Saturday, November 04, 2006

Creating a Virus

I called my Mom yesterday. She could barely talk. The affect of a common virus, the "cold". And yet research tells us that you can never catch the same cold virus twice.

I don't believe that either.

But the way virii spread is by exposure. In other words, if the virus remains in the petrie dish, or say on someone's hard drive, it will be ineffective. And that's the way it is with anything you do in our field - you gain knowledge, yet you never use it - that's probably why things aren't working out for you.

For websites, a most interesting virus is something of great value. For instance, many people visit to get stock quotes. And they tell their friends. And pretty soon it catches on. Fun sites give us entertainment value. You get the idea.

This weekend launched some pretty fun web videos that show you how to make a great espresso, or a great coffee. And I like how it's so easy to do this... viral marketing. All they did was video the making of an espresso, along with comments on why you need to use filtered water, fresh beans, fine grind - the whole nine yards - and then uploaded the video to Google Video.

Next, they placed the videos on their website with a simple cut and paste of the script Google Video gives you. Pretty easy. And plus they're in Google Video's directory. Can't get much better than that.

Do you have an interesting marketing tip you could share? If I deem it worthwhile, we'll share it with the list and you'll be rewarded with the extra traffic. Let me hear from you.

Keep working hard and your goals and remember, get out of the petrie dish!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Sam's Club Christmas Catalog

It arrived today. Without fanfare. Along with the other mail, bills, etc.

It's this year's Sam's Club - Gifts 2006 Christmas Catalog!

From the outside it is so much like any other gift catalog that I tossed it aside. Then I took it in the bathroom, thinking there might be something new and interesting to see.

Cessna CitationOn the inside cover, I thought I was reading the Neimann Marcus Christmas Catalog. At first, I thought it must be a model of a Cessna Citation Mustang. Not the real thing. After all, we're talking Sam's Club, where I buy chips and socks and nice Dockers.

But it's the real thing. With a price tag of $2,734,600!

Want one? I do. How cool would that be to fly around in your own private jet? Some of my friends do - but I haven't reached that "level" yet.

There are several other "cool" once-in-a-lifetime packages in the catalog. But, you may be asking what this has to do with making money with contextual ads? Well, for one, I love the content of the new catalog.

I don't normally toss the Sam's or Costco catalogs because I know they'll have something in them of value. This time around Sam's blew my socks off.

The draw is the association with those stores. I go there because they have things I look for (think search/keywords). And when I open the doors or the catalog in this case, I am greeted with something I definitely "click" on - the Citation.

Nice lesson to offer great content that will blow away your audience.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Importance of Privacy

David Faber of CNBCTwo stories coming out the same week on privacy issues made me curious.

Do the "big brothers" really glean more information than they are letting on? If you think not, I think you're in for a surprise.

Two groups, the Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to look into among other things, how software giants track consumers' Internet activity.

And David Faber of CNBC presented his finding in his "Big Brother - Big Business", shows how Google records every search that has ever been conducted by anyone who uses Google. Kinda scary stuff.

Here's what I take away from this.

If you are trying to separate your AdSense sites, make sure you don't provide a back door link to someone like Microsoft (MSN), or Google, by using their Desktop searches. These technologies are linked to the Mother Station and provide it with a list of your sites.

Paranoia? Maybe. But two firms think differently and want the Feds to investigate if our privacy is being jeopardized.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Google AdSense Channels

I've been asked what are Google AdSense Channels and why would you use them?

First, if you've followed anything that I do, you know I'm into logging every nuance. So, how can AdSense Channels help?

Let's say you run a sports website and you've placed a leaderboard at the top and bottom of every page. To track performance of the ad placement, you create two channels - "top-leaderboard" and "bottom-leaderboard". The channel code goes in the AdSense code on your website.

If you want to hone in on more specifics, say you want to know about the top leaderboard ad on your hockey page, you can do this with what Google AdSense called "Multiple Channels". Up to five different channels can be assigned to one ad block. Now you can assign "top-leaderboard" and "hockey score page" to that leaderboard ad on the hockey score page on your site. No need to generate a separate code for each block. With the Multiple Channels, you can create unlimited combinations to follow your metrics.

Remember that each channel is going to report its own ad impression, so say you have all five channels on one block, you'll get five channel impressions for each page view.

Great tool. Use in good health.

Too Many Leaks

We have one of the coolest gadgets, in my estimation, in our house. Everyday, like clockwork, a gizmo called an iRobot backs out of its dock and proceeds to vacuum-sweep the kitchen and most of the living room.

Along with the Roomba, as it's affectionately called, comes two virtual walls. This keeps the robot confined to one area of the house. Without them, the Roomba tries its best to clean the entire house. It has a two-hour battery life and is programmed to do four passes over the surface it's cleaning.

Needless to say, without the walls, in any sizable home, you're going to find your iRobot sitting in a corner out of power if you let it roam the house without the "walls".

Those walls help it get the job done right.

Recently one of my students had me analyze his site. He was getting dismal click-through rates on the ads on his pages. Now, sometimes this happens because of the structure of the site. It just looks crummy and people click back before they do anything else. But this site looked professional. Looked like something you would want to spend some time investigating.

But soon I saw a fatal flaw that happens mainly after the site has been online for a few months. People wonder why their click-through rate has dropped through the basement and yet, they keep tweaking and tweaking.

That's the error. They don't understand why the click-through rate is good, and when they go to improve it, they actually "take away a wall".

When Roomba wanders without the walls, the job does not get done. The robot eventually runs out of power and dies. Two bad things.

What are "walls" when we are referring to website design? Walls are simply keeping your visitor on your site and not allowing him or her to click off your site without it benefiting you. In the case of the student, there were simply too many links from the main page that allowed the visitor to wander off on a rabbit chase. What happens next is that the visitor will get lost in the site and eventually lose interest.

So the solution was to use "walls" and keep the visitor in the site. Make fewer deep links to other pages within the site - at least very obvious ones. The obvious should be your contextual ad links (ad themselves). Yes, content is very important - and the visitor should read that, see the pictures, but then the next option should be to click an ad. Something on the same theme. Maybe even more focused.

Look over your sites and see if you need to put up any walls so that the job can be done better. Too many outbound links can be considered "leaks" and should be patched up.