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Nostradamus: Only fools try to predict the future?

Nostradamus: Only fools try to predict the future?

 

From some reason I remember there is a saying “Only fools try to predict the future”. I can’t seem to find it so I might be mistaken.

 
Even though I completely disagree with the idea that it’s foolish to try and predict the future – many people and companies do it all the time – we have to remember it’s all based on what we know, on past events – and that things can change at any given moment.

 
Many financial companies – Lehman Brothers, for example – successfully predicted the future for many decades and made unimaginable sums of money. Until one day things – in this case, the economic market – changed dramatically and all their predictions turned sour. A company that existed since 1850 perished in a matter of weeks because it didn’t predict the future properly.

 
Yesterday I met with a very good friend of mine. He has a Twitter account but he’s not really active. However, he is very interested (and knowledgeable) in technology trends. He asked me: where do you see Twitter going?

 
That is a very good question. Where do I see Twitter going, I wondered to myself.

 
My guess, and of course, it’s just a guess – that Twitter will follow the same patterns that other companies faced in the past, particularly in the last few decades.

 
Here are two examples – I can give many more.

 
You might not have been online back then, but I still remember the times before Google existed. I was mainly using Altavista and Lycos and was very pleased with the results. When Google appeared, I didn’t see the point of switching. I also didn’t believe – and I remember saying it to a friend – any new company stands a chance in the search market. A few friends of mine mentioned Google is good, I figured I’ll give it a chance. The results seemed to be better though weren’t dramatically better. However, at some point I did find myself switching to Google – though that was mainly because of the simple interface.

 
Of course, Google reinvented the search engine landscape and deserves a lot of credit for that. However, I wasn’t the only one who guessed wrong: I bet Altavista and Lycos were taken by as much surprise as I was.

 
Similarly, when Friendster, the first modern social network, was created, I was one of the first people using it. That’s actually an understatement – I was extremely active because it was so new and really explored interesting territories. Many of the things we now take for granted were actually “discovered” by Friendster who had to find the right way through trial and error.

 
Numerous new social networks later emerged, but the one that deposed Friendster was MySpace. MySpace got so well established I thought “this is it!”. It seemed immovable, but then Facebook rose and completely and utterly took MySpace’s.. space. I still remember articles writing that “Facebook is not going to be successful, MySpace will reclaim its position”. Kind of funny when you think about it now.

 
Quick disclaimer: I’m not writing anything that hasn’t been written before. Someone comes, creates a product – it could be successful, even very successful – but then a successor creates an improvement that completely wins over the audience. Though I don’t remember anyone saying this about Twitter (even though probably someone did).

 
That’s my guess for Twitter.

 
Twitter is flawed. Technically it is awful. Years after its launch we still get the fail whale on a regular basis (I get it at least 5-10 times a day). It has numerous bugs. It has a lot of really silly features and flawed concepts: the retweet button, no search mechanism for bios, no way to mass delete DMs, no way to filter DMs… the list is endless. However, no one can deny twitter is extremely popular. Extremely.

 
Based on these factors: that Twitter is a very flawed application and that the space is extremely attractive, while looking at past trends, I find it hard to believe that at some point in the next 1-5 years a new microblogging service, one that has learned from all of Twitter’s mistakes and improved on it, won’t come and completely dominate this market. That is, unless Twitter will clean up their act completely… but in all fairness, I don’t see that happening.

 
This may seem impossible now, but that was the case in both the examples I gave.

 
Google tried to do this with Google Buzz – that didn’t go too well because of the privacy issues (just too eager, huh?).

 
My prediction is that there will be someone else. And they will be successful. And in a couple of years we will all be seeing articles analyzing how Twitter lost its market share, and “what went wrong?”.

 
Only fools try to predict the future. Perhaps that might be true, but this is my guess.

 

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stupid phone


 
If I could do it easily, I would run a poll: “how many of you use a Smartphone vs. a traditional, old-style cell phone?”. I’m sure the vast majority would be using the former. Not that the readers of this blog represent, in my opinion, the phone user demographics properly, but that’s not my point.

 
Well, I’m not. The last time I switched phones was almost two years ago. Back then I intended to migrate to a Blackberry. But when I reached the store, it just seemed unnecessary. All I wanted was a phone with a big keyboard so that it would be easy to write emails and send text messages, which I got (the image above is the type of phone I’m using).

 
I would be lying if I said I regretted this decision. Though as time passed, I kept missing some features that others had. For example, I had no easy way of accessing my email or Twitter: I had to open a browser and type the URLs. I also had no way of uploading photos directly to email, Twitter, Facebook. Nor could I use applications like Foursquare – I’m not sure I would, but I’d definitely give these a try.

 
A few months ago I decided to upgrade: in 2008 all of my urgent emails were work based, so were answered at work. Now that I am self-employed, I really need to answer some emails when I’m away. I already do it if I really have to, but my phone really isn’t designed for this, so it’s not very convenient (purely in terms of interface). In addition, my phone has reached old age: it has an annoying habit of turning off in the middle of conversations – somehow, always when I’m trying to meet someone outdoors – or turn itself on in my pocket and dial random people (if one is reading this: my apologies!). It clearly needs to be retired (possibly even put down. It will be humane, I promise).

 
What are my choices?

 
iPhone: I know most people just looooove iPhones. I respect that. However, I have an iPod touch I’m not using at all. I can’t stand the touch screen interface, I don’t like the navigation interface… I just don’t like it. My iPod sits and gathers dust and I really need to just sell it.

 
Android: I decided I’m not getting one because it’s Google based. They already have too much information about me and the rest of the world, I’m not about to give them more. I imagine a scary scenario: it’s the year 2020 and Google can suspend/ban you from its applications if you go into certain areas: “You’ve been to MICROSOFT’s HEADQUARTERS? No GMAIL FOR YOU!”. Ask any affiliate marketer and they won’t deny that this is a plausible scenario (even if a bit exaggerated). We’ve seen Google at its worst (at least I hope that this is its worst).

 
Palm: I have heard good things about the palm, but when I saw it, it looked too similar to the iPhone for my taste.

 
Blackberry: that was my original choice. I know they are convenient for email management, they do hold the largest share of the Smartphone market, and I like the fact you don’t need to touch the screen on most of them.

 
So a quick summary of my goals:

  1. Get a phone experience that’s better than what I have.
  2. Be able to manage emails/Twitter/Facebook much better than I currently can.
  3. Be able to use apps – and I honestly care which app store, whether the Blackberry app store or Palm’s, etc.

 
Today I went to the store determined to make the transition. I left – pretty disappointed – without making one.

 
I played with all the phones. Most of the touch screen interfaces weren’t so inconvenient as I thought they’d be, so I decided to reconsider those. Some of the Androids had a physical keyboard, so I decided to risk the doomsday scenario I described (I deserve the criticism, I know) and include those as well.

 
Most seemed like good phones. But none, not even a single one, was as good for typing as my old style phone. Even the phones that included a keyboard were too small, or were designed in an inconvenient way.

 
People used to to tell me “Oh, you’ll get used to X’s way of entering text” (usually X was the iPhone). But no, I don’t want to! I don’t want to get used to a bad thing, I want to upgrade! When I switched to my current phone, typing immediately became pleasant and easy – I didn’t have to get “used to it”. Particularly now that I intend to use it for email much more, I don’t want to start hating my (new) phone! Not to mention, switching to a Smartphone increases one’s phone bill (though that’s not and never was the issue).

 
I’ll also state I have carpal tunnel syndrome (well, not exactly – something similar) – as a result of almost 30 years of typing – so typing on a small keyboard is always an unpleasant task for me.

 
I tried one after the other. They all sucked in this respect. I don’t get it: why can’t a single Smartphone manufacturer include in its device a keyboard that opens like mine? I’m not going to get a Smartphone just to be “cool” if it makes my life harder!

 
I started looking at the new models of my existing phone… these definitely improved in two years. But I didn’t feel I could make this decision, staying with a “stupid”, “moronic”, “clueless”, phone (i.e. not a Smartphone) without at least getting more information on the alternatives.

 
Therefore, I wrote this post.

 
Any ideas? I’m hoping someone would say that there is a mythical model, offered by company X, that does exactly what I want. And it’s either too expensive to be sold (I’ll pay the price!), or no one likes it so it’s almost free (even better). If I need to travel to China to get it, I’ll go there. If I need to sacrifice a small goat to the God of mobile phones, I’ll even do that. It is time to move forward. But really move forward.

 
Help?

 

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Twitter Birthday


 
Today, a year ago, I went to a technology networking event with a friend of mine. On our way to the event he told me: “dude, you and me – we have to join Twitter”. I said “Why? It doesn’t have anything that Facebook doesn’t that I need” (yes, I know I was wrong). Then he shared with me the following story:

 
“Yesterday I went to a public event. When it was nearly over, the organizer asked us all to vote on a subject. He said ‘Log in to Twitter now and tweet me YES or NO’. I had no idea what he meant. I never used Twitter – so I sat there doing nothing, while everyone logged in to their Twitter accounts and voted. That’s when I realized that I’m getting old”. Then he looked at me and said: “You and I – we have to join Twitter”.

 
He was right, you know. I think that’s how it happens. A new generation of software/products comes along and you skip it, thinking that if you ever want to master it, it won’t be a big deal (and it really won’t).

 
The next generation of the software/product is eventually released: features are added, the existing terminology and slang are expanded. You ignore it again.

 
When the third expansion happens, you suddenly realize: even if you wanted to, you are so far behind that it’s next to impossible to catch up unless you make a considerable effort, which older people – ok, translation – people with a full time jobs and kids – can’t afford. So you fall back… and accept defeat on this.

 
When it happens multiple times. You, my friend, are officially old – or at the very least, not young anymore. Doesn’t matter your real age. I’ve seen it multiple times. I remember my father couldn’t use a PC until he made a major effort to master it (and that he did!). My wife’s grandmother couldn’t even use a remote control. I believe it all starts this way.

 
So when my friend said this, it resonated with me: I immediately realized that he’s simply right. Twitter was just starting to be hot and we had to be involved… or risk the consequences.

 
I hope you realize that Twitter is just an example here, it could be any number of technologies. My point is not that joining Twitter is mandatory, but the fact that our social circle (the one my friend & I belong to) used it extensively, it was considered important, and we were out of the loop – now, that was significant.

 
Once I got home I signed up to Twitter and very quickly realized that I’m quite bored. I used it on and off for a few months, until I started using it intensively towards a specific goal four months later (namely, the promotion of this blog). The rest is history (… as this blog demonstrates quite well … look which word is biggest in my tag cloud).

 
So happy birthday to my Twitter account! It’s been mainly a good year. I met a lot of great people. I made tons of business connections. Numerous business opportunities were created, and multiple friendships as well. Some, I hope, will last me my entire life. I also met some – not a lot of – negative people, but I’d like to think I learned from these experiences too. In conclusion, overall I think it was a pretty good Twitter year for me.

 

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Alexa is not accurate

Click on the image to see the full stats

 

I’ve already written before that I doubt Alexa’s accuracy. But this is just comical. When I go to the Alexa stats for this blog, it gives me the demographics of my visitors. For crying out loud, where are they getting this information from? I have the Alexa toolbar installed as well and I don’t recall ever giving them any information, let alone specific details such as education.

 
So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that my blog is vastly popular with guys between ages 45 and 54, and quite shocked to discover no one over 55 reads my blog – and very few in the age group 18 to 24 as well. I’ll try harder, I promise.

 
Also, it seems the number one query for my blog is “chinese affiliate” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click on the image above to see the full stats). This is very interesting. Yes, the phrase is mentioned once in this blog, but with all due respect to Alexa, I look at my stats every day (usually a few times), and “chinese affiliate” is not my #1 source of traffic, nor is it second, third, fourth or fifth.

 
Neither is “affiliate network”, which is probably a very competitive phrase. I think it would be quite cool if I did rank high in Google for “affiliate network” – I’d probably get tons of traffic. But that’s not the case.

 
This is comical, but it also raises serious questions. Recently I did a small media buy based on demographics I obtained from Alexa. How can I trust these results at all? I think the stats for my own blog are complete nonsense.

 

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Twitter hashtags


Bringing a laptop to a conference is a pretty good idea. Not only it helps summarize notes – I type much faster than I write – but you can also email these notes, share them, post them online, etc.

 
These days it seems every conference – even small ones – have a Twitter Hash tag (and why not? It doesn’t cost anything). What this means is that people can send messages with this tag, and everyone who “listens” to this tag will get it. It’s a bit like group chat. This is one of the things that differentiates Twitter and Facebook (as I mentioned in my one of the first posts in this blog: Explaining Twitter to Facebook Users).

 
This has several effects I didn’t fully grasp until Affiliate Summit East 2009. Motivational, educational, you name it.

 
For starters, days before a conference starts, people already start tweeting using the hash tag (i.e. in Affiliate Summit West 2010 it was #asw10). So even if you’re at home, you’re already starting to feel the ‘vibe’ of the conference, get the excitement. People announce they’ve left their homes, that they’re at the hotel, that they’re checking in, that they’re meeting other participants. Some people even upload photos. And since it is all in real time, you get pulled into it. You feel you’re a part of the conference before it even started.

 
Furthermore, during sessions people constantly tweet about what they listen to. This proves to be extremely useful from several reasons:

 
So my second point: you know who is present. During one session I discovered that two of my Twitter friends (whom I never met in person until then!) were in the room with me. We tweeted each. One even uploaded an image of the speaker (in real time, of course), so I could even tell where he was sitting in the room. Later I went to meet him.

 
Third, people constantly tweet the highlights of a session, the important points. There was one moment where I missed what the speaker said, but knew it was important. I looked at the stream, and multiple people tweeted that point. I just copied this directly into my notes. Moreover, thanks to the Twitter 140 characters limit, the point has to be concise, and this greatly facilitates the transmission of ideas in this context.

 
Fourth, you get to “hear” what’s going on in other sessions as well. So in a sense it allows you to attend multiple sessions at once. I actually took some of the tweets from other sessions as notes, as they were very relevant and interesting.

 
Fifth, one session allowed people to ask questions through Twitter and had its own hash tag. This certainly improves interaction between audience and speaker. Another session I attended had a contest where people suggested ideas and at the end, there was a reward for the best one.

 
Sixth, I tweeted quite a lot of the good highlights from sessions I attended. Some were actually retweeted by people who were NOT at the conference. So this helped spread useful information beyond the conference. In my opinion, this can be said to make Twitter itself a more valuable site. I remember that during Blog World (a conference that took place several months ago and I didn’t attend) there were occasional retweets of highlights from their sessions – some I found fascinating. And I wasn’t even there!

 
Finally, sites and conferences now take this into consideration. For example, the conference I speak at next month, Social Media 201, constantly “listens” and places on its website tweets that use the #sm201 hashtag. Or another example: ad:tech NY had a huge screen which featured select tweets that use the #adtechny hash tag (see the above image).

 
I think what we’ve seen here is a glimpse into the future of education. Where future students will get more and more opportunities to interact with the speakers and each other in real time, as well as potentially virtually “attend” sessions they are not present in. So not only the conference hash tag is great for passing information and ‘bonding’ everyone, but it also contributes a great deal to the effectiveness of taught sessions. I find this fascinating.

 

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SEO Traffic in 2000

I haven’t blogged in a while. Some people have asked me whether I decided to quit blogging. “Of course not” I responded “I’m just too busy”. Which is true (as I briefly elaborated in my last post).

 
The frustrating thing is that, as mentioned before, I already have three posts just waiting to be finalized and published. One of them I’m not going to do anymore. It describes my experiences at Affiliate Summit West (ASW10) and it would feel quite silly to publish it almost two months after the fact. So I won’t. I’ll just say: ASW was great!

 
Earlier today I was lying in bed and suddenly realized it’s been exactly ten years since I began my first job in the US (had others elsewhere. Curious? Check my LinkedIn profile).

 
In my first job I worked as a software developer for a dotcom called iAnalyst. This was before the dotcom bubble burst, so we were all reaching for the stars, ready to work crazy hours, and mentally preparing to become millionaires. The sad fact is, we kind of knew we won’t become millionaires, many of the crazy hours were spent starting at the PC and chatting – it was more of a “morale” thing, we all stay at work regardless of whether it’s actually necessary. So there were whole weekends I spent at the office doing nothing. With that being said, I don’t regret even a single second – it was a fantastic experience even when the company went down.

 
I had three projects in iAnalyst, with the most important one being the creation of the company’s production system. Basically, it allowed our producers to enter content, which would miraculously be transformed and transferred to our website. Sounds familiar? I bet it does: Wordpress does just that. More than that, Wordpress does it 1,000 times better than my creation did. Then again, we’re talking a full decade ago – that’s centuries from a technological perspective. Literally the stone age.

 
Why am I mentioning all this? I was lying in my bed and thinking why the company failed. It failed because we didn’t get almost any paid clients. This despite the fact the company got a massive amount of media attention: we were featured in many articles as “a hot new startup”, and our CEO was even interviewed on CNN – NOT the website – the television channel. Yes, we were on our way to greatness.

 
Prior to the CNN interview, we had a company bet: how many new people would register immediately afterwards. There was even a reward promised to the person who will be the closest. I remember increasing my bet to more than what I thought it would really be, for company morale. One of my colleagues was a financial analyst: he came up with a complicated calculation that derived a number. This was the lowest estimate, by far, of everyone. What happened was that he was the closest – the real figure was roughly half of what he projected. There was such a gloomy atmosphere after this he never got his reward. We just didn’t talk about this anymore.

 
So why did we not succeed? Basically, we just waited for people to register to our services, counting on the media attention and word of mouth. Considering I was a prominent member of the technical team (which consisted of only several people), I don’t remember a single conversation about advertising online, making ourselves available for people who search for certain terms. We didn’t even consider this. Yes, these were prehistoric times in terms of internet advertising and SEO, but it still existed back then in its primordial form.

 
We just sat and waited for the traffic to arrive, and it never did. Then we ran out of money. And then we shut down.

 
What we should’ve done is used paid advertising. As far as I know, PPC didn’t exist back then, but there were ways to pay per impression (I’ve heard many stories about the “good old times”, how easy it was back then to profit from advertising because there were no accurate measures or pay per click). I don’t know exactly how Google ranked sites back then (yes, even then Google was #1), but considering I was involved in generating the site, I don’t remember a single conversation about how we should optimize it to appear higher in search rankings. The whole concept never occurred to any of us.

 
I’m wondering what would’ve happened had we been able to optimize our online presence using all the knowledge we now have, even with the tools that existed in 2000. I’m sure we could’ve increased our traffic a hundredfold if not a thousandfold. We did have money. Whether this would’ve saved the company? Probably not, but I guess we’ll never know. There were talks of eTrade buying us (they didn’t) – it certainly could’ve made the difference in that case.

 
It doesn’t feel that long ago, yet in so many levels, it’s light years away.

 
Note that exactly one year later (2001) I was working as a lead developer/team lead for a small firm. That is when I was first introduced to SEO. We had a guy do a bunch of what I thought was pretty comical: he hid a lot of keywords in white text on our site’s main page so they would be invisible to everyone but the search engines, also put tons of links in tiny fonts. Of course, these are very rudimentary SEO tactics and now search engines will punish you if you use such tricks, but in 2001 this still worked.

 

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25

 

I want to invent a term that’s probably already been invented: Personal Thrashing (so please correct me if you know a better term).

 
I came back from Affiliate Summit last week. It took me two days just to respond to all the emails that have accumulated, one day to do (most) of the follow-up emails, and one-day to read follow up on resources that can’t wait. Once I finished with that, my follow-ups have already returned to me, and I found myself again doing the email battle. During my flight from Vegas I’ve written 3 blog posts that are nearly finalized. Nearly – but not yet.. still haven’t the time to do that.

 
It’s now Friday. A week has passed. And in this week I’ve basically done no work except email, reading, calls, more calls, and meetings. These are all crucial for a successful business’ operation, but then again, so is actual work.

 
A friend of mine suggested I hire an assistant (he did so and says the experience is “liberating”). I’m seriously considering doing that.

 
So anyway, why thrashing? This is an Operating System term. Tell me if what I just described doesn’t sound exactly like the follow definition. This was taken from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci214055,00.html

 

Thrashing is computer activity that makes little or no progress, usually because memory or other resources have become exhausted or too limited to perform needed operations. When this happens, a pattern typically develops in which a request is made of the operating system by a process or program, the operating system tries to find resources by taking them from some other process, which in turn makes new requests that can’t be satisfied. A system that is thrashing can be perceived as either a very slow system or one that has come to a halt.

 
I hope this hasn’t bored to death those who are not interested in technology… but in the past week I have been… Thrashing. I can’t think of any other term. Figured I’ll share this until I find the time to share one of the, uhm, more exciting posts! :)

 

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poken3


 
Tomorrow I’m leaving to Affiliate Summit West. I’ve been to Affiliate Summit East (ASE: read about it here), but never been to the Vegas version.

 
Before ASE, a friend told me to bring 200-500 business cards as I will be needing them. I did, and he was right. I also got roughly this number from people I met. Then I got a similar number at ad:tech. I classified them to several groups (companies I’m interested in working with, friends, people I met, etc) but it started becoming unwieldy. With so many business cards lying around, despite my best intentions I started losing some.

 
It is then I remembered the Poken device many people had at ASE. I don’t know how, I think people with Platinum passes got one for free? But all the “cool kids” seemed to have one and I didn’t. I wanted one too – was pretty easy to guess what it does based on how I saw people use it. I know I’m cool, but I wanted to be Cool (capitalized), you know?

 
Therefore, when I saw someone talking about it on Twitter, I bumped in and said “I wish I had a Poken. All the cool kids have it”. To my surprise, someone wrote me – we’ll send one to you so you can be a cool kid too (definitely boosted my ego). Awesome!

 
I got my Poken and have since then been itching to use it. It seems that next week I’ll get plenty of opportunities. Still going to bring my paper business cards as well, but it seems this will greatly help in managing the virtual ones.

 
So what is a Poken?

 
A Poken is a small device that has multiple cute shapes. Mine is the “Voodoo poken”. Using a web interface, you can create your virtual business card with everything you would’ve included on an ordinary one, and much, much more. Take a look at the screenshots I took to see what I mean.

 

poken

 
poken2

The Poken allows you to get other people’s virtual business cards instantly with all the information they include. This can be done simply by “touching” your Poken hand with the other Poken’s hand. Like a handshake :) Later on, you have access to all their information as well as the time line of the connection.

 
Sounds awfully cool to me, and definitely the way of the future. Just like the Kindle (and related devices) will eventually replace paper products, so will Pokens eventually replace business cards. Easier to manage. Easier to customize. Stored permanently – I only see advantages.

 
If you want to get one, just click the banner below. Note that if you use the promo code IndustryReview you get 10% until the end of January.

 
poken4

 

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ad tech new york 2009

As I wrote in my previous post which dealt with my personal experiences at ad:tech, I set up quite a lot of meetings with companies who contacted me. This turned out to be a very positive experience because many – if not most – would’ve been companies that I would’ve been interested in chatting with anyway, so rather than me having to chase them, a meeting was set up with allocated time. I never played the journalist until this conference but really enjoyed this.

 
Here are some of the companies I met with. The vast majority were very relevant to what I currently do or my background, but not all were. Those I felt I have nothing to write about I omitted.

 
If anyone spots any mistakes I’ve made – which is possible, since I didn’t take notes but rather counted on the brochures I diligently collected, please do let me know!

 
2ergo has a technology that enables conducting marketing campaigns on mobile platforms. Interestingly, this strongly resonates with a session I attended the next day (which I’ll describe in the next post) that says teens prefer SMS texting to any medium, really: email, chat, etc. Although I (currently) don’t do anything that involves mobile advertising I can’t help but think that maybe I can utilize this somehow.

 
BurstMedia: my first question to Jarvis Coffin of BurstMedia is “what does your motto ‘Discover the Long Tail’ mean?”. His response was that they specialize in niche websites – even those that focus on extremely specific subjects. They own a large network of niche sites and enable very targeted advertising on these sites. An example he gave me – and I don’t remember the exact site – was something along the lines of SquirrelRehab.com. Apparently this site, despite the fact it’s extremely nichy, not only gets traffic, but a very respectable amount as well. Quite surprised me! This is useful both for potential publishers as well as potential advertisers.

 
I’m thinking of submitting my, ehm, nichiest site there, which gets very decent traffic but monetizes very poorly.

 
measuring success

 
Elephant Traffic: although I’m very familiar with the concept of domain parking, which refers to domains that are not actively used but rather instead show relevant ads, Elephant Traffic tackles it in a rather unusual method – by simply taking the search query from a search engine and matching it to a parked domain. i.e. if someone searches for “buying toothbrushes” they’ll take him to a domain they park buyingtoothbrushes.com (this is a made up example – I doubt they have this domain). This offers very cheap and yet very targeted traffic – since it is extremely likely that those who type search query this would in fact be interested in buying toothbrushes. Again, very useful for both potential advertisers and publishers.

 
I liked the concept and think I’ll attempt to use it from both ends: both use some of the domains I’m not using with them (unfortunately for me there are about 30 of those!) – and also explore getting some of their traffic for the offers I promote.

 
eZanga is another one of those companies that I would’ve gone to talk to regardless of my being press or not. They are offer a PPC search platform that enables high quality, high volume, traffic for competitive prices. Definitely on my list (for a while, actually) of companies to try.

 
Looksmart is a second tier PPC search engine network that offers competitive prices. Second tier refers to the fact that they are not Google, Yahoo or Bing. I was actually familiar with Looksmart before I spoke to them and heard good things – though I’ve never used them myself. I definitely intend to give them a shot. Until now, the only second tier PPC search engine that I liked has been 7search (and I still want to kick myself for forgetting to visit their booth!)

 
As a side note: From what I heard – and sadly, based on my own experience as well – many of the second tier search engines offer really low quality traffic (and often fraudulent traffic – traffic that never converts).

 
geo targeting

 
MyPRGenie enables submitting your own press releases. The cool thing is they offer many free yet still useful services. There are, of course, paid subscriptions which offer more, but for the starting entrepreneur this could be very useful.

 
Netezza was different from other companies I spoke to in the sense that what they do is not really relevant for me now, but would’ve been tremendously relevant for me in the past. They offer a hardware implementation of a data warehousing relational database (such as Oracle, MS SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, etc). As you can imagine, this offers a significant performance boost (if I recall correctly – and I may not remember correctly – a boost that offers 100 times speed performance). I was really surprised to hear such a technology existed let alone utilized as this could have been extremely useful for me in my last workplace (I worked at a hedge fund and our major bottleneck was analyzing data – even a 5 time speed boost would’ve been significantly useful for us). I can think of three of my friends that can benefit from this technology and might have not heard of it, so will let them know.

 

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adtech New York

Although I was not sure I’ll be attending ad:tech NY 2009 until the last moment (because of various family and personal illnesses), I’m certainly glad I did. Overall, I can say it was a blast! Bigger than the last conference I attended, Affiliate Summit East (ASE), but somehow less overwhelming too – perhaps because there were more companies that really did not relate to anything I am doing.

 
After thinking about this for a while, I’ve decided to break my ad:tech summary into three separate posts. One describing my personal experiences, the other describing a few companies I got a chance to talk to, and the last describing the (few) sessions I attended. This is a good point to mention that unlike in ASE, this time I came as press.

 
udi schlessinger's press badge

 

Journalism's very best

Journalism's finest



 
Where shall I begin? Ad:tech took place at the Javits conference center and was enormous. It took me about 15 minutes to just find where I can obtain my press badge. But it was well worth the effort, since after getting it, I saw the monstrous line for ’standard’ passes – there must have been hundreds of people waiting in line!
 
As you can see, it was pretty crowded

As you can see, it was pretty crowded



 
Since this was the first time I came as press, I was very determined to do my job properly. About 1-2 weeks before the conference started, I started getting requests from companies to interview them. Since I got so many, I tried to only pick those that are relevant to me/my background in a way. Despite this filtering I must’ve set meetings with about 15 companies.

 
I started walking the exhibitor booths. The first person I bumped into was Eric Schechter, Clickbooth’s Social Media Manager and a really great guy. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with Eric’s videos (here’s one for example), but he makes the most hilarious videos for Clickbooth. I politely asked him to participate in one of the videos and when he hesitated I resorted to begging. Hopefully I’ll participate in one of those – when crazy is required, I’m always the first to raise my hand ;) .

 
Later I bumped into my ex-boss and CEO from 7 years ago (in my previous career as a technical lead/software architect, I created/redesigned almost all of the company’s products). Since both of us changed industries during this time, we were both quite shocked to see each other. Certainly a surreal experience for me. I also bumped into a friend I haven’t seen since 1992 (another surprising incident). Considering several friends of mine attended ad:tech and I didn’t see them even once since the place was so big, I consider the former occurrences one of those weird coincidences that occasionally happen.

 
Although I had a press pass and was really eager to attend some of the sessions, I spent the entire first day almost exclusively running from one meeting to another. Almost surprisingly, this was actually a lot of fun! My first instinct was to ‘pat myself on the shoulder’ for setting meetings with so many companies that are truly interesting and relevant for me, but after talking to several company executives, I realize that the filtering was mutual: it seems many – if not all – contacted me because my background was relevant to them. Most were familiar with my blog and background.

 
I’ll describe those companies in the next post.

 
Although I did get to attend a few sessions, I simply didn’t have enough time to attend as many as I wanted. Fortunately the third day consisted only of sessions, and most people were gone by then (no more exhibitors).

 
In addition I spent a lot of time talking to the various companies – there were just so many! Interesting how my focus changed in the past few months. In ASE I was primarily interesting in finding unique affiliate offers, so had a lot of conversations with both large and small affiliate networks. But now my hands are pretty full in this respect, so this time I was more interested in finding interesting/cheap/unique traffic sources, so primarily was talking to ad networks and other companies that offer equivalent services.

 
During the day I met many friends I know from the NY affilate meetups, from ASE as well as some of my affiliate managers from some networks that I have not met in person until now. It was great seeing Casan Van Langen, my affiliate manager from AzoogleAds, and finally meeting Melissa Emmett, my affiliate manager from MarketLeverage.

 
Also great to meet friends I know, such as Dina Riccobono (from MarketLeverage), Heather Smith, Miki Rapoport (see his picture below closing a 7 figure deal – a moment I was lucky to capture in real time), Ian Fernando, Ken Chen, Steve Fulop, and many more.

 
Miki closing a big deal

Miki closing a big deal



 
I also had a fantastic meeting with Richard Young (from Arcamax publishing). Just like the last time we have met, we had an absolutely great conversation. I wouldn’t have met him if it weren’t for the yacht party in ASE!

 
One fun thing about ad:tech was the Twitter board. There were a few of those, and they included tweets that mentioned the #adtechny hashtag. I think this was moderated, because I found myself talking to a guy next to it and neither of us saw our tweets on the board. Though eventually I did manage to get one in ;)

 
The full Twitter board

The full Twitter board



 
My tweeted message

My tweeted message



 

Parties

A major aspect of these conferences is the after hours parties. Irritatingly – but understandably – they all took place on the first day. I’ve been invited to six separate parties on Wednesday, and planned to attend three. Unfortunately, I forgot to RSVP one (Clickbooth’s). I went to Azoogleleads’ heaven and hell’s themed party which was awesome (and really embarrassed my wife when I wore the glowing red horns, unlike the standard ‘cloth’ ones, during the entire time. Hey, what’s wrong with some attention? :P ). Unfortunately I can’t provide a picture (believe me, I want to!) because the photographer seems to have omitted it from his website, and did not respond to my email…

 
heavenandhell

 
Later I went to the VIP Mix+Mingle event (organized by Advertise.com, Adknowledge and GenieKnows) – which was tons of fun as well. Still need to find my picture which was taken there somehow.

 
I felt kind of stupid when I saw Clickbooth’s party was right across the street from the VIP Mix+Mingle event, and I couldn’t go because I didn’t RSVP… Eric later chastised me for not calling him (I didn’t have his number!).. next time.

 
I also had to miss the BlogUp, an event organized on the second day that aimed bloggers to meet other bloggers – since by then I started feeling unwell again. Based on what I heard, it was a big success and a lot of fun.

 

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