And the best part??? Set it and forget it! Let Tumri take care of everything for you!
I’ll let you read her post for more information, but this is a neat little tool for affiliates to sink their teeth into. It’s only the fourth day of 2007 and widgets are beginning to claim their place as the most talked about new marketing platform this year.
Sharing APIs is common practice for software companies, but eBay, along with its fellow online-retail pioneer, Amazon.com, is breaking new ground in its industry by establishing a large community of outside developers. And the implications of this strategy go much further than the world of auctions and electronic storefronts.
How much is eBay relying on outside developers?
“This a new wave of business,” says [another developer’s marketing director]. “eBay is a supplier, a marketing channel and a competitor. It’s a weird arrangement.”… “If you can’t split it, you can’t scale it,” says Eric Billingsley, head of eBay Research Labs. “We’ve made ourselves masters of virtualization.’ … eBay is able to publish a new version of its site every two weeks, adding 100,000 lines of code, all while in use.”
What does all of this matter for online marketing? A great deal if you consider the implications of web2.0 in a practical sense.
“This is what Web 2.0 does for business,” says Infopia CEO Bjorn Espenes. “Everyone can pick and share information in different ways that are much more automated.”
Platforms such as Linux have been relying on outside developers for over a decade, and the result is an impressive number of stable and attractive distributions which are beginning to compete with the traditional OS’s such as Windows and Mac OS.
Affiliate marketing has long been at the threshold of taking advantage of these sorts of open platforms with data feeds and arguably the very affiliate link structure of the market.
If eBay’s continued use of API’s and open platforms and reliance on outside developers and talent is any indication of future trends by software and online portals, affiliate marketing has a bright future.
4. The Web Browser as an Information Broker (Firefox 3?)
Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online.
This means the contact information you see on a Web site will be associated with your favorite contacts application, events will be associated with your favorite calendar application, locations will be associated with your favorite mapping application, phone numbers will be associated with your favorite VOIP application, etc.
One of my online maharaja’s, Chris Messina (check out his post on ebates) says…
Microformats are simple codes that you can use to identify specific kinds of data, like people or events, in your webpages.
Alex points out that microformats are not limited to just addresses or contact info, but can cover a wide variety of topics with relative ease, and allow people looking to easily find the things they are looking for via web searches…
There are lots of different microformats, ranging from very fundamental types of information like contacts, locations, and events, to the slightly more domain specific, like reviews and resumes, to the very domain specific, like wines.
So, if microformats can be used to help others find the content (or offers) you are providing, why hasn’t there been widespread adoption in online marketing? Again, Alex discusses the potential of microformats in an aggregated shopping site…
For instance, if you want to sell something, you can blog about it using an hListing, and a site like edgeio will find it when it aggregates classified advertisements across the Web. Similarly, the microformat hReview allows the creation of review aggregation sites, and XFN (XHTML Friends Network) allows the creation of social network aggregation sites.
Edgeio is just one of a growing number of shopping aggregation sites (think 77Blue or Jellyfish). Instead of going to a centralized hub where users are present in order to show off your offer or product, what if the users came to your site based on a qualified and highly interested search? The eCPM would be enormous if this happened en masse for your program.
Eventually, application of RSS and microformats signals the death bell (it’s not doom and gloom, it’s evolution to quote Pearl Jam), for networks ranging from the big affiliate networks to the CPA networks.
Just as blogging has allowed content creators to do their creative acts and have the traffic come to their own blog rather than having to post up their content on a large centralized site or forum, widespread implementation of RSS and microformats will allow merchants from the Madison Ave variety all the way to the small merchants depending on CPA networks for volume to publish their goods, services or programs on their own site and have the traffic come to them.
This will not be immediate.
It will be a slow and quiet revolution which will start with the smaller merchants who are innovating and looking beyond the traditional paradigm of partnering with a network and the network’s collection of affiliates and publishers in order to get traffic. These innovators will see the positive results of pull, rather than push, marketing online. Eventually, they will move away from the networks and case studies will be written. As this happens more and more, the merchants on the next rung up will notice the change and start reading those case studies and eventually Madison Ave will figure it out. It will be slow, but it will be from the bottom up. Throw widgets in the stew, and it’s a spicy gumbo for change.
It will change online marketing forever.
It will change affiliate marketing for the better.
Scott Jangro has updated The Affiliate Blog List tool and it now includes the ability to create an account, leave comments and restricts multiple bumps or dumps (and I was just getting the hang of dumping all of Shawn’s posts)…
By adding a social aspect to what’s otherwise an RSS reader, I’m hoping that the truly-can’t-miss posts will bubble up to the top. So if you read a blog entry and like it, give it a bump, increasing the chances that others will see it too.
This is sorely needed.
So, go create an account, check out the site everyday (we all know you visit Digg every morning) and contribute to the community. If enough people start using what Scott has provided, some very good things could happen for both the readers and the content providers… not to mention we just might raise the tide and lift all boats in the affiliate marketing sea.
Is there a listening audience out there for a podcast of five or so forward thinkers in the online marketing world?
Would you be interested in hearing five or seven of us get together every week or month and letting the tape roll for an hour or three? If you’re interesting, you can join in too.
Jeff’s doing his thing with Weekly Insight, but I think there’s still room for something that’s a combination of more esoteric, more practical, more theoretical and more cowbell. This wouldn’t be “re-blogging (to quote Calacanis),” and another top stories type show, but would really provide some valuable content on what might or might not have made the news and the blogs that week.
Comments, suggestions and critiques encouraged.
Make some noise, let me know if this would be valuable and I’ll get put it together immediately.
One of the steepest uphill challenges for any new CPA network or merchant looking to establish a certain volume of quality traffic is locating affiliates and publishers.
Finding the right affiliates and publishers early in the process can give the program the right foundation for future growth and become a win-win scenario for both the program and the affiliate as the program grows.
Even for existing networks or merchant programs, finding and keeping quality affiliates can be a challenge. We’ve seen incentive programs such as cash or prize rewards, along with wine and dining at industry conferences for the top affiliates.
However, recently I’ve helped a few merchant programs locate affiliates using web2.0 platforms including MyBlogLog, MySpace and blogs. While I initially questioned the type of quality that can be found in such places, the merchants are more than pleased with the new finds, and the affiliates are of high quality in terms of traffic and production.
If you don’t have a recognizable name, brand or affiliate manager in the industry, how hard is it to locate quality affiliates and publishers?
What’s the best way to keep them engaged in your program when you find them?
Will web2.0 platforms begin to help networks and merchants discover new affiliates or publishers?
[NOTE: Today is a traveling day for me, so there will be light posting.]
“SPA is an efficiency tool – it saves time for the reader, and that’s a good thing for the publisher. I like it so much I put it on TechCrunch”
— Michael Arrington, Editor, TechCrunch.com
Snap.com adds previews of sites linked to from a specific blog or site. I’ve even begun to see affiliates and publishers making use of Snap.com on their affiliate marketing sites.
I’ve resisted using Snap.com here because I’m not sure that the trade off of an inserted bubble over the content is worth it, and I’m not sure if the user actually gains that much from “previewing the site.” Of course, I’m no fan of links either, so I see this as perpetuating the problem rather than relying on users to have their own experience searching for content in a meta-data type of fashion.
Are blog readers, or perhaps consumers using affiliate sites with the Snap.com code inserted, appreciative of the service? Does it provide a useful tool or is this another intelli-text?
It’s a slow holiday so I’ll throw out a few echo chamber questions that we can think about in terms of how we interact with each other online in the business sense.
First let’s think about the all important instant messaging/VOIP/communications clients out there…
Do you and the majority of your contacts prefer Skype, AIM, Yahoo Chat, MSN Chat, Jabber or another platform for instant communication and VOIP? Have services such as GAIM or Meebo solved any headaches for you?
[Side note: Starting today (Jan 1), I’ll no longer be available on Skype. You can reach me through Ekiga instead. And I’ll be slowly phasing out my AIM and Y! accounts (sbharrelson22) in favor of my Jabber account (samharrelson).]