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Big whoop, right?
Sometimes nothing can be a very real something.
Patagonia is a well known maker of outdoor gear and clothing. They’re also renowned for their commitment to making products from sustainable materials and keeping the cast-offs out of landfills. To further the latter goal company executives recently launched a new section of their website devoted to used clothing. The storefront is connected to eBay auctions and displays Patgonia items posted by individual sellers.
So what’s in it for Patagonia?
Not a thing. Well, not money anyway.
The program is part of Common Threads- a campaign that encourages customers to respect their Patagonia products, repair them if possible and recycle the old ones instead of just tossing them out. Conventional wisdom would dictate such antics would cannibalize sales. For Patagonia the effort is an exercise in building brand loyalty.
So far it appears to be working. In the first 3 months after rolling out the eBay portal for used clothing over 25,000 visitors had signed up for the Common Threads campaign.
How Your Images Can Attract a Crowd
Getting more people to visit your website or blog is a universal goal for most anyone. I mean, anyone that has a website or blog. Once you scrape the surface of that topic you will immediately run into the phrase Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
SEO is simply making your pages and content as friendly as possible to search engines like Bling and Google. The ins and outs of SEO are complicated. There are tons of books written on the subject and I have no intention of delving into the complexities of all that. But one little snippet I recently discovered is worth sharing.
If you’re working on increasing traffic to your site you’re probably familiar with Google’s Webmaster Tools. If you aren’t you probably should be. Google’s toolbox allows you to see how the search engine is indexing your site (or not) and report on how your site fares in particular search results. The main page (right) display the performance of your site based on how many searches your site showed up on. The values are given as Impressions (showed up on the search results) and Clicks (someone actually clicked to visit your site).
A couple of weeks ago I happened to notice that little button on the left of the graph that says Filters.
Filters allow you to zero in on certain types of searches- mobile, image, web, etc. I was amazed to learn that the majority of search traffic being reported was from image searches. When I filtered the graph to display web searches the numbers plummeted. I was reduced from thousands of search hits to a handful.
Obviously your mileage will vary. If your site has more images you will probably see more search traffic from images searches. This can also increase by optimizing your images. Many bloggers overlook this simple but effective step- here’s how to do it…
Any or all of these suggestions will make your images more friendly to the robots that constantly troll the Web on behalf of search engines. Once they find and index them you should see an increase in visits to your site from image searches. Then all we have to do is entice those visitors to stay for a while.
But that’s a story for another day.
Chalk one up for the good guys.
Operation Ghost Click is being hailed by the FBI as the “biggest cybercriminal takedown in history.” A group of scumbags in Estonia using malicious software (or malware) called DNS Changer were arrested. They supposedly had control of more than four million computers worldwide!
The DNS Changer, as the name suggests, redirects the domain name system server settings on a computer to those of a bogus server. So your search in Google returns valid results, but when you click on Pepsi.com you get Perestroika.
Oh, and it’s a real PITA to uninstall.
The scammers made money by redirecting the Web browsers of infected computers, then hijacking revenue clicks and replacing legitimate advertisements with their own. American authorities estimate that the criminal take was over $14 million, all of it from online advertisers and publishers.
The company name used by the gang was Rove Digital, which was also one of the early investors in ChronoPay, a Russian payment processor whose principal founder is also in prison currently on cybercriminal charges.
Remember the Nineties?
Remember Netscape Navigator and Eudora Mail and Compuserve? If you were trying to create web pages back then you’ll probably remember dealing with different web browsers and versions and plug-ins. I remember avoiding the use of tables because there were still browsers in use that didn’t support tables. Yes, tables. Like rows and columns.
All those heady memories have came rushing back to me as I delved into the wild and wacky world of the mobile web. Also know as WAP (wireless application protocol). Otherwise known as cell phones. With web browsers.
Most people my age can’t understand why anyone would voluntarily surf the web using a cell phone. That’s another discussion- all I know is what my web stats tell me. And they say people are hitting Places 2 Ride using mobile devices. Which made me wonder, “Just what the hell does it look like?”
Turns out it didn’t look like much.
My cell phone, a Motorola C261(far from a high tech piece), displayed certain parts of the site. The majority of it appeared to have slipped off the right side of the screen. Some images were visible, others were not. Columns were shown in a random order, seemingly picked from some celestial wi-fi soup. It needed work if several hundred people were going to insist on looking at it on a two-inch screen.
Anywho, back to the stroll down memory lane.
Turns out that delivering content to these mobile surfers is quite similar to those carefree days back in the Nineties. You’re dealing with limited bandwidth, tiny screens and a variety of browsers. Some phones do amazing things, many do very little. Some actually use the same web browser as a desktop computer. You may have a final product. But you don’t really know what it looks like to everyone.
Here are some links and tips I have found helpful in my WAP endeavors:
I’ve used affiliate programs on my websites for many years. I saw only meager earnings until we signed up with the eBay program and started displaying “dynamic” content. Eventually I started working with product datafeeds, and that’s when it all became worthwhile. We now manage about a dozen datafeeds from various merchants (most through Commission Junction) and earn a decent amount each month.
Banners and buttons are not very effective. If you have the opportunity to earn from displaying banner ads then do so. But don’t expect to earn from pay-per-sale programs using banners. We tried it for years with pretty lame results. I still display banner ads but it’s more for their “aesthetic value” than revenue. Here’s my quick tips for increasing your earnings:
Link Deep send the user right to the page they need- not the front door or a nearby page. How many times have you been frustrated by “Click here for yada yada” only to find that yada yada is still three more clicks away? I usually leave.
Relevant Content generic content or “pretty close” content isn’t good enough. If a visitor was searching for “chrome plated bolts” when they found your page you need to show them exactly that- just “bolts” won’t do.
Use Text Links ad graphics are virtually invisible to the average web surfer nowadays. The common 468 x 60 banner at the top of a page is not even noticed. Look at Google Ad Sense- the most successful campaigns are usually boxes in the middle of the page or lists embedded in the navigation menu.
Learn a Script dynamic content requires some sort of scripting language. No matter whether it’s ASP, PHP, Perl or whatever- learn some basics or find a tool that that coughs it up for you.
If you have a web site or blog, even though you may not know it, you are a publisher. And your “publication” has the potential to refer or inform somebody’s potential customer.
The answer is yes.
About ten years ago I began experimenting with what was then a fledgling industry: affiliate marketing. The concept is simple and predates the New World of cyberspace: I’ll pay you to send me a customer.
The basic idea falls into three main categories:
Pay per Click paid when someone clicks the link
Pay per Action paid when someone clicks link and does something
Pay per View (or impression) paid when the ad is viewed or displayed
You’ll sometimes see acronyms like CPA, this describes “cost per action” which is the same thing as “pay per action” but from the merchant or advertiser’s point of view. In other words, to pay you it will cost him. These all relate back to the basic concept of paying you to send someone a customer.
Worthy Links to Revenue
Here is a list of the most reputable affiliate providers and my less-than-scientific observations on each.
This is only a partial list of course, and it’s growing all the time.
How it WorksSpeaking of Pixels
The size of computer monitors vary greatly. Measurements on the web aren’t stated in inches because computer monitors, like most of the world, doesn’t know what an inch is. While I surf along with a 15″ CRT you may be staring at a 30″ plasma flat panel, and then you have the guy who looks at a web page using a cell phone. All three of these screens have different ideas of what an “inch” is. However, they all have pixels.
That’s why you see banner ads described as 468 x 60 as opposed to something you’d find on a ruler. The dimension is always width first, then height. Common sizes of web site ads these days include 468×60, 728×90, 120×60, 120×600, 160×600, 300×250, 125×125 and 250×250.
You join an affiliate program and they provide you a blob of script or a special code. You paste this special link on your web site– it may take the form of a graphic or plain text. The important thing is when someone clicks on this link it identifies you to the advertiser or merchant as the source or referrer. Sort of a 21st century version of, “Who sent ya’?” Then, depending on the payment terms, you get credited for sending the visitor.
In the early days affiliate marketing was more or less based on the venerable banner ad. Most any site worth a GIF sprouted advertising across the top of the page in the form of the now familiar rectangle measuring 468 pixels wide and 60 pixels tall. Today affiliate marketing includes rotating banners, product datafeeds, contextual text ads, keyword searches and search engine marketing.
Getting Beyond Basics
Before you can make any money you’ll need to sign up with an affiliate program. These come in many different shapes and sizes, but fall into two main categories: program providers and merchant program.
Providers are companies that offer merchants/advertisers a way to manage their affiliate program without actually having to “manage” it. The provider handles all the record-keeping, serving up the links and paying the affiliates. You’ll find a list of the most popular affiliate program providers below.
Merchant programs are simply affiliate systems that are not managed by a third party. In other words, the advertiser themselves take care of the bookkeeping and link management. Most of the time this method is used by smaller organizations, but not always.
Affiliate network providers offer you one-stop access to many advertisers. They usually have the horsepower to serve up links and banner ads without a glitch. Some of them combine payments, which can speed things up and reduce the chance of small amounts being trapped in limbo. On the other hand, most self-managed programs offer higher commissions. This is simply because they don’t have to pay a third party.
I hope this article was helpful for those of you considering the possibilities.