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MSN Search Advertising

Microsoft will begin a beta search advertising program shortly says Bloomberg – no word yet on if they plan to extend this system into other websites as Google have done with Adsense and as Yahoo are expected to do shortly.

‘Microsoft Corp., which runs the No. 3 U.S. Internet search engine, plans to start a service where clients will pay to be listed alongside its MSN search results, people familiar with the plans said.

The service will be similar to competing programs from Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. Microsoft will announce a pilot program March 16, said the people, who asked not to be identified. These paid searches auction off placement next to Web search results to companies with related products.’

AmazonAds

Amazon-AdsIf you’re looking for a way to increase your Amazon affiliate sales you might like to check out AmazonAds – a textual ad system that puts Amazon Ads on your pages in a similar format to the way Google serves Adsense ads to your blog. I’m yet to use the program (I’ve signed up and will test it shortly) but it looks like a fairly professional package – and as far as I can see its free.

They let you customize the ads your serve to your site but you don’t have complete control over which ads will and won’t be served (all you can do is select if you want them to be ‘books’, ‘electronics’, ‘apparel’ etc). So its a basic system – but might suit some situations quite well – especially if you set them up as alternate ads for your Google ads.

They describe the system as follows:

‘AmazonAds is a fast and easy way for website publishers of all sizes to display Amazon unobtrusive product ads on their website’s content pages and earn money.

The ads can be categorized by Channels (Products Category) and so you can display only “Electronics” or “Books” ad and so are always related to what you want your users to looking for on your site. You’ll finally have a way to both monetize and enhance your content pages. AmazonAds is the program that can give you amazon product revenue from each page on your website—with a minimal investment in time and no additional resources.’

Read more at AmazonAds – Because Simplicity is the key

Update: Just had an email from AmazonAds who have just announced that you can now nominate a keyword to give the ads a topic to draw ads upon. Its not true contextual advertising (ie it doesn’t determine what to serve ads for based on what is on your blog) which is good for Adsense users as it means you can use it in conjunction with that program – you simply nominate a subject and home the system will find an appropriate ad for it.

Frequently Asked Questions on ‘Links’

Wayne over at SEO Chat has a good article on Links – Links: Frequently Asked Questions. It might be of some use to those of you interested in optimizing your blogs for Search Engines. Don’t be put off by the basics at the start (ie first question is – ‘what are links?’) – it gets deeper than that (I guess you’ve got to take account for all stages of knowledge when writing these pieces). Here’s a snippet:

‘While quantity of links is important, quality is even more important. Some inbound links are simply given more value than others by the search engine algorithms. Links from pages deemed to be more relevant, in terms of topic and theme, are given more weight. Also given more value are links that are labeled with more keyword rich anchor text, links from pages with higher Google PageRank, and links that originate within content pages rather than from the ubiquitous “links pages.” There is even some evidence that linking out to other Web pages provides some benefit to the link sending page.’

Read more at Links: Frequently Asked Questions

Shiny Media Lands Blog Advertising Campaign

Shiny Pong

Shiny Media has landed a great ad deal with vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson who will be running an ad campaign at their blogs Shiny Shiny and Tech Digest for a new product. The ads look pretty cool too – based on the 70′s ‘computer/TV’ game ‘Pong’.

Just another example of blogging attracting some serious mainstream advertising dollars.

Read more about the deal over at Shiny Media: Dyson sponsors Shiny titles

found via The Blog Herald

Spam Blogs

Dave Sifry writes about the increase in numbers of blogs over the past few months in State of The Blogosphere, March 2005, Part 1 and comments on a disturbing trend in the many new blogs that are starting – Spam Blogs.

‘There is a dark underbelly to these numbers, however: Part of the growth of new weblogs created each day is due to an increase in spam blogs – fake blogs that are created by robots in order to foster link farms, attempted search engine optimization, or drive traffic through to advertising or affiliate sites.’

AdSense Positioning Experiments

Wow – someone is actually reading what I write! Not only that – they are doing what I advise! Not only that – its paying off and they are getting RICH BEYOND THEIR WILDEST DREAMS!!!!!

OK – I might be exaggerating slightly on the getting rich beyond their wildest dreams – but Eoghann over at Blog World took some of the advice I gave (perhaps in my positioning Adsense series) and it seems to be paying off.

‘The initial results were depressing. Both my CTR and actual earning plummetted to the lowest I’d seen in about 2 months. I nearly lost my nerve and changed things back right then. Fortunately I’m too lazy to make that many changes so quickly.

Three days after I made the changes CTR began to pick up significantly as did my income. It reached a peak a couple of days ago with my highest paying single day from AdSense ever (I still can’t retire) and while it’s dropped again a little bit the CTR remains higher than previously and my daily income averages higher than prior to the changes.

I’m not sure why there was an initial decrease across the board, but it might be a good idea when you experiment to hold your nerve and let it run for at least a week to see how things pan out.’

Read more at AdSense Positioning Experiments

Way to go Eoghann – keep experimenting. The key I’ve found to Adsense is to try try and try again and track your results carefully.

The best way to track your ads is to utilize the channel feature that Adsense provides for free. Make each ad on your site a different channel so that you can isolate which one has the highest CTR and which one is not performing. Then as you move them around the site track the results. I’m currently doing this on one of my smaller blogs at the moment – trying some very different ad positioning and seeing some very interesting results. Its too early to share the results but initial indications are pretty interesting.

Google Looking Into Negative Adsense Ad Blocking By Keywords

Check out this quote from the forums at Search Engine Watch

‘It seems that Google is researching into allowing Adsense publishers to block ads by keywords, categories, and/or concepts. Currently you can only block ads by specific URL. If they go through with this it could be a great improvement on narrowing down the specifics for targeting. Also you would not have to research your competition as much. Only problem I can see is that some companies who do not compete with you yet have those keywords listed in their inventory could be mistakenly dropped.’

Bloggers everywhere would be rejoicing if this came to fruition – they’d be able to block those ‘blogging ads’ that tend to come up when you least want them. One of the most common questions I get asked here at Pro Blogger is ‘how do I stop my niche topic blog getting ads about blogging when its about <<insert topic here>>>’

There are things you can do (like remove every mention of the word blog from the text (and code) on your blog as well as increase the keyword density of the words you’re targeting – however sometimes no matter what you do you just keep getting ‘blogging ads’. Perhaps this new system is a solution to this!

Read more about it at Google Looking Into Negative Ad Blocking By Keywords

Found via SEO Round Table

The Institutionalization of Blogging

Trevor Cook is writing a fascinating conference paper titled Can blogging retain its revolutionary fervour? Trevor’s thesis is ‘that as the blogosphere matures it will increasingly come to resemble ‘traditional’ media.

Its an idea I’ve wondered about myself over the past few months. Some of Trevor’s observations are spot on the money as far as I can see – he could well be onto something.

His analysis reminds me a little of a workshop I once participated in on institutionalization of movements. The speaker had done extensive research into significant movements throughout history which started as very organic, grassroots, unorganized and fluid networks of people who almost always would slowly move towards institutionalization despite the best efforts of their participants to stop the process. His theory was that institutionalization is always inevitable. You can slow it down but not stop it (not without killing it). You can see spin off movements that might lengthen the life of the organic nature of what’s going on, but they too institutionalize.

I’m totally generalizing and summarizing what was a complicated and interesting session into a paragraph here (its Sunday night and I’ve had a hard day of eating good food, drinking wonderful wine and sitting in the sun – not thinking too clearly) – but I wonder if what Trevor is describing with the inevitable movement of blogging to becoming like ‘old media’ is something like the inevitable shift from a movement to institution.

More on the BlogAds Survey

In continuing my last post on the BlogAds survey – I thought I’d make a few other little observations – nothing too profound – just what stood out to me as I read through the result.

Probably the more interesting responses for me in this survey were:

- 92.1% of blog readers never listen to podcasts – 3.1% listen to 1 per week and 1.7% listen to 2 per week. Whilst there is a lot of talk and development in this area its still got a way to go. It’ll be very interesting to see the comparison between these results and those of this time next year – I’d suspect a substantial increase.

-72.4% of readers never use RSS feeds. 16.5% sometimes use it, 7% often use it and 4.6% always use it. Again this is a technology that is yet to really hit the big time despite the hype about it. I’ve actually long suspected this as I look at the stats on all of my blogs which rarely get hit via RSS (except for this one which is gets quite a few – mainly I guess because its read by bloggers themselves).

- Whilst 16% of readers read blogs for around 10 hours per week – 38.6% of readers spend 5 hours or less. A further 33.8% spend between 6 and 10 hours per week, 14.8% spend between 11 and 15 hours and 12.7% spend over 16 hours per week reading blogs. So the vast majority (72.4%) spend 10 hours or less per week reading blogs (or under 84 minutes per day). Not sure why this interests me – perhaps it just depresses me as I can spend that much reading blogs 10 times over in a day! :-)

Blogads: reader survey for blog advertising.

Just running out the door for the day (its a long weekend here) but saw that Blogads have released the results of their reader survey for blog advertising. Looking forward to having a look through their results tonight. Adrants summarizes it as follows:

  • 75% are over 30
  • 75% are men
  • 43% have HHI over $90K
  • Most, 14%, are employed in education
  • 71% have signed a petition
  • 66% have contacted a politician
  • 50% (highest of any media) rank blogs tops in usefulness for news and opinion

So we’ve got middle aged, men with pretty decent wages who are politically aware/active…. Interested in what others are thinking about the results? What conclusions can we draw – what are the signs that we as pro bloggers need to take note of? I’m expecting ALL the answers here in comments below when I get home tonight! :-)

Read more at Adrants: Study: Blogs Reach High Income, Educated Audience