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WidgetBucks Offer New Publishers a $50 Sign On Bonus – Baseball Card Promotion

Picture 2-16I’m doing a little promotion with WidgetBucks while at BWE this year.

They’re giving me some 70′s style ‘baseball cards’ with my face on them to give out (why they chose that picture I’ll never know) and are offering ProBlogger readers (whether you get a card or not) a $50 signup bonus if you sign up as a WidgetBucks publisher.

To get the $50 you need to sign up as a publisher and when you’ve earned your first $100 you get the bonus.

WidgetBucks is an ad network that give bloggers the opportunity to make money using their ‘widget ads’.

As with all types of ad networks WidgetBucks convert better on some blogs than others – but they’re worth a try, particularly if you have blog with any kind of products featured on it. They’re also expanding into more geo-targeted ‘travel ads’ (should be announced soon) which will have opportunities for a more international group of publishers.

PS: the baseball card picture is of me eating a New York Pizza while I was there last year. It’s not sweat dripping down my face either – I think it’s a ‘crease’ photo shopped into the card to make it look old (it’s a 70′s style card after all). The back of the card has a few of my ‘stats’ on it. You’ll have to find me at BWE to see it.

There is at least one other blogger with their own cards at BWE – collect the complete set and they could be worth something on ebay one day (or it could just be an embarrassing thing that my wife pulls out to show the grandkids in years to come)!

8 Reasons Why Your Blog Might Not Be Accepted Into an Ad Network

Mitch from Technipages.com shot me an email this week asking me for advice on getting accepted into CPM banner ad networks like ValueClick, TribalFusion and others. He commented that while he has decent traffic (around 140,000 page views a month) he hadn’t had much luck with being accepted and asked for advice.

This is a question I’ve had numerous times so I thought I’d post my response (I have slightly edited from my original answer).

  1. Design Matters – the more professional a site looks the better impression it will make and the increased likelihood of acceptance.
  2. Content – some advertising networks will judge your suitability based upon both the topic and also the type of posts (including length, editorial style etc). Some will also check to see if the content is original and or appearing elsewhere online. Topic plays a big part for some ad networks as they will sometimes have specific focuses and be looking for content partners with relevant content to their advertisers. I also know of at least one ad network who looks at the ‘quality’ of content – particularly looking at how well it is written, whether it is up to date, looking at whether there is an active user base interacting with it etc. They do this because they have a premium advertising base who don’t just want to align themselves with any old blog but only those that they perceive as premium. Each network also has its own standards on adult content, use of language (swearing) and other topics that they may or may not cover.
  3. Hosting and Personal sites – some ad networks don’t accept sites that they perceives to be ‘personal’ and don’t accept sites that are hosted on free services or on services where you don’t own your domain (for example blogspot blogs).
  4. Type of Site – some networks don’t accept sites that are primarily forums as they tend not to perform as well with advertising due to the high amount of page views per visitor and the ad blindness that quickly happens.
  5. Other advertising – if a site already has lots of ads on it this can be off putting for some ad networks.
  6. Traffic sources – if you have lots of non US traffic some ad networks will mark you down for that as they only have ad networks for that market.
  7. Language – many ad networks will not accept non English written sites. Again – this is about their advertisers (largely US based in many cases) not wanting to target ‘international’ audiences.
  8. Traffic numbers – this is the killer, many will reject unless you’re doing big traffic – they will check sources like comscore, Alexa to double check whether the numbers you are giving them are accurate.

Most ad networks have fairly good pages for publishers outlining what they do and don’t accept. Here you can see requirements from ValueClick and TribalFushion (although I’ve heard a lot of people say that they feel they fit into TribalFushion and don’t get in).

Some of the above reasons are frustrating. As someone who has built blogs for non US audiences I know some of the pain of not being accepted. However the main advice I gave Mitch was to keep building traffic and making the site look as professional as possible. Traffic numbers speak very loudly so to keep traffic trending up will mean that he finds it is easier and easier to get accepted into these programs. Also – keep hunting around for options, experiment with different ways to make money from your blog and be patient.

Performancing Ad Network

PerformancingAdsIn the last week a new ad network has launched – PerformancingAds.

Bloggers who have been around for a while will know that this isn’t the first time Performancing have ventured into the ad network space – they previously launched a network back in 2006 but closed it down last year during a period where they when through a management restructure and ultimately were sold.

I was sad when the network closed last time as I thought it did have promise and love to see new ad options launched specifically aimed at bloggers.

So this week when I was told it’s back I was really excited.

Here’s How It Works

  • The ads are based around the popular 125 x 125 pixel banner ads that you see on many blogs (including the ones you see in ProBlogger’s sidebar).
  • It is a self service system where advertisers sign up, submit ads and pay for them all via Performancing and then they send you your share of the revenue at the same time each month.
  • You can book your own ads for free – might seem a little silly but if you have spare spots and want to fill them with ads pointing at affiliate programs or even key parts of your blog you can fill them with internal ads.
  • Publishers are put into a Marketplace where your blog will be shown to prospective advertisers looking for blogs to advertise on.
  • They have a traffic exchange system where you allow other blogs to show their ad on your blog in exchange for credits which can be used to display your ad on other blogs. You also earn credits by selling ads.
  • The Revenue Share – You earn a minimum of 60% of what the ads sell for – Performancing takes the other 40%. This will be tiered up as high as 90% for publishers for ‘better performing publishers’ (not sure if that is based upon sales or traffic)
  • You have control over where the ads appear, how many are shown and even some control over how they look (like spacing between them)
  • You can create multiple regions on your blog so have the ads appear in multiple positions
  • You can filter out ads you don’t want to appear by adding words for keywords and/or domains that you don’t want advertisers from
  • Advertisers buy ads based upon weekly increments
  • They have a premium program where if your blog has over 250,000 US pageviews per month they can sell ads on your behalf in different size ad units (728×90, 300×250 and 160×600).
  • You have control over what ads are priced at. You can also set ads to be no-follow ads (or not).
  • There is a WordPress Plugin to help manage these ads if you’re a WP user

PerformancingAds are new and as with any ad network I believe you shouldn’t expect too much too quickly from it as it takes time to get them working to optimal levels for both advertisers and publishers.

The success of this network will depend upon their ability to sign up advertisers. Last time around PerformancingAds did manage to sell quite a few ads on ProBlogger – but it took time for them to get to that level.

Looking to Advertise on Blogs?

Performancing is looking advertisers at present and are offering $25 off your first ad purchase of $100 or more.

PerformancingAds

Last time Performancing had their ad network I actually used it to advertise my blogs quite a few times. There were plenty of bargains to be had around the blogosphere and it was a pretty cool way to increase the exposure of my blogs to new audiences. I suspect this will be the case again looking at the current marketplace of bloggers who have already signed up.

Are You Putting Cash in the Trash?

Today Fred Black tells a story of approaching bloggers to review a product and suggests how they could make more money with a little effort.

Hi, my name is Fred and I’m a ….I’m a… Blo… ahem… I’m a blogger.

At times, I interact with other bloggers and, for whatever reason, don’t reveal my “blogger” side. Occasionally this interaction brings to light something they do that they shouldn’t, or something they don’t do that they should, or something that they could do better. Often times, fixing this oversight could help them maximize potential profits. What follows is such an observation.

I recently helped my wife create and produce a children’s creative movement DVD called “Pretend with Miss Kim” that we released in October 2007. One of the methods we’ve used to promote this DVD is to spend time emailing “mommy” blogs about it. We’ve gotten a few bloggers to mention the DVD and review it. I thought it was time to do another round of emailing bloggers to try and get a few more reviews; this is when I noticed a peculiar behavior.

Most of these “mommy” and “parent” type blogs sell ads to generate revenue. Most seem to use 3rd party services to manage and sell the ads. No, that’s not unusual part, I’ll bet a good portion of the bloggers reading this post sell ads on their blogs, and use 3rd party services to mange the ads. The strange part is that almost all the blogs with advertising on their site missed a great chance to convert me to a paying advertiser.

I spent a couple of hours finding and emailing a nice introductory email to around 20 or so blogs. This took a few hours because I took the time to read a few posts on each blog to ensure sure it was a good fit. Needless to say, I’ve not had any response from the majority of the blogs. A few bloggers wrote me back and said that they would be interested in reviewing the product. Great! I’ll get them a copy in the mail! One wrote me back and said that she didn’t do product reviews any longer, but that she’d trade me a few copies in exchange for running an ad on her blog for a week or so… great idea – I’ll talk her up on that! But, only one blogger, just one, took the opportunity to respond and say that they were buried in this type of request and were not taking anymore reviews at this time, however, he felt that I would get good results placing an ad on their site. He was also smart enough to include his current daily visitor numbers, and to point out that his readers are the exact people I’m looking for! I’ll probably place an ad on his blog! Had he not responded I probably would have never even considered placing an ad on his blog!

I guess all the other bloggers, who didn’t respond, just don’t need anymore money! Maybe they think that just because I saw that they have advertising on their site I’ll click their link to place an ad. No probably not, I was asking for a free mention, a review. However, I want results; I want exposure for my product. It’s good news to me that a blog is so busy and popular they don’t have time to review all the products that they get requests to review. So write back and tell me so. Invite me to advertise on your blog. This little prompt, or push if you will, may well convert my request for a free review into a paying advertiser.

I assume from the few responses I received back, that most of the blogs I emailed get a lot of requests for product reviews, site reviews, links to other sites, etc. How long does it take to create a standard response, like the lone response I received, simply thanking a person for their interest, giving a few stats, and giving directions for placing an ad on the site? It’s certainly worth the few minutes of time it takes to copy and paste because it will most likely result in more advertising revenue. Is that not what most of use want from our blogs? And that is the peculiar part: as a person with a product needing exposure, I took the time to seek out and find blogs that matched my product perfectly, and contact them… yet the majority failed to respond. Plain and simple: missed opportunities for advertising revenue.

If you have a blog that features advertising, don’t pass up these missed opportunities. If you do, you’re just throwing money away that could have been in your pocket! As in the photo of the birds, only one blogger was facing a different direction, the right direction!

About the Author

Fred Black is an experienced programmer, web site developer, online business operator, father, husband, musician, and songwriter. Visit his Blog at: www.pqInternet.com , Visit his wife’s children’s DVD site at: www.MissKimDance.com.

Technorati launches blog ad network

Technorati has been beta testing a new CPM ad network, Technorati Media, featuring adverts from big-name companies like Honda, Sandisk, Microsoft, and Universal Pictures.

Right now, they’ve been working with larger blogs, but say that they plan to open up the network to anyone (yes, even the “little guy”) in a few months.

Read more at TechCrunch.

Shopzilla Publishing Program – Showing Very Promising Results

Shopzilla

I’ve been playing around with Shopzilla publishers network for a few months now but it’s only been in the last week that I’ve had time to take it for a full run on my blogs.

Today I checked my stats and am kicking myself that I didn’t take this program more seriously sooner!

You can read my first impression review of Shopzilla here from when I first started to play with the ad network.

This last week I’ve experimented with some more aggressive positioning of the ads and I’m very impressed with the conversions. You can see one such campaign operating on single posts right at the base of Digital Photography School Posts (like at the bottom of this one).

Now the positioning of the ad unit on that page is far from prominent (it’s so far below the fold that it’s not funny) but my initial testing is that while the CTR isn’t high, it is higher than the ad unit that I previously had in that position. What makes Shopzilla attractive however is that while CTR isn’t massive the ads are paying a significantly higher amount per click (I’m talking a 500% increase).

As usual with this type of ad unit, they work best on product related sites and where the products featured relates strongly to content (I suspect that the higher value the products the better for click value) – but it’s a great program that I have a new found excitement for and plan to start using more and more.

Check out the Shopzilla Publisher Program here.

How Much Traffic Should a Blog Have Before Running Advertising

Speed-Postingiamluc asks “How much traffic should you have to offer advertisements on your blog?”

“When should you put advertising on your blog?”

Funnily enough I’ve been asked this question four times in the last 24 hours so it’s probably a good time to answer it.

Before I answer the question though – let me say that there are numerous approaches to this question and if you ask a variety of ‘pros’ you’ll get a similar variety of responses. Here’s how I do it:

I put ads on my blog from the day it launches (actually they go in before it launches). My reasons for doing this largely come down to two reasons:

It’ll earn you a little bit from day 1 – even if it’s a dollar or two a day that does add up to a few hundred dollars a year and I don’t know about you but I don’t mind a few extra hundred in my mortgage at the end of the year.

It gets readers used to ads – most people who don’t put ads on their blog early on tell me that they make this decision because they want to build readership and community first and add ads later.

I understand this on some levels, they don’t want to put off new readers with advertising, however I’m a little skeptical how many people are put off by websites with advertising and wonder if there could actually be more problems when you change the rules later on and introduce ads onto a site that people have become used to being ad free.

Further Reading:

I expand upon this topic a little in a previous post – How Quickly After Starting a Blog Should I put Ads On it?

Six Apart Launch an Ad Network and New Services

SixapartTomorrow Six Apart will launch a new ad network, the acquisition of a social media agency and new ‘services’.

I’ve published the full press release below but tomorrow Six Apart are going public with some major developments.

The main components of the announcements today:

A New Ad Network – for ‘influential bloggers’ Six Apart will now offer a way to monetize their blogs. They’ve long been selling ads for their own services like Vox so it makes sense to extend this and do it for other ‘VIP’ blogs also. They’re doing so through a partnership with Adify on a revenue share basis with bloggers.

The cool thing is that there’s no need to be on one of Six Apart’s platforms to join.

New ‘Services’ - SA are also now offering to sell services to medium to large bloggers including the management of the back end of blogs, SEO, blog design and more. They are also offering consulting services for bloggers of all services. These ‘tune up’ services are available to TypePad bloggers.

Alongside these developments there are a few new business units being announced today by Six Apart to run them. Full details of it all in the following press Release.

Six Apart Press Release

Six Apart Launches New Services as Blogs and Social Media Go Mainstream

New advertising service, acquisition of social media agency, and opening of New York office respond to growing need from customers and advertisers

San Francisco, CA – April 21, 2008 – Six Apart, the world’s leading blogging software and services company, today announced that it is adding a host of social media services to its existing technology offering in response to the growth of blogging into a mainstream communications technology. The company will provide new advertising, design, implementation, development and site optimization services to bloggers and companies of all sizes.

“Our customers have asked us for complete solutions as their blogging and social media efforts grow,” said Chris Alden, CEO of Six Apart. “We’re expanding our business so that our customers can benefit from our years of experience in this space. We can provide them not just with the technology but with the expertise and services to help them succeed.”

To support this growth, Six Apart has acquired leading social media creative agency, Apperceptive, LLC., and established an office in New York City. Apperceptive has worked with Six Apart for the past two years providing cutting edge development and design to leading web properties that include Huffington Post, Washington Post, Gothamist, Serious Eats, Boing Boing, Major League Baseball, and more. The New York team, currently hiring, will play a significant role in the delivery of social media services to customers and advertisers.

Advertising and VIP Services
Six Apart now offers a premium advertising program for influential bloggers and social media web sites as a powerful alternative to current advertising options. Thousands of bloggers on hosted platforms like TypePad and self-hosted tools like Movable Type and WordPress.org have the opportunity to make money from their blogs by participating in advertising solutions created by Six Apart that bring together the best of social media, blogging, and advertising. This new program builds on Six Apart’s years of experience providing innovative, custom media solutions to major brands such as HP, MSN and Universal Studios.

Six Apart’s new advertising services combine the depth of blogging with the breadth of social networks to create engaging, relevant online experiences that connect advertisers with influencers and their audiences. Six Apart is partnering with Adify, the premier technology and media company focused on vertical online advertising, to provide the advertising program to bloggers.

In addition, the Six Apart VIP program will promote and support influential bloggers in building their audiences and visibility. Services for VIPs include blog assessment and optimization, design and template analysis, and educational services and webinars.

Design, Development and Implementation Services
With the acquisition of Apperceptive, Six Apart will continue to design and develop next-generation social media applications and experiences for major bloggers, large media companies and corporate customers. Six Apart Services will help online publishers that want to power custom communities, encourage user-generated content, and manage web publishing from a single, scalable application. The group will also integrate social publishing platforms with customers’ existing systems to create effective internal collaboration tools.

Blog Optimization and Tune-up Services
Six Apart is offering a set of personal consultation services to bloggers of all sizes that help them get the most out of their blogs. The new “Turbo Tune Up” and “Power Launch” services, designed to improve the marketing impact of their blogs, are now available to all TypePad bloggers. These services are an addition to the existing world class support currently available to TypePad customers.

New Business Units
Six Apart is forming two new business units to provide the new services. Six Apart Media, led by David Tokheim, will provide the premium advertising program to influential bloggers and custom advertising solutions to marketers. This group will also identify, cultivate and support bloggers for the VIP program.

Six Apart Services, led by Marissa Levinson and David Jacobs, will provide design and implementation services to large publishers and corporate customers.

Any blogger can receive a blog tune up or power launch service from Six Apart’s professional support team.

“By adding these services as we continue to invest in our core technologies, Six Apart is ideally positioned to capitalize on the rapid growth in the blogging market and provide complete solutions to our customers,” said Alden.

About Six Apart
Six Apart Ltd. provides award-winning blogging software and services that change the way millions of individuals, organizations, and corporations connect and communicate around the world every day. The company provides the Movable Type social media platform, the TypePad hosted blogging service, Vox, a free blogging service for friends and families, advertising solutions for leading brands and influential bloggers, and services dedicated to making bloggers successful. Founded in 2002, Six Apart is a global company with its headquarters in San Francisco, CA, and offices in Tokyo, Paris and New York City . For more information visit the Six Apart corporate web site at http://www.sixapart.com/.

Here are some examples:

Since Six Apart powers the platform we have the ability to connect the bloggers and the advertiser in fresh, innovative ways no other network or digital media company can. We’ve been providing innovative campaigns to companies like HP, MSN and Universal Studios for the past two years and we’ve learned a lot about how to spark and sustain the conversations between marketers, bloggers, and their readers – in a way that puts the control in the hands of the consumers. Here are some custom examples

http://www.livejournal.com/entertainment/ – You’ll see the MSN Brand integration underneath the LJ Editorial

http://www.vox.com/politics/ – You’ll see the MSN Brand integration underneath the Vox Editorial

http://community.livejournal.com/knockedupmovie/ – LJ Sponsored Community that was developed for the theatrical release and then revived for the DVD release.

http://joydtaylor.vox.com/ – Vox Blog Themes that were developed for the HP campaign.

Another aspect of the campaign that was remarkable, was on http://www.designtoinspirecontest.com/ Over 330 users submitted designs that they created both to share with others and to enter the contest. The designs were placed in a gallery for users to vote on.

Chitika Add Interactive Premium Listing Ads Into the Mix

Here’s a piece of news that slipped through without me noticing while I was traveling last month – Chitika have announce a program to serve ‘graphic ads’ in your Chitika ad units when they feel that a CPM would earn you more than a CPC ad.

The announced it back in March here and here:

“This new graphic ads service has one goal: maximize your revenue. The Chitika ad on your page will display a relevant and targeted banner/graphic ad on your page only when it makes sense – when it will earn you more revenue.

Graphic ads will pay per impression (CPM) and will be shown only when they can earn you more revenue than a CPC-based ad. Our ad targeting system will intelligently find and display relevant graphic (CPM) ads for your pages when appropriate.”

I wouldn’t mind seeing these ads in action before I pass comment on them. For me it’ll all come down to the relevancy of ads as to whether I’d opt out of this program (they are giving publishers a choice to opt out). While the ads will definitely increase revenue on pages that are not generating clicks if the ads are ugly/irrelevant then they could hurt the look and feel of the page and reader experience.

Also today I received an email from Chitika announcing another ad unit - Interactive Premium Listing ads. Here’s how they look:

Chitika-Premium-Interactive

These ad units are not focused upon any one specific product and Chitika say that they work best when you ‘have mostly US traffic and are looking for a Chitika ad unit that is NOT product centric!’

Once again – these ads are going to be rotated in through all publishers ad units when Chitika feel that this ad unit will pay more than regular ad units. The exception is when you opt out of the program. What is displayed in the ads seems to be dependent upon what a reader searched for in a search engine when arriving on your site – so in a sense the are still targeted/contextually relevant but to the search terms of your reader and not necessarily your content.

It’s a good concept and one to watch to see how they perform.

Not yet a Chitika Publisher? Sign Up here.