Friday, December 12, 2008

WidgetBucks Blog Survey: What Do You Want to Read About?

An interesting study from Forrester Research came out this week, examining how much people trust various online information resources. Not surprisingly, email from people they know tops the list at 77% (unless it's one of those chain emails that you have to forward in an hour or your laptop will explode). BusinessWeek also examined the trend.

What seemed to be most interesting, however, was what appeared on the bottom of the list: corporate blogs. Just 16% of people trust company blogs as a source of information. Most feel corporate blogs are just repackaged press releases, too promotional, or that they don't share unvarnished information. That's probably true in many cases -- and I think it's something that can really improve as blogging goes mainstream.

What's Ahead for the WidgetBucks Blog
In 2009, we are enhancing the WidgetBucks blog to include more writers and contributors, and expand the topics we cover - and to define those topics, we're asking for your help. Please vote for your most desired subjects that you would find most helpful to you as a publisher and we'll focus on including those subjects during the coming year:

In fact, you may have already read a few posts from some additional team members, including Gary Kamikawa, WidgetBucks' VP of Interactive Marketing, who oversees our publisher relations group, as well as Kirby Winfield, our Chief Revenue Officer. Given Kirby's sales focus, his posts will naturally have an advertiser lens over them -- which can be helpful as a publisher to understand what advertisers are seeking. CEO Matt Hulett will also continue to contribute as he did over our first year. You can also read Matt's musings at and

So thanks for voting or adding topics we don't have on the list.

- Dean Jutilla
Marketing Director

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Report: Just Another Manic Cyber Monday

By now, most people have heard of Cyber Monday, the day after the long Thanksgiving weekend (U.S.), which includes Black Friday. While Black Friday is brick-and-mortar stores' day in the sun, Cyber Monday has been hyped by the National Retail Federation as the day that online retailers see the spike in clicks and sales once people get out of the crowds and back to their laptop to shop, usually at work (and lots of other places, too). This year, about 72 million people are expected to shop online on Cyber Monday.

In preparation for Cyber Monday, a new poll from the NRF's digital division,, shows a whopping eight in 10 are offering some kind of price promotion, up from 72% last year. Promos include specific deals (38.8%), email campaigns (32.7%) and one-day sales (24.5%). And 22.5% are offering free shipping on all purchases. InfoWorld profiles the report here.

With all this online retailer promotion in mind, ad placement becomes a key issue to taking advantage of this season. Yesterday's post here on the WidgetBucks blog highlighted some key aspects of placement:

  1. Think about the placement of your ads and the goal of each ad
  2. Marry the type of advertising with where it’s going to be most effective
  3. Avoid burying a CPC widget where the user is not likely to see it
  4. Place ads where the users' eyes are more drawn and possibly see a product that interests them
One final reminder: Give our Sensible Santa skin a try on your WidgetBucks' ad widgets. With site visitors in the shopping frame of mind, it's sure to catch their attention.

- Dean
Marketing Director

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Other Ways to Make Money Through WidgetBucks

Like Christmas week, here in the US, Thanksgiving week seems to be all about spending money.

Whether it’s the countless dollars spent on Thursday’s feast or the highly anticipated shopping deals Friday morning, the retail sector loves Thanksgiving!

Well here at WidgetBucks, I’ll be honest in that we love it as well because this time of year is outstanding for taking advantage of shopping widgets and optimizing them for maximum earnings. You owe it to yourself to take advantage of the shift in shopping mentality and to improve your earnings this holiday season.

With that in mind let’s go over the best tips for providing some extra cash in your wallet using our shopping widgets.

1. Not all product categories are created equal. Too many publishers I see pick the categories they feel are the higher RPC (revenue per click) or the perfect product match to their users without ever rotating in other product sets. A perfect example is a recent test we did on a large social network geared towards Hispanics. The default product set chosen was "Laptops," however in doing additional testing, 3 other categories performed higher (Digital Camera Accessories, Celebrity Kitchen Wares and Strollers). While I won’t try to determine the reason those performed better, the point is that sometimes the best-performing product set isn’t the most obvious. And in case you’re wondering what the increase was, it was between 5-35% higher eCPM.

2. Placement matters. I see a LOT of sites each day that are understandably a broad range of quality and content. And of course in viewing a few of them, I really think that more ads do not mean more money. A lot depends on how you’re gaining your traffic, but if you’re after repeat traffic, having a page plastered with ads, pop-ups, and interstitial advertising may not be the best strategy. Consider what experience your users are looking for on your site and if the level of ads shown is driving away traffic or an accepted part of your service. Gaming and video/news sites are great examples where most people have no problem with the level of advertising because they really want the content.

Also with that in mind, think about the placement of your ads and the goal of each ad. You want to marry the type of advertising with where it’s going to be most effective. CPC ads by their very form of payout are all about getting that user to click. So why would you bury a CPC widget where the user is not likely to see it? If you are running multiple ads on your site, then it is very easy to spend a couple of days playing with swapping around networks in different places to determine who does best where. Maybe the WidgetBucks hybrid widget does best on the Right rail instead of a Leaderboard because as it switches to shopping products, that’s where the users' eyes are more drawn and possibly see a product that interests them.

3. Geo-targeting is your friend. Understanding where your users are coming from is a big “Aha!” moment in helping to maximize your revenue. I’ll assume everyone is using some kind of analytics solution like Google Analytics (if you’re not…do yourself a favor and get started.) Knowing where your traffic is coming from can help you optimize your advertising to those users. Of course WidgetBucks does a bunch of leg work to geo-target and show appropriate advertising, however the honest truth is we don’t cover every country and our CPMs may not be optimized for the country from where your traffic comes. There are a number of ways that you can do your own geo-targeting that are not too complicated and you can look for advertisers that might service countries that we don’t cover. For a current list of countries we serve please click here.

And lastly to re-emphasize all of the above, the best way during the holiday season is to Test, Test, Test. This time of year, many people are on vacations so historically big internal development projects for sites go quiet, but advertising testing is relatively easy and non-impactful to your users, only providing opportunities for more revenue.

Next post I’ll spend a little more time talking about how you can effectively test and make sure you’re getting the lift you’re seeking and understanding the data.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Gary Kamikawa
VP, Interactive Marketing

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hulett: What's Ahead at WidgetBucks

It seems wherever you turn today, the economic news seems to be bad -- and justifiably so. Layoffs, bailouts, credit crunch, the list goes on and on. However, this is also a time of opportunity -- at least, that's how we're viewing it here at WidgetBucks.

To that end, I felt it was important to give you an update on some of our key initiatives and how we're attacking these uncertain times - but most importantly, how these key projects are relevant to you, our publishers.

New Holiday Creative: As we announced yesterday, we've rolled out some new shopping ad widget designs within WidgetBucks. One of my favorite parts of these three new designs is the Sensible Santa skin that works in all the different sized widgets. So check out Thumbnail Bonanza, Single Product Showcase and Triple Product Showcase to get your holiday-minded site visitors to do some clicking.  E-commerce Guide highlighted these designs in a story today.

YieldSense: You'll be hearing more about this new yield management technology in the coming weeks, but I wanted to give you all an early line on this. We recognize that as your ad serving decisions become more complex, you will likely welcome an easier solution, one that is focused on managing and maximizing your yield yet still gives you flexibility and choice. Be on the look out for one such solution coming up shortly.

Advertiser Solutions: While we are aggressively rolling out new publisher-focused services, we're simultaneously developing solutions for our advertising partners. This includes providing better segment targeting for brand marketers across the WidgetBucks network, as well as expanded analysis around user engagement. While this may not seem to have direct impact on you as a publisher, it ultimately does. Providing stronger solutions to advertisers means deeper relationships with them, resulting in higher eCPMs. Like YieldSense, you'll be hearing more about this soon.

At a company level, this is a time we are very focused as a team on creating tools and services that maximize publishers' earnings. On a macro-economic level, like everyone else, we are certainly monitoring the signs, and then making prudent decisions around spending, hiring, and business terms.

When the dust settles, what form will this all take? That's obviously very difficult to say - the future is still uncharted amid a global economic crisis; however, I believe the Web 2.0 world as we know it will go through a transformation. Nonetheless, we are confident that WidgetBucks is well positioned to be one of the players standing and prospering when things settle out.

Thanks for your continued support and use of WidgetBucks!

- Matt Hulett
CEO, WidgetBucks

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WidgetBucks Rolls Shop-in-Widget Holiday Creative

Some of you may have noticed that new shopping ad widget designs, including Shop-in-Widget, are now available within WidgetBucks. These are all-new looks for the season: Thumbnail Bonanza, Single Product Showcase and Triple Product Showcase. Those publishers who choose to spread some holiday cheer within your ads can apply the "Sensible Santa" skin to attract clicks from shoppers. (see left) See this creative highlighted on AdBlab.

You might be wondering about Shop-in-Widget and what it means. These new shopping ad widgets all feature interactive search capability, so in addition to the products you wanted to appear, site visitors can proactively search for a desired product. Upon doing so, they are presented with product search results without leaving their existing Web page.
Within this shopping pop-up (example above), they can find their desired item, along with options for free shipping, discounts and deals, brands and various price ranges to suit their budget. When they click on a item within the pop-up shopping window, they will be taken directly to a merchant site just as they would if they click on the pre-defined product images in the widget.

For those in the U.S., Canada or Western Europe, type "digital camera" (or other item title) into the search box of the Sensible Santa shopping widget to the left, and then click "Search." You will then have various digital cameras presented to you in resulting pop-up window. For publishers outside those geographic areas, sample screen shots are within this post.

You'll find all these new designs within the "Create New Widget" page once you select the "Shopping" channel.

Here's some more details on the new designs:

**Thumbnail Bonanza - this widget shows a variety of products at once and highlights each product individually, giving publishers several chances to earn high-paying CPC revenue
(Early tests show this to be a top performer)

**Single Product Showcase - this ad widget highlights a single product at a time in a carousel fashion

**Triple Product Showcase - this widget is a combination of the previous two, displaying three products at a time and cycles through products individually

- Dean

Friday, November 14, 2008

WidgetBucks September Payments Have Been Distributed

PayPalWidgetBucks payments for September have been distributed via PayPal and check. As always, we encourage you, if at all possible, to switch to PayPal. It's faster than mail, more secure and there's no fee when receiving the money.

- Dean

PubCon Report: Have You Analyzed Your Traffic Lately?

Earlier this week I attended Pubcon in Las Vegas. This conference was a great way to keep up with current industry trends and tips for publishers, connect/reconnect and learn from others, and of course, escape the heavy rain in Seattle.

While attendance seemed a bit lighter this year than in the past, the quality of presenters always remains top notch. All panels and speakers have a pretty singular goal: to help publishers/webmasters grow their sites and business whether through organic or inorganic (paid) methods.

At a time where we continue to read reports over the decline of CPM in certain site categories, one thing to help compensate for that potential lost revenue is to increase traffic to your site(s). All of us would do well to spend a few minutes analyzing how our traffic is doing and where we can grow our traffic. If you aren't already doing so, here are three great sites to get you started:

- (SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin has this helpful video on Implementing Keyword Research)
- Google Keyword tools (these help find the 2-3 keyword terms to optimize your site)

In addition to sites like those listed above, I recently came across this article on Problogger that might be helpful, specifically for bloggers. It discusses using forums as a way to draw readers/traffic to your blog. Darren Rowse, aka Problogger, has a ton of other great tips on driving traffic.

For additional PubCon perspective, check out the blog of affiliate marketer and Affiliate Summit co-founder Shawn Collins, who was a speaker at PubCon.

That's it for now but remember that to make money online, it helps to have both high CPMs and high traffic.

- Gary Kamikawa
VP, Interactive Marketing

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ad Network Island: A Survival Guide

Kirby Winfield, WidgetBucks' Chief Revenue Officer, is today's featured contributor on Adotas, a premier news publication focused on the Internet advertising and media industry.

In his exclusive post -- "Survivor: Ad Network Island" -- Kirby looks at key legs of the proverbial stool that can make or break an ad network in these uncertain times:

- Proprietary Technology
- Scale and Unique Reach
- Sales Team

Kirby's bottom line advise: As an ad network, take stock in what you ultimately control: your ad network. While that may sound over simplified, this is the time to focus on key initiatives, control spending.

If you want to learn more about ad networks, author and consultant Robert Moskowitz recently provided a nice piece that summaries the types of ad nets out there and a variety of tips on selecting the right ad network for your campaign.

- Dean

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who’s Been Clicking On My Ads??

Maybe it’s a case of too many nights reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but as advertisers, publishers, and ad networks, we always want to know who likes and clicks on different types of ads. Some might be too high on the page, some too low, and others, just right.

I recently came across an eMarketer study called "Online Ad Clicker Demographics," that sheds some light on which demographics of web site visitors go for particular ad types. The demographics cover age, income, and visit frequency, as well as their interaction with Text, Right and Top banners, and Video ads -- combined, these four pretty much sum up the majority of online advertising.

It’s definitely interesting to see which market you are going after or that your site caters to should help drive the type of advertising targeted to them. If you have a site that’s predominately younger, it's wise to focus on Video Ads (31% engagement) and the top banner (23% engagement). If you have a more mature crowd (35-55) then Text and Banners would likely be a better performer. Of course, the hardest group to engage are the wealthy and the 65 and older crowd -- numbers drop off considerably for them.

With so many options for advertising available to publishers, data such as this can be a considerable help in laying out your site's advertising strategy in order to optimize revenue. Of course every site is unique, as is the audience, but the same mantra applies: test, test, and test again. We’re in a world with ever increasing options and diverse ways to monetize, so the more data, the better to increase your ROI.

- Gary Kamikawa
VP, Interactive Advertising

Monday, October 27, 2008

WidgetBucks Welcomes Bergstrom as CFO

WidgetBucks today welcomes Jeff Bergstrom as its Chief Financial Officer. Jeff is a long-time veteran of Internet and technology start-ups, where he's managed multi-billion-dollar acquisitions and mergers, facilitated private equity transactions, and navigated business finances during tough macro-economic times. In all, Bergstrom has built and sold three tech and Internet companies resulting in over $2.2B in shareholder value.

As WidgetBucks’ CFO, Jeff is responsible for all things financial, including managing the company’s financial strategy and operations, as well as overseeing and implementing all financial reporting, forecasting and tax functions.

Jeff spent five years at Internet company Go2Net from 1997-2001, and during that time, he helped the company grow to over $110M in annual revenue. He was deeply involved with the purchase and integration of nine companies in two years, and also led the financial team ultimately responsible for the acquisition by InfoSpace for approximately $2.0B. Most recently, he was CFO of The PowerTech Group, a security software products firm that recently sold to a portfolio company of the Audax Group.

Matt Hulett, WidgetBucks CEO and Chairman: "Jeff brings an incredible breadth of financial experience perfectly suited to WidgetBucks. He joins us at just the right time as WidgetBucks embarks on its second year well positioned to reinvigorate online advertising, even during these challenging economic times. Jeff has shown that he knows what it takes to win."

Jeff's appointment is WidgetBucks' second chief officer addition in the last two months: In August, Chief Revenue Officer Kirby Winfield joined the team

Welcome to the team, Jeff.

- Dean

Thursday, October 23, 2008

eMarketer Holiday Report: First, the Good News...

Internet analyst firm eMarketer has just released its annual online holiday sales forecast.

First, the good news. Senior Analyst Jeffrey Grau projects this year's holiday sales (excluding travel) will total $32.1 billion, up 10.1% from 2007.

Now the bad news. While an increase, the 10% is still a far cry from the low-to-mid 20% range online retailers have seen in recent years. Certainly the economy has a big hand in that, which may mean a few pink slips at the North Pole this year.

There's actually more good news in the report for publishers running WidgetBucks shopping widgets on their site and blogs: Shoppers are shifting a larger share of their purchases online rather than heading to mall in an effort to save gas and take advantage of free shipping offers.

This year is significant in another way. Nearly 50% of holiday gift spending among US Internet users will occur online compared to 44% in stores, marking the first time the Web has surpassed the brick-and-mortar as the preferred channel for Internet users to make holiday purchases, according to the eMarketer report. Last year, 70% of US Internet users preferred the store over the Web (22%). Go figure.

So while there's lots of bah-humbug right now around the economy, Santa's still coming and soon it will be ChrismaHanuKwanza Day.

- Dean

Friday, October 17, 2008

WidgetBucks Introduces New Domain/URL Approval Process

Within WidgetBucks, we're constantly looking for ways to increase value to publishers and provide better targeting for advertisers. To that end, WidgetBucks has put in place a new system to more effectively verify web addresses/URLs where publishers and bloggers are placing WidgetBucks ad widgets.

We have now implemented a process where new publishers will be able to submit multiple URLs/domains at the time of registration. For existing publishers, the immediate and longer-term impact is also detailed below. Again, this process will enable us to provide better targeted advertising that will, in turn, create better value for you as a publisher:

New publishers: When signing up with WidgetBucks, new publishers can now submit between one and five URLs/domains, each of which WidgetBucks support team will approve or decline. So it is quite possible that a publisher would be approved by WidgetBucks, but particular domains would not.

When publishers are notified via email of their approval as a WidgetBucks' publisher, they will also be told which domains were approved and/or denied. They will then be able use the pull-down menu of the approved URLs they entered on the registration page.

Existing publishers: By and large, existing publishers should not have to take immediate action -- only to the extent that you want to place more WidgetBucks ad widgets on
additional URLs. Those publishers already signed up and approved by WidgetBucks will see one of two things as they want to edit and create new widgets:
1) Create new/edit widgets: Publishers will have a pre-populated pull-down of URLs that they have already associated with the widgets they've created (see screen shot above)
2) New URL(s)/domain(s): existing users who want to add URLs to their list can do so by submitting them for approval via the “My Account” tab. Once URLs have been vetted, publishers will be notified via email as to whether the submissions were approved or declined. At this time, there is no cap on the number of URLs for existing publishers. (see screen shot below)

Over time, we will be reviewing all existing publishers' URLs. If particular sites or domains are questionable based on our Terms of Service, we may be in contacting you directly about it.

If you experience issues with this process, the WidgetBucks support url is support [at] widgetbucks [dot] com.

- Dean

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here & There, Part Deux: More Local, Travel Ad Widget Sizes Now Available

Starting today, publishers now have access to more sizes and versions of the recently-launched local and travel ad widgets from WidgetBucks. The new sizes can be found when creating or editing an ad widget on the MyWidget page:
Three additional sizes have been added, including a blog sidebar (160x300), medium rectangle (300x250) and leaderboard (728x90), all complementing the original 160x600 size. Across each of the sizes, these geographically-targeted, animated ad widgets show users relevant real-time content such as weather, gas prices, top businesses, restaurants and more.

We've also released a variety of versions and sizes specific to the interactive travel search widget. The original size available -- a leaderboard (728x90) -- expands down the page as a site visitor rolls over the ad. Publishers can now elect the same size widget to expand up the page upon rollover. Similarly, we have created two additional new sizes -- wide skyscraper (160x600) and medium rectangle (300x250) -- each of which expands left or right of the original ad window, depending on publisher preference.

An important note about these left and right expanding ad widgets: Please ensure that the widget you select expands in the appropriate direction for its page placement, and know that some templates on sites such as Blogger do not support expanding widgets.

These widgets show real-time travel deals to multiple destinations based on a user's origin. Along with the interactive travel search widget, other travel ads exist for hot deals, as well as destination and origin-based deals.

We encourage publishers to give these new widgets a try. Like our shopping widgets, they are engaging, graphically-pleasing ads and easy to load into your page.

- Dean

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WidgetBucks August Payments Have Been Sent

PayPalWidgetBucks payments for August have been distributed via PayPal and check. As always, we encourage you, if at all possible, to switch to PayPal. It's faster than mail, more secure and there's no fee when receiving the money.

- Dean

Friday, October 3, 2008

WidgetBucks Celebrates First Anniversary With $25 Sign-Up Bonus

They say that time flies when you're having fun -- and in a flash, WidgetBucks has just completed its first year. To celebrate our first anniversary, we're reinstating our sign-up bonus that we offered during the first three months for all new publishers: $25 bonus when your account reaches $50.

We're letting this run throughout the month of October, but the sooner new publishers and bloggers get in, the faster they can begin using our recently launched new travel and local ad widgets, along with our shopping ads.

What a first year it's been: tremendous growth, constant innovation, exciting prospects for next year, and yes, even our share of growing pains. We'd like to thank all of our publishers who have helped (and been patient at times) make WidgetBucks the fastest growing ad network on the Internet during our first year, going from launch to 1.5 Billion impressions a month.

If you are an existing publisher, be sure to send any referrals to this special, anniversary link -- -- during October so you can get 5% of their earnings for the next 12 months. Read more about our referral program here.

Thanks again to all WidgetBucks publishers!

- Dean

Friday, September 26, 2008

Local & Travel Widgets Now Available to All WidgetBucks Publishers

Publishers and bloggers now have full access to WidgetBucks' local and travel ad widgets for their sites. After last week's announcement, these new CPC ad units are widely available for use, along with our original shopping widgets.

Our local ad widgets are targeted to users' specific geographic location and offer local content such as gas prices and weather. We combine these features with high-performing CPC ads for local services and businesses to give you additional revenue opportunity.

Our new travel ad widgets are some of the most attractive and interactive ads in our network. Show your visitors real-time deals for multiple locations around the country, or give them eye-catching CPC ads that rotate deals to hot destinations such as San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York.

For a look at the new MyWidget page, click the small screen shot.

A number of media outlets have written about the release of these two new verticals, including Adotas, the interactive advertising news site (story) and MediaPost (story).

- Dean

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mashable: Top 5 Blog Trends Coming Out of BlogWorld Expo

It was great seeing all the Mashable folks this weekend at BlogWorld. This afternoon, Adam Ostrow just posted this excellent recap that focuses on key trends the Mashable team saw coming out of the show:
  • Users Own The Comments, Not Bloggers
  • Widgets Are Evolving Into Web Rings 2.0
  • Everyone is Launching an Ad Network
  • Twitter, Twitter, Twitter
  • Blogs Are Increasingly Becoming Mainstream Media and Vice Versa
Thanks, Adam and Pete.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

WidgetBucks' Hulett Speaking at WTIA Event

WidgetBucks CEO Matt Hulett is joining an accomplished cast of panelists at Thursday night's Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) event.

The night's discussion topic is "Cashing In on Web Services: The Display Ad Model and Beyond" and delves into options beyond traditional display ads, as well as trends and innovations in monetizing Web services today.

The full slate of panelists:

If you are interested in attending, contact the WTIA for information and pricing.

- Dean

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Top Affiliates Share Their Money Making Secrets at BlogWorld

One of the kick-off panels at BlogWorld Expo today in Las Vegas comprised of some of the blogosphere's top affliate bloggers -- Jim Kukral (moderator), Darren Rowse (Problogger), Zac Johnson (, John Chow (, Brian Clark ( and Jeremy Shoemaker ( Pictured are (l-r) Rowse, Kukal, Johnson and Matt Hulett, CEO of WidgetBucks.

With many bloggers turning to veterans such as these to find out strategies for making blog money, the group provided points of view across various topics of revenue. Here were some of the topics and trends they are seeing:

What is their greatest source of revenue? Here's a collection of their viewpoints: 1) direct ad sales, 2) affiliate promotions, 3) ad networks and 4) Google AdSense, call the webmaster welfare by one of the panelists. The point was made that direct sales take a lot of time and the pure profit may be worth it, however, you need to have a reasonable amount of traffic and following to attract advertisers -- this is where ad networks make it easy. Affiliate promotions can be incredibly profitable, but you need the trust and following to make those work as well.

In spreading the word, RSS or email newsletter? While RSS is a growing in popularity, Darren Rowse made the point that people like what's familiar, and that's email. But putting the email newsletter signup isn't necessarily enough. John Chow recommended creating a free offer to give people incentive to subscribe, such as a free e-book or t-shirt. There are services that automatically distribute a collection of your recent blogs last number of stories (a figure you determine).

Should my personal brand represent my site? It depends. Where do you want to take it in the future. For example, Darren Rowse after admittedly messing up domains in the past, chose because it is representative of what he does., which helps people with content creation is also descriptive. and are in a different position where the site IS their brand and can have huge benefits if you are working toward consulting and services, but potentially more challenging when it comes to be acquired down the road (if that happens to be a goal).

For another summary, check out this recap of Zac Johnson.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This Weekend Only: $25 Sign-Up Bonus

If only 2500 of the 15 million active bloggers are attending the BlogWorld Expo this weekend in Vegas, where does that leave the other 14,997,500? With enough time to take advantage of WidgetBucks' BlogWorld Weekend Sign-up Special!

New publishers who join WidgetBucks this weekend will earn $25 bonus when their account reaches $50. Just hit our home page -- or click here to be on your way to better site earnings in no time.

WidgetBucks' Hulett Honored by Puget Sound Biz Journal

Each year the Puget Sound Business Journal's 40-Under-40 awards program spotlights the next generation of business leaders who work hard to drive the business community’s future and demonstrate dynamic leadership and social responsibility. We are pleased to announce that WidgetBucks CEO Matt Hulett, 38, is part of the 2008 class. Matt and the other 39 recipients were honored Thursday night.

Matt is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully built profitable companies from scratch. After joining Mpire, WidgetBucks' parent company, as CEO in early 2006, he turned what was a standalone comparison shopping site into a multi-vertical ad distribution platform that serves over a billion impressions a month, known as WidgetBucks. Matt is a proud fourth-generation Seattleite, whose grandfather was a lumberjack in the small town of Port Angeles in the Puget Sound area. Check out the rest of Matt's bio here.

Anyone wanting to glean Matt's extensive executive business insights can read his personal blog,

Congratulations, Matt!

- The Team

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Here & There: WidgetBucks' Local, Travel Ad Widgets Arrive

WidgetBucks today announced the release of its two newest ad widget verticals: local and travel. New publishers can now apply for access to these new ad widgets, while existing publishers and bloggers will have these verticals come available within their accounts over the next 7-10 days.

Local ad widgets are targeted to user’s specific geographic location and offer a combination of highly-relevant information such as weather and gas prices along with performance-based ads such as local businesses and services. Click here to see local ad widget examples.

Travel ad widgets show real-time airfares and deals for multiple U.S. destinations based on a user’s closest major airport. Publishers can also choose from among several snappy looking ad creatives that rotate through destination hot spots, such as Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A hot deals module is also available at launch. Click here to see some travel ad widget examples.

Both of the new ad units pay on a CPC basis.

These new ad verticals introduce new ways consumers can interact and immerse themselves in an ad. Smart, application advertising provides people with interesting snippets of real information to help publishers monetize their ad space and brand advertisers see greater return on investment for each ad unit.

“Our publishers are telling us they want the best mix of application-style ads and performance-marketing widgets, and these two new verticals address those needs,” said CEO Matt Hulett.

New Reporting Page
WidgetBucks is also introducing an overhauled reporting interface that provides more digestible earnings figures, trends and charts. As WidgetBucks has expanded its revenue types and sources being paid to publishers (including CPC and CPM in the U.S./Canada, CPC and CPM in Europe and CPM around the rest of the world and more), we felt it was important to provide a simpler way of quickly capturing essential data.

Specifically, publishers will be able to view number of impressions, net revenue and eCPM per widget per day. The widget detail tab will break out the views and net revenue for each revenue stream per widget per day.

You will also notice that the pie charts have been replaced with a bar graph. Under the summary tab, the bar graph will show total net revenue earned by all widgets for that particular day. Under the summary tab, the bar graph will show the total net revenue earned by all widgets for that particular day. Under the widget detail tab, the bar graph will show the total net revenue earned, color coded by revenue stream.

- Dean

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's Your Ad Network's 'Secret Sauce'?

Hi everyone, Kirby Winfield here, WidgetBucks' Chief Revenue Officer.

Some colleagues and I are in New York this week at OMMA Global. Undoubtedly, ad networks will be a topic of the conversation at the show and it got me to thinking of an article I recently came across on Adotas, the interactive advertising news site, titled "Can 314 Ad Networks Really Thrive?"

It takes a close look at the sheer volume of ad networks today, where the industry is headed (what sort of consolidation will there be?) and factors that differentiate one network from another (more on this later).

The article's premise -- the number of ad networks -- makes for an interesting discussion launch pad on the current state of the network space, but in and of itself is a pretty big red herring. Do SEO firms, creative shops, media buyers, or any other online media service cease to proliferate at some arbitrary numerical inflection point? Absolutely not.

In any industry, talented and experienced individuals constantly create new businesses in spaces that have borne fruit in the past. Those who become successful (i.e. scale and staying power) displace the less efficient incumbents, either on the tail or at the head. In healthy economic or nascent growth spurt periods, the number of firms which receive exposure or become part of the accepted set that defines the industry may grow, but as the industry matures this normalizes. I guess one could say it all settles out in the end.

Yet this still raises some interesting questions: What makes a network viable? How do you become one of the “314”? Or better yet, a top 50 ad network?

To that point, the article ranks major differentiators by percentage, according to U.S. Agencies and Advertisers. Here they are the top five:

  • 28% Web Inventory Quality
  • 27% Targeting
  • 11% Site Transparency
  • 8% Service
  • 8% Optimization
I agree that Quality is tops on the list - no surprise there -- but I'd add four more to the list:
  • Scale
  • Ad fill
  • Specialize/verticalization
  • Sales team that knows the space cold
Even so, in this day and age, the attributes listed above are pretty much just the price of entry to the top-end network space. True differentiation comes through innovation. Some networks are on the forefront of behavioral targeting and data mining; others are focused on yield optimization and management; still others are stuck in the tent pole publisher remnant inventory game.

Here at WidgetBucks our own "secret sauce" involves creating engaging, interactive in-page applications that make all types of online inventory more valuable to publishers and more accessible to (and at the end of the day, safer and more comfortable for) brands.

And later this week, WidgetBucks publishers will be hearing a lot more on improvements and expansions around a number items on both the lists above, including targeting, optimization, reporting, and specialization/"verticalization." Stay tuned.

- Kirby

July Payments Distributed

PayPalWidgetBucks payments for July have been distributed via PayPal and check. As always, we encourage you, if at all possible, to switch to PayPal. It's faster than mail, more secure and there's no fee when receiving the money.

- Dean

What's Blogged in Vegas, Stays in the Blogosphere

What do you get when you put 2500 bloggers into a single convention center surrounded by the pinging of slot machines? BlogWorld Expo!

Later this week (Sept. 20-21) in Las Vegas the 2nd annual BlogWorld Expo is taking place. It's the largest single conglomeration of bloggers anywhere, ever (I think). Over 130 speakers will present their insights to attendees, which will include Darren Rowse, Jim Kukral and Zac Johnson. Bloggers will learn about blog monetization, traffic boosters, creating content and much more.

One speaker at the show will be one of WidgetBucks' own, CEO Matt Hulett (picture, left) who is joining five others on a panel called "Beyond AdSense: Exploration of Practical Monetization Streams."

If you plan to be in Vegas for BlogWorld, be sure to swing by this panel -- it's sure to be a good one. It's Sunday, Sept. 21 from 12:15 - 1:15. That panel is immediately followed by buffet lunch sponsored in part by WidgetBucks at the exhibit floor. Yes, free food and drink brought to you in part by WidgetBucks.

UPDATE: If you are having a hard time finding a place to stay in Vegas, here's a very cool alternative: Bed & Office, the bed & breakfast for business. This is a new kind of B&B — a high-end luxury experience suiting the needs of the business traveler and convention attendee. And it's about 5-7 minutes from the Convention Center.

Blog on!

- Dean

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AdAge: Which Candidate is Best for Marketing Industry, McCain or Obama?

Advertising Age is currently running a poll, asking "Which presidential candidate is better for the marketing industry?" The piece is accompanied by background pieces on each presidential candidate's stance within key marketing issues, such as net neutrality, media ownership and decency legislation.

While they disagree on most things (I guess that's their job as presidential candidates) and agree on some (yes, really, like net neutrality), it seems those voting within the ad/marketing industry on favor Obama as president by a handsome margin. So between speeches tonight, head on over to and vote!

Obama marketing profile

McCain marketing profile

Photo from NBC13 B

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Power of Social Media for Non-Profits

Beth Kanter, author of the appropriately-named "Beth's Blog," presented today at Gnomedex. She spoke about how non-profits can use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the like to raise funds and spread the word.

One particular aspect of her talk was about a commitment she and her family (her husband and two adopted children) made two years ago to sponsor Leng Sopharath (picture), a young woman from Cambodia, for her college education through the Sharing Foundation's education program. Leng is an orphan who grew up in the same orphanage as Beth's daughter. Without the Sharing Foundation's college education program, she would not be able to make a better life for herself.

So at today's Gnomedex, she challenged the 250 attendees to donate $10 to help with Leng's college tuition. Using PayPal through Twitter and the good ole hat passing at the conference, Beth raised $3700!

This is a great example of the power of social media and networking. Congrats, Beth and Leng!

- Dean

Generation Y: Technology on Our Terms

Mark Bao was on a quasi-panel discussion today at Gnomedex. You may not know Mark so here's a bit more:

Mark is CEO of Avecora, he's already sold 3 Facebook applications, he runs several startups, and he got an absentee note from his mom to miss school today. See, Mark is 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. He's kind of the technological Michael Phelps of Generation Y, who is completely immersed in today's technology and consumer gadgets that enable communication and connection.

At the conference, which has a medium age of maybe 35 -- technologists, media, bloggers, etc. -- these folks had a chance to pose questions to Mark. It was quite funny, actually, in my opinion. It was as if a spaceship landed outside the conference, Mark popped out, and the conference goers had a chance to ask about an alien life form -- Generation Y.

This is more about the audience's reaction to being able to task questions of Mark, not of Mark himself. He's incredibly polished for his age and will undoubtedly do great things in his life, and probably make a lot of money.

Ultimately, it seems older generations have a deep desire to know about GenY and what makes it tick, how they view today's technology, and where they see it going. While Mark, as an individual, shouldn't have to represent an entire generation, he sure has a finger on the pulse more than a lot of kids his age, and as such, he offered up his take on why Gen Y differs, and fundamentally how technology plays a role in that:

  • more exposed to new technology and see the benefit of being more connected -- and are comfortable with it (through mobile, text msging, video chat)
  • creating tech innovators and entrepreneurs
  • changing careers paths and jobs and influence
  • more social aspects being built into products, staying less at one job
  • used to age of data -- you can get whatever you need quickly, and short attention span means if you can't find it now, you move on, and more social connected and social through facebook, Bebo, AIM, MySpace
Nice job, Mark. Keep up the good work. Here's Mark's web site and his blog.

- Dean

Gnomedex: Ben Huh, icanhascheezburger

One great presentation today at Gnomedex 2.8 came from Ben Huh of, featuring lolcats. Like WidgetBucks, icanhascheezburger is a Seattle company. If you haven't visited the site, it's fantasticly fun and addicting. He went through the "eras" of icanhascheezeburger, including crashing their $6.99/month Web hosting service in 2007, moving to WordPress later that year after outgrowing their self-hosting. He discussed the progression of the company, which was really fascinating. Check it out here and see a picture of Ben here (from Duncan Riley of Inquisitr)

They've now grown into a total of seven blogs (listed below), will hit 100 million page views a month next month and at peak times are getting 80 page views a second. By the way, there are 42 million cats in the U.S. and their data of lolcats is about 800,000 at this point - so get out there and start making your cats say funny stuff.

According to Ben, 90% of revenue comes from advertising, 10% from merchandise and Oct. 7 the icanhascheezburger book comes out, which will be another source of revenue.

more animals

Engrish Funny
I Has a Hot Dog
Fail Blog
Pundit Kitchen
Totally Looks Like

Live from Seattle, It's Gnomedex!!

Gnomedex 2.8 has kicked off in the Pacific Northwest and WidgetBucks is here among hundreds of leading bloggers, podcasters, and tech-savvy enthusiasts. This is the eighth program put on by Chris Pirillo, tech enthusiast, Web 2.0 evangelist and perhaps one of the most energetic guys you'll meet. Check out a live stream of the show at and the live chat room, as well as Chris' YouTube Channel (40k subscribers).

A variety of blog posts coming shortly.....stay tuned.

- Dean

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

WidgetBucks Welcomes Winfield as CRO

Hi everyone! Matt Hulett, CEO of WidgetBucks, here to share some fun news. Today WidgetBucks is happy to welcome Kirby Winfield as Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). In his new role, he’s responsible for the company’s advertising sales and distribution strategy.

WidgetBucks’ rocket ship growth has continued and Kirby comes in at just the right time as we expand our product verticals and advertiser relationships to earn higher revenues for our publishers. So what better title than Chief Revenue Officer, right?

Kirby is an Internet media veteran who brings great background to WidgetBucks. Back in 1996, when people started monetizing the Web, Kirby (pictured) was there and has been working in online media, sales and advertising ever since, including Marchex and Go2Net (acquired by InfoSpace).

He’s got a proven track record of understanding how to scale businesses quickly and also knows a lot about different types of ad models, including those brand-focused and performance-based.

From time to time, Kirby will be posting on this blog across various topics, including new trends in online ads, industry perspective and what he’s seeing in the ad sales world.

Kirby, welcome aboard!

- Matt

Friday, August 15, 2008

WidgetBucks June Payments Processed Today

PayPalWidgetBucks payments for June are being sent via PayPal later today. Checks are being processed and sent this afternoon as well. As always, we encourage you, if at all possible, to switch to PayPal. It's faster than mail, more secure and there's no fee when receiving the money.

- Dean

IAB: Ad Network Use Surges -- Where Do We Go From Here?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), along Bain & Company yesterday released some interesting study results about the use of ad networks. In summary, their joint research found that the use of ad networks has increased from 5% of total ad impressions sold in 2006 to 30% in 2007. The study suggests that media companies are turning to sales intermediaries (i.e. ad networks) to sell off excess inventory.

The report claims that one of the reasons behind the rapid growth is that large marketers continue to shift significant portions of their advertising budgets online and view ad networks as an effective way to achieve greater buying scale and drive down CPMs.

Since launching WidgetBucks last October, we have continued to see trends that closely match the IAB study findings, largely with our CPM display ad relationships. While the advertiser/ad network relationship has always been an interesting one, we at WidgetBucks feel a key to growing these relationships in the future will require work on both sides.

Specifically, it is incumbent upon ad networks to provide as much transparency to advertisers as possible, while advertisers need to get increasingly comfortable with brand distribution across the Internet. For marketers, brand is their currency, so naturally they are adverse to placing that brand into places unknown, but as technology advances to more precisely target these ads, it's time to let go, even if just a bit.

See the full IAB/Bain press release.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Halo, Water and Stainless Steel Skins Popular Among WidgetBucks Publishers

Since rolling out the WidgetBucks skin gallery in late July, we've started to see some leading designs bubble up to the top. In taking a quick "skinventory," the widget skins that are getting the most play are:

  1. Original Flavor/Classic
  2. Slick
  3. *Halo - Crimson
  4. Cell Phone
  5. *Plain White Ts
  6. *Blue Water
  7. *Stainless Steel
  8. *Simply Elegant
  9. *Back in Black
  10. *Basketball
* new skin

What's clear from the list above is that the original two designs offered by WidgetBucks -- called Original/classic and Slick within the gallery -- still have the highest adoption among publishers over the last two weeks.

We figure there could be one of two reasons for this: first, publishers really like them, or two, they aren't clicking through to the gallery beyond the default design when editing or creating new widgets.

The screen shot shows where one accesses the skin-rich gallery within the edit/new widget page.

We'd love to hear from you: What are your favorite WidgetBucks skins?

- Dean

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Germany, France, Italy and Others Join WidgetBucks' 'European Union'; Strong UK Results to Date

After expanding its CPC (cost-per-click) network into the UK on July 15, WidgetBucks has continued its roll across Western Europe as previously announced. Today, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Denmark joined the UK. This means that site visitors from those countries will now see the double-revenue ad widgets -- a CPM display ad followed by a CPC widget of country-specific products from in-country merchants in local currency. Click here to see a UK example.

This extended list of countries will be activated by 3:00PM Pacific time today.

Strong UK Results
Over the first two weeks of offering CPC ads in the UK, we're seeing a very strong response from visitors, meaning publishers' eCPMs are going up. In fact, our data shows a 2.5 times increase in eCPM (combining CPM and CPC earnings) for the UK over this time.

Terms of Use Change
As WidgetBucks goes about its CPC network expansion into Europe, we have also modified our Terms of Use to carry fewer restrictions on the use of non-English language sites and blogs. While we have loosened the terms in this area, it should be noted that we are not yet allowing any and all language sites into our network.

Similar to focusing on Western European countries due to the ability to target merchants and products by country to audiences, we are taking a similar approach with languages we are approving for WidgetBucks. We are now accepting non-English language sites that are native to the countries on the CPC list, including French, German, Italian, Swedish and so forth.

UPDATE 8/21/08: Spain has now been added to the CPC Country List.

- Dean

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ad Widget Skin Gallery, DIY Skin Tools Now Available Through WidgetBucks

What do Batman, Halo, GPS Devices and basketball have in common? If you answered that these represent some of the featured designs in WidgetBucks’ new widget skin gallery, you nailed it.

Today, WidgetBucks is giving its publishers and bloggers more ways to create engaging and attention-grabbing ad widgets by rolling out two new features:

  • Gallery, a catalog of over 125 pre-designed skins to apply to new and existing ad widgets
  • Custom DIY (Do-It-Yourself) tools to design your own unique look-and-feel to ad widgets

The gallery of off-the-shelf skins map closely to WidgetBucks’ product categories, including entertainment (Batman, celebrities), tech and electronics (iPhone, GPS devices, XM Radio), fashion (handbags, flip flips), sports and outdoors (basketball, baseball), video games (Halo), and more. They are can be applied to six IAB standard sizes and only impact WidgetBucks’ CPC widgets -- CPM display ads will run without the new designs.

Click here to see a demonstration of how WidgetBucks skins can be used on a blog or Web site (or view a somewhat lower-quality YouTube version below), and then take it for a test drive by visit

You can also check out two skins in action - one on TechCrunch and another on Mashable.

DIY Skins
Publishers who want to 'pimp their widget skin' can use WidgetBucks' DIY design tools. Two basic applications -- MS Paint and Notepad, both standard on PCs -- are all that's needed to create your own skin (one Mac Paint equivalent is open-source software Seashore). This option gives publishers powerful customization ability to enable very integrated look-and-feel delivery of their WidgetBucks ad units.

How to Get Started
We have revamped the page for creating new and editing existing widgets -- and this is where both the gallery and custom tools are accessed (circled in red on the image at left). We keep track of skins you’ve used and/or built over time, and next month we'll be implementing a community sharing feature for custom-built skins.

- Dean