Friday, February 29, 2008

Optimize Your Earnings by Updating Your Code

Our team is really focused on providing innovative ads that complement your blog and publisher sites as well as earn you a competitive CPM. Since WidgetBucks is focused on shopping advertisements today (more to come on new types of ads coming soon), we want to make sure that we keep earning you a solid CPM after the shopping season (advertising rates are seasonal and tend go down after the holidays). In short, we’re deploying our ad optimizing technology, YieldSense, broadly across our publisher base.

In order for you to take advantage of this, we need you to update your WidgetBucks code. To do this, simply re-copy the HTML code of your widgets into your site and start optimizing your revenue. Incidentally, this is an existing code update request originally announced Dec. 11.

Once that code is updated, WidgetBucks publishers can earn money in three ways: 1) existing shopping CPC ads, 2) display CPM ads (see explanation post here), and 3) international CPM ads.

We have moved quickly to implement our yield management technology after extensive testing with select customers. Moving quickly presents its share of challenges. For example, we had to decide between immediately activating the “hybrid” ad widgets BEFORE having our reporting interface ready to go, or wait to let publishers earn the additional revenue until the reporting was completed. The priority was clearly to optimize your revenue. That still puts us in a position to communicate (and risk confusing some of you) where and when “hybrid” revenue will start appearing. Here's a time line of what to expect:

Stage 1 (Feb. 27 to ~March 7)

  • Publishers will begin seeing “hybrid” ad CPM revenue appearing as “CPM Revenue” in the My Widgets page, typically 2-3 days delayed.
  • You may notice a drop in CTR and/or impressions when “hybrid” ads are active, since the Shopping CPC widget is not visible until the display ad completes. Keep in mind that although your CPC CTR/Revenue may decrease, it is offset by the CPM earnings from the display ad.

Stage 2 (~March 7 -14)
  • CPM Revenue will be split into “Display Ad CPM” and “International CPM” to distinguish between the CPM revenue earned through the “hybrid” display ads versus the international CPM revenue

- Dean

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reminder: Hybrid Widgets Require Updated Code

With the combined CPM display ad/PPC shopping widgets now running in all sizes on WidgetBucks, it's important that publishers are working with the latest ad code strand to take advantage of this dual-revenue ad widget.

This code change was actually announced over two months ago -- on Dec. 11 -- as part of the roll-out of CPM ads for non-U.S. and Canadian site visitors. At this point, only one-third of publishers have done so, meaning the rest aren't maximizing their revenue. To ensure you have the latest, which includes"ads.js" within the strand, go to a widget's Customize Your Widget page, click "Copy HTML" and repaste the code into your site.

- Dean

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Impulse-Buy Categories Added; Display Ads Now Live

Hybrid Widgets Now Live
Before discussing the new categories, the short-duration display ads that were to begin this week, have now started. See all the details of this new roll-out on our blog post from Feb. 22. Initially, the display ad/shopping widget hybrid is appearing on 300 x 250 widgets, with additional sizes rolling out later this week.

New Impulse Buy Categories
As we've made a concerted effort to get as site-category specific as possible -- which is what triggers higher payments by advertisers -- WidgetBucks has added 16 new categories from which to choose, and another six more coming online later in the week.

The premise behind the new categories is be attractive to users who may want to impulse buy. It's the same idea behind the quick buys one makes while in the grocery or department store line -- things you didn't intend to shop for but willing to buy because of the reasonable or low price point.

So we've created a variety of new types of categories, including software (tax preparation, PDA, Web publishing), event tickets, ink jet printer cartridges and accessories for HDTVs, GPS devices, PDAs, digital cameras and photography in general, as examples. We've also added sports attire categories for NASCAR, NCAA (the Tournament starts March 18), MLB (Opening Day is March 30) , NBA and the NFL.

To give some additional perspective on the additional categories, we have noticed that RPCs (revenue per click) have dropped significantly for high-price categories, such as HDTVs, desktop and laptop computers and high-end digital cameras. With the RPC that advertisers are willing to pay tied directly to CTS (conversion to sale) -- and therefore, very unreliable for high-ticket goods -- we've moved to provide these impulse-buy categories (items less than $200) with the intention of stabilizing RPCs.

- Dean

Friday, February 22, 2008

MerchSense Makes Sense for Higher Yield

Behind the scenes at WidgetBucks we've been working to improve MerchSense, our contextual algorithm. One way we're doing this is by implementing YieldSense(tm), which is technology that automatically generates the highest possible yield for publisher ad placements, and we're nearly ready to publish the first phase of these improvements. Starting as early as this weekend or Monday, U.S. and Canada visitors on sites that are running MerchSense will begin seeing short-duration display advertising running before WidgetBucks' traditional shopping widgets. This hybrid CPM display ad/PPC shopping widget combination is intended to help improve effective CPM (eCPM), while maintaining a great e-commerce experience through our widgets. Here is a summary of what is being announced:

  • Display ads will begin running before WidgetBucks' shopping widgets -- the duration and advertisers will be dynamic to best optimize for the eCPM of your individual site
  • Only U.S. and Canada visitors on sites running MerchSense will see the hybrid CPM display ad/PPC shopping widget (non-U.S. and Canada traffic continues to pay on a CPM basis)
  • Display ads are site-category specific and include major corporations as advertisers
  • Revenue earned through the display ads will appear within publishers' MyWidgets pages, and be included in the roll-up and pie-chart displays, as well as the "CPM Ads" tab
  • Only widgets configured for MerchSense will initially be able to take advantage of this automated yield optimization
  • As a reminder, MerchSense works best with product-specific sites and blogs rather than sites covering affiliate tools or online money making
One final note about display advertising: according to a JP Morgan report released in January, online display advertising is expected to jump 20 percent to $8.6 billion this year.

- Dean

GigaOm: Companies Can Make Money From Widget Ads

Influential tech blog GigaOm included WidgetBucks in an article this week about the state of ad widgets. Journalist Stacey Higginbotham writes:

"Brand and comparison advertising done through ad-focused widgets is emerging as a viable way of using the ubiquitous applications" and "WidgetBucks is one such widget-creation/ad network company making money with this approach." She also indicates that where this "leaves startups such as RockYou and Slide, which develop entertainment widgets, and the ad networks that cater to those applications, is still unclear."

This piece supports the recent post of our CEO Matt Hulett, who talks about 2008 as the Year of the Ad Widget.

Read the rest of the GigaOm article here.

- Dean

Friday, February 8, 2008

Updated MyWidgets Page Now Live!

Publishers logging-in to check their WidgetBucks earnings will now see some new additions to their MyWidgets page. This was originally mentioned in a post January 28. Here is a summary of the updates:

  • A "roll-up" summary view of Widget/PPC and CPM revenue and impressions, including their pie chart equivalents. The totals are a reflection of the date range selected.
  • Column totals for all relevant columns in the Widgets and CPM tab views
  • The default date range upon login will be set to "This Month." This eliminates the need for publishers to adjust the date range during each visit, while still giving flexibility to manually select dates.
  • A "notes" feature will be added (along with a corresponding entry field in the New/Edit Widget pages). For each widget, we are providing publishers with the ability to add internal notes that won't appear on the widget itself. For instance, a publisher can note a particular ad position (i.e. "right sidebar above About Me") or any info on recent adjustments (i.e. "changed to blue 1/28/07") in order to better keep track of their changes. Site visitors will still see the main widget "Name" assigned by the publisher.
- Dean

Monday, February 4, 2008

WidgetBucks Deploys Site Category Assignments to Improve CPMs

WidgetBucks publishers looking for increased CPM earnings on non-US and Canada traffic now have the ability to assign their site(s) into one of 40 categories, such as technology, sports, gaming, health and business/finance. Assigning a category to a site where a WidgetBucks widget resides gives advertisers the ability to reach more targeted audience segments and, most importantly, a reason to pay higher rates to publishers. Because we just rolled out this change, it's difficult to estimate the exact increase in CPM but we will provide some trend insight on this over the next couple of weeks. Also, since the CPM platform is a “learning” system, expect fluctuations in CPM rates as it learns what ad content is performing best on your site (i.e. advertisers pay higher CPM rates for ad content that has a good CTR).

Since putting CPM ads in place mid-December, rates have been paid based on generalized country of site traffic -- not a specific type or topic of site -- and therefore rates have been at the low end of the scale. Making this update does not require any code changes to widgets and can be done through these steps:

Step 1. Within “My Settings,” assign a default site category from the pull-down menu. Any new widget created will carry this default as its site category value, however, existing widgets will not be assigned the default -- those will need to be assigned individually (see Step 2 below). The default site category can be manually overridden within a specific widget without impacting other widgets. For example, if the default site category is set to "Music" and a widget is subsequently placed on a health-related site, the "Health" category could be assigned to the new widget to yield higher CPM rates. Also, be sure to select PayPal as your payment method so you can receive payments more quickly.

Step 2. Within "MyWidgets," using the "edit" link for each existing widget, assign a site type (Step No. 6 within that page) that is most applicable to the site where the widget resides. While editing the widget, be sure to check your product choice to ensure those selected are the most appropriate/applicable. See the site category pull-down within a widget customization page.

In other news, WidgetBucks is making a change to its Terms of Service to cap at two (2) the number of WidgetBucks ad widgets that can be placed on any given page. The new program policy within Exhibit A now reads: “Widgets may not be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant. No more than 1 to 2 ads per page are allowed.” We want to maintain a healthy and profitable network - a number of sites have WidgetBucks ad widgets plastered on their site – which negatively impacts CPM rates.

- Dean