Thursday, September 25, 2008

Advertising sophistication

I was trying to set up business with a medium size CPM advertising network and in a phone conversation, he asked me: "Tell me about the demographics of your users."

I candidly and stupidly replied. I don't know much about them, I think they're mostly kids.

BONG. Wrong answer.

You should pretend to know something about your users to have some credibility. It's not really checkable information so there's really no wrong answer. And, grown-up users are more valuable than kids. So I got zero out of two on that little test.

But how would I know about my user demographics? One, if your site is registered with a service, just repeat their information. It might be nonsence but it sure sounds good. So, for instance, for my site, I could say:

My site is 62% female, 49% over the age of 18, and 50% of the users are regulars. I get all this information directly from the Quantcast website. I'm not sure I believe it but this sort of info is the standard medium of advertising.

I'm also trying to understand how comscore with media metrix provides info so that I can better understand and characterize my site, and find appropriate advertisers. I was just reading through one of comScores PDFs which explains how to characterize your site and it baffled me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

High Volume Websites

The high volume sites that I run are:
1. - some flash animations & PDF downloads but most of the heavy multimedia work is done by Compass...
2. Building Vocabulary Fun - lots of Flash files and a database but relatively stable volumes and so it's easily managed...
3. - a beautiful new high volume site which has more than doubled in usage over the last month and which is architected to consume bandwidth and CPU at a very high rate. It couldn't be a bigger pig if it was designed by the hosting companies themselves.

Early this summer, we put on a dedicated server at Layered Tech
(Fast Servers). Earlier this month, we added an extra GB of memory (for $25/month more) and now, we're probably deciding to add a second server (maybe segmenting off the database work from the webserving?). BTW, we're very happy with FastServers and their support and service.

I can see now why nobody tried to do a site like SpellingCity before.

Making money thru domain parking...sigh

This MTD (and we're in the last weeks), here's my revenues for parking 75 domains:
NameDrive $1.84
TrafficClub (now called $73.49 (95% from one domain)
DoDaddy's Parking service $11.31

This is from ~75 parked domain, some with very worthwhile names such as, Credit Cards online, and SKILLSFORTOMORROW.COM.

I'm pretty well done with trying to make money on parking domains and so I'm returning to focus on combinations of content with google ads. My new effort is to explore a topic near and dear to my heart: collecting funds online. The domain name: credit cards online 101.

GoDaddy is now set so that my new domain registrations automatically get parked. With that level of convenience, I'll keep doing it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

LCPC - Low cost per click ads

Today, I have my publisher hat on and I'm focused in improving the revenue flow from the google ads on my websites. One way to get more is get rid of the LCPC - low cost per click advertisers. Basically, you find the list and then in your adsense account, filter the low paying ads.

Why does Google have people paying less? It has something to do with being a Google-preferred advertiser who has a high quality score (relevance of ads, clickthrus) and size of adsense budget.

How do you find these low-paying advertisers? You google the web. Here's a few sites: - a whole site and forum dedicated to identifying LCPC. Sign Up, put in your URL and keyword, click generate. You will then get an extensive list of 200 sites to block in your AdSense competitive ad filter. BUT, while I can find posts on this topic on problogger and elsewhere, they all point back to

Filtering/blocking lcpc ads - Copy the list generated at Ads Black List and open your adsense account. Then Adsense Setup > Competitive Adsense Filter and paste that list.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monetizing websites - CPM focus

Standard sources of revenue (when volumes get big)
- Sites with small amounts of traffic always start with google adsense. It works at low volumes. CPM vendors require sites to have certain levels of traffic. Will wrote a great article on ProBlogger about CPM marketing where he lists the minimum page views that different vendors require. They range at the high end to (2 million pageviews per month) to the low end where AdsDaq and Ad Dynamix have no minimums.

- Most site owners with large volumes of traffic (again, what is large?) prefer the reliability and predictability of CPM over CPC or CPA. They know what they'll make.

- Definitions for you beginners: CPM - a dollar amount, often $3, per thousand impressions. An impression is a page view. One visitor might have 8 page views. CPC is cost per click (Google adsense, AdBrite), CPA is cost per action, as in affiliate programs.

- Top CPM network vendors: Tribalfusion, Burst media, - I found some good starting materials, an advertising focused website, an article on CPM Vendors, and a freaktitude article. Hotchalk is focused on our market so they are of interest to me

- CPM vendors have to be above the fold

- You can have multiple CPM vendors on the same page so long as they are above the fold. I know where exactly the cut-off is on my computer with my toolbars and my resolution. But, is there a standard definition of how many pixels down is above the fold?

- CPM network vendors do not ask for exclusives so you can mix and match in the same spot. For instance, with one leaderboard, you might set up an adserver such as Open X which alternates between your own ads, tribalfusion, burst media, and google ads (when there is no demand from the others).
- google ads go lower on the page as an additional revenue enhancer
- affiliates are a time drain, highly unreliable, and mostly don't work. With great skill in some niches, you can work an affiliate successfully but it's an uphill battle
- if you have very valuable traffic, google ads are a good way to go
- very valuable niche traffic might best be monetized with affiliates and adsense.

Some details. I was just looking at TribalFusion's Publisher agreement which says:
- they need at least 2K unique visitors per day
- They must be the only 468x60 banner above the fold!
- All banners are 468x60 pixels.
BTW - TribalFusion's Publisher agreement should be updated in terms of ad size since their website says the standard unit sizes are: 468x60, 728x90, 300x250, 336x280, 120x600, 160x600, and Pop-Under

Data Sources
Advertisers like standard sources of date more than your own web stats. Examples:
- Quantcast - Currently the best since they pull data from the ISPs
- Alexa - An old favorite but biased by the percentage of people that install their toolbar
- Compete - New to me but very user-friendly
- Comscore - Subscription-based

Current hot sizes for CPM Vendors:

728 x 90 - leaderboard
160 x 60
300 x 250 - preferred
I had thought the banner (468 x 60) was the standard but it's apparently a has-been.

What's hot in our market in terms of demographics?
- teachers & parents
- what's not in demand: kids
So printable worksheets and our parents forum are hotter than sites for kids for advertising


Friday, September 12, 2008

Warriors Collide

This blog is not about MMA (mixed martial arts), its about the web and how the marketing online world works. Here's a lesson. Market around events.

Example: I have a blog on my training and from where I train, there's alot of interest in the local amateur fights since our training partners will be there. People want to know more. So I try to pull together info for them and apparently, people really like it.

So, if you want the latest info on Warriors Collide or Warriors Collide 6, go to the Black Belt at 50 blog.

If you go to conventions or conferences, they are a great subject. Talk about why you are going. Talk about what you hope to accomplish there and who you hope to meet and why. Use it as a way to focus your own thoughts and set your own goals. Perhaps use it as a way to communicate with others. AT the conference, take a few minutes a few times a day and jot down how it's going. If you are quick, you could be one of the first blogs to hit the search engine on certain topics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Chrome Browser - Almost like an OS

Google's chrome includes some features that help the web generally and google specifically. As background, Google is releasing it's own web browser called Chrome. Chrome will compete with other browsers (all free) such as Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari, and Firefox's Mozilla. Chrome has a collection of cool new features:

  1. A more powerful efficient java engine to execute complex web applications
  2. Efficient memory management with protected memory for different applications.
  3. An open source approach
  4. Multithreaded multitasking programming

What struck me when I read this (and other more complete lists) about Chrome is that it starts to sound like a description of an operating system. Remember, Google has just released Android which is their open source OS for mobile phones. Is Chrome a big step towards providing an OS for some desktop-type device, like a future network-centric PC or web station?

Returning to my business news:
I have about 75 parked domains at: TrafficClub, GoDaddy, and NameDrive. I am looking for some way to compare the results at them but since no two domains are identical and in most cases, the visits and clicks are paltry, it's hard to do meaningful statistical comparison. is a definite hit. You can check out it's traffic at Quantcast. I'm examining a number of ways to monetize it from building it out to a full subscription site, to having my own spelling ebooks, to using it to promote my own sites (and parked domains), to putting up advertising, or even to selling it (7 figures!).


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Looking for wisdom....and some good consultants

Here are the questions that are important to my business for which I would be willing to pay money to get sage advice from someone who inspires my confidence....

My site's position on Google has slipped slightly on a few hundred words over the last two to three months. The traffic seems down (corrected for seasonality) and my Google PR rating went from 7 to 6. Could this be because I eliminated the google adsense ads on my site? There were making money but I felt, were distracting my visitors and not contributing to the quality of my site. They were making some money for me.

Parking domains. I've been looking at Sedo, Godaddy, trafficclub, and even the google adsense parking service. The google one seems to require someone to qualify my holding lots of quality domains. Google's funny in this area since on one hand, most parking services run a lot of google ads on them. But Google seems to be experimenting with allowing adwords advertisers who allow their ads on content sites to block parked sites. And google seems to be selectively offering a parking service for domain owners. Here's my question: whats the best parking service?

Credit card gateway services. A chunk of my revenue every month goes to the credit card services. Is it too much? Could I get lower rates? Are their better services? I'm looking for info in these areas. So far, I've found credit cards online 101, credit card vendor, and some ezine credit card articles.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Hurricane Song

I grew up singing these songs.

The hurricane song is very timely and too great.
Thanks Time4Learning for keeping this alive.
And thanks to Todays Learners for helping me find it.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Monetizing website traffic

I'm searching for ideas and specifics and industry norms on monetizing traffic. Is $.01 per visitor good or bad? Put otherwise, can I earn $10 per CPM? What combo of approaches should I try?

  1. Just park it. I have one parked domain that is now producing over $1 per click and close to .7 clicks per visitor. It is amazing. Should I just use my highly trafficed sites to send traffic to my parked domains hoping that the high $/click will pay-off? Seems simple and effective to me.
  2. Do, as SEOProNews suggest, the right thing to monetize your traffic : Marketers will closely examinetheir traffic and then take steps to monetize it. It mayinvolve producing their own products or services to offerto these visitors. It may be using an affiliate program to offer a product...Domination of the main keywords in your market or niche willspell monetary success even for webmasters whose main goalmay not be making money from their sites… these strangecreatures do exist I am told!
    Aggressive marketers will take a different route, especiallyif they have gained domination in a niche area; many approachother businesses in their niche with offers of partnershipsand independent deals… they supply the leads or customersto these businesses in return for a percentage of the sale.
    I personally go for “residual income deals” where I get apercentage of the revenues generated for the life of theclients I refer. Large multinational companies in yourtargeted niches probably won’t give you the time of day,but smaller, lesser known companies will give you lucrativedeals if it is a “win-win situation” for both parties.This is my number ONE way to monetize my traffic.
  3. I have tried adsense which produces steady income. I have tried affiliates and for the 20 programs that I've tried, I've found only one that consistently makes money. I have looked to build & buy my own products but so far, other than my original product line, I'm a one-trick pony.
  4. What are decent monetization rates? Is $.01 per visitor good or bad? I see $5 per CPM impressions thrown around as a standard rate. But is it real and what does it mean? Is that the rate for each banner on the page or for the total advertising on a page? Does that mean that for every visitor, assuming each visitor views four pages and there are two banners on each page, that a visitor = 8 impressions paying 8/1000 of $5. Which equals 40/1000 or 1/25 or $.04 per visitor?


Data Conflicts: Analytics vs Adwords data

Am I the only one who cares about integrity of data? I search the web and I can't seem to find anyone else who cares about the statistical validity of data for decision making of adwords campaigns. Or about reconciling different data from adwords and analytics.

For instance, for the month of August, my google analytics report shows 50 new customers from the Google Adwords campaign. For the same time period, the Adwords internally generated report show 100 (yes, I'm not giving out my real data).

My belief is that Adwords is a cookie-based system so as long as the visitor converts into a customer on the same computer that they first clicked thru from google on, they count as an Adwords customer.

Analytics, I theorize, is session based. So if the customer first came to my site from an Adwords click but then bookmarked the site and closed his browser. Then he came back to my site by either using the bookmark or googling (natural search) my name, he would count in Analytics as either direct or natural search customer respectively.



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What is an original work?

I run an online educational service. I'd like to be focused day-in-and-day-out on education and how software and methodology can help kids learn. I'd like to focus on helping to redefining learning. But, I run a company so I actually spend most of my days on issues like credit cards, people management, on marketing, and on my least favorite days, on intellectual property issues.

I'm in the software business and so, we create and use "original works" which can be software programs, images, music, and writing. Much of this is in the public domain in some sense. Some of it is proprietary and belongs to someone and it would be wrong to use.

Being a small company, I avoid spending money on lawyers because....well, it's my money and I'd like to keep it. So this post is an effort to gather my thoughts and maybe some input on what is an original proprietary list.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly grey area which can only be decided on a case-by-case basis by the courts.

Let's start with some items that cannot belong to someone followed in some cases by a caveat:
  • Facts, like the population of the US. But this is limited since some info, like the daily stock market feed, does "belong" to someone.
  • Ideas, like the idea that the planets revolve around the sun and rotate. But some ideas can be patented
  • Original works such as songs, book and poetry. A complete curriculum. A photograph

So could a word list be considered proprietary? I would think not. But then, a dictionary with it's definitions is proprietary as would be a complete vocabulary curriculum. But a list of few hundred words for vocabulary or spelling, could that be considered proprietary? I would think not.

The online world, with google constantly indexing everyone's proprietary sites, providing photos of everyone's houses from above and from the front door (have you seen StreetView on google, it's so amazing!!!!), indexing all the printed books, and generally making information accessible is certainly increasing the focus on these intellectual property issues.