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, Shop.org, 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
WidgetBucks

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
WidgetBucks

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

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 adage.com favor Obama as president by a handsome margin. So between speeches tonight, head on over to AdAge.com and vote!

Obama marketing profile

McCain marketing profile

Photo from NBC13 B
irmingham.












Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Will All Online Ads Become Widgets?

It only seems inevitable that all online advertising will be "widgetized" in some way. Our CEO Matt Hulett has been espousing this for quite some time, and as this year increasingly becomes the Year of the Ad Widget, it seems others are adopting this point of view as well, including eMarketer Senior Analyst Debbie Aho Williamson. She just posted "Banner Ads Get Widgetized" on her Next Steps in Marketing blog, indicating that the movement toward widget advertising makes a lot of sense -- and cites WidgetBucks as example, along with a partner, VideoEgg.

- Dean

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WidgetBucks Secures $10 Million Investment to Expand Ad Widget Network

We're very pleased today to announce that WidgetBucks has secured $10 million in Series B funding.

The investment was led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, one of the world’s premier venture capital firms. Ignition Partners, which supplied the company’s original venture backing, also participated in the financing. This investment really allows us to expand our vision as an ad network, which will only mean great things for our publishers.

We plan to put greater resources into our YieldSense technology to further optimize your earnings and simplify your ad serving decisions. We also plan to build more revenue options around our ad widgets, including more ways to monetize international traffic and increase the number of ad model options for you. And finally, we'll continue innovating around ad design and content for those ads, creating things such as mash-up ads with a choice of content feeds within the same widget. Expanding our team is also a priority, particularly around engineering, sales and support.

According to Bill Bryant (pictured at left), startup veteran and venture partner at DFJ, the investment decision in WidgetBucks was simple. “DFJ invests in companies that are bringing disruptive technology to major sectors of the Internet economy. We love what WidgetBucks has built around its ecommerce platform. While the recent growth has been phenomenal, what we invested in is the promise to truly transform performance-based advertising for publishers.”

Since launch in October 2007, WidgetBucks has had rocket-ship growth, and your participation as a publisher has brought us to this successful milestone. We just surpassed 5 billion total ad widget impressions, and July is projected to be our first 1 billion impression month.

Again, we appreciate your participation in our program. As our ad network continues to "season" and mature, we look forward to expanding your earning potential.

Click the YouTube logo to see a video message from myself and CTO & Co-Founder Greg Harrison. Also read our full press release here.




Matt Hulett
CEO, WidgetBucks

Monday, March 3, 2008

BusinessWeek: 'Widgets: Future of Online Ads'

This week, BusinessWeek ran an entire special section, "CEO Guide to Widgets." One particular article of interest, relative to WidgetBucks and all you publishers, was this piece titled, "Widgets: The Future of Online Advertising" along with a counter-point here. There's also this video interview about making money from widgets that's mildly informative.

- Dean