There are a lot of companies forming these days who are trying to create a marketplace for internet leads. I.e. they will sell you customers. They are trying to re-invent the Google success story.However, Google itself is at the limit of complexity that the market can bear. This comment on a WSJ article covering Google v. Bill Gates sums it up:
I run Revitalization Institute, a non-profit that's deals with the revitalization of communities and the restoration of natural resources. ...
Now, you tell me: What magazine, TV show, or newspaper could we possibly advertise in to reach a diverse, far-flung group of organizations and individuals? There's only one medium that works: Google Adwords. Granted, it's an extremely frustrating and very lengthy process to learn how to use it properly, but it's the only game in town for someone who's audience is so broad that the only way we can possibly afford to advertise is on a per-click basis.
The point is that if you are trying to create a lead marketplace, it has to be simpler to use than AdWords. Your customers should be able to buy leads as easily as they buy books on Amazon.
Been very busy lately, but when I stumbled across this tool, I realized that everyone in any computer related business could use one of these.
My reaction was very similar to this one from a reviewer:
When I first saw it, I knew that I had to have one, and I haven't been disappointed yet.
Recently, Andrew Goodman posted the following to his blog about counting RSS feed stats:
"One interesting trend is the increase in what we believe might be regular readership via RSS feeds. I suspect the analytics services need to buckle down and offer a better breakdown of those kinds of visitors. What if someone has syndicated this blog on their Firefox browser? Would that show up merely as a direct navigation similar to visiting via a bookmark? Probably."
Yahoo has an answer for you. They put your RSS feed stats in their User-Agent. (See here: http://publisher.yahoo.com/track.php). So you can look in your logs and find lines like this:
18.104.22.168 - - [23/Mar/2004:08:13:30 -0800] "GET /blog/rss2.xml HTTP/1.0" 304 - "-" "YahooFeedSeeker/1.0 (compatible; Mozilla 4.0; MSIE 5.5; http://my.yahoo.com/s/publishers.html; users 236; views 36994)"
This would be the number of subscribers who have their feed on their MyYahoo page and the number of times they clicked on one of your articles. You could also get this info by counting referers from my.yahoo to your page.
Anyway, If you've got RSS feeds, try doing a grep on your web server log file for "YahooFeedSeeker"
If you haven't seen this already, it's from Google's AdSense Optimization page.
Certain locations tend to be more successful than others. This “heat map” illustrates these ideal placements on a sample page layout. The colors fade from dark orange (strongest performance) to light yellow (weakest performance). All other things being equal, ad placements above the fold tend to perform better than those below the fold. Ads placed near rich content and navigational aids usually do well because users are focused on those areas of a page.
It looks reasonable, but I have to wonder: how does Google know this? Have they measured their own campaigns? Are they re-casting info from the folks at Eyetools? There's nothing in the AdSense insertion that would tell them where the ads show up on a given page. So either they've collected some data or they are making an educated guess.
There's huge value in aggregation. Most of what Google does is aggregation. And now, with the coming of ads in RSS feeds, there is some pushback from the publishers which tend to create content more than aggregate it. Tom Foremski has some quotes and insight on what the publishers are thinking:
Millstein went further, saying that Hearst has become marginalized by the aggregators and wouldn't let it happen again. "The big money is being made by the aggregators, but who wants to be one of 1,000 publishers? That's just nickels and cents. We want to play the role of the aggregator."
Ah yes, aggregation is the easy money route, but it's starting to look pretty crowded. But Foremski's wrap-up also sounds right:
My take is that content will be king, this time around. And being a content producer/publisher (with an online cost base) is a very good place to be, because the headline links in Google, or in a news aggregator such as Yahoo Finance, have to lead to original content. And original content is hard to produce and cannot be done by machines.
True, but it's amazing how a relatively simple aggregation trick can out-leverage any single publisher's potential gains.
In case you are one of the 99.999% of people who don't get what the big deal about the social bookmarking website http://del.icio.us is, here's Clay Shirky to explain it all for you.
I have an offer for you. Which is that I am capable of giving you 1000+ different traffic to your site per day - and all of them would click on all the Adsense advertisements. For all these clicks you would be able to earn a good amount per day. My offer is that I would give you that 1000+ different traffic to your site in exchange of 50% of earnings of their total clicks...
Tim points out that the fraudster doesn't seem too technically sophisticated - and given Tim's traffic and AdSense revenue, the fraudster probably would be caught. However, it doesn't take much sophistication to elude Google's current fraud detection. Many people out there assume that Google can simply track repeated IPs but it's not that simple.
Google can't easily detect click fraud patterns over time. If every one of Sanjay's 1000 clickers visited Tim's site once per day and only click 1 or 2 ads, Google would have a hard time flagging those specific clicks. Why? Because Google's fraud analysis system can't easily look at more than 1 hour's worth of log data in real time.
However, it sounds like Tim doesn't really have the traffic to "hide" 1000+ extra clicks a day, so it's likely Google would catch this fraud. Analysis of the payment side could raise a red flag as Tim's CTR and earnings would spike up too quickly if the fraud was put in place. Smart fraudsters would ramp slowly, and read a bit about Poisson distributions as they were doing that.
Of course, if I were Google, I'd set these fraudsters up with a honeypot, and then map the IPs...
Want to know how to write better ads for your PPC campaign? Simple. Read David Oglivy's classic: Confessions of an Advertising Man. Even though Ogilvy died before Google ever served an ad, his advice is spot on, and just as applicable today as it was back in 1965.
How much of the CPC and CPM ad market depends on interest rates? More than you may think since mortgage re-financing ads comprise at least 20% of ad volume in total dollars. The high prices of mortgage related ads mean they contribute a lot to the bottom line of Yahoo and Google.
This graph from searchnewz puts the Fathom Online keyword pricing survey into perspective. The red line represents the cost of mortgage related keywords, and they are at least twice as expensive as any other category. I wonder how much of Google's and Yahoo's recent quarterly profits were directly from mortgage ads. I'd guess at least 35%.
The funny thing is that the internet itself can take some credit for low interest rates (remember "The New Economy"?). The internet is largely responsible for a higher productivity increase over the last 10 years which has helped the economy, kept inflation at bay, and helped convince Alan Greenspan to not raise rates as fast as he otherwise might have.
However, the mortgage refinancing process is fairly cyclical. As it begins to wane, it's unlikely that any other category will replace it's total contribution to profits. Isn't it?
I wasn't surprised that Google launched Urchin so fast, however, I'm pretty disappointed that they've choosen to charge for it! I think that's very odd, and wonder what the rationale is? Maybe they can't handle too many customers yet.
Someday, it's gonna be free, though.
This long article on a UK site covering the basics of the Google world and the impending launch of MSN's ad system has a few good quotes in it:
The customer service on a local basis is fine, but when you are doing campaigns and a new rule comes out of Google central, there is no communication. Often, you and the advertiser are the last to know.
Google's spokesperson counters:
Google is constantly enhancing AdWords, says Burns; aiming to increase ROI for advertisers and make the system easier to use.
With their recent improvements to AdWords, including the ability to filter which publishers the advertisers allows, and control bids more automatically, Google is enhancing AdWords. Adding the CPM/CPC option to AdWords content also opens up a lot of possibilities.
However, you get the feeling from the first quote that Google is losing some of the simplicity that made them so appealing back in 2003. More and more businesses are struggling just to master the basics.
At the current rate of innovation, I think there is an increasing need for advertisers to look to SEM firms and agencies to manage their campaigns. Since the prospect of dealing with another network (MSN) adds more complexity in itself, I wonder if MSN will differentiate by simplifying the process of running a campaign?
During my 10-day holiday away from the internet, I was worried that the ad world would pass me by. Things seem to change so fast. However, I'm glad to report that nothing quite so dramatic happened. Conclusion: It's healthy and very possible to leave it all behind and come back recharged and refreshed.