Friday, 30 March 2007

Lots of good material

Spent an awful lot of time today reading expert views on "how to do it". The Internet Marketing Centre impressed, the e-book they kindly sent me being information and expertise rich. Too pricy for me to join at present to subscribe, but looks a quality outfit. The wordtracker demo convinced me this is a really cool, useful tool.

Yawn - 3am. Better cut it short for now.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Warning about Dani Mendez and

I somehow ended up receiving mail from a Dani Mendez from a company ironically called [Kind of gives an impression of righteousness]

I have now seen one example of an extremely bad deal for an overpriced affiliate product, one advert for pyramid selling a exhorbitant, misrepresented supplement, and an advert for a deceptive home working scheme, which takes $50 from people, having misled them into thinking they are going to earn silly amounts for doing 20 minutes a day data entry, which never seems to happen (surprise). I feel sorry for anyone lured into these sorts of rip-offs.

I think anyone reading this should be able to draw their own conclusions about how to respond to such "opportunities".

Tricks of the trade 2

The second piece of useful information is for those who use clickbank as affiliates. Hoplinks are all very well, but they have a number of problems. The first is that the ugly URL puts off customers if they ever see it, and even permits a savvy customer to circumvent you getting paid. Worse still, there appear to be hackers around committing computer fraud by intercepting hoplinks and replacing them by their own, using worms and other sorts of malware. A good solution to both is to use hoplink cloaking. My preferred method is to use a PHP script, but there are other techniques available, which may be found in the clickbank guide article on link theft. (See, it is worth reading the manual sometimes).

Tricks of the trade 1

Two useful pieces of information today.

Firstly, wise gurus always advise affiliate marketers to publish widely, in order to attract traffic to their website. True as this is, the number of places to publish these days is bewildering. One very useful site is the directory of article directories. Don't be put off by the prominently placed ad at the top: the interesting stuff is further down!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Psychic news?

I was somewhat chuffed to discover that google posted a notice looking for beta testers of their new "pay per action" (PPA) version of adwords the very day after I discussed the raging conflict between PPC and PPA that is supposed to be going on.
See Google PPA announcement for details.

Building new business

Today my main focus was on presenting a model for affiliate modelling to a company I have worked with for many years. They have a product which has unique features which give it an edge, but have traditionally had a laissez-faire attitude to marketing, once saying to me that they relied principally on word of mouth by satisfied customers.

While this is a nice friendly way to do business, the big problem with this attitude is that it is very uncompetitive in the modern world. If there are competitors out their with alternative products that are getting a lot more publicity through affiliate marketing, then those products are going to grab the lion's share of new business. The growth of a company that is not effectively marketing their products is stunted. As a result, the competitors win and the customers end up with inferior products and may not even know it.

If a company has a good product it has a responsibility to the market to make sure that everyone knows about it, and one of the best ways to achieve that is through affiliate marketing.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Does Yahoo search advertising work?

Well, I'll have some idea of the answer over the next few weeks, having set up an advert for one of my affiliate programs. Not much risk for me, as I took advantage of the $50 free advertising offered by Yahoo to new account holders. Even so, I'm not going to be extravagant - I will take the opportunity to attempt to move from a position of ignorance to a useful level of experience.

Currently I have the max price per click set as low as possible (10c), but I think this will probably have to be raised to get any ads appearing at all. How much experience can I squeeze out of $50 of Yahoo's money and $5 of mine. An encouraging thing is that one sale will net me >300% return. Won't be so easy when I'm not getting my investment multiplied by 11.

Monday, 19 March 2007

The affiliate marketing jungle

According to the wikipedia article on affiliate marketing there is a battle going on between the more established "cash per click" and the less familiar "cash per action" models for the market in online marketing. Most of my personal experience having been recent (having devoted my time entirely to trading futures for several years - now a part-time, but still important activity for me) I hadn't seen there was any conflict involved!

Clearly a participant in any market will tend to do what is in their own interest. With advertising, which is more of a commodity on the Internet than it ever has been before (i.e. lots of participants on both sides, whose services are to a large extent interchangable), a buyer of advertising will always want to spend his advertising dollars on the medium that provides the best value (i.e. the cheapest for a certain profit gained).

So sometimes CPC might be best, sometimes CPA may be best. The big difference is that with CPA, the seller knows from the outset exactly how much he needs to pay to get one sale at a particular price. This make him very comfortable about the cost benefit of the advertising budget (merely presuming he manages to spend it, which is not a triviality, of which more later). Of course the situation is not really a complete pig in a bag with CPC. An experienced user of online advertising from a consistent source (such as Google's adsense) will have learnt by experience how much bang he gets for his buck.

I described the CPA market as like a commodity market above and this is very close to being precisely true for the buyer of advertising space. However in a sense the uncertainty has moved to the party providing space for adverts on his popular webpage. With the declining model of "cost per impression" he knew exactly how much he was going to get if a thousand visitors came to a page. With CPC, another variable was added - the question of what proportion of readers would click on an ad. With CPA another level of uncertainty has arrived, with the question of what fraction of readers will buy (or subscribe) after clicking an ad.

Despite being a provider of advertising space, this seems entirely proper to me. The customer is always right. What the buyer of advertising wants is paramount, and it seems fair that the party putting up the cash should have security if possible. A bonus for providers of advertising services is that security in the cost benefit of advertising encourage aggressive advertising budgets, involving appropriate leverage to grow new markets before competitors.

A very interesting issue is how the new advertising market operates, by comparison with older markets. There is a continual competition on for advertising space, and advertisers need to be competitive to attract affiliates to form partnerships with them. This means that they have to have strong attractive products with adequate margins to get the necessary exposure. More so than ever before the marketplace is a jungle where the fittest advertisers will survive, and the fittest providers of advertising space will prosper.

To mix metaphors, but perhaps appropriately given the nature of Darwinism, the advertising marketplace is always going to be a matchmaking arena with buyers of advertising services needing to fight for the space on the pages of their service providers, the webpage owners.

Early bird

After not leaving my computer until 2:30 am yesterday, I rose bright and cheerful at 7:30 this morning. I've noticed that when life is good, I need less sleep, when things have got me down in the past, I tend to lounge in bed more. So life must be very, very good! But I think if I tried to manage on 5 hours sleep a day, it would catch up with me before too long - I haven't managed that since my first year at college. And that may have been why I kept falling asleep in the exams and got a second...

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Diary of an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is the hottest, most exciting thing in e-commerce these days.

Why is this? Well, everyone wins! Any company selling a product or a service, particularly those that can be marketed at a distance has access to a new marketplace, where they can essentially buy new business at a clearly defined cost, with no extra sales or marketing effort by themselves.

Anyone with a website or any type of publication on the Internet, can sign up with any company looking for affiliates, usually in an areas closely connected to the subject matter of their pages. Adverts can be placed on the affiliates website providing something that is likely to be of interest to the average reader of the webpage. An occasional reader notices something he or she is genuinely interested in, follows the link in the ad and maybe buys something from the company which had been advertising. The company pays the affiliate for bringing the two parties together and everyone is happy.

This mechanism has clear advantages over almost all conventional means of advertising.

The company advertising knows its cost per sale precisely - compare that to TV advertising! Generally a company does not really have more than a guestimate of whether a particular form of advertising is even effective, and companies often lose money by advertising using the wrong mechanism. Affiliate marketing is highly scalable. If a company with a good product pays affiliates well, they can expect exponential growth as their adverts become popular. Two tier affiliate marketing systems provide the potential for even more rapid growth of markets through secondary recruitment of affiliates.

The affiliate has a useful trickle of income, supporting his business even if it otherwise involves nothing more than providing information for free (a common feature of specialised websites).

The customer is better informed and is being provided with precisely the opportunities that he or she is most likely to be genuinely interested in, because that is in the interest of the affiliate.

Is affiliate marketing the future of advertising?