Last Minute Affiliate Summit Hotels #asw12

If you’re like me, you forget to book things early. I use TripIt and Evernote to keep me organized with travel info (love that you can just forward a travel receipt email to and you’re all set), but I always forget to book planes, trains and hotels.

I finally got my flights to and from Vegas for Affiliate Summit all scheduled using Hipmunk on the iPad, which is fantastic and painless last week.

However, I’m still looking for a good hotel room for Affiliate Summit since I waited so long. I might just wait until noon on Saturday the 7th when I fly in now that I’ve found Hotel Tonight…

Hotel Tonight: “Last Minute Deals on Hotels”

Nah, probably not (don’t want to sleep in the desert again). However, next time you get somewhere and need a room (and have an iPhone), this looks like a winner.

Mobile, Social Media and Curation Marketing

Marshall Kirkpatrick has a nice retort to a thought piece published in the Washington Post today proclaiming social media’s growth over…

Dead? Social Media’s Explosive Growth is Only Beginning: “Social media in the age of instrumentation and connected devices may be more about aggregate social activity than about the long voice blogging and Tweeting.

The intersection of people, machines and passively monitored objects (the cheapest input of all!) all combine to form an entirely new world of opportunity.

That may be the biggest opportunity yet.”

There’s a fascinating conversation going on in the comments section of a post here yesterday about my idea that all traffic is not good traffic. Scott Jangro adequately summarizes the point that Marshall is making above about in-and-out traffic through various spaces in relation to online marketing. His comment could easily be unpacked into a book or treatise about marketing in 2012.

For our purposes here, if you take what Scott wrote and combine that with what he, Damien and the team are doing with Shareist or what affiliates are doing with Pinterest, it becomes very interesting to ponder the conjunction of mobile traffic with aggregation and curation services on the web and their impact on affiliate marketing.

At least I think so.

The idea that curation will become a hot talent in the coming years as frictionless sharing and more aggregate traffic becomes ubiquitous is nothing new, especially in the world of education (part of the “Essential Skills” for our Middle School is curation).

However, wrap curation and its rapidly apparent place in the affiliate marketing industry and a particularly interesting new niche becomes a very viable space for hyper-targeted affiliates to explore.

Why is Affiliate Marketing Doing Well?

Nice overall piece on the current market position of affiliate marketing in the overall scheme of things and how our industry is poised to continue its growth into 2012…

How 2012’s Rise Of The Affiliate Channel Will Impact The $300B E-Commerce Industry: “There are several factors driving the increased interest in performance marketing. The three biggest drivers are the rise in affiliate deal sites, advances in technology and the overall evolution of affiliate marketing. These influences are prompting strategic online retailers to increase their intellectual and financial investments in the affiliate channel.”

I’d add “mobile” as a driver in that list.

Affiliate marketing is particularly well suited to help merchants and media buyers grow as mobile continues to become a primary mover rather than a secondary channel. Couple that with lackluster returns from social media marketing (due more to poor execution based on 20th century broadcasting techniques rather than required 21st century narrowcasting strategies) and affiliate marketing is shaping up to be the hot sector for online marketing in the coming years.

Free Progress Bars

I’m in the middle of working on an app for a client and came across this post/repository of awesome progress bars that are lightweight and don’t use images…

Josh Sullivan: Css3 progress bars: “I made CSS3 progress bars for a display of data inside localized leaderboards for the new analytics platform at G5.

They are light-weight, requiring no javascript. They look great on iOS devices and they’re incredibly simple to use and customize. No images are used.”

Click over for the images. Impressive and helpful.

Not sure if many of you are doing app development (why aren’t you?) but this is pretty helpful if you want to get around the stock iOS progress bar look.

I love github.

All Traffic is Not Good Traffic

Affiliate Summit published its latest webinar today on the topic of traffic generation. Evan speaks for an hour about how he generates traffic and “fans” organically through search, via social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook, with email and paid search…

10 Proven Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Website: “Affiliate Summit ran a free webinar featuring Evan Weber, of online marketing agency Experience Advertising, on 10 Proven Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Website, and it’s now available to watch on demand.”

It’s an interesting video for people new to the area of affiliate marketing and Evan does a good job of showing how to get traffic via tried and true techniques that do increase page views.

However, my reminder to advertisers and publishers I work with (especially folks new to the industry) is that not all traffic is good traffic.

For instance, is spam (still waiting for the mud fight, Kim). It’s a fantastic tool if you’re looking to broadcast like you’re Dan Rather, but that’s not what the effective media tactic of 2011 looks like and you’re not CBS.

In Evan’s webinar, he makes great use of tools like, a Chrome extension for blasting out links to Digg, LinkedIn, Reddit, Delicious, Facebook, Twitter,, Plurk and God knows what else, but most, if not all, of the traffic gained from such blasting will do little to help you conversion numbers and in fact drive the type of dilution that could lead you to make poor choices about ad placements, keyword buys etc.

In other words, this type of traffic generation is great if you’re doing CPM advertising, but CPA and PayPerSale in 2011 requires different strategies based on community growth in the long term.

A much more realistic strategy for effective and sustained traffic and conversions generation is to hyper-focus. Build out the profile of your ideal user. What networks do they use? What things do they search for? What will lead them to your site, make an action on your site and then refer your site to others and come back at least once in the coming three months? What do they look like? Where do they live (don’t be creepy)? What do they wear? What kind of pets do they have? What games do they play? What do they drive? Be obsessive. Sweat the details and do your research.

Take the portfolio of that person you create and work incessantly to sell your story to that person. It’s not easy, but it will pay off. If you get that one person to your site, you’ve made it.

Stop reaching for millions of page views via artificial keyword buys and blasted out social media messages and thousands of indexed pages with forums that no one uses and work to convert that one person that you’ve created.

At least that’s what works for me and why you’re reading this now.

Insync + Sparrow = Crazy Delicious

Holy amazing, Batman:

Insync: A Google Docs-Loving Dropbox Rival: “If you’re the kind of person who uses Google Docs and Dropbox a lot, perhaps for business, as is becoming increasingly popular, then you will be interested to hear that Asian firm Insync has just announced that its cloud-based sharing platform is available for free.”

Multiple Google Docs support (I have one for here, one personal account and one from my school… it gets confusing), robust online/offline support and notification of changes to documents are all selling points for me to use Insync heavily.

Combine Insync with Sparrow for multiple GMail or Google Apps mail accounts and you’ve got all your chocolate and peanut butter in one spot.

If you’re using Google Apps for your affiliate sites (not sure why anyone wouldn’t) and have a personal or different GMail account, Insync + Sparrow is a win-win for managing those multiple Mail and Docs accounts.

Now Insync just needs an iOS app.

What Job Does Your Affiliate Site Do?

When you construct an affiliate site or an affiliate program or look to optimize a site or program, the question of how and why people visiting your site or program is just as important as what they are doing on your site. Both affiliates and advertisers frequently overlook the essential question of what job people are looking to accomplish by searching for your keyword or discovering your site.

On the way to a meeting in Charlotte yesterday, I got to listen to a couple of podcasts I’ve missed. One of those was an episode of The Critical Path and it might have been the most revelatory thing I’ve heard in a long while on this very topic.

In a nutshell, Horace Dediu talks with a guest on the fascinating concept of Jobs To Be Done.

The concept is deceptively simple… people looking to buy a product or use a service (go read the Facebook post linked above) don’t actually buy the product or service as a thing, rather the customer is looking to hire the product or service to accomplish a job for them.

The example of a Snickers bar vs a Milky Way bar in the podcast makes it clear. You should seriously stop what you’re doing and go stream/download this now…

5by5 | The Critical Path #19: The hiring and firing of milkshakes and candy bars: “Horace talks with Bob Moesta, a pioneer of Job To be Done research. We go over the theory and process of understanding what products are really hired to do and ask why this understanding is so hard to come by. In a discussion rich with examples from multiple industries Bob illustrates how marketing, design and engineering are all dancing around the question of how product should be developed. Could the universally accepted compartmentalization of corporate functions be a root cause to product failure?”

Here’s the mp3 or click over to hear the stream (and subscribe to the podcast and the other great shows on the network that you should be listening to!).

Namecheap Domain Move Update

Yesterday I decided to go with the gestalt and move a few test domains from GoDaddy to Namecheap.

I’m happy to say that at about 9pm last night, I received an email from Namecheap saying the process had been completed (and one from GoDaddy saying goodbye).

In total, it took about 10 hours from start-to-finish, but I’m guessing much of that was due to the Dump GoDaddy Day movement.

All of the name servers were switched over automagically (they point to my host MediaTemple for the domain) without me having to do anything, which is a big relief.

I’ll be moving PayPerTrends, as well as all of my domains, over to Namecheap this weekend. So, if you see anything goofy or the site has some downtime, you’ll know the hamsters in the back are doing their thing.


I’m a nerd.

Rock on.

Facebook Like-Jacking and Need for Digital Literacy


Criminals Used Affiliate Marketing Sites in Majority of Facebook Scams in 2011: The vast majority, or nearly 74 percent, of Facebook attacks in 2011 were designed to lead users to fraudulent marketing affiliate and survey sites, the report found.

Affiliate marketing was a “rich source” of income for scammers, according to Amir Lev, CTO of Commtouch.

First, it’s interesting to me that the writer focuses so much on how easy it is for scammers and “criminals” (a conviction is needed to be a criminal… just saying) to use the medium of what he broadly labels as affiliate marketing. The piece focuses more on survey type deals that were so popular with the “free iPod” craze of 2003-4 in the pre-CANSPAM era.

It’s pretty easy for the legitimate businesses he sources as being defrauded to check their logs and any affiliate manager or OPM worth their salt will catch this kind of scam traffic, especially if they are dealing with the lead based side of things in the CPA and lead gen areas.

The real heart of the piece should be about the need for better digital literacy among users of spaces like Facebook (especially if they are browsing on a Windows machine with IE6 or 7).

Cue Wayne Porter

“For criminals, it was not enough to just trick users, as criminals need to make sure the attacks spread and continue to trap other people, Commtouch said. They were most likely to trick users into sharing the links almost half the time, but also tricked users into copy-pasting malicious code to trigger a cross-site scripting attack or downloading malware. Rogue applications and “like-jacking”—which employs a malicious script on the page to convert any mouse clicks on the page as a “like” that is also visible to other users—were employed in about a third of the scams.

“In 48 percent of the cases, unwitting users themselves are responsible for distributing the undesirable content by clicking on ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons,” according to Commtouch.”

It’s fascinating to me that many of the conversations Wayne and I were having back in 2008 about a future of social-engineered badware that would find virility through good-willed sharing are coming true in 2011 and even more so into 2012.

At the root of the issue isn’t affiliate marketing or how easy it is to scam businesses. Businesses have failsafes and checks in place to catch these things (ideally). Instead, we need to have more savvy users who realize the implications of sharing or liking a suspect link or article or site.

This sort of manipulation of otherwise trusting, naive or uninformed users of the web will only intensify as more people go on the web with mobiles and tablets in the coming five years.

The Problem with A/B Testing Ads in Social Media

Something to remember as you repeatedly hear “test test test!” and embark on your own split testing for various creatives via Google Analytics etc…

How Not To Run An A/B Test: “Although they seem powerful and convenient, dashboard views of ongoing A/B experiments invite misuse. Any time they are used in conjunction with a manual or automatic “stopping rule,” the resulting significance tests are simply invalid. Until sequential or Bayesian experiment designs are implemented in software, anyone running web experiments should only run experiments where the sample size has been fixed in advance, and stick to that sample size with near-religious discipline.”

Basically, don’t peek at your testing, don’t test for significance and have sample sizes in mind for your tests.

This is insanely important in more emerging areas for creatives like social media or mobile.

This looks like calculus but it’s a good reminder that the observer often influences the test.

Yay science.

via Hacker News