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19 Mar 12 $1.6 Billion Loss For Just 1 Second Delay

I’ve posted before about the importance of a speedy website. This infographic puts a different spin on what this means at scale and adds some other interesting data points, especially on the mobile side.

08 Mar 11 Marketers: Reduce Your Latency and Increase Your Profits

When I’m in the mood for some extra technical reading, I like to hang out on the High Scalability Blog. One of their older but eye opening posts is a collection of articles and research papers on the effects of latency on sales, traffic and website engagement.

This section particularly grabbed my attention as it highlights how dramatic an effect latency really has on your online revenue.

Latency matters. Amazon found every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales. Google found an extra .5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%. A broker could lose $4 million in revenues per millisecond if their electronic trading platform is 5 milliseconds behind the competition.

We are always looking for tweaks to make Tracking202 and Prosper202 faster, as we undersand how much of a difference a few 100ms can make on your earnings. I recently wrote a post highlighting a few quick fixes you can make right now, that will yield some noticeable differences for you.

Read: Money Loves Speed

Photo Credit: Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

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19 Nov 10 Oh Noes! I’m Outing Facebook Ads

I just saw this ad on Facebook and love how attention grabbing this ad is, especially since it’s written in a way to connect with a very specific target audience.

However, immediately after enjoying how smart and witty the ad was, the next thing that popped into my mind was:

“Wait a minute, why am I even seeing this ad running, did the reviewer ‘forget’ about section 15 of the Facebook ad guidelines?” http://www.facebook.com/ad_guidelines.php

Here’s a Snippet From Section 15 of the Ads Guide and also a screenshot of the Ads FAQ that explains this further with an example:

Grammar, sentence structure, spelling, and spacing

Ad text must be grammatically correct and contain proper sentence structure.
Ad text must be in complete sentences.
Ads cannot include excessive repetition (such as “buy, buy, buy”).
Ads must use correct spelling.
Ad text must include grammatically correct spacing.

Screenshot of Ads Faq

What are your thoughts on this?

Is it ok for Facebook to allow a company like Panasonic to break the ads guideline or operate under a different set of guidelines, when a similar move by a smaller advertiser would be met by the very familiar disapprove message that I’m sure many of you reading this post have grown to love (to hate)?

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04 Nov 10 The Holidays Are Coming! Are You Ready?

The Holidays are just around the corner, and that means it’s time to grab your piece of the multi-billion dollar holiday spending season. The big online retailers Amazon, eBay, Walmart and more have already started heavy promotions. The graph below is an aggregate of shopping related searches on Google over the past 12 months. So the spike at the beginning shows last years volume, the spike at the right of the graph show what is happening right now.

For more information on the Holiday Shopping Season, I recommend you check out the Google Retail Blog.

Hint: Check out their posts from last year, both before and after the holiday season.

More Cool Holiday Resources For You

This year Google has launched the Holiday Marketing Central, the data and infor shared here could be invaluable if used correctly.

For example did you know that Tuesdays are the biggest shopping days during the month of December? I thought Monday was the biggest shopping day.

Seasonal Holiday CampaignsThis is a presentation I created last year for the San Francisco Meetup202 Group, it’s was refreshed this year and should give you more insight and data to get you motivated.

Download Seasonal Holiday Campaigns PDF File

Finally here’s a recent post from Ian Fernando, that talks about tools affiliates can make use of to easily build holiday themed shopping sites.

What has your experience been? Is this the biggest time of the year for you?

18 Oct 10 The New Prosper202 Tokens: Cool Stuff You Never Knew Was Possible

Since the introduction of the new [[subid]], [[C1]], [[C2]], [[C3]] & [[C4]] tokens in Prosper202 there hasn’t been much in terms of official documentation of how to best make use of them. This is quite unfortunate because these new tokens and internal prosper202 functionality updates actually quite powerful once you fully understand what you can do with them. This post goes into some of the power user features that were added, but never fully documented and explained.

Let’s Start With The Basics: [[subid]]

Before the most recent updates, you would have to rearrange your affiliate links to ensure your subid variable was at the end of your url

For example a link like the following:
http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0

Would have to be rewritten as:
http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&subid1=

For many people this was a huge point of failure,and we saw more support tickets and emails about errors caused by the incorrect formatting of the affiliate link than anyone should be subject to.

So now using the [[subid]] token on Prosper202 1.5 and higher, getting your link formatted correctly is as simple as grabbing your affiliate link and pasting the [[subid]] token right after the subid variable.

An example is shown below:
http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0

For the average, and not so average user, this is a major improvement and a much simpler non technical way to format affiliate links for correct tracking.

Now About The New [[C1]],[[C2]],[[C3]], and [[C4]] Variables and Tokens

For a while now, the only way to pass extra data into the software was with the t202kw variable on the tracking link generated in step 7

Here’s an example link:

http://tracking202.com/tracking202/redirect/dl.php?t202id=8373&t202kw=myKeyword

In the beginning, this was flexible enough. But, as the software started being used for media buys, email drops, ppv and social advertising etc, there was a need for more tracking parameters. That’s where the C1-4 Variables become really useful.

There are 2 main places you can use the C Variables, in step #3 you can use them as tokens and in step #7 they are available as url variables.

Let’s take a look at the simple way of using the C1-4 Variable and then go on to the more advanced feature, one that I assume many of our users may not have known existed.

During step #7 as you create your tracking link you can use the forms to append up to 4 C variables to your tracking link. Think of them the same as you would the t202kw variable.

For example on a facebook campaign you may use C1 to track the gender, C2 to track the age range, C3 for the ad creative and C4 for you bid type. Here’s how the link may be formatted

In this example we are using the C1-4 variables to track different factors of a Facebook campaign.

The prosper202 interface in step #7 is just there to allow you to easily add these tracking variables, so you can actually manually append these to your links after you generate them. This works great for ad network tags like {placement} on adwords.

To view and analyze the performance of your campaigns you’d use the new group overview screen. Using this screen you can group your reports by any number of factors.

Use the new group overview tab to analyze performance

Getting More Fancy – Dynamic Variable Passing

Have you ever had a situation where you needed to pass dynamic values into your affiliate link? Until version 1.5 this was basically impossible unless you really hacked some code. This is definitely out of the question for most of of our users.

But with the new and hardly documented variable passing system, this is a breeze.

Take a look at this example:

http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&subid2=[[c1]]

I added a subid2 variable and placed the [[c1]] variable as its value. One big thing to notice is that, the [[c1]]-[[c4]] tokens DON’T have to be assigned to a corresponding c1-4 url variable in your link in step #3. Any of the following are completely valid

http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&age=[[c1]]


http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&c1=[[c1]]


http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&gender=[[c1]]&age=[[c2]]


http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&gender=[[c1]]&age=[[c2]]&location=[[c3]]&specialsauce=[[c4]]

Now the question is, where does the c1-4 values come from? You pass them in on the fly via your tracking link generated in step #7

Here’s an example of how this would work:

http://tracking202.com/tracking202/redirect/dl.php?t202id=8373&c1=female&c2=21-26&c3=usa&c4=not-telling&t202kw=myKeyword

When the link above is clicked Prosper202 would automatically perform the following substitutions (assuming your affiliate link in step #3 was: http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&gender=[[c1]]&age=[[c2]]&location=[[c3]]&specialsauce=[[c4]] ):

http://somenetwork.com/redirect.php?a=CD12345&subid1=[[subid]]&b=9315&optinfo=&d=0&l=0&p=0&gender=female&age=21-26&location=usa&specialsauce=not-telling

[[c1]] was replaced by “female”, [[c2]] by “21-26″, [[c3]] by “usa” and [[c4]] by “not-telling”

As you can see, with a little imagination, there are quite a few cool things you can do with this new functionality.

Hot Tip: In all my examples, I didn’t bother trying to encode my c1-4 values. Ideally you’d create an encoding for all these values to prevent competitors from knowing exactly how you are targeting your traffic.

UPDATE: Thanks Wes Brooks for reminding more of this cool mod that makes it easier to use the new tokens: http://ctrtard.com/affiliate-marketing/pimp-your-prosper-with-subid-injection-buttons/

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27 Sep 10 New Facebook Ad Format

Today while doing some research on Facebook, I noticed that a few of the ads are now showing a destination url right below the ad’s headline.

At this point in time it doesn’t look like all the ads are showing this. For example ads to Facebook pages don’t have the destination urls showing on the ads.

The urls are actually showing the final destination page so use of tracking links don’t seem to affect the url shown on the ad, however there were a few ads that had destination urls that definitely didn’t match the actual destination url. Considering these were all affiliate ad, I assume the advertisers were cloaking, causing the Facebook bot to grab and show the wrong display url.

Up until now there was no need to consider your display url when running Facebook campaigns, now it looks like now there will be some advantages in having landing page urls that are targeted to the offer being promoted. This is a technique, I’ve been using on adwords for years for increasing mt CTR. Urls that are too long are currently being truncated.

Facebook users will now also have a better idea of where they are going to be taken before even clicking on an ad, depending on the situation, expect your CTR to increase or Drop. You may also start to see a drop in duplicate clicks since users will now be able to know that multiple variations of an ad all lead to the same site.

At this point in time, the display url doesn’t seem to be showing in everyone’s account and it may be a test that may not end up going live fore everyone. Are you seeing this change in your account?

09 Sep 10 Social Proof Is King Especially on Facebook

I’m Nana Gilbert-Baffoe and I Endorse this blog post!

As a marketer you should know about the psychological phenomenon known as social proof and its power and ability to get people taking action or feeling more comfortable about taking an action because they see other people have already taken a similar action. Social proof becomes even more powerful when people you know, like and trust endorse an action or product and Facebook ads includes an incredible ability to tap into this phenomenon with Social Endorsement. To see how social endorsements work on ads, take a look at the image to the left.

How many of you could resist from clicking my ad or even liking it too if you knew someone as likable, charismatic, and humble as me was endorsing my own ad?

So the ability to click like on ads is not new, but until today all you could do is assume and hope that someone (hopefully someone influential) had clicked the like button. There was no way to actually know how people were engaging with your ads and if anyone had actually taken to time to click Like on your ads.

Take a look at the new data Facebook just made available to advertisers


In a note today the FB ads team announced that we now have access to some pretty interesting data on how people are interacting with our ads and if anyone has clicked like, it doesn’t have all the data I’d like to see, but it’s definitely a start in the right direction.

There ad manager now shows one new column labeled Social %, this shows the percentage of ads that were shown with asocial endorsement at the bottom. To get access to all the extra metrics you see in the screen shot, you will need to run an Advertising Performance report in the report manger. In the image the Impressions column is nothing new, but right next to it we have Social Imp % which is the same as the Social % metric shown in the ad manager. The next new metric is Social Clicks, this shows how many clicks originated from ads with social endorsements on them. The final and more interesting to me is the Social Click Rate one. I had always guessed that ads with social endorsements enjoyed a higher CTR but there was no way to really know. Now we know. I chose to share data from a campaign with enough data that my conclusions would be more statistically valid. If my math is correct, having social endorsement on my ads increased my CTR by over 41%. This is huge, and I’m going to start experimenting with ways to get more social endorsements on my ads.

It would be interesting to get some more data from others as to how much better or worse your ads performed when enhanced with social endorsements, feel free to share your data in the comments. Hint, Hint! Additionally I’d like to see the actual number of endorsements my ads got and how well these ads improved conversion rates. The conversion data would only be available to people using the Facebook conversion pixel. I’m sure Facebook will add this over time.

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08 Sep 10 Google Instant Search, Your Adwords CTR, and SEO Traffic

It’s rumored that Google will be launching their instant search or streaming search functionality today. Late last night I saw it in action, for a few minutes. I assume they are randomly testing it out with their users. I would have played around with it more if I had known for sure it wasn’t live for everyone. Here are my initial thoughts and questions based on my quick experience.

Inflated Adwords Impressions and Hijacked Clicks Unless…

As I was typing out me query the entire results page kept updating, including the ads. What this means is that by the time you are done typing you’ve probable seen 5-10+ ads. Any of them will flash by for a second or less. I expecting Google will not count these as impressions on your account, but how will they get reported? Drive-By Impressions? Or will advertisers not get this data. I believe that as users get used to this new feature, people will start to type queries slower in order to glance at the results AND ads. The benefit is that advertisers with ads being triggered by lower key phrase terms will now have first dibs at the traffic.

Let’s say a surfer wanted to search for “Dog Training For Beginners” , and you happen to be bidding on this phrase because you did your homework and only bid on highly targeted keyword phrases. With the new Google, an ad will show for “Dog”, this will probably not be targeted enough for the ad to match the surfers requirement. But the next set of ads and results will be for the phrase “Dog Training”. Depending on how well written the ad is, the surfer may never complete their initial query before they click away.

It will be interesting to see how web search behavior changes and how advertisers will have to modify their keyword selection process and ad copy writing to stay competitive. The same applies to anyone doing SEO.

#1 Position Could Be Worth a Lot More traffic!

I may be mistaken, but I think there is some keystroke or action that automatically or easily navigates you to the first result in the SERP. During my first encounter with instant search I somehow ended up on a website but I know for sure I didn’t click the listing to get there. All I know is that my fingers slipped and hit something that took me to the top results on the page. Whether this is an actual feature or even the results of my mistake, this could be huge for the SEO industry and everyone enjoying first position ranking for any keyword.

All this is going to become more clear at 9:30am PST today and I’ll update my post with thoughts

Update

Here’s more info on how impressions are counted on adwords, from The Adwords Advertisers FAQ
“When someone searches using Google Instant, ad impressions are counted in these situations:

  • The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
  • The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
  • The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.

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05 Sep 10 Cheap Facebook Traffic For The Taking

For many of us in the US, it’s easy to forget or not realize that 70%+ percent of Facebook’s 500+ million active users are NOT in the US. This means that if you have a product or service that can be used by the international web, you need a plan for utilizing Facebook’s relatively cheap international traffic to grow your bottom line. This short guide will provide you with a few pointers on how to best advertise to non-US Facebookers and also show you where to go to get the cheapest international traffic.

Watch your language!

Is the landing page of the offer in English or another language? Remember, it’s possible to target people by both language and country, so ensure the language of the page matches up with the language selected your ad. By default, facebook will target your ads to speakers of the official language of the country you are targeting, don’t make the mistake of writing an English ad that may potentially be shown to a non-English speaker. You will only end up with a low CTR ad. It’s safe to assume that many of you reading this may not be native speakers of some of the offer you promote. Use a tool such as Google Translate to help you. http://translate.google.com/

Find The Right Offers

Ask your affiliate manager at your favorite network for a list of their top international offers. They are there to help you, so make use of them as a resource. Just a few months ago, it was much harder to find offers to run internationally. Now almost all the major networks have a reasonable collection of international offers, often they are available for countries other than the usual countries that everyone things of when looking to promote “International” offers i.e. Canada, UK, Australia, and even New Zealand so explore and be adventurous with your offer selection.

Geo Targeting Can Be Your Enemy

Many savvy advertisers and affiliates use scripts to automatically redirect non-locals to another page. This can backfire especially with Facebook because they will disapprove your ad if they don’t land on a page that matches the offer being presented in your ad. One solution is to ask your affiliate manager if there is non-geotargeted link available for use on Facebook. There are other ways to solve this problem; however I won’t recommend them since it could get your account banned.

Know Where The Cheap Traffic Is

Even though 70% of Facebook’s active users are not in the US, it’s still worth noting that the US still has the largest concentration on Facebook users for targeting. Compare over 132,000,000 users in the US vs approximately 28,000,000 in the UK which is the country with the next largest userbase reachable by advertisers.  We are talking about almost 5x more users to advertise to but it comes at a premium. US traffic is the most expensive and competitive to target on Facebook. The recommend CPC for targeting people 25-34 is about $1.12 in the US, however if you were trying to reach the same age demographic in Venezuela you’d be paying only $0.11 this is approximately 10x cheaper.

Here’s a table with the Top 10 Facebook Countries By Traffic Volume and the cost of reaching people aged 25-34 in each country. All data is approximate.

Rank Country # of Facebook Users Cost To Target 25-34 Yr Olds # Of 25-34 Yr Olds
1 USA 132,810,940 $1.12 32,486,140
2 UK 27,806,860 $1.08 7,369,060
3 Indonesia 27,338,560 $0.23 6,100,040
4 Turkey 23,516,140 $0.14 6,982,240
5 France 19,444,660 $0.61 5,290,420
6 Italy 16,888,600 $0.32 4,631,380
7 Philippines 16,235,000 $0.12 3,814,360
8 Canada 16,199,840 $0.74 4,236,660
9 Mexico 15,037,020 $0.17 3,910,700
10 India 13,188,580 $0.35 4,007,160

Would you like a word doc with the top 30 countries? Here’s how to get the file:

Step 1: Like this post in Facebook
Step 2: Tweet this post on twitter.
Step 3: My Facebook fanpage is a bit lonely. “Please Like Me” :) And A link to the word doc will be automatically shown to you.

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25 Aug 10 Remarketing with Google Adwords

Ever notice certain ads that seem to follow you around wherever you go? Just recently, I’ve been seeing aweber ads on the Google Display Network (formerly known as the Content Network) Network sites I visit, and it’s been frequent enough that I stopped to pay attention. Good job to whoever manages SEM and media buys at aweber.

How are companies like Aweber doing this?

It’s called remarketing or retargeting and it allows you to tag and cookie people who hit a particular page or site. Later on, you can identify these people as they surf around the web and message them with precision.

Time For A Picture

Use Remarketing To Reach People Who Didn't Convert

In the diagram to the left, the blue+green equals everyone who visited your landing page, let’s call it LP X.

To tag these people you just need to put your tagging script on your landing page and  everyone who hits it will get the “Everyone Who Saw LP X” Cookie.

The people in the green made you money or converted for you, they get tagged with the “Thank You Please Come Again” Cookie, and you would put this on your thank-you/conversion page.

Now without remarketing the vast majority of the people who landed on your page would be gone forever, but now you can virtually follow them around the web with reminders and special offer to get them to come back. The messaging is totally up to you. I’ve seen a few aggressive ads that basically say, “Hey we know who you are come back”. It definitely grabbed my attention because it was one of the first times I’d seen remarketing in action. Of course this is not the only way you can use remarketing, there are many other creative ways to tag your visitors.

Here are more ideas for you to consider

  • Facebook advertising gives you access to traffic based on some pretty precise demographic options. One thing that Facebook banned a while ago was calling out people based on certain aspects of their demographic. This tactic worked very well for conversions and CTR. Now with remarketing and a little scripting you can create ads on facebook and tag these people into very specific demographic buckets. There more you can do with this idea that will basically let you target the masses more precisely but that’s not the kind of conversation I’d like to have on a blog ;)
  • Easy Up-sells. You know that people who buy X are more likely to buy Y. Just create a “Buyers of X” group and use remarketing to pitch Product Y to them.

How do you get started?

Google Adwords Audiences Tab

To Start Experimenting with Remarketing on Google Adwords, Just Click The Audiences Tab.

I hope I’ve got you excited enough to think about ways you can use remarketing in your business. There are lots of companies out there that will allow you to run remarketing campaigns, but I recommend you start with Google Adwords and the Google Display Network because most of you reading this already have an adwords account, and can get started right away without having to apply for a new account with 3rd parties etc etc.

I Would Have Made You a Quick  Getting Started Video, but Google Already Beat Me To It

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Finally, to read more in-depth information on how remarketing works on Adwords check out this resource page on Interest-Based Advertising.

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