Relevant Reading | VigLink

It’s Time to Optimize Your Mobile Monetization!

After last week’s news from PCMag that iOS ruled shopping this festive season. We knew it was time to source some additional expert knowledge on effectively monetizing your mobile site. We asked our friends at engage:BDR to share some of their top advice on effective ways to make your mobile site monetized.

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We all know that having an aesthetically pleasing, easy to use site is an important part of maintaining and growing an audience, which in turn can be used to monetize your content through strategic advertisements. However, this fails to factor in an important thing: your mobile presence. A staggering amount of Americans today spend as much, if not more, time browsing content and shopping for new items on their mobile devices. In fact, Lenovo, the world’s top PC vendor, actually sells more smartphones and tablets than PCs. Because of this, it is becoming more and more important for publishers to be just as strategic about designing and monetizing their mobile presence.

Once you have created a site that is easy to navigate on a mobile device, there are a few strategic things you can do to effectively monetize it. There are new technologies, which enable pixel-free domain, within content, native advertising strategies (ahem, you don’t need to look far to find a great example of this). There are some other additional approaches we have found work well. Two of our favorites are:

-Keep a banner on the actual page at all times, at either the top or bottom of the page. Have it refresh after 30 seconds with a new banner, so you can still monetize it while keeping the placement in a viewable spot. This creates a visual stimulus, which will slightly shift the reader’s attention and help the performance of ads, which will keep your advertisers happy.

-Use interstitials on long articles. This needn’t be done on every click, but one or two per visit can be highly effective. These perform very well, and you can charge a price that reflects their performance.

If you are interested in learning more or have more questions on any of the above, please leave a comment or contact us on, pub@engagebdr.com.

engage:BDR provides results-driven marketing solutions, advanced technology and custom programming by integrating display, mobile and video advertising along with branded entertainment all in one place. engage:BDR offers premium, publisher direct full-service display and video ad networks as well as an RTB ecosystem, a licensable ad server, and video production. Advertisers, publishers and affiliates alike rely on engage:BDR for high performing, cost effective online advertising.

 

Mobile Affiliate Marketing Strategy Guide

Mobile Marketing Strategy Guide

Our company advisor and internet marketing’s favorite spikey-haired commentator, Murray Newlands, has released another helpful guide. This time focused on mobile marketing. With the growing fervor surrounding mobile, Newlands’ latest white paper couldn’t come at a better time as advertisers, publishers, agencies, and networks increasingly shift focus toward the mobile space.

“I’ve traveled across the country and as far as China this year and it seems that all anybody is talking about is mobile,” Newlands said. “So I was inspired to learn more about it myself, but when I looked online for some resources I was shocked at how few existed. And, it seemed that the ones that were already out there had some sort of catch to them, like signing up with a network, which I know not everybody wants to do. So I thought that with the success of my last two books, it would be advantageous for me to do some research and pen a mobile guide of my own, with no strings attached for the readers,” he explained.

The 21-page guide is a free download from Newlands’ online publication TheMail.com. Inside the book, readers can expect to find five chapters that cover a range of mobile marketing topics from a basic introduction, all the way down to setting up different types of campaigns and best practices for optimizing those campaigns.

Along with Newlands’ take on the various aspects of the mobile industry, the guide also contains a sections from other guest authors. Where they offer their unique expert insights and tips gained through real-world, first-hand experience.

With its undeniably wide-ranging content, we asked Newlands what he wants people to get from the guide and why he considers it a must-read for anybody who is looking to get into the mobile marketing industry.

“From my experience, there is a disconnect between the demand for mobile marketing information and the supply, and with this guide I’ve attempted to fill that gap. I think marketers who have their sights set on the mobile space need to read this so that they have a fundamental grasp on the way mobile works, as well as some advice for constructing, running, testing, and optimizing campaigns. There is a lot that people have to know to be able to find success via mobile, and this guide is a great first step to helping them achieve their goals.”

To get your free copy of Murray Newlands “Mobile Marketing Strategy Guide,” CLICK HERE.

 

4 Reasons Google Hummingbird is Great for Your Blog

Google announced Hummingbird at the end of September and we felt it was time to review what this actually means for you (publishers) and quash any fears you may have about its effects. The good news – the changes are mostly positive for content creators (woop!).  Jenny Stowemarket writes for www.WhoIsHostingThis.com and works in online marketing and is familiar with the recent updates in Google. She has kindly agreed to share her insights on why this change is great for bloggers.

hummingbird

The last two large-scale algorithm updates Google released—Panda and Penguin—continue to cause ripples throughout the Internet, and for the most part, not in the most positive ways. A lot of sites are still trying to recover traffic and revenue lost as a result of those updates’ initial releases. So when news broke about Google’s latest big update, Hummingbird, there was understandably a moment of panic among digital marketers and businesses that rely on search for their traffic and revenue.
Not to worry. Hummingbird is actually here to help you.
Just as Panda barreled through, swinging its clawed paws through thousands of marginal sites, knocking them down in the SERPs, Hummingbird flits by, alighting ever so gently on sites that are moving, as Google is, toward more natural-sounding content. You may have to make a few adjustments to how you’re currently creating content, but if you embrace it, Hummingbird can be great for your blog.

You Have More Freedom to Write Naturally

Whether you’ve written your content yourself, or outsourced to a professional copywriter, it’s likely much of your content strategy hinged on keyword research. If Google Analytics told you someone landed on your site by searching for the phrase “buy red widgets online,” you turned around and made sure that phrase popped up in strategic areas of your site. Maybe you were even counting the number of times it appeared in your content, trying to hit some magical, mythical keyword density number.
Now you can throw that strategy out—to a degree. Of course keywords are still important. But they’re not everything. Rather than writing to keywords and search engines, you now have the freedom to truly write for people. You no longer have to contort your content to accommodate awkward search phrases. As long as you keep your content relevant, make sure it naturally contains your primary keywords (and if you’re just writing about your products, of course it will), and ensure your content is high quality, Hummingbird will smile upon your site.

You Can Focus on Intent Rather Than Keywords

In the same vein as writing naturally, Google Hummingbird means search intent is more important than ever. That’s a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but think about what it really means for a moment. If someone searches for “best digital camera,” what do they mean by “best”? Highest quality? Lowest price? Most popular brand name? Search intent is all about context.
Keeping potential intent in mind will allow you to create content across a broader spectrum. It opens up possibilities for richer content that will speak to every intent for vague search terms like “best.” As of now, you should be bursting with ideas for new content that drills down into smaller niches and more specific meanings. And with every piece of content you create with a specific intent in mind, you cater to the person who searched with that intent. Serving up to people exactly what they’re looking for is a sure way to gain readers and customers, not to mention keep them coming back.

You Must Maintain or Increase Quality

At first, this may not sound like a benefit to your blog. Why? Because quality takes time and costs money. But think for a moment about how Hummingbird and Panda are now working in tandem, one seeking out poor quality content, the other looking for more natural, organically created content. The blogs with the highest quality content are naturally going to rise to the top.
Not only is quality content going to help you in the SERPs, it’s going to go further to landing new customers, and securing conversions. Get into your customers’ heads for a moment. It’s easy. You’re a consumer too, right? What impresses you? If you go online to buy something, and the website selling it is full of errors, and is poorly designed or structured, and difficult to navigate, what does that make you think about the product they’re selling? Is it just as poorly designed? So while quality content is going to help you in search, it’s also going to help you convert casual visitors into customers. Quality breeds authority and trust. Never underestimate its power of quality free hosting.

You Can More Easily Surpass Your Competition

Make no mistake, Google Hummingbird doesn’t mean you can just sit back, relax, and let the search engine do all the work for you. You must still work to gain or maintain a competitive edge in your vertical. However, there will undoubtedly be those out there who don’t heed Hummingbird’s move toward more natural search language, and who, either out of habit or just plain stubbornness, will stick to what they know—basing content on keywords.
Those who become or remain stagnant will begin to fall further and further behind, both in the SERPs and in sales. By not adjusting how they create content to accommodate semantic search and cater to search intent, a lot of marketers and businesses are going to deny themselves a lot of organic search traffic—and a lot of customers. This is true of any part of any business venture, really. If you don’t continue to evolve and keep up with industry changes, you will soon become obsolete, surpassed by those who make the effort to stay abreast of new developments. Continue to create high-quality, natural-sounding content, and you’re on your way to the front of the line—or the top of the SERPs.

One of the most important things to remember, though, no matter what algorithm update comes out next is not to put all your conversion eggs in one search engine basket. If you’re relying on Google (or any search engine) for all your traffic and all your sales, you’re missing out as well as setting yourself up for failure. Expand your marketing efforts beyond the search engines to see an even greater return. But no matter what marketing method you use, the ultimate goal is to bring people to your site, so make sure it’s a site worth your visitors’ time.

 

Performance Marketing for Professionals

Performance Marketing for Professionals

One of our company advisors, Murray Newlands, has teamed up with another of our favorite internet entrepreneurs, John Rampton, to write ‘Performance Marketing for Professionals.’ This latest installment from the internet veterans details how to become a successful digital marketer.  Including tips from becoming an affiliate, to setting up your own Google or Bing PPC campaigns, to creating an email campaign that’s too good to fail. ‘Performance Marketing for Professionals’ offers expert advice from industry leaders on topics such as content marketing, attribution, sending domain names, and all-things PR.

The book contains 14 chapters including a basic introduction, a road map, and detailed advice on how to best implement the book’s strategic suggestions.

We don’t want to give too much of the book away, but we do know it also features some guest advice from other internet gurus, including our very own CEO, Oliver Roup:

Content driven commerce, as suggested here, is a growing area of business, however, it’s a sector whose growth relies on good copy creation and an engaged audience. Building a sizable and loyal audience is the core challenge for content creators. So, my advice for all content makers is to one, find your niche and stick with it (this defines your brand), establish a direct relationship with your audience, and then consider monetization opportunities that enhance these.

To learn more about performance marketing and the best strategies to be successful – you can get hold of your very own copy of the book now.

 

This is the Future of Advertising

Wharton School (the business school at the University of Pennsylvania) runs the Wharton Future of  Advertising Program. The mission of this program is to “Act as a catalyst for deeper insights, bolder innovation, and broader positive impact of advertising.” Under this umbrella, they’ve recently launched Advertising 2020 in a bid to source “Knowledge for Action” to address the key challenges facing the future of the advertising industry.

This global endeavor invited over 150 expert contributors from all fields to share their insights on what could or should advertising look like in 2020. The program stimulates conversations and debates, producing a set of concrete actions which will help advertising achieve its potential.

Oliver Deighton, our Vice President of Marketing and former Product Marketing Manager for Google’s advertising business, has joined the other invited international innovators, visionaries and thought leaders to share his perspective on a future of advertising. Dubbed ‘The Link Economy’ Oliver articulates a future reliant on a fundamental underpinning of the Internet, the very ‘H’ of HTTP, and sophisticated personalised optimization algorithms to maximise value for all involved. You can see Oliver’s concise contribution here and offer your own comments.

To read the other insightful and compelling perspectives and add your voice to the future of advertising debate visit the platform now at http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/ad2020/

Posted by Lucy Bartlett, Marketing Manager

 

Blogs Drive Purchase Intent

We knew it. You knew it. Now here’s the proof.

Last week a new report published by Technorati, the 2013 Digital Influence Report, showed that blogs are more likely to influence consumer purchase behavior that any other independent online media. More than Twitter, Facebook, even online magazines, consumers reported that blogs ranked behind only the retail and brand sites themselves. Consumers continue to rate blogs one of the most overall trustworthy sources of information on the internet.


The report pointed out that ‘brands spending is not fully aligned with how and where consumers are seeing value and being influenced’. Despite this, bloggers reported that e-commerce and affiliate links were the most acceptable forms of monetization.


Consumers value bloggers to guide their the purchase decisions and as a source of inspiration and clarity, cutting through the noise. Bloggers want to get compensated for this by using monetization methods that connect them directly to the purchase decisions they shape. We have said this all along and have created the tools to capture your value.

The Truth Behind SEO and Paid Links

Recently, another storm blew up around SEO, advertorials, and links. At the center of the storm were Google and Interflora, a popular UK-based flower retailer. In an effort to promote themselves in the run up to Valentine’s Day, Interflora sent bouquets to bloggers. The idea was simple: send bloggers flowers, bloggers blog about flowers, readers like, click and buy. Seems like a good marketing plan, no?

Not quite. Google decided the flowers were intended to boost PageRank and consequently annihilated Interflora’s search ranking.

Exchanging flowers for links is tantamount to buying links and Google has a long-standing policy against paid links that masquerade as “organic” links. I emphasize “masquerade” because that part is all too often forgotten. Paid links are fine; Google earns a few billion dollars every month from paid links. The issue hinges on trying to pass paid links for natural links.

Was that really Interflora’s goal? I don’t know. What I do know is that their reaction was to call all the bloggers who got flowers and ask them to take the links down in an attempt to salvage their reputation with Google. That was the wrong move in my opinion – it’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Interflora could have avoided this situation entirely with one simple snippet of code:

rel="nofollow"

By reminding bloggers to include this simple code in their Interflora links, Google would have rightly ignored the links for purposes of passing PageRank to Interflora and no SEO cliff-of-doom would have transpired. Here’s how it looks in HTML: 

<a href="interflora.co.uk" rel="nofollow">Interflora</a>

Instead of asking bloggers to delete the URLs entirely, Interflora could have simply asked bloggers to add the nofollow, keeping the links up and the clicks (and sales) coming.

Even better would have been to recruit these bloggers into their affiliate program. Google’s Matt Cutts is on record making it clear that the vast majority of affiliate links are handled correctly. This means Google’s PageRank automatically ignores affiliate links, and you don’t need to include a nofollow (though it can’t hurt). With affiliate links handled properly by Google, there’s no risk of penalty.

If asking bloggers to include nofollow in their links or signing them up individually to an affiliate program sounds too arduous, well, I agree. The whole notion of manually tagging paid links is antiquated. After all, that’s exactly the problem VigLink technology solves. And just like every other affiliate link, Google handles our links correctly.

Bloggers who use VigLink avoid these paid link SEO scandals, don’t risk their own search rank or that of their favorite merchants, and never lose another commission rightly earned. As of this writing, VigLink users earn $6 for every sale they drive to Interflora. That beats an SEO cliff of doom any day.

Posted by Oliver Deighton, Vice President, Marketing

 

Need Content-Driven Commerce be So Complicated?

Two articles recently hit our radar that speak to the opportunities, but also the challenges, of capturing the real value created by content that drives commerce:

AdWeek dove into the recent efforts of some traditional publishers such as Harper’s Bazaar to drive e-commerce. Meanwhile, eMedia Vitals profiled Dwell’s efforts to move into “contextual commerce.”

In both of these articles, the reporters point to media companies taking some extraordinary steps to connect with shoppers and expand their revenue sources beyond traditional advertising. They cite Thrillist purchasing flash deal site JackThreads “after seeing the enormity of the JackThreads warehouse operation.” They cite Dwell partnering with AhaLife to make a fully “shoppable” magazine using a mobile app complete with augmented reality technology.

These are creative ideas, yes, but they are also remarkably difficult (not to mention expensive) to execute. Should media companies really start taking on merchandise inventory and the real estate to house it? Should magazines look beyond the reader adoption of specific smart-phone apps tied to a single retailer?

As you might have guessed, we think there’s an much easier way to capture the value of contextual commerce at scale: The hyperlink (as monetized by VigLink, of course). From QR codes in print to plain old webpages, the hyperlink is ready and willing to convert the purchase intent created by media into a sale, and a sale into a commission, across thousands of retailers.

 

 

What Does UX Have to do with Monetization?

Last week, Mashable posted a video interview with Jesse James Garrett, author of The Elements of User Experience, and a pioneer in the space as it applies to the web.

Garrett points to a trend among technology companies in which they are now starting to invest heavily in developing and improving user experience (UX).  As he sees it, companies have shifted from taking a narrow, tactical approach with graphic designers (buttons, menus, and fonts) to evaluating the entire picture of what makes a truly beautiful experience. Where UX was once a check box on the long list of tasks to complete a project, it has now evolved into an essential part of product strategy, and, for some businesses, a key driver of success.

When working with publishers, we often find them struggling to balance user experience with monetization. Distracting, irrelevant display ads could actually turn readers away, undermining the entire business. Yet monetization doesn’t have to compromise user experience. There is no foregone trade-off between readers and revenue. For example, limiting the number of ad placements while holding them to a strict measure of relevance and quality can help retain readers and maximize ad engagement.  Of course, VigLink is a tasteful solution to monetization that respects user experience. By affiliating links within your content, VigLink doesn’t rely on the traditional tricks of distraction or interruption. By integrating a monetization solution into actual content (vs the white space around content) publishers can avoid the pitfalls of banner blindness, enhance the user experience, and still earn revenue.

For some, user experience is at the heart of how they run their company. For others, it’s a philosophy that drives the smaller, tactical decisions (such as monetization). Garrett’s interview got us thinking about how we incorporate user experience into our business. As you think about the same for your business, consider the old Google mantra – “focus on the user, and all else will follow.”

Whitney, VigLink Marketing Communications Manager

VigLink’s Principal Data Scientist Selected to Present at the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL-2012)’s TextGraph Conference Workshop

The Association for Computational Linguistics will be hosting their 50th Annual Meeting in Jeju Island, Korea July 8th  – July 14th and we are pleased to share that VigLink’s Principal Data Scientist, Gabor Melli, will be presenting his recent paper entitled Identifying Untyped Relation Mentions in a Corpus Given an Ontology.

We are particularly excited because it is based on the research he has continued here at VigLink over the last nine months that has allowed us to continue to refine our link insertion solution and earn each of you more revenue each month.

Below is an overview of the paper his presentation will be based on.

The paper proposes a semi-supervised machine learning-based algorithm to the task of identifying relations between concepts that are stated in a document (such as a webpage). Knowing what is likely related to what in a document can for example help us at VigLink to know which product mentions refer to the same product (their coreference chains). Our approach is to leverage information found drawn from a well-organized database of concepts (an ontology) to heuristically create a labeled dataset (i.e. a semi-supervised approach) that can be used to train a statistical model. Finally, we demonstrated the effectiveness of the algorithm on a publicly available benchmark task.

If you’ll be attending, you can catch Gabor’s session on Thursday July 12th as part of the TextGraphs workshop.