We have preliminary Publisher Roundtable feedback!

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Our second ever Publisher Roundtable is currently live and focusing on monetization. Although the survey is still ongoing, we’ve gotten some preliminary feedback that we’re eager to share with you!

This interview was designed to provide insights into our industry. and after analyzing the feedback we realize just how effectively Publisher Roundtable is succeeding. One thing we focus heavily on in the survey is the user experience of ad networks- currently trending as the top tactic of monetization. As of right now, we have determined that when choosing a network, publishers are most focused on finding the one with the highest quality of traffic. Additionally, it’s the general consensus that when choosing an ad network, publishers should test it for 1.5 months before engaging long term.

Another interesting point from the interview is out of 3 monetization methods- content targeted ads, affiliate networks, and brand sponsorship, content targeted ads are being used most frequently. Content targeted ads are also the monetization method that is generating the highest percentage of revenue for publishers. Consider the previous information and one might assume that publishers are therefore most satisfied with content targeted ads, but that isn’t the case. In fact, publishers are most satisfied with brand sponsorships.

It’s important to note the discrepancy here which begs the question: if people are most satisfied with brand sponsorships, why aren’t they using them more often? It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s that they don’t know how to do so effectively. The majority of publishers (40%) who took the survey graded themselves a C at monetization with around half of them stating that monetization is harder than they expected. It’s important that information be accessible to publishers so they can learn how to monetize their content effectively without having to disrupt the user experience with other means of monetization such as content targeted banner ads.  That’s where tools such as publisher roundtable come into play. We hope you utilize the series of interviews to gain intelligible insights into your monetization strategy!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

VigLink has a Pinterest!

VigLink Pinterest

Back in April Bradley Taylor wrote a blog post for us highlighting four ways to promote your personal or professional site using Pinterest. We took his valuable advice and have officially joined the Pinterest community! VigLink Pinterest will showcase some of the unique personalities of our team  you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see. We are following some of the useful tips Bradley suggested…

  1. Discover the Pinterest Community
  2. Generate original, thought-provoking content
  3. Unite all of your current social networks
  4. Piggyback popular pins!

Pinterest already has a special sector of their site called Pinterest for Business which is dedicated solely to professional sites and certainly worth checking out. The tagline for this service is, “get discovered by millions of people looking for things to plan, buy and do”. As of right now the best way you can do this is by following the four tips highlighted above, but not for long! They have just announced that they are gearing up to launch “Promoted Pins” which will expand business’ reach via Pinterest. Although this new technology has yet to be implemented, you can fill out a form on their website for priority access. Pinterest is already a wildly powerful tool if used well (people who are referred to a site from Pinterest spend 70% more), and it’s influence is only going to continue to grow with time and new advances. Is your company on Pinterest yet?    

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Our afternoon at Larkin Street Youth Services

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We had a wonderful time volunteering at the Larkin Street Youth Services center yesterday afternoon. When we arrived we were greeted by their incredible Manager of Volunteers & Community Relations, Jessie, who gave us an introduction to the center and told us more about the wonderful work they do to help San Francisco’s most vulnerable youth. Not only is Larkin Street Youth Services in it’s 30th year of operation but it has evolved from a single drop-in center into 25 youth programs housed across 15 different sites. The center is set to continue to grow as they move into a larger space and have greater ability to serve an even more youth and engage them in various programs.

Our team helped by cooking lunch, organizing the clothing donation closet, and making hygiene kits.  It was wonderful to speak with some of the teens and share about ourselves and what we do. We found it truly rewarding to be amongst people who are doing such important good within our community. If you want to learn more about Larkin Street Youth Services and all of amazing things they are doing take a look at their website!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Internet Trends: VigLink’s Analysis on Mobile

In the wake of Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends Report, the important news seems to be all about mobile. In May of this year, mobile accounted for 25% of all online traffic. Mobile is growing 1.5X every year, and that number is projected to grow.

Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends Report was just released, and it’s a wealth of information for the tech world and beyond. We’ve been hearing a lot about mobile in recent months, especially at our annual conference, ForumCon, but questions still remain on just how much attention should be averted from desktops and put into mobile. Mobile is certainly a growing trend, but as some of our research suggests it hasn’t fully taken the place of desktops. Meeker further explores these contrasting platforms and describes, with raw data, just exactly what is happening and where the future of online activity is headed.

As seen in one of Meeker’s slides below,  mobile is growing exponentially. In May of 2014 mobile accounted for 25% of all online traffic. That might not seem like a lot when you consider that 75% of traffic is still going through desktops. However, the real potential of mobile is seen when looking at the slope of the trendline. Mobile is growing 1.5X every year, and that number is projected to continue to get bigger. By looking at the graph it can be inferred that by 2015 at least 35% off all online traffic will be coming from mobile, further closing in on the margin with desktop traffic.

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There are a number of reasons why mobile is growing at such a high rate, but perhaps one of the most important to recognize (and also one of the most obvious reasons) is increased availability. Why is it that more and more people are getting smartphones for the first time?  The answer is simple, the price. The price of a smartphone has been decreasing at a 5% annual rate since 2008. This describes why mobile is prevailing in developing countries. Those populations completely bypassed PCs and adopted mobile as their first experience with the online world. This is similar to the experience of today’s youth who will be brought up primarily using mobile devices and tablets first and desktops second. Again, all of these trends are leading to the rising use of mobile to access the internet.

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It’s important to not completely neglect all desktop traffic just yet. As pointed out in our Q1 Content-Commerce Report, for every dollar paid on a desktop click, only 49 cents were paid for a mobile click.  There are improvements to be made with the mobile experience, especially concerning the convenience of making online purchases. However, as seen in the trends noted above, mobile is without a doubt growing and your brand’s success will be dependent how well you integrate mobile.

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So why does this matter? Despite these convincing stats, people still aren’t giving the proper attention to mobile integration. There are plenty of companies who are now releasing statistics that mobile is over half of their total traffic, yet only a small percentage of websites actually have proper mobile sites. Are you taking advantage of the growing mobile industry?

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Want to know how other publishers monetize?

Publisher Roundtable can help!

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We are very excited to announce the second Publisher Roundtable interview, and you’re invited! Publisher Roundtable is designed to provide insights that will help you grow your website in an effective manner. This is achieved by giving publishers the ability to make well-informed business and marketing decisions based off of information collected from those who participate in each of the quarterly interviews.

This Publisher Roundtable interview is focused on an aspect of  marketing that everyone can relate to- monetization. Who wouldn’t want to know how to get a few extra $$ into their bank account each month? After the publishers have completed the short survey, information will be anonymously aggregated, analyzed, and packaged into a helpful “Tips” report exclusively for members. In the report you will be able to compare your specific answers with those of all the other participants. This will help you understand what changes you can make to your online strategy that will help build your business.

Publisher Roundtable was founded on the idea that marketing insights should be collaborative, simple, and free. We are achieving that goal by keeping the surveys short and to the point. That being said, the amount of information that will be collected will be vast and invaluable. Data often comes at a steep price, but participation is all that is required as it is our mission to keep this a completely free service.

Get started now!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

ForumCon 2014 Highlights

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Last week was our annual conference, ForumCon, and what a conference it was! Here are the most important takeaways from each of the day’s sessions.

What does “Mobile-Optimized” Mean for Communities?

In the opening session, moderator John Boitnott led panelists Tyler Smith, Zach Hobbs, Craig Dalrymple and Howard Steinberg in a discussion on increasing Internet consumption via mobile devices and the effect that is having on forums. The panel emphasized that forums will need to adapt as users increasingly use mobile devices to consume forum content but less so to create new content. Developing countries in particular have many users who access the Internet solely through their mobile devices.

The Lean Community: Simple Tactics for Building Thriving Communities

David Spinks spoke about his first experience in building an online community that was centered around Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. David argued that forums are far more likely to succeed if they are built as an outlet for an existing community, rather than an attempt to build a new community based on corporate interest. Additionally, David informed the audience, despite conventional wisdom, debates between community members could be key to developing stronger community bonds.

The Top 5 Forum Insights that Changed Our Business

Crista Bailey emphasized the importance of encouraging community members to openly  share their content. As the CEO of TextureMedia, Bailey has built the largest online community for women with curly hair. If TextureMedia weren’t an environment where women in this historically-marginalized community felt comfortable sharing their stories and pictures, the brand would not be what it is today.

Moderation and Management of Your Community

Dan Gill moderated the talk about managing online community with panelists Greg Childs, Justin Isaf and Patrick Clinger. The panel members had important insights about who ought to be responsible for electing community managers. One great example was, if someone asks to be a community manager, they probably aren’t a good choice. Instead, ask an active and influential member of your forum to be a manager. There’s a good chance that they are the type of member who plans on being a part of the community for an extended period of time.

Conversation about Online Community

Conversations about Online Community gave attendees the chance break into groups and answer assigned questions. They then chose their best insights to share with the entire ForumCon conference. Attendees made a series of clever suggestions such as, making sure that each community manager receives individual attention and emphasizing the importance of randomized checks on manager decisions. There was also plenty of discussion about whether to remove “downvote” features altogether.

ForumCon Tech Fest

This year’s ForumCon featured the first ever Tech Fest competition with a series of entrepreneurs pitching their products to a panel of expert judges. Each of our presenters had a great pitch, but Panjo and their advertising marketplace for forums ultimately prevailed.

Using Proven Science to Create Highly Addictive Communities

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about proven methods that increase their community’s retention rate from Richard Millington. One of his most interesting pieces of advice was messaging someone right after they join your community might not necessarily the most effective use of your time, especially if your goal is to get them to contribute to the site. Instead, Millington found that responding within five hours to a new member’s first contribution resulted in a 53% increase in the chance that they would contribute again. Additionally, responding within the first hour increased that figure even further.

The Future Discussion of the Web Panel

ForumCon’s final panel was moderated by Nellie Bowles and featured Jeff Atwood, Josh Miller, Daniel Ha and Thomas Plunkett. Our most forward-looking panel spoke about the need to encourage civil discussion online and some of the ways previous efforts to do so had fallen short. For example, insisting that users login through Facebook doesn’t seem to have any effect on their being civil to one another. What’s most important is for people participating in online communities to realize that even without face-to-face interaction there is someone on the receiving end of their comments.

How Purposeful Design Increases Engagement

Courtney Couch explained the power of purposeful design (the holistic approach you take to your site). Couch suggested that every design decision ought to be evaluated on the basis of its benefit for users and not simply because it “could be done” or might look “cool”. His talk tied to previous comments made at ForumCon that the most successful forums are very basic with user-friendly designs.

Thank you to all of you who came and a special thanks to our wonderful sponsors: FORUMS.net, tapatalk, Vanilla, BoardReader, Panjo, Internet Brands, Hi-def Ninja, Vbulletin, Verticalscope and Topix.  Other great wrap-ups have been written byJessica Malnik and Evan Hamilton. You can also check out a great collection of content from the ForumCon Storify and visit our blog for videos of the sessions.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Investing in VigLink

VigLink example Today we are incredibly proud to announce the closing of $18 million in Series C financing. The round was led by RRE Ventures and existing investors Google Ventures, Emergence Capital, and First Round Capital are also participating. Additional investment comes from Correlation Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. We are also very excited that Eric Wiesen, a General Partner with RRE Ventures, will join the VigLink Board of Directors. Eric brings deep experience in technology and business and an infectious passion for where we plan to take the business.

This new infusion of capital is a bet on VigLink — our team, our vision, and our technology. It backs our belief that content creators struggle to capture the true value of their influence. It’s no secret that traditional affiliate marketing vastly undervalues the role publishers play in driving commerce. Our investors understand this and they’ve seen that what we’re building dramatically increases publisher yield.

Looking forward, we aim to finance three areas of expansion:

  1. Publisher and network development
    We plan to invest significantly in our publishers. That means more sales staff to reach out to new publishers and more account management staff to work with our existing publishers. It means businesses interested in working with VigLink will be very pleased to see extremely competitive terms.
  2. Advertiser tools
    We also intend to build out our advertiser offerings – providing them more control and visibility into their targeting and performance.
  3. International expansion
    We intend to finance aggressive international expansion, particularly into Europe and APAC where e-commerce and content publishing are thriving.

We’ve come a long way in the last few years. The VigLink Publisher Network is now more than 10 billion pageviews a month and represents a diverse cross-section of the Internet, from household media brands such as Elle, Road & Track, and CNET to independent bloggers, forum owners, and mobile apps. Over 35,000 advertisers work with VigLink to drive sales, including eBay, Amazon, Nike, Nordstrom, Hilton, and Best Buy. And we’re mapping all of this publisher supply to advertiser demand via the VigLink Exchange (VLX), the world’s first platform on which these site-to-site clicks are priced, bought, and sold.

Still, in many ways, this feels like the beginning. We’ve made it to base camp, and now it’s time to summit. We couldn’t be more excited.

For more information, please refer to our press release.

Posted by Oliver Roup, Founder and CEO

 

ForumCon has it’s own Forum!

Thanks to one of ForumCon’s wonderful sponsors, Proboards, we now have our very own forum! We know… Finally! It will be our a year-round platform for you, our community, where you can find the latest ForumCon news, learn innovative approaches from your peers, and start networking with everyone joining us this year. Do come and join the fun!

Written by Lucy Bartlett, Senior Marketing Manager at VigLink and chief ForumConer

6 Ways Bloggers Can Better Manage Their Time

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Creating high-quality blog content takes time; as do social media, networking, and blog promotion. If you want to find success on your blog, you must become an effective time manager. The problem is, if you’re working from home and setting your own hours, you may find yourself distracted, allowing the time to slip by unaccounted for. Use these tips to better manager your time.

1. Create a Work Schedule

Creating a basic (but flexible) work schedule can help you manage your time. Set aside work hours, play hours, and time to eat, and try to stick to the schedule as closely as possible. If you know you get to take a break at 1:00, you’ll be more motivated to finish your work before that time.

2. Use To-Do Lists

Once a day, write out your to-do list, separating it into three categories – things that must get done, things that need attention within a few days, and minor, but unnecessary, tasks. Post it at your workstation and refer back to it often. As you complete each task, mark it off the list and move on to the next item.

3. Reduce & Eliminate Distractions

Social media, emails, and fantasy sports leagues can be incredibly distracting during the work day. Identify the distractions that pull you away from your work, then come up with a game plan for reducing or eliminating them. For instance, if Internet surfing is your vice, use the free download, SelfRestraint, to block access to selected websites during your work hours.

4. Make Time for Breaks

Taking breaks may sound like a sign of laziness, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking frequent breaks helps keep you fresh and clear-headed. Schedule at least two each day, and commit to taking them.

Also, recognize when you’re just not being productive – it’s a clear sign that you need to step away from your work. Stroll around the block or visit a local park for 20 minutes to regain your mental focus.

5. Don’t Overdo It

Do you think you’re doing yourself a favor by banging out five or six blog posts all in one day? Do you have the habit of working morning, noon, and night? These strategies don’t work well, especially over time. Working too many hours to pump out content can lead to lower-quality work and burnout. If you’re always exhausted and you notice a decline in the quality of your content, commit to doing less.

6. Carve Out “Me” Time

Don’t forget to carve out personal time for yourself each day. Even if it’s just spending time on your PS4, or listening to music on your iPad, getting away from the business side of things is important.

Blogging for a living presents many benefits, but one of the biggest challenges is that you’re your own boss. You don’t have anyone breathing down your neck to get something done, or pressuring you to reach specific goals. This is why effective time management is so important. Start improving yours today to reap the benefits later.

Are you a blogger? How do you manage your time?

Ever wondered what ForumCon is?

Ever wondered what this amazing thing called “ForumCon” is, that we have been talking so much about?

Well, know we have our very own promo video to explain it. Happy watching!

PS. You might just recognize a few familiar faces…

If you fancy joining us for what promises to be a day full of learning, networking, and most importantly lots of fun. Please use our special VigLink registration link to receive 25% off. You can also check out the full agenda of amazing speakers and activities here.

See you on Thursday 19th of June!

Written by Lucy Bartlett, Senior Marketing Manager and chief ForumConer