The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders
This article in the NY Times threadlinked above talks about word of mouth marketing a la BzzAgent where normal everyday people can sign up to become a "buzz agent" and quietly and unobtrusively market the company's clients products by just using them, taking them to parties or whatever.
The example given is one of some chicken sausages that on 4th July weekend this year were taken by hordes of secret buzz agents to BBQ's and parties all over the US.
Isn't this the same thing as the Blog "Product Placement" Scheme?
It seems to me that this is exactly the same as the Blogger Affiliates that get paid to talk up products in their popular blogs.
There's a massive hoohah surrounding this as some bloggers take up arms against the scheme for various reasons including the fact that it commercializes blogs at all, disclosure issues and more. In the post linked above I've voiced my scorn of the scheme aswell and added my voice to the angry throng :)
However, reading the NYT article gave me pause for thought. I've not solidified that thought into any coherent opinion as yet but imagine this: That a scheme like that be opened to all bloggers - as widespread as adsense is now. Pick products suited to your blog and write about them...
It's just affiliate marketing of course, but with the right kind of spin and heavy marketing it could provide a real winner for companies wanting to target the online word of mouth which is blogging.
Seo Rates, How much should I charge?
HRF member Paper*Girl ask: "What are the competitive rates for seo and how long does it take for spiders to index? Does anyone have any advice for me?"
Ian (Mcanerin) goes on to provide some excellent suggestions for determining how much to charge. Here's a small taste of it:
Never undercut yourself. If a business can't afford $1500 to start off with, then they are better off doing it themselves, or actually putting together a business plan. If they don't understand you have to invest in your business to make it grow then you are probably not doing them or their customers any favors by getting them to market prematurely, IMO.
Account Disabled due to fraudulant clicks.
These "Adsense have cut me off and I cannot understand why" threads have just about ground the Adsense Forum at WMW to a stop, and I scarcely ever read them. This one had grown to around 40 contributions, and I looked at it.
Contributions from martinibuster and jenstar point out to the original poster that
kevlardev, if you thought you had problems before, people who hate you are now aware of your url. Smart move, dude.
"Feel free to stop by, visit my sponsors, and register on our active forums."
This was posted by you on another message board earlier this year, after you began running AdSense... and it is against the terms to do this. Perhaps someone reported you, or they found it on their own, but that could very likely be what got you suspended. That, or all the posts you made pointing to your now-inactive mesothelioma site...
Now while it is entertaining, it is a good example of why a forum can deline in value without a policy on cutting out treads of this sort.
This forum funcioned for several months when Adsense launched, interestingly without moderation. It was extremely valuable as we all grappled with how to make Adsense pay. It is an example though of how when things become "run of the mill" then little of value will ever emerge and those making money just move on!
Tim Mayer clears up some issues concerning the Site Match PFI system. Many webmasters are confused by Site Match and theories that once your budget runs out or you stop using the service your organic rankings drop abound on the SEO forum circuit. He had this to say in the post threadlinked above:
We made a slight change a while back as we have been really focused on comprehensiveness at Yahoo. If we dont know about your site and you submit it to Site Match you will be suggested for inclusion in the main crawl and go through all the usual quality determinations to figure out if and to what representation you will appear in the main crawl index. The conspiracy theories that we will knock the rest of your site out of the index or that we will delete it if you dont pay are just not true and if anyone experiences this they should send me a message via forum mail documenting this. The issue is usually a content issue and people usually try to blame Site Match for their problems.
[ thread removed - link goes to TW homepage ]
That idiot Doug Heil is at it again naming two sites he has found using sloppy techniques and gleefully informing everyone about his super discovery as if he's saving the damn planet.
Sheeeesh, now i've got a picture of him in large red underpants and a cape, it just doesn't bear thinking about ...ugh!
SEW - An unsafe place for search marketers?
Worse than Dougs silly games though is the fact that board admin Elisabeth is allowing this. As a member of that site im just glad it's not one of my websites put up in the forums for a public execution. Lord knows what that girls thinking of..
I wrote a long post on why I think public outings of websites on search marketing forums are bad for all members a while back and at the time the admins nodded and made all the right noises but made no firm decision on policy.
As it stands SEW, despite frequent debate, arguments and pleas on both side of the "should we report spam at SEW" contraversy, have still not anchored a firm policy on such posts.
It makes me very, very edgy about posting there at all.
Blog ethics movement afoot
Holy sh!t, when will the madness end eh?
Jason Calacanis has taken it upon himself to police the blogs. Wore, Nick Denton is backing him - Who do these people think they are?
Hey! I've got a popular blog, i guess that means everyone else with a blog is stupid and needs telling that. It's clearly my god given duty to inform the public of bad blogs and blog posts and protect society from evil bloggers! --- Give me a break...
Remind you of anyone we know in the web dev world?
Clicks Up - Clicks Down - Trend bites
If you're using Adwords for your affiliate programs you might well be familiar with this scenario, member Havok2004 describes how when he starts a campaign, more often than not it does incredibly well for the first few days then fizzles out to nothing...
You have to wade through some obvious waffle but AdwordsAdvisor, a Google AW rep and a few other knowledgable folks are in the discussion so it's certainly worth a peak.
nick3131 has something to say about the problem that may bear looking into:
No youre not the first person to see great sales the first couple of days and then everything goes to #*$!. You're suffering from the same thing that alot of other affiliate bidders suffer from, and its non diversifying ads. Beleive it or not people are way more likely to buy something they have never seen before. So the first days that your ads are run chances are the people who are clicking on your ads have never encountered that product. But as the time goes on you have alot of the same people clicking on your ads. To make matters worse someone else just picked up on what youre selling, now youre competing with yourself. SO chances are that visitor who was once totally new to your product already has seen the product but only clicked on your ad because it was new to him. If you've ever shopped online you tend to go through different merchants before making a purchase. Well if they are landing on the same exact merchant from a different ad, guess what, thats bad for conversions.
Im not a PPC guy so i only understand the basics however, i know we have PPC Heavy Hitters in here so perhaps one of them can give an educated opinion on this here at TW?
Dissapointed about Removal of Live Links
Here's a good one for your weekend thoughts:
SEOChat have disabled live links in posts. Randfish kicks the complaint thread off and seochatters express their displeasure or approval.
Searchenginewatch have an ongoing poll on the very same subject.
Webmasterworld members are scared half the death of even mentioning an outside source.
Crea8asite have made their outgoing links search engine unfriendly rendering them less prone to abuse.
So, what is it with all this? On one hand I can understand that live links in an forum environment present some unique challenges for board administrators when the membership is primarily made up of newbie search marketers but on the other, why run a forum if you aren't prepared to put the work in?
Since I started TW and actively got out and about a lot more in order to find good stuff to post here, a few observations that in retrospect seem obvious have come very much to the fore.
Client trolling forums dont care either way about links.
Some forums appear to resent the time and effort it takes to run one
Some guard their borders so tightly you cant help but pitty the mentality
Forum members in a very general sense often appear to not realize there is a world outside of the garden
I was once one of those people
There are many people that would call themselves a professional search marketer that think links from their forum posts are very, very important
I think those people need to re-work their promotional strategies
Some speculation over at the dp forums on whether the beta Yahoo! webrank has been abandoned. The thread dates back to July but has just been reopened. I cant say i've heard or bothered to find out much about WR but the thinking in the thread is interesting.
Is it just a gimmick? Is it worth anything to search marketers?
Theories ranging from it was just crap to sailing to close to the standford PageRank patent are aired in response to earlier failings in WR but the debate continues.
Who are the best Text Link Brokers
Unless you've had your head in a bucket for the last couple of years you will have noticed that one of the most aggressively promoted and fiercely competed over sectors in the webmaster market is text link sales.
I think Threadwatch has had every major brokerage approach them regarding advertising and you cant miss the banners and promos all over the webmaster forum and blog scene. But who do you trust?
As in many aggressive markets there is a certain amount of distrust over some if not all of the major text link houses. It doesn't mean they're all crooks, but perception is often derived from the way a firm markets itself and in a fiercely competititve sector like this that marketing tends to the dark side :)
Seozip have a small thread about who the best firms are, and what makes it worth a visit is the fact that seobook, nandini and Anthoney Parsons all know their stuff and know many of the names behind the brokerages personally.
If you're looking for recomendations, it's a must read.
The SearchGuild Christmas Comp, in association with Santa
Threadwatch member Gurtie and the SG boys and girls have an xmas competition: Write a letter to santa! - SEO's and webmasters are scribbling down their wishlists and some are rather funny :) here's Gurties entry:
I have been a good girl all year, don't listen to anyone who says otherwise, remember if they really did see me doing that then they must have been involved as well.
This year I'd like the following in my stocking please
1. A little less thigh - a couple of cm off each would be wonderful and please do the hips while you're at it.
2. A few extra hours in each day
3. A Goat. (everyone should get a goat this Christmas - if you don't like goats they have a nice range of chickens too)
4. Patience in traffic jams
5. A garage mechanic who doesn't talk to me like I'm three.
6. A catflap which only allows cats in when they aren't carrying something small and frightened. And also makes them wipe their paws.
7. A volume control for my four year old niece
8. an entire christmas without any of the servers requiring 3am attention
9. Snow, and lots of it (preferably not actually in my stocking though)
10. Antonio Banderas, my own weight in chocolate and world domination
Thank you so much, the brandy and mince pies will be in the normal place, as will the mistletoe.
The Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst have created a manuscript retrieval system capable of scanning and understanding hand written documents.
Imagine the potential of that...
On scanning/searching George Washingtons Personal Diaries
The scanned pages of Washington’s papers can be searched by typing in a word such as “Washington” or “Virginia,” and the program produces a list of ranked pages showing where they appear.
Manmatha says, “Right now, searching a scanned handwritten document is very hard to do. Scanned historical documents are basically images, or pictures, and currently can only be searched if someone manually transcribes the documents or creates and index of their contents. This is time consuming and expensive to do. Given the cost, most handwritten documents are never transcribed or indexed,” Manmatha says. “But there is an enormous amount of handwritten, historical material.
According to Toni Rath, “The basic idea is analogous to searching text documents in one language, say French, using queries in another language, say English. This is usually done by learning models from documents written in both languages. By analogy, our system learns from a parallel body of transcribed scanned images. That is, the word images form a ‘visual language’ and the transcriptions are in English.” Once the model is learned it may be used for searching scanned pages for which no transcriptions are available.
Method for reading electronic mail in plain text
You just have to ask what kind of mad, grade A hallucinogenic drugs these people are on...
Systems and methods for converting text of an electronic mail message in a non-plain text format to text in a plain text format are disclosed.
eBay and Craig's List Will Merge in 2005 to Create a P2P Media Giant
Steve says p2p and citizen journalism is where it's at for 2005 and with several new companies waiting to emerge like backfence.com it may well be the new gold rush.
eBay and Craig's List are already the leaders in facilitating person-to-person commerce. They have also been steadily growing closer together - in August eBay acquired a 25% stake in Craig's List. In 2005 they will take this to the next level when eBay acquires the rest of Craig's List it doesn't own and then enables customers to blog right on their unified site. This will usher in a new era where citizen journalism is directly funded by person-to-person commerce.
I tend to think community as a whole is going to be massive in the next couple of years, mostly becuase i'd really really like it to be :) but partly becuase of all the rumbling you hear if you keep your ear close to the ground. He ends with this, and i think it's noteworthy for threadwatcher's looking to cash in on community:
We have been trained to categorize Internet companies into little discrete buckets. Yahoo is a portal. Google is a search site. eBay is an auction site. Amazon is an online retailer. That's all well and good, but I bet the the brilliant executives who run these innovative firms, however, are taking a much larger view of where the online medium is headed and they're watching blogs create trusted communities that can spur future revenues. You should too.
The David Beckham Effect Spotted in the Wild
"Interesting how one contextual advertising program can make such an impact. And no, I am not going to admit how many domain names I have registered because I thought it would be perfect for a content site with AdSense :)"
So we have adsense impacting the domain market, not too much of a leap of faith to connect it to sandbox too, imho.
Forbes Ditches Embedded Text Ads After Complaints From Editors
Forbes have dropped the embedded text ads from vibrant media - The IntelliTXT ads work much the same as adsense but instead of clearly marked ads the contextual ad links appear in the body of a web pages main content.
This will be an enormous blow to Vibrant, Forbes were their largest and highest profile client.
Apparently the Forbes editorial staff have been complaining about the practice of mixing ads in editorial, cant say i blame them..
An Economists View on Click Fraud
Jupiter analyst Niki Scevak gives an economists view on click fraud in the post threadlinked above.
In light of what Google CFO George Reyes said about click fraud threatening the G biz model Niki's thoughts on the subject make for a good read:
Firstly, click fraud is a bad thing that should be policed and eliminated by the engines and they have no excuse now that they have $50bn market valuations to hire scores of click fraud cops to eliminate it. But it will have zero impact on Google's revenue, or any other search company, and zero impact on the growth of that revenue.
Here's why. Click fraud is already priced into the cost per click. Marketers bid based upon how well the leads that Google and others send them convert into, in most cases, direct sales. That means that if one person out of every hundred buy, and they make $100 per sale then they will spend up to $1 per click. Now out of that 100 clicks, the fact that 50 (gross exageration used for effect!) of them are click fraud is irrelevant. If Google eliminates click fraud then that means that one person out of fifty will now buy, and so the marketer will be willing to pay up to $2 per click now.
The volume will decrease but the cost per click will rise to balance this.
He goes on to say that Reyes would be better off doing his accounting than spouting off about click fraud (paraphrased heh..).
So, is George Reyes just spouting off about stuff he doesn't understand? Probably not eh? If that's the case, why is he making these statements?
Video Newsletter Gets High Viral Pass-Along & Unusually Strong Clicks
FC has an article about a firm specializing in video news letters in conjunction with thier clients traditional email news letters.
They report a 24-35% CTR from the email sent out that contains the link to the 3min video and FC reports that the fact that the "reading population" accounts for less than 10% of us makes this a more than viable option to cover a wider audience and get your message out there.
Drenik hired a local video production crew and had their trained scriptwriters turn the long newsletters into video scripts for an average three-minute video. He tells the scriptwriters which are the hottest stories so they know what to focus on and what to cut.
The final approved script includes camera angles and videographer direction in addition to the words to be read. (See sample below.)
The team selects and hires a local TV anchor or TV reporter to moonlight on the side as the official video newsletter presenter. They try to match personality to the brand personality of the company that will be sending out the newsletter. They also look for stability -- is this an on-air personality who'll be staying in the area for a while so they can be counted on for the long haul?
Then final edited video is transferred into a format which can be streamed from a Web site. Drenik insisted on a format that did not require the use of a player, because he knew it might be a hump some newsletter recipients are unwilling to pass over. Getting the information had to be as easy as turning on your TV, with no possible tech challenges.
It's good stuff, check it out at the threadlink above...