AdSense Sends Some Publishers Surveys

Threads on Digital Point and Webmaster World are reporting that AdSense has sent out a survey to some publishers in the last few hours. Participants are entered in a competition to win them a possible $1000 ‘gift card’.

Did anyone get a survey to fill in?

Experimenting with Flickr Groups

Just a quick update on the latest experiment that I’ve been doing at my Digital Photography School blog.

A couple of weeks ago I had a few emails from readers who started to make suggestions about how they’d like to share their photos, work on group projects and meet other readers.

I considered adding comments to the blog but then began to wonder if there might be another option. As a result I started a Flickr group for the blog – you can see it here.

Picture 1-10

The main aims of the group where:

  1. A place to share photos that readers are taking
  2. A place where I can set ‘assignments’ that relate to the tips I’m writing about on the blog
  3. A place where readers can discuss what they are learning and ask questions about their cameras/photography

I considered starting my own forum for it but decided to go with a Flickr group in the mean time for a number of reasons:

  • I’m pushed for time at the moment and will be for the next month or so and thought this was a quicker/more immediate solution.
  • Many of my readers already hang out in Flickr and I suspected that the pick up rate would be much higher this way than trying to convert them to a forum that they were unfamiliar with.
  • Flickr is an amazing place which is filled with many many thousands of digital camera users. It makes sense to become a part of that community because they are the type of people I am writing DPS for. I’m interested to see what flow on impact getting involved in that community will have.
  • Hosting pictures can be expensive and I’d rather let Flickr pay for it.

On the downside:

  • It means sending people away from my site
  • It’s not a very customizable setting for either photo sharing or discussion
  • I can’t monetize it (it’s against Flickr’s rules to set up commercial Flickr groups that directly monetize the group)

Ultimately I think I’ll move towards a forum and try to get users to host their pictures on Flickr (or another photo sharing site) but in the mean time it’s an experiment that is working very well.

The Flickr group has 289 members who have shared 187 photos so far and who are really getting involved in the discussion and assignments. I’m particularly amazed by the numbers of people who are doing the assignments I’ve set. This takes blogging into a new and more interactive direction than I’ve gone before and I’m really enjoying the interactions.

The other benefit of the group is that it’s actually driving traffic to the blog. I mentioned above that one downside is that having it off the blog’s domain means I send people away – but I’ve also noticed that some of the new readers for the blog are finding it through the group itself as new users talk it up in other Flickr groups.

Problogger ‘Issues’

Apologies to readers for the outage of ProBlogger today.

I’m not really able to say what the problem was but hopefully we’re back up and running and won’t have another long outage like we had today.

After a long frustrating day I think I might go watch Australia take on Brazil in the World Cup – wish us luck (we’ll need it)!

Email Newsletters are More Emotionally Engaging than Websites: Study

While we’re talking about email newsletters – Nielsen Normal Group have done some interesting research (found via an email from Ken – again) that finds that readers of email newsletters have ‘highly emotional reactions to them’ in contrast to the reactions that readers of websites have (where they are more more ‘oriented toward functionality’ and ‘want to get in and get out as quickly as possible rather than “connect” with the site’.

The results are quite long but here are a few snippets (quotes with a few of my own comments).

On the overall findings:

‘Users tend to glance at websites when they need to accomplish something or to find the answer to a specific question. In contrast, newsletters feel personal because they arrive in users’ inboxes, and users have an ongoing relationship with them. Newsletters also have a social aspect, as users often forward them to colleagues and friends.

The positive aspect of this emotional relationship is that newsletters can create much more of a bond between users and a company than a website can. The negative aspect is that newsletter usability problems have a much stronger impact on the customer relationship than website usability problems….’

I’d be interested to see a similar study on different type of websites (especially blogs). I think many blogs would have a more relational feeling for readers than more static types of websites.

[Read more…]

Email Newsletters – How Many Get Emails Through?

iZachy has a very interesting post comparing email newsletter services called – Are Your Subscribers Getting Your Newsletters?. In it Ken (a different Ken to the last post) compares services from FeedBlitcz, Squeet, FeedBurner and Zookoda.

I’m not completely sure on the accuracy of it all for all readers and situations but it looks like Ken’s put in some good work and the stats do highlight a problem that face all email newsletter services.

I know that my last service bounced close to 40% of the emails that I sent but that having switched to Zookoda that this number is now over half of this (but perhaps it could still be better if this study is accurate).

ebay AdContext Product Manager Sheds Light on Program

One of the product managers from ebay’s new AdContext contextual ad program, Ken, has just left a comment on my previous post about AdContext. As the comment was pretty long and quite comprehensive I thought I’d promote it to be a post of it’s own. Hopefully it sheds some light on AdContext for those of you considering joining the program. Keep in mind the information is from someone working on it so there is an element of natural bias there – but I think Ken’s done a reasonably good job. Thanks for stopping by mate. Here’s his comment:

I’m one of the product managers for eBay AdContext. I just read Darren’s post and everyone’s comments and I wanted to give everyone some information so you can decide if AdContext is worth your time (or not :). I’ll try to keep it factual so you won’t think I’m trying to pull some marketing spin here.

Payout structure: The payout structure for eBay AdContext is based on eBay’s affiliate program. In the US this based on a revenue share for bids, BINs as well as each new confirmed registered user (CRU) you send to eBay. Details are here. For other countries where eBay operates the compensation structure is not revenue share but pays out on each bid, BIN and CRU (for example, see the UK payout structure here).
[Read more…]

Cold Call Blogging and Effective Selling on Blogs

It always amazes me how badly some businesses interact with potential clients.

Yesterday I had the ‘pleasure’ of receiving three calls in 10 minutes from a tele-sales company where the callers (3 different ones) started their calls (where they were trying to sell me a mobile phone) with these three lines:

1. ‘Hi, who am I speaking to?’
2. ‘Hi, Do you have a mobile phone?’
3. ‘Hi, Can I ask how much you earn?’

Yes – these were their very first words on each of the calls!

I was stunned to say the least – cold callers, ringing with the intention of selling me their product with an approach like that.

Now I do sympathize with the task that the people making the calls had – they are probably working for minimum wages in some other country and have been given the impossible task of selling phones to people on the other side of the world over the phone – but the approach that they had been trained to use didn’t go down to well with me. To say that I became more irate with each call would be an understatement!

As I’ve reflected upon the calls (and calmed down a little) they have left me thinking about the challenge that bloggers, especially those selling things (selling their own products, selling their business, selling affiliate products), have with their readers.

[Read more…]

YPN launches Publisher Services and New Help Center

YPN have just released a new section for their publishers called ‘publisher services’. (hat tip to Scott for the email headsup).

I’ve included a screen shot of it below but it’s basically a collection of tutorials and tools to help publishers improve three aspects of their site development. Here’s how they define the three areas:

  • Drive Traffic – A number of ways to get more visitors
  • Enhance your Site – Quality Yahoo! tools and features from Yahoo! that differentiate your site
  • Build your Site – Solutions for creating and hosting your site

Each section has it’s own page of developing these areas (screen caps of each below – click to enlarge).

I’m yet to go through each page that they provide in great detail but a lot of it seems to be promoting other Yahoo! services that they offer (cross promotion) – some of it looks useful enough though.

New Help Center

YPN have also announced a newly revamped Help Center for their publishers. This includes:

  • A How-To Guide – Detailed instructions on how to use each area of the Yahoo! Publisher Network account management system
  • Account FAQs – A comprehensive set of FAQs that addresses most publisher questions
  • Account Overview Demo – A step-by-step guide that takes you through the most prominent features of the Yahoo! Publisher Network account management system
  • Implementation Guide – Detailed assistance to help publishers set up and manage their Yahoo! Publisher Network account

[Read more…]

Digg CEO responds to Netscape challenge

Richard MacManus has posted a response to the launch of Netscape from Digg’s CEO, Jay Adelson. In it Jay questions the scalability of Netscape and the level that users will actually be involved in it (both as a result of the editing processes that are built into Netscape).

Read the full post at Digg CEO Jay Adelson responds to Netscape challenge

PS: I’ve now been able to sign up as a member of Netscape an in addition to my earlier first impressions I have to say that I’m not that impressed.

Sure it’s nicely designed and there are a few interesting features – but the internal links really bug me as do the ‘visit this site’ links which take you to the source of the news but with an annoying netscape frame on the side and still with a netscape URL. I’m not a fan of this type of strategy to keep users on a site and doubt I’ll be a regular at Netscape as a result.