Sam Harrelson

Google Punishes PayPerPost Users

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The Google Strikes Back.

Jason Calacanis spotted this comment from Matt Cutts regarding Google’s detection and devaluation of paidperpost content in Google rankings…

“Google wants to do a good job of detecting paid links. Paid links that affect search engines (whether paid text links or a paid review) can cause a site to lose trust in Google.”

deathstar.jpgSo if you want to keep your prestige (and ranking / rating) with Google, you might want to re-evaluate the use of PayPerPost and ReviewMe type offers.

Some would argue about the issue of fairness, but in the free market economy of the WWW, Google can and should be able to set whatever policies it sees fit being in the dominant share of the market for user trustworthiness.

I suspect Yahoo and MSN do the same with regards to paid content such as PaidPerPost but have been waiting on word from Google to make their own declarations about these emerging platforms.



Video Adoption High in B2B

quicktime_feedback.jpgVideo has matured from a realm of amateur user generated content into a platform for compelling online media according to a new whitepaper from Universal McCan and KnowledgeStorm.  Of the 5,300 technology and B2B buyers surveyed in the study, over 60% said that they accessed video on a daily basis for the purpose of business and not entertainment.

“The takeaway of all of these surveys is that we are really in stage two of the opportunity for online marketing and advertising,” said Matt Lohman, KnowledgeStorm’s director of market research. “There is a whole wave of opportunity to extend marketing campaigns and programs via things like blogs, podcasts and various video formats. The sky’s the limit in terms of the ways to be effective on the Internet and really measure results. This stuff is not a fad that’s going away.”

Of the three topics explored in the latest survey, video is making the broadest impact today. More than 63% of respondents access video at least weekly, while the same percentage said they access video primarily for business and technology information?not entertainment. Webcasting was the most commonly accessed form of Web video at 70%, but all sorts of types scored well. Overall, 78.1% of respondents said video “makes online content more compelling,” while 57% said video content had influenced a b-to-b technology buying decision.

I found it interesting that video had such a high rate of adoption in the B2B community already.  In this case, it seems that the B2C community may be behind the B2B crowd in terms of adoption of video as a viable and valuable platform because B2C still seems to be sorting out the evolving and rapidly growing space and trying to determine a proper metric and even place for advertisements on the platform.

Nevertheless, expect for video to blossom in 2007.



Shopping Sites Incorporating RSS to Reach Consumers

email_is_dead_1.gifWired News has a full length feature on the rising prominence of RSS and feed subscriptions within the platforms of shopping aggregations sites such as Mpire, Offertrax and StyleFeeder.

The extensive use of RSS technology shows that these shopping sites are consciously moving away from traditional methods of communication like e-mail, which has become less reliable for alerting users to money-saving deals.

As Offertrax’s Carcio points out, e-mail has been so badly abused by spammers that RSS, blogs, opt-in offers and other “user-controlled technologies” will soon become the most effective way for sellers to reach out to interested buyers.

With the continued devaluation of email’s effectiveness in the face of growing consumer mobile texting and instant message usage and the Hobbesian state of most people’s inboxes due to spam and spoofs, it is little wonder that these major shopping portals are turning to subscription feeds such as RSS and Atom. Such feeds are easily transportable in an offline environment and allow consumers the chance to receive the information they are seeking in a quick, clean and pain-free environment. Placing your latest coupon or product discount in a user’s email inbox alongside the deluge of spam and garbage does harm to your own brand as well.

With the implementation of RSS in IE7 and Vista, will the scale finally tip towards a feed based nature of online conversation? Has your program taken steps to make this transition an easy and profitable one?



CostPerJOBS Launches

I’m excited to announce that CostPerJobs is launching tonight.sitelogo.JPG

CostPerJobs is in a very scaled down mode until this Friday when the full GUI will be available after more testing, but the basic nuts and bolts are up and available for your use.

Best of all, listings are only $25 per month until the end of December. After the beginning of the New Year the rates will go higher. Also, the most recent job listings will be featured on a widget here on the front page of CostPerNews. So you’re getting exposure to the thousands of online marketing and affiliate marketing professionals who visit CostPerNews each day.

So, give it a spin and see what you think. Let me know if you have any ideas or things that you’d like to see in the full GUI release on Friday as it’s not to late to make a few changes there.

Oh, and the first company to make a listing gets a free 125×125 banner spot here on the main page for a week (valued at $125).



Google Checkout and Affiliate Tracking

google-checkout.jpgFrom the Google Checkout blog

Starting today, merchants will be able to use existing affiliate tracking and analytics tools for sales through Google Checkout. You can now include a pixel URL with parameters in the cart post and it will be included on the Checkout Thank You page. You’ll also be able to include placeholders for dynamic variables that will be populated before calling the URL. For more details, refer to third-party conversion tracking in the Google Checkout API documentation.

And here are more technical details on Google’s support for third party conversion tracking.

Quick fix or long term solution?



Tag Bulb: Search Engine for Tags

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Tag Bulb is a new search engine which allows you to search for specific tags across various platforms such as Flickr, Riya, YouTube, Webshots, Google, Technorati, Ma.gnolia, Amazon and a host of other social media sites which rely on tags for organization.

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Tags are increasingly becoming a hot topic in the world of online marketing. The first company to realize a meaningful way to monetize a user’s input or preferences based on a tagging scheme and apply that (in a meaningful and non-scum fashion) will endear themselves to many of the Fortune 500 who are scratching their heads over this whole web2.0 thing.

The world of online marketing is slowly shifting away from a links based hierarchy to a tag based attention economy (see TechMeme and Tailrank). Understanding tags and how they can impact your program will definitely place you a notch above your competitors.

As a reminder, if you see an interesting story, blog post or article that you’d like to discuss further here on CostPerNews, simply tag it with “costpernews” on either the del.icio.us or ma.gnolia.com social bookmarking services. Quite a few of you have already taken advantage of that, and I hope more of you will!



Full Text for Subscribers

On a side note, I’ve switched feeds back to full text from partial text.

I know this is not popular with many of my fellow bloggers in the online marketing space, but I’m can’t justify restricting access to content either on the site or on the feed.

Personally, I hate partial feeds and rarely, if ever, follow the jump from my Google Reader. So I’m making this change for my own tastes. I hope you as readers have similar tastes. I have a feeling most of you do, and I don’t want to punish those of you who have taken the time to subscribe to the feed just to stem the tide of the splogs and aggregators who scrape content.

Here is the CostPerNews feed if you haven’t subscribed yet:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/CostPerNews

Thanks for your attention, readership, comments, emails and well-wishes that have help to make CostPerNews such a success so soon. Here’s to a great Holiday season for all of us!



MyBlogLog, Widgets and the Future of Online Marketing

The widget over to the right which displays some of the faces of visitors to this site is powered by MyBlogLog. That widget has helped me to realize some new things about the future of online marketing and the growing power that community has in ad expenditures. Viewers are able to make their presence known by a simple sign up and pic upload process, and then see who else is reading and interacting with a blog such as this.

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If you click on the “View Reader Community” text at the bottom of the widget, you are taken to the Cost Per News Reader Community where (at the moment 19) readers have added themselves as a part of the community. These are the dedicated and loyal readers of the site that have also added the most comments, sent the most emails and have genuinely made this a valuable community to be a part of. Size matters not in such a community, as quality is the main metric which should be achieved. This is exactly the type of tool I was looking to find and make an active part of CostPerNews since the site was created.

For example, viewership of the site has skyrocketed since I installed the widget in early October. My analytics have also shown me that since that time the number of page views, time spent on the site, links in from other blogs and the general word of mouth about CostPerNews have all grown exponentially. Not all of the credit can be given to the MyBlogLog widget of course, but my stats point to a good correlation between implementation and site growth, activity and value to both myself and the readers.

The MyBlogLog widget has caught on in our sector of online marketing and in the online world in general. Blogs such as ReveNews and TechCrunch have implemented the widget, allowing you a brief mugshot on sites such as this which serves as a positive for both the reader and the site owner… you are given brief exposure as a reader of a similar blog to other potential business partners, and the site owner is able to qualify and quantify their readership. I’d be interested in hearing how the widget has affected those sites in terms of metrics such as page viewership and time spent on the site.

Even the folks at MyBlogLog seemed surprised at the growth of their site due to the widget…

On 30-Oct, I was surprised and happy with our widget stats. How little I knew. Now there’s 2,398 Recent Readers widgets installed (vs. 1,325 then). And, yesterday was our first million widget day. i.e. a million of our widgets were loaded into web pages. That’s a bit over 9% of the 10.2 million pages (also a record!) that we tracked through the system yesterday. It’s somewhat under 10% as a few pages have both widgets. Thank you all!

What does this have to do with affiliate marketing and online marketing? Everything. A month ago (today) I made a post titled Widgets and the Future of Affiliate Marketing in which I spelled out many of the sentiments that are resurfacing in this post:

Similarly, affiliate marketing in general (from the mom-and-pop sites up to the large loyalty sites) could see such a transformation if a 3rd party platform was made available to the industry. What would spur this metamorphosis? Limitations of scaling.

Providing a platform for delivering personalized data based on registrations in exchange for a piece of generated advertising revenue sounds very much like the model which most affiliate and CPA networks already operate under. That is no accident, because serving widgets and serving ads (particularly customized ads based on user choices and user registrations) have more in common than anyone in the affiliate marketing world has taken time to notice.

However, let’s move beyond those models which still enforce that top-down dictation model and focus on models (like widgets) that produce a back and forth between user and affiliate site. That’s where affiliate marketing shines, and that’s the promise that widgets specifically have for pushing certain parts of the industry in the right direction.

The link is dead. Content customization based on a relationship (even as simple as user registration or co-registration) and micro-systems of delivery of that content is the new black. Affiliate marketing, with its ability to make relationships, has a great opportunity to make use of widgets and widget delivery to set the larger industry standard.

In this mode of widget usage, scalability is not a detriment to affiliate marketing. Rather than adhering to that long held belief that the non-scalability of affiliate marketing is what’s holding the industry back from the major leagues, realizing that new platforms (such as widgets) provide a way for affiliates and networks to utilize the relationship factor as a positive… an incredibly profitable and long-term solution positive.

This silent revolution has already begun. It is spreading on the medium of widgets like tiny pieces of energy combining to form a tidal wave in the medium of water. Don’t discount the ability of widgets and user interaction in your affiliate and online marketing program.

Keeping with the fashion analogy, relationship is the new color for 2007. Widgets, such as the MyBlogLog Recent Readers widget, function as a platform and sounding board for realizing the increasing power of voice in the online world. Has your program, site, network or even arbitrage site (joke) tapped into the value of community empowerment?

Lorelle VanFossen has compiled a list of posts on other blogs which describe some of these quiet changes which are slowly spreading across the landscape of online marketing which serve as a great resource for further reading…

What do you think?



Do Social Networks Work in Affiliate Marketing?

thumb-socialnetworks.jpgDave at the Affiliate Programs Blog made an interesting post about reaching terminal velocity with social networks…

“I love social networks, I truly do. I use nearly all of the top services on a regular basis, from Digg, Delicious, Newsvine, Myspace, LinkedIn, and others. I’m actively participating in over 10 social networks in one way or another (and I’m not counting forums that I participate on or email lists I belong to). But in all reality, I’m reaching a social networking terminal velocity.”

The phenomenon of social networking has certainly spread into the everyday existence of affiliate and online marketers.  Rarely are contacts or potential partners not available for linking on a platform such as LinkedIn or MySpace.  Many marketers are also pointing to RepVine as a potential place for finding contacts and keeping in touch.

However, in reality what sort of business or potential business deals are done on these networking sites?  Are they worth the time invested in terms of realized actions that result from participating?  How has your program or site benefited from participating on LinkedIn or MySpace or RepVine?



Yahoo Buying Metacafe?

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TechCrunch and others are reporting that

Metacafe, the video sharing site, is reportedly being sold for between $200-300 million. The buyer is currently unknown but there is speculation that it may be Yahoo.

This makes good sense for Yahoo as a compliment to their other social web sites such as del.icio.us and Flickr. Metacafe blends the ease of YouTube with the social strategy of Fark, enabling contributors and visitors to sort through videos made popular by users.

Yahoo would also be able to utilize the service in its advertising platform as well. Many of the business-centric viral videos that don’t find success on YouTube are spread through Metacafe. Video is an area that Yahoo is lagging behind in, and a purchase of a platform such as Metacafe would help Yahoo in its catch-up play to Google.