Reading Right Now: Retailers Hope to Bag Rivals’ Customers on Twitter

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Retailers Hope to Bag Rivals’ Customers on Twitter

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Reading Right Now: Here’s My Plan to Improve Our World — And How You Can Help by Bill Gates

Just read the following article that you should check out:

Here’s My Plan to Improve Our World — And How You Can Help by Bill Gates

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Reading Right Now: How one site beat back botnets, spammers, and the “4chan party van”

Just read the following article that you should check out:
How one site beat back botnets, spammers, and the “4chan party van”

Reading Right Now: Road Trip: California’s Pacific Coast Highway — National Geographic

Just read the following article that you should check out:
Road Trip: California’s Pacific Coast Highway — National Geographic

Weekly Reading Roundup for February 17th, 2013

A collection of some articles I have been reading over the past week:

Also take a look at this SEO white paper from HubSpot. It’s a great piece and one I think all publishers should at least familiarize themselves with as they continue to grow their audience and readership.

Hunter & Sons

I’ve recently started work on a new project called Hunter & Sons, a digital magazine focused on style, gear, gadgets and more for men. While this isn’t the first website I have built, I am decidedly taking a new approach to generating and sustaining traffic than I have for other sites in the past. Below are a number of theories that I am hoping to prove/disprove in the way that I am growing this site.

Generate Initial Buzz via Social
Social media has already established itself as a major driver of traffic for new websites and apps across the web. We only need to look at the massive spikes in traffic that e-commerce sites and product sites have experienced simply by being pinned on a Pinterest board or discussed on a Facebook wall post, for example. Social can create a big boost in initial traffic and new visits, but how can social be used to sustain that traffic over the long run? That’s a question I am hoping I can find answers to with this new site.

Good SEO Foundations = Sustained Traffic
This goes without saying. SEO is no longer the pseudo-science or black sheep of the web that it once was even a few years ago. Companies, individuals and blogs alike recognize SEO’s major role in ensuring one thing: rank high for search terms and be ready for the influx of traffic. With Hunter & Sons I have done some specific things to ensure that our SEO foundations are setup well, including the nomenclature of the URLs I am using, the language of the posts and the push to link back to Hunter & Sons across the web. Google provides all webmasters with a great tool known as their Webmaster Academy. While many of the items on the list are quite simple, it’s surprising how many sites forget even the simplest of SEO items which can have a big impact on their results. Focus on the fundamentals, and you set yourself up for success in the future.

High Social Engagement Will Drive Traffic Growth
One thing that may not be sustainable as the site grows is the high level of engagement and communication that I am doing while running the site. I have opened up a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ account for the site, and have plans to update and maintain a Tumblr as well as an Instagram account. Managing my own social media accounts is tough enough; managing the engagement and posting of content across 6 social media channels will prove challenging. However, getting back to my first point: I believe that generating a large amount of buzz initially via social will hopefully reach a tipping point, whereby it will start to grow by itself without having to necessarily manage the engagement as much as I am right now. This is definitely something I want to prove as I think this initial investment and hurdle is a big reason why small businesses and local businesses aren’t jumping onto social media as fast as they should be.

Hopefully within the next 2 to 3 months I will start to see some decent traffic for the site. At the moment, within 6 months, I am hoping I can see approximately 10,000 visits per month. Here we go!

IDFA & Mobile Advertising

As we all know mobile usage has been ramping up quite nicely to the point where mobile usage should surpass desktop usage within the next few years. App makers and content creators alike have been struggling to generate meaningful revenue on mobile, partly because the old way of doing things simply doesn’t work. In the past, advertisers could reach users by targeting ads based on cookies and opt-in information provided by the users. Sadly for these advertisers and the publishers who serve the users, this hasn’t been very easy to do on mobile.

Apple’s new iOS 6 could be a huge game changer for publishers and advertisers alike. Within the new operating system, Apple has now created something akin to a “persistent cookie” that can then be used by app makers and developers to target individuals with better mobile ads while not jeopardizing the individual’s privacy. Privacy is built in by design in that Apple offers its users to select “Limit Ad Tracking” if they don’t want anonymous usage information to be compiled on them.

Hopefully the new IDFA system will give publishers the revenue generation opportunities that they are use to seeing outside of mobile while also giving advertisers the confidence to continue to put spend towards mobile. The push towards the mobile web is inevitable; for publishers and advertisers, its a matter of staying ahead of the curve to derive value from mobile.

Revenue Cannibalization: Striking A Balance

What if you are a publisher with various sources of ad income? What if you have CPA deals next to CPM display ads? Or perhaps even CPC text link ads next to CPM display ads? This post focuses on the latter, in which a publisher needs to understand the revenue split between two competing (but complimentary) sources of ad revenue.

At the last publisher I worked at, we had an interesting mix of text link ads based on directly negotiated CPCs (direct partner/non-auction) and display ads trafficked via CPM. In many cases, publishers choose to stick with one ad revenue source (display ads OR text link ads) because cannibalization can occur. In a nutshell, cannibalization is the process by which one ad can potentially take away clicks from another portion of the website or an ad.

In our specific case, we realized very quickly that there was an equilibrium that needed to be struck between our text link ads and our display ads. In essence, if the CPM we negotiated with a direct deal advertiser was too low (commensurately, if the eCPC was too low based on the CPM and the CTR) we risked actually losing money on net when considering the clicks that were lose to the display ad, rather than having the user click on the (higher paying) text link ad.

Publishers need to understand that for any given deal they sign in this scheme, they need to ensure that total revenue on net is higher, even if they are getting a higher CPC text link ad or a higher CPM display ad. In the case of the display ad, understanding the CTR from the display ad is vital to understanding the eCPC, and thus the total affect on monetizing the user.

Guaranteed Inventory: The Ideal Publisher Setup

If you’re a publisher who is currently looking to secure direct deals for your website, good work; many publishers find that direct deals can bring in a much higher CPM than their remnant inventory, further boosting their revenue and strengthening their monetization efforts. This post will focus on a way of creating something akin to guaranteed inventory while also creating price pressure within the auction. As you will see, both advertisers and publishers will win with this strategy.

Guaranteed inventory generally sits at the top of your waterfall. It’s highly coveted by advertisers who want to be the first impression that a user sees on your site and highly lucrative for publishers who can charge a premium to said advertisers for the opportunity to sit above the auction and get a first look. Typically Guaranteed inventory means you as the publisher are setting aside a certain amount of your available impressions exclusively for the advertiser.

Comfortably Clearing The Auction
This does carry some risk for the publisher. As a publisher, you have to feel confident that the CPM you are getting directly will almost always clear the vast majority of bids you are seeing in the auction. If the CPM you are receiving from a direct advertiser doesn’t comfortably sit above the auction, you may leave money on the table as the guaranteed advertiser gets to display an ad that may be worth less than the one from the auction that could have potentially ran had the guarantee not been in place.

That being said, for the publisher, the ideal situation is an advertiser who pays a very high CPM but doesn’t actually have guaranteed first look. In this scheme, the advertiser effectively takes first impression since their CPM bid is far above the normal remnant CPM that the publisher is seeing from their networks. For DFP users, you effectively create a line item that isn’t guaranteed inventory but rather normal inventory that goes through the auction. As a result, if there is ever a situation where the network can beat the advertiser’s CPM, it behooves the publisher to provide that specific impression at auction to the network, thereby maximizing publisher revenue. By making the advertiser go through the auction, you theoretically create price pressure within the auction by inducing network buyers to raise their bids and hopefully beat out the higher paying direct advertiser.

The ideal situation is an advertiser who pays a very high CPM but doesn’t actually have guaranteed first look.

Win Win For All
A lot of advertisers may not like this setup since they feel they are paying more for not much benefit. In fact, the advertiser should stand to achieve a much more effective campaign as well as ROI on that campaign since theoretically they are now paying the exact price they would like to hit for the exact number of impressions that will convert best for them (assuming they are optimizing their CPM bid based on their KPIs). First impression is thus determined by the auction, but generally goes to the higher paying CPM advertiser in most (if not all cases) and the difference between them getting guaranteed all first impressions versus getting close to all first impressions is negligible.

If you find yourself in the middle of negotiations where you can obtain a higher paying non-guaranteed advertiser, ensure that their CPM bid is well above the remnant CPM you are seeing so as to effectively give them “first impression” without guaranteeing the inventory (for legal reasons you will always have to state this in your IO so as not to misrepresent yourself); you maximize revenue optimization efforts since the advertiser has to go through the auction and will (most likely) win while (most likely) putting price pressure on the other networks, thereby increasing their bid at auction and delivering more overall revenue to you, the publisher. Your advertiser still gets what they want (“first impression”) because the CPM bid is so high that the auction usually can’t match this number while the publisher gets what they want because the higher paying advertiser CPM puts price pressure at auction and hopefully induces the networks to bid higher and make the auction more competitive.

…you maximize revenue optimization efforts since the advertiser has to go through the auction and will (most likely) win while (most likely) putting price pressure on the other networks…

It’s a good strategy for publishers who are working with a small handful of direct advertisers, and can lead to very strong revenue growth when implemented and managed properly.

Sir Ken Robinson by Sebastiaan ter Burg

TED Talk Classic: Sir Ken Robinson & Education

This video was posted almost 6 years ago so I am sure by now most of the web who cares about these types of videos has already seen it. I just came across it again after not seeing it for a number of years. One point to note is that he states how we educate for kids entering the system now (2006) who will eventually retire in 2065, when we cannot even predict 5 years into the future what will happen. Perhaps what’s ironic is that everything he said in 2006 is still every bit as relevant and pertinent today as it was back then.