Thursday, January 31, 2008

December Payments On Tap Next Week

Publishers should keep an eye out for December earnings payments starting Monday, Feb. 4. Consistent with previous month's payments, PayPal funds are being distributed first, followed by mailed checks.

One additional important update: A Dec. 31 data issue with one of our feed providers has now been resolved, and we updated both MyWidgets and MyBucks pages to reflect earnings for that day. Payments sent next week will include earnings for the entire month, including Dec. 31st.

- Dean

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008: The Year of the Ad Widget

Matt Hulett, CEO of Mpire CorporationHi everyone. Matt, CEO of Mpire here. I haven't contributed to this blog lately so thought I'd swing by, say hello, thank everyone for your continued support of WidgetBucks, and share a few thoughts on what I see ahead in the wild world of widgets.

First, a quick snapshot of the business. We continue to see great adoption of WidgetBucks, impressions are increasing each month, and we should reach the 2 billion impression mark by Valentine's Day. We have all of you to thank for this success, and appreciate your patience through some of our growing pains. Early next week, we'll be making December earnings payments to publishers -- our third such cycle. Even with this success, we continue to innovate, test and communicate with publishers to help maintain our focus on optimizing our ad widget network.

With the online ad and widget industries both evolving at break-neck speeds, I find myself constantly reading to stay ahead. I came across this fantastic and timely piece on GigaOm -- and wanted to share it with you. I found it so compelling because it captures much of the buzz around widgets today. Recent media chatter, including the GigaOm piece, are beginning to make 2008 look like the Year of the Ad Widget (this, after Newsweek declared 2007 the Year of the Widget). Many suggest an increasing push toward monetizing the millions of consumer eyeballs using widgets today. Some feel the RockYous, Slides and Clearsprings of the world -- essentially all consumer-facing widget platforms -- will find this a formidable mountain to climb. Even the ad widget networks that are seeing success around money-making widgets (i.e. WidgetBucks) are facing challenges, such as making sure our widgets continue to engage consumers without falling victim to user "ad blindness." We're embracing this challenge by constantly evaluating new approaches, technology and strategies to stay a step ahead. In fact, this quarter, we'll be announcing additional products and features, such as widget skinning, the expansion of monetizable widget content, and wide availability of YieldSense, which automatically transforms itself into a PPC, CPM or CPA ad widget on the fly, depending on highest yield.

"Those focused on a more ad-centric model are going ahead with their plans to use the widget as a more interactive billboard, but companies like Slide and RockYou may find that strategy more difficult." -- GigaOm, "Widget Me This," 1/26/08

Regardless of the various challenges and approaches -- consumer-centric or ad-centric widgets -- it remains to be seen if the two can meet in the middle and help the Year of the Ad Widget live up to its name. We certainly hope this happens -- it will be good for all of us in the industry. We are confident in our approach of creating an ad widget network first followed by a good consumer experience, and continue to work on refining that balance.

Where do you think widgets are headed this year?




Matt Hulett
CEO, Mpire Corporation (the creators of WidgetBucks)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tip of the Day: PPC + CPM = Total Impressions

WidgetBucks' New MyWidgets Page - click to enlargeOver the last couple of weeks, we've responded to a number of publishers asking about impressions that are apparently uncounted or underrepresented. As we've dug more deeply into these inquiries and communicated with these publishers, we've discovered the issue is largely due to the fact that only PPC (pay-per-click) impressions are shown on the MyWidgets page’s default (“Widgets”) view. To get a full picture of total impressions, you will need to also look at the “CPM Ad” tab. The Widgets tab displays PPC impressions, while the CPM Ads tab shows CPM impressions. Click on the screenshot at right to see examples of the two tabs.

Starting mid next week, we've decided to improve this display by showing a roll-up of Widget/PPC and CPM impressions and revenue to complement the existing tabbed information. Additionally, impressions, revenue and other related info will be totaled at the bottom of each each tabbed page. This screenshot gives an early sneak peek of what publishers can expect to see on their MyWidgets pages when this rolls out (the red boxes show the affected areas). NOTE: the figures displayed are for mock-up purposes only.

Here is a summary of the upcoming MyWidget page updates:

  • A "roll-up" view of Widget/PPC and CPM impressions and revenue, including their pie chart equivalents
  • 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

Thursday, January 17, 2008

WidgetBucks Creates Customer Council

With WidgetBucks' October launch and explosive growth -- a billion ad impressions in our first 83 days -- we continue to innovate to help our publishers make money. At the same time, we are recognizing the need for deeper customer involvement in our development process. As a result, we have formed the WidgetBucks Customer Council (WBCC), a group of 10-15 hand-picked (and undisclosed) customers that are serving as a sounding-board for new developments in our network. This group will get previews of upcoming features, requests to test new widgets, and be asked to provide their feedback on both various aspects of our network, with the ultimate goal of helping us do as much listening as we are innovating.

One example of new features and technology being tested by the WBCC is YieldSense(TM), a contextual, pay-per-click (PPC) ad widget that displays the highest yielding product categories and ad creative based on a revenue score that is automatically generated from past performance. We anticipate YieldSense (and specific details about it) to be more widely available in February.

Another upcoming example is pre-roll advertising within our ad widgets. With pre-roll, a branded ad appears momentarily before the shopping widget, giving advertisers the ability to market within specific product categories, such as electronics, video games and computers. Again, more details available in February.

We feel this group will be an invaluable help, and appreciate in advance the time, energy and feedback they'll be providing.

To see a preview demo of WidgetBucks' smart ads, click here .

- Dean

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WidgetBucks' Terms Changes Start Today

This post is a reminder that a few of WidgetBucks' Terms of Service points change today. This was originally blogged about on Jan. 3. We are discontinuing the $25 sign-up bonus on new accounts, so any publishers who have referenced the $25 bonus in custom links will need to change code. Those publishers using unmodified code and tools provided on the WidgetBucks Referral Tools page will NOT require a code update -- we're updating that code on our end.

Also starting today, our referral structure for new accounts is moving from 10 to 5 percent. Again, this is only for accounts that are opened after today and does NOT impact existing accounts.

PayPalOne important piece of payment news coming in the next week or two is that new accounts outside the U.S. and Canada will require PayPal as their payment method. Existing non-U.S. and Canada accounts will be "grandfathered" and can still receive checks; however, we are noticing a number of unusual mailing addresses within existing publishers' MySettings pages. One common issue we're finding is publishers listing their local address but indicate it's within the United States, when this is obviously not the case. Our bank records also show a number of uncashed checks sent outside the U.S. and Canada. As a result, we'll continue to work with existing publishers where needed, but are making the full switch for new accounts. PayPal, which obviously gets you your money faster compared to snail mail, can be received in 65 countries and regions so should cover most publisher's needs.

And finally, later today MyBucks will reflect both November payment information and audited December earnings.

- Dean

Monday, January 14, 2008

WidgetBucks' Night at the OWAs

As mentioned last week, the Mpire/WidgetBucks crew was in San Francisco at Mashable's Open Web Awards at the Palace Hotel, where about 300 industry folks were gathered. WidgetBucks earned People's Choice honors in the Application and Widget category. Here are a few shots from the event, along with a not-so-great quality video of Mpire CEO Matt Hulett's brief acceptance speech. Presenting the award is Kristen Nicole, head writer at Mashable. To see more photos off WidgetBucks at OWA, click here, here and here.

Pictured below are Matt and Greg Harrison, Mpire/WidgetBucks' Chief Technical Officer. In the team picture are (l-r) Catherine Gerlach, VP of Business Development, Matt Hulett CEO, Greg Harrison CTO, Gary Kamikawa (VP of Interactive Advertising) and Dean Jutilla, Marketing Director.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WidgetBucks Reporting Data Now Current

We are happy to report that WidgetBucks reporting data is now updated and current through today's publishing of Jan. 8 figures. As stated earlier, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, and we have implemented systems to reduce the likelihood of future delays.

Again, we appreciate your patience.

- Dean

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WidgetBucks Eclipses One Billion Impressions, Heads to Open Web Awards in SF

Thanks to all of our fantastic, hard-working publishers, WidgetBucks has officially surpassed one billion ad impressions, less than three months after inception. After hitting the mark on Dec. 23, the network has continued to see record impression days heading into the new year. But we're not stopping at zero to a billion in 83 days. We've got a number of announcements coming this quarter so stay tuned.

Before we make any other news though, on Thursday several members of the WidgetBucks team, including Mpire CEO and president Matt Hulett and CTO Greg Harrison, are headed to San Francisco to accept People's Choice honors for Mashable's Open Web Awards (applications and widgets category). Winners were announced on Mashable just before the holiday break and now we'll be joining Google, MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo!/Flickr, Digg and others in accepting our respective category awards. Check out Mashable's OWA page to catch UStream's live webcast of the event, which runs 7 - 10 PT on Thursday, Jan. 10. Thanks again for all of you who voted for WidgetBucks! Be looking for a post from San Francisco later this week.

- Dean

Friday, January 4, 2008

Reporting Delay Update

Some of the PPC and CPM reporting delays we first reported here on New Year's Day appear to be continuing. However, we are making progress in getting everything up to date. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused all of you.

PPC data
We anticipate PPC data will be updated by Sunday night, Jan. 6, with the exception of Dec. 31 data. That day's data is still temporarily unavailable due to a reporting issue with one of our feed providers. So, like you, we anxiously await those figures and will report them as soon as possible. Please be aware, that Dec. 31 data could possibly be delayed until Monday or later.

CPM data
CPM updating is slightly behind PPC, although Dec. 31 data IS included (that information is coming from a different feed provider). CPM reporting data should be updated through Jan. 1 by tomorrow and we're optimistic that the remaining days will done by end of the weekend with PPC data.

Again, thank you for your patience.

- Dean

Thursday, January 3, 2008

November Earnings Going Out; Important Update on Bonus, Referrals

Happy New Year, everyone! This post contains a number of important updates, so we encourage to check it out and see what applies to you and your WidgetBucks account.

November Earnings
November payments are being distributed this week. As we did last month, PayPal payments gets sent first followed by mailed checks, which should be sent by end of day tomorrow. Per our terms, a $50 minimum account balance is required for payment -- even if a $50 threshold (including sign-up bonus) was met in October.

PayPalWith the distribution of this month's payments, particularly mailed checks, we would like to remind those publishers outside of the U.S. and Canada who haven't designated as PayPal their payment method to do so. PayPal, which obviously gets you your money faster compared to snail mail, can be received in 65 countries and regions so should cover most publisher's needs.

Bonus and Referrals
As of January 15, WidgetBucks is discontinuing the $25 sign-up bonus on new accounts. We wanted to provide ample lead time for publishers who may have created custom links and graphics that reference the bonus (such as Digital Point and other forums). For those publishers using code and tools provided on the Referral Tools page, we will be updating that code on our backend, meaning NO code update will be required by publishers.

Also starting January 15, we are modifying our referral structure for new accounts from 10 to 5 percent. It's important to emphasize this only impacts new accounts (Jan. 15 or later) and does NOT impact existing accounts -- which will continue to earn the 10 percent referral fee for the full 12 months after the new member joins.

- Dean

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

WidgetBucks Reporting Data Delayed

WidgetBucks PPC and CPM reporting data is currently delayed. Later this afternoon, PPC data will be updated through Dec. 29 (and fully updated within 24-48 hours), while CPM data will be caught up in the next couple of days. We appreciate your patience as we work to get all data up to date.

Happy New Year!

- Dean