GeekCast 43: Valley vs Affiliates


GeekCast 43 is up and it’s a good listen. The entire gang of Shawn Collins, Jim Kukral, Lisa Picarille and myself chat about online marketing, gadgets, web2.0 and all-things-geek for 70 minutes.

If you’re new to the show, start with this one b/c it’s one of our best (in my opinion).

Here’s the mp3 or head over to for the stream if you’re of that persuasion.

Show Notes:

– Shawn Got a Blackberry Bold
– AT&T’s Marketing Woes

– Calacanis Redux: Affiliates v Silicon Valley
– Of Runways and Layoffs
– Ad:Tech’s Mood
– Examples of Good Businesses (FatWallet, Zac Johnson, Scott Jangro)

– Twitter Woes and Feature Complaints
– Revenue’s Marketing

– More AdTech Talk

– Branding:, Izea and Coke
– Netbooks

Mahalo Launches Loyalty Program Reminiscent of 1999


Last week, Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis announced the search/discovery startup was cutting 10% of its staff (or 6 people) as the economic downturn continues to cause nervousness in Silicon Valley.

It looks as if Mahalo is searching around for revenue channels to accompany the $20 million raised in venture capital funding.

While playing with the new Mahalo interface I noticed that there is now a Mahalo loyalty program that seems to be based on visits alone…

Mahalo Loyalty Program.jpg

The text on that page reads:

“We track the number of pages people view and reward our most loyal visitors with prizes. We don’t track the specific pages people view.

The number of pages you’ve viewed is right below the search box in the upper right corner of the Mahalo homepage.

If you’d like to opt out of this program, click here.”

While this seems like a novel idea in the Valley, affiliate-minded companies such as UPromise, eBates, Cashbaq, Fatwallet, Microsoft’s JellyFish, iGive, ValueClick’s MeziMedia, etc have been in the loyalty space for years and have come close to perfecting (or at least experimenting enough to find a profitable margin) the loyalty paradigm.

Rather than basing the Mahalo Loyalty program solely on such an easily manipulated metric as visits or pageviews, Calacanis and Co would be wise to look at what these affiliates have done and how the combination of pageviews plus action committed produces a much better result than just pageviews.

Even Microsoft seems to be “getting it” with their Cashback platform (which is actually doing well according to the analytical sites). Of course, Microsoft and the loyalty affiliates rely upon a conversion of a purchase or subscription for success, but Mahalo could very well find paydirt by leveraging a loyalty program composed of its massive amount of content with a developing loyal user base and affiliate programs.

We’ll see how they develop things.

Mahalo Loyalty Program – Mahalo

Buying Links: Good or Bad?

At the Summit West this year, one of the most talked about moments was the back-and-forth between SEO expert Wil Reynolds and Jason Calacanis during Wil’s session.

Here’s Wil’s take:

Well the BIG topic – buying links to help boost your SEO rankings, let me say again…if you properly analyze your landscape you can determine if you may or may not need to buy links. If you do, you should buy ones that are actually on GOOD sites – while producing great content is the ideal, you may have to prime the pump a bit with a few strategic bought links. This is an advanced tactic, if you don’t understand what makes a good vs. bad link, don’t buy one!

As you can imagine, Jason was not too supportive of the link buying tactic and has called out Google and SEO’ers many times over the issue (and created a company to combat the problem he sees in search today).

And thanks to the power of the interwebs, you have the chance to see the throw down (not really) between Wil and Jason (or head over to YouTube to see the annotations that Wil has added to the video… they don’t carry over to embeds):

The video also shows why you should be going to the Summit in Boston this August. Unlike many of the shows I go to, there is both real substance and real discussions that go on during the sessions. This is just a taste of that.