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November 2011

Must Use Self Serve Ad Networks


As an affiliate marketer, or even just a blogging, the end goal is to bring new traffic to your landing pages, sites and blogs. What is changing, is how you can advertise and bring in a new flow of traffic to your target points. No longer do you have to blindly create ad campaigns on a CPM basis, and just hope for great results. The same can also be said about targeting and who will see your ad. The days of having to wait for a sales or support team to upload your ad creatives and get back to you within 24-48 hours for your first set of stats is also a thing of the past … all thanks to self serve advertising platforms.

Finally, ad networks and social networks are getting smart and letting the advertisers do the work and setup ad campaigns the way they want. Now you can target specific demographics, only target to certain countries and use a full rotation of different ad copies, all thanks to the self serve ad networks listed below.

Facebook Ads

With over 800 million users and quickly approaching the 1 billion mark, Facebook has changed the way we advertise, thanks to their amazing Facebook Ads platform. Since every one on Facebook is all about sharing information, Facebook uses that same information to allow advertisers to create ad campaigns that advertise to their exact customer match. Looking for single females in New York that love “Desperate Housewives“? In a few simple clicks you can target them all on Facebook.

Facebook allows you to create your own ad campaigns made up of headline text, a description and a 110×80 image to represent your offer. Through the Facebook Ads manager you can create a ton of ad campaigns and different ad copies, which makes it extremely for you to perform split testing. All advertising is on a CPC or CPM basis.

Plenty of Fish

Just like Facebook launched their own advertising platform, Plenty of Fish, which is the largest free dating web site in the world, soon followed up with their own self serve ad platform. Dating web sites work the same way social networks do, as in people provide detailed information about themselves, which is then used by the networks for advertising targeting.

Plenty of Fish has even more detailed information than Facebook when it comes to targeting. From pet ownership to hair color and how many children someone has, POF has become a playground for internet marketers. Through the use of a Plenty of Fish Ads Uploader you can quickly create hundreds of ad campaigns in just minutes, then weed out the best offers for further monetization and improvement. All advertising on Plenty of Fish is on a CPM basis, so make sure you work on your click through rates!

Mochi Media

Lastly we have an exciting wonderland for anyone in the gaming niche. Mochi Media is one of the largest networks out there when it comes to gaming and getting the attention of players around the world. Through their advertising platform you can target nearly any county in the world, while also selecting what type of gamers you want to connect with.

Advertising through Mochi Media is setup through a CPC or CPM basis, and will vary in price depending on what country to you target. The only creative allowed on the self serve network is the 300×250 ad size. Don’t forget to check out our Mochi Media review.

As you can see, the way advertisers are creating ad campaigns is much different from what you may be used to. If you are still buying traffic without full demographics and targeting, you need to start playing around with these self serve networks. Not only will you reach a whole new audience, but you will learn a ton about yourself and advertising in the process.

Feel free to leave any comments on your favorite self serve platforms or any that may have not been mentioned.

Introducing the New Drop-Down Google Menu


Google has been on a six month journey updating their systems to a new look. From Search and News to Gmail, Maps and more, we’ve seen changes across the board.

The team says their goal with these changes is “to create a beautifully simple and intuitive user experience across Google” and they announced yesterday another stage in the redesign process. Introducing the new Google bar.

As you can see in the image above, there is a drop-down style menu nested right beside the Google logo. This allows users to navigate between Google services quickly.

Google says, “Making navigation and sharing super simple for people is a key part of our efforts to transform the overall Google experience, which is why we’re very excited about this redesign.”

Here’s a video showing you how the new Google bar works.

So, what do you think of the changes to the Google bar?

10 Ways to Jazz Up Your Blog Posts and Online Content


We’re visual people, the human race. Whenever there’s an appealing image, our eyes gravitate toward it. We’re also a very busy and fragmented race. We skim blog posts, looking for the marrow of the post. Then we move on.

If you’re the blogger, this isn’t necessarily good news. It’s up to you to keep a reader on a post longer.  One way to do that is with images and formatting.

1. Find a Good Image

A solid photograph or design can tell the story you want to tell in a blog post (or ebook or email). It can be a literal representation of your topic, or one that’s more abstract. For example, the image I use here plays off of the word “Jazz” in the title of this post:

You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to get great images. In my book, co-written with David Langton, Visual Marketing, we highlight email marketing firm Vertical Response. The firm creates free marketing guides for business owners. To make points in the guides stand out, it uses images from stock photo sites. Vertical Response’s guides have been downloaded 35,000 times in the last year alone.

Here are 3 good places to find inexpensive stock photos for content:

Here’s a list of another 50 places to find inexpensive or free images.

2. Format for Quick Reading

No matter what you’re writing, make it easy to skim:

  • Use short paragraphs, with no more than four or five sentences.
  • Keep sentences short!  Long dense sentences turn off readers. You lose traffic this way.

People want the meat of your post fast. They know that anything bulleted is worth reading, so use bullets (as above) or number lists to call out key points.

3. Get a Good Avatar

Many posts today show the author’s avatar near them, especially on group blogs. Same goes for your Gravatar image for blog comments, or your Disqus or Twitter profile. A blurry or poor avatar can turn readers off. Many people don’t even bother uploading an image.  Simply by doing so, you stand out in a sea of gray silhouettes.

If the instructions say that a certain size image works best, resize or crop it before uploading. There’s nothing tackier than a photo squeezed into a distorted shape. Also, choose an image so that your face is recognizable even when small.  Usually this means a headshot, not a full length or torso photo.

4. Go With Infographics

Infographics are extremely popular these days, and easy to share. Essentially, they take complex information and turn them into a visual, like this:

Infographics today are a key link-building strategy.  This means that most creators of infographics are more than willing to let you post them on your blog, as long as you credit them as the source and link back.  (You could also create your own infographic to attract links to YOUR blog, too.)

Aside from a link-building strategy, infographics are a great way to liven up otherwise non-exciting data. No one wants to read a list of dry statistics.  But a good infographic makes it visually stimulating.

5. Use Subheaders

Great blog posts and articles are broken up into sections using bolded subheaders. In this post, we break down each of the tips into its own section. This gives the eye a chance to rest, and organizes your information. This is also useful in long whitepapers and reports.

6. Have a Great Template

Have you ever visited a blog that immediately turned you off, due to poor design? Blog templates are free, so there’s no excuse not to have a good one. If you want something that’s in vein with your branding elsewhere, hire an affordable theme designer to customize one to match your website or logo.

A challenge for corporate blogs is: how do you make the blog feel more conversational and relaxed, when it’s a section of a very businesslike site.

One great example from Visual Marketing for how to do this is Tim Berry’s blog. He founded Palo Alto Software, and his blog is within one of the company’s corporate sites.  But his blog header is designed specifically to profile both the business and personal side of Tim. There’s an image of Tim in front of some beautiful mountains.

By including himself in a relaxed manner, he’s showing the business world his personal side. You don’t have to be all business all the time.

7. Make Sure Content Flows

When it comes to web copy or email messages, it’s important that the sections flow well. People read web pages in an F shape, so it’s key to have your most important content and images on the left.

In an email newsletter, use a sidebar to break out separate content, such as tips or news. This lets the reader quickly determine that the main block of text is separate from what’s blocked off on the side.

8. Bold Important Words

An effective technique on blogs is to bold important phrases and words. This helps readers easily identify the key points in your blog, just like our textbooks told us what to study when the glossary words were bolded in the text! Don’t overdo your use of bolding, but do use it to effectively focus on certain concepts.

9. Use Multiple Images in Long Posts

For a long post, such as the one you are reading, images not only illustrate key points, but they break up text. They make it easier to read. To some degree beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are different ways to approach the images:

  • Uniformity – with uniform images you make all images exactly the same size or at least the same width.  And you place them precisely the same (e.g., all centered, or all left aligned).  Here is an example of a post with uniform images.
  • Variety – a different approach is to mix up the size and placement of images for variety.  The post you are reading now has a variety of sizes and placement of images.  Just be careful.  Too much variety and your post may look chaotic and lack unity.

10. Show Excerpts

You’ve likely seen blogs where the home page shows the entire article (times ten or so), which makes for a very long and unappealing page. Instead, simply show an excerpt of each post, with a thumbnail image next to each. WordPress has an excerpt feature and various plugins are available to achieve this effect, which means readers have to click to read the entire post.

By using these techniques, you can make your blog posts and web content more visually interesting, which will entice visitors to read more and stick around longer.

Anita Campbell is the Founder of Small Business Trends, reaching 3 million small business owners annually,  and CEO of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses to bookmark their blog posts. She is a Forbes #1 Influential Woman on Twitter for Entrepreneurs, and one of TwitterGrader’s 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter.  She is co-author of the book “Visual Marketing.”

Social Media and Negativity


I’ve been having a rough week. Maybe it just seems rougher than normal since I spent much of last week with my family celebrating Thanksgiving. But in any case, today I felt the need to tweet the following message:

Seriously, this week is suck on top of more suck. What gives, life?

Immediately, a bunch of my Twitter followers and friends tweeted back, asking what was wrong and offering to help in any way they could. It made me regret the initial message a little to be honest. There’s nothing anyone can do to help with the situations in my life right now. And really, it’s not that bad. I’m just having a grumpy week with a lot of roadblocks. There are people out there who are dealing with much worse situations.

Above all, I don’t want to be “that girl.”

You all know her (or him): That person on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ who is negative and upset all the time. Something is always wrong and life is always on the brink of ending. Even happy moments are laced with negativity. It’s not, “I’m having fun with my sister today!” It’s “I wish I could hang out with my sister more.” It’s not “I’m getting a promotion!” It’s “My boss is finally recognizing everything I do for this company.”

The great thing about social media is that I can choose to unfollow/unfriend someone if their tweets start to bring me down or annoy me because they’re so negative. And I usually do. It’s just not what I like to see every day.

But sometimes, I’m a negative nancy. I think we all are. When you’re having a down day, you have two choices:

  1. Vent on social media.
  2. Avoid social media until you’re feeling better.

I think there are pros and cons to both approaches.

Initially, I regretted my negative tweet. But then the ever-ingenious Pace Smith reminded me that it has a purpose:

@PaceSmith: On the one hand, Twitter’s a public forum & it’s unhelpful to vent in public. On the other hand, it’s where your friends are! And your friends want to be there for you.

It’s so true. Most of my friends are on Twitter, so it feels good to have their support – and they can’t support if they don’t know something is wrong. Negative tweets (that are still respectful of course) can also help you seem more “human.” People follow you on Twitter because they like you and the real you doesn’t live in a rainbow, sunshine, and unicorn world. At least not every day.

There’s something to be said for avoiding social media when you’re in a bad mood, though. This year, one of the overall concepts touched on by many speakers, including Lisa Barone, was that you don’t need to show every horrible part of yourself to be authentic.

People can only remember a few things about you. And, more importantly, that negative tweet will be the first thing some people see when they check out your profile. Even if you’re only negative one out of 1ooo tweets, that one could make a bad first impression for someone who chooses that moment to look for you online.

I think it boils down to your goals. If your goal is to use social media more casually, I think the occasional “venting” tweet is okay. Just don’t overdo things or you’ll come off as a miserable person. On the other hand, if your goal is to use social media more professionally, I think avoiding it when you have a bad day makes sense. You can still show your personality while keeping personal struggles to yourself.

What do you think? Do you ever use social media to vent or do you stay away when you’re in a bad mood?

Facebook Game “WeTopia” Links Fun and Philanthropy


What if you could play a Facebook game for fun and do good at the same time? I know. It sounds too good to be true.

Sojo Studios announced the preview launch of WeTopia, a community-building game where players can develop a better world for children on both Facebook and in real life.

Ellen DeGeneres and The Ellen DeGeneres Show are the first partners for the game. If you watch Ellen, you know how much she is personally involved in Social Good, so this partnership just makes sense.

“I am so proud to be involved with WeTopia,” said DeGeneres.  “You know when you hear about an idea and you instantly fall in love with it?  That’s how I felt when I heard about WeTopia spreading joy to people around the world.  It’s kinda the same way I felt about Pajama Jeans, only more so.”

Here’s more information about WeTopia from their official announcement:

As players build and grow their WeTopia villages and help their neighbors, they earn currency called “Joy” which they can apply toward real-world projects: whether food, healthcare, education or other programs assisting children, both in the U.S. and other nations.  Players can choose specific beneficiaries to receive their Joy and track their contributions through pictures, videos and in-game messages.  WeTopia is free to play – players can also buy Facebook credits to spend in-game – but everyone can have a real-world impact simply by earning and spending Joy through game play.

Money on the game will be made through advertising, with 50% of the net profits going to charity.

Here’s a video introduction to WeTopia.

What are your thoughts on combining social good with Facebook gaming?

WordPress.com Announces WordAds for Making Money with Your Blog


Back in October, WordPress.com and Federated Media announced a partnership to help bloggers make money from advertising revenue on their blog. They’re ready to open up the doors and announced today their service called WordAds.

It’s taken WordPress quite awhile to make something like this available and they say it’s because what they had seen as far as advertising, wasn’t very tasteful. And while it seemed Google AdSense was state-of-the-art (at the time), WordPress says “you deserve better than AdSense”.

WordAds won’t be open to everyone. It’s open only by application and to publicly visible blogs with custom domains. Selection for WordAds will be based on traffic levels, engagement, type of content and language used on the blog.

To apply for WordAds, fill out this form.

For those of you who use WordPress.com, will you apply for WordAds?


Rolodexes Haven’t Gone Out of Style – Especially for Bloggers


Growing up, I would help out in my dad’s office. One of my favorite tasks was updating his Rolodex. He’d arm me with a couple of glue sticks and give me all the business cards he’d collected since the last time I helped out. I’d sit and glue those cards to the funky shaped Rolodex cards. Then I’d alphabetize all of the cards. My dad eventually worked his way up to four full Rolodex containers before he switched to a computer-based alternative. Entering all those contacts by hand became my job as well — and I enjoyed it.

I admit, it’s a little weird for a kid to be so enthralled with Rolodexes and address books, but it’s a fascination that has done well for me. I have a massive contact list — about 11,000 people last time I checked — and it’s the best asset I have for my blog.

Why Your Address Book Matters to Your Blog

We’ve all heard that we need giant mailing lists, scores of Twitter followers and generally a huge network to promote our blogs to. Our address books (and the email, snail mail and face to face connections that they represent) are just as important, if not more so. In the last day, I’ve used my address book to:

  • Find a guest poster for one of my sites that I can’t cover
  • Find the perfect interviewee for an ebook I want to write
  • Line up coverage for the next product launch I’ll be running
  • And plenty more…

Building the Modern Rolodex

As much as it breaks my heart not to get to handle physical cards, my dad’s Rolodexes have gone the way of his slide rule. There are so many better options now, that do a lot more than an eight year old with a glue stick can. You should consider exactly how you use your address book for your blog when choosing the right software.

Make sure you can tag contacts: While not ever single contact in my list is tagged, most are. That means that if I need ten fashion experts to comment on a specific question for a list post, I can just check everyone who is labeled ‘fashion’ to build my list. I can do the same if I’m offering an opportunity to past advertisers or guest posts.

Integrate social media as much as possible: Twitter is just as legitimate a way to reach out to someone these days as email or phone — and it’s often faster. If your address book doesn’t at least offer you a space for adding social media accounts, you need something a little more modern.

Let the software do the heavy lifting: There are tons of tools these days that will automatically build out your address, importing your contacts form different sites and even automatically making new contacts whenever someone emails you. While maintaining my contact list by hand may be something I enjoy, I’m confident that’s rarely true of anyone else, so why not choose a tool that handles most of the work for you?

Image Source: SXC

Bing Releases Their Top Searches for 2011


Search engine Bing released their Top Searches for 2011. Musicians, celebrities, saving money, high profile trials and the Royal wedding were all at the top of the list.

Here are a few top searches for 2011:

Most Searched for Person of the Year: Justin Bieber

Most Searched News Story: The Casey Anthony Trial

Most Searched for Sports Star: Maria Sharapova

Most Searched for Musician: Justin Bieber

Most Searched for Consumer Electronic: Xbox

Most Searched for TV show: American Idol

Most Searched for Reality Show: American Idol

Most Searched for Reality Star: Kim Kardashian

Most Searched for Movie: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Most Searched for Celebrity Event: The Royal Wedding

Bing put together this video montage highlighting the Top 2011 Searches. They call it a year of Breakthroughs and Heartbreaks.

<a href='http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&#038;vid=6e2a2b22-3351-4dec-9ec2-9f8b7bed4ac7&#038;src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='The Top 2011 Searches from Bing: A Year of Breakthroughs and Heartbreaks'>Video: The Top 2011 Searches from Bing: A Year of Breakthroughs and Heartbreaks</a>

Is there anything that made the most searched for list that surprises you?

New Stats: 184 Million U.S. Internet Users Watched Online Video Content in October


comScore released new stats today revealing how many U.S. internet users watched online video content for October 2011. A total of 184 million users watched online videos, which averages about 21.1 hours per viewer. Online video watching reached an all-time high with 42.6 billion videos viewed.

Google sites (mainly YouTube), Facebook and VEVO rounded out the top three ways people watch online videos. In September, Facebook had dropped to the number five spot, but saw 59.8 million viewers for October raising it to the number two spot behind Google sites.

Other notable findings from October 2011 include:

  • 86.2 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The duration of the average online content video was 5.5 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
  • Video ads accounted for 14.9 percent of all videos viewed and 1.4 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

For those of you who frequently watch videos online, where do you watch them: YouTube, Facebook, VEVO or all of the above?

5 Most Popular Twitter Hashtags for the Week


Real-time photo search engine Skylines posted the five most popular Twitter hashtags for photos for the week ending November17th.

They estimated around 24 million photos were posted on Twitter, with the most popular ones from singers like Justin Bieber and UK boyband One Direction. Mashable rounded up the 10 most popular re-tweeted pictures, which you can see here.

Skylines looks into popular hashtags for photos everyday from Twitter so they can provide relevant and photogenic topics for their Skylines visitors. Here are the five most popular hashtags for the week:


I heard a lot about #Movember from one of the BlogWorld panels I attended at #BWELA. Several of the dad bloggers who were panelists were participating in Movember. Basically, November is the month that guys grow a mustache, or ‘mo’, to raise awareness for men’s health issues. The guys share a daily or weekly update on their mustache progress. At the time Skylines rounded up these popular hashtags, 30,000 photos for #Movember had been posted on Twitter.

The other four popular hashtags were:

#OWS – Occupy Wall Street

#sexiestmanalive – Mostly parodies for who they thought should win – Bradley Cooper took it!

#Ladieswewantanswers – mostly funny pictures of what men don’t understand about women

#thingspeopleshouldntdo – funny pictures of things people shouldn’t do

Over this past weekend #blackfriday pictures, as well as pictures from the #Walmart Black Friday madness were quite popular.

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