Marketing

Magnify.net’s New Video Blogging Platform

Magnify.net is one of the most interesting places on the web if you’re int video, aggregation or user generated content.

They’re announcing a new video blogging platform today to be led by a daily show from one of my favorite online people, Chris Brogan.

NEW YORK – November 16, 2007 — Video Blogging goes mainstream with a new free service. Magnify.net today announced that they will enable anyone who is interested in video blogging to jump in, without needing a video camera, a deck or even web design software.

 Magnify.net is releasing to private beta, a new video blogger in a box toolset with an intuitive, plug-and-play Webcam capture tool that allows creators to build a Vlog page, put up all their own graphics and design elements. With just a webcam, their Vlog can go live. Magnify.net also offers stylish and slick templates to make the graphic design process drag-and-drop simple.

Podcamp co-founder and online media guru Chris Brogan will host a daily video blog called “Attention Upgrade” to showcase Magnify’s new platform during the private beta. Chris Brogan and Magnify.net are inviting others to request an invitation if they are interested in video blogging and providing feedback at privatebeta@magnify.net

Affiliate Program Seeks to Spread Wifi Love

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Interesting new affiliate program from the wifi network FON in CJ (15-18% commission):

Besides earning a commission rate of 15% of all your referred sales, we also provide 120 return day cookies (to track your referrals even after someone has clicked-through on your link) and unlimited referral occurrences.

Refer just $600 or more in sales in any month and you’ll earn a 10% bonus. Refer $1,600 or more in a month and you’ll earn a 20% bonus, bringing your effective commission rate to 18%!

FON has gotten a good deal of press on tech and gadget blogs for its alternative goal to spread free wifi by subsidizing routers for individuals (costs around $50).  I’m not sure how successful the program will be, but it’s interesting to see a company trying to gain traction here in the States turn to an affiliate solution.

blognation USA has more coverage.

FON

Oprah Gives Flip Ultra Cams to Audience

Based on the recommendation of video guru Jim Kukral, I bought a Flip camera a couple of months back. If you watch my YouTube channel, you’ll notice the frequent shaky and unprofessional videos that I shoot with the neat little device.

Gizmodo says that this indicates that YouTube has arrived… I think this is an indication that The Flip has arrived.

For amateurs, it’s perfect. Evidently Oprah feels the same…

Oprah, that generous talk show host who no longer needs a last name, stooped down to YouTube to join up with the great unwashed yesterday, and to commemorate the occasion she gave away a $150 Flip Ultra camcorder to everybody in her talk show audience. Check out her condescending peptalk to YouTubers in the video above, promoting her show on which YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, whom Oprah says “don’t go out much,” appeared.

YouTube Arrives: Oprah Gives Flip Ultra Cams to Everybody in Audience, Joins Those Hepcats on YouTube

AdReady: Ready for Prime Time?

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The ad network space is incredibly crowded (especially in this age of loose spending by advertisers).  That may be coming to a close in the near future, but for now it looks like there’s more and more ad networks popping up everyday who aren’t bringing much creativity or uniqueness to the table.

I found AdReady while doing research for another post and I’m trying to figure out exactly what they do that is different from either AdSense or CJ, Linkshare, Performics, ShareASale, etc.  From the site, AdReady is working with Google (AdSense?), Yahoo’s RightMedia and AOL’s Advertising.com.

TechCrunch gave some coverage of the site with details like a 20% cut for the network.  Beyond the ability to customize graphical ads (Photoshop?? The Gimp??), I’m not seeing the value proposition here or a reason why publishers (or advertisers) should choose something like AdReady over one of the existing ad networks.

I’d love to see them expand and improve, though… the ad network space (especially in the graphical realm) needs some tree shaking.

AdReady is an advertising technology company focused on making online display advertising accessible and effective for advertisers of all sizes. Through AdReady’s data-rich library of proven creative, real-time ad customization tools, and intuitive web-based interface, marketers are learning that AdReady makes it easy to build and run effective online display ad campaigns in minutes.

AdReady — Company Overview

The Revolutionary Affiliate Network That Could Have Been: Facebook’s Ad Platform

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Facebook has released its vision of the future of marketing:

“Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online,” Zuckerberg told an audience of more than 250 marketing and advertising executives in New York. “For the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation. And they’re going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do.”

Interestingly, Facebook has built in the ability for businesses and brands to create their own page on Facebook:

Zuckerberg detailed how Facebook Pages allows users to interact and affiliate [emphasis mine] with businesses and organizations in the same way they interact with other Facebook user profiles. More than 100,000 new Facebook Pages launched today covering the world’s largest brands, local businesses, organizations and bands.

“The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page and that’s where businesses are going to start as well,” explained Zuckerberg. “The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see.”

So, how do businesses spread their marketing messages? By leveraging the social graph of users and becoming our “friends”…

Users can become a fan of a business and can share information about that business with their friends and act as a trusted referral. Facebook users can interact directly with the business through its Facebook Page by adding reviews, writing on that business’ Wall, uploading photos and in any other ways that a business may want to enable. These actions could appear in users’ Mini-Feed and News Feed, Facebook’s popular products that allow users to share information more efficiently with their friends.

Where this all comes together and really starts getting interesting to me is the inclusion of the Social Ads platform:

Facebook’s ad system serves Social Ads that combine social actions from your friends – such as a purchase of a product or review of a restaurant – with an advertiser’s message. This enables advertisers to deliver more tailored and relevant ads to Facebook users that now include information from their friends so they can make more informed decisions. No personally identifiable information is shared with an advertiser in creating a Social Ad.

More on that in a second… but how do we measure all of this “social graph” goodness?

Facebook gives marketers valuable metrics about their presence and promotion on Facebook. Facebook Insights gives access to data on activity, fan demographics, ad performance and trends that better equip marketers to improve custom content on Facebook and adjust ad targeting. Facebook Insights is a free service for all Facebook Pages and Social Ads.

So, this is a tripartite announcement of business engagement on actual Facebook pages, an ad serving platform and finally a way to track those interactions and ads.

Jeremiah Owyang has dubbed this the “Rise of the Fansumer,” which is a nice title to summarize the possibilities here for marketers of all stripes.

Going beyond just profile matching of advertisements, Facebook allows consumers to self-identify with brands and becoming fans. In turn, brands can use these “Fan-Sumers” as endorsers to their own trusted networks, resulting in trusted word-of-mouth. Brands can also self-manage their own campaigns, and there’s some unique opportunities for eCommerce widgets or applications to be part of this formula.

Jeremiah calls this a win for Facebook because it will limit the amount of non-targeted ads a user sees and enhance the concept of trusted marketing among a usage population that is not given to clicking on simple display banner ads with no relevancy or context.

Back in January of 2007, (the sadly short-lived) Evil Marketer blog predicted all of this with a post about influencer networks and twist that would have sealed a win for Facebook:

And one final commonality — the influencer and his or her recommendations, despite being the most powerful marketing force on the planet, have been almost entirely hidden from a marketer’s view or measurement.

Until now.

No, we can’t listen in to your private conversations and track a friend’s recommendation of a new movie to the actual ticket sale — yet. But most online word of mouth type marketing and all affiliate marketing (much of which is based, in some part, on an influencer recommending a product) can now be tracked, and as soon as mobile marketing takes the next step and starts letting you refer products and services and movie tickets to your friends via a trackable coupon or other incentive, then we will be watching over your shoulder, dear consumer.

The problem is that most of this is still de-centralized and segmented; Amazon reviewers, mobile marketing, social network members recommendations (especially recommendations from those with a lot of “friends”) — none of it really works together so an advertiser has a clear sense of where the influencers live and more importantly, how to get them talking about their products.

And in part 2 of the series of posts about influencer networks, we get the hook from the Evil Marketer:

The influencers in the network would choose the brands they wish to endorse (at least initially), based on genuine respect and love for the brand, but would be compensated for that endorsement. The method of endorsement and compensation for it could vary widely based on vertical and influencer “level”; a rating and/or trust system would be in place for users (both inside and outside the network) to vote in various ways to change that level.

If Facebook had allowed for some way to compensate influencer’s for their endorsements (rather than just serving them ads), Facebook would have truly had a big win on their hands… and would have really created something revolutionary in the marketing world rather than providing yet another way for brands to waste money on cheesy viral ads.

Facebook | Press Releases

ScratchBack Paying 90% During Beta Phase

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Jim Kukral’s ScratchBack continues to gain steam in the blogging world (especially in light of Goole’s crackdown on pagerank and link sellers over the last month). You can see my full review of ScratchBack over on ReveNews.

In the meantime, Kukral has announced that they payout for ScratchBack during the beta phase will be 90%…

ScratchBack has been live a week or so, and we launched it intentionally with a “higher” cut for ourselves, just so we could see how our users reacted to it. That cut wasn’t publicized, but it was easy to figure out. It was 50/50 after PayPal fees. Much has been made about this cut and we’ve been told how unfair that is. Guess what? We agree.

I’ve been impressed with the platform so far. Give it a crack and see what you think.

News: ScratchBack Pays 90% During Beta : ScratchBack

Google’s Incentive and the Open Source Movement in Online Marketing

The blogosphere has been all abuzz with the latest news from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, in that he is attempting to construct a human generated search platform to rival Google.

Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken.

Why is it broken? It is broken for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability, lack of transparency.

Here, we will change all that.

There are already dozens of thoughts and opinions on whether or not this will work or if it is even original or feasible (see the holy tech trinity of Techmeme, TechCrunch and Technorati if you haven’t been following).

However, one of the questions very few are asking is whether or not Google is doing a decent job at providing access to all of the world’s information, which was one of the company’s original mission statements.

Does Google have enough incentive to provide a decent search platform? I’d argue no, because Google is at its heart an advertising company.

Dave Winer sums it up the best with:

Today Google’s profits come from ads, and that business gives them a reason to keep search weak. They want you to do a lot of searching to find what you’re looking for — and the stuff they find for you for free is competing with the stuff they make money on. So Google actually has a disincentive to make search better.

Amen, Dave.

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Whether or not Jimmy’s project succeeds or fails is important to watch, but realizing that Google’s hegemonic grip on providing quick access to our information is beginning to loosen is also important to ponder.

It means everything to online marketing.

Whether you like them or not, CPA networks reflect the democratization of the affiliate network structure which held the affiliate marketing industry back in terms of reach, technology platforms and stature within the larger scope of online marketing. In a way, CPA networks show the market’s ability to prefer democracy over hierarchical and non-transparent imposed structures.

The next 50 years will see the exponential demand for “open source” and “free” technological equipment and platforms. This will extend WELL beyond just software such as browsers (Firefox) and begin to make us question why we allow companies to set boundaries on our own entertainment and consumption habits (think of how restrictive your iPod really is on your music).

Think of fonts. If you had told any professional newspaper or magazine publisher that consumers and individuals (from 3rd graders on up to grandmothers) would know the difference between the Helvetica and Verdana fonts in 2000, they would have thought you were crazy. We don’t realize the impact that such technologies as MS Word have had on our culture in terms of opening up the publishing and content creation business to non-specialists, but now it is taken as cultural competency that kids entering college know the difference between Courier New and Times New Roman since you can squeeze an extra page and a half out of a 10 page paper if you are using Courier New rather than Times New Roman. Profs and freshmen know this, and that’s just odd considering the course of human history.

If you don’t watch Ze Frank’s The Show, you should. At least watch this episode (on this very topic) for me.

So, what does that have to do with Google and online marketing? Everything.

Consumers will begin to examine why they can’t listen to their iTunes music on more than 5 computers if they bought their music fair and square. Consumers will begin to wonder why Vista restricts the application of certain handy software programs. Consumers will begin to wonder why Google doesn’t provide the best links on the front page.

And this will happen soon.

So, don’t get stuck in the present or the 2005 as we enter the new year. Realize that it’s not a matter of consumers becoming more educated about technologies, but they are becoming more accustomed to using these technologies and realizing what things like Google, search, affiliate links and top down technologies and services can and cannot do.

Eventually this will be a mute debate, but as a species we have constantly dealt with attempts to co-opt and control the learning process, going back to the roots of literacy, trade and sociological functions such as religion. It is inevitable that everything will be open source and non-proprietary, it’s just going to take a few more thousand years to get there.

Knowledge is power and Google’s power seems to be slipping as consumers realize that Google’s main product is not knowledge, but advertising.

[As an effort to show my cards and provide disclosure, I’m a hippie libertarian (deep down I think Shawn is too) teacher/student and online marketer who distrusts efforts to make knowledge (or access to knowledge) proprietary at heart and this post was made on the Drivel blogging platform (Gnome blogging platform) inside the Linux-based open source Ubuntu OS with links provided by the Epiphany web browser (a Gnome based browser similar to Firefox but more community minded). I listen to my music (non-drm) on a Rockbox hacked iPod Mini while reading my feeds on Liferea and chatting on Gaim.]

[EDIT: Here’s the link to the Search Wikia page from Jimmy Wales.]

Newsweek Says 2007 Is the “Year of the Widget”

200612082044-1.jpgFirst, Time Magazine anoints web2.0 users as the “Person of the Year” (see below for conversations on whether or not that includes those involved in the affiliate marketing community).

Now, Newsweek is describing 2007 as the “Year of the Widget.”

“It’s better than advertising,” says Om Malik. “It’s in front of your eyes constantly; that brand becomes your brand.” Your widgets certainly don’t need to come branded, however. Indeed, that’s the whole point: to help the World Wide Web become your Web”

Nice job, Om.  It is better than advertising.  As Jeff D. says in the comments below, our experience online and offline with brands is quickly becoming a part of our own identity and in the future we’ll be debating in an explicit manner on what types of brands to associate with on a day to day basis.

As Bob Dylan sings, “Things have changed.”

Is big media reading the blogs such as CPN or Steve Rubel and making these claims in order to appear as if they are not absolutely out of touch, or have they wised up to the future? Based on media buys and advertising dollars being spent, I’d say that it is the former.

Superman and Time Warner Cheating YouTube?

kryptonitesuperman-749431.jpgShmuel Tennenhaus has just compiled an incredible video on his YouTube channel exposing some of the potential for fraud that exists on the YouTube platform.

Specifically, Shmuly has uncovered some of the dirt on this week’s #1 subscribed to YouTube channel, “SupermanReturnsDVD.”

While it’s not out of the realm of reality to suggest that the Man of Steel could rise to the level of YouTube stardom, realizing some of the tricks that Warner Brothers may be using to push the release of the Superman Returns DVD to the top of YouTube’s subscription list opens a rusty can of kryptonite on this whole marketing attempt.

Shmuly points out that there have been over 7,500 subscribers to the SupermanReturnsDVD channel just this week. However, there are only 9 videos in the channel, and there have been less video views than actual subscribers. In other words, more “people” have subscribed to the channel than actual videos viewed, which as Shmuly comments on, is simply ridiculous.

Additionally, many of the accounts subscribing to the SupermanReturnsDVD channel were created within the past week, have no favorites listed, have made no comments, have no friends, and are just linked to the SupermanReturnsDVD channel.

Perhaps even more disturbing in this context is the threats from Time Warner to sue YouTube for use of its material as copyright infringement. Dick Parsons, CEO of Time Warner, said in October:

“If you let one thing ignore your rights as an owner it makes it much more difficult to defend those rights when the next guy comes along.”

Even worse, Mr. Parsons, is when you attempt to game a user generated content site with inflated ratings and created user accounts because your company does not understand community, markets and the future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybFOu6d6y0k

Internet Ad Potential Underestimated (by Analysts and CPA Marketers)

The rapid rise of the online ad industry in the past decade has been widely discussed and hyped in a media environment where offline spending is decreasing while online spends (and ROI) continue to grow.  According to Terry Semel, CEO of Yahoo, the valuation that most analysts have placed on the internet ad industry for 2007 are underestimated…

The growth potential of Internet advertising has been underestimated because the predictions did not include advertising on video, social media or mobiles.”

Video as you all know will become a major factor on the Internet.  It will be everpresent throughout the Internet and it will find its proper way to advertise.

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So whether it’s mobile or whether it’s video or whether it’s more and more community (social networking sites), these factors have not gone into those numbers, so we think the actual growth potential of advertising online is really being understated.”

Google has already recognized and cannonized this insight in the purchase of such properties as YouTube and JotSpot (wiki platform).  Yahoo seemed to be recognizing and acting on this trend last year with the purchase of Flickr and del.icio.us.  However, Google seems to be much more adept and willing to make the moves necessary to capitalize on the emergence of social media.

Farther down the food chain, networks in the affiliate, CPA and partnership marketing space have not moved as fast (or at all) to secure their footing in the emerging social media opportunities present.  CPA marketing has an incredible potential to make relevant ads useful and profitable to individuals and consumers.

Will 2007 bring the first toe-dippings of CPA networks into the social media pool?

CostPerNews Widget Now Available

Links are dead (more on that soon).

I’ve been promoting widgets as a promising platform for the future of affiliate marketing. So, I decided to construct a widget for Cost Per News that you can place on web pages or your desktop. Updates and podcasts that are added here will automatically be updated on your widget, so it will save you a little time if you’re a regular visitor.

Here is the file:
costpernews_widget.htm

Let me know if you have any suggestions or usage questions.

Google Checkout Is Going International

google-checkout.jpgA few weeks back I made big news and landed on TechMeme for pointing out that ZeFrank’s Gimme Some Candy promotion had been dropped by Google Checkout for not selling an actual product. In the end, this worked out for Frank’s benefit as many of his Canadian users pointed out that Google Checkout was not open to residents of Canada anyway. He moved his promotion to PayPal and it has (by all accounts) been a large success both for Frank and his viewers who are more than happy to pay for duckies (even me).

Now, it looks as if Google Checkout is going international (heading off Zanox at the pass, perhaps?). Why is this important? Think of the vertical channels, content creation/aggregation (YouTube and Wiki’s) and the limited scope Adense to adequately encompass the growing canon of user content. The international factor is a logical extension of where Google is heading with its Advertising Operation System.

Garret Rogers writes:

Since I live in Canada, purchasing or selling items on Google Checkout is not an option. I really wanted to check out the new “email invoice” feature they just announced today, but I’m unable to sign up as a seller.

Bitter, I decided to poke around in the source code to see what I could find. It turns out they are getting ready to open up the service to Canada, and probably other countries soon. When you are in the signup form for Google Checkout, you can type this javascript into your address bar to reveal a Canadian signup page — unfortunately I’m still unable to register.

This is potentially a very important issue as Google seems to be amping up Checkout for the Holiday and early 2007 season with major discounts available to consumers in partnership with participating merchants.

Google is heading into CPA next year and it’s going to be a much larger scheme than we’ve imagined in all of our pontificating!

vSocial and Adify Team Up for In-Video Vertical Advertising

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Adify is an interesting new player in the video space. Underneath the heading of “Community Driven Ad Networks,” their blog states that:

At Adify, we are developing a business model that “wraps around” this emerging form of content creation with a unique set of services for supporting monetization. Our community networks are designed to enable any participant – publisher, advertiser or user / enthusiast – to benefit directly from helping in the advertising sales or support process. We think that this is a breakthrough model with the same potential to democratize the business side of online media.

Of course there are alternatives for anyone seeking to spread the use of their video in either a specific vertical or across many channels. Today, however, Adify entered into a partnership with vSocial to allow publishers the option of publishing, branding and spreading their user generated content.

vSocial is a social networking for video platform that enables content owners, site operators and online marketing organizations to custom brand, target, virally distribute and monetize their message via video, so this partnership makes for an interesting platform for publishers looking outside the Revver or YouTube models.

According to the press release, this partnership shows some differentiation from competitors by enabling the publisher to include advertising through ease of use:

Enabling in-video advertising is the next logical step in the evolution of the online video space, said Mark Sigal, CEO and co-founder of vSocial. By integrating our vConnect video platform with Adifys advertising platform, we are giving video publishers a simple way to create value around their content and their brand in a manner that harnesses the power of social networking to create greater reach than has been available in the past.

The biggest problem I see with this new platform is the reluctance many publishers may have for turning over their content to serve ads which they have limited or no control over. Revver has done a decent job at confronting this worry by allowing some control of ad content, and by building up its own brand since well-known “vlogs” are using the service.

While attempting to bring some democracy to video generation, this partnership still has a few questions of ad-relevancy and long term vision to make clear before publishers begin signing up.

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