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Amazon announced today to its affiliates that their new PPA model has moved into Beta. Named "Context Links" the program most resembles those by Kontera and Vibrant Media. I have used Vibrant Media's Intellitxt offering on HTMLCenter and it has provided some additional revenue for the site without being overwhelming.
With Amazon's program, you just add code to your page and Amazon takes care of the rest. You are not technically "supporting" a specific product; Amazon figures out what to show. And the links are based on the words already within your content. So you might be wondering how this differs from the announcement from Google last week about their PPA offering. Pretty simple actually. With Google's PPA program, you add content to your page pushing the links. I believe Google's setup is more along the lines of the Payperpost model.
I have placed the code within some of the tutorials on HTMLCenter
but it is not showing links yet (links are now showing). The Context Links setup is very easy and flexible… here is a screenshot:
Will these contextual (PPA) ads work long-term? I know they have worked for me for a couple of years and so far I have not had lots of pushback on HTMLCenter. You might be wondering if I will add them to CN… not yet, still working on the optimal setup for ads for CN.
It is interesting to think about how ads have evolved. We started outside the content, then moved inside with the 300 boxes and so forth and now we are linking the internal story content. Not sure we can go any much deeper than that!
i received a flyer last week for the new Microsoft adCenter. The flyer offered me $200 in free clicks if I sgnup by the end of February. Well, since the fine print does not require me to pay anything over the $200, I figured why not. Oh, there is a $5 "administrative fee" that they charge. So $195 in free clicks basically. Still, at 5-50c per, that could be several hundred new visitors to CN.
Here is a scan of the flyer:
I setup the account and it appeared to work ok. The process was straightforward in setting up the account, and then I had to verify my email and was then granted access in setting up the keywords and advertisements. You can see the advert if you search for Web 2.0 on MSN. (Don't click it though!)
Here is the ad:
So this is where my confusion begins. As someone who has bought and sold media since before there was a Google or eBay, I understand that some systems work and some need some help.
The ad went into a "submitted" status and remained there for close to 3 days. A bit too long if you ask me. But I roll with it. I did not receive any emails that the ads were live. I tried to find help. The welcome email offers a help link which takes you to the help on MSN (which is outside adCenter). There is no information about how long it takes for an ad to be approved. So I email customer service and ask for help. After waiting 48 hours with no reply, I decided to give them a call. The rep I spoke with sounded like I annoyed her with my questions. She let me know that the ad was now running. While on the phone, I logged in and sure enough, there are clicks. However, they show a lot more clicks than I do. I asked her why no one has replied to my email, but she had no answer other than, "I understand your frustration." I asked her how long it typically takes for an advertisement to be activated, and she had no answer.
Twenty-four hours after my phone conversation, I receive an email that my ad is only partially approved in that 2 of my keywords were not approved. Shortly after that, I receive an email from someone at MS to help me. He explains that the ad is live
Not one of the emails I have received (except the initial confirmation email) included a link to login. Each email includes links in a sidebar that take you to the help on live.msn.com but nothing to adCenter. That needs to be fixed. When I received the email from the customer service person, he should have included a link for me to login.
In case any of you are interested, here is my ad performance to-date:
Keyword pricing: Internet $0.49, Video $0.38, Web 2.0 $0.27
Lastly, what I find confusing is that some of the links they use in email and online do not actually direct you to the adCenter product. I can't find the source now, but one of the links asked me to sign-in with my standard MSN/Hotmail username which did not take me to adCenter. I think a basic review of all of their literature: print, email, etc. is warranted. This will help to clear up a lot of the confusion which I bet other customers have as well.
Microsoft is trying to compete with the beast that is Google in the text ad space. I think their UI is a bit cleaner than Google's but typically I receive a bit better support with Google. So far, I don't see anything that "WOW"'s me, especially since with Google, I can also advertise on web sites that run AdSense. I did not see an option for this in adCenter. I like Microsoft – I think they are doing some great things right now. Beef up that support and make your system easier to find and I think the game might be on. Right now, all I see is a static filled picture.
Frankly, when I compare this to the StumbleUpon sponsored stumbles, there really is no comparison. SSS is much easier and quicker to use and less expensive overall. Of course there is a tradeoff in terms of customization, flexibility and reporting that you get with Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter.