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