You probably already heard, Google has bought Pyra Labs the ASP that powers Blogger which is the most famous and popular blogging software out there.
The biggest change for the approx 200k active Blogs using Pyra’s system (1.1 mill are registered, but just like email newsletter’s “3rd issue syndrome,” a lot of folks start writing Blogs and run out of steam quickly) will be that Pyra’s hosting service, Blogspot.com, will move onto Google’s massive servers.
Which is a happy thing because Blogspot is infamous for crashing. In fact it was down this morning as I tried to Blog this online. (You newsletter readers are seeing it before it goes “live.”)
Google has always been a huge supporter of blogs; to the point where many online content folks have found it’s easier to get your Blog entries indexed by Google than it is to get your regular site indexed all the time. A few publishers, including myself, have started Blogs almost more as search engine marketing tools for our main sites as anything else.
Reportedly, every portal out there is now in the process of adding Blog tools to their offerings, just as they once all rushed to add news headlines and free email services.
The best, and first, coverage of the Google acquisition is here on reporter Dan Gilmor’s journal. He includes useful links to other coverage as well (cut and paste both parts if this breaks):
Larry Peryer, whose company LP Visions handles marketing and biz dev for several entertainer’s subscription Web sites, including DavidBowie.com, RollingStones.com, HansonNet and GaitherNet, wrote me to say he wants to start a community of businesses like his to share info.
To start, he’s running a private survey for others who run entertainer’s sub web sites. It’s anonymous, but you can get the results at no cost if you participate. Larry asks that you only participate if you are in this specific niche industry, he doesn’t want other sub sites throwing off results.
You can participate here:
You can join his newsletter for club managers here:
SpamArrest has shocked the anti-spam community this week by: Spamming. SpamArrest is a system that quarantines all incoming messages that are not pre-approved until the sender has had a chance to “confirm” that he’s a real person (not a spammer or bulk sender) by clicking through to the SpamArrest site and typing in a code from an image that is not computer-readable. Once the sender confirms, then all subsequent mail from that person is approved. To many people this sounded like a great system to stop spam.
Of course, the senders of the messages had absolutely no idea that by sending email to a person (they had no way of knowing was using SpamArrest), they were agreeing to receive marketing offers from the spam-prevention system selected by that person.
Their addresses were, in effect, harvested from the inbox of SpamArrest users. This would be comparable to Yahoo deciding to harvest the email addresses of anyone who sent you email at your Yahoo account, and marketing to them. Boy, I hope Hotmail doesn’t hear about this; it may give them an idea for email marketing.
This is an outrage. According to spamNEWS, Daryn at SpamArrest claimed, “We didn’t think it was spam; we thought it was a valid marketing idea. I’m guessing we won’t do it again.” Yea. Right. I guess it depends on what the meaning of “is” is.
If you value your friend’s and colleagues privacy, stop using SpamArrest immediately. This kind of abuse casts a pall on all these “challenge-response” approaches to preventing spam.
I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent hunched over a
monitor with my Web designer while we tweak and tweak and tweak
so everything that is critical is above the fold.
I am the queen of paring a word here, changing a type-size there,
moving a graphic by a pica or so.
The critical stuff that has got to be above the fold (the spot
where viewers have to start scrolling to see the rest of your
site) is obviously anything you want people to take action on.
Although viewers’ monitors can be different sizes and set at
different display sizes, you used to be pretty safe if you made
sure your critical content was visible on a 15″ monitor (measured
diagonally) set at 800×600.
(Nobody’s Web designer’s monitor is set at that. They usually
have huge monitors set at 1024×786 which makes stuff look teeny
tiny. Which is why as a marketer, you always have to make sure
you view design on a different screen.)
The other day I surfed over to check on one of our old promo
sites that I had not visited in several months.
Gasp! The “subscribe” box was below the fold. I began to moan.
It took hours to get that darn thing up high enough when we first
designed the site. What happened?
The short answer: Google toolbar.
I am a tech-dummy so I did not realize that when you add stuff such
as Google’s toolbar to your screen, that means the window you see
Web sites in gets necessarily smaller. The fold is higher,
and higher up the page.
The fold is a moving target.
Moral of the story: Move everything critical higher up than you
thought you had to. Watch your click reports from your home
page over time to see if there are any trends on which links get
clicks, and which are missed.
Just tripped over the Blogging Network which launched last fall. It’s an interesting combo of business models. The founders have gotten a whole bunch of bloggers (including a few slightly famous-names such as the author of Planet of the Apes) to agree to be subscription-only via the Network which charges wanna-be-blog-readers $2.99 per month for access. As co-founder ‘Humayun”s letter on the site says, “[asking for] donations — doesn’t work for online writing. Reader reactions range from “giving a donation is slightly stressful” to “I will not voluntarily give money to a [blog].”
Most of the subscription fees collected are redistributed back to the Network bloggers to pay them for their content. Based on current sales, the Network claims it will distribute about $10,000 this year to its Bloggers. Which may be enough to pay for a pack of gum to chew while you type. In a fun twist, when you click to see individual blogger’s pofiles on the Network, it also shows you how much money they’ve earned so far. Humayun himself has made $3.24 to date including forecasts.
The Network is advertising via pay pay click ads on Google on keywords that people who would like to make money as writers might search. It’s also offering a $5 bounty per referred friend for current subscribers and potential affiliates.
A ContentBiz reader just wrote in asking for quick basics on what a subscription retention rate is and how should you track it.
Here is a brief overview:
Your retention is the % of paid subscribers to your service who after a particular term of service continue to pay for it.
1. If you are month-to-month, you will track retention each month based on % of the original buyers haven’t cancelled their accounts. You’ll probably find after dropping sharply over a few months, that number stabilizes a bit. However, most month-to- month publishers tell me that they find very few subscribers make it to a full year. In addition to the % of the current actives each month who then pay again for the next, you’ll also need to track average account lifetime by original source.
2. If you are selling for a longer term (generally a year) you will track retention based on what percent of paid annual subscribers go on to pay for another term. You do the math based on how many paid subscribers in the group you are tracking renewed this particular time, not how many out of the total overall original group. You should always track by original source code so you know which of your subscriber acquisition investments pay off the best over the lifetime of the customers from them. You’ll find surprising differences.
3. You will also want to track long-term/annual subscribers separately as groups depending on how many terms they have already been paid subscribers with you. You’ll find first-time renewers (which some publishers confusingly call “conversions”) will always renew at a much lower rate than second-time renewers, and these in turn will be at a slightly lower rate than people who are renewing for their 3rd time. From that 3rd time on it usually steadies out and remains about the same percent every year.
4. Never look at just the expiration-to-renewers number in one single month and declare “this is our renewal rate.” These things vary from month to month too much for one single month to be used for reliable forecasts. Instead look at a period of 3-6 months that are already “finished” renewing (i.e. the orders that are going to come in, are in, sometimes you do have stragglers).
5. Always also track by effort. This is the marketing campaign or any type of notification that appears to subscribers that tells them they need to renew or they need to contact you if they don’t want to be auto-renewed. You may find one particular effort is much more effective than others, and juggle their order of presentation or your creative to get better results. Again, never judge by just one month’s effort results, you need a few months worth to get statistically relevant data.
ProofReadNOW.com have launched a free weekly Grammar Tip newsletter, which I probably better sign up for myself.
If your publication reports on technology in a niche or upcoming marketplace where you may not have too many competitors (yet
anyway), consider having your head of editorial start a private email discussion group with the tech vendors in the industry to
discuss stuff together. It’s a great way to help editorial become true insiders and partners with the people and trends they cover, and inadvertantly build relationships that may turn into ad dollars later.
However, you have to be very careful not to allow your ad sales reps into the discussion or use this as an overtly commercial thing that serves you only, because everyone will desert in droves. You also have to promise that stuff revealed in discussions will remain absolutely private (not for publication) unless your reporter specifically gets permission to quote.
Today Euromap newsletter announced their editor is starting one for language technology suppliers.
“This community venture will be devoted to exploring new ways of raising awareness about market-ready speech and language
technology in Europe rough events, collective marketing actions, partnering, etc.” Group moderator: Andrew Joscelyne (EUROMAP). If
you are interested, please send a request to
According to a story in the NY Times today, Amazon has ceased its $50 million per year TV and general print advertising campaigns and moved the ad staff of five into other jobs. Instead the company plans to concentrate on word-of-mouth, affiliate, Web and Sunday paper insert campaigns to get more customers into the site, and then to spend $100 million on free shipping offers to convert more of them into buyers.
Andy Jedynak GM Weatherbug just emailed in that Weatherbug does serve pop-unders to installed users which appear when you close the Weatherbug window. However, they limit this in three ways to keep users’ trust:
1. “Severely” limit pop-unders to 1-2 per day per user, no matter how often that user opens their Bug.
2. Never ever serve contextual ads based on clicks or other surfing activity data the user displays. The only data they base ad serving on is the data the user voluntarily provides them in the registration form and other user surveys where it’s clear answering questions will affect your Bug. No surfing privacy is invaded.
3. Ads stop the minute a user decides to uninstall the Bug.
Jedynak added, “As for what IT guys told you, I think they pronounced us guilty by association. Since we’re a downloadable application, occasionally people will assume we do the same questionable things that other downloadable apps do, then rumors fly. It’s unfortunate…”