Google Tags – First Move Into Untraditional Advertising?

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Local Online Advertising | Posted on 23-11-2010

Google is one of the most popular and successful online advertising systems on earth.  In the past they only offered traditional pricing models for ads (cost per click & cost per thousand impressions).  In a first move towards un-traditional Google pricing they are offering a product called Google Tags.  What these tags appear to be are upgrades to Google Places accounts.  Traditionally all Google Places listings look pretty much the same.  They show up in traditional search as well as on Google Maps searches.  Google Tags seem to offer higher visibility to the Google Places listings.  I would compare this best to old phone book listings.  In the phone book if you want your listing in bold or in a square or whatever you pay a premium to do so.  Google Places listings themselves are free but by adding a tag you can highlight important information you want a consumer to see about your business.  The cost is a flat rate of $25 per month.

I personally think it’s an interesting product to offer.  I don’t see it as super useful to most people but to businesses who depend on Google Places listings for their traffic it could very well be worth the investment.  I know some affiliates use Google Places so this product might be an interesting one to know about.  The big downside I see is that all the snakeoil local search & SEO salesman are going to come out and attack local businesses saying they can get them on Google for $100 per month FLAT RATE.  They’ll just sell them a Tag and technically they won’t be lying.  This should further confuse local mom and pop shops.

Have you tried Tags?

More info about Google Tags

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People Need Help

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Ad Hustler | Posted on 21-11-2010

It’s just about Thanksgiving time which is one of my favorite holidays. The cool air, the family, the food…you just can’t beat it.  We all have a lot to be thankful for.  We work in an industry we love where there is growth unlike a lot of other sectors which are experiencing record declines.

For the last couple of years i’ve tried to do things for other less fortunate families at Thanksgiving time.  If you recall last years post Flagged & Removed For Christmas I bought a family that couldn’t afford it a full Thanksgiving dinner.  This year i’m sponsoring 2 families and buying them complete Thanksgiving dinners and all the trimmings.  This post isn’t meant to brag because in fact I never much cared what people thought of me.  The purpose of writing this is simple.

If you have the means I’d like to ask that you do something similar.  It’s not that expensive and can really lift a families spirits.  I don’t really like formal charities for a number of reasons.  Actions like these are a more direct way of helping people in your community.  We don’t need more government programs and increased taxes to help people; we just need to go out there and do it!

Are you with me?

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Ever Get Stuck In Form Building Hell?

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Doing Business | Posted on 18-11-2010

The cornerstone of lead generation campaigns is the form on the page.  Forms tend to be a pain in the ass to create from scratch and an even bigger pain to get them to look exactly how you want.  For instance if you have a really intricately designed landing page with a specific weird shaped area for the form.  I prefer form builders to build the form itself outside of the landing page and then import it later.  Other specifications I need is the ability for the form to

  • Log the form inputs to a database or csv file
  • Validation
  • Custom output emails to deliver the leads in different formats
  • Drag and Drop design for intricate landing pages
  • Lots and lots of options
  • Ability to post to 3rd party form processors
  • Ability to design the form to an exact pixel height/width

There are 2 main form builder programs that i’m using right now:

CoffeeCup Form Builder – I like this app but it’s not currently my favorite.  It’s cheap and it works great.  It’s biggest negative has always been that the forms are in flash.  This causes issues with some browsers and mobile devices.  It’s a good starting point if your getting started with forms.  Free demo available.

Simfatic Forms – I just found this program a few days ago.  A free demo was available and I ended up buying the full version within a few minutes of trying the program.  It does everything Coffeecup does and more.  The forms are also NOT IN FLASH which solves the flash issue.  Simfatic has TONS of options and is really easy to use.  I just did a landing page with it and it made the form aspect a snap.

Forms are such an important aspect to internet marketing yet not often discussed.  What form building and processing utilities do you like?  Let’s discuss!

This was NOT a paid post.  All opinions are the opinion of Ad Hustler and no compensation was received for mentioning the above products.

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Stop Being So Selfish III – The Final Chapter

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Doing Business | Posted on 12-11-2010

So in Part I & Part II of the “Stop Being So Selfish” trilogy I covered how affiliates and advertisers are both selfish and how that selfishness fuels the fire for each party to screw each other.  There is a huge missing link to this equation.  As most of you know the affiliate rarely deals directly with the advertiser and the same is true in reverse.  Let’s talk a bit about selfishness by the affiliate networks.

Affiliate networks are a middle man.  A middle man’s job is to add value (perceived or tangible) to both parties they are in the middle of.  In my opinion, here are the most basic of responsibilities that the affiliate network has to each party:

The Affiliate

  • Pay out on-time assuming all posted rules were followed
  • Provide a reliable tracking mechanism (Make sure ALL leads/sales are tracked)
  • Bring campaigns to the affiliates to run

The Advertiser

  • Make sure advertiser goals are met
  • Make sure affiliates are running in compliance with the advertisers requests
  • Fraud prevention
  • Handle payment to affiliates

So where does the affiliate networks allegiance lie? Well….they are taking a percent of what the affiliates make but at the same time, that money is being paid by the advertiser.  Without the advertiser there is no money coming in and without the affiliate there is no percentage to take (unless they are running campaigns in-house which is a whole other topic).  You would think that as a middle man they would be looking out for both parties but often times they are only looking out for one; THEMSELVES!

Here are some ways in which affiliate networks can be selfish:

  1. To the affiliate: “We can’t pay you because we haven’t been paid by the advertiser yet!” – 1 of the 3 basic responsibilities you have to the affiliate is to pay them on time regardless of if the advertiser pays you or not.  The affiliate has NO CONTROL over what advertisers you are bringing in, their credit risk or ability to pay.  The affiliate works with a network because they TRUST that NETWORK, they know nothing about the advertisers.  I don’t care what it says in your TOS, paying the affiliate on-time every-time is your job.
  2. To the advertiser:  Looking the other way when affiliates run un-compliant by the advertisers requests.  After all it’s in the affiliate networks best interest for the affiliate to make more money.
  3. To the affiliate: Not doing anything about shaving – Shaving can be hard to prove but if it’s blatant something has to be done.  It’s not fair to the affiliate to be driving in traffic that is CONVERTING and they just don’t see tracking.  The only way to control this would be for affiliate networks to stop working with advertisers who shave OR require that the landing page be hosted by the affiliate network so they have control over whether or not shaving is going on.
  4. To the affiliate: Shaving by the network.  We all know this happens.  Affiliate networks can’t throw those big baller parties off pennies you know.
  5. To the advertisers: Changing affiliates ID numbers so the advertiser thinks it’s a different affiliate running their offer even though the traffic isn’t backing out for them.

Those are just a few of the things affiliate networks do that are selfish.

Affiliate networks aren’t evil.  Not all affiliate networks are selfish.  The network is a necessary part of the equation but I think that often times they should be better looking out for both parties then just looking out for themselves.

Affiliate marketing has a lot more issues revolving around greed & selfishness then is covered in my part I, part II & part III of this series.  I hope that by publishing these 3 posts some of the parties involved start to clean up their act and focus on a long-term business mentality rather then short-term profits.  No one is perfect, but we can all try to do look out for each other a little more.


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Stop Being So Selfish II

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Doing Business | Posted on 02-11-2010

If you didn’t read Part I read it.  The following is a continuation on that thought:

Affiliates are far from the ONLY problem in affiliate marketing.  Advertisers are a big problem which perpetuates a lot of the selfishness on the affiliate side.  Let’s go through a quick list of common affiliate complaints about advertisers:

  • Advertiser doesn’t like my quality so they are kicking me off the offer
  • Advertiser is refusing to pay for the leads
  • Advertiser is shaving leads
  • Advertisers pixel isn’t firing
  • Advertiser changed the landing page without telling me and caused my conversions to drop
  • Advertiser stole my landing page
  • Advertiser stole my ads
  • etc etc

Affiliates don’t feel like advertisers are on their side hence  they take an adversarial position with the advertiser.  This adversarial position causes affiliates to take on the mindset of the salesperson working the kiosk in my part I example.  Advertisers rarely want to work with affiliates to make an offer work for both parties.  They are usually more concerned with their own bottom line then letting an affiliate work toward a higher quality lead so that everyone makes money.  Instead the advertiser will just shave, cut payouts and refuse to pay until they make it profitable for themselves.  There needs to be realistic expectations on both sides of the equation aka a partnership and synergistic relationship.  Unfortunately I don’t see this happening anytime soon.  For the time being I think that greed on both sides will continue an endless circle of poor quality affiliates and poor quality advertisers.

Another thing has been heavy on my mind lately: payouts.

I think that payouts/commissions are a huge issue facing this industry (particularly lead gen).  Let’s take the example of a new car lead.  At a quick glance, the highest street payout I can find is $8 for a new car lead.  I guess that on first thought that doesn’t sound too bad since no credit card is required but let’s look at some inside info:

  • All new car leads are sold to auto dealers
  • Auto dealers pay on average $20-$25 per lead that comes from a lead provider
  • The lead provider sells the same lead to on average a minimum of 4 auto dealers – At $25 that makes 1 valid lead worth $100 or more.
  • The affiliate that generated that lead was paid $6-$8
  • The lead providers average CPA when marketing themselves through paid advertising equals more then $6-$8

So what’s happening here?  To me it seems that lead providers are trying to pick up leads for way cheaper then they can possibly acquire them themselves by using affiliates to do the dirty work.  Don’t get me wrong.  The advertiser deserves to make a profit and if the affiliate can make a profit too it’s good for everyone.  The problem becomes that when the affiliate determines that the CPC for car quote related keywords on search engines are $2+ and media on automotive related sites is expensive, they come up with shadier plans which produce low quality leads.  You can’t blame them.  They are in it to make a buck and if they can’t make it with high quality traffic, they’ll turn to low quality traffic, incentivizing or misrepresenting the offer.

The bottom line is that if you want high quality traffic you need to provide a high payout.  You need to give affiliates the wiggle room to make something work using legitimate high quality advertising.  The less you pay for a lead, the lower quality your going to get.  If an advertiser is reading this I guarantee I know what their argument is.  “Well we need a lower payout to account for all the crap leads we get that we can’t actually sell.”  It’s a great point and we end up in another vicious cycle of selfishness on both sides.  The only possible way I can see of breaking the cycle is if an advertiser was willing to pony up a much better payout with higher quality controls such as you get x amount of leads and if you can prove quality we can work out a payout that works for both parties.  A probationary period if you will.  This does currently happen but not as often as it should and not with an increased payout to start in order to provide quality leads.  This type of setup requires a lot more hand-holding and communication which doesn’t currently exist in most affiliate relationships.

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