You are currently browsing the archives for July, 2009.

Company Wants to Sell Ads on Moon

I’m with the folks at Gizmodo:

“A company wants to ‘license a technology’ to draw advertisements on the Moon’s surface, which according to them could be watched from Earth. If nobody shuts them down, I’ll be there at the launch. With my land-to-air rocket launcher ready.”

Web Publishers: Choose Your Words Wisely (It Matters)

Dustin Curtis tracks the participation rate by his site’s readers based on the language he uses to invite them to follow him in Twitter.

The basic statement approach (“I’m on Twitter”) delivered a 4.7% click-through rate. Look what happened when he went with a personal command and a literal, underlined “here” at the end of the sentence.

Personal Command Language Drives Higher CTR

Thanks for pointing me to this, Kortina.

The Importance of Sharing: Measuring the Real Impact of Twitter, Facebook and Digg

A week ago Fred Wilson dove into his blog’s stats to answer this question: Does this blog get more traffic from Google or Twitter? On the surface, it appears that Google drove more — nearly 15% of his visits versus Twitter’s 8%. But over the past year he’s also seen an unexpected jump in his “Direct Traffic,” visitors who start a browser session at his site rather than linking in from another website.

“If just 7% of the 17% increase in direct traffic is a result of twitter links that are not being counted as twitter [because many Twitter users use desktop applications like TweetDeck that wouldn't show up as a referral site], then it is true that this blog gets more traffic from twitter than google.”

It’s a believable scenario given that @fredwilson has more than 27,000 engaged Twitter followers. Results may vary, though, since we more average Twitter publishers have only 126 followers. For PC Mag (with fewer than 7000 followers), Twitter is a much less significant traffic source, less than one percent of visits to Google’s 4%. But like Fred Wilson’s AVC, PC Mag’s top source of traffic isn’t Google, it’s a sharing site — Digg drives 81% of the visitors for some articles.

PC Mag Traffic Sources

And as’s Andrew Kortina explains, most Direct Traffic to most sites isn’t really direct traffic from loyal readers that bookmark your site or type its URL into a browser. It’s traffic generated by readers sharing story links with her or her friends and followers.

“The only reason hits to pages other than your homepage show up under Direct Traffic is because they do not have an HTTP Referer Header. Typically, in your browser, when you click a link on Page X to Page Y, your browser sends a bit of data along with the request to fetch Page Y from wherever it’s being server that says, ‘by the way, this request was referred by Page X.’ Desktop applications — email clients like Outlook, for example — do not send this referrer data, so clicks derived from these apps get grouped under Direct Traffic….

“In fact, very little Direct Traffic is actually direct. A better name for Direct Traffic would be Shared Link Traffic — think about the apps that are likely to generate this type of traffic: email clients, twitter clients, desktop RSS readers, facebook clients. These are all essentially sharing tools.”

I followed Kortina’s instructions to calculate ChasNote’s Shared Link Traffic. Here are my traffic sources according to Google Analytics:

ChasNote traffic sources, per Google Analytics

The message I take away from this overview is: Great, I’m pleasing 17% of my audience enough that they come back on their own. It’s nice that 46% of my traffic comes from editorial pick-ups by other sites (Referral Traffic), mostly blogs somewhere out there in the Long Tail, but I can’t do much to influence that. So I’m going to spend my time and resources getting more from Google. I better optimize my URLs, page layouts and story headlines for search, and if I ever invest in online marketing, the first call I’ll make is to Google.

When I isolate Shared Link Traffic — removing so-called Direct Traffic that lands on a story page (URLs too long for anyone to type into a browser and too static for anyone to bookmark) as well as Referral Traffic that’s coming from sharing platforms like Digg, Twitter and Facebook — I come to a different conclusion.

ChasNote traffic sources with shared links called out

Forty-eight percent of my traffic is Shared Link Traffic. In my case it’s four sources — Digg, Twitter, TechMeme and Facebook — plus (I’m guessing) email sharing. This changes my strategy. First, I’m not doing as well as thought with loyal readers: They represent 8% instead of 17% of my audience. Second, I’m going to change my optimization priorities. Since Shared Link Traffic is 48% (to Google’s 37%), I should focus on “social media optimization” — making it easier to share my stories — before I invest in search engine optimization. And when that request for the ChasNote marketing budget clears Finance, I’m going to call Twitter, Facebook and myself here at Digg before I call Google.

Twitter’s Enormously Fast Revenue Growth

Twitter logo

From PaidContent:

“Earlier this year, Twitter expected revenue to reach $140 million by the end of 2010 and $1.54 billion in 2013, according to documents leaked to TechCrunch…. The documents also show that the social networking site projected it would bring in $400,000 in revenue this quarter—and $4 million during the fourth quarter. So far, Twitter’s only confirmed revenue stream has been its relationship with ExecTweets, which it promotes.”

TechCrunch actually says Twitter will “be at a $140 million revenue run rate” by the end 2010 — meaning December 2010 would do $11.67 million — not that Twitter expected to do a full $140 million in 2010. (If it did, say, $1 million per month for 11 months, and then $12 million in December, that would mean finishing 2010 with a “run rate” of $144 million but actual 2010 revenues of only $23 million.)

Meanwhile, the TechCrunch story reports “Twitter has told us that this was never an official document and it certainly is no longer accurate.”

Phew. That kind of revenue trajectory would make it tough on every other venture-backed start up forever after. I mean, imagine how disappointed your board would be if you grew your company at a mere 400% or 500% in sequential quarters!

Facebook’s 2009 Revenue Mix

Observers continue to estimate that Facebook will generate around $550 million in 2009 revenues. Earlier this month The Business Insider spoke to a variety of sources close to Facebook, and here are the revenue streams into which TBI estimates that money will flow:

– $125 million from brand ads

– $150 million from Facebook’s ad deal with Microsoft

– $75 million from virtual goods

– $200 million from self-service ads.

Wow, $200 million from self-service (read, high margin) ads. That’s the kind of stat that takes some of the mystery out of why investors peg Facebook’s valuation at $6.5 billion, more valuable than CBS or

6 Tips to Social Media Marketing Lifted from Cannes Grand Prix Advertising Winner

The winner was the Tourism Board of Queensland, Australia. Here’s one of the six things we should learn from their success, according to Rohit Bhargava :

“Create an inherent reason for people to share. Another element of this campaign that worked extremely well was the fact that there was voting enabled on the videos. What this meant was that after someone submitted their video, they had an incentive to share it with everyone in their social network online to try and get more votes.”

Evian Roller Babies: Viral Video or Good TV Commercial?

When I last checked, the above Evian video had been viewed over 5.5 million times on YouTube, so talking about it as the latest viral-video success story. What distinguishes a “viral-video success story” from a good TV commercial that’s available online? In other words, does the fact that most TV commercials don’t go viral just mean that most TV commercials aren’t that good?

Facebook's Momentum Vs. MySpace Now Captured by Comscore

Via Marketing Vox :

“In May, Facebook’s unique visitor count caught up to MySpace, then surpassed it by a small margin. By June, Facebook hit 77 million unique visitors, representing a significant rise from May’s 70.28 million uniques — and leaving MySpace’s 68.4 million uniques in the dust, according to comScore.

“Meanwhile, MySpace lost almost four million unique visitors in June, adding to the 700,000 uniques it lost in May. As Facebook expands in the US and internationally, MySpace’s star appears to be steadily declining.”

Ad Spending Will Be Off 14 Percent in 2009, Online Down 2.2%

Via PaidContent: “Magna analyst Brian Weiser is telling ad agencies to expect a 14 percent decline to $161 billion in spending this year.” Online will fare better, down only 2.2% according to Magna, broken down as follows:

“—National online: Total ’09 revenue estimate: $5.5 billion, down 11.1 percent
—Local online: Total ’09: $3.5 billion, down 5.9 percent.
—Direct online: Total ’09: $13.9 billion, up 2.9 percent”

Meanwhile Efficient Frontier projects :

“while search-ad spending tumbled 21 percent during the second quarter compared to a year ago, it was down only three percent compared to the first quarter. Cost per click was also up slightly for all three major search engines compared to the first quarter. Efficient Frontier essentially says search spending won’t begin growing again until advertisers shift from their current wait-and-see approach to the economy.”

I’ve given up getting to exact numbers. But there’s a consensus that says overall ad spending will be down significantly in 2009, with online advertising up slightly, and everyone thinks 2009 spells the bottom.

More on the advertising recession.

More Bad News for Ad Agencies: Meet Howcast

From today’s NY Times profile of Howcast, a site that’s producing a deep library of how-to videos. In addition to ad-supported videos on generic topics (how to recognize and avoid poison ivy, or how to how to look hot when you get out of the ocean like a Bond girl), Howcast will produce custom videos in partnership with brands, such as Nescafe, whose marketing department needed videos on how to make instant coffee for customers in some oversees market:

“In this light, Howcast may look like more of an advertising agency than a media company [that makes its money from advertising fees]. Unlike pricey ad agencies, however, that can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for a 30-second advertising spot, Howcast produces videos for corporate customers at a fraction of that cost. Its executives say this is its entree into big corporate ad budgets.”

As more brands compete for attention — and search traffic and social-media referrals — with content publishers and video sites like YouTube, it’s getting more important for them to develop content that goes beyond brochure-ware. If agencies don’t adjust their economics and retool their content-develop capabilities, they’re going to have trouble convincing brands not to funnel dollars through new publisher-agency hybrids like Howcast or (my old joint) Federated Media.