#LiveYourPassion Video Series

If you follow us on social media, you’ve probably seen some photos taken from the set of our #LiveYourPassion publisher showcase series. We’ve had the opportunity to spend a day with, and film, both Vlad Dusil of PurseBlog and Anthony Marino (plus his adorable son) of Audizine. Being on set with Vlad and Anthony has given us an amazing glimpse into the lives of two people who turned writing about their passion, into full-time jobs. Stay tuned for the release of these short-films; PurseBlog will be the first to debut on October 10th, #NationalHandbagDay!

For more pictures, check out the “#LiveYourPassion Behind the Scenes of the Video Series” Facebook Album!

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Written by Hanna Fritzinger

This Week in Tech: VigLink & Purseblog on Authentic Conent

At Affiliate Summit East, Oliver Roup sat on a panel alongside Vlad Dusil of Purseblog. Oliver and Vlad both bring vast knowledge of the native advertising space, allowing them to speak on the subject from two different perspectives.

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Vlad, co-founder of Purseblog & VigLink publisher, spoke about starting a blog and it’s evolution into a full-time business for both him and his wife Meaghan. In the beginning their sole focus was quality content creation, thus engaging readers and triggering world of mouth to spread. Google, of course, was able to help organically boost their blog and give it greater authority, however Vlad and Meaghan didn’t initially dedicate resources to advertising. This was a topic Oliver spoke to as well, adding that most successful publishers focus on authentic content and legitimate audience views.

One piece of advice Vlad stressed to the audience is the importance of observing the data in order to find out what’s working. Once you’ve figured out the best practices for your blog based on feedback, you can better predict the outcome of certain behaviors. He also gave two tips of advice for advertisers when they are contacting publishers hoping for a potential partnership:

  1. Always address the publisher by their first name
  2. Never send the same message to everyone whose email is listed on the site

The main takeaway from the talk based on Oliver’s insights as well as Vlad’s, is that quality content creation is of the utmost importance. In order for people to become loyal readers of your blog, and for advertisers to desire to work with you, authentic content is a must.

If you attended ASE and have a log-in, you can view the video of Oliver and Vlad here!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

This Week In Tech: NewCo Comes to SF

With NewCo 2014 just days away we want to be sure you’re not missing out on the chance to visit some of the SF tech scene’s most innovative offices… for free! NewCo presents attendees with the opportunity to enter host companies’ spaces to network with employees and witness unique presentations by industry thought leaders. This conference sets itself apart as it seeks to provide audiences with the ability to choose which offices they attend and allows host companies to cater their talk specifically to those in attendance. Unlike other conferences, NewCo also keeps the numbers of attendees to a minimum prompting interactive talks that spur conversation.

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We are excited to join of the ranks of LinkedIn, Airbnb, Twitter and Yahoo who are also participating in this year’s NewCo. Oliver Roup will be presenting on the native advertising landscape, specifically why it’s effectiveness continues to grow during an age when the “old marketing supply chain” is becoming irrelevant. In order for publishers to be successful, their primary focus must be on creating quality content that remains uninterrupted by intrusive ads, something Oliver is very familiar with. Additionally, he will talk to audiences about the growing influence of mobile and how it will impact future advertising efforts.

If you’ve yet to sign up for NewCo, it’s not too late! However, space is limited and as you’ll see on the NewCo site, our event is almost full. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to mingle and learn at our SOMA offices this Friday at 1:30. We look forward to seeing you!

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 Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Publisher Showcase: Indulgy

Indulgy is one of our coveted publishers. Their mission is to be the creator of your perfect world. They do that through a pinboard site that presents users with the best possible images through a, “special algorithm that combines human subjectivity and technology certainty”. This is what sets them apart from their main competitor, Pinterest. Founder, Eugene Strokin, was kind enough to lend us his time and  provide us with a first-hand account of the ins and outs of Indulgy.

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How did you get into creating a pinboard site?

I was inspired to start the site three years ago when my wife was submitting pictures to a pinboard styled site called foodgawker.com. I noticed the massive amounts of traffic driven by this site and thought to myself, why just food? I went on to build a pinboard site where people could post and share pictures of anything they were passionate about and visualize their perfect world.

What is your mission, specifically what are you trying to accomplish?

I am trying to build a site where people can come and be visually inspired. This isn’t a site where people come to interact with one another; in fact people don’t have to talk to each other at all. People come here to look at beautiful pictures, and in that respect our site falls somewhere between Pinterest and Tumblr. We constantly work to find the best content and present it to our users.

What kind of connection do you have with your user and what’s some of the feedback you receive?

Although we don’t often communicate with our users directly on our site, we do receive a lot of feedback from them. We have two types of users, those who stop by the site consistently and those who come and go. Both of these groups provide us with different types of feedback and we aim to give them the best experience when they visit Indulgy.

What are you looking forward to in the future, how will your focus shift?

We are currently working hard to monetize our site, one we do that is through VigLink. Another option we are considering is the implementation of a shopping cart directly to our site. This is appealing to us because it gives us more control when the user stays on our site to make a purchase. Although we haven’t gotten that far, we know we will stay true to our native advertising roots. Since our primarily focus is aesthetics and quality content, we would never compromise that by having intrusive ads on our site.

What value do you deliver your customer by showcasing certain brands?

We only collaborate with the most elite brands that are visually pleasing to our audience. Again, since everything is visual on our site we don’t want to compromise that by working with brands that don’t uphold our standard. Once we have identified which brands are good partners for us we offer to showcase them on our site if they are willing to give us a commission increase. However, like I stated earlier we wouldn’t promote anything that isn’t relevant to our audience.

How does the shift to mobile consumption affect your strategy?

Over half of our traffic is mobile. That being said, we recognize the importance of optimizing our site for mobile and have done so accordingly.  Looking to the future we would like to design an app for our site but that takes resources that we haven’t quite yet acquired.  

 Written by Hanna Fritzinger

This Week In Tech: Linkedin Offers SlideShare Pro Features At No Cost

SlideShare has become a widely adopted tool, especially amongst those in the business sector. It allows you to easily upload and share presentations with your audience. For example, we utilize SlideShare to aggregate presenter’s slides each year at our annual conference ForumCon. That way, those who are unable to attend are directed to one place to find each speaker’s slides.

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In May of 2012 LinkedIn acquired SlideShare for $119 million. LinkedIn proclaimed this to be good news for all as it would enable professionals to share content more conveniently. Since the acquisition, SlideShare hadn’t gone through any significant changes, until now. SlideShare is canceling its pro tier memberships once priced at $19 and $49 dollars a month and making pro features available to all users.

So…why does this matter?  When looking at the big picture, this is more than just all users having access to profile customization, private uploading, videos, and most importantly analytics. These analytics include how someone came across your SlideShare account, who they are, and where the majority of your traffic is originating. These engagement metrics provide a wealth of information to LinkedIn, note that SlideShare gets approximately 60 million unique visitors/month. After all, they made these features free for a reason. It will be interesting to continue watching LinkedIn’s  advertising strategy for any changes that are a result of SlideShare Pro becoming a free tool for all.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

The new landscape of native advertising: #ASE14

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Every six-months I attend the bi-annual Affiliate Summit Conference. It’s a great opportunity to meet others in the industry and learn recent trends in the native advertising ecosystem.  Below are valuable insights I’ve gathered from industry experts to help you stay current with your native advertising efforts.

Keep Your Content Authentic

Creating quality content has always been paramount. The only way to retain visitors is to engage them, and to do that, they must be provided relatable content. Rae Hoffman of Sugarrae spoke about changes in Google Search and the implications they hold on the future of online publishers’ success. He concluded success can only be achieved if you produce honest, authentic, and well crafted content.

John Rampton, editor of SEJ, spoke to the influence of blogs in helping build your brand and online relationships.  Your blog is the start stage of your sales funnel, and if it goes unnoticed, you cannot maintain or grow your online brand (nor drive traffic to monetize). Everything you put on the web should be of the same high quality your readers have come to expect.

Additionally, content is not limited to writing. Images and videos are common content outlets, and with them come the potential for additional monetization sources. However, if these new avenues do not follow the same stringent quality controls to which you hold your writing, they will harm rather than support your brand.

Carolyn Kmet successful mommy, food blogger and CMO of “all inclusive marketing” shared three guidelines to keep the quality of your content high, even when feeling uninspired.  It’s critical to never lose your unique point of view that your audience depends on.

  1. Make sure you talk about “how you use” the items being discussed. Regardless of the item, be cautious to only speak to what you really know and can give your valued insight on.
  2. Never sell the trust of your readers for commissions. Trust takes years to build, but can be lost in an instant.
  3. Discuss pros and cons of situations in a subjective voice. By doing so, you legitimize your opinion and build trust with your readership.

ASE14 is far from over, and other significant topics will emerge. These are just the first to take prominence in audience discourse and reflect the “hot topics” present in our ecosystem.

Written by Lucy Bartlett

This Week in Tech: Publishers granted greater control by Google

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Monday marked the launch of the  Google News Publisher Center, a new feature of Google News that allows publishers to dictate how Google indexes their site. Most top publishers spend hours generating engaging and relevant content, however that’s not enough to drive traffic to their site. Until Monday, publishers could only hope Google would predict the layout of their site correctly and pick up on any recent formatting changes.

For example, ELLE one of our coveted publishers, categorizes their site by fashion, beauty, accessories, culture, etc. With this new feature ELLE can label the different segments of their site from the Publisher Center, therefore enabling Google to efficiently categorize the content. If ELLE decides to delete the “beauty” category from their site or add a “lifestyle” category, they would subsequently go to the Publisher Center and ensure those changes are made. This will result in more accurate Google News results, which is beneficial for ELLE, Google, and readers.

The Google News Publisher Center can be simply explained as a tool that gives publishers the power to edit Google’s records, thus putting power and responsibility into the hands of publishers. It is now up to them to attentively keep information in their Publisher Center portal up to date, simultaneously relieving pressure from Google Support.

What do you think about the latest advance in Google News?

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

EPC Explored Infographic Released

There are many ways to measure your native advertising efforts.  At VigLink we tend to focus on earnings per click (EPC). EPC represents a per-click measure of how efficiently your traffic is earning from advertisers. For a given volume of clicks, the higher your EPC, the higher your revenue. It’s imperative for publishers to understand how EPC functions in order to maximize their earnings; this means finding out where people are earning the most, in what industries, and on which devices. We analyzed 100 million clicks and four million dollars in revenue to bring you a detailed breakdown of where the money is.

Calculating EPC is as simple as dividing total commission by total clicks. By doing so, you’re able to determine the potential worth of clicks on your site. But EPC is actually driven by a variety of other variables.  The publisher must also consider (a) price of the item recommended (b) average commission rate of the merchant (c) average likely conversion rate of the shopper.  EPC is the product of those variable.  If one of every hundred clicks from your site turn into a purchase for a $100 gadget, for which you are paid 5%, then your EPC would be (0.01 * (100*0.05)) = $0.05 per click.  Keep the click number constant but sell goods worth $200, and your EPC will double.  Keep clicks and item price constant but double the commerce intent of your traffic by really encouraging them to buy, and the increased conversion rate will mean higher EPC for you.

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One way to consider EPC is by industry. Our data suggest the top three are financial services ($1.80), motorcycles & power-sports ($1.50), and lifestyle ($1.37). On the contrary, the three lowest are art & entertainment ($.06), travel ($.19), and family & baby ($.27). The purchase price of items in the first three industries tend to be significantly higher in cost than the later three, they also warrant recurring customers which merchants value and are willing to pay higher prices for.This explains their high EPCs.

With increasing resources and time devoted to tracking consumer trends over mobile and desktop devices, publishers are focusing more on where they are getting their traffic. Mobile is quickly emerging and will be more influential than desktop traffic in the near future, but it isn’t there yet. Even if publishers have equal amounts of mobile and desktop traffic, that doesn’t mean the conversion rate on mobile clicks is as high.

We learned desktop EPC was the highest at $0.07. Not surprisingly, tablet EPC was not far behind desktop at $0.06, but mobile remained low at only $0.02. Showing that even as mobile traffic to sites is increasing, people are still far less likely to purchase on those devices. The poor user experience on mobile risks deterring even the most avid shoppers. When considering the sports and fitness industry this trend mapped out exactly following the trend with desktop EPC at $0.18, tablet EPC at $0.13, and mobile EPC at $0.10.  Device EPC will be the number to watch as apps and mobile websites continue to increase their accessibility to customers. With the combination of these more efficient sites and the upcoming generation being more comfortable on their mobile devices than desktops, mobile EPCs will undoubtedly continue to rise, but for now… don’t neglect your desktop experience.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

This Week in Tech: Google Introduces Dynamic Sitelinks

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We have long stated our belief in the power of links on the web. We integrate them into the content of your site, promoting a seamless user experience for your readership and a revenue source for you. And now, Google has caught onto to the potential of this form of native advertising. For those of you who don’t know what Google Adwords is, they are the ads that appear next to your Google search results which drive traffic and revenue.

Dynamic sitelinks, the newest feature of Google Adwords, will still have the original link to the homepage of the website as it always has, but additionally have links to different pages of the site. Instead of offering potential customers one place to click, they’ll now have multiple opportunities. If this sounds familiar maybe our newest product, Spotlight, is ringing a bell!  Google is already seeing success with this new technology, and we’re not surprised. With further advances and developments  on the web there will be more of a push toward native advertising and using links to bring customers to your site. After all, did you know you’re more likely to get hit by lightening than click on an irrelevant banner ad?

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

We have preliminary Publisher Roundtable feedback!

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Our second Publisher Roundtable is live!  This edition focuses on monetization. The survey is ongoing, but we’re eager to share preliminary feedback!

Findings show the most popular method for publishers to monetize their sites are ad networks. When choosing a network, publishers focus on traffic quality. And before engaging long term, general consensus is that publishers should test a network for 1.5 months.

Another interesting finding: content-targeted ads are used more frequently than either affiliate networks or brand sponsorship. These also generate the highest percentage of revenue for publishers. You might infer that publishers are therefore most satisfied with this format, but that’s not the case. Publishers are most satisfied with brand sponsorships.  This discrepancy begs a question: if people are most satisfied with brand sponsorships, why aren’t they using them more often?

Survey results suggest 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%) graded themselves a C at monetization.  Half stated monetization is harder than expected.

It’s critically 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.  Native advertising tools such as the array VigLink products allow you to monetize your site without interrupting the user experience. We hope you utilize the series of interviews to gain intelligent insights into your monetization strategy!

 

Written by Hanna Fritzinger