Does anybody really know what time it is…..Does anybody really care?

11 04 2013

I was going to start this with an anecdote about how I was walking down the street one day, but that was too much. I was discussing Ad:Tech in San francisco and the search industry in general with a friend of mine. One thing is and was painfully clear and that is when it comes to Yahoo / Bing (Yabing or Binghoo I can’t decide) no one really knows what is going on. With a new Captain at the wheel everyone is wondering which direction she will take on search. There have been numerous rumors and first hand accounts of shakeups, meetings and other inside conversations. Still it seems no one is exactly clear on the direction and how much influence Microsoft and Bing still have on the business.

Recently business was affected when (as the story goes) Bing decided to adjust the TQ ratings to a formula they understood better. The industry has been trying to recuperate ever since signaling that (as we all suspected) Microsoft is as mystified by how TQ’s work as everyone else. For that matter it also came across as a clear sign that quite possibly Microsoft still doesn’t understand search themselves as it relates to the outside world.

Meanwhile Google has just tried to ignore or kill the so called long – tail outright. This way is much more dubious as it does not have to deal with tier 2 or 3 and there is no direct questions about Google analytics if they are out of the picture. The answer then becomes, :It’s Google analytics, this IS your traffic”.

Which leads me back to the title. I have been at this for ten years and the only other thing I have been involved with that long that I still don’t understand is my ex wife. The search landscape has been evolving and expanding and contracting as long as I have been in it. But never has there been so much confusion as to where it is headed and what is going on than now. Ask anyone how they plan to deal with Yahoo and what their process is moving forward and you will likely hear a lot of stammering. Then add to that how to tackle big data and what to do with it, how to accurately score traffic, what actually is good traffic and where does it come from and industry people who have been around as long as me start to scatter.Do we make bold moves and forge ahead or do we tread cautiously? Is everything hinging on what Yahoo and Google do next or will advertisers finally get tier of getting jerked around and branch out? Wil we ever get metrics right and accurate or will they continue to be the big lie based on where you get them? The crystal ball is a little hazy at the moment and that has everyone standing at the sides of the gym waiting for the signal that it’s ok to dance again without making a fool of yourself.

For now choose your dance partners wisely and keep your eyes and ears on the Prom king and queen (Google and Binghoo, Larry and Marissa) for what comes next.


What we keep forgetting…it’s about they eyes.

6 02 2013

What we keep forgetting…it's about they eyes..

What we keep forgetting…it’s about the eyes.

6 02 2013

Media both new and old have lost sight of the one basic truth to advertising.These days there are plenty of shiny new gadgets and advertising models to change. Mobile, display, content marketing, video and the list continues to grow. We create new data models to measure all of this not knowing if it really works or not, but we still try to justify it. No one bothers to ask if the numbers are real or if the data model used is even right. We trust companies with a vested interest in the market to give us out data to tell us whether or not the campaigns are working. It like trusting big tobacco to tell us whether smoking is safe or not. We continue to search for that holy grail of user intent and which model with get us to the right customer at exactly the right time to influence their buying decision. So how’s that all working out for you so far?
We have abandoned one of the truest models in search where the user actually enters what they are looking for because it has become so over run with fraud supposedly. We build better mouse traps to catch fraudulent clicks only to get smarter mice. But at the same time we are throw out the real clicks and real customers because we are worried about budgets and the affect on ROI. We track conversions to see if the campaign actually worked then claim click fraud when it doesn’t.We give no consideration to whether our site was sticky or our check out process was convenient to the user or the pricing was competitive in the marketplace. No, it has to be click fraud or bad traffic. We have budgets for in store theft (shrinkage) but yet budget nothing for click fraud or bad traffic.
Idiot Meter
Branding…what the hell is branding? Who wants to just throw a bunch of money at getting our name out? We have been over promised and under delivered! We need lower CPC’s, never mind we have data to show people are being delivered to our site, and that they went through as many as a dozen filters to track everything from browser to mouse movement and referring URL’s.We want buyers only (aka conversions) and real users with their credit cards in hand and we want to acquire them for under a half of a penny per click.
We want thousands of them ….no wait millions of them per day but not too many per hour. We want a balanced load of traffic because that is REAL traffic.
CAn anyone hear how absurd this has gotten? Oh and don’t forget only Google has real traffic with real users! Really? HAs it really come to this? Has everyone in marketing forgotten how to market 101? It is ABOUT THE EYES!!!!!! It always has been and always will be about how many times a customer sees your name and trusts your brand. User experience once on your site is part two. If you have cheap prices and great products users will still abandon if your market basket makes it impossible to checkout or if you require a birth certificate and proof of residency to buy something.

New Media is not rocket science. It is large numbers. This is why Super Bowl ads are still so expensive. You could have the two worst teams in the, but if enough people are tuning in the ads would still be millions of dollars. Anyone track the data and return on a Super Bowl ad? What’s that….I can’t hear you? If we are smart we will go back to search, CPM and CPC and require it on all the new outlets. Stick with what works to see higher returns and quit flocking like moths to the latest shiny things. It’s ABOUT THE EYES!!!!!!!!

Why Affiliate Marketing will die.

10 01 2013

Why Affiliate Marketing will die..

Why Affiliate Marketing will die.

10 01 2013

For ten years or more I have been involved in what can be loosely called affiliate marketing. I have been entirely focused on PPC, xml and contextual search. I have worked for big companies like Miva before they became AdKnowledge and have run my own networks. It has been a great experience and when the times were good they were awesome! Most recently though that has not been the case.

I have been pretty good at spotting trends and avoiding trouble. Sometimes by getting burned and tracking down the culprits and sometimes by listening to industry chatter. There are always the very painful pre-holiday chargebacks where affiliates are not paid because advertisers clawback budgets claiming fraud, either because they got more bad traffic because of the bigger budget, or because they found out they had over spent.

Then there are then newbies. Those who enter the industry as one man operations striking out on their own. Some you recognize and some you don’t. Some use experience from networks you recognize to gain trust. All you need to watch out for. The lure of big money suddenly is a strong one. Payments sometimes get later and later until they quit coming. Once a payment is late you can usually expect to not see it. In most cases where there are rumors of late pays and issues you can expect there to be problems. Most of these networks if they are smart will rebrand and learn from their mistakes and try again. Most of the time these networks will do much better the second time. Others will simply commit the same mistakes and mis-steps again. 

This is where the problems in the industry begin. Not everyone who is late falls in this category either. Some are victims of …..lets call it “competition”. Not everyone who is late or doesn’t pay is bad with money management. Some are victims or their own success. They start small and the relationships with the larger networks is cordial and good. Slowly they begin to grow and make more money. The payments get larger and the stakes for them get higher if they are not banking every extra dime…….most do not. They spend the money to hire, or build the business or to enjoy life for a change. After a few months of this (the cycle is typically 90 days) the larger networks start to stretch payments. This causes the affiliates to pay later and later. They start to loose a few partners and traffic here and there (typically the smaller ones go first) and the profits drop. Soon the larger partners take notice and apply pressure. They begin to shuffle payments to keep the larger networks happy and string the smaller partners along as long as possible. Then the fun begins with what we will call the payment hiccup. A large partner will miss a large payment claiming not to have a W-9 or correct address or something missing on file. So payment is not sent and will not be caught up until the following month or until the paperwork is resent. At this point the network is playing catch up, but it never really does. Because soon after scrapes begin and payments become smaller, traffic is run to partners who don’t pay claiming chargebacks and slowly they are run out of business by their feeds and the larger networks either directly or indirectly. Meanwhile the network is slowly loosing traffic and partners and getting further in debt until they close their doors. 

Some at this point will rebrand, most will be so frustrated they will either go to work for the larger networks or get out of the industry all together. THIS is why affiliate marketing will fail. It will limp along finding new people wanting to chase the dream until word gets out the dream is a mirage sold by the platforms and other networks (misery loves company). Soon only the large networks and agencies will have only each other to play the game with. This is where the biggest players will win and competition will thin the industry to one or two players.

It may sound like sour grapes and mis management. I hope I am wrong. But after going through the process to where I was only trusting the partners I knew I could trust and then seeing it happen to them as well I have lost hope I guess.


4 12 2012

Steps Apple could take to become Super Apple and why

3 12 2012

Steps Apple could take to become Super Apple and why.