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The Industry Review

One Guy's Thoughts On Technology, Social Media, Internet Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, and more


Category: General

It’s been more than three months since I last updated this blog. Moreover, I’ve written at least five posts, all in various degrees of completeness, that have never been published. Assuming I still have readers (do I? :-D ), you might wonder why. The reason is that I decided that I want to change the nature of this blog but I was not sure in what direction to take it.

Until now, I’ve primarily written about social media (with a focus on Twitter), occasionally included internet marketing, and every now and then wrote about other topics.

In the past few months, I kind of realized that often what I want to discuss has already been covered in other places, at times in great detail. I felt there’s no point in discussing what I had in mind since I’m not going to add much new.

There have been other topics – related to affiliate marketing / social media – that I have much to say about. But some could be considered controversial. Quite frankly, I have no patience for flame wars. I’ve had those in an older blog and don’t feel like going through this again. (Ever been in a situation where someone responds to something you said and you just HAVE to respond – only for him to respond again, a cycle that can takes days to complete? I have, and I really don’t have the time to go through this).

I also miss having a personal blog. I’ve had several in the past and I’ve always enjoyed the experience. However, these were quasi-anonymous – I was not using my name, though my loyal readers knew who I was. This blog is too strongly associated with my name for me to feel comfortable doing this, at least at the degree I used to do it.

In the past several months I’ve also greatly expanded the technical aspect of my business. I’ve gone back to my programming roots, as I’ve intended from the very moment I launched my business. I’ve considered writing about this subject, though frankly I’m not sure most of my audience would find this interesting. Besides, I don’t want this to be 100% of what I write about either.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do, and so, simply posted nothing.

I’ve decided to have no plan. Since I’m mainly writing for myself (my blog was never written with the goal of making money), I’ll simply write a mixture of the above. Hopefully enough people would find it interesting.. and if not? Well, it’s a risk I’ll have to take.


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Turns out that in fact there was a problem with the commenting system of my blog. About 20% of the comments got through, the rest encountered an error message and are gone.  I’m not sure why this happened now…

Please let me know if you get any error when trying to leave a comment – send me a quick note to udi [at ] This will be much appreciated!

As part of my attempt to resolve this, I updated all my plugins. And as a result it seems all my Facebook likes vanished. Great…

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It seems something is wrong with the commenting mechanism. I already got two people telling me they were unable to leave comments. Could you let me know if this happens to you? Either at Twitter: @uschles, or by email? Udi [at]

Seems to be working fine when I try it….

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getting off a mailing list

Removing yourself and getting off from mailing lists used to be a problem in the past. But the CAN-SPAM Act mostly changed that. Or better phrased, clearly defined what is legal and what is not. I’m specifically referring to two clauses as defined by Wikipedia:

  • A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
  • Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 days.

With that being said, I’m sure you’ve been in the following situation: One day, you start getting emails from a mailing list you never joined. Sometimes there is an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom which works, sometimes it does not work and sometimes there isn’t even one. As the above states, all of these are illegal.

Affiliate marketers who use mailing lists for email marketing are required to use a double opt-in, meaning, when someone gives their email address, they get a confirmation email which requires approval. On top of that, there must always an unsubscribe option, which must always work, and the marketer needs to include his address on the bottom of the email.

I’ve joined countless mailing lists and have often unsubscribed (“opted-out”). I have no problem with this. They’re doing everything by the book – no one forced me to join.

What I don’t like is being included in mailing lists which I never joined. Let’s break these to four groups sorted in order of notoriety.

The first , and the one I find least annoying, occurs when a company you’ve handed a business card at a conference includes you in their list. I don’t know the legality of that – perhaps if you’ve given them a card you are granting them permission (could be in the fine print since sometimes you participate in a raffle). This happens frequently enough that I’m not really sure (and I’m no attorney). In this case, almost always unsubscribing works.

Nevertheless, even if this is legal, not only this is an abuse of the trust you’ve given the company, but sometimes it’s just plain stupid. During a conference I’ve attended a few months ago, immediately afterwards I was apparently put in a mailing list which “informed me I’ve received a 15 day trial of their product”. Every day I got an email (I didn’t bother unsubscribing) and at the end of this period, I got a request for a feedback. The thing is, I actually wanted to try their product – but not immediately after the conference. So I ended not using it, opting out, and crossing this company from my list of potential products I may get. Had they simply asked for my permission I might’ve ended testing and possibly purchasing the product.

The second is worse: you’re suddenly receiving email from a list you have no recollection of ever joining, often not even being familiar with the product or company. Sometimes opting out works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there is no link at all. This is definitely illegal, and in these cases I report them as spam in my Gmail account (never does anything as far as I can tell) and create a filter to direct their messages to my trash folder. Sometimes I also send them a blank email with ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ as the subject line, assuming that if someone did this inadvertently, he would take me off and occasionally it does work (this used to be the way to unsubscribe from older mailing lists)

The third is much worse: someone – an individual – you’ve handed a business card to at some point decides to include you in his personal mailing list. This is not just illegal but also plain rude. The last time this happened to me was fairly recent, and I was actually doing a favor to that person, giving them business advice. And then I ended on their mailing list!? My guidelines are similar to those I mentioned in the last item.

The fourth and last one is the worst as it involves someone you know. A friend, his significant other or family member, decides that they’re going to start a mailing list and include you in it. I’m pretty sure that in almost all cases the person is unaware this is illegal, but regardless, this is very rude. It’s happened to me 2-3 times, and in all cases these were lists I had not a shred of interest in (and needless to say, there was no unsubscribe option). Since I knew the people involved, which isn’t always the case (i.e. recently the wife of a friend – which I had never met or corresponded with – included me in a mailing list of something completely irrelevant to my interests), I felt I couldn’t just ask to remove me unless I’m willing to endanger a relationship with that person. In this case filters are your allies.

Sometimes I feel like creating my own spam list, include all the above in it and just blast them periodically with nonsense. But then I would be no better than them…

Any interesting stories anyone would like to share?


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Las Vegas

List of things to do before I leave:


  • Bags & everything else – not yet. Last moment.


  • Business cards and Poken – check.


  • Notepad for taking notes – check. Last time I relied on my memory for names which is really good. I did remember everyone when I glimpsed at their business cards. But not 4 weeks later. Lesson learned. This time I will be ready.


  • Printout of all interesting talks I want to attend – check. Last time I missed the most interesting talk I wanted to attend because of lack of organization. Lesson learned.


  • Printout of all the interesting companies I want to talk to – check.


  • Printout of all events & parties – check. Somehow I never forgot this one before ;-)


  • Printout of meetings, phone numbers of people I need to see – check.


  • Positive attitude, ready for networking and FUN! – check.

Las Vegas, here I come

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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 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 (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



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…


Later I went to the VIP Mix+Mingle event (organized by, 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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ad tech

Tomorrow ad:tech NY begins. I will definitely be attending, and am very excited about it (it’s my first ad:tech!). More importantly, I’ll share anything interesting I see and hear there with my readers.

If you’re in the area and feel like meeting, please send me a quick note – it’ll be great to meet!

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How to quit an addiction

Let’s face it. At one point or another we all found ourselves visiting a website/application much more than we wanted to. It could’ve been MSN messenger or AIM. It could’ve been Facebook or Twitter. It could’ve been a favorite blog. It could’ve been an online game (such as World of Warcraft). However, one day we realized that it’s become a detrimental habit: it has started affecting our personal lives and even work. So we decided to take our distance or maybe even quit.

..and then we found out it’s not so easy..

Sounds familiar? I’m sure it does to many.

In one previous post I mentioned I used to have a very successful blog in one community blogging site, and that I eventually I left for various reasons. But even after I left I used to visit quite often. There were fewer and fewer reasons for me to do so, and yet I still found myself going for a quick peek. Some people have addictive personalities, I actually don’t (when I decide I need to diet, I do – I lost 40 pounds this way), but it was extremely hard for me to break from that site – way harder than dieting – though eventually I managed to do so.

So if you ever want to retire from a website or internet application from various reasons, these are my guidelines:

First, think about why you want to do this, and whether you truly want to. Do you have a hidden agenda, one you may not even be aware of (finding that it provides escape from real life? drawing attention to yourself? etc) then it might not work. You need to really want to do this for the process to be successful.

It’s quite possible that after doing some thinking you’ll realize that you don’t want to stop. A friend of mine faced a very unusual dilemma (which unfortunately I can’t share, though it would make a fascinating story), and struggled with withdrawal for a long time (and talked to me about this a lot). Eventually she just said “I know it’s bad for me, but I can’t stop doing it. I guess it’s not important enough for me to quit. If it ever does, then I will”. Although I think she made the wrong choice (and told her), I respect the fact she took responsibility for this decision.

Second, if you are certain you want to go ahead with this, simply make a decision. Decide that things are going to change from now on. It might sound corny, but you need to make this decision consciously to be mentally prepared.

Third, decide on a time frame. I find that people often fail with such decisions because they give themselves leeway. “I’ll start my diet tomorrow”. “I’ll quit smoking after the new year”. No! Decide on a time frame, which could be now, tomorrow or next week, and stick to it. Until that point you are free to do whatever you want, even overdo it. If it were smoking, I’d say, smoke 10 packs of cigarettes, but smoke them before the deadline.

Fourth, and I find that for me this is the most important element: remove the physical cause of the habit. I found out that regarding addiction, at least for me many times it’s hard to break simply because it became a habit, something I’d do without thinking about it. Just turn on the application. Just open the website.

So if this were smoking, I’d say, get rid of all cigarettes in your home, all the ashtrays, and all the lighters. However, in the case of internet applications or sites, I’d say uninstall the relevant applications and clear your browser cache. If you really suspect you may waver in this decision, change your password to gibberish and store it somewhere (could be a physical printout). This will make going to the website/application a much harder thing to do, as you’ll actively struggle with your commitment with it (so it won’t be a 2-second thing but breaking this process would have to be done consciously). The moment I realized that my attempts fail because they became a habit is the moment I learned to beat these things permanently.

Fifth, expect withdrawal symptoms. If it’s a social website, are people talking about you? If it’s a chat application: what’s going on around there? If it’s a MMORPG (yes, I quit that habit too, years ago), are there new areas? Has the last raid been successful?

Every time you have these thoughts think of the reason you decided to leave. Why leaving is good for you and how it will improve your life. If necessary, even note it down for yourself. In case of smoking, this would be physical withdrawal symptoms, but then you’d have to think about your health. About your child who is exposed to your smoke. Et cetera.

Sixth, DO NOT TEMPT YOURSELF. This is where the success stories end. You could be successful for months, and one day just say “Hey, I’m over this, I’ll just do this one time”. No, not even once. From what I hear, this is how many ex-drug addicts and ex-alcoholics resume their old habit.

Finally, Start and don’t look back. Be strong. This will work if you’re committed.

How amusing. I wrote this with regards to internet applications/websites, but this really can be applied to any addiction.

When I decided to do my diet (which was a very specialized no-sweet diet), I took things to an extreme: I avoided all things with sugar, milk, fruit, carbohydrates and a couple more things. People who know me well understand how much this was a sacrifice for me (I have a sweet tooth and am a very hungry person by nature), but I decided I need to do this for health reasons. So I completely avoided these foods. For 3 months, I haven’t made even a single slip-up. At the same time, I lost a lot of weight very quickly without doing any extra exercise (or ever hearing a diet lecture or reading a diet book). This simply worked. Not that it wasn’t hard, it was very hard – but it worked. I’ve done this multiple times so far.

Just to finish this anecdote, I eventually stopped. After 3 months, my boss at the time brought high quality chocolates to an office party. He kept pushing me “come on, take one – it’s not going to be bad to eat just one”. I ended eating 3, and then more at home, and within the following week I was back to my old habits. Clearly this broke my diet.

In hindsight, I don’t regret it – 3 months were plenty for what I was trying to accomplish and I really didn’t need to continue. However, in other circumstances this would be really baaaaaaaaaad. This is exacty what would make me fail. As I said, from what I know, people who have quit really dangerous addictions for long periods of time (such as drugs or alcohol) fail in precisely these circumstances.

It’s important to also realize what your temptation boundaries are: for me it’s OK to see my temptation as long as I don’t do it myself (i.e. I can see my wife eating ice cream, and it would be hard, but it would not cause me to break). For other people it might be necessary to completely avoid it. Whatever works for you.

I don’t know how many people who read this are actually considering breaking a habit, but if you are, then this will work. Since I intend for this blog to stay here for a while, I hope this may end up actually helping someone. If it does (or I can help with anything), please do let me know. I’d really like to hear your story.

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This isn’t really a post: but why would anyone look for a search query “Ashton Kutcher and the Mossad”? Someone got to my blog by searching for this phrase. Unsurprisingly, I’m very highly ranked for this phrase (on several versions of Google, I tried), since this is such an unlikely combination and I mention both in two separate articles. But why would anyone look for that? If you know, can you please let me know? I am really curious.

It’s nice that Google sends me the growing segment of Ashton fans that are interested in the Mossad. You’re all welcome to my blog! (no sarcasm here, I welcome all visitors).

p.s. Isn’t it a good premise for a movie? Someone writes a blog about Ashton Kutcher and the Mossad, next thing he knows the Mossad is after him because it turns out he accidentally found out about a conspiracy (i.e. Kutcher is an undercover Mossad agent, and I’ve just now blown his cover). I think Shia LaBeouf should play me in this case (not that we look anything alike, but he’d make a good casting). Ashton will play himself, and the Mossad agent will be played by Willem Defoe or Donald Sutherland. Maybe Sutherland is better.

A real blog post should be coming tonight or tomorrow. This is just for my personal amusement.

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