Daily Stat Sheet 2: “Are We There Yet?!” Links and Affiliate Marketing

Following up on Wednesday’s post, here’s my podcast with a little more depth into my opinion of how and why we should move beyond links in affiliate marketing.
Agree? Disagree? Contribute too the conversation.

Homework is due Tuesday (see previous post)!

http://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=Pcecb7099049d634f584717933e8d1ca4Yl9wRVREYmN3&buffer=5&shape=6&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=bp14

dailystatsheet2.mp3

Are Links Dead in Online and Affiliate Marketing?

gap.jpgAre links, as we know them in online and affiliate marketing, done for?

In order to answer this question, I’ve narrowed the discussion down to three areas: Leverage, Authority and Long Term Encouragements. Certainly, there are other areas and in the editing process of this post I cut a few of these out and merged them with the three categories above.

However, as online marketing continues to mature, we have to confront this question about the long term establishment of links as the primary tool for connecting advertiser to publisher or merchant to affiliate or network to partner because links, by their nature, do not offer enough flexibility and data gathering for developing trends (RSS, social web adoption, social networking, more intelligent web users, uses of the internet outside of World Wide Web).

Should you ditch the entire concept of linking in order to be progressive? No.

Am I advocating the complete replacement of links with something that can accommodate for attention data? No.

However, online (especially the affiliate) marketing should realize the importance of the need to look beyond the link.

So, here’s your Holiday Homework:

Think about and respond to the notion that links are dead, especially in relevance to affiliate marketing. I’d like to prescribe the areas of Leverage, Authority and Long Term Encouragement as the fields of discussion, but if your point is valid you can certainly travel outside those lines to make your point.

Here are some connections you should consider when thinking about the issue:

-Technorati, Techmeme

-Like.com

-Monetization

-Jellyfish.com

-AdSense Gaming

-Page Rank Problems (or Alexa)

-Participation from Readers/Audience

-Types of Traffic Delivered (Sustained or “Digg Effect” waves)

-Relevancy for Consumers and Individuals

-Value of “Attention Data”

Leave your comments for quick thoughts, or you can submit a longer piece similar to last week’s homework submissions on CPA Networks and Affiliate Networks. I’ll be posting some of your results next Tuesday after the Holiday and include a link to your blog or company. You can email those in, or if you prefer you can send in a voicemail (828.338.2129) on my Skype line which I’ll publish as a part of the post. The deadline is 3pm Friday Tuesday Nov 28 (thanks, Jonathan).

I suspect most of you will initially call me an idiot (I’m close) for questioning the present and future leverage and authority of links. However, put some thought into it, be creative and think of how using other means to reach users can enhance your program/network/platform/offer.

“Daily Stat Sheet” Episode 1 (Rev Share on CPA Networks?)

Every day, very early in the morning, I’m going to be recording a 3-4 minute episode of Cost Per News Daily Stat Sheet in partnership with the great folks at BlogTalkRadio.

This is the first episode and very experimental, so go easy, but do let me know what you think and what recommendations you have. I’m doing this day-to-day experiment in the spirit of a Coltrane concert… it’s jazz and heavy with flaws, highlights and brief moments of inspiration.

Feel free to leave a voicemail on the number below and I’ll play it during the show.

Daily Stat Sheet Show Notes (Episode One, 22 Nov 2006)

-Thanks for listening – very beta
-Shmuly’s (General Zod) Video on Digg and Netscape
-CPA Network Transparency? More Than Meets the Eye
-Response to Shawn Collins(Affiliate Summit), Deanna Key (Rextopia) Brian Littleton (ShareASale)
-Leave a VoiceMail for Tomorrow’s Show (828.338.2129)

As I said, there will be a new episode posted every morning, so grab the feed and let me know your thoughts. Yes, I know there is a botch at the very beginning, but I wanted to preserve the live, dynamic and jazz nature of the show.

Thanks for listening!

CPN Daily Stat Sheet Page

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/costpernews

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CPA Network Offers on MySpace Persist

images.jpgAt the beginning of the month, word spread that many affiliates using their links on MySpace were being terminated from networks such as Azoogle. However, it seems that the networks haven’t reigned in all of their affiliates.

Marketing on MySpace normally uses viral means of spreading a hot topic, issue, movie, album or tech product. However, in this scenario, affiliate marketers use the ease of collecting a large number of “friends” on the MySpace platform (can be easily done with automated software) to blast out numerous bulletins a day to these “friends.”

The result is a large number of eyeballs with a decent conversion rate. In order to compensate for declining click-thru rates, these marketers simply add more and more “friends” and blast their bulletin messages to larger crowds. Its akin to the email marketing vicious cycle a few years ago before CANSPAM.

MySpace says it does not approve of such commercial actions by members:

“Non-commercial Use by Members. The MySpace Services are for the personal use of Members only and may not be used in connection with any commercial endeavors except those that are specifically endorsed or approved by MySpace.com. Illegal and/or unauthorized use of the MySpace Services, including collecting usernames and/or email addresses of Members by electronic or other means for the purpose of sending unsolicited email or unauthorized framing of or linking to the MySpace Website is prohibited. Commercial advertisements, affiliate links, and other forms of solicitation may be removed from Member profiles without notice and may result in termination of Membership privileges. Appropriate legal action will be taken for any illegal or unauthorized use of the MySpace Services.”

This morning, someone alerted me to the blog DropShipArea.com and this post outlining a case study on MySpace marketing with an Azoogle iPod offer. The author of the post says he hopes to get a steady stream of traffic coming to his sites through MySpace, which is not inherently against the MySpace rules in the letter of the law.

The case study he outlines, however, does break some rules, and networks such as Azoogle must be careful about the actions of their affiliates in a post-acquisition MySpace platform which NewsCorp is continually seeking to monetize and clean up.

This is from the case study quoted on the site:

“First, I selected an appropriate offer from Azoogle.

Name: Superb Rewards – Free IPOD Nano (Brand New!)
Payout: $1.40

Why did I choose this offer?
– Pays for just the E-Mail; a simple action that can be completed by 99% of people.
– Decent Payment ($1.40); One of the higher paying iPod offers so I thought it was a good choice.
– Good Reward (iPod Nano); iPods are all the craze lately, some may say it is saturated but a lot of people still don’t have, and want an iPod.
– Appeals to my demographic; It’s usually the younger people wanting iPods, so 18-25 is usually a good range.

I have a MySpace account with 5400 friends (as of now) and I posted a simple bulletin with the following fields:

Subject: WOW!!! THIS IS SO EASY!!!
Body: Anyone with a MySpace account can get a FREE iPod just by entering your email address into this form!!!” CLICK HERE!!!

The results of his endeavor?

“Nothing too spectacular. I got about 10 people clicking on my Link and half of them completed the offer, so I didn’t make too much.

Why? Probably because I’ve used this account for advertising in the past and people have become wary to avoid my bulletins. I did convert at 50% though, so that’s very good – I just needed more clicks.”

And then he goes on to describe how he ramped up the clicks and concludes that MySpace marketing is now a matter of scale.  That’s dangerous for any network allowing this to continue due to MySpace’s state rules.
I can’t imagine this is the type of promotion advertisers within CPA Networks such as Azoogle are hoping to be a part of, even if it is an email only iPod offer. There is still liability to be had, and NewsCorp does have the resources to follow the money trail.

Advertising.com Announces Deal to Enter Japanese Online Advertising Market

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Online marketing continues to grow in scale, reach and shape.  And now it is blooming in the international market as well.

Advertising.com announced today that they have formed a partnership with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. to create a new joint venture to serve the Japanese online advertising market under the name “Advertising.com Japan”.

Japan is the second largest online advertising market ($3.4 billion) and expected to grow rapidly over the coming five years to $4.9 billion by 2009, according to 2006 data from Mizuho Corporation Bank Research.

Advertising.com is an AOL property, so this partnership can be seen as AOL’s attempt to gain traction in a US/Japan cross market strategy already pioneered by Rakuten in it’s acquisition of Linkshare.

Might we see more moves like this in the coming months between European powerhouse affiliate networks (TradeDoubler, Zanox) and US networks (CJ, Performics)?  What about China?

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

Windows Live on Mobile Phones: Implications for CPA and Affiliate Markets?

20051106_msnlivesearch.pngIf you use search to reach new or existing customers, or rely on search marketers to expand your program or network, you need to pay attention to the blooming mobile market.

This week, Microsoft announced a deal with Sprint to place Windows Live Search on phones to enhance its local and national search reach…

“It’s very easy to use, and it automatically comes up on the [screen],” says Michael Inserra, Sprint’s director of strategic alliances. “This is the first use of Windows Live Search on phones.” Inserra says the alliance is broad and covers product sets and sales initiatives. Local searches with targeted advertising will be featured. Users simply type in their zip codes or addresses; later GPS technology will automatically pinpoint users’ locations.”

Users can access Google, Yahoo! or MSN from their phones if they are savvy enough to use internet-enabled phones. However, with mobile companies aligning with specific search platforms, it’s important to remember the growing influence of this realm in the search (especially local social) platform.

As we discussed on the latest Weekly Insight Podcast, Linkshare is making moves in the mobile area. Will other affiliate or CPA networks follow? Have affiliates themselves begun to adopt to this new marketing medium? How so?

Weekly Insight 11/17/2006

weekinsight.GIFThe podcast this week was an interesting experience. Only three of the regular cast were able to attend (Lee, Jeff and myself), so the conversation felt more personal and directed than it has in the past. There’s always a different dynamic in a conversation such as this when only a few people participate as compared to four, five or six.

Again, I think we are slowly increasing the quality of talk and Jeff has done a nice job of improving some of the audio attributes.

Of course we cover the debate over CPA networks and affiliate networks which has raged on the comments here on the site over the last week. I have to defend my policy of not regulating comments in terms of requiring subscriptions, and voice my reasons for having this site in the first place. Jeff elaborates on some of his points he was hoping to get across in the podcast, and Lee provided a couple of great points (which need to be discussed further) in terms of affiliate value and the nature of the industry as the paradigm of online marketing continues to shift.

After listening again, I do realize there were a few points I let Jeff off the hook when I should have stepped in and corrected or disagreed with him (I’m sure you’ll hear them). For example, as a point in our discussion on affiliate networks and his point that the networks seem to be whithering on the vine. That’s not a completely accurate statement, and I wish we could have gone deeper into defining how many things affiliate networks (such as CJ) are doing well in some respects. I’m working hard to call out people on their mis-steps and over generalizations on the podcast, but it’s a work in progress.

Oh, and I make the point again that LINKS ARE DEAD. That might be a subject discussed here on CPN in the near future.

All in all, I’d recommend this as a supplement to the week’s previous discussions on networks.

I encourage thoughts and responses in the comments section!

Weekly Insight

November 17, 2006

  • CPA vs. affiliate networks
  • Social media, podcasts & video
  • Long term views: affiliate networks
  • Sam says, “Links are dead!”
  • Lee: Pubcon review

Download the Show (mp3)

http://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=Pf05ad45fce8db477c45667b6e43f63dcZVB5RVREYmR1&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21

[EDIT 11/19 2:00AM: This will be my last time of participating on that podcast as well.]

What is Affiliate Marketing’s Brand?

cookie.jpgJim Kukral, publisher of ReveNews and operator of BlogKits, has submitted a short but intriguing piece on MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

The main question he poses has reverberations that continue to expand like a rock thrown in a pond if you consider the essence of what he’s asking.

Here’s his question:

What is affiliate marketing’s brand? When you think of it, what comes to mind?

I should also point out that this is a good exercise for any marketer to put to use. I think what you’ll find, as I have in other areas, is that what your customer and/or the rest of the world thinks, is drastically different than what you think.

As you begin to form an answer in your head, remember that the audience of MarketingProfs is different than ReveNews or this blog. He’s asking this question to individuals who stand outside of affiliate marketing in general, but who also are deeply entrenched in other online marketing platforms.

Why be concerned over the definition of affiliate marketing’s brand? Why do some of us use the moniker affiliate marketing while others of us shun that term, but continue, in practice, to be associated with affiliate marketing?

For insight into this answer, I think back (as I often do) to an episode of ze Frank’s The Show where he launches into a brilliant tirade of why John Mark Carr would want to associate himself with Jon Benet Ramsey (it was August and that was the only news, remember).

Like Jim’s rock in the pond, Frank’s observations also expand outwards from his three minute video and have implications for the brand that many of us associate ourselves with: affiliate marketing.

ze Frank’s comments go along these lines:

“What the hell do you mean by brand?

Brand is an emotional aftertaste that is conjured up by, but not necessarily dependent on, a series of experiences.

Everything has an aftertaste, and everything is a brand.”

Nothing earth shattering there, unless you like to limit the definition of brand. Frank nails it on the head by saying that everything is a brand and has an emotional aftertaste, however… including affiliate marketing.

If everything is a brand (including affiliate marketing) why associate with a particular brand? Why seek out these types of definitions as Jim is aiming to do? Frank gives more insight:

“Right now platforms are fracturing. There are fewer specific places that have access to a large market share and it’s getting harder to speak to lots of people.

But the shared emotional aftertaste of brand is platform independent.

If you leverage those aftertastes, people pay attention regardless of where they are.”

So, I don’t have an answer for Jim’s question. But I do hope he finds one. There are such a wide variety of emotional aftertastes experienced within (and without) the realm of affiliate marketing, that to figure this out will require more than a few minutes of pondering.

Great question, Jim.

Visit the links below for more information and please do watch the episode of The Show…

Sources:

Jim’s Marketing Prof Daily Fix Article

ze Frank’s Video Post on Brands