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Preview: Affiliate Marketing Online

Affiliate Marketing Online

Nana Gilbert-Baffoe's blog about affiliate marketing and related topics that will be of interest to affiliate marketers.

Updated: 2015-09-16T22:16:09.826-07:00


Google Adwords Ads In Danger?


(image) I don't know if this has already been talked about, but I just noticed something that got me wondering what Google is up to. I've taken a screen shot of the SERP for the search phrase "golf swing" to show exactly what I saw.

Basically, the ads showing for the search term have been pushed further down the page due to two video results, one from and another from directly below these are 2 results from Google book search.

Finally after all that, we get to the sponsored links aka AdWords ads. Most of the ads ended up being way below the fold in my browser. The screen shot actually show more ads because I hid the nav/link/tool bars on FireFox in order to get a better picture.

Thankfully, from what I can tell this is a layout test, because I tried to duplicate this on two other computers and didn't see the same SERP layout.

My guess is that advertisers are seeing much lower CTRs with this layout. Especially since the video results will probably capture more clicks due to their position and the fact that they basically look like the now banned AdSense ctr boosting trick of aligning images next to the AdSense ad unit.

If this new SERP layout is the sign of things to come, then advertisers in certain niches are going to have to reevalueate their marketing strategies and start to consider adding video to their marketing efforts since from the look of things the sponsored links for certain search phrases are going to be taking a 3rd place spot behind image, video and book search results.

On a side note, although the screen shot doesn't show it, after refreshing the page a few times I noticed that Google occasionally replace the image search results with premium AdWords ads, but most of the time the top spot had image ads.

BlogRush Is Here


So I stayed up for the launch of John Reese's BlogRush. A cool new blog content syndication network that's going to get major attention over the next few days/week/month/years. Sign Up was quick, faster than the 5 mins mentioned in the video. Looks cool so far, however stats are still missing. Not much of a big deal since it's beta.

Check out BlogRush, I'll do a longer post and review once I've looked around better.

Google AdWords Site Targeting Is Hot Stuff


I've always felt Google's Site Targeting for AdWords could be a powerful addition to many PPC search campaigns, however I will admit that I haven't really spent as much time with it as I would have liked.

However over the past few months, I've been working with a client who had a pretty good site targeted campaign already in place. With a bit of looking into and tweaking, I was able to tweak it to go from good to fantastic. As of this writing, his site targeted campaign brings in more traffic, leads, and profits that his regular search network campaign.

Here are a few tips to help you out

1.You Must Use Conversion Tracking
If you are not using conversion tracking you are going to be wasting a lot of money. In fact, stay away from site targeting, if you can't track how well it's working for you. If you are running a campaign without tracking, stop everything you are doing and put conversion tracking codes on your site today. I like Google's own home brew the best (Analytics and Conversion Tracking) because of how easily it integrates with AdWords.

2. Reports Are Your Friend
The New Placement Performance report helps you see which domains and urls are working for you. In the settings, I recommend choosing a url report instead of a domain report since this give you a break down of which pages are actually working and converting for you. You'll find out that some pages on a domain convert much better than others. This report is probably worth reviewing daily.

3. Watch Out For Rogue Sites
Upon inspection, it turned out that the best converting site in the campaign was also burning a lot of cash. As a whole, the site was converting very well, with lead costs well under requirements. However my Placement Performance report showed that ads on the home page were costing us over $80 a lead. Other sub pages were working so well that the over all lead cost for the domain was under $20. It turns out the site in question was automatically refreshing the home page every few seconds driving costs through the roof. After fixing this issue, by removing our ads from the front page, our lead costs are now less than $4 on most days and the number of leads we get a days is actually up. This fix alone saved the client at least $3000 a month in wasted advertising costs. This saving has now been diverted to the urls that are working the best, so you can imagine ROI is up.

I could go into this topic a bit further, especially advice on how to pick the best sites for site targeting etc. But I'll leave that for another post.

Blendtech Blended iPhone on eBay


A few days ago I watched in shock and horror as Tom Dickson from blendtec blended a brand new iPhone in a Blendtec Total Blender. I was obviously too distressed or entertained by the video that I missed the part where he says "I might put this on eBay!"

Anyway the blended remains of the iphone are now on sale at eBay. Current bid is $1,151.00 and you even get a new Blendtec blender when you win. Even better is the fact that 100% of the winning auction bid will go to the Primary Children's Medical Center.

If you missed it, here's the video of the iphone blending. The guy shouting "nooooooo" is me :)

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There are even more videos of other stuff being blended at so check them out. These guys have done a great job with viral video. I know that when I'm in the market for a new blender, the blendtec total blender will be on my list. I wish they had an affiliate program, hint hint, I'd be first to sign up.

Google Search Counts Tool: 2 New Features Added


In an attempt to make my Google search Counts tool (aka Google Keyword Metrics Tool) more useful I've merged in the functionality of my AdSense preview tool and also added a new AdWords ad preview to the results it generates. Both the AdWords preview tool and AdSense preview tool are available as stand alone applications. With the AdWords preview being the newer of the two.

I haven't done much to promote the AdWords preview tool until today because after developing it a week or two ago I kind of felt it wasn't of much use as a stand alone tool, however it may be because I don't know what to do with it yet. However when added to the Google search counts tool, it becomes much more useful.

Finally, I've also enhanced the report generated by the search counts tool and AdWords preview tool with Snap Shots technology. This lets you preview landing pages without clicking through to the site. However if you want to click to view the actual landing pages, you can go ahead because I've removed any tracking links from the URL that would cause the advertiser to pay for the click.

The next feature I'd like to add is the ability to select a geographic location for previewing ads. I'll most likely add it to the AdWords preview tool first. After that I'll figure out whether it's worth adding to the version on the Google search counts tool. Or even better yet, let me know if this is something you'd like to see added or not.

Attending Affiliate Summit East this weekend


I can hardly wait, Affiliate Summit East is this weekend. I'm almost all set to attend my second Affiliate Summit. Still need to pack.

Last year I was lucky enough to win a free full pass from Vinny Lingham (thanks again Vinny), it was such a great experience meeting with other affiliates, merchants and friends I had known for years but never met IRL that I decided I had to make sure to attend at least one affiliate summit a year.

Two major things on my agenda this weekend is a meeting with a client/friend of mine who I'm working on a programing project for. Next is to make sure I definitely make it for Amit Mehta's presentation. Of all the speakers I think I'm probably looking forward to hearing what Amit Mehta has to share the most. I've been reading his blog for months and find almost all his posts insightful.

If you are attending, make sure to say hello if you see me. I'll be the guy with the name tag that says "Nana"

Apple iPhone Craze + AuctionAds = Cha-Ching !!!


So the Apple iPhone just launched today, and geeks all over the country are in a mad rush to get their hands on one. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for you) limited quantities mean many of the will have to turn to eBay for a chance to purchase an iPhone.

Have you seen the crazy prices the iPhones are selling for on eBay? At the time of this writing, the top closed price for an 8GB iPhone is $2500.

The eBay Affiliate Sales Report Tool Now Uses eBay API


After my last post about my "eBay Affiliate Sales Report Tool" I immediately took some time to get acquainted with the eBay API. As of yesterday afternoon, The eBay Affiliate Sales Report Tool is 100% API based.

As expected, it only took a few minutes to recover my username and password. After that I spent 2-3 hours reading documentation, applying for tokens, and trying out the sample code. I had to call it a night(morning) when the eBay API went down. It was displaying Http/1.1 Service Unavailable for my requests. Looking back it was probably a good thing since I may have been up all night coding.

I initially thought I had been blocked or something because I went to check shoemoney's auctionads system and saw it was still serving ads. But then I remembered that they also had a killer caching system in place, so it was very likely that it would take a while before their own systems went down.

This is one major problem with living off a 3rd parties API. You also have to suffer through their system downtime, unless you have a system in place to keep going for a while. Certain types of API based applications can withstand API downtime better than others.

My app is based on returning data that I don't know I have to return until it's requested. So it makes it almost impossible to prepare for API downtime. One work around would involve switching to the good old system the app was developed with whenever the API is non responsive.

Another new problem I now have to deal with is the 5000 eBay API calls a day limit for the eBay API. However after certification the limits will go up to either 1.5 million calls a day for the application, or a user-based limit of 20,000 calls per user. My other option is to have users install the app on their servers and have them use their own API quota. I'll be evaluating both options over the next few days.

New Tool For eBay Affiliate Program


I've been active in the eBay affiliate program for a little over a year and a half (If I remember correctly) and it took me a while to realize that the auction ids for the sales you generated were hidden in the csv reports from cj.

Anyway after this little discovery, I've been manually hand picking different line items to id. Basically the process is as follows.

1. I log in to cj an check sales for the day.
2. I notice a big commission from eBay and export the report as csv
3-4. I search for the sale, identify the auction id and plug it into eBay search to find out what I just sold.

Steps 3-4 are repeated for every interesting line the the csv file.

I don't know why this info wasn't just included in the csv file. I also don't know why it took me over a year to site down and write a script to automate this task.

So anyway last weekend I did something about it, and so I now present:

"The eBay Affiliate Sales Report Tool" or eASRT for short. Don't you just love the original name?

It's still in beta because it's not yet perfect. First of all I'm not using the eBay API yet. I have a developer account from years ago, and because I've not done anything with it I have no idea how to sign in or anything. I'm sure I could recover in info with 5-10 mins of digging around, but I wanted a good excuse to sharpen my regular expressions skills.

Now that I have a semi workable script, I need a good excuse to get acquainted with the eBay API. The next revision of the script will use the API. This should definitely improve the speed of this tool quite a bit. I've had someone tell me they had to wait 3mins for a large report to run. Yikes!

Anyway check out "The eBay Affiliate Sales Report Tool", I'd like to hear your comments, and suggestions.

New Google Website Optimizer Tool in Beta


Note: I had been trying to get back to posting on my blog for a long time, but never got round to it. But this Google Website Optimizer Tool definitely had what it took to get me posting again.

Whether you are doing PPC Advertising for affiliate products or your own products, you can't overlook the importance of testing your landing pages.

From my experiments, testing different components on your landing page can lead to conversion rates the are 2x, 3x and sometimes even 4x+ higher than the original.

There's no doubt that conversion testing experiments are important to you bottom line, but running these experiments are not always easy or cheap. This is especially true for the beginner to intermediate PPC advertiser/website owner.

I've gone through a series of my own ways of testing, from tools, to home grown solutions. All of them were based on Traditional A/B testing, and not the multivariate testing method which generally lets you test multiple components in one go. You therefore usually get results faster than running a series of A/B tests.

I have been looking to start using multi-variate testing for my ppc landing pages, however the solutions I've found have been cumbersome or expensive, and this has caused me to put it off longer than I had planned.

So imagine my excitement when I saw that Google is now accepting beta testers for their new website optimizer tool. I've watched the demo videos and read through most of the technical documentation. So far it looks like it will be a very easy tool to use and it's tied right into your adwords and analytics account.

The sample report generated from the optimization experiments you set up are very easy to read. I like the way they use the simple bars and color cues to represent how different change with increase or decrease conversions.

Right now using this tool will not affect your adwords quality score, however it's easy to see how data from this tool can be used in the future to reward advertisers who optimize their landing pages.

The way I see it, a quality landing page benefits, Google, the searcher and You (the advertiser)
I definitely recommend you check out this new tool, apply for a beta account. You won't get accepted right away because it looks like they are manually approving people into this round of beta tests.

I'm still waiting for my account, and assuming there are not NDA agreements, I'll be able to provide a full report of this new tool once I'm accepted.

New Google AdSense Referral Program


Google AdSense finally has a referral program worth promoting. The new public program, which seems to have launched today, pays $100 after your referral earns their first $100. They also pay $1 for every Firefox with Google toolbar download you referrer. This money is credited to your account and paid out during your next payout period.

I do recall some sort of limited referral program that was only available to a few sites a while ago, but now it's open to all. It looks like they really want to quickly ramp up the number of sites in their content network. Considering how much money these sites generate for Google, I'm not surprised.

There's now a new tab in the account center for creating referral buttons, but at the moment the options are limited to white graphical buttons. I hope in the near future, they allow publisher to customize the colors or even provide text based links. I'm kind of surprised they didn't do this to begin with, especially since I'm sure they know how well people click on text links as opposed to graphical banners.

Google AdSense Preview Tool


This weekend I decided it was time to add a new tool to my list of tools at so I spent some time experimenting and tinkering. The final result, is my own version of the AdSense preview tool.

Yep, I know there are others out there already. But, I also needed a project to practice my newly acquired regex skills on. I've been learning about regular expressions for about a week now, I feel like I'm still a newbie, but I'm excited about the new possibilities that will open up because of this.

The AdSense preview tool will be getting minor tweaks and updates to make it stand out from the rest. But for now, it's mainly like the rest. Check it out.

Yahoo! Launches Beta Publisher Network For Small and Medium-Sized Publishers


Self-Serve Platform Provides Access to New Sources of Revenue and Yahoo! ContentYahoo! Inc., a leading global Internet company, today announced that it is extending the Yahoo! Publisher Network in the U.S. to small- and medium-sized web sites. This will allow the broader publishing community to take advantage of Yahoo!'s relevant advertising products as well as quality content through an easy-to-use self-serve platform.Initially available in the U.S. through an invitation-only beta, the Yahoo! Publisher Network self-serve platform will allow webmasters to sign up online for Yahoo! advertising products and receive fast, easy access to other syndicated Yahoo! content and products. Through the new platform, small- and medium-sized publishers will now have access to the same large advertising network, content and applications capabilities that Yahoo! uses while working with the world's biggest, brand-name publishers."Yahoo! has developed many highly successful relationships with web publishers around the world, and is building on those experiences to bring new revenue sources and compelling content to even more high quality sites," said Bill Demas, senior vice president, Yahoo! Partner Solutions group. "By helping the broader publishing community maximize the value of their sites, we aim to create an even more rewarding Internet experience for publishers, advertisers and users."The first advertising product Yahoo! will be offering through the beta is its Content Match(tm) contextual listings. Content Match enables publishers to place Yahoo!'s contextually-relevant listings on their sites and receive a share of the revenue generated by them. Already proven on Yahoo!'s large distribution sites, Content Match can help small- and medium-sized publishers monetize valuable site inventory and provide additional qualified leads to Yahoo! advertisers.The Yahoo! Publisher Network self-serve beta will also provide easy access to other Yahoo! products that can enhance their visitor experience, such as "Add to My Yahoo!" and Y!Q Beta. The "Add to My Yahoo!" feature provides publishers of all sizes - from professional webmasters to independent bloggers - the opportunity to promote and distribute their content on Yahoo! via RSS, drive traffic back to their sites, and develop repeat daily relationships with their readers. The Y!Q Beta is a first-of-its kind contextual search product that can help webmasters increase the "stickiness" of their sites by providing visitors with convenient, related search results overlaid directly on their website.Yahoo! plans to offer additional features in the near future to enable publishers to enhance their visitor experience including "Save to My Web" and Web search. The "Save to My Web" feature enables readers to easily save and share pages from a publisher's site to My Web - Yahoo!'s personal search engine service - increasing return visits and improving loyalty. In addition, Yahoo! is conducting tests to evaluate the advertising capabilities of Y!Q and RSS feeds.To create an ongoing dialogue with its small- and medium-sized publishers, Yahoo! has also built feedback channels and opinion surveys into its online Publisher Center that will provide members the opportunity to raise their questions, voice their ideas and express to Yahoo! the types of products and services that would be most helpful to them in the future."We are deeply committed to the publishing market which is why we are investing in building meaningful relationships with our publishers over time," stated Will Johnson, general manager of the Yahoo! Publisher Network self-serve offering. "Through Yahoo!, publishers have the opportunity share their ideas and help shape current and future products to support the global pub[...]

Google Keyword Search Counts tool


It's been a while since I made any major modifications to my Google search Counts tool. I'm now in the development mode again, and would like to add more features and also polish up the site a bit more.

I have my own ideas about how to make things better, but I thought I'd get feedback from everyone. If you have any comments/idea please email me(info in my profile) Or just leave a comment on this post


Yahoo Testing Behavior-Based Content Ads


According to a story on ADWeek Yahoo is testing out behavior based content ads. The technology is based on work done by Revenue Science a Washington company.

This is an interesting change from what Google is doing with AdSense. I'd be interested in seeing just how effect behavioral based ads are compared to context based ads. With behavioral ads, instead of the ads being targeted to the content of a page, it's actually based on the visitor's past behavior. This could include data such as what pages they views and what they typed into search boxes.

Google lowers price of Urchin


A while ago when I wrote about Google's purchase of Urchin, I talked about how they were probably going to reduce pricing. It's finally happened.

In addition to reducing the price, a new feature they added is the ability to import pay-click costs directly from Google AdWords accounts, the first integration of Google's services with the Urchin platform. Google says this will enable users to more easily evaluate the return on investment of their online advertising campaigns.

Google Gulp (BETA) with Auto-Drink


Today Google launched Google Gulp (BETA) with Auto-Drink. It comes in four great flavors Glutamate Grape, Sugar-Free Radical, Beta Carroty and Sero-Tonic Water. See images below.
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Google Gulp can stimulate your ionotropic and metabotropic receptors, and it's low carb as well. I've been secretly beta testing Google Gulp for the past 3 months, and it really works. My brain capacity has almost doubled, and I can quickly process and hold vast amounts of information.

Since the beta was invite-only, at this point in time you can only get Google Gulp by turning in a used Google Gulp bottle cap at a local retailer. I have a few bottle caps to share, if you want one leave a comment. I'll be sharing on a first come first served basis.

Don't throw away that AdSense Check!


This month's Google AdSense check came in a very different envelop. It's very plain and looks like junk mail. I usually open my check as soon as it gets in, but this Monday when my check came in, I completely ignored it. It didn't even look like a check. Over here plain envelops get tossed or ignored. It could have ended up in the shredder.

There one good thing about this change. If any publishers have had problems with stolen AdSense checks, it's most likely not going to happen anymore

FYI: The envelope is much larger than normal. The return address is a Buffalo NY P.O. Box. So if you are wondering where your check is, look in the trash.

Google buys Urchin: A web analytics software company


It was announced today that Google is buying Urchin, a Web analytics software company.

"We want to provide Web site owners and marketers with the information they need to optimize their users' experience and generate a higher return-on-investment from their advertising spending," said Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product management, Google. "This technology will be a valuable addition to Google's suite of advertising and publishing products."

From Google's past behavior, I wouldn't be surprised to see a free or reduced priced version of the software Urchin makes being offered to Google Advertisers very soon. They did a similar thing after purchasing Picasa and Keyhole.

Affiliate Landing Pages


Next Thursday March 24th, KowaBunga and MarketingSherpa are going to be holding a Teleseminar called "Affiliate Landing Pages - How to convert more clicks to sales".

It looks very promising and if your schedule is free, make sure to register to attend. With the changes to Google's AdWords terms and conditions, the information that's going to be provided on this event should be of great importance to many affiliates.

More details can be found here

Yahoo AdSense equivalent coming soon?


Looks like Yahoo is very close to launching their AdSense type tool for small publishers
To support the publishing community, Yahoo! will be introducing new products and
services-including publishing tools, advertising products and access to our
Yahoo! audience. Our products will leverage the Yahoo! network to provide
the most value for small publishers.

You can now sign up to get alerted when they launch it:

Overture Services To Become Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions


Will Offer Sponsored Search and Submit Products, Providing One-StopSearch Marketing Resource for Businesses Worldwide Overture Services, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yahoo Inc. today announced that it will be re-branded Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions and will bring together its sponsored search offerings and Yahoo!'s listings submit products under the new banner. Through Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions, advertisers of all sizes will enjoy convenient access to the industry's most comprehensive suite of search marketing and related products and services.Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions' suite of offerings will include the following products: Sponsored Search Listings, the flagship search advertising product Content Match™, Yahoo!'s contextual advertising listings Local Match™, Yahoo!'s local sponsored search offering Site Match™ Self Serve and Site Match Xchange™, Yahoo!'s search URL submission products Yahoo! Product Submit™, the Yahoo! Shopping URL submission program Yahoo! Express™, the Yahoo! Directory URL submission program Marketing Console™, which enables advertisers to track campaign performance across multiple online channels Search Optimizer™, which allows advertisers to improve their campaign performance and reduce the amount of time spent managing their listingsThe group will also continue to enhance and expand Yahoo's network of sponsored search distribution sites.In conjunction with Overture's re-branding, Yahoo! will launch a new Advertising Solutions Center in the U.S., through which businesses can plan and buy Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions products. In addition, the new center will offer marketers information about Yahoo!'s customized, creative media solutions, providing them access to the largest set of search marketing and brand advertising solutions on the web.“Our mission is to be essential to marketers of all types around the world,” said Ted Meisel, Senior Vice President, Yahoo! Inc. “Unifying all of our search marketing and related products under one banner and one common approach reflects our commitment to integrate and simplify online advertising, allowing businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the Yahoo! search marketing solutions that best fit their marketing goals.”Overture will formally change its brand in the U.S. early next quarter. After the U.S. re-branding is complete, Overture's international markets will be re-branded at a later date – except for Japan and Korea, where the Overture brand will be maintained. Several products within the suite will be re-named once Overture assumes the Yahoo! brand in the U.S.About Yahoo! Yahoo! Inc. is the No. 1 Internet brand globally and the most trafficked Internet destination. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Yahoo!'s mission is to provide online products and services essential to consumers' lives and offer a full range of marketing solutions to enable businesses to connect with Yahoo!'s hundreds of millions of users worldwide. [...]

Google's New Affiliate (referral) Program


I see Google has launched a beta version of an affiliate program for AdWords and AdSense. You get $20 for each Advertiser who signs up and spends $20 on AdWords. If you sign up an AdSense publisher, you earn $20 if they earn $75.

I'm in the process of applying for this program. I'll post an update after I get accepted( I hope).

I personally think is a good idea to finally start a program like this, I know there's been a lot of free word of mouth advertising for both AdWords and AdSense. I've done that several times, but like everyone else, I'll do it even more knowing there's a small reward for each referral I send to Google.

Is it time to move to Overture?


I've been ignoring Overture for a while now because Google allowed direct linking to merchant site via affiliate links. For as long as I remember, Overture has always required a landing page. But now that Google also requires a landing page, I'm starting to reevaluate what overture has to offer.

I already had a few landing pages for some programs I had been promoting, but it seems like Google has a very strict rule about what an acceptable landing page is.

Right now it seems like overture is less strict about landing pages, so I'm going to start testing how my ads work on overture.

As for AdWords, my long term goal is to start building "landing mini-sites" instead of landing pages. But this is only going to be for my most profitable campaigns.

Google AdWords™ Announcement: Affiliate Policy Change


Hello from the Google AdWords Team:

In January 2005, Google will incorporate a new affiliate
advertising policy that is designed to provide a better user
and advertiser experience.

What is changing:

With this new affiliate policy, we'll only display one ad per
search query for affiliates and parent companies sharing the
same URL. This way, users will have a more diverse sampling
of advertisements to choose from. As always, your ad will be
displayed based on its Ad Rank for given searches, which is
determined by a combination of your ad's maximum cost-per-click
(price) and clickthrough rate (performance).

For instance, if a user searches for 'books' on or
anywhere on the Google search and content networks, Google
will take an inventory of ads running for the keyword 'books'.
If we find that two or more ads compete under the same URL,
we'll display the ad with the highest Ad Rank.

How this will affect you:

If you're an affiliate, this means that you no longer need to
identify yourself as an affiliate in your ad text. However,
your current ad text will continue to display your affiliate
status until you change it.

Affiliates or advertisers using unique URLs in their ads will
not be affected by this change. Please note that your Display
URL must match the URL of your landing page, and you may not
simply frame another site.

What you should do:

We recommend that you continue to monitor your ads'
performance and optimize your ads as needed to ensure they're
bringing you the best results. Please visit our Optimization
Tips page for more information:

By improving our ad relevancy, we believe that users will have
a better search experience, which will help you reach more
potential clients in the future. We'll continue to make
improvements to AdWords over time to further improve the user
experience and help increase the performance of your ads.

We look forward to continue providing you with the most
effective advertising available.

The Google AdWords Team