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
Just in time heading into AM Days San Francisco that is happening on the 19th-20th March 2014, I was able to get some of Geno Prussakov‘s time for a interview about his views on affiliate management but also the upcoming AM Days San Francisco event but also AM Days London happening in May 2014. Geno is a successful and well known affiliate marketer, a well published author and blogger but also founder of outsourced affiliate program agency AM Navigator. If that’s not enough he is also the organiser behind Affiliate Management Days a successful global conference series focused on affiliate management. AM Days is run annually in San Francisco, and London and is designed specifically for helping affiliate managers responsible for their companies affiliate marketing operations and strategies become more successful.
1. What is the biggest change you saw in affiliate management in 2013?
While I could (and should) mention the pleasant tendency for advertisers to invest more time and money into the education of their affiliate program managers, it wasn’t “the biggest change” of the year, in my opinion. The biggest one was the fact that some of the top brands in the market started shifting their focus from network-based affiliate programs to in-house platforms, migrating their program support and management respectively.
First, after Google’s announcement about “retiring Google Affiliate Network effective July 31, 2013″ [source] we noticed how a number of top brands migrated not to Commission Junction (CJ) or Rakuten LinkShare, but to solutions that bring program the management in-house. In such a manner, Threadless, ForMeToFlowers, Quidsi, OTC, AbeBooks all migrated over to ImpactRadius and are now exclusive to this platform, as far as I understand.
Then in August of 2013 in addition to their CJ-based affiliate program, Groupon announced the launch of Groupon Partner Network, which similarly to eBay “Partner Network” really meant an in-house-based affiliate program for Groupon. Finally, literally a day later, a similar news came from Apple. They chose to part ways with LinkShare and TradeDoubler migrating their affiliate program to Performance Horizon Group. The tendency to shift from networks either to proprietary or to SaaS solutions is clearly there.
We are, actually, going to discuss this tendency with the key affiliate networks and tracking solution providers during the “The Future Affiliate Network” panel at Affiliate Management Days San Francisco in a week.
2. What do you think the biggest challenge is for the affiliate industry in 2014?
Just as in 2013 it isn’t going to be connected with leveraging any of the emerging trends. I believe that the industry’s biggest channel will be in justifying that the affiliate marketing guy does have a place at the table. Auditing affiliate programs on a regular basis I see advertisers falling in and out of love with affiliate marketing, and the primary reason for this is that we aren’t giving enough attention to proving the value of performance-based marketing. We aren’t focusing on showing advertisers how affiliate programs can indeed create incremental value for their businesses. Multiple affiliate programs are currently dependent on bottom-of-the-funnel affiliates, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Affiliates can be powerful introducers of new customers, and influencers of purchaser’s decisions as well. Affiliate programs can complement advertiser’s other online marketing efforts without cannibalizing any of them.
3. What affiliate network that you think is doing great things for their merchants/advertisers?
It is hard to single out just one, as networks tend to be geographically focused (and often niche-specific too). In the U.S., for example, I would highlight ShareASale and Avantlink who aren’t only talking attribution, but also providing advertisers with practical ways/tools to analyze the clickstream and set payout rules that work for them. In the United Kingdom Affiliate Window is doing impressive things too — in tracking and research/reporting particularly.
4. What is the biggest mistake badly run affiliate programs continue to make?
The biggest, and the costliest of all, is not giving the affiliate program the attention is deserves. From vague (or inexistent) policies to lack of compliance policing, and from minimal (or no) affiliate recruitment to lack of activation initiatives… the list could go on an on. In a nutshell, as mentioned in the video below earlier this year, “similarly to any serious marketing campaign your affiliate program must be managed.” Otherwise, it can get you into all sorts of trouble (from channel cannibalization to serious brand damage).
5. What is one piece of advice you wished all affiliate managers would take on board?
Never assume you can stop learning. In an industry as dynamic as affiliate marketing you cannot afford to rely solely on yesterday’s knowledge, and must keep self-educating continuously. New challenges, as well as new opportunities, come up nearly weekly. Invest your time and effort in ongoing self-education!
6. What should affiliate managers be focusing on recruitment or retention of affiliates?
When managing clients’ affiliate programs I expect AM Navigator account managers to spend no less than 80% of their time on two areas: affiliate recruitment and affiliate activation; some 50% on the former, and 30% on the latter. It is also important to emphasize that “retaining” an affiliate is, actually, fairly easy, but their retention in the program doesn’t help you a bit unless the affiliate is active with the program. We see how in unmanaged and under-managed programs the affiliate activation index (or the percentage of affiliates active in the program) ranges from 5% to 10%, while in programs where the affiliate manager is devoting time to affiliate activation the index rises up to 20% or higher. Hence, the importance of focusing on both: recruitment first, but then also activation.
7. Affiliate Management Days have taken you around the world, what’s your favourite city for attendees?
It so happened that after some “trial and error” (with locations) we’ve arrived at what I believe to be the optimal solution: running the U.S. conference in San Francisco (this year’s show is just around the corner – March 19-20), while the European one in London (we are set to be back on May 13-14, 2014). San Francisco is, arguably, the American capital of e-commerce, while London is the place where nearly eighty percent of all things affiliate marketing are headquartered. Therefore, I cannot pick my favourite city between these two. Based on my objectives (to bring AM Days both to the U.S. and to Europe) both of these work equally great.
8. What is the main ideas/points that you hope people get from attending AM Days?
Every AM Days conference is extremely rich in high-level content as well as laser-focused networking. When opening up the very first AM Days in 2012 I said that every attendee could expect three things from the show:
1. Practical knowledge
2. Professional networking
While the affiliate marketing landscape has changed since that very first show of ours, the above three remain. Everyone who attends AM Days walks away with all of these covered.
9. What AM Days speakers or sessions are you most looking forward to attending?
Just as the question about the “favourite city” this one puts me in a difficult position. Just as with those cities, I spent a lot of thought on every one of the speakers and sessions that one will find on the agendas of the upcoming conferences. But let me highlight 3 sessions for each of the 2014 Affiliate Management Days shows:
From the San Francisco agenda:
* “Performance Secrets of Amazon’s Success” keynote by Bryan Eisenberg
* “The Future Affiliate Network” referenced above
* “Data-Driven Affiliate Marketing Best Practices” keynote by Todd Crawford
From the London agenda:
* “The Future of Affiliate Marketing” keynote panel with UK’s major affiliate networks
* “Omni-Channel Marketing in the Affiliate Space” by Eleanor Pickering & Richard Lane
* “The Birth of Multi-Attribution” by Simon Hofmeister
10. Are you attending any SMX London sessions?
I wish! However, since I’ll be running AM Days London on exactly the same dates and hours as SMX London will be held (we are fully co-located: same venue, same expo hall, even shared lunches and reception), I am afraid, I will not be able to sneak out. Leaving my ship helmsman-less is just not my style.
11. So where can people found you if people want to follow/engage with you online?
I am very active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. I also blog frequently at AMNavigator.com/blog and sp
Thank you Geno for your time in answering these questions. If you want to catch Geno Prussakov 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.
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.