of the promotion was done through the BlogAds Network and according to Media Post - Scott Deaver, Budget's chief marketing officer, said "the entire contest and promotion including the $160,000 in prize money cost less than a single 30-second spot on a highly rated TV show."
Here are BlogAds metrics:
  • 19.9 million impressions on 125 blogs
  • 56,446 clicks at cost of 25 cents per click
In terms of exposure this is a phenomenal return on investment.

23 November 2005

A Click To Call Future For Ads

Ads On Blogs discussed Pay Per Call Advertising some months ago, which was a technology being developed by America Online along with other partners including Ingenio and backed by eBay and Microsoft - to transform ad clicks into a direct telephone call.
It now seems Google has taken the bull by the horns and done a limited release to some parts of the USA of a very similar technology. Who said Google was innovative? Google explain how it works:
"Here’s how it works: When you click the phone icon, you can enter your phone number. Once you click ‘Connect For Free,’ Google calls the number you provided. When you pick up, you hear ringing on the other end as Google connects you to the other party. Then, chat away on our dime." (For full details)
Expect to see this appearing on blogs sometime soon!

22 November 2005

Could Ads On Blogs Be Growing Up?

Steve Rubel theorises on the rise of blog advertising in his post "As Portal Inventory Dwindles, Will Ads on Blogs Rise" . He makes a good point - with portal inventory booked for months ahead surely it's time for some big bucks ad dollars to find their way into the cream of the blogosphere. Certainly, Steve points to some tantalising evidence on TechWeb that "Advertising executives see blogs, podcasts and web-enabled cellular phones as newcomers in the market that are worth watching, but have yet to prove they're worth as major investments, a survey released Tuesday showed."
My heart tells me that blog advertising maybe approaching an important cross roads, going from an unruly teenager if you like, to a fully paid up adult of media society. But my head tells me that the cross roads is being called too early, as is alluded to in the "worth watching, but yet to prove worth" bit of the above statement. Almost in paralell to some of my statements about where "blogging in general currently sits" in my post The Wider Implications of Business Blog Survey my belief is that blog advertising proper has some growing up to do on a number of fronts.
I'm not being a stick in the mud for saying this - it's what I think is an objective assessment, based on recent experiences in the advertising agency environment. However, what I ultimately believe this boils down to is a question of time and acceptance into the mainstream. How long will that take is an interesting question? I think we have already seen tentative toes dipped into the water and that will probably be the form for another six months to year. In terms of when we might see consistent multi million dollar ad inventory commitments I think we're potentially looking at 18 months - 2 years. But who really knows!

The Curiosity of Chitika

Again there is more news on Chitika's development of the eMiniMalls program. On the Chitika Blog they released the following statement outlining their intentions to remove product links:
"To help minimize so-called “curiosity clicks” that typically do not lead to conversions on the merchants’ side, we updated the eMiniMalls units to drive qualified clicks. Hence, eMiniMalls users will notice a dip in the overall click through rate (and hence the overall revenue). "
In a rather shrewd move Chitika will be "providing a 10% bonus through November as a compensatory measure."
I must admit that when I heard this, it immediately struck a chord. Why? Well, the first thing I did when I saw eMiniMalls on other sites was investigate, - probably on several occasions. I suspect many others did the same.
So now the Chitika buzz maybe dying down, what lays ahead for eMiniMalls? Personally I still like them, they are original and offer some nice functionality that other Ad Programs don't. However, I think there is a reality setting in - eMiniMalls in their current form work at their best on product related blogs. This is likely to become more apparent as the curiosity factor wears off.

The Wider Implications of Business Blog Survey

Interesting piece of research (via iMediaConnection) from Dallas Chapter of the International of Business Communications (IABC) which found "that blogging is a well known communications tool but is not yet mainstream." According to the research - 34 percent of respondents said "blogging is something they or their company do as part of their communications efforts."
Personally I see this as a barometer of wider blog acceptance and the inherent implications for blog advertising. For all the prevarications of exponential blog growth, I think we all need to pour a dose of cold water over ourselves and put some perspective on where blogging actually sits at the moment. Some interesting figures on ClickZ indicate that there may be only about 10,000 regular bloggers (by regular I mean posting daily) out there. A tiny number really, even if you use ClickZ's comparison of up to 40,000 full time journalists in the US - which is a little like comparing apples with oranges in my view. Various projections say this will hit 75,000 -100,000 within the next couple of years. Various surveys (See our previous post - Blog Boom or Bust) have also indicated that the average person on the street really hasn't a clue what a blog is let alone something like a podcast. So is it all doom and gloom?
Far from it in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, you won't find a bigger blog protagonist than me. It's just that I think we need to put in perspective how fast blogging is infiltrating the consciousness of the mainstream, and that afterall should be the benchmark of it's success. Yes there is continued rapid growth in blogging ahead. Yes blog advertising will continue to play an important part in monetizing. Yes there is a similar buzz and excitement surrounding blogging and other Web 2.0 social media(Web 2.0 definiton) that existed in the early days of the internet boom of the late nineties. There is even venture capital beginning to flow. But if we have learnt any lessons from the first incarnation of web technology, it was that there is always a people lag. i.e a time lapse between tech enthusiasts, venture capital funding and adoption by the wider population. How quickly will the time lag be with blogging and other web 2.0 Media? Personally, I think it could be anything upwards of two years and that may be optimistic.
I'd be interested in hearing what you think on this topic?

17 November 2005

12% Of A-List Blogs Advertise In Their Feeds

I am a little ambivalent as to the potential of feed advertising. Part of me says it's a great idea and that your monetizing bits of you're content which may have previously been off limits. On the other hand I am finding increasing irritation at finding ads in my feeds and can't really pinpoint why. I guess it's because when you're scanning a gazillion feeds, things that get in the way can act like small, but irritating parasites that you just want to swat out of the way. Certainly some of the reports coming back from many bloggers are less than exciting about it's revenue potential.
However, like most things I guess it's a numbers game. 200,000 subscriptions to your feed and it's not going to be a waste of time incorporating them, particularly as some RSS Ad Programs will be CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions). The irritant factor probably becomes less significant if the quality of a subscriptions content is worth it. A more marginal feed and it probably makes me a little trigger happy on the delete button, when I undertake my monthly cull. This is a quandary that bloggers all over the world will be weighing up and experimenting with. Particularly in light of the recent release of Feedster with full automation of their RSS ads program, and also Feedburner announcing that they will launch their own RSS ad network.
Anyway in light of the above Ads On Blogs have analysed the number of A-list blogs currently utilising RSS advertising and can confirm that only 12.2% are participating. By A-list I am referring to the Ads On Blogs 500 analysis of the Feedster 500.
As this is a developing strand in contextual advertising this figure may not be terribly significant, plus you've also got to allow for the fact that Google and Yahoo's offerings are still in beta. However, I can't help feeling that RSS advertising should have taken greater strides forward by now.

AdSense Pricing For The Smart

I was looking for some elaboration on Googles smart pricing system for AdSense and found this great post on Jensense where else!
For those of you who don't know about smart pricing here is her summarised explanation:
"Google's smart pricing feature automatically adjusts the cost of a keyword-targeted content click. So if our data shows that a click from a content page is less likely to turn into actionable business results - such as online sales, registrations, phone calls, or newsletter signups - we reduce the price you pay for that click.
And this often used example explains how this works more precisely.
As an example of smart pricing, consider two websites, each related to digital photography. The first page features digital camera reviews, while the second offers photography tips. Clicks from the page of photography tips might be charged less, because they are expected to convert into sales less frequently, resulting in lower value for advertisers. Google data determines that clicks from the digital camera reviews convert better, so clicks from this page are not discounted."
Rumours abound regarding the functionality of smart pricing. Jensense gives some credence to the following:
1. Smart pricing can affect an entire account not just individual pages.
2. One poorly converting site can affect others even if they are unrelated.
3. Smart pricing is evaluated weekly so removing ads from a site that's not converting could result in an evaluation of your smart pricing to a higher level within a week.
4. AdSense track with a 30 day cookie so a higher proportion of converted clicks can see you rewarded 29 days later.
5. Smart pricing can also affect image ads.

16 November 2005

How To Make Podcasts Pay

I read a few months ago that Jason Calacanis was looking closely at making the Podcast business model work, so it was quite interesting to learn via Problogger that he has been captured on a video clip recorded by JD Lasica from Engadget talking about six different podcasting models. It contains some fascinating insights.

Podcast Growth Going Exponential

An interesting study by Bridge Ratings indicates that the number of people who downloaded a podcast has risen from 820,000 in 2004 to 4.8 million people in 2005. Projections of audience growth by 2010 is expected to reach 45 million users. More optimistic estimates approach the 70 million mark.
In my opinion the viability of podcast business models is still a few years away from being sustainable based on figures like this. I look forward to being proved wrong!

15 November 2005

Site Traffic Vs Links

Will site traffic metrics become more important than links in blog advertising? That's what Heather Green partially examines at Blogspotting and I would most definitely say yes. Links do show some sense of a blogs popularity but they are pretty far from providing the kind of eyeball accuracy that is needed by advertisers nowadays.
The key here is one of those awful advertising acronyms - ROI or Return On Investment. Advertisers like to predict with as much accuracy as possible, how their ad spend will be converted into extra revenue and quite frankly the best way to do that is by looking at site traffic. Hence the moves by Calacanis of Weblogs AOL (not sure what their calling themselves these days) to corner the market in site traffic data. Of course he claims that collecting and managing this data is for the wider good. Yeah right. It's a great business opportunity and and a great idea to monopolise and control the data from the cream of the blogsophere. Mr Calacanis is a great business man but I wish he would be a little more forthright about this opportunity rather than shroud it in a blanket of public service duty, particularly when you look at the charges he is proposing for collecting and presenting that data to advertisers.

Another RSS Analysis Tool

ClickZ reports today that Pheedo are expected to release a RSS analytics tool which will assist publishers to monitor user behaviours.
The tool is expected to resemble (in fact I can't see any difference based on this info) the one provided by Feeburner offering:
· Observations of user interactions with ads and content.
· Measure clicks on content and feed subscriptions.
· Measure impressions and clicks.
· Advanced analysis of behaviours by time, day and other unspecified factors.
Pheedo CMO Bill Flitter is quoted on ClickZ as saying “the product will help publishers consolidate reporting for campaigns with both RSS and site-based placements.”

14 November 2005

AdCenter Will Provide Platform to Personalization

Interesting post on Marketing Vox which supposes that "Microsoft's grand plans to provide free software and services over the internet are predicated on generating ad revenue via adCenter (still in beta) to catch up with Google and Yahoo by offering what they don't - ads targeted by gender, age, ZIP code, time of ad delivery and so on - writes CNET."
Interesting angle to Microsoft's recent moves into contextaul advertising. One almost feels that they are trying to leap frog their competitors rather than merely ape them, if these reported ambitions are true.
It's certainly a mouthwatering prospect to make personalization a reality - based on demographic details of whose searching. Although I think it would be naive to think Microsoft are the only ones with an eye to this personalized future.

Audible To Improve Podcast Measureability

Looking for a tool to help measure how many people listen to podcasts? Well, Audible may have an answer according to Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which could make podcasts more attractive to advertisers by resolving some of the accountability issues.
WSJ:- "By providing a way to track not just how many times the show is downloaded, but whether it is played back and for how long, Audible hopes to give podcasters detailed audience information."
Audible intend to use that data and sell it as a measuring service in the Spring, which maybe music to the ears of Matt Finberg Senior Vice President for radio at Publicis Groupe SA's ZenithOptimedia who says "currently there is no measureability in podcasting"

CEO's Aren't Blogging

Some interesting research on emarketer indicates that whilst CEO's can see the benefits in blogging, few of them actually operate a personal blog. I don't think we can be surprised by this research. Blogging can be a labour intensive business and as a prominent CEO with 10,000 employees what are you going to do:- go to long business lunches or spend a couple of hours blogging each day!

The Viability of Podcast Ads

Interesting post on Micropersuasion about another attempt to make podcasting financially viable through advertising. Check out RadioTail here.
Apparently "RadioTail enables advertisers to reach just the precise demographics they want. They allow podcast producers to focus on content while generating income from their efforts thanks to special technology auto inserts rotating ad spots and campaign tracking."
Sounds great, but my fear is that the currently low levels of podcast distribution will make this angle hard to sustain revenue wise. Another, couple of years down the road and it could be a very different situation.

Urchin Web Statistics Freed Up

I tend not to discuss web statistics on this blog but it is nonetheless an important part of monetizing if that is your intention. So I was quite intrigued to hear about Googles decision to make urchin (a web statistics program) a free service where once it was an expensive luxury. According to Inside Google Urchin now rebranded Google Analytics, will be free to those with less than five million monthly page views - so I guess that includes most of the blogsophere and is also free to AdWords advertisers. As inside Google say if you "go over 5 million then it's time to add the worlds smallest AdWords campaign."
Having used urchin for some time now I have found it's functionality pretty damn good, if a little complicated. Impact on competitors? Well it could knock out a few businesses but as Inside Google say "it won't rule the market."

10 November 2005

How To Get Your Blog Up In Lights

Following on from my previous post about the latest AdSense case study -, I thought it would be helpful to elaborate on one piece of advice that is often over looked when trying to elevate a blog's status and exposure. I like to refer to it as "getting your blog up in bright lights".
To make my point check out Tim Carter's (chief contributer to Askbuilder) other exploits outside blogging:
1. Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.
2. Fronts his own radio show.
3. Makes frequent television appearances.
See what I'm driving at here. Most, but not all, really successful bloggers either have existing, firm roots in conventional media avenues or have worked their way into conventional media avenues via blogging. It's not a prerequisite but it's a definite advantage - examples Mark Cuban with Weblogs Inc, Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, Jeremy Wright of Ensight ..... the list is long and illustrious.
This is a topic that is often neglected when talking about blog promotion but I think you underestimate it's importance at your peril. So here are some low cost ideas for getting you and your blog in lights:
  • A well placed press release through a respected PR company. Example - the kid at million dollar homepage invested his first $1000 of revenue on a press release (an exceptionally clever move - his dad must be in PR! ), interest went off the richter scale from there. Obviously you have to have something news worthy but a good PR man will be able to guide you on that.

  • Write to TV companies and program makers floating your expertise in a particlar niche. You'll have to knock on a lot of doors but keep at it and you'll find that it eventually pays off.

  • Offer to write a small piece in a local or national newspaper. You'll be amazed how eager some editors are for newsworthy information. Whilst the blogosphere is keen to point out the imminent demise of newspapars, they still wield a lot of power and influential eyeballs and will continue to do so for some time yet.

  • Produce some original research analysis in your field. Again many newspaper and magazine editors will be only too happy to publish your work if you can give them something original that fits with a story their compiling. For Ads On Blogs it was Red Herring magazine that published some of our data analysis - more on that later this this week.

  • Contact radio shows. Ads On Blogs recently offered some advice on blogging for LBC Radio 97.3 - Londons biggest talk radio station with approximately a million listeners and were given a free plug in return. That kind of exposure normally costs you thousands of pounds and returned a traffic spike like you wouldn't believe.

I'm scratching the surface, but I think you get the gist of what I'm driving at here: - Yes online viral marketing is great, but don't disregard the offline stuff too.

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Experiment With Your AdSense!

Another week another case study from Inside AdSense. These really are a must read for budding professional bloggers - however and it's a big however - look, learn, extrapolate and experiment is my advice. Don't work on the basis that copying these case studies will lead you to the promised land.
This weeks offering looks at a great little site called written by Tim Carter which basically provides advice and tips on building matters - surprise surprise!
So here are some key things to note for those of you looking to replicate Tim Carter's success:
1. Tim Carter is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, has his own radio show and makes frequent television appearances. Having a foot in conventional media helps and don't let anybody tell you any different!
2. Tim says that he "spends a tremendous amount of time writing articles, answering people’s emails, and creating quality content for my site." Quality content is an obvious must. The key bit for me is answering people's emails and I would extend that to responding to comments. Building a rapport with your readership is what makes blogs so enchanting and demarcates them from the aloof nature of newspapers.
3. Tim says "readers get advice from his content and from his AdSense ads." The key here is to try and make your ads appear as similar ( while keeping within the TOS) and as close to content as possible. Interestingly Tim goes on"I want to solve their problems, and that’s what AdSense does. AdSense provides instantaneous solutions to problems that my visitors have." I think you can apply this principle to every blog. People arrive at content and typically want information or answers fast, if you can give them that through content and AdSense you're on to a winning formula.
4. "Carter quickly began tests using AdSense channels, trying different ad formats, colors, and placement to gauge relative effectiveness" Experiment, experiment and experiment some more.
Channels are an essential tool for experimentation and enable you to track the effectiveness of your ad placement, colour and format. See my post at performancing about Chitika's recent inclusion of channels.
5. One of the things that you'll see many pundits advise, is matching ads to your site format - Tim's experiences indicate he is no exception to this.
6. Tim also reports success with link units. For the uninitiated, link units are the various underlined categories running along the top of this page.
7. Another relatively common tip proposed by Tim "AdSense units perform well when they are within the body of his articles" Check out this great article from Blog Herald telling you how to place ads in your text.
8. Another interesting point raised by Tim was his testing of ad placement. He says "I now put ad units above the fold and to the left before I place them anywhere else."
Tim is apparently clearing $1400 a day in AdSense revenue and growing which is neither here nor there. What is important is that you look at some of his methodology summarised above and draw your own conclusions as to what might work for you.

09 November 2005

Ads On Blogs To Take Over The World!

This is a heads up that Ads On Blogs will be moving fairly shortly to a new site with some advanced features and plenty more focused content. It's also time to announce the start of some other very exciting ventures.
Firstly, today marks the inception of the Orbital Media Blog Network. Yes another one!. Can't say too much on that one yet but there are some big plans afoot. However, I can say that we're not about to make the mistake of releasing a gazillion blogs all at once with garbage content! This will be a strictly quality over quantity affair.
Secondly, I will be contributing some content from time to time over on a new blog called performancing. The esteemed company I will be keeping includes the likes of Nick Wilson, Chris Garrett, Andy Hagans, Patrick Gavin and a peppering of Darren Rowse.
Here's the strap line on what will be a must read for aspiring professional bloggers:
‘Performancing covers all kinds of stuff, but it’s all very tightly focused on making money from blogging. We’re talking about ad programs, design, testing, promoting and the business of blogging for $$$’s.’
So all in all a pretty exciting day!

08 November 2005

Crucial That Google Feels The Heat of Competition

Heather Green on blogspotting poses an interesting question of whether Google is that innovative or is it simply being reactive to competitors and goes on to mention Tristan Louis' provocative analysis, which indicates that a Google podcasting service maybe it's next reactive innovation.
In his analysis he claims:
"Google does innovate in some spaces but has largely innovated in order to gain entry in markets that already existed. As a rule of thumb, they've been very smart at breathing new innovations in those markets. However, their competitors are generally quick to notice and are catching up."
This is something I have felt strongly about for a very long time and my views are largely rooted in my knowledge of free market economics, which is simply that competition is a major driving force of innovation. In most instances it also squeezes the best deal possible for customers or in the case of AdSense users the best revenue return possible. So for the benefit of us all, we need to nurture and encourage the competitive forces that be.

Clarification On Adsense Referral

Inside Adsense have provided some clarification on the Adsense referral system which is summarised as follows:
1. Currently, Firefox plus Google Toolbar referrals are only available for U.S. publishers. However, we're continuing to improve the referrals feature and hope to make Firefox referrals available to international publishers soon.

2. Using language that endorses Adsense, Firefox or Google Toolbar is fine. However, as with AdSense for content, publishers should not use language encouraging clicks on your referral buttons (e.g., "Click here", "Visit these links", etc). The AdSense program policies is the best place to find more specific information about referral policies."
3. If a user clicks on the Firefox referral button but already has Firefox then the user will be redirected to the Google Toolbar for Firefox page. Because we only count referrals for Windows users who have not previously downloaded Firefox, this will not appear as a Firefox conversion in your reports.

07 November 2005

Podcast Ads May Be Growing Up

The growing pains of making Podcasting pay are well documented, but here is an interesting start up who want to help explore the possibilities for Podcast Ads. They operate under the name of Fruitcast. In their words:
"Fruitcast automates the process of inserting ads into podcasts. We download a podcast's MP3 audio files, add the advertisements on the fly, and then send them to the podcast's subscribers. Each time a podcast episode is downloaded, the advertiser is charged a certain amount, and a significant portion of that amount is credited to the podcaster. Before Fruitcast, advertising on podcasts was a labor-intensive process that involved contacting each podcaster individually, working out a deal to advertise on their podcast, finding an easy way to implement the actual ads and then trying to track how many people download and listen to each episode. It was a logistical nightmare that made it almost impossible to run an organized ad campaign across multiple podcasts. Fruitcast changes all that, making podcasting a viable medium for traditional ad campaigns by automating ad insertion, payments, and reporting for both podcasters and advertisers."
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Advanced Adsense Case Studies

Inside Adsense have put a useful demarcation between the case studies for beginners and the case studies for more advanced publishers which I have listed below:
The common theme is methodical experimentation, analysis and tracking.
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Chitika Forum

If you're starting to explore the functionality of Chitika it might be worth visiting the Chitika Digital Point forum. It's pretty embryonic but there are already some interesting discussions and views flying about over there.
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Trust Issues Over Corporate Blogs

Emarketer has posted the the kind of survey I love, as it gives a glimpse of the evolving interaction between the corporates and blogging. Data was compiled from Technorati and public relations firm Edelman via a survey of 30,000 (821 respondents) Technorati newsletter subscribers.
The findings are no brainers, but very interesting nonetheless:
1. Blog respondents are predominantly seeking authority in their field.
2. Largely skeptical response to corporate blogs. Approximatley half of those surveyed had huge question marks over trustworthiness.
3. Bloggers were far more trusting of a blog created by an employee.
"For an in-depth look at the ramifications of blogs on business, read eMarketer's The Business of Blogging report."

Ensight Pulls In The Chitika Dollars

Chitika does seem to be taking online advertising by storm at the moment as Jeremy Wright of Ensight shows you don't need a product related blog to pull in the Chitika dollars: "Just a note that I had another great month with the new Chitika ad network. I pulled in nearly $700 from Chitika. The per-click pay has dropped in recent months, but most search engine visitors still find them incredibly appealing. If you haven’t given them a shot yet, it’s likely worth it even just for a few days. They don’t work for everyone, but they’re working incredibly well for me." Technorati Tags:

04 November 2005

Adsense Affiliate Scheme Goes Live!

Further to Jenstar dropping hints to a forthcoming Adsense referral program; Adsense appear to have just gone live with it.
In their words:
"Referrals is a feature of AdSense that allows you to increase your revenue while increasing your users' awareness of useful products and services. By adding a referral button to your site, you can direct users to products like AdSense and Firefox with Google Toolbar. When your referral connects a user to AdSense or Firefox, you can generate more earnings while helping new web publishers monetize their websites or improve their web browsing experience. You can use our step-by-step instructions to add a referral to your site in minutes."
"Pick out a referral button, and add it to your site. Users who sign up for AdSense through your referral button will learn about a great product, and you'll have a new way to generate revenue - $100 when each user you refer first earns $100."

Adsense Affiliate Scheme

Rumours of an Adsense affilliate program on Jensense. Interesting, but strange why they didn't think of that one ages ago. Maybe Chitika's affiliate scheme has focused their thinking!

Audible Tools And Podcast Advertising

According to an excellent post by Heather Green of Blogspotting - Audible a download audio company are launching some pretty nifty tools to trial advertising, pay per downloads and subscriptions on podcasts.
The plan is to track metrics which will be manna from heaven if advertisers can make podcasting work. You only have to ask radio industry insiders in the UK about the problems of audience metrics. This obviously won't resolve that, but it may make traditional radio advertisers thinking of experimenting with podcast ads sit up and take note of the accountability this will offer. Interestingly, Audible also intend to employ copy protection technology which will control how and if podcasts are shared.
So what's in it for Audible? Well according to Heather Green "they will make money off the tools through licensing or revenue shares from the subscription or advertising."

Blog Advertising Coup For Gawker

Problogger reports that Gizmodo has apparently captured an important ad campaign from Apple for it's iPod products, which link to the official iPod page. No doubt Gawker who operate Gizmodo are feeling pretty pleased with themselves.

Adsense Tinkers With Policies

Handy update from Jensense on revised Google AdSense Policies. As Jenstar points out "when you agree to the terms, you agreed to comply to the policies, even when they are changed." The changes don't seem to be anything earth shattering, more a case of tinkering. Still, it's important to take note of these things.

03 November 2005

Teenagers Are Becoming Avid Consumers of Blogs

Some interesting statistics posted on Marketing Vox indicate "19% of actively online teens create blogs and 38% read them; of those, 62% read solely friends' blogs and 36% read those of friends and others, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, reports ClickZ."

Playboy UK Goes Blogging and Viral

Playboy UK seem to have well and truly plunged into the world of new media with a blog and the release of a new viral video - don't worry it isn't visually rude but you may want to keep the volume down if your in the office! (Via Adverblog)
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Adsense Experimentation Is The Way Forward

Type in Adsense into any search engine, scroll down and you'll soon see a plethora of sites, pundits and ebooks offering to help you make your millions from the ubiquitous Ad program. I find it incredible how many such people and organisations can blandly eulogise on Adsense Optimisation with little consideration or disclaimer for the largely subjective nature of the topic.
Yes there are principles which are helpful and we will be exploring some of these in the weeks to come, but what applies to one site may not necessarily apply to another. You'll note that I try to be careful in my posts to point out that useful info on the topic is a "guide" or "helpful advice" and if I don't do this, tell me so!
Do your research, collect hints and tips by all means, but your own experimentation and exploration is key to optimising your own Adsense revenue.

Higher CTR With Good Adsense Design

Obviously Adsense positioning is pretty important and the "heat map " is a useful guide.
However, Adsense design is another equally important facet to consider. Probably the most common piece of optimization advice you'll see is matching ad design to site design.
Engineeringtalk's recent design makeover discussed on Inside Adsense and my previous post gives further credence to this:
"The Engineeringtalk team experimented with AdSense designs, focusing on optimization through typography and placement. They found the biggest influence on CTR was the similarity between the AdSense type (size and font), and the main body text of the page. The more similar the type, the higher the CTR."
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Adsense Positioning vs Useability

If your planning to redesign your website, have you given any consideration to Adsense positioning? According to Inside Adsense - Engineeringtalk embarked on a process of redesign and soon learnt that ad placement should be integral to your early thinking. A wise observation I think. However, Chris Rand of Engineeringtalk goes on to say "Why are we prioritizing helping visitors find their way around the site when they've already come straight in to what they're looking for?"
It's an interesting observation but one I feel is fatally floored. Looking at my own experiences and at traffic logs it is amazing how many readers landing on a site for the first time navigate elsewhere to explore what else there is to offer. By making navigation less obvious you are reducing the possibility of a new arrival reaching the "comfort zone" with your site i.e a state where they feel relaxed with your content and what you have to offer. The further they move into the comfort zone the more likely they are to return.
Take a look at Engineeringtalk's old design and compare it to the new design here. You'll notice that they have relocated site navigation from the "heatmap" hot spots and inserted Ads at the expense of useability in my opinion. The application of heat map theory to the letter is probably something that should be avoided, particularly if you start losing touch with what makes a good site in the first place!
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01 November 2005

Photoshop Infomerical Via Videocast

A videocast or vlog released by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals about the ubiquitous Photoshop has apparently become a popular ipod download on iTunes. According to Media Daily News "the free video podcast offers viewers tutorials and quick tips for mastering Photoshop, as well as industry news and interviews involving the digital photo and imaging software." It's a surprising but interesting development that people are actually choosing to view what is effectively a downloaded info commercial. Could this be a glimpse of a vlogad future?
(Via Adjab)

"It's An Ill Wind That Blows Nobody Any Good"

So US newspapers are having a hard time of it with virtually flat revenue growth - check out Media Post for the details. No surprise there really. On the bright side, online newspaper revenues are projected to grow by 25% in 2006. No doubt this will also translate in increased revenues for blogs too.
(Via Marketing Vox)

Ice Cream Goes Blogging

Blogspotting picked up on an interesting collection of blogs set up by Denali flavors - an established US ice cream company.
"The four blogs are, Moosetopia, an entertainment blog about the company's mascot; Denali Flavors, about the company, and Team Moose Tracks, the company's cycling team that's raising money for an orphanage." There's also a blog that the company is sponsoring called Free Money Finance which might be considered to be a slightly odd addition to the others.
According to Blogspotting - John Nardini the companies vice president of marketing set them up for $700 but has since enjoyed an increase in visits to their main site by 25.7%. Not a bad result and I must say they are actually quite fun.

Juicy Fruit Blog Bites The Dust

As I discussed here some time ago Juicy Fruit came up with a pretty poor excuse for a blog and have now decided their experiment is to end. Juicy Fruit's foray received such stinging criticism from everybody in the world of blogging (Shel Israel felt so strongly that he even slipped a reference to it in his new book Naked Conversations ) that I wonder whether it inadvertently raised the companies profile through the mass of bad publicity it received!
(Via Blogspotting)

Adsense Smart Pricing

Some useful facts from Inside Adsense about smart pricing and how to maximise your revenue:
1. Many factors determine the price of an ad.
More than conversion rate goes into determining the price of an ad: the advertiser's bid, the quality of the ad, the other ads competing for the space, the start or end of an ad campaign, and other advertiser fluctuations.
2. Clickthrough rate doesn't affect advertiser return on investment (ROI)
The percentage of clicks that convert for an advertiser is the most important factor in an advertiser's ROI, so it's not only possible, but common, to have a low CTR and a high advertiser conversion rate. It's also possible to have a high CTR and a low conversion rate. Don't remove the AdSense code from your site just because it has a lower CTR - it may be one of your best converting sites.
3. Remember the old chestnut: "Content is King"
The best way to ensure you benefit from AdSense is to create compelling content for interested users. This also means driving targeted traffic to your site -- advertisers don't gain as much ROI when paying for generic clicks as they do for quality clicks that come from interest in your content. Good content usually equals a good experience for user plus advertiser, which can be much more valuable than CTR. Keep in mind that like most Google technology, our system for calculating advertiser pricing gets updated regularly. We're constantly improving our ad products to benefit both the publisher and advertiser communities; what benefits one side ultimately benefits the other.

Experimenting With Ad's Is Essential

Useful guide to Ad sizes from the Blog Herald.
I think the thing to bear in mind here is what works for one blog may not work for another. Experimenting with placement, colours and even alternative ad programs is essential.
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