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

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

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

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?

How to Monetize Your Blog: Podcast

Our very own Senior Marketing Manager, Lucy Bartlett, was invited to joined Candis Gaerte, She Is Media, for their weekly “Chaos Makes Sense” podcast to discuss how to best monetize your blog. The duo talk through top monetizing tips, best technologies, and most useful resources available for online publishers.

Here is the “sparkly” advice they shared.
 

 

 

In 2014, Turn Your Forum Into an Ecommerce Media Giant

Cross-posted from the new ForumCon blog. ForumCon is the only conference dedicated to the business and future of forums  and community management and will be held this year in San Francisco on June 19. Follow this link to join us for the day and get a special VigLink 25% off discount!

Written by Chad Billmyer, CEO, Panjo

Businesses purchase forums based on trailing revenue and traffic growth. Do you want more revenue and more traffic? Evolve your forum into an ecommerce media giant.

In the last few days, VerticalScope agreed to acquire PBNation.com for $1.38M (a paintball vBulletin forum) and Freelancer.com paid $3.2M for Warrior Forum (a digital marketing vBulletin forum). You can grow the value of your community higher than that. To quote the Sean Parker character in The Social Network, “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?” A billion dollars.

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According to BuiltWith, the number of forums powering the top million sites on the web has declined by 33% since 2011. In the face of the decline of Web-based forums, you can still grow the value of your community. Now is the time for you to evolve your community into an ecommerce media business.

In a recent interview with Fortune Magazine, Ben Lerer, founder of Thrillist.com, explains, “Now we’re at the beginning of Commerce 3.0. Every day you surprise and delight people by showing them interesting things, and then you layer on great storytelling on a daily basis…. People come to your store more often because they never know what they’re going to find and what they could discover. When they get there, they spend more money buying the basics that they actually need. It’s been four years since we acquired JackThreads, and we’ve gotten really good into making a reader into a shopper and a shopper into a reader. We will do more than $100 million in revenues this year, and I believe we can be a $1 billion business.” [source]

This past March, Lerer spoke at the South By Southwest conference in Austin. You can find the slides from his talk, Content & Commerce: The Digital Cronut, on slideshare. There is an excellent recap of the presentation in Publishing Perspectives.  In summary, you have thousands of enthusiasts frequenting your site. You have earned their trust. You need to move beyond advertising, subscription, events, and licensing. Says Lerer, “you’ve got to actually physically sell something to that consumer” to have a chance at that billion-dollar goal.

Through his research, Michael Brito, author of Your Brand: The Next Media Company, found that successful media companies shared five characteristics. He shared the five characteristics in an interview with SocialMediaExaminer:

  1. Storytelling

  2. Content

  3. Relevance

  4. Ubiquitous

  5. Agile

Perhaps the sentiments of Lerer and Brito are a bit too theoretical or macro for you. You are in the trenches, building and moderating your community and keeping sponsors happy. What is your next step?

  1. If you don’t already have a content management system (CMS) attached to your forum, add one.

  2. Create a plan for the creation of compelling, original content. Focus on storytelling.

  3. Identify the ecommerce opportunities within your vertical. Who are the entrepreneurs, small businesses, and major vendors who want to reach your audience? What is the best way for those partners to sell product through your web property. What ecommerce platform will you use to power that commerce?

To help you execute on the three steps above, you can turn to tools and services like RebelMouse, Contently,DivvyHQ, SingleGrain, Panjo, Magento, and others.

Returning to the topic of valuation, let’s break down the valuations of the aforementioned forums. Warrior Forum’s $3.2M acquisition price means that Freelancer.com paid…

  • $4.36 per registered user
  • $0.44 per thread post
  • $2.62 per monthly organic search inbound visit for the trailing month
  • $1.23 per monthly visit for the trailing month
  • $4.36 per email address

CrowdGather purchased PBNation in 2011 for $2.4M. [source] PBNation’s recent $1.38M acquisition price, a decline of over $1M, means that VerticalScope paid…

  • $2.08 per registered user
  • $0.02 per thread post
  • $6.40 per monthly organic search inbound visit for the trailing month
  • $1.66 per monthly visit for the trailing month
  • $2.08 per email address

Usually, forums are bought and sold between two privately held companies and there is little or no public information about the purchase price. These recent transactions involved publicly held companies and as material transactions, required public disclosure.

Forums are not bought and sold based on the metrics above. As stated above, forum acquisitions are based on traffic and revenue. Do you want more traffic and revenue? Evolve your forum into an ecommerce media giant.

 

Promoting your site with Pinterest

We know a lot of you are using, or are starting to use, Pinterest, but you aren’t sure how to get the best out of it for helping promote your site. Since we are also newbie pinners, we thought we would bring in an expert, Bradley Taylor, to explain all the most pin-portant points we should know.

Pinterest is a rapidly expanding social network which you can use to promote your personal or professional site. The promotional potential of Pinterest is enormous; it currently has over 70 million users and research has revealed that users who were notified of products on Pinterest spent 70% more money on those products than users who were referred from other online networks. If you promote yourself effectively, you can capitalize upon this lucrative online audience.

 

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What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a pin board style photo sharing website which enables users to create and manage theme-based image collections of their personal interests or professional services and products. Users are able to browse neighbouring pin boards for images which they can then ‘re-pin’ onto their own pin boards. They also have the ability to like and comment upon photos. This wealth of activities facilitate multiple ways in which you can innovatively promote your site.

Discover the Pinterest community

In order to promote your business to as large an online audience as possible, it is crucial you engage with other members of the Pinterest community. A great way in which you can increase your site’s online popularity and reputation is through following the activities of other Pinterest boards which are relevant to your site. If you regularly re-pin interesting pins and leave relevant comments on other boards, you can encourage and sustain further discussions and participation with other interest users. By communicating with other users. You can establish an online presence and develop trust between other users, thereby raising your credibility and motivating others to visit your site. Sustained, relevant communication between a large network of users facilitates a direct channel through which you can continue to promote your site to as many users as possible.

Generate original, thought-provoking content

In order to promote your site to its full potential, it is crucial that you generate content which users will be motivated to share with others across Pinterest. According to recent surveys, roughly 80% of all pins on Pinterest are re-pins. This highlights that your primary promotional objective should be generating unique, engaging content which other users will be urged to re-pin. There are multiple ways in which you can achieve this; generate vibrant and enticing infographics and photographs to spark user curiosity. When creating new content, you fundamental aim should be generating something which other users will feel compelled to share with others. If you can achieve this, you will exponentially increase the promotion of your site throughout Pinterest and other social networks.

 

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Unite all of your current social networks

Following on from the previous point, it is highly beneficial to the promotion of your site if you share your Pinterest board across your other social networks. By amalgamating your social networking communities, you can generate a greater amount of online traffic towards your site. By facilitating total access to your site from across a myriad of social networks, you can substantially heighten online awareness towards your site; attracting, and engaging with, as large an audience as possible.

Piggyback popular pins!

Research is key to the promotional success of your site. It is vital that you analyze the most popular pins currently active on Pinterest. If you are conscious of the most popular products, services, topics and creative styles which are being shared across Pinterest, then you can tailor your pins to appeal to these interests. By customizing your Pinterest content to associate yourself with popular trends, you can promote your site to a larger audience, who will in turn be more inclined to visit your site because it is appeals to their stylistic interests and hobbies. For example, if your site addresses content associated with interior design, you can affiliate yourself with current trends such as Sash Smart; whose pins feature interesting window and glass designs or if you are interested in weddings follow Martha Stuart Weddings whose pins feature decorative wedding ideas. Subsequently, users will be motivated to visit your site because it caters specifically to their interests. Moreover, they will be inclined to re-pin or recommend your site to others who share this common interest; thereby promoting your site to a previously inaccessible audience.

 

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A little more on Bradley, he is a motoring enthusiast and loves writing about cars, everything automotive, and sharing tips on how to be the best blogger possible. You can find him on Twitter and connect with him on Google+ for more info and to read his other top writing tips.

 

Top Photo Gear for Fashion Bloggers

If you’re serious about fashion blogging, sooner or later you’re going to start taking your own photos. Serious photos require a serious camera, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sprinkle in some fun snaps from your phone. With an iPhone 5s and a photo editing app like Snapseed, you can get some great images. But when it comes to getting truly stunning images, a digital SLR is the the only way to go. Here are the top two cameras to consider:

  • Go Full Frame with The Nikon D610
    The Nikon D610 is the best value in a full frame sensor. Full frame sensors offer a few important advantages for the fashion photographer. Physically larger sensors (not number of megapixels) perform better in low light situations, they generate more bokeh (less depth of field so more background blur), and they go wider for less money. With a 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, the Nikon D610 is the most affordable way into full frame.

  • Go anywhere with the Canon SL1
    If want your camera with you at all times, go for the lightest, smallest DSLR you can find. The very affordable Canon SL1 is currently the smallest DSLR in the world, but still packs a solid 18-megapixel sensor and a 3 inch screen.

With any SLR camera, you’ll need to consider the right lens. While lenses can get pricey, with the resolving power of today’s sensors, lens quality has never been more important. For fashion, if you only get one lens, get the best 50mm prime lens you can afford, ideally one with an aperture of 1.8 or lower. 50mm works great for portraits and walking around, and they’re fairly compact. Zoom lenses are big, bulky, and just don’t produce images as nice as prime lenses.

In the end, it’s all about getting the right tool for the job. You don’t need the $44k medium format Hasselblad H5D-200, but you should seriously think twice about going for a prosumer point and shoot like the Canon PowerShot G1 X – a do it all camera never really does it all well. Nothing matches the image quality of a DSLR, and when it comes to the content of your blog, quality is king!

Don’t Make These 5 Blogging Mistakes

We seem to always share things you should do when it comes to your blog, but for every “do” there is many a “don’t do” if you want to make your blog successful. Jessica Berger,  @JezzDallas,  iFabbo‘s* Content Developer, shares the top 5 mistakes we are all inclined to make and the top tips for what we should do instead to avoid future hiccups in our path to blogging greatness. 

Writing from the Noun Project by Juan Pablo Bravo
Writing from the Noun Project by Juan Pablo Bravo

 

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for the ultimate blogging success but there are most definitely a few mishaps every blogger should avoid in order to move in the right direction. Here are the 5 major mistakes that you can avoid to get the best out of your blog.

The top 5 blogging mistakes to avoid:
1. Stop wanting it all on the spot!

You already know, blogging success doesn’t come overnight. Growing an audience, creating meaningful content and keeping a consistent presence up does take time! Most bloggers aren’t even full-time bloggers yet they want 1000 followers within a week and get that sought-after sponsorship the day after tomorrow. It is as they say: Do what you love and the success will follow. Stop thinking too much about analytics, subscriber numbers or how to connect with those PR agencies.

Instead:  Focus on your content! Create interesting and captivating content to drive traffic and genuine followers to subscribe. Once that happens, everything else will fall into place. Also things like tracking your analytics will feel much more rewarding and insightful if you take a look once a month instead of every day. That way you have more time to focus on your goals and specializing on your niche.

Tip: The fashion and beauty blogosphere is growing and you might feel pressure to keep up with everyone else. Don’t bother looking at other blogs and websites when it comes to numbers and sponsorships.  All that matters is your personal goal, not what others have done. Find here more tips on how to deal with blogger jealousy.

2. Stop the blogging cluelessness!

You may have just started your blog or have been working at it for a couple of years, yet here you are still feeling as if you have no clue what you are doing. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all blogging tip that will get you on the right track. However, in today’s world there is no reason why you shouldn’t be informed about how to set up certain accounts and how to improve on your blogging skills.

Instead: Think before you blog. Take a moment to really elaborate on your blog. What is your blog about, what do you want your blog to represent, goals etc. Then, create a main outline of your schedule and connections. Think about setting up an editorial calendar, how to brand your blog or how to better your writing skills or how better time management could benefit your blogging routine.

Tip: Besides platforms like iFabbo, Google and Youtube, you have tons of useful how-to tutorials on all kinds of topics available. Photoshop basics or how to set up WordPress for SEO are no problem once you find the right one.

3. Stop the blog design madness!

Yes, you have all the right in the world to design your blog just the way you like it. However, if you look around how other blogs are designed and what their layout offers, you might discover some common denominators your blog is missing. Color overload, crazy pop-ups and zero navigation help are certainly not one of them.

Instead: It’s ok if you don’t want to create yet another black and white blog design but you might have noticed that a clear and easy to read blog attracts more readers and more importantly, keeps them around longer. Having to look for the mute button on your background music app, the comment section or your social media handles isn’t going to turn visitors into subscribers. Take a look at your blog with a fresh pair of eyes. What do you really need on your blog to showcase your personality and what is truly just distracting from your content? Create a concise, clear and easy to use space for users to enjoy and to remember.

Tip: Find more tips on how to choose the right blog design.

4. Stop ignoring your subscribers!

What is it about popular bloggers and vloggers that made you fall in love with them and ultimately come back over and over? It’s most likely their likeability and their ability to interact with their audience! It’s hard enough to get people to comment on your site or to sign up for your newsletter, don’t let that go to waste by never commenting back and replying to questions or post suggestions.

Instead:  Interaction is the number one key to keeping people interested and engaged. How long do you think people will leave a comment on your site before realizing you don’t read them or never reply, never leave a comment back on their blog? Appreciate the effort of someone else stopping by your site, taking the time to read your post and then to leave a message behind. Even a short reply such as a small “thanks” can go a long way. The more you interact the more people will remember you and will come back to your blog for more.

Tip: Engaging with your audience helps you understand your readers and lets you create even better content. Imagine knowing what your readers want before they even ask for it! Comments, emails or social media feedback will give you much insight on that.

5. Stop focusing solely on your blog!

Your blog is your baby, your little project that takes up a lot of time as is. You want to take photos on time and include the newest trends from this years fashion week before everyone else? That is completely understandable. However blogging these days is much more than just writing on your very own site. If you are focusing too much solely on your blog, you might lose touch with what is going on in the outside world. Don’t miss out on the possibilities other channels might have to offer.

Instead: Consider being more and more active on social media and guest posting on other blogs. Build your audience on a few channels other than your own blog and not only drive more traffic to your site but also establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Some people might just want to follow you on Twitter for quick updates, others prefer to follow you on Google+. Whatever the social platform of your choice is, work it consistently and efficiently.

Tip: Don’t just tweet about your newest shoe score but rather connect with other bloggers, companies and brands and show off that fashion knowledge or that beauty insider in you. Discover companies and people on a more personal level, connect on newer platforms before everyone else and you might just end up with that sponsorship after all.

*More info on iFabbo: Founded in 2010, iFabbo™ is a leading international organization for fashion and beauty bloggers and publishers. iFabbo focuses on quality, engaged and vocal influencers who are at the forefront of online publishing and content creation.  iFabbo’s innovative product placement platform, The iFabbo SHOP, allows brands and technology companies to selectively seed their products to highly targeted influencers they want to reach. With thousands of quality members worldwide, iFabbo works with brand marketers, agencies and publishing partners to harness the power of social influencers through targeted, content-driven campaigns, events and conferences. Brands immediately garner a stronger online presence within the blogger community quickly and effectively, while members gain access to some of the most coveted beauty and fashion and technology items.  In addition to iFabbo’s product placement platform, the organization is a premier education provider by introducing new and emerging technology, tools and resources to its members so they remain informed and up-to-date in ways to enhance and develop their publishing career.  For more information on iFabbo visit www.ifabbo.com.