Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 16, 2021

Just a note for myself: As of today, I’ve added Yahoo! Publisher Network adboxes to this blog’s feedback/comment popups.

This isn’t a signal that YPN is suddenly on fire; it’s just as much a non-factor in my RSS feeds as ever. From what I’ve been able to cull from a few casual searches, it seems like my experience isn’t unique; Yahoo!’s efforts to compete with Google’s AdSense seem to be on shaky ground. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a massive overhaul of the program shortly; in fact, I expect it.

Still, I know I haven’t been giving it a proper shot on this site. The RSS feeds are hardly fertile advertising ground, despite their relatively high traffic. The thing is, I’m not about to displace those moneymaking AdSense ads just to give YPN a shot, and I can’t display them both on the same page at the same time, per both companies’ terms of service.

Enter the popups. They’re all technically on separate pages from the blog proper, and I never did add AdSense zones to them. What’s more, they generate a bit of traffic on their own, as the search engines crawl them almost as thoroughly as other sections of this blog. Plus, there’s more space to put multiple adbanks there than on the feeds, as this example demonstrates.

So, let’s see how this does. I’ll be shocked if the money starts rolling in from Yahoo!’s ads, but you never know. And if it looks as though a decent amount of impressions are being served up, but without clickthrus — pointing to a continuing lack of relevant ad-serving by YPN — I can always sub in AdSense blocs in there at some point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/16/2006 11:55:25 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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Appealing to civic duty doesn’t do much for getting out the vote, especially when it’s not a Presidential election year. So maybe Arizona’s scheme to blend a lottery-style jackpot with its general elections will result in a more representative democratic process.

Or, more likely, it’ll encourage politicians to target compulsive gamblers as a swing electoral bloc.

Mark Osterloh, a political gadfly who is behind the initiative, the Arizona Voter Reward Act, is promoting it with the slogan, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Vote!” He collected 185,902 signatures of registered voters, far more than the 122,612 required, and last week the secretary of state certified the measure for the ballot this fall.

If the general election in 2004 is a guide, when more than 2 million people voted, the 1-in-2-million odds of winning the election lottery would be far better than the Powerball jackpot (currently about 1 in 146,107,962) but not nearly as great as dying from a lightning strike (1 in 55,928).

“People buy a lot of lottery tickets now,” Mr. Osterloh said, “and the odds of winning this are much, much higher.” (And most of the time there is not much lightning in Arizona.)

If some see the erosion of democracy in putting voting on the same plane as a scratch-and-win game — and some do — Mr. Osterloh sees the gimmick as the linchpin to improve voter turnout and get more people interested in politics.

I’m sure it’ll increase political consciousness in the desert ever-so-slightly. And maybe it’ll depress sales of scratch-and-win cards in Phoenix, too!

If this actually gets enacted, I foresee a Powerball Presidential election in our great nation’s future…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/16/2006 11:45:35 PM
Category: Creative, Politics, Society
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In a development that should cheer procrastinating read-and-react bloggers everywhere — including here, natch — research shows that news articles on the Web can stay “fresh” to a rolling segment of online audiences for as long as 36 hours, much longer than would be presumed for the fast-moving Internet era.

[Notre Dame researcher Dr. Albert-László] Barabási said that one of the main insights from his research was that Internet users did not read news articles evenly throughout the day. Instead, they read in bursts. So while a story will seem old to some users, others who have been away from the Internet for a while will be intrigued to catch up and begin reading.

The researcher says that he has found the same “burst” pattern of activity in other areas, whether in phone usage or in the correspondence habits of famous scientists like Einstein and Darwin…

This policy of promoting articles on a Web site even after they have lost their “news value” is the one concrete suggestion Dr. Barabási offered to editors, because searches won’t help readers who don’t know what they have been missing.

That last bit is one that websites of all ilks deal with: How to keep content as easily accessible to readers as possible. In the case of frequently-updated sites, like blogs, it involves extensive use of cross-categorizing links to draw deeper clicking. But ultimately, it’s a futile effort — Web user patterns continually show that if it’s not immediately in front of the eyeballs post-click, people will quickly move on.

In any case, this takes any imagined pressure off blogging pundits to post something at the first sight of breaking news. Wait three days, and a chunk of your audience will likely not know the difference.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/16/2006 11:22:03 PM
Category: Internet, Media, Society
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Click Forensics reveals that some 1 in 7 clickthrus on Google AdSense and Yahoo! Publisher Network are bogus — a claim that the Internet ad syndication giants aren’t too thrilled about.

As click fraud becomes more prevalent and attracts more media attention, advertisers are becoming more aggressive about demanding refunds and better protection, said Tom Cuthbert, Click Forensics’ president.

“Advertisers aren’t satisfied with the status quo,” he said. “They don’t want to keep losing sleep at night wondering how much money they are losing to click fraud.”

Brings to mind the old maxim attributed to Lord Leverhulme, Henry Ford, John Wanamaker and others:

“I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I’m not sure which half.”

Click fraud isn’t at the halfway mark yet, but it is increasing every quarter. And despite assurances from Mountain View and Sunnyvale, I don’t see a realistic way to stem it. True, perhaps the large-scale click fraud operations in places like India can be isolated and blacklisted; but all the individualist efforts that tend to add up? No chance.

Which makes me wonder how long it’ll take before the clickthru model for online ad revenue gets tossed out the window. It doesn’t make much sense, anyway. Clickthru offers the illusion of advertising-and-transaction tracking, but really it doesn’t — it just spits back a metric on the initial gateway action toward a strictly potential online purchase. Factor in accidental clicks and just plain tire-kickers, and the notion that clickthrus represent real advertising effectiveness becomes awfully shaky.

Truthfully, clickthrus represent merely the fervent desire by advertisers, marketers and syndicates to see some solid linkage between Web exposure and sales. There undoubtedly is — I’m sure a percentage of those clicks brings in immediate revenue. But it’s never going to be the majority. Online tracking is going to have to get a lot more robust before this dream is realized.

On top of that, the obsession with clickthrus as the defining metric disregards the more old-fashioned effectiveness of advertising: Exposure. Getting a logo, slogan and other messaging in front of eyeballs is just as vital as active user response. Probably more, actually: It implants brand retention that can carry over during visits to the grocery store and other points of purchase. The idea that an ad “fails” because it doesn’t prompt immediate purchase ignores this tried and true ad behavior. The lack of precise trackability is the only thing that detracts, and that’s more a deficiency of the Web as a media channel than anything else.

Circling this back to my personal experience: Coincidentally, just a couple of days ago, I noticed some iffy numbers in my own AdSense stats for this blog. Somehow, one of my ad banners got ten times the clickthrus it typically gets — quite a discrepency. It didn’t result in a higher payout, which tells me that Google’s watchdogs flagged it right away and prevented an inflated billing. I have no way to track exactly what was being clicked on, but since the traffic was no higher or lower than usual, it’s not hard to figure that this was an isolated instance of a click fraud attempt. It’s everywhere, it seems.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/16/2006 10:49:17 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Product placement in movies makes good business sense — until it curses your bottom line. Current release The Devil Wears Prada, which as you’d expect is laden with luxury fashion goods, seemingly has put a hex on the financial performances of the featured companies:

The share prices of brands that got placement in the movie have almost all slumped more than the wider stock market in recent weeks — possibly reflecting a new caution about discretionary spending among American shoppers.

Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. (owner of the Calvin Klein brand), jeweler Tiffany & Co. Inc. , coffee chain Starbucks Corp. , steakhouse chain The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group Inc. and bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. all got their moments in the movie — and all have had moments to forget in the stock market…

Among the “Devil” brands, shares of Philips-Van Heusen and Smith & Wollensky have declined about 20 percent since May 1, while shares of Tiffany & Co. have fallen 11 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has dropped 5.3 percent in the same period.

Barnes & Noble shares have lost more than a quarter of their value since May 1.

Even a high flyer like Starbucks has not escaped the Prada curse — or at least was not helped by placement in the movie. Shares dropped 11 percent in the past week after it announced June sales growth of 6 percent at coffee shops open at least 13 months, against expectations of as much as 8 percent.

That’s a bitch, huh? Ironically, over a movie about a bitch. At least Anne Hathaway looked cute in it.

This is reminiscent of what happened to some formerly high-flying companies that anted up for facetime in Blade Runner. The situation is referred to as The “Blade Runner Curse” (edited for clarity):

Someone once noticed that a number of the companies whose logos appeared in BR had financial difficulties after the film was released:

- Atari had 70% of the home console market in 1982, but faced losses of over $2 million in the first quarter of 1991.

- Bell Telephone lost its monopoly in 1982.

- Pan-Am Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection in 1991.

- Coca-Cola released their much-hyped “new formula” New Coke, resulting in losses of millions of dollars. (It is interesting to note that since then, the Coca-Cola company has seen the biggest growth of any American company in history.)

- Cusinart filed for bankruptcy protection in July 1989.

Quite the graveyard. Starbucks better hope it doesn’t end up a dearly-departed Trivial Pursuit footnote.

I would present all this as a cautionary tale. But the Blade Runner bad mojo didn’t stop the product placement trend from gaining steam, so I don’t expect this Devil slump to change marketers’ minds.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/16/2006 09:34:43 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Movies
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