Today, Google is releasing +1 buttons to the whole web. As a result, you might start seeing +1 appear on sites large and small across the Internet.
Everyone hates blog spam no matter if it’s comment or trackback spam but I thought I would look into it and see if there is any common elements and yes
AdAge covered some details about the Twitter and NFL Agreement on promoted twitter video pages in September last year but this is the first time that I have seen them until this point. It certainly pushes Twitter into the space of being able to better commercialise brands content marketing activities and potentially steal advertising revenue away from YouTube. It could also create a whole new medium for Twitter that Facebook & Google+ can then look to borrow “steal” for their own promoted videos.
If Twitter can make this work there are likely plenty of other sport based content marketing channels such as Australia’s AFL, English Premier League, PGA Tour and ATP World Tour that will be chomping at the bits to get in on the ability to drive more revenue from short video segments. I think the strategy of focusing on sports is a perfect fit for Twitter and could potentially drive a lot of revenue to them and their content partners.
It’s interesting to see that they don’t have the standard Twitter Promoted message seen in the examples shown last year shown below for Verizon. I’m wondering if this is temporary message as I think the un-styled disclosure message shown above “This video is promoted by McDonald’s” looks horrible and fairly amateurish compared against the original and standard promoted tweets.
If you click to play the video about the Twitter fan getting a prom date with a NFL Cheerleader you are run through a 8 second McDonald’s breakfast pre-roll ad. So this certainly confirms you are consuming content that paid for by McDonald’s, the sad part is that current ads don’t appear to be using different pre-rolls based on time of day.
This means that if I’m viewing the video it could be matched to my local time zone which is Europe and since it’s 9pm run a pre-roll ad about late night menu options at McDonald’s. I checked and it’s currently 2:34pm in Houston, Texas so it’s not even breakfast time in the US which I think would have made for a far more effective pre-roll ad. I know McDonald’s is pushing it’s breakfast menu but some tailoring of pre-roll can go a long way.
Compared to Instagram’s very public stumbles when it came to launching their new promoted ad programs, I was also surprised that I couldn’t see any negative Tweets back to the @NFL account about the very obvious McDonald’s promotion appearing in their news feeds. So what do you think you pre-roll ads coming to your Tweet feed?
It seems some folks have found a way to spoof Twitter cards for their own personal benefits. The spam Tweet shown below that I was sent tonight looked like a standard Twitter App card for Pinterest mobile app but it’s certainly not!
The link is obviously not a for Pinterest or the App store but what makes this attempt scary is that if they picked a domain that was similar enough to Pinterest then it would potentially be very successful and far harder for users to notice.
One other reason that it failed is that this is a random account but if this tactic was done from a compromised account then it’s possible more than a few people may click the link expecting to download the Pinterest app. It should be easy enough for Twitter to shut these type of exploit down as this time the data-user-id#106837463 was identified as invalid and the data-screen-name was https://twitter.com when it maybe should have been something like https://twitter.com/Pinterest?
The First Link link goes from the Twitter shortner to a random and unique long URL. It seems every tweet got their own unique URL so there is automation and tracking in place so you should be careful not to click these types of links for any reasons!
The Second Link shows a 302 redirect to some type of php script, typically check.php is a tool that can be used to diagnose code issues such as CAPCTHA verification images not showing so you should be concerned if something a bit more advanced is running.
What to do if you receive these types of Tweets?
You should report these types of links directly to Twitter and NEVER EVER click on the link in the Tweet as your computer can easily be infected with malware! You can report spam tweets directly to tweet here using the form in the screenshot below.
If you know for certain that there is something suspicious about the tweet you can also flag the media by using the link shown in the screenshot below in the hope it may reduce the chance other users see and click the tweet link. I’ve got no idea if Twitter actually makes use of this feature for identifying spam.
As part of Google’s expansion of knowledge graph and building out interactive modules to keep users within their SERPs we now have knowledge graph built around USDA data on food. Matthew Barby first noticed it earlier today and in tests I did it was consistently showing so I thought I’d explore what other search queries it would show up for and was surprised to see how many search queries it was showing up on.
It seems to work on slang terms as “Booze low in Sugar” activates the interactive knowledge graph seen below. You can select type of food, quantity and all the nutritional facts on the right hand side will change and you don’t have to refresh the page or click through to any website to get the data you want and it seems About.com misses out on that traffic and revenue from onsite adsense banners.
Also if you search for “alcohol low in sugar” and once again About.com seems to miss out on that potential traffic and again misses out on a heap of revenue they previously received.
The USDA data also works for “vegetables low in iron” and this time SFGate.com misses out on that potential traffic and the user stays in Google. These types of results are painful for sites like SFGate.com that have created interesting ever-green pieces of content and have long benefited from a large share of organic traffic until now.
If you search for “vegetables low in carbs” and once again About.com seems to miss out on that potential traffic and adsense impressions and clicks.
If you search for “milk low in iron” and once again KidsHealth.org a health focused non-profit website run by Nemours seems to miss out on that potential traffic which is possibly not ideal long term.
If you search for “fruit low in sugar” and once again About.com seems to miss out on that potential traffic and a huge amount of valuable adsense clicks.
So What does this mean for website owners?
You can see from the sample heat-map test with Feng-GUI.com that a majority of the users focus is just on the Google knowledge widget and not on the organic search results. This means many industry, government and media sites like About.com will now miss out a huge amount of organic traffic. I wonder when Google might try and start to monetise these results and without more context and details around these types of results are users really getting the complete picture and best advice?
So every once in a while I find something online that a big company that annoys me, why because they should have enough development resources to fix it and they should have a financial incentive to fix it. Today I noticed that it was Apple Trailers was failing to load any CSS which ended in the terrible screenshot you can see below. My Google search was for “Her movie 2014″ and while it’s the correct movie the page showing in Google is a horrible user experience and just looks unprofessional without the style guide loading.
So maybe it was just the page that was broken? Nope it appears that the CSS is failing to load across the entire site but all the on-page images seem to load so what else could I check. I found the CSS files were loading correctly if you clicked the individual style sheet links but I also noticed that all the CSS files were on HTTP:// not the current HTTPS:// site I found in Google. This was a rookie error that a company as focused on design as Apple should be able to get this right…
Why Care about it?
Outside the fact that Apple is the world’s largest publicly traded company based on market capitalisation they are also known for their obsessed with perfection and sorry folks but these pages look like shit. The problem is that all these HTTPS versions of their site are the version that Google has decided to index and show as per the screenshot below. The problem for Apple is that Google is choosing to show the HTTPS version which is currently broken so it’s a bad experience for more than just me, it could be everyone searching in Google for trailers and then clicking to watch them on Apple.
What other fun things are happening?
You can see that there is a warning on the HTTPS version of their site that states “this page includes other resources which are not secure. These resources can be viewed by others while in transit, and can be modified by an attacker to change the look of the page”. So has Apple just screwed up with their HTTPS version of their site or is someone trying to do what is warned by Chrome and trying to hack Apple?
How can it be fixed?
I’ve heard that Apple hates to use a 301 redirects but these are a valid option and just redirect HTTPS visitors to the correct HTTP version of their website and the problem is solved. Apple’s web developers could also look at ensuring CSS elements load correctly on the HTTPS version of their website which would fix the user experience.
Another option which might seem a simple solution is to add canonical tag that points to the HTTP:// version of their site to give Google a big hint on which is the correct site that should be showing. As you can see below from the source code screenshot there is no canonical tag on the page but here is a link if you want to know what a canonical tag does.
Cristian is the first speaker interviewed leading upto Affiliate Management Days London 2014, he lives and breathes affiliate marketing working at Avangate as the Senior Affiliate Marketing Manager. He is a positive and engaged member of the affiliate marketing community and is active on social media.
Cristian is speaking on Day 1 at 5:00-5:45pm on “Affiliate Retention Campaigns: Don’t Let Affiliates Leave Your Program“.
Do you mind telling us a little bit about your background and your current role at Avangate?
CM>> When looking back I can say I got a taste of several activities. I studied piano for 6 years (yes, I can still play), I did intensive programming during high-school, I got my bachelor’s diploma on Engineering for Telecommunications and my master’s degree on Journalism – Multimedia Production.
I worked for PC World Romania, part of International Data Group, as an Editor-in-Chief. That helped me a lot getting acquainted with the IT&C field and the global trends. Then, in 2008 I came onboard Avangate and helped grow the global software and online services specialized affiliate network that we have today.
I am currently in charge of Avangate’s affiliate management program for merchants, working with our in-house team and outsourced program manager partners. Working within the software and online services vertical, my responsibilities revolve around the relationship with our merchants and partners, turning the services we provide into successes.
You have written an interesting post on Avangate blog about retention campaigns last year which of these drivers would you suggest affiliate managers start exploring first?
CM>> First of all I would suggest affiliate managers to make sure they have the relevant data to weigh the status of their affiliate program, including the competitive analysis. After that it’s very easy to see where they should act.
From what I saw, most of the merchants start at the commission level, which is the most important according to the AffStat survey. Although I would say that a healthier and proactive approach would be the one where the affiliate managers communicate with the affiliates and know of their potential issues before it’s too late.
I saw that the AffStat 2013 report shows a big shift to commission and relevancy, how can affiliate managers best respond to retain affiliates?
CM>> Actually in the 2013 survey the percentages have not been normed to 100%, but put there based on the frequency of choice in the multiple selections of affiliates.
That said, the shift I see is more related to relevancy and that is only natural with affiliates identifying niches on which they can be “kings” without much competition to go against. The best way for affiliate managers to respond to this is nurture their top affiliates with personalized programs (exclusive opportunities) to help each grow their way. I would also advise them to develop a pipeline of long-tail affiliates, to minimize the revenue impact of a potential top affiliate leaving the program. That can be managed via the affiliate programs that vertical networks run – like Avangate on software & online services.
If affiliates are managed right what are some of the benefits for merchants? Revenue? Traffic? Retention?
CM>> Ultimately it all comes down to revenue – that should be the end goal. Judging from the “take one small step at a time” point of view, it really depends on the affiliate program development stage the merchant is in. For vendors that are just starting to work with affiliates, getting relevant traffic is the first goal. With that you will also get revenue. Then, you aim to maximize the revenue by getting more affiliates onboard. Finally, retention is the way to go when the merchant’s revenue can grow mostly from existing affiliates. And we mustn’t forget that given the rise of subscriptions and longer term customer relationship, the affiliate managers must take into account rewarding the affiliates in the retention phase as well. Affiliate networks already provide ways to incentivize the affiliates for both acquiring new customers and also retaining them.
There’s no universal method of managing the affiliates the right way. The guidelines are there as best practices, but a smart affiliate manager has to integrate those to the specific of each of the affiliates in order to get maximized efficiency
I have like many affiliates have experienced being thrown out of a program without notification due to becoming inactive or not driving enough revenue. Is that the best course of action?
CM>> I certainly hope the affiliate manager who was handling the program at least took the time to speak with you (email, IM, phone) prior to throwing you out of the program. I generally do not recommend that, especially for the affiliates driving some revenue. I think every affiliate is a potential partner that can help move business for you so the least you should do as an affiliate manager is make sure that lead is “gone-dead” from a business perspective before disabling them from your program.
What I’ve seen some merchants I’m working with do is create a “drop tier” with a very low affiliate commission rate to which they temporarily assign policy violators – that can be a solution for inactive affiliates as well, just so the affiliate manager knows they’re all in one place and also keep the relationship.
6. What is the best way to track inactive affiliates or those that swapped to promoting a competitors product?
CM>> First of all, every affiliate manager should look over the stats of the program at least once a week. That way they can see any changes in revenue and traffic from the affiliates and can get back on those.
Also, with big affiliates it’s always useful to check their website, be subscribed to their email campaigns and be connected with them via social media (Facebook, Twitter), just to see what they’re communicating to their audience. There are also paid tools out there (e.g. WhatRunsWhere) which you can use to get more info about your publishers
7. How do you find is the best way to evaluate if a poorly performing affiliates can improve with coaching/support? Is it the type of traffic they send? The amount of traffic? or is it your knowledge of the product/industry?
CM>> I think that understanding how an affiliate promotes your products is the key. It encompasses both the traffic (volume and quality) and the targeting of it. There are affiliates that send hundreds of thousands of people in traffic and get no sales, but if they have the right traffic, they do not need so much in order to generate revenue.
From the affiliate manager perspective, they can also share their advice with affiliates on how to best promote the products.
8. What do you find are your best channels to building relationship with top affiliates?
CM>> Events help very much in schmoozing with your affiliates and building a relationship – it’s always best to associate a face to a name. Unfortunately we don’t get to meet all your affiliates (not even all our top ones) at events, so we can also try to have periodic phone / IM calls with our affiliates, to keep them close and build the relationship. That’s more cost effective as well – the trouble is not all of them prefer these methods of communication, so we might be left with the email. Some nice gifts sent around holidays also help building the relationship.
What are some of the best channels you find for distribution of affiliate news, new offers and changes to your affiliate programs?
CM>> Emails (newsletters) work fine with affiliates usually. For top affiliates, an additional personal reach (IM, phone, email) is recommended, so they see you care about them. You can even throw something extra for your top performers along with the offer for general affiliates.
What is the main ideas/points that you hope people get from attending your session?
CM>> Affiliate managers attending this session should leave with a clear retention campaign plan for their affiliate program: getting in touch with affiliates, updating their competitive analysis, constantly analyzing their current program status and using the guidelines we’ll go through to ease the retention efforts.
What other AM Days speakers or sessions are you most looking forward to attending?
CM>> There are several sessions I’m looking forward to attend, but the ones that I’m especially waiting for are the panel on understanding your affiliates and the one on growing affiliate programs in Europe vs. US.
So where can people found you if people want to follow/engage with you online?
Thank you Cristian for your time in answering these questions. If you want to catch Cristian Miculi speak and save ££££ on tickets for AM Days London you can use our discount code LOSTAGENCY14 and you can register and find out more here.