Smoke Labs

The Smoke Labs blog is run by @kylemcinnes and features commentary on stories relevant to my industry. I find 140 characters inadequate when it comes to talking about articles I'm passionate about so this Tumblr blog was born.

Apr 17

Apr 14

Apr 5

A Growing Trend in Web Ad Buyer Negotiating

I’ve noticed a trend in business development and media buyers who want to advertise on my site lately. It’s an interesting tactic that I’ve become used to and have since developed a response for that may be of use to some other publishers. The tactic is pretty simple and it goes a little something like this:

1. Open the conversation up with a promise of a huge ad buy.

Example from email (copy and pasted):

We are interested in acquiring above-the-fold display inventory on the blackberrycool.com. We guarantee our publishers a 100% fill rate, and prepay our first time publisher partners. We are not limited by budget and can rapidly scale our spend to over $100,000/ month so long as your traffic performs for us.

2.Get specifics on how much it costs and reiterate how much money they’re willing to spend.

Example:

Once you’ve told me the rate at which I can buy the 336x280 (above-the-fold) ad spot, we can then come back to you with a set volume to begin with. Needless to say, should the traffic perform, we can rapidly increase our spend to over $100,000/ month.

3. Here is where the “trick” comes is. The media buyer now asks for a small sample buy in order to “test the water”. This is most likely all they’re actually looking to buy but they’ve used the previous emails to make you think the budget is much bigger than it really is.

Having said that, I’d like to add that we usually like to start off with a very small test before committing to a volume buy. The test is designed to understand your traffic quality and performance and for our system to learn and optimize accordingly.

To that effect, we’d like to buy about 200,000 impressions of your remnant traffic which can be spread evenly over a week’s time. Can you give me an indicative CPM at which we can make the buy at? We will pay the entire amount to you up front.

4. The media buyer will now start to haggle prices down to what is actually the budget of the ad buy. In this case, we started off with a conversation about spending upwards of $100,000 on the site, and finished with a $400 ad buy over 200,000 impressions.

We usually test for 100,000 – 200,000 impressions at $2 on most web properties. If you’d like then we can go ahead with 100,000 or 150,000 impressions as well. As I said, rates are only a question of time; the moment we see performance to justify the absolute CPM, we don’t mind paying you even higher. I’d also like to let you know that we’re looking only for long term opportunities – we can consume all your traffic from the US, Canada and UK.


In order to avoid these situations, just realize that you need to have a price in mind and anything under that price you simply won’t deal with. For me, when I calculate how much it costs me to implement and maintain an ad buy, I simply won’t do anything for less than $1,000. I’ve found this number is perfect for weeding out those who are serious and those who aren’t about buying ads.


Apr 4

Mar 26

Deleting Non-Trademarked Accounts for Inactivity is a Good Twitter Policy

Last I checked, Twitter had around 177M users but many of those are inactive accounts. Anyone who has tried to register multiple Twitter accounts knows that the username squatting is getting out of hand. Twitter announced a while ago that they would be considering canceling accounts with no activity over a 6 month period but they haven’t seemed to make good on that yet. Here is the quote from Twitter:

We encourage users to actively log in and use Twitter when they register an account. To keep your account active, be sure to log in and Tweet (i.e., post an update) within 6 months of your last update. Accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity. Please use your account once you sign up!

One reason they probably aren’t in a rush to make good on this is that companies in the social space are often valued on a per user basis. If Twitter made good on this policy, they would assumingly have to start publishing a decline in users, as a large number of their inactive accounts begin to free up. This would look pretty bad for Twitter on paper.

Twitter probably sees account creation as something not crucial to the end user experience, but it really is. If you’re a non-trademarked individual looking to register, Twitter currently doesn’t let you grab the username, but rather suggests:

If a username you would like is being used by an account that seems inactive, you should consider selecting an available variation for your use on Twitter. In general, adding numbers, underscores, or abbreviations can help you come up with a great available username.

Anyone who is truly interested in personal brand knows that numbers and underscores look terrible and don’t work well for people trying to remember your username off the top of their head.

But it’s personal brands that are driving Twitter. A good statistic backing this up is that Twitter derives 50% of its Tweets from 20,000 elite users. Personal brand is what’s pushing the acitivity on this platform and freeing up accounts is going to foster a better brand for those who are looking to be prolific users on Twitter.

Twitter may think that user account creation, as long as it’s on the rise, is a top priority, and total account creation is the ultimate goal. But have they considered the number of potentially huge contributors to the platform who have shied away or would do better if they had access to the right username?

A billion users is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if most of them are asleep at the mouse.


Mar 24
Pretzil just got even more social. Now, you can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to Pretzil and broadcast your activity and awards to your favorite social networks. We’re adding a number of special awards based on whether you connect your accounts and we’re hoping this will further drive adoption. Stay tuned because we’ve got some huge news coming up soon.

Pretzil just got even more social. Now, you can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to Pretzil and broadcast your activity and awards to your favorite social networks. We’re adding a number of special awards based on whether you connect your accounts and we’re hoping this will further drive adoption. Stay tuned because we’ve got some huge news coming up soon.


Mar 23

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