Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Technorati Family Feud: Survey Says!

Technorati released its State of the Blogosphere for 2008. Being a survey of 1000 bloggers, a rather small sample, it poses more questions than 'facts' for me.

Let's start with gender.

The survey says more males are blogging.


And more men describe their blogs as professional, "about your industry and profession but not in an official capacity for your company"; while more women describe their blogs as personal, "about topics of personal interest not associated with your work."

As this matter of definition is purely subjective, I can't help but wonder about each gender's own bias here.

I did not see any information regarding the gender split in corporate blogging.

While women are more likely to seek to monetize their blogs, it seems they invest 50% less money in their blogs and make 50% less money in return.

Global Bloggers by Gender

Demographics Female
(N=438)
Male
(N=852)
Personal Blog 83% 76%
Professional Blog 38% 50%
Median Annual Investment $30 $60
Median Annual Revenue $100 $200
% Blogs with advertising 53% 54%
Sell Through a Blog ad Network* 16% 7%
Have Affiliate ads* 41% 32%
Have Contextual ads* 61% 73%
That ROI is something to think of when keeping things on-the-cheap ~ and far more informative than most of what is discussed in Slate's coverage of this Technorati survey, Blogging for Dollars: How do bloggers make money?. (That article is really a more theoretical conversation on popularity ~ which does affect ad revenues, but we'll get back to that later.)

However, women also stated they had benefited in other ways from blogging, with 9% more saying they had converted business leads from their blog.



Interestingly, women are said to have participated in more traditional blog networking (blogrolls, linking to other blogs, etc.) than men ~ including producing more content for other blogs. No number was given, but it makes me wonder about this in terms of blog investment...

Writing may be "free", but the sweat equity isn't noted in the discussion & in fact seems to have little payoff in terms of annual revenue. However, this sort of promotional writing could account for the conversion of business leads. I'd love more information on that area.

As far as topics go, Technorati calls them "diverse."
Blogging topics are diverse

Both personal and professional topics are equally popular. Forty percent of bloggers consider their blogging topics outside of these categories. “Other” blog topics include: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.

Three-quarters of bloggers cover three or more topics. The average number of topics blogged about is five.

There were some global differences. Music is more popular and politics is less popular in Asia, while personal, lifestyle, and religious topics are less popular in Europe.

You probably see what I see ~ an absence of "sex" as a topic.


It appears that Technorati did not include "sex" (or "adult" or "mature") as a topic in their survey; I'd gather that with those choices many sex bloggers would identify their blogs as "Personal/Lifestyle" blogs ~ or use the "other" category.

"Sex" is still not listed as a response in the "other" category. I have no idea if Technorati opted not to include "sex bloggers", if they edited/censored such responses when they published their findings, or if there were too few "sex" responses to qualify for a mention. Those surveyed may consider their blogging part of another category. For example, sex workers may state "business", authors "books", and sex positive feminists who discuss sex regularly might classify their blogs as "political" or "media/journalism" just as others who are not sex positive might (may also include "religion" as well).

Or perhaps survey respondents with sex blogs who noticed the "sex" option missing felt stating "sex" would mean they'd be excluded from the survey data.

The omitted options for "sex" and the lack of stated identification as "a sex blogger" does make me question the survey responses. As sexuality is just part of a human being's existence, I wouldn't throw the survey out completely; just keep the omissions in mind when reading & digesting.

Which poses more questions...

For instance, as the most popular sex bloggers are, collectively, female (no doubt due to photos, descriptions of personal actions etc., which draw many male readers), what does the possibility of censoring/ignoring sex bloggers mean for the simple "more men are blogging" data? Does this account for the "more females have personal blogs" finding?

I don't know; I'm still mulling it all over.

In terms of privacy, only 1/3 stated a concern for their privacy; I believe this would likely be much higher among sex bloggers.:
The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era.
And, I find the connection between "openly exposing identities" and "better known" murky. I'm certainly better known in both my personal and professional life; but the name on my birth certificate, my legal name, is neither Gracie Passette nor The Marketing Whore.


Of those concerned about exposing their identities on their blogs, 36% said "other" ~ which included, "I've chosen to blog as a character." Maybe those with pen names, online identities, whathaveyou, answered the privacy/popularity questions from the point of view of being a character?

Now onto popularity...
Technorati 100, Next 500, and Next 5000 comparisons

We analyzed the Technorati index data to see whether higher-authority bloggers behaved differently from other bloggers.

Posting by Technorati Authority
Group Average Authority Avg Days Posting
(June 2008)
Avg Monthly Posts
(June 2008)
Top 100 6,084 23 310
Next 500 1,551 20 125
Next 5000 439 13 25

Blogs with higher authority are typically updated more frequently than blogs with lower authority. The Technorati Top 100 blogs had more than twice as many postings in June 2008 as the next 500, and more than 12 times as many postings as the next 5000.

What's missing from the discussion here are contextual issues such as monetization &/or business conversions and intent of the blog. Without knowing those variables, how can we call a blog successful?



There sure seems to be a connection between a blog's popularity and ad dollars, but this begs several questions...

1) If a Technorati Top 100 blogger is posting 10 or more times a day, with all the research & writing that implies, are the ad sales fair compensation for the number of hours a blogger works?

2) Are readers satisfied with such a saturation of posts? Lots of eyeballs do not automatically grant things such as loyalty & trust, nor translate into company endorsements & branding.

3) Are advertisers happy with their conversion &/or branding at these sites? Customer & potential customer impressions of the company /product/service are more important than number of ad impressions.

If all three are not satisfied the old "blog bubble" (at least as far as a business model) bursts.

For more anecdotal & theoretical conversations about this, I again refer you to Slate's piece.

Other tips included in Technorati's survey results: Technorati Top 100 bloggers are twice as likely to use tags in their posts, and they use the "news" tag more than two times as much as the next 500, and 19 times as much as the next 5000. (And, of course, their list of top tags for June does not include anything sexual.)

As for the results regarding branding in the blogosphere, there's a lot of chatter about how important bloggers think blogs and other bloggers are. I'm not saying I disagree with these findings, just that business might want to keep in mind that people within the group often are rather high on the group; your results may vary.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick Notes

Get a date with a sexy New York blogger for just $10. You read that right ~ but what I mean is that you can sponsor a specific date on the New York City Sexblogger 2009 Calendar for just ten bucks. But you'll have to act fast; the deadline is October 1, 2008.

Looks like Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld listen to The Marketing Whore. Sure, they stopped the ads I adored; but the charming new ads sure seem to be scripted/produced right from my blog post.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

About Those New Seinfeld & Gates Ads

My boyfriend, CR/LF (NWS), and I are having a running feud about the new Microsoft commercials. He, like many techies, insists they are stupid; I adore them. Every geek has her weird weaknesses & right now you could say that the Microsoft ads are among mine.

Our debate often swirls around the Mac vs. PC commercials. In those commercials, PC is likable ~ but Mac reigns as the uber cool kid. The Mac ads make me feel like I should be pitied like the campaign's PC character. Sure, that Mac guy's nice. We'll be lab partners in science class or maybe share a table at lunch; but I'll never be invited to parties at his house. CR/LF agrees with me on this, but he still doesn't see what I favor in the new Microsoft commercials.

The new commercials with Jerry Seinfeld & Bill Gates amuse me ~ and it's not because some people think the ads are kinky either. I think they are hysterical. I love seeing them in the cheap shoe store ~ and the family in the window is awe-struck not by their celeb status, but by the shoes! (That just kills me!)



It's not just that they are funny ~ it's the way they are funny.

In the Mac ads, Mac is like those bratty rich kids in high school & the posse of posers who did whatever they did to be cool. Then as now I know that no matter how cool I am, no matter how stellar my works are, I'll never be seen by them as their equal in cool. Then it was because my platform's were the knock-off designer shoes; today it's because my platform isn't the designer Mac. And I've never been one to pay more to appear cool or to please others.

As a PC user (on Linux, yet) I might want a Mac... But even if I could afford a Mac, I don't think I could justify the excess price tag to my practical-nerd-self. Who does that sound like? Gates, Seinfeld & that family of window shoppers! We're all bonding! (Branding, that is.)

Unlike the Mac ads, Microsoft celebrates the real geeks, weirdness and all.

Does this ad campaign overcome every Microsoft issue? No. But Microsoft has likability issues. Most people's awareness of Microsoft as 'evil' or 'less than cool' is effectively addressed by these commercials. I'm no longer the uncool person who has a PC by default ~ I have one because I want one. I've decided with my purshase(s). And I am as happy with my PC-self as I am with all my other choices which may seem "less than" to those hipsters.

As a more 'average' user/buyer of computers and software am more likely to be Microsoft's target audience (which means CR/LF's opinion should be of little consequence to Microsoft's campaign) and me and my posse of weird brainiacs am moving closer to the brand because of them.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amanda Brooks On Marketing On XXBN

Amanda Brooks, a retired escort and author of The Internet Escort's Handbook series, will be on Cult of Gracie radio at 9 pm (central). Since Amanda's second book, Advertising and Marketing: Successfully Creating and Selling Your Image Online, is due out in June, this is an excellent time for you Marketing Whore readers to listen ~ and call in.

If it's anything like her first book (NWS), it will be brilliant ~ and useful for more than escorts and PSOs etc. So don't miss it.

For more on Amanda, see the show details.

As most (?) of you know by now, I work with Amanda Brooks at SWOP-East. But before you go thinking that's why Amanda's book got such a rave review, you should know it's quite the opposite: Amanda's brilliance convinced Gracie that she'd like to work with the brilliant Amanda Brooks and SWOP-East.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Should You Really Make Fun Of Your Customer?

Just caught another one of those Domino's pizza commercials ~ from the "what are you gonna do in 30 minutes?" campaign. In this one, a guy makes a poster of the delivery guy with a unicorn, to which the delivery guy says, "Nice unicorn." In another, a trio of guys practices lame Brooklyn accents ~ which the delivery guy even pronounces are lame accents. In another, a guy has burned off his eyebrows and draws them in with magic markers... Huh? How? But mostly...

Why?

Domino's, are you really going to continue to mock your customers? Do you think potential customers want to become the lame, the stupid and the mocked?

There are so many versions of these attacks that it's getting very difficult to believe that there's any affection left in the mocking ~ if there ever really was any affection to begin with.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adult Marketer, Can You Use Blog Talk Radio?

I was recently interviewed on XBN (NWS), a radio program run by SWOP East, which is powered by Blog Talk Radio. Not only was it fun, prompting me to schedule another interview (perhaps even host a show), but the experience resurrected talk of Sex-Kitten.Net radio.

For a few years we've been discussing starting a radio show, but along with the investment costs (equipment, time and additional marketing efforts), we were skeptical of the feasibility of such a project. While we know that discussion of sexuality is both needed and desired, we worried if the uphill battle of selling the program would result in a watered-down, wet-blanket version of the show & programming we envisioned. The other option, of course, was to run our own Internet radio station ~ which led back to the additional costs of equipment and bandwidth on top of all the other issues. The bottom line was if we had less tech and marketing efforts, it would be worth the old college try; but without that support, it was a bit too much to bite-off. So the the project was shelved, occasionally resurrected when something, like the XBN interview, reignited the spark of passion.

Back in the early days of discussion, our research included the newborn baby BlogTalkRadio.com. And we've investigated, as they've popped up, other options. But none seemed as simple as easy, with the most options, as Blog Talk Radio. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and a phone. And yes, kids, Blog Talk Radio is free.

It's free for listeners, and even free for callers if they use VoIP.

The past few years have shown not only Blog Talk Radio's stability in the reliable sense, but a real growth in terms of listener audience and increased options.

Along with the opportunity to increase your connection with readers via audio (listening to live shows, downloading podcasts, and offering additional real-time conversations with your blog &/or website readers), you have the opportunity to recruit new fans via regular users of BlogTalkRadio.

BlogTalkRadio isn't just a technology platform, allowing you to create shows and store them; it's a social network where members can find and hook-up with & befriend other members ~ which includes show hosts as well as other listeners. They also offer a number of widgets, which allows fans to literally help you broadcast your shows by posting your show on their blogs and in their profiles at other social networking sites.

In January of this year, Blog Talk Radio also started a RevShare Program. When you opt in, show hosts can receive 35% of ad sales/sponsors for their shows ~ and if you find a show sponsor who is not currently using Blog Talk Radio, you'll get a 50% share of the ads they place on your shows. (All paid show sponsorship & advertising must be run-through Blog Talk Radio.)

This also means that if you have an adult product, your ad money is welcome at Blog Talk Radio. Starting at $100, you can buy ad space at targeted radio shows where the listening audience is your market audience, willing and ready to buy. You can see more information and find the full rate info here.

There have been a lot of changes at BlogTalkRadio, and with renewed interest I began to investigate if now was the time...

I found the FAQs (both the public list and the additional FA available for registered users) a bit confusing, and being one of those polite marketers, I wanted to see just how welcome adult content would be. So I got in touch with John Sweet, Director of Customer Relations for BlogTalkRadio.com.

Are we adult folks welcome at Blog Talk Radio?

Yes. And you'll see when you fill out the information for hosting a show that there are several options ~ there's both a "Mature" and an "Adults Only".

What are the standards?

It's self-regulating; but basically "Mature" would be an "R" or "NC-17" and "Adults Only" would be for more risque talk ~ but again, we're still not talking X-rated or pornographic talk. The rule of thumb here is the entertainment aspect: discussion about sex is OK, but reading an erotic story is not. In other words, you can move the listeners to actions such as "buy this book", "attend this conference", or "show up at the rally"; but if you're trying to move them into ah, well, lifting their hand for some other self-entertainment purpose, then that's a no-no.

John was clear to also tell me what would happen if someone were to complain or contact BlogTalkRadio regarding a show's content. You won't get the boot instantly. He'll review the show and if there's a concern, he'll contact the show's host to discuss what can be done to make corrections to avoid potential problems in the future. So you have some breathing room; self-regulation is not a trick question, setting you up to fail.

One thing you must know about adult shows is that they will not be visible to the average visitor to BlogTalkRadio.com. This does not mean your show is buried. Registered users may opt to see & search for listings in the mature & adult only shows simply by correctly setting permissions in their profile. Just toggle "Disabled" in the safe search setting, located in the "My Options" section of your "Settings" page.



And, registered user or not, any links directly to your show's page will be seen and heard. So, like any good marketer would do, when you link to your show from your website &/or blog (or fans do), folks will properly arrive there; no fancy settings or permissions needed.

Other info you may want clarified:

Show Length:

Show length is listed as up to 60 minutes, but it is now up to 120 minutes ~ plus you can have up to one additional hour in which the show is being taped for the archives, but is not streaming live. So if your guest has created quite a crowd of questioners, you, the guest and callers may still continue the show. New listeners arriving at the page will not hear it, but anyone playing back the archived show will hear it all, up to 180 minutes.

Remember, you need not have a show or shows that long; you may select show length to be as little as 15 minutes. But once the stated length of the show ends, you have up to 60 additional minutes of recording time. Which brings up the matter of what happens post show, if/when you and your guest are doing wrap-up chatter. It is being recorded and you should let the guest know that it is still being taped &/or edit this out of the recording so it is not included in the show's archive.

Newbie Restrictions

When you are a new host of a show on Blog Talk Radio, you are limited to three shows per month, and you may not have a show during prime time hours (without special permission ~ more on that in a bit).

It doesn't sound like a lot to an eager new radio personality, but John assures me it's not such a problem. As your show increases in popularity (number of live listeners and number of downloaded archived shows), a magical algorithm calculates your worthiness of more shows. In other words, by the time you've got a few under your belt, you'll be ready for more. (And if not, well, then increase your marketing efforts.)

Radio, is a lot like blogging. It takes time to build your blog, your audience and pacing is a huge part of it. (How many times have we seen a new blogger post like crazy, with dozens of posts a day or a week, only to find they've abandoned the blog a few weeks later... Having a low start limit prevents enthusiastic burnout rates.)

Prime Time Slots

Prime time slots, as defined by Blog Talk Radio, are 7:00 PM EST to 12:00 AM EST, Monday through Friday.

The issue of limiting prime time show spots is obviously based on the desirability of such time slots. As these are the most popular hours for listening, BlogTalk Radio naturally wants to play fair with them, and overall limits them to one prime time slot per week. Newbies have to pay their dues, build an audience, to earn that time. Again, John says that it's not too difficult to get in. And in fact, we adult folks may have an inside track...

It only makes sense that adult programming would be more popular in the evening, as adults can't listen to such shows at work or while the kiddies are awake and about. So if you have an "Adults Only" or "Mature" show, contact John (johnsweet+at+blogtalkradio.com) and ask him to help give you the clearance to schedule during prime time.

Fine Print

Registering at BlogTalkRadio.com requires a user agreement. This user agreement indicates that you do not own the copyright to your show.

This means that you may not sell rights to your show, but Blog Talk Radio may.

It's a scary thing for a content creator to contemplate... I asked John about that, and it's pretty simple. They have the right to sell your shows or excerpts of your shows. You don't get paid, but you should get your name out there.

So, for a hypothetical example, if NPR wants seven minutes of an interview on your show, they need to negotiate that with Blog Talk Radio. You don't get a cut; but you will be mentioned. John agrees that not mentioning the specific show and host would be a disservice to both the host/creator and the listener. (Plus, John said Blog Talk Radio would want to talk that up themselves as well.) But if you want to retain rights and control of your radio show or podcast, then this isn't an option for you.

Other Blot Talk Radio Options

As I mentioned, Blog Talk Radio has grown quite a bit in the past few years. They are continually increasing options and features. One of the most intriguing to me was BlogTalkRadio stations.

Station are a means by which you can broadcast multiple shows & further brand yourself. Prior to stations, if you wanted multiple shows, you had to create multiple user ids. While that allows you the option of more than one show, it doesn't allow for them all to be under the same umbrella. The rates for stations are a tidy sum, starting at $5,000 a month. I'm not one of those marketers who says you can't put a price on branding (Because if you can't, well, what's the point? It's a business after all.), but I wouldn't readily dismiss such a fee.

Along with tech assistance, show producers (help with calls etc.), you have to consider the practical matter of Internet hosting. There's both the software to run the shows, streaming of live shows (including chat & callers), and the storing of archived shows. That's a lot of data, a lot of bandwidth. Also, to off-set the cost of a station, you are able to keep 100% of ad & sponsorship payments you gather. And, as a station owner, you do own the copyright to your shows.

John mentioned a few other new features that Blog Talk Radio will be launching soon ~ but I've agreed to be mum until he gives me permission to mention them. So keep an eye out here ~ or I'll poke your eye out there. :p

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

High-Five Fridays #11

High-Five Fridays
1) My dear friend, Libby, has started Red Light District Chicago, "Sex workers making media so the media doesn't make us." (In case you don't understand the need for this, here's some background: The Importance Of Sex Worker Made Media.) (NWS)

2) Dee Stewart has tips on How to Breathe Life Back into Your Blog.

3) Amber Rhea quit writing at Download Squad; can't say I blame her one bit. I high-five the self-awareness to realize what your limits are, and the self-respect it takes to stay on that side of the line.

4) In Oh, The Irony, Slip of a Girl mocks misuse of the word in hipster fashion advertising.

5) Thoman B. Edsall's Huffington Post piece, Interview With Walter Pincus On The State Of The Press.

I found myself saying a big amen to lots of things; particularly this:
EDSALL: But are you saying in this new generation of reporters, there is much more a sense of the need for personal comfort and less interest in expressing outrage or whatever --

[Less interest in what is now called "crusading"?]

PINCUS: Well, there's more interest in expressing outrage on personal matters, you know -- Clinton's activities with Monica, Spitzer and call girls. Everybody's against that [kind of behavior.] That's easy. But those aren't policy issues. And I think it's just not the Post, I think it's everybody. I also think -- I mean, the Post and the Times to give them credit, do some good work. That's why I go back to Walter Reed. Nobody else did it.
Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ford Commercials Not In Sync

In the Ford Sync ads people are so use to giving commands to the Microsoft Auto software that they forget that not everything works that way, with comical results:



I have to wonder if this campaign isn't backwards... Like the old rule of showing positives and benefits, avoiding the negatives, this ad campaign is unsettling to me.

Wouldn't it make more sense to show the harried parent, the harassed worker, people who are not used to having those they told to do something do it, who, upon using Sync, are pleasantly surprised at having a command followed? It leaves a much more positive message ~ is sure sells me a dream. *wink*

I know the ad is supposed to be funny (my man laughs whenever that poor lady hits the door), but it doesn't sell me. It only leaves me with the impression that people are too lazy, self-centered, and absurd to function in the real world. Whereas the version I suggest leaves me wistful for something which does as I say ~ even if it's a car I had no previous interest in or intentions to purchase... Until such sugar-plums of demands met danced in my head.

I know "absurd" is the new black in advertising; but is it effective?

Does Ford want my man's laugh, or my purchase?

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Friday, March 14, 2008

High-Five Fridays #9

High-Five Fridays
1) Violet Blue with coverage of sexual privacy and SXSWi.

2) Three Wise Guys on those strange outside bathtubs in erectile-dysfunction ads.

3) Just what is the big deal about sex?

4) Bombshell Betty starts a series on getting paid to perform ~ keep an eye on it for more.

5) One of my favorite perfumes is Shalimar. Reformulated, re-released, but never the same.

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Year End Advertising Info

The International Herald Tribune announces Ad money begins to trickle in for bloggers:
It is no longer unusual for blogs with just a couple thousand daily readers to earn nearly as many dollars a month. Helping fill the pockets of such bloggers are programs like Google's AdSense and many others that let individuals - not just major publications - tap into the rapidly growing pot of advertising dollars with a click of the mouse.
Here we all frown that we adult folks are blocked from using AdSense. But I didn't just post this to bitch... Here's some useful info:
In 2006, advertisers spent $16.9 billion online, up steadily each year from $6 billion in 2002, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. In the first half of 2007, online advertising reached nearly $10 billion, a nearly 27 percent increase over the first half of 2006.
And more:
According to a 2006 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 39 percent of Internet users, or about 57 million American adults, said they read blogs, up from 27 percent in 2004, or 32 million.

That does not mean bloggers are suddenly flush with money. For every blogger earning a decent side income like Brooks, countless others will never earn a cent.

But with the right mix of compelling content and exposure, a blog can draw a dedicated following, increasing advertising prospects.

"This is really a continuation of how the Web in general has enabled smaller businesses and individuals to compete if not at a level playing field, at least a more equitable level," said David Hallerman, a senior analyst with the research group eMarketer.
Here's some info on BlogAds (which I use ~ both to generate ad income and for placing ads ~ and openly state is a great platform):
About a third of BlogAds's 1,500 sites earn between $200 and $2,000 a month, Copeland said. Those sites get anywhere from 3,000 to 50,000 daily impressions.
Overall, the wrap-up is:
Malone Scott at Google said access to advertising online was more democratic, since an ad click from a tiny site is just as valuable as a click from a site with a million readers.

Some advertisers have even found better response from smaller sites with more passionate, engaged audiences.
And here's another reminder about the power of niches:
Getting paid might even help validate what may otherwise seem like a silly or obscure obsession.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Misogyny King

Have you seen the latest Burger King commercial?



Note the two 'real people' at the end... I paraphrase, "If they don't have the Whopper, Burger King might as well be Burger Queen."

Yeah, nice misogynistic ad, BK.

'Cuz the worst way to denigrate someone is to call them a woman.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Ron Jeremy & His Special Tool



I love that Jeremy & Channel Four get it & have a sense of humor.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

No More Cookie Cutters (Unless You're Making Cookies)

Eros has a good post on cookie cutter paysites, including the 'hot sale' of EZA Cash, which Eros trashes critically reviews. I'd say it's a great post, but there's one part which sticks in my craw:
It's not dishonest or a scam, exactly, but it's a line of work akin to direct mail advertising; sell something cheap and almost worthless for quite a bit more than it's worth, pocket profits, work like hell to find new suckers because none of your one-time customers turn into regular customers, which as every businessman knows is where the money is.
Direct mail advertising doesn't equal scam. It's a valid method of sales and marketing for legitimate products and services. Even when it is akin to a scam it's the product which makes it (and the seller) scum.

I hate it when people lump things together in the bad apple barrel. (It's ironic on a post about cookie cutters too.)

But read his post anyway, because there's other good info there.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Giving Away The Store, Part One

Giving away the store isn't all bad; in fact, it's even a lucrative business model ~ if you don't get in your own way.

At Infomercantile, Derek (who, in the interest of full-disclosure, is a 'boss') writes about one of our local free newspapers and their idiotic 'upgrade':
In early September 2007, the FM Extra further obfuscated access to their newspaper by wrapping the already difficult-to-parse PDF file inside a Macromedia-format "Flashpaper" Flash viewer. While Google and other search engines do have the ability to provide some searchability within PDFs, enclosing the PDF within a Flash viewer completely eliminates the world's ability to find the FM Extra without already knowing it exists. It is as though the FM Extra put all of their hard-copy newprint papers in an unmarked cardboard box, shoved it under a parked car somewhere in Hawley, MN, and only gave directions to people who explicitly asked where the papers went. One would think that a newspaper that places its print-copies in as many publicly-available places as possible would easily translate the same concept to the internet, but it seems to have slipped their and their webdesigners' grasps.
Not only did they put all of the papers in the box, under a parked car, only giving directions to people who ask, but access also requires a secret password or knock of some sort. This new flash viewer requires the latest version of Macromedia Flash and has officially no viewer for those of us who are Linux based (I should note here that I can view it, but it also freezes my entire Firefox experience and is thus noted as to be avoided at all costs), making all of their free papers unavailable to us.

Unavailable is contrary to their business model where the newspapers are paid for by the advertisers, advertisers who have paid the rates for the large circulation, so why remove online circulation? The purpose of FM Extra is to literally give away their product, and so their decision not to do so on the web is bad marketing (if not just good old fashioned crazy).

Unavailable isn't the only problem. Being found is also a problem. I've mentioned this before, so I'll let Derek at Infomercantile say it:
Newspapers and web-designers alike fail to realize that a large portion of website traffic comes from people who never knew the website existed before and arrive by searching for a term. Those searchers, in theory, are highly-retainable readers if their search results succeed in finding what they're looking for. The FM Extra, by hiring a web designer, spent what appears to be a significant amount of money to reduce their potential audience even further. The FM Extra might be exactly what an online visitor is looking for, but a huge amount of effort has been devoted to making sure those readers never find the FM Extra online.
Using flash means you are non-existent for many.

It's pretty hard to give away the store when you can't even be found.

FM Extra assumes, in the way that makes an ass out of themselves, that folks are going to type in FM Extra ~ and goes further up their behinds to believe that the all the people that do arrive at their site are able to view the free goods via this new gift of the technology gods, Flashpaper.

Given that their target market is the senior shopper who looks for quaint local (happy) news and deals, it seems absurd to imagine they have any interest in downloading the latest version of flash. FM Extra also publishes Memories, and their pitch to advertisers is, "nobody does a better job at reaching those 40 and over than Memories Magazine." We're not exactly talking the gaming or tech-gadget crowd here, especially as these folks are, by their own admission, looking to the past, not the technological future: "Memories readers are extremely loyal, and they love to read about a past they can connect with."

Removing the ability for 100% of their content to be Googled (also seemingly incompatible with other search engine spidering etc.) is dumb enough. But to further aggravate their core audience means the advertisers aren't being served either. The advertisers have paid for placement in publications which are free and available for all, and here they go and remove these possibilities on the web. (If I had paid for any ads, I'd be livid.)

If your product is meant to be read/seen or otherwise given away for free ~ and this includes blogs and websites which exist to promote products which are paid for ~ do not put in place methods and technologies which remove the possibility.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Today's Word: Evolve

I love the Evolve campaign by Trojan. Love, love, LOVE it.

In the commerical, male pigs hit on women, striking out until one decides to be prepared for safe sex, getting a Trojan, and then becomes human.



I love it because it's relateable. I love it because, as a woman, it's grand to see the message that women aren't assumed to be the party responsible for safe sex &/or birth control. (It's so annoying to live in a world where men are allowed to be sexually aggressive but leave the consequences to the women.) The Evolve ad depicts men who aren't prepared for safe sex to as pigs and juxtaposes that image with condoms, the responsible behavior.

All this means I love it as a marketer.

Interestingly, Trojan, isn't spoken and even the logo appears only briefly on the bathroom's vending machine and at the end. Jim Daniels, vp of marketing, said the company was focusing less on growing market share than growing the market. I think the commerical serves the intent and the brand well, very well, indeed.

However, both CBS and FOX rejected Evolve ads by Trojan. In its rejection CBS wrote, "while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions."

"It's so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious," said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. "I mean, let's get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure."

Amen.

This points to the current problem those of us in adult marketing face every day.

"We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can't use sex to sell condoms," said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. "When you're marketing condoms, something even remotely suggestive gets an overly analytical eye when it's going before networks' review boards."

Why is it unacceptable to be so damn honest? Honest about your product; honest about human needs. It's stupefying. Why doesn't business evolve and get their heads out of their behinds?

It's like we're the women and the folks who make decisions like CBS and FOX are the pigs.


The good news is that the commercial will run on ABC, NBC and nine cable networks, and print ads will appear in 11 magazines as well as on on seven Web sites. (Feel free to write emails and letters of support to these folks, letting them know you approve!) All will highlight a Web site, trojanevolve.com.

Daniels also said that the company was spending more on the Evolve campaign than any previous campaign, though declined to say how much.

(Hey Daniels, I'll run your ads! And I can get you a free list of more who will do the same. *wink*)

Source, New York Times.

Trojan is owned by Church & Dwight Co., Inc.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Selling Sex, Even Where It's Not Legal

Naturally, Copywrite Ink's post. Selling Sex: Nevada Brothels, caught my eye.
What is Coyote Publishing et. al. v. Heller? It is a lawsuit filed by Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on behalf of several newspapers, that sought to void two state statutes that prohibited brothel advertising in counties where prostitution is illegal.

...this new ruling, which I have yet to form an opinion about, seems to suggest legal businesses have a right to advertise even where their products or services are illegal.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Affiliates Vs. Paid Posts

But Gracie, how are paid postings any different than a blogger promoting a site via affiliate programs? Well, that's rather like saying commission sales is like payola.

In commissioned sales, you are paid for your performance. You make a sale, you get a cut. The reason folks join individual affiliate programs is that they believe they can make money off of it. Why? Because they like it or that their readers will. They select programs they are naturally interested in, those which suit their blog theme or mission, those which seem to fit their style. They believe in it so they invest their time &/or effort in selling it for the reward of part of the sale.

Can they lie? Sure. For example, anyone can say they're a member of a paysite and they love it so much they're telling you to join to ~ when they've never done more than see a tour page. But then again, anyone anywhere can lie.

Can a blogger or webmaster be solicited to join an affiliate program? You bet we are. But since we aren't paid to select them, we decide if this would be a good fit for our readers ~ because that's how we'd get paid. We decide if the site or product is worthy of our lending our name to it ~ because our readers who got burned would sure let us know. At least the good ones do this.

In payola or pay per post, you are paid for your mention of the item ~ your 'play' of it, if you will. This means, whether you like the product or not, you get paid to mention it. Each and every time you mention it. And from any company willing to pay. (And many of these companies are equally oblivious to targeting in this "post about me now!" mentality; so honestly, what's the point?)

Some of you will argue that bloggers may pick and choose what they will mention, what paid postings they will do, but kids, let's be as honest as the day is long and admit that there are many people in the world (not just the Internet) who are hungry for money and will take what is offered. The incentive, the "pay," is to "post," not to be authentic, not to match blogger readership, or anything else.

We're not talking about small sums either. Affiliates generally pay a smaller amount per sale, whereas paid postings are larger sums up front or at least much quicker than waiting to reach an affiliate pay-out limit. The proverbial 'quick buck'. (Too bad their momma's didn't tell them there's really no such thing, because once the word gets out that you're only after a quick buck, who is gonna give a f***?)

I've been offered up to $85 for a paid posting ~ one that I wouldn't even need to write because they would write the 'article' for me. That's free content, supposedly tailored for my readers, plus $85 in my pocket ~ and I turned it down because I care, damnit. I've also turned down ads for products which are illegal, products I believe to be dangerous, and just plain old shams (the latter of which mostly come into this blog).

I may whore my wares, the wares of other, but I'm honest about that. I'll whore what I like, thank you, and when I do, you'll know it.

But I'm not going to sell my soul, my loyalty, and in the process sell you all out too. My word matters to me. It's one of the few things, I'm told, I get to take with me when I leave this place.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Courting Your Customers

Gongol hosts this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. Naturally, the Top 10 Ways To Trash A Brand caught my eye...

Especially these points on money:
2. Constantly cutting the advertising budget. Very easy to do. And it doesn't mean that the advertising budget shouldn't be monitored and adjusted. But if it's routinely done, especially with the rationale of saving money without considering the costs, it might hurt the brand.

6. Relying on customer loyalty cards to create customer loyalty.
Don't. Loyalty cards don't create loyal customers. What you get instead are promiscuous customers. Why? Because loyalty cards offer incentives and discounts that attract customers who want a "deal". The best loyalty cards are the ones that offer benefits and value-added services that will only be enjoyed by the most profitable customers.

7. Spending more on price promotions than advertising.
Price promotions should be a part of any complete marketing program, but they can't replace traditional brand-building activities. Price promotions can be a dangerous game. Consumers attracted to your brand by a price promotion are just as likely to be lured away by a competitor's price promotion. What happens next week when the promotion is over and consumers are surprised to find that their beloved item now costs more? The "deal" doesn't seem like such a deal any more. As a result, you might be left with a bunch of people who feel ripped off. The trick is to find consumers who love your brand, ones who don't need be enticed to buy with promotions.
For those that worry that they have no/cannot afford Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, maybe you just don't need it:
10. Installing a CRM system and expecting that will do the trick. CRM aims to give businesses the means to provide preferred customers with "value propositions" that competitors can't match. From the consulting industry's point of view, there's the beauty of the system - it means more lucre for every management consultant in town flogging similar techniques to companies and their competitors. But the problem is that these systems are often installed without thinking of how the organization can use them to attract customers, and what internal behaviors the organization needs to change. Relationships cut both ways. The company might want a relationship with a high-spending customer; but is the customer looking for that sort of relationship? Subject an uninterested customer to new product offerings and telemarketing programs and things can get ugly. Even uglier when they get a letter from their bank telling them their credit card limit can be extended by $10,000 and another telling them their mortgage payments are still in arrears. A big part of the problem is that executives do not understood what they are implementing. They often just let software vendors dictate the terms of customer management or try to fit the strategy around the expensive technology. And what you have instead is a blunt instrument that stalks, rather than woos the customer.
And, perhaps my favorite:
4. Assuming you know what targeted customers value. A variation on the previous problem. So you know who your most profitable customers. But that's only half the story. Do you know what they value? What are the five most important attributes that see them coming back or referring other customers to you? Without the answers, all you have is a pile of data without insight.
Really, if you knew your customer, your CRM system wouldn't be a "blunt instrument that stalks, rather than woos the customer"; you wouldn't train customers to be price monkeys and sales hounds; rather you would court them as you both are.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's Your Frequency, Kenneth?

According to eMarketer and the Atlas Institute, two-thirds of consumers bought a product (or took another responsive action) were reached by ads across multiple portal sites before converting:
The study, conducted in the first quarter of 2007, found that US consumers were more likely to convert after viewing ads on multiple Web sites, suggesting that conversions should be attributed to a full set of impressions and/or clicks, rather than just the single one that preceded the conversion.
Nine in 10 consumers who converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen. Also, 86.1% of ads which led to a responsive action were seen on multiple placements.

This reminded me of one of the early 'facts' of the Internet. It was said, back in the day, that a person needed to visit your site six times in order to make a purchase. (This is where the repeat visitor stat came in ~ it was vital information!) Part of the reasoning for the behavior was said to be the need to be familiar and comfortable enough with the website. Would the website be there tomorrow? After 'finding themselves there' six times, they felt more assured of the site/company's stability. Also after 'finding themselves there' six times, the consumer knows they really do want what they are offering.

Seeing ads six or more times, across six or more sites, etc would be similar. Point at it once; I'm not so sure about it (the product) or you (the company). Point at it several times; and I might be interested... And while a person who sees your ad on one site while reading an article may not have the money to buy or the time to even click right then and there, another ad at another place is a reminder later.

I didn't read/buy the whole study report and so have no idea if they have a suggested magical number, let alone if it was six, but the number part is irrelevant, really. It's not six, or 3.4, or whatever number you've heard. If you don't believe me, believe Dr. Roger Wimmer. And this isn't really earth-shattering news to most of us. We know that ad frequency and repetition is important, even if the number isn't universal. Yes, Virginia (and Kenneth), frequency is important, even on the Internet:
Results from the analyses suggest that frequency can be a powerful determinant of advertising effectiveness. Specifically, it is found that the frequency effects were significant on ad recall, attitude toward brand, and trial intention.
From Penn State's Media Effects Research Laboratory (2002).

What is most usable from all of this is to note that frequency is important. Ads seen more often and across more sites translates to more memorable ads. So while your click-through and conversion rates may not seem very great, you should consider the whole campaign's effectiveness in light of it's frequency. And you need to plan with frequency in mind. Even with a small or non-existent ad budget it is possible to increase frequency.

This includes all media, such as radio, print etc. While one doesn't expect a person to pull over to the side of the road and flip-open their cell to 'order now' just from hearing an ad spot on the radio, these ads do increase recall so it's entirely possible that when they return home they'll just type in your URL or Google your company or product name. Or click & buy from the very next ad for your product they see ~ just because you've now hit their own personal magic number.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Click-Through Rates

No one's asked lately, but here's more related to the history post and click-through rates (CTRs are the number of clicks divided by number of views or impressions). Here's some info on click-through rates sitting at half a percent (Jim Meskauskas, 2001):
In fact, CTRs are finally more in line with what is seen in the direct-response offline world. One-half of one percent is about what an advertiser can expect from a direct mail effort. Now that the web population is more reflective of the world at large, the kinds of things people do online and the regularity with which they do them will also mimic the offline world.
Which some people would say we shouldn't settle for anyway. But it's information I find interesting.

As Jim Meskauskas continues to say:
I think we are witnessing another sign that this industry is maturing: atrophy, consolidation, and stability showing in selected metrics. And the first metric to demonstrate this stability is the click-through rate.
While I've seen no number or averages for the adult industry (a tight-lipped lot), I can't imagine that overall performance is any different. At least the pattern of falling then steadying is what I've seen, and I do trust my own numbers.

Recent changes in behavioral targeting (BT) have generated stronger results. (Think of Contextual Targeting as the "more like this" in articles or Google ads, and BT as the "you might also like" at Amazon which takes in your behaviors including previous purchases.) Not surprising that it works; but also more than a bit creepy to many.

However, new information indicates that while BT and even what I'd call just plain old well-targeted ads may produce higher click-through rates, it is the advertising out of context which seems to generate the higher conversion rates.

At first this seems strange; shouldn't the best targeted ads generate the most interest? But we're talking about two dimensions here: well-targeted ads and context.

From Study: Behavioral Ads Convert Better Out of Context (Kevin Newcomb, October, 2006):
For most advertisers doing direct marketing, it makes more sense to serve behaviorally targeted ads in a different context than the behavior, such as serving ads targeting golf enthusiasts on a cooking site, he said. For behaviorally targeted ads shown in a different content category than that of the behavior, overall CTR is 108 percent higher and overall ATR is 19 percent higher than ads shown in the same category. ATR was higher in 5 of the nine segments with more than 10 million impressions.

If an advertiser is primarily concerned with driving traffic, then behaviorally targeted ads in the same category will perform better. CTR for ads shown in the same content category as behavior is 56 percent higher than ads shown in a different category. This was true in 7 of the nine segments.

There were some segments that did not conform to these results, [Dakota] Sullivan said. For instance, the "shoppers" segment showed the highest CTR from ads on career sites and the highest ATR on female-oriented sites. "Travelers" had the highest CTR on food sites and highest ATR on career sites.

"Previous research from others indicated an across-the-board rule of thumb, but we found it varies widely by category," Sullivan said.
It's interesting to note just how effective this could be if adult products and services could be included in the mix. For example, ads for escorts in luxury travel articles, erotica at iVillage, etc. I'm certain this would be a great boon for the advertisers and ad revenues. But we likely won't see that day. (A child could be surfing for that million dollar yacht rental and find :eek: an escort ad!)

In fact, BT is difficult for most of us (IT Team? As if!), but targeting isn't. And we all know context. So we can at least apply this thinking to our marketing and advertisements, even if we cannot create such software. And even if we cannot afford the ad rates at sites with such behaviorally targeted ads, or simply aren't welcome there at all, we can apply this thinking to our ad purchases and design.

This means not only considering at which sites you'll find your target market, but the other advertisers (and creative) are already there.

It makes sense if you consider it this way: "When the ads appear out of context, they help set your message apart. If someone sees a Sugarshots ad next to three car ads and a movie ad, it's going to be unique," [Doug] Schumaker said. "You've got to differentiate your message in any way you can." (Via Kevin Newcomb, February, 2006.)

While it's going to be tough to be the only dildo company or adult membership site at a sex blog, perhaps your ad can look completely different. And maybe, just maybe, you can find alternative sites to welcome your 'porn' advertising dollars. If you do, you'll be the only one there ~ for a little while anyway.

Then, like everything else, the numbers will lower, and lower, 'til they settle. Maybe not quite at half a percent; but they'll be lower.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Paid Per Posting: A Whore By Any Other Name, Still Smells Fishy

Sorry for the relatively crass post title, guaranteed to irritate sex workers (and women) everywhere ~ and the long post ~ but I really feel strongly about this.

Grab a beverage, light a cig if that's your dealio, and settle in ~ this whore's got stamina. (She's long winded & goes the distance.)


Maybe I'm just too old and remember the days of payola all too well, or maybe it's because I'm not only aware of the cultural swing to consumer mistrust but am part of it, but paid postings make me ill.

I seriously thought paid postings would be a short-lived mistake, and I'd never need to write about it. But lately, not only am I seeing the blight on more and more blogs, but it's so bad that blog directories are now asking if you participate in such activities and others are even tossing such bloggers out of their listings. Oh, if only that would be enough to convince folks that paid postings are a bad idea. But apparently it's not.

Paid posting is the devil. Not just annoying, not just a stupid thing to do, but literally a way to sell your integrity, and the soul of your blog and company if not your personal soul.

I'm not talking about when a writer gets paid to write, even 'on assignment,' or posts which are sponsored in the sense that someone pays a fee to have their ad in a post rather than a sidebar or other ad spot. I'm talking about when someone gets paid to writ about a specific product/service/company period. It's not merely 'like' payola, it is payola.
Payola is defined as, a secret or private payment in return for the promotion of a product or service. The term originates from the record industry; but isn't limited to it.
Media which is paid to present products, services, companies, candidates etc. should be marking these funds as advertising revenues and presenting these products to the public as advertisements. If not, if they publish articles, run videos, air interviews etc. for money, they are taking a bribe.

Don't kid yourself, or let another fool you, into believing that being paid to blog (write, publish, or otherwise present) about a product (company, service, performer, candidate or other entity) is ethical or effective. It's not.

In our current climate of mistrust, a thinking reader is often looking for the hook ~ what's this author's intent, what's the blogger have to gain from posting this, what's the reporter's bias? This means that the average visitor to your blog is looking for a reason not to trust you. Paid postings just prove them right, and you terribly, woefully, wrong.

(If you agree with me, you may stop reading now and go get an ice cream cone ~ unless you're morbidly fascinated by this sort of train-wreck. If you don't agree or don't know what pay per post is, then read on my children ~ you might get that ice cream cone yet.)

What happens when a blogger is giving selling their opinions directly on products ~ without even trying them?!

Think I'm exaggerating? Think again, kids. Look at this from SponsoredReviews.com FAQ for advertisers:
How It Works

There are two ways to participate:

1. You can search for and purchase reviews directly by browsing through our database of active bloggers. Once you purchase a review and provide some details about the review you want done, we notify the bloggers. The blogger would then accept or decline your review request. Once accepted the blogger has 7 days to write the review, post it on their blog, and submit the URL into our system for you to see.

2. You can also post an opportunity so that bloggers can search and find you directly. An opportunity is similar to posting a job opening. Bloggers will search for relevant advertisers in order to find work. Posting an opportunity will increase the number of reviews you can get completed.
And this is from their FAQ for bloggers:
How it Works

There are two ways to participate:

1. You can create a profile for your blog(s) in order to attract advertisers. Advertisers will purchase reviews from you, which you have the option to accept or decline.

2. You can also search for advertisers directly, and bid on jobs. Our unique bidding system allows you to negotiate your rates with advertisers in order to maximize your earnings.

Once you have accepted a review opportunity, you have 3 days to complete your assignment. Upon posting the review on your blog, you must enter the URL of the post into our system.
Not a single mention of product being delivered to a blogger ~ in fact, not a single mention of the products actually being used! Now what the hell is that about?! That's not a review, that's an infomercial (at best), a paid endorsement by someone who has never tried it (at worst) or just a plain old advertisement.

In fact, it seems that actually trying the product is discouraged. Here's a quote from PayPerPost.com's blogger FAQ:
Q: How much time do I have to write my post?

A: Once you have selected Take this Opportunity, you have 6 hours to complete the requirements as listed in the Opportunity and submit the post via PayPerPost. It is best to begin research and work on the post as soon as you have decided to accept the Opportunity.
Are we to believe that within 6 hours one has been sent or purchased the item, used it, and written a review?

A review means that one has tried the product or service and is giving their honest, unvarnished thoughts. Clearly, these are not reviews.

How on earth is paid posting not considered payola by everyone?

As a blogger, you have an ethical responsibility to differentiate advertisements from your own content (i.e. your comments, opinions, recommendations, interviews, articles etc.). Even if you do not consider yourself to be part of The Media, nor wish to be, you have this responsibility. Think of it this way; when you ask your friend what movie you should see this weekend and he tells you, "Even Almighty," you trust him, right? But what if he was paid to say that? And he never told you?

Paid per post is just that.

(And how would you feel about Universal Films for paying your buddy to tell you that?)

I know, I know, there are some sites/programs which make it clear that the blog post is a paid post via buttons, banners and links. This does alleviate the matter of the hidden agenda from the reader ~ however, this leads to a whole other set of problems which prove pay per post is just bad business.

Number one, the fundamental flaw with admitting that you get paid per post is that your entire blog and everything you say is now suspect. It's not just me saying that. Be honest with yourself; if you read in any of my posts that I was paid to write them, wouldn't they naturally be suspect? Wouldn't I naturally be suspect?

You know what kills me? When bloggers fill their headers and their sidebars with buttons which read, "Hire Me! A Post On This Blog Is $15" (or $30 or whatever price they put on their integrity). Authority lost in the name of transparency, that's what this is. That button screams, "Hey! Me, my blog, and I have no integrity! Buy us!" What authority can you possibly have or earn when you announce that you and your blog are for sale?

And they call me a whore. :snort:

While these hideous announcements are at least honest, what does this do for the advertiser? Do you trust or like people who bribe people? Those companies, politicians, entertainers, etc. who use pay for posts are doing just that.

In our current climate of distrust of corporations and marketing in general, people are all-too-ready to point fingers at those who would be so unethical. And it won't be just the blogger who suffers with a poor reputation, but the advertiser as well.

Besides, it's a waste of ad dollars. These blatant bribes are not going to be effective.

Knowing that a blogger is paid for their posts severely limits the blog's appeal. Would a paid review, a blog post be meaningful to you? Likely not. Who is going to bookmark or regularly visit this blog? Would you read a blog or subscribe to an RSS feed in which 70% (or more) of its content was ads? Probably not.

Of the few that do visit, either out of friendship with the blogger or those who just stumbled in for the first time from from a search engine query, are these visitors part of the advertiser's target market? For that matter, how can a blog which is 70% paid postings have a target audience? So even if these were credible reviews and ads at credible blogs how could these ads even be worthwhile to the advertisers?

It's a lose-lose scenario.

Amazingly, quite a number of these bloggers in pay per post programs (and there are a growing number of these), have high rankings, linking authority at Technorati and other signs of 'greatness.'

How do they do it? Well, I'm no member of these programs, but it's pretty clear that they are organized, armed with blogger tools, and know just enough to be dangerous ~ for the short term anyway. For no matter how many people you get (trick into) visiting these blogs, the bottom line is no one is trusting them enough to believe what they say. Translation: No one is going to rush out and buy/consume the products and services which are presented.

One of the tools these programs offer is the "Get Paid To Review My Post" buttons. These are designed to get others hooked. Not just other bloggers and advertisers, but blog readers looking to make a few bucks.

I've heard the intention of the "review me" buttons and links are to provide the check & balance of the system. If a blogger consistently gets poor reviews, then they'll be ranked less or otherwise deemed less worthy to advertisers. This is to ensure the quality. (Quality I can only guess is determined by some rather meaningless criteria, for by now credibility is non-existent.) Aside from the obvious potential of misuse by other jealous bloggers, the friends of bloggers and the advertisers themselves (who can keep a blogger's fees as humble as their attitudes), the whole system is rife with misuse by the program managers themselves.

As noted before, I've been at sites where the owners told columnists to download the Alexa toolbar so that our visits would help increase the site's ranking. So it's not a big leap to imagine that when advertisers stop buying posts these programs will direct members to 'give folks a break' and give nice reviews so that they can gain and retain advertisers. A plea to 'help the program so you can continue to be paid' is a strong motivator for many, and since the average (admittedly not generated with a large sample) I saw for paid post reviews was $7.50 per review, that could add up rather quickly. Those reviewing members are going to respond.

Of course, it's just as likely that the programs will actually direct it's members posting negative or neutral 'reviews' to let up a bit to help the site gain and retain advertisers. Ditto on running about and clicking the links to advertisers to inflate numbers. Since these bloggers are in it for the money, not the authority, not the love of what they blog about, they are going to submit to these requests.

The whole thing stinks like rotten fish sitting in the sunshine. Don't let pay per post folks blow sunshine up your skirt with their talk of revenues and other matters which cloud the issue, which is one of ethics.

Decent bloggers care about their authority. Decent companies care about their image. And paid postings destroy both.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

True OR False: Ads Don't Work On The Internet

Continuing my thoughts on marketing in a digital world...

To understand the situation, one needs to begin with a look backwards at the brief evolution of the Net in terms of Internet marketing.

Remember when banner ads were all the rage? Touted at the way to promote and advertise, they were compared to billboards, ads and other branding methods. At first, the click-thru rates were high, and investments in the standard 60 x 468 were considered de riguer for any decent webmaster.

When those lost their punch, one needed flashing and/or animated gifs. 'Movement' was deemed the best way to engage surfers. When those links pages became a swirling sea of flashing and animated banners, we quickly moved to skyscraper ads and ads placed within content rather than relegated to links pages. Their very size and prominence indicated power and deep pockets, their performance numbers were high ~ but quickly, surfers lost their interest in these too.

We were then told to forget about banners and branding and directed to buy keywords and start affiliate programs. Without really saying so, at least not directly admitting 'why' this was so, we were told banners didn't work. Pay per click and pay for performance models were better than spots based on time limits or impressions.

Next it was SEO. Text links (or 'hard links'), we were told, were far better because this was more powerful in feeding search engines. We were also told that surfers wanted or at least reacted to text links.

Along the way we've been told and coached that low click-thru rates are the norm. To make the most of the numbers game, to make that low percent a high number of clicks, we now are told to covet social networking linkage. No matter what the context, get linked there ~ it's where the cool kids are! So what if the rate is low, the percent of clicks nominal and conversions an even smaller percentage, we should settle for them because that's just the way it is.

But that's not 'just the way it is.' Or at least few are examining why it is that way.

When you look at the past, patters emerge. All these web promotions began with great results and then were dumped in favor of the next new thing. This isn't so surprising. Early adopters have better (the best) success rates. Innovators usually do. But their are other assumptions being made here which should be looked at.

The belief that once the numbers are low, the whole thing should be scrapped is a bit foolish. It's like throwing the baby out with the bath water, for Pete's sake. I'm not saying we should settle for low numbers and poor performances, but while we need to keep our companies and marketing campaigns out of the red, we cannot view things as simplistically as black or white. There are shades of grey (such as branding) and perhaps more importantly, one should look at why these campaigns failed.

There are many possible reasons for this: poorly created ads, poorly targeted ads, poor products/companies, companies with such large PR problems that ads are rendered useless, companies with such big profiles (saturation points) that ads are not relevant (at least in terms of triggering a click response), are just a few.

A popular assumption is that Internet advertising has failed (or has very low performance numbers) because Internet users bore easily and tire quickly of the ads. There's some merit to this, but I don't just think it's short attention spans.

Another popular assumption is that no one has either found the right way to implement ads (from a mechanism or technological point of view) or discovered a way to appeal to Internet users, as if we are some different species of human. To some extent Internet users are different than non-Internet users. But only in the same ways that TV viewers differ from radio folks, book readers differ from movie goers ~ as a target market. (And as you know, many target markets overlap ~ the key is in knowing the essentials of your business.) We are not a whole other species.

The bottom line is that most of us, Internet users or not, are tired and unresponsive to ads in general.

With cultural shifts towards skepticism and unethical business practices only adding to this mindset, this new medium and the citizens which virtually live in it aren't going to fall for the same old tricks. It's not just the novelty of 'new' which they/we tire of, it's the whole advertising system.

People today are bombarded by ads; and we are, by and large, OK with that. Call us practical, call us jaded, we understand the economics of companies selling things. We don't mind it. We don't mind it so much we tune it out most of the time.

The few things we do remember about ads is how they talk down to us, how they think we are incapable of thinking and researching for ourselves, and perhaps most of all, how companies, despite having copious amounts of information about us, do not know us at all.

We aren't so much offended by advertising as we are by how companies talk to us and about us.

Where the proverbial shit hits the fan with regards to the Internet is not that we are a new species, but that we are more vocal. This comes from a combination of factors. One, our youth, which generally brings with it more of an outspoken nature. Two, the fact that (duh) this new medium doesn't just 'allow' for interaction but is built upon it. So Internet users will speak out and loudly about idiot campaigns ~ and the companies which use them.

This is good news.

A smart marketer will spend time listening to what people are saying, especially to those groups they feel best represent their customers and potential customers, and put that information into use.

Does that mean ads don't work? No... Not entirely.

The real changes here are the new medium which presents new challenges in presentation and monetization, and the cultural shift to skepticism which is admittedly both affected by the Internet ~ as well as using the Internet to further drive and voice the shift. The good news is that we can not only use the Internet to see what works, what doesn't, and what's going on in our target market, but that we can find this all out rather quickly. If we are willing to listen and collect information, examine what we see and hear, and put it into use.

Subscribe to The Marketing Whore Newsletter and you'll get my ideas on ads and marketing campaigns that do work.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Listen To This, Big Guy, And Save

Herb Tarlek of WKRP on Sales:



Herb's sales copy:
Big Snake Sale!
Sssssave! Sssssave! Sssssave!
Pick and choossssse! Mix and match, everything'sssss marked down!
Thessssse marvelous petsssss are quiet and refined.
Rid your house of rodentsssss and unwanted baby chicks, ssssstartle your friendsssss today!
Which got a few of us off our own "S's" and thinking... Why not have an ad sale and help a few of our friends with stuff stuck in their backrooms? (We bet that even the adult industry has a few snakes which must be moved. *wink*)

So here's our SSSuper SSSmut SSSpecial.

Get the Standard (150x200, 16K + 300 char) Blogads at the three following sites:

SSSilent Porn Star
SSSlip of a Girl
And SSSex-Kitten.Net

All three blogs, one month ~ at half price! Just $214.50

All three blogs, one week ~ at half price! Just $65

(In case you're too freaked-out by the offer to focus on the math, a week at all three sites would normally cost you $130; and a month is regularly $429.)

Also at Sex-Kitten.Net only, buy a Hi-Rise ad (150x600, 35K + 300 char) for one week (normally $200), now just the price of a one week standard ad.

(That math means you pay only $100 for the week!)

These are Limited Time Offers ~ We Aren't Kidding! (And we know this offer isn't a turkey; it won't hit the ground like sacks of wet cement either! *wink*)

Here's how to do it:

1) Make your ad payment via PayPal to Pay (at) equilibri-yum (dot) com.

2) Email me at TheWhore (at) MarketingWhore (dot) Net with the following ad information:

Ad Headline: Max. 32 chars. No html allowed
Ad Text: Max. 300 published chars. Max. 3 empty lines. Simple HTML (a, b, i, u) allowed. No more than 18 continuous visible characters please!
URL: Your website, product etc.
Standard Ad Image: 150 X 200 pixels and 16KB jpg/gif
OR
Hi-Rise Ad Image: 150 X 600 pixels and 35KB jpg/gif

Yes, you can reserve future dates ~ with your payment only. Please include your requested ad start date with your other ad information.

Fine Print: Since this is an ad special, you won't be using the Blogads interface ~ we will be placing the ads for you, so it's really important that you email with your information as soon as you make your payment.

These offers end when we say they do. The only guarantee you have that your ad(s) will run is once you've made your payment. So reserve your spots now!

-- OOps! Totally forgot to thank Slip for the clip, from her review of the WKRP Season One DVD.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Search Advertising on Social Networks

Study says what The Whore Says about why folks use social networking sites:
A January 2007 Jupiter/iProspect study asked whether people had used the search function on the sites: 77% of MySpace users and 78% of Facebook users had. The most common reason was to search for other people: Nearly half of Facebook users and 35% of MySpace users had done so. Entertainment was the second-most-common search topic among the choices offered, particularly for MySpace users. The percentages of respondents who used the sites to research or purchase a product or service were in the single digits.
I guess if you're pimpin' people, search advertising at Facebook would be grand.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Best Things I've Seen (Today)

I often feel like I'm a ranting, raving lunatic here. Drilling you and droning on & on...

So here are a few things that I spotted today which need only be pointed to:

Copyblogger offers a Copywriting Contest: $10,000 in Prizes for Irresistible Offers. (I'm even tempted to drop my clients and projects to enter this.)

Bacchus at ErosBlog covers the practical matters of defining the market (and porn consumers) in An Economist Confused About Porn.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Getting Down & Dirty With Mr. Clean

In Brand Mascots in Erotic Fantasies blogger Ilya Vedrashko shows us how corporate brands are getting into porn ~ literally. I point this out not just for the amusing factor, but within and at the end of Ilya's post there are several other good links to sex in advertising.

Reading them you'll note that sex doesn't always sell ~ while it may do better in spam clicks, sex has been show (along with violence) not to really lead to sales.

The obvious distinction is that in spam one is using sex to sell sex; that's fair and simple. You're showing the potential customer who is interested in porn, porn. But in the other cases, sex is being used to sell shampoo, cars, beer and anything but sex itself. While you've got their attention, and as the study indicates, got them thinking about sex, you're not selling or delivering sex. Bait & switch doesn't work, least of all here where the product is at least several steps removed from the turn-on.

Likely the ads which posture sex but are unable to deliver it do more to get those porn spam emails open.

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