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Pinterest Gets Analytics

Pinterest has announced their iteration of web analytics for bloggers, businesses and groups with a verified website in the profile of the popular sharing service:

Introducing Pinterest Web Analytics – Pinterest Blog: “Bloggers, businesses, and organizations often ask us, “what are people pinning from my websites?” These website owners help create the content on Pinterest and we wanted to help them understand which pieces of content people find most interesting. Today, we’re pleased to announce Pinterest Web Analytics, a first step towards doing just that. Web Analytics gives site owners insights into how people are interacting with pins that originate from their websites.”

Getting your website verified by Pinterest is a pretty painless and straightforward process involving dropping some code into the header of your site.

Most interesting is the ability to see stats on not just your pins but also repins as well as impressions and clicks. This should make many of the marketers and businesses that have been eyeing Pinterest but not sold on the platform because lack of analytics happy.

This isn’t a good thing for sites such as PinReach that have sprung up to fulfill the need for analytics and insight into Pinterest trends. However, much like Twitter’s once flourishing API coral reef (still a great post six years later), these sites can become interesting platforms to dig deeper or look at other types of social engagement outside of what Pinterest itself offers.

Pinterest is definitely upping the social media involvement ante with businesses as it continues to scale its user base and explore areas of monetization and ad serving in a different path than either Twitter or Facebook.

Instead, look to LinkedIn and Twitter for further innovation in the social networking monetization space.

When Marketers Stare Back at You

Hot on the heels of Samsung’s new flagship phone being released with “eye scroll tracking” as a feature comes this interesting piece from TechCrunch on what we might be in store for when marketers can stare back at mobile users…

The Implications of the Interface That Watches You – TechCrunch: “It’s no secret that companies and advertisers have been looking for a way to boost the ROI of mobile ads, Google included. Gathering facial feedback data could act like a cheat code to help marketing get to the next level – provided it isn’t wielded like a heavy, blunt club. The possibility for abuse is tremendous here: imagine ads that periodically migrate to occupy the places where you find the choicest content in an app, or autoplaying video ads that wait until you’re paying close attention before launching into a sales barrage.”

The Web Has Been Acquihired by AOL

Fantastic post:

The World Wide Web is Moving to AOL! – Brian Bailey: “An update from the Founder and CEO of World Wide Web, Inc.

October 1, 1998

I know this blog has been quiet lately. It’s been a crazy few months of meetings and negotiation here at WWW HQ, but we’re finally ready to share our big news: World Wide Web is joining the America Online team next month! We couldn’t be more excited.”

Go read the full post, especially the postscript.

Thankfully, the www was born in 1991 and not 2011.

Handy Google Spreadsheet Keyword Generator

I keep track of all our keyword bids, ideas, brainstorms and lists in Google Drive via Spreadsheets.

I had no idea this was possible but will be using the heck out of this feature now…

A Glimpse Into Google’s Brain, Hidden In A Spreadsheet App: “Yesterday TechCrunch reported that if you make a spreadsheet in Google Drive (Google Docs, formerly), enter and highlight the names of two beers, and pull down on the corner of the spreadsheet cell while holding Option or Control, the app will automatically fill the following cells with the names of other beers. The information is pulled, seemingly, from nowhere.”

And a few examples here.

And no, it’s not just for beer. I made a few quick tries with keyword lists for specific specialty clients and was impressed with the nature of the returns.

It’s not a replacement for keyword-specific tools, but a nice way to brainstorm from time to time.

Google Sets have been around for a while and I was always impressed with what was possible (and bewildered they “shut down” the service a few years back). Nice to see Sets having a long life ahead as a part of Google Drive.

What Marketers Should Know About Facebook’s New News Feed

Excellent post and resources to ponder if you use Facebook for your performance marketing efforts…

Facebook Update Gives Users More Control Over News Feed: What Marketers Should Know: “Facebook’s design changes make it much easier for Facebook users to tune out content from businesses and brands. Because this is the case, you need to give your fans even more incentive to check out their Following Feed to view your content so they can engage with it via Likes, comments, and shares, enabling you to show up in their friends’ All Friends Feed. This makes it even more critical that you post content that is compelling and sharable.”

via Steve Hall on Twitter

Spreading Too Thin on Social Sites

Spreading videos you’ve already made (and the ones you haven’t made yet) to social channels is one of the common sense things that many marketers don’t do well.

On top of that, making sure to do more than just link or embed your videos on sites as if you’re simply broadcasting is something most marketers just simply ignore.

Yes, spread your videos around but don’t just dilute your message online by blasting your posts or videos or podcasts everywhere… just as when you are learning in school, it’s better to go deeper than wider when applying social media strategies. Don’t have time for LinkedIn? Don’t post there. Think Twitter is silly? Don’t tweet. Have no clue why Pinterest is a big deal? Don’t pin.

Find the balance between spreading your content (posts, video, audio, pics etc) but don’t spread yourself too thin on sites that you’re not authentically using and engaging…

Leverage Your Existing Videos on Your Social Media Sites | SoMedia Video Marketing Blog: “LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ are all great places to post your videos—in fact I think LinkedIn and Google+ are going to be big destinations for online business video in the near future—which is the key point here: once you’ve created a video, you need to ensure you leverage it beyond your website. Don’t just hide it on your website, consider all the places where your target audience is online, stake your claim, and post the video there.”

via Tris Hussey on Twitter

IFTTT and bitly Equals Awesomeness

If you’re an affiliate marketer and you’re not using bitty + IFTTT, then you’re missing out:

IFTTT / bitly Channel

Trust me, go play with this service.

SimilarWeb for Helpful Site Stats

There are numerous and plentiful stat sites for your own affiliate sites or if you’re interested in seeing where your competitors are gaining or sending traffic.

However, a site we’ve been really enjoying lately called SimilarWeb has been insanely helpful for all things stat-related:

SimilarWeb – About Us: “The source of our data is the accurate collection of clickstream data from internet users all over the world. Unlike some providers who focus on a specific region or user type, our collection is done on a global scale, with a statistically representative cross-section of all types of consumers. This allows us to reach unbiased, all-round understanding of a website’s traffic.”

For instance, here’s ReveNews’ entry on SimilarWeb.

Or here is CouponCabin.

You get the point.

This is fun and very helpful. Go and enjoy this awesome free tool.

Plunk for Mobile Site Testing

Plunk is a nifty and easy-to-use utility that allows you to upload a mobile screen image of a site you might be testing or designing, share it with others and get a report 48 hours later of where people touched their screen.

It’s totally for mobile sites and I think it’s an ingenious idea given the analytics you get:

Plunk – An easy way to test clicks on a mobile phone

“Here are 5 ways Plunk will help:
1. User intuition. See where touch screen testers want to click on your page.
2. Improve functionality. Visually review where users are expecting to find that new button.
3. Retain interaction and engagement. Test where mobile users are getting lost due to either navigation or design and keep their attention locked.
4. Mobile conversion. Feedback for creating a great design will encourage more mobile activity.
5. Bob for those apples. Stuck deciding between new mobile designs? Send them out and dive into your results to find the best one!time and money. Plunk lets you test your mobile users’ clicks to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

You can share the image to get results to your own social networking followers or to an email beta list etc.

Very cool and handy, especially for performance marketers using mobile (as you should be).

Twitter’s Essential Value to Marketers

It’s amazing to me that Twitter has grown from a (perceived) questionable platform of democratized reporting of breakfasts and cat activity around the world to a full blown news stream.

Well, not amazing… we saw it coming and we knew that Twitter or something like it, would eventually fill the place that RSS started carving out in the early 2000’s.

This is pretty solid testimony for what Twitter means to the news business:

How Twitter won the social media battle for journalism | The Wall Blog: “More telling is the comment from Joanna Carr, editor of BBC Radio 4′s news programme ‘PM’, who said she ‘wouldn’t hire anybody who doesn’t know how to use Twitter’.

From that you get all you need to know. Twitter has quickly made itself an essential modern journalism tool for news journalists.”

(Via Matthew Ingram on Twitter)

So what does this mean for marketers?

The same thing Twitter meant for marketers in 2007 when I wrote this on CostPerNews:

It really is amazing to see how these conversations have started to sprout up as more and more people in our sphere get involved with these micro-platforms. I took a great deal of heat for being a Twitter fan boy late last year, but those same people who gave the heat are now (for the most part) realizing the potential that these programs have for their marketing efforts.

After all, marketing is just the spread of information about an idea, service, program, theology, ideology, offer or emotion… what better way to do spread that information in an attention deficit world than through micro-chunks?

I still stand by that.

Just as it is no longer an option or convenience for press professionals to not use Twitter, it is not an option for performance marketers to continue to either ignore or just use Twitter as a broadcasting medium in 2013 (or 2007).

Importance of Marketing Plans

Whether you’re doing search marketing, affiliate marketing, SEO, social media, PPC or some combination of those it’s always important to at least have a framework plan set out.

Here’s a quick and easy post that helps spur some thoughts about marketing plans and what you could be doing to improve your campaigns…

Writing Marketing Plans – SEO Book: “Writing forces an analytic approach. The act of writing something down often brings about new ideas because it gets us out of the routine of ‘just doing’. Secondly, writing plans helps us write better proposals. A marketing plan is about both an analysis and a form of communication. It’s a means to get across your ideas to clients and other partners and convince them of the merits of what we’re doing.”

Importance of Social Media Curation in Marketing

Great questions and answers here:

Social Media Curation Guide | SEOmoz: “Last year on SEOmoz, I published The Content Curation Guide for SEO, which – even though it is still valid – I thought it needed a fresh addition. Not only does this post update some of the information shared, but it also digs deeper into an aspect of content curation that is actually the most used and, possibly, useful to SEOs and Content Marketers who must deal with more duties than just curation: social media curation.”

The web is social in 2013 regardless if you’re participating in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc with your affiliate site or branding site or company. Finding the proper balance between your own voice while putting together interesting links for your intended and/or potential audience (or group of customers) is so incredibly important.

If you’re not thinking of social media curation as a part of your performance marketing effort, you’re not thinking of the whole picture.

Tumblr’s Untraditional and Provocative Mobile Advertising Approach

It’s interesting to note that Tumblr is taking a different approach to monetizing its rabid and highly-participatory audience… rather than selling IAB-style display ads or keyword based text ads, Tumblr is encouraging brands to put their own content out there as ads and use more organic means such as the built in views or hearts paradigms as measures of engagement.

Tumblr to Introduce Mobile Advertising to Help Achieve Profit – Bloomberg: “Tumblr, a startup founded by Karp, now gets more than 16 billion monthly page views worldwide, according to Quantcast Corp. To reach those eyeballs, companies won’t be able to buy display space or keywords in the ways they are accustomed — Tumblr is ‘not going to get into the regular ad network,’ Gottfrid said.

Instead, they have to pay to get their own Tumblr blogs seen by more people. They can measure impact by how many viewers republished the post on their own blogs or ‘hearted’ it.”

Twitter’s card-based display advertising and promoted tweets platform has been an up-and-down adventure for many advertisers and marketers because Twitter is asking companies to place a style of advertising on top of community that doesn’t operate in such a fashion.

Tumblr’s approach is definitely refreshing in that they are welcoming advertisers and marketers but asking them to not just bring traditional Madison Ave constructs to the service but to actually participate using methods that the users use and are familiar with themselves.

I can’t wait to see how the numbers go for this.

Tara Hunt Explains the Secret to Great Social Content

Tara lays it out with a nice analogy and rock solid advice at the end:

The Secret to Great Social Content – Tara Hunt on LinkedIn: “Quite often, people seek out things like formulas and best practices and all sorts of ways to ensure the best outcomes. Books and posts and articles and infographics are gobbled up whole in order to satisfy an eager marketers desire to implement a ‘highly impactful’ content strategy. These types are Hedgehogs. They will see a popular 700×700 inspirational quote being passed around Facebook like wildfire and think, “A-ha! That’s the key! We need to create more square inspirational quotes!'”

Head over and read the post, it’s worth your time to reflect on how you’re making content for social media tied to your marketing campaigns and efforts and how effective you’re really being with your words and images.

Marketing in 2013 requires heart to be successful and marketers all-too-often forget that.

Twitter Killing TweetDeck on Desktop and Mobile

I run TweetDeck on my beloved ChromeBook because of the rather impressive Chrome app that Twitter has created for the interface. To be honest, this isn’t really that surprising given that TweetDeck has been moving towards the web and away from its roots in Adobe Air:

An update on TweetDeck – The TweetDeck Blog: “TweetDeck is the most powerful Twitter tool for tracking real-time conversations. Its flexibility and customizable layout let you keep up with what’s happening on Twitter, across multiple topics and accounts, in real time. To continue to offer a great product that addresses your unique needs, we’re going to focus our development efforts on our modern, web-based versions of TweetDeck. To that end, we are discontinuing support for our older apps: TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone. They will be removed from their respective app stores in early May and will stop functioning shortly thereafter. We’ll also discontinue support for our Facebook integration.”

I’m actually excited about this and hope that Twitter continues to put dev resources towards the product that I’ve been using for many many years now as my go-to “Twitter power user” app.

Facebook Responds to Pay-to-Play Allegations

Facebook says we’re wrong about its pay-to-play scheme for surfacing content in users’ news feeds:

Fact Check – Facebook Newsroom: “There have been recent claims suggesting that our News Feed algorithm suppresses organic distribution of posts in favor of paid posts in order to increase our revenue. This is not true. We want to clear up any misconceptions by explaining how the News Feed algorithm works.”

It’s interesting to see Facebook take to their blog to defend their algorithms the day after the original post in the NY Times.

Instagram and Affiliate Marketing

Instagram continues to be a hotbed of brand engagement with users despite concerns about its new privacy policy and its souring relationship with Twitter:

Despite a Rocky Road, 59% of Top Brands Are Now Active on Instagram [STUDY] – SimplyMeasured: “With 90 million monthly active users, 40 million photos per day, and 8,500 likes per second, Instagram has now managed to attract 59% of the world’s top brands. The past three months have seen a number of new feature and policy changes on the network, creating both incentives for brands to adopt, but also a backlash among users.”

However, how well does Instagram work with performance marketers? Brand marketers seem to be having a field day with the service, but is there any translation to the affiliate or action-oriented segment of marketers?

Aside from approaches that use bots and questionable tactics, it is quite possible to do well with affiliate marketing using Instagram.

For starters, Instagram’s visual nature makes it a no-brainer for connecting with product driven affiliate offers. If you’re marketing something that is service related, show results of your service or how it helps people get something done or done better.

Instagram’s ability to help people make connections by performing as a visual aid is a natural fit for affiliate marketers as well. As with all marketing, you want to “show not just tell” and Instagram is great for showing stories or snippets relevant to your campaign.

Instagram’s connections with Facebook shouldn’t be taken for granted either, since the service can quickly send visual images into the Great Walled Garden.

As with the early days of Twitter and its growth of a community ethos, it’s important to keep in mind that people value the visual function and fun of Instagram but won’t react in a positive way to pure spam. So keep community rules in your mind if you’re going to use Instagram in your affiliate campaign.

Most importantly, use your head and keep your stats.

EMail Marketing and Search Still Important on Social Web

Email Users in US

With Mature US Online Population, Small Gains for Email, Search Usage – eMarketer: “Email and search engine usage, two of the most common digital activities, have also reached saturation among internet users. For the vast majority of internet users, email and search are basic functions necessary to efficiently use the web—and navigate daily life—unlike other digital activities such as social networking, video viewing or gaming.”

While the social web is a fascinating and lucrative place to spend time and attention building your affiliate site traffic or online business customer base, there’s still a great deal to be said about effective email marketing and search campaigns.

One of the best ways to see early growth on a new campaign or site is to put together a coherent and well-thought-out marketing effort involving good content, personable social media presence and coordinated email newsletters with good organic (and perhaps paid) search listings. Putting in a little time at the beginning will save you much more time and money later and prevent you from spending extra resources playing catch-up.

iWatch Doubts

I’m still not sold on the concept of a “smartwatch” that replicates some of the functions of a mobile device such as the iPhone. Granted, I haven’t worn a watch in a decade but I do carry a mobile phone with me most anywhere.

Apple’s watch will run iOS and arrive later this year, say sources – The Verge: “That’s perfectly in line with what we’ve heard about the watch project, which we’re told is being led by Ive himself with some 100 engineers under him. Interestingly, we’re also told that Apple’s chosen to rework the full iOS to run on the watch instead of building up the iPod nano’s proprietary touch operating system — although the previous nano was already watch-sized and seemed like a great starting point for a wrist-sized device, Apple’s betting on iOS across product lines.”

Whatever the final form and function of the mythical iWatch might be, I’m still betting heavily on Google’s wearable platform called Glass. To me, the ability to get a heads up display of relevant contextual information as well as quickly capture images or video from your point of view with a simple voice command points to a bright future for Glass.

CostPerNews 2.0

I wrote this on CostPerNews almost five years ago back in June 2008:

CPN went live on Nov 1, 2006 and I had no idea where it was going (and still don’t). 19 months later (at an average of 52 posts a month), we’ve hit the magic 1k mark.

I knew in October of ’06 that I wanted to have a place where I could write as frequently or infrequently as I wanted and cover the emerging web2.0 space and the connections I was (and still am) seeing with traditional affiliate marketing. I came up with the name while mowing the lawn that Fall and ran inside to register the domain before I forgot. Luckily, I didn’t forget.

I can honestly say that this little blog has been the most important vehicle for my own personal brand and business, helping me to get into doors that wouldn’t have been opened otherwise and helping me to get to know some pretty incredible people along the way. If you’re wondering if you should start a blog, take it from me… yes.

So, thank you for being there and listening to my crazy ramblings about Twitter and Tumblr and RSS and open source over the past couple of years. I’ve sold this blog, quit this blog (twice), re-acquired this blog and redesigned it (at least 10 times). And here we are again.

CostPerNews was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach an audience that I really did appreciate and enjoy interacting with on an almost daily basis. Few days went by from late 2006 until 2010 that I didn’t blog 4, 5 or 6 times on CPN.

Posts had high engagement with comments and emails. Often times, comment threads got heated as we fought to carve out the brave new social web while preserving a corner niche for affiliate marketing.

Eventually, CostPerNews was brought into an awesome partnership with ReveNews (now a part of the Affiliate Summit family).

I enjoyed my time as Publisher of ReveNews, but soon missed the community and quirky nature of web2.0-meets-affiliate marketing at CostPerNews, so I bought it back and resumed blogging there.

I’d sell the site for a second and final time as my family grew and I felt as if I’d run out of time for blogging and the commitment that CPN took to be successful.

Needless to say, I miss writing about the intersection of web tech and marketing. I miss the passionate community of CPN. I most especially miss the daily (almost monastic) practice of writing and writing and writing some more.

I miss the notion of shoshin, or “beginner’s mind” and the joy I had blogging on CPN in 2006 and 2007 when I had no idea what I was talking about but all the passion in the world for how Twitter and Tumblr and blogging were going to change affiliate marketing forever.

I want to get back to that. There are so many exciting developments in the intersection of web tech and marketing. So many of these intersections are products and fruit of what we were hammering out in 2006.

Now that Shawn and Missy have acquired ReveNews, we need more performance marketing blogs anyway :)

It’s time to reboot CPN. is my attempt to find that voice and that writing and that community that I once got to have. You can’t go back home again, but you can create something pretty amazing more than once.

That’s my plan here. I hope you’ll follow along and enjoy.