Amazon’s Kindle Bypasses Affiliates and Then Some
Andy Beard asks if Amazon is looking to bypass its affiliates with its new Kindle eBook reader. Sure seems that way and affiliates aren’t the only ones being bypassed! Wireless, digital downloads of books are made possible by Amazon Whispernet, a proprietary wireless delivery system that uses the same national high-speed data network used by advanced cell phones. Kindle users shop the Kindle store via the reader, and download books and other content without even having to find a Wi-Fi hotspot, according to Amazon.
The Ironic Future of Affiliate Marketing: MLM
Inspired by an upcoming Revenue Magazine article discussing Social Media affiliates, this piece tackles affiliate marketing’s big opportunity in social media — in particular monetization of social networks/spaces. Surprisingly MLM companies like Amway are jumping in head-first to Web-based affiliate marketing. As well eBay is launching its own RadicalBuy program which turns Facebook-ers into eBay style affiliates!
Facebook Retreats on its Buying Beacon
ZDNet’s Steve O’Hear: BusinessWeek is reporting that Facebook executives have been contemplating a backtrack on the social networking site’s new advertising play, Project Beacon. The system automatically publish interactions users make on any of the 44 participating sites (from Blockbuster, Joost, to Overstock.com) onto their Facebook mini-feed, so that Facebook “friends” are able to track those interactions, such as making a purchase or renting a movie. As it stands, however, users are opted into Beacon by default, and only have the option to opt-out on a per site or per interaction basis.
Molson: The Latest Social Media Blunder
Molson brewing company has pulled a promotion on Facebook after complaints that they promote binge drinking. They ran a photo contest targeting 19-24 year old college students. Called the The Molson Canadian Nation Campus Challenge the ad said, “Be the #1 party school in Canada” and says that the school with the most pictures uploaded would win a trip for five people to spend spring break in Cancun, Mexico. The next line said: “Show everyone how you and your crew get the party started!” Then it listed the top 10 party schools.Universities and parents both contacted the company to complain. Xavier University administrator Joe MacDonald, who is the dean of students said: “This is not something that is welcome within our campus community.”
The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with Adteractive
The FTC is settling with Adteractive for its alleged use of “deceptive” spam e-mails and online advertising to draw people to its Web sites. The settlement, filed on behalf of the FTC by the Department of Justice, requires that the San Francisco-based company pay $650,000 in civil penalties. While doing business as FreeGiftWorld.com and SamplePromotionsGroup.com, Adteractive allegedly sent e-mail spam to consumers advertising free gifts such as flat-screen televisions and laptops. For example, one e-mail subject line used by the company stated, “Congratulations! Claim Your Choice of Sony, HP or Gateway Laptop,” according to the FTC. However, when consumers went to Adteractive’s promotional Web sites, they discovered that these items weren’t free, said Stephen Cohen, senior attorney for the FTC.
TV Stations to Sell Google AdWords
What this means is that Hearst-Argyle will now sell more comprehensive advertising solutions to its clients. Instead of just print and television, now they can also leverage online – helping to increase control over a client’s advertising budget. Hearst-Argyle Television and Google have entered a new strategic agreement today where Hearst-Argyle, operator of 29 TV stations and more than 30 Websites, will become an official reseller and will use its Web sales force to provide marketers in its 26 local markets access to Google AdWords.
Rumor: News Corp to Buy LinkedIn
VentureBeat ran a follow-up story, also claiming a “well-placed” source. The post adds to Butcher’s theory: News Corp. would incorporate LinkedIn into its various newspaper properties around the world. “News Corp.’s strategy, from what we understand: Somehow integrate LinkedIn’s network with the Wall Street Journal as well as its other newspapers around the world, hopefully figuring out how to recoup News Corp.’s newspapers’ declining classified ad revenue in the process.”
Research: Social Media Spending to Zoom
A survey of 260 senior marketing PR and marcom professionals by the Society for New Communications Research found that two-thirds plan to increase spending on social media during the next 12 months and 81% expect to spend at least as much on social media marketing as on traditional marketing in five years. Someone is figuring this out.
Yahoo Stores Down on Cyber Monday
Ouch. There’s already movement among marketers to sue Yahoo.
Google and Yahoo Will Turn eMail and Personal Pages into Social Networks
Ignore Orkut, OpenSocial, Yahoo Mash and Yahoo 360. These are just the beginning. Google and Yahoo have come up with new plans to respond to the challenge from MySpace and Facebook: They hope to turn their e-mail systems and personalized home page services (iGoogle and MyYahoo) into social networks. Web-based e-mail systems already contain much of what Facebook calls the social graph — the connections between people. That’s why the social networks offer to import the e-mail address books of new users to jump-start their list of friends. Yahoo and Google realize that they have this information and can use it to build their own services that connect people to their contacts.
The New York Daily News Joining Yahoo’s Newspaper Alliance
This is the fifth-largest circulation newspaper in the US. The consortium launched last November with Belo, Cox Newspapers and Hearst Newspapers as premier members, and membership has since tripled to include nearly 400 newspapers from 21 publishing groups. The Daily News, with a reported weekly online and print readership of 4.5 million, is the largest to join Yahoo’s year-old group. Consortium partners use Yahoo’s HotJobs to amp up their job listings and send out local ads to a national audience. HotJobs has launched 160 newspaper co-branded sites to date, serving 377 newspapers. In return, Yahoo is allowed to sell national ads on individual newspaper sites.
Google Readying for ‘GDrive’ Launch
Google is reportedly preparing to roll out its previously-dubbed “GDrive” online storage service in as early as a few months, according to sources cited in a Wall Street Journal report. While online storage services are already available from third-parties (including from rivals Microsoft and Yahoo!), Google’s potential offering is of interest because of high expectations the company can offer a simplified, reliable service with tie-ins to its Apps suite. However, Google faces a number of obstacles in creating a service that meaningfully challenges Microsoft’s long dominance of the way people access and store files. Key concerns are privacy, which is partially related to whether advertisements will be displayed as a part of using the service, and copyright issues related to the capability of sharing files, including media files. Also of importance is the reliability of the service and it having a simple on/offline user interface, which makes using the storage similar to accessing a local hard drive.
Fox Interactive to Power Other Web Sites Too
TechCrunch: Fox Interactive Media (FIM), the online arm of News Corp has plans to become a full service online advertising agency that provides advertising to non-News Corp sites. Peter Levinsohn said that the service, known internally as “FIM Serve” was originally built to serve advertising on MySpace, which would be presumed to be part of, or the same service announced by MySpace November 4. He also noted that the service focuses on graphical advertising and would not conflict with the Google/ MySpace search listings deal.
Google Puts SEO in the Hands of USERS!
Google is experimenting with Digg style voting features on search results that allow users to vote up or bury search results they see. The program, part of Google Labs, works like this: This experiment lets you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results. When you search for the same keywords again, you’ll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you’ve made.
WebTrends joins forces with Silverpop
Analytics firm WebTrends Inc. has partnered with e-mail marketing services firm Silverpop to integrate analytics into e-mail. The combined platforms will give marketers the ability to track Web site visitors and to schedule automated e-mail communications around their behavior.
PPC Spending on the Increase but Satisfaction in the Crapper
Retailers are spending more on PPC and will continue to — but their satisfaction is nil. Go figure. Kinda like cel phones — we ALL pay lots of money for lousy service… and accept it.
Trademark Office Rejects Hormel’s Claim Against Spam Arrest
In a stinging loss, meat company Hormel’s effort to have anti-spam firm Spam Arrest’s trademark registration canceled has been dismissed. This is a huge letdown for a company that has rigorously defended its SPAM trademark against dozens of firms. However, because of an odd accompanying decision, what this means to all the other technology firms battling Hormel over use of the word spam is unclear. A three-judge panel on Nov. 21 unanimously decided in favor of Spam Arrest, which argued that the word spam in relation to e-mail is a generic term that is not likely to dilute Hormel’s Spam trademarks.
The following is part of a MULTI-PART SERIES (see Part II here).
Where is online affiliate marketing (a la Linkshare, Commission Junction, etc.) heading? Ironically, forces with social media are driving it toward its roots — multi-level-marketing (MLM). Indeed, roots. You’ll recall, this is where it all started back in the late 1990’s. I was there and quickly steered the affiliate network I was helping build in the opposite direction of MLM upon noticing advertisers’ fear and disdain of it.
“Eeew, gross” was advertisers’ reaction to what we Web marketers still call “two-tier” affiliate programs. Affiliate networks were quick to do away with “sub-affiliates” and the rest is history. We just don’t do ’em… until social media came on the scene. Now it’s back in vogue (as an example, Dan Adler’s Amway’s Fanista.com) and affiliate network stalwarts like Linkshare are… well… they’re missing the boat completely (see Sam Harrelson‘s latest on their rather backward achievements).
The real opportunity for the traditional (entrenched) Web-based affiliate marketing community is in combining affiliate marketing with basic network marketing principals. Social media platforms of today (i.e. Facebook) are ripe for development. Social shopping is the opportunity and companies like Linkshare, Performics (hello, Dan Chiss?), ValueClick’s Commission Junction and others stand to lose out. Facebook is on the move — this week announcing its RadicalBuy program which turns Facebook-ers into eBay style affiliates! Commission Junction? Hello? Pulse check? This as eBay runs like hell at taking its platform and solidifying its leadership position as a community of sellers.
The affiliate marketing community needs desperately to do what the MLM/network marketing industry has done — take the idea of “affiliate” and make it local, personal. They must also throw away bad habits — a culture that values and functions on anonymity (right, Angel Djambazov, Kellie Stevens?). Survival means embracing the Web’s new, socially-driven culture of transparency and authenticity.
Says Jay Weintraub, who is far smarter than I…
“… affiliate marketing and network marketing (i.e. Multi-Level-Marketing, Amway/Quixtar) sit on the same spectrum of generating revenue through an outsourced, commission-only sales team but that the two sit on opposite ends of that spectrum with respect to how they accomplish this. It’s free to join affiliate programs but not free with networking marketing companies such as Quixtar. Money comes through sales with both, but with affiliate marketing one earns cash only and with network marketing, one earns cash but the amount depends not on the product moved but on whether those sales come through a network of other people – their downstream.” (source)
Jay actually said this in 2006!
This is the future. The inter-twining of network, or multi-level-marketing, and cost-per-action Web affiliate marketing. Ironically this is where affiliate networks started but the MLM association was a “dirty” one among advertisers.
In Part II, I’ll focus on why advertisers (and their traditional affiliate network helpers) aren’t leveraging the new, social cost-per-action affiliate realm to drive sales and leads. We’ll examine why this is, what they’re missing out on (who is eating their lunch — or, in the case of networks, who makes a good acquisition target!), how they can get in-the-game and what investments they should be making.
This is part of a MULTI-PART SERIES (see Part II here).
Web marketers are failing to leverage this thing called “Web analytics.” Heck, marketers aren’t even sure WHY they use tools like Omniture, WebTrends, FireClick, Google Analytics and such. Some track “conversion to sale” but there is so much more work to be done when trying to run effective, efficient Web marketing and advertising campaigns.
Web marketing has, for years now, been deemed “more efficient” than traditional marketing. This notion is complete bunk given that most marketers do not and cannot measure efficiency of their Web marketing programs.
Cost per click (CPC) and cost per action (CPA) affiliate programs guarantee “effeciency” right? You only pay when you receive the desired action. Wrong! Such “performance-based” Web programs rely on networks, yes, which offer massive scale at a single point of contact. Yet they only provide effectiveness… not ‘automatic efficiency.’
How to Develop a Web Analytics Strategy
Start by throwing everything you’ve been told out the window. Stop doing what you know are the WRONG thing and start doing what I believe you already know are the RIGHT things. Listen to your own needs, desires and tune out the sales pitches from vendors and consultants.
2) Hire or Train Real Live Analysts.
Most likely you need to train them — get over it! In any case you hire accountants right? Direct marketers — you hire analysts to maximize effectiveness of all your other channels to the penny. The Web is no different and requires investment!
Sidebar: I know. The Talent Conundrum. There’s a shortage of motivated, qualified analyst talent out there. As one colleague stated recently…
“I have yet to come across someone else who really likes to play with the data. I have hired people who are okay at it, but ultimately when the routine reports I have instructed them on are done, they call it a day. They have no interest in finding answers to other questions, or questions that haven’t been imposed on them. They all claim to be “analytical”, but the truth is, they don’t dig for answers. They answer only that which is necessary for them to get paid. I think this is probably true for the whole industry. It takes a very unique personality who cares more about solving a problem, and figuring out where the data is, than getting a paycheck and going home to watch Monday night football or dancing with the stars. From a “client-type’s” perspective…
I know it’s not easy, y’all, but it’s time to bite the bullet and recruit the best talent — and find a way to engage them by making it fun again!
3) Stop Investing in Yesterday’s Flawed Models — YOU KNOW BETTER!
Break away from your competitors and be bold. Quit waiting on others to develop standards for you. Create your own. Stop investing in a revenue model that is flawed at the very core… devoid of vital measurement standards and are costing you a lot of money. Kick the habit!
Is this any better than mass advertising? Hell no it’s not so quit acting like it is!
4) End the Love Affair with Free.
Quit believing that this is all very, very easy. Ignore the sales-speak. Ignore the “dashboards.” It’s not easy. It’s work. Get over it and get to work.
The below is taken from ChiefMarketer.com’s Marketing ROI Newsletter:
The High Cost of Free Analysis
By Richard H. Levey
In a clear case of “You get what you pay for,” companies that use free Web analytics programs are less likely to rely on staff members for number crunching. As a result, many such firms don’t gain the information they need from these efforts, according to a study of analysis tool users. Free tools are available online, and some organizations will glean insight from them, the report’s authors admit. But the chances of success are buoyed by commitment among employees to learning the nuances of the applications selected, and employers’ willingness to hire and retain bright, well-trained analysts. Experience in other professional settings also counts, as analytics isn’t widely taught in schools.
As study authors Eric T. Peterson, CEO of Web Analytics Demystified, and Zori Bayriamova, a former JupiterResearch analyst, point out: “There is no replacement for having ‘seen this before’ in Web analytics.”
What do you think? Where are our educators and universities when it comes to providing a strong talent pool of motivated, analytical minds?
Sara Holoubek hits it out-of-the-park with a bold piece that helps Web marketing executives decide on either owning search or leaning on outside experts to get the job done.
Ms. Holoubek provides step by step guidance on how marketers can make this highly important decision and in doing so draws fire from so-called SEO’s (search engine optimization) and search professionals who cry foul over truths she tells.
The Truth Hurts: Dispelling Myths
She boldly proclaims…
For those that scoff at the idea of building an in house competency, let’s get the biggest misconceptions out of the way:
1. In house search will never be as good as outsourcing. The truth is that with the proper investment, just about any competency can be built in house.
2. It is impossible to replicate the years of experience within an agency.
3. There is no way a marketer can stay on top of all of the changes to the search landscape.
4. Agencies have access to the best technology.
How to Decide
Marketers must review what it would cost to internalize a search practice yet Ms. Holoubek goes further… suggesting marketers must ask themselves three questions:
1. Culturally, does the firm value building long-term knowledge?
2. Is the organization is capable of a successful build?
3. If yes to both of the above, what is the financial and temporal investment that management is willing to commit?
I suggest going further and considering what the opportunity cost is for a company that decides on outsourcing to a search marketing agency. Investing outside the company as a strategy carries risk. Doing so requires forgoing internal investment. In a knowledge based economy is it wise for a marketer to outsource such a strategic operation? What valuable knowledge and “learnings” are traded-off in return for the convenience of ignorance?
Bring in the Clowns
It seems that the search marketing community has little if any use for analysis of plain truths let alone critical thinking — no matter how expert the opinion. Hence, Ms. Holoubek was seemingly forced to respond to search marketing pros who simply couldn’t handle her balanced and thoughtful (with such professionals and their likely emotional reactions in mind) remarks. It’s an unfortunate but common occurrence in an industry that has so much trouble with things like ethics and its broader perception by marketers.
Many have taken to provide rather illogical arguments against internalizing. In doing so many of these folk deny that search engine optimization is a practice — a core competency of Web development — not some kind of hokus pokus reserved only for the externally anointed.
You go, Sara, and keep up the good work!