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

SlideShare has become a widely adopted tool, especially amongst those of us in the tech industry. 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 their 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

Now earn 8% commission at Saks Fifth Avenue

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The Saks Fifth Avenue Final Sale event is coming to an end this week! Don’t miss out on the chance to save up to 70% off on Designer selections. Shop shoes, handbags, jewelrymen’s and women’s clothing and more at a huge discount and with free shipping, just use code FREESHIP. Today’s also the last day to earn a SAKS GIFT CARD. Tell your readers to enter code JULY2014 at checkout for a chance to earn up to a $700 Gift Card from their purchase.

In line with their sale, we’re excited to announce we’ve increased commission rates to 8%.  If  you’re not currently linking to them, start today and earn more on every sale.

 

 

 

VigLink has a Pinterest!

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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