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StumbleUpon is announcing a variety of new partnerships today with regards to their StumbleVideo product. StumbleVideo allows you to thumb up or down a video and then get presented with another one, and another, and so on. Each time you rate a video, the system becomes more intelligent about the videos you like and dislike. Over time StumbleVideo presents you videos that you are likely to be interested in.
The new video partners are: College Humor, Funny or Die, Vimeo, Dailymotion, veoh.com and vbs.tv.Previously StumbleVideo only offered content from YouTube, Google Video, MySpace Video and Metacafe. These new partnerships should provide a nice life in viewed videos for the new partners and for the content creators behind the videos.
Muhammad Saleem might be the top social guy online today. He blogs all over the place, spends hours a day on the social news sites and is ranked #3 on the Digg Top 100 list. He recently launched a companion to the StumbleUpon service which is called StumbleRank and ranks the Top 100 Stumblers. To find out more, I spoke with Muhammad while he was taking a break from helping us all find the best content online. Our transcript is below.
Allen: How many hours a week do you spend on the social news sites?
Muhammad: I think I spend on average 20-25 hours a week on Digg, Propeller, and StumbleUpon, and some time on some of the smaller ones or checking out new sites.
Allen: What’s StumbleRank?
Muhammad: StumbleRank is a service that lists the top 100 StumbleUpon users based on the criteria that matters to you the most. This can be the absolute amount of Stumbling they have done, the number of followers they have, or the number of reviews they have gotten over time.
Allen: How does the service work?
Muhammad: Since StumbleUpon doesn’t have an API, to start off, I added about 500 users to the StumbleRank database to get the rankings going. Since then, people have been adding themselves or adding other users they think would make the list. As a result we have a database of users and their statistics and twice daily we update the list by comparing all the users’ statistics.
Keep in mind, the ranking based on one metric can be completely different when compared to the ranking based on another metric. For example, if you have 100 pages but 7000 fans, you may not be on the list when sorted pages-wise but you will be near the top when sorted by fans.
Allen: Why did you decide to create StumbleRank?
Muhammad: I decided to make StumbleRank because I wanted to see who the most popular users on StumbleUpon were, network with them, befriend them, and learn from them. And I figured, if I have this desire, many other newcomers to StumbleUpon probably also want to learn more about StumbleUpon and its top users, so I made the list available to the general public.
Allen: So spill the beans, what’s it take to get good traffic from StumbleUpon?
Muhammad: Content that appeals to the Stumble-masses, positive ratings from these users (thumb ups) and reviews on the Stumbled page. If you get the content right, the rest will follow. It also helps if your page is Stumbled by someone with a large fanbase.
Allen: Is the team just yourself or are there others as well?
Muhammad: This has been my project entirely, though because I am not a programmer, I had someone else code it to spec.
Allen: How do you plan to monetize StumbleRank?
Muhammad: Initially I had thoughts about monetizing it, but lately I have been undecided and leaning towards letting it be a free service.
Allen: What’s coming next from StumbleRank? Will we see a DiggRank, FlickrRank, etc?
Muhammad: Well we don’t need a DiggRank since Chris Finke has done such a stellar job with it already.
As for what’s next, I foresee better ways of assessing and networking with top users. More focused ways to categorize users by their interests (using tags), etc.
Allen: Which feeds are you reading these days?
Muhammad: I’m a big fan of sites that aggregate information. Great examples are BoingBoing and Neatorama, and from there I go wherever they take me. When it comes to blogging and social media coverage, I read your site, of course, and CopyBlogger (Clark), Deep Jive Interests (Hung), Matt Ingram, and the rest I just grab from Techmeme.
Thanks for spending some time with us Muhammad!
FeedBurner announced today a new self-service advertising option for advertisers. It uses their headline animator service and so basically anyone who has a feed hosted with FeedBurner can push it out to other sites that are part of the FeedBurner ad network. It's like a live AdWords alternative!
Pricing varies based on which categories you select but you can get started for $25. My test shows that for $25 in Computing & Technology, you would receive: Approximately 3,125 impressions (446 per day) in Computing & Technology, or about a $8/CPM. I plan to give this a try in the coming week and will report back on results. What I would love to see is a way for a user to subscribe to my feed directly from the headline animator. That would make the ad run potentially even more beneficial.
This is usually the point when I would say FeedBurner is attempting to eat some of Google's AdWords lunch, but as we know, All Our Feeds Belong To Google.
This should be a good complement to StumbleUpon's advertising model and together with AdWords should be an excellent mix for advertisers of all sizes.
I have used Google AdWords off and on for years now. Mostly for consulting clients that I work with but also on my own web sites. About two weeks ago, I gave StumbleUpon “Sponsored Stumbles” a try. After reviewing the results with StumbleUpon, I thought I would provide an overview of my experience with some comparisons to Google AdWords. StumbleUpon claims that since they send visitors based on Stumbles, there is no click fraud.
Initial Account Setup
Google: Setting up a Google AdWords account is relatively easy. There are two options: Starter and Standard. Starter allows you to promote one product or service and has limited reporting which might be good for the non-marketing oriented person/company. The Standard option is the fully robust advertising tool that most of us already are familiar with.
StumbleUpon: SU has one option setup option which is very easy. Instead of using targeting based on keywords/phrases and then bidding on those terms along with creating adverts that will be compelling enough to click on, StumbleUpon offers a very simple method. Enter your website URL, select a category, simple targeting (location/age/gender), and how many visitors you would like per day (up to 2000).
Pricing and Campaign Setup
Google: AdWords pricing can be all over the map. Some terms can cost mere pennies, some can cost a lot more (student loan consolidation at almost $70!). Campaign setup offers many options, targeting techniques, etc. You know the drill. Typically, payment to Google occurs at the end of each month.
StumbleUpon: Nothing to report here as everything is setup in the Initial Account Setup above. Pricing is set at 5 cents per visitor. Yes, StumbleUpon charges per visitor to your web site instead of per click. So if you request 1,000 visitors per day, and they send you 1,000, you will pay $50/day. Payment uses PayPal and is prepaid. StumbleUpon emails you when you run out of funds in your account. And topping up is as easy as logging into your PayPal account. Minimum startup is $25.
Analytics and Statistics
Google: Fully robust advertiser and click tracking reporting and statistics. Can also work with Google Analytics for even more robust stats.
StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon offers total visitors, and thumbs-up/thumbs-down tracking. Some users will actually comment on your site and you can view those comments as well.
Great customer service from both services.
About 9 months ago, I purchased a bulk traffic option for one of the sites I run. $25 got me 7,500 visitors but the traffic was completely worthless. With Sponsored Stumbles, that $25 got me 500 qualified users who care about my category. Traffic started within 10 minutes of campaign approval and the campaign worked as 89% rated CenterNetworks with a thumbs-up!
I think StumbleUpon is a great alternative to click based traffic in the sense that you get a continuous stream of interested visitors. The traffic is qualified in the sense that the visitors said they were interested in your topic or category. I believe StumbleUpon ads are a better source of visitors than using interstitial ads since the users will be in your desired category. I have decided to add it to my chart of advertising options for my clients who need qualified traffic instantly.
StumbleUpon might be one of the best tools available. While some may see it as a great way to waste time, I see it as a great way to find sites that I never would have found using traditional means. And as many have discussed, it is a great way to get traffic to your site. We see several new visitors daily from StumbleUpon. To find out more about StumbleUpon, I chatted with one of the founders, Garrett Camp.
Allen: Can you provide a brief background about yourself?
Garrett: I am one of the founders of SU as well as the chief architect. I earned my Masters degree in software engineering at the University of Calgary, where I researched evolutionary algorithms, knowledge retrieval and web usability.
Allen: Where did the idea for StumbleUpon come from?
Garrett: Well, the idea is that when you know what you’re looking for, a regular search engine is great. But there really wasn’t an effective tool for discovering new sites, ones you didn’t even know you wanted to find, and that’s where the idea for SU was born. We started SU working out of our bedrooms in November 2001, and continued to until late 2005 when we moved to San Francisco.
Allen: Can you share some information about your users?
Garrett: We have over 1.6 million registered users, the majority of which are between the ages of 18 and 45 in English-speaking countries. Half in the United States, half abroad, and the majority using Firefox.
Allen: How do you monetize StumbleUpon?
Garrett: Our advertising model is unique in that we don’t show ads-when you click “Stumble!” you are taken directly to the next website- so there are no banner ads or pop-ups which most people find invasive and annoying. Since we display your entire page, rather than an advertisement for that page, this means that you have the visitor’s full attention. This model offers high-quality, targeted advertising: visitors are selected based upon personal interest, the history of sites they like, and demographic information (location, age, gender). We know which sites people found interesting in the past, and can deliver paid content related to those interests in the future. This ensures your visitors match the targeting criteria you select and will be receptive to your message.
Allen: Who are your competitors?
Garrett: We are most often compared to digg and del.icio.us, but StumbleUpon is fundamentally different from both in that we proactively recommend content in personalized fashion. StumbleUpon helps you discover any type of website with a single click; whereas del.icio.us and digg are more focused on personal bookmarking and technology news.
Allen: What’s next for StumbleUpon?
Garrett: We have lots of interesting stuff happening right now…we’ve just added a web-based interface, so users can submit and review pages without installing the SU toolbar. We have also integrated our database of 7.4 million website reviews with popular search engines, so if you’re searching through Google or Yahoo you can see other Stumblers who like the sites you find. Plus, we’ll be releasing another new content-discovery product in a few weeks time.
Allen: So you technically started the site in 2001 but didn’t see success until 4 years later, what was that like during those years? How did you deal with the frustration of not seeing the instant success? What kept you going?
Garrett: Really, the last five years have prepared us for the success we’re seeing now. We only had 10,000 or so users for the first year, but those members were very active and passionate and gave us tons of feedback. They were almost community advisors- doing quality assurance for us when seeing new feature ideas. We had a couple of years where we could focus on the architecture and backend technology without having to worry about advertising or investors. So the outcome of those first four years is a product that is very stable because we had time to listen to user feedback and work out all the glitches.
Allen: What was the VC process like? Any tips or tricks to share with others who are just starting down that road?
Garrett: I think our experience with VCs was quite different from the usual process. We were self-funded from the beginning, up until just 8 months ago. It wasn’t until we moved to San Francisco that we started meeting investors, and then quickly closed an angel round in just a couple weeks. My main advice would be to stay self-funded as long as possible because it’s enormously helpful to be able to build your product without having to worry about making money right away.
Allen: What has been the biggest mistake you have made since starting StumbleUpon?
Garrett: We designed the service to handle lots of traffic, but its still been a challenge to keep up with the growth and increasing demand. So we’ve struggled a bit with getting ourselves ready for such popularity, and having reserve capacity in place. And we’re still working out how to describe StumbleUpon to the press and potential members. Those were definitely not considerations when we first started.
Allen: What are the top 1-2 things you have learned since starting StumbleUpon?
Garrett: First of all, that working with friends and people you trust is the best situation you can be in with a new business. And second, that it all starts with a great idea and teamwork.
Allen: What are the most important things that a startup must have to be successful?
Garrett: A great product is absolutely the most important thing–there’s just no getting around that. That may seem obvious, but I think there are a lot of startups out there that focus so much on business plans and IPOs and exit strategies that the idea itself takes second place. Plus you have to be ready for hard work and frugal spending to get the idea off the ground.