Just last week, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) UK sought to clarify the blurred lines surrounding advertorial features in blog posts.
The memo warned that blog publishers could be found to be breaking the law if they receive payment in return for positive reviews or comments about a product or service, and do not disclose this agreement on site.
The ASA says, “The advertising rules, which apply across media including online, are very clear. Ads must be clearly identifiable as such. Put simply, a blogger who is given money to promote a product or service has to ensure readers are aware they’re being advertised to.”
The ASA does offer advice on how a blogger can clarify they are posting paid-for content, “How can bloggers make it clear if their blog contains paid for content? Signposting it as “ad” “advertorial” or “sponsored content” is a simple hassle free way to make it immediately clear to readers. We also encourage bloggers or advertisers who want free, expert guidance on the rules in this area and how to stick to them to contact the Copy Advice Team.”
But what does this all mean for performance marketing? Bright Digital Minds spoke to the ASA seeking to clarify whether affiliate links and posts fell under the category of paid content. In no uncertain terms, we were told that any affiliate links do need to be declared as a sponsored post.
And if the rules are found to be breached, who will be held ultimately responsible? It seems like the buck will stop with the merchants and agencies making the arrangements with the bloggers, “Under the Advertising Code, although the blogger would be named as part of any ASA investigation into misleading advertising, ultimately the buck would stop with the advertiser. If a paid for entry on a blog wasn’t disclosed we would investigate the advertiser and hold them accountable.”
Whilst the guidance and clarification from the ASA is welcome, the implications may not be; many bloggers maintain great integrity in their sites and posts, and carefully choose the programmes they are affiliated to – they are not guaranteed to bring in any revenue from their posts, so can they really be classed as paid advertising?
Every day people Pin about 1.5 million places, and now there are more than 750 million Pins of these destinations on Pinterest. Pinterest have now taken the first step towards helping people turn their travel inspiration into reality with Place Pins.
Place Pins have been designed to combine the beautiful imagery of a travel magazine with the utility of a map online so you can share it with friends. You can access them from anywhere on your smartphone aswell, which means you can find new places on the go and even get directions to places.
With the inclusion of extra details such as the address and phone number on the Pin, you can easily pull up useful info on a weekend adventure or before a night out.
Creating a board of Place Pins is easy. Just select Add a map when you create a new board or Edit an existing board’s settings to Add a map. After that, you can map all of your new and existing Pins on the board to help plan your next adventure.
Pintrest have asked some of the best names in travel to create inventive boards to inspire you. See thier collection of place boards on this special feed, which will give you more ideas as you make your own. You’ll see boards like:
—East Coast Beach Crawl from the Travel Channel
—Gastronomic Travel from the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
—Top 100 Hotels in the World from Conde Nast Traveler
—The World’s Best Festivals from Fest300
—Tour #UMich from the University of Michigan
—UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK from VisitBritain
—Vibrant Street Markets from AFAR
—A Chicago Pork & Whiskey Tour from Thrillist
—America’s Best Hot Chocolate from Fodor’s
—Loved by Parisians and Loved by Tokyoites from Airbnb
—Great American BBQ from Andrew Zimmern
—An Adventurous Romp Around South Africa from Dave & Deb of The Planet D
—Devouring the Globe from Sherry of Ottsworld Travel
—Angie Eats New York City! from Jeremy & Angie of Living the Dream
—Best Places to Visit Europe from Karen of Europe a la Carte
—Our Beautiful World from JD Andrews of EarthXplorer
—Australia from Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere
—The Quirky Traveller from Zoe Dawes of The Quirky Traveller
—Bucket List Happy Hour Spots Around the World from Matt of Land Lopers
According to new data released by Paid On Results, in the first year of running an active affiliate programme, small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) retailers can expect to see sales grow by 10%. This suggests that it is a worthwhile and low-risk investment for companies to take.
Paid On Resluts have analysed the sales data of its retailers and affiliates in order to discover what impact affiliate marketing can have on the growth of sales for merchants
According to the affiliates signed up to the Paid On Results network, the types of websites that are the most likely to drive the highest number of affiliate sales for partner merchants are as follows:
1. Discount websites
2. Comparison websites
3. Cashback websites
4. Sector-specific blogs
5. Product round-up websites
The team at Paid On Results wanted to offer advice to SME retailers on how affiliate marketing can be a cost effective way of increasing sales:
· Working with an affiliate network often involves low set up costs as well as low monthly costs, which reduces the chance of causing a negative impact on ROI in the initial stages of a campaign.
· Campaigns can offer exposure to the UK’s best performing affiliates, resulting in a good chance of a growth in sales.
· Some affiliate networks make it easy to calculate ROI and offer low-risk campaigns, because they only require merchants to pay commission to an affiliate when a sale is made.
· Affiliate marketing sends highly targeted and motivated traffic to merchant’s websites, increasing the chances of sales.
Graeme Sandwell, Managing Director of Paid On Results, said the following: “We want retailers to know the benefits of running an active affiliate programme. Although the average SME retailer with an affiliate programme will see 10% sales growth in the first year as a merchant with us, in reality that percentage has the potential to be much higher.
“Merchants, whatever their size, should take a chance on affiliate marketing and see if they can successfully unlock the growth potential tied up in it. It is very likely, judging by our findings, that this is a decision they will not regret!”
Social Media Giants Pinterest are renowned for their anti-affiliate stance. Even following a cash injection from parent company Rakuten – who own the Linkshare affiliate network – Pinterest does not seem likely to change their tack.
Pinterest has removed Amazon affiliate links, blocked certain tracking URLs including Google Analytics UTM codes, and even declared Linkshare tracking links as spam. Despite this, it is still possible for a business to use Pinterest legitimately, although increasingly companies are looking elsewhere for a way to build a business around making it easy for people to share photos of their interests.
One of the pretenders to Pinterest’s throne is Fancy.com – a ‘style curation’ website. Established in 2009, it allows users to add things you like to the site and ‘fancy’ the posts of other people. Where Fancy differs from Pinterest is that they provide a sales outlet for each of the products. A recent addition to Fancy allows users to add referrals to their post, which means any product shared with friends has the potential to earn you a bit of commission. Whilst this isn’t the full on affiliate linking some are after, it is certainly a better option that Pinterest’s zero tolerance approach.
Pinterest did have a brief foray into the affiliate market when they teamed up with Skimlinks earlier in the year, but they soon pulled the links following somr angry feedback from some of their users. Pinterest could also be decribed as an aspirational website, as many people pin items they will likely not have the means to buy.
Another startup competitor is Wantering.com, a fashion focussed site working on a similar concept to both Pinterest and Fancy. At the moment, they don’t appear to be using affiliate links, but this would appear to be an obvious and easy to implement business model.
The future of affiliate marketing for Pinterest and other photo sharing websites remains unclear, but they will be sure to try to monetise their significant standing in the social media market.
In a move that is likely to resonate throughout the industry, Zanox, one of the leading performance marketing networks in Europe, has completed its takeover of the UK based affiliate network Affiliate Window and its parent holding company, Digital Window Ltd.
The acquisition process began back in 2009 when the two majority shareholders in for Zanox, PubliGroupe and Axel Springer, purchased a 50.1% stake in Digital Window Ltd.
The Zanox group , made up of Zanox, Affiliate Window, eprofessional, and M4N now connects with more than 4200 advertises across a broad range of industries. It is considered one of the market leaders in continental Europe and has strong ties in emerging markets such as Brazil, Turkey, and Eastern Europe. Adding the UK’s biggest performance marketing network in Affiliate Window is sure to strengthen their portfolio further.
To allay any fears Affiliate Window stakeholders might have, managing director Mark Walters issued the following statement following the announcement: “The exit of the founders is merely a formality and we can confirm there will be no change to Affiliate Window’s technology, structure and control, with the current Executive team, wider management team and day to day staff all remaining in place. There have been rumours from competitive sources that the completion of this deal will have implications for Affiliate Window and potentially its partners. We are therefore writing to dispel these claims and clarify matters. The eventual exit of the founders was inevitable as it formed part of their original deal to sell the company. They both took a very ‘hands off’ approach leaving it to be steered and developed by the same Exec team that have worked together for the last nine years.”
Thomas Joosten, Zanox CEO, echoed this sentiment and spoke of his hopes and expectations for the network, “Affiliate Window has a proven track record of offering top brands excellent service, growing mid-tier clients and entering the mobile commerce segment. Our intention is to allow that to continue to flourish whilst merging some of the Affiliate Window advanced processes and technology across the entire zanox group.”
This weekend saw the hacking of major social media player Buffer, which caused many users of the social media content manager to annoy their Facebook friends and followers with weight-loss themed spam.
The problem appears to have since been rectified, and the security of the Buffer app should see improvements following the attack. Buffer CEO, Joel Gascoigne, offered an explanation and apology on the company blog following the débâcle, “I wanted to post a quick update and apologize for the awful experience we’ve caused many of you on your weekend. Buffer was hacked around 2 hours ago, and many of you may have experienced spam posts sent from you via Buffer. I can only understand how angry and disappointed you must be right now.”.
Gascoigne continued, “Not everyone who has signed up for Buffer has been affected, but you may want to check on your accounts. We’re working hard to fix this problem right now and we’re expecting to have everything back to normal shortly.”.
The severity of the event caused Buffer to completely remove its app from Facebook at around midday, Pacific Standard Time, on Saturday 26th October. This caused all posts made via the app to be temporarily hidden for much of the afternoon. With progressions being made throughout the afternoon, Buffer was back online at around 8pm in full working order again.
Questions will rightly be raised over the security of the app, and Buffer have already moved to reassure their million strong user base, “We’ve greatly increased the security of how we handle all social messages being posted and everything is back to normal,” read an evening announcement from the company. Buffer also plan to “publish an in-depth post about what the spammers got access to and what we did to fix it.”.
Getting hacked is the stuff of nightmares for every internet business – reputations can be ruined in an instant and Buffer will have to work hard to overcome this setback. Gascoigne promises to respond to every single e-mail they received regarding the issue, and to continue the post-mortem analysis to found out exactly what happened.
Google is one of the worlds biggest search engines and companies in the world. The search engine that started in a garage is now a world wide phenomenon with millions of people using Google as their search engine of choice. Over the years Google have expanded. After predominately being a search engine the company started to branch out offering pictures, and shopping ideas. Google have now bought Youtube and have rights to the worlds biggest video sharing website on the internet. There is no doubt that Google have succeeded and achieved what they set out to do. However, the big question now is maintaining improvement. Google have recently started their new social media channel labelled Google plus. This has been fairly disappointing for Google, and although it has become a tool for many businesses, the social media channel falls short of social media kingpins Facebook and Twitter. Google have also recently launched their Google drive program, which enables businesses to store and share a variety of different data. This has helped businesses across the world as all the data available to them is stored on Google drive.
Google are also known for the great treatment of their staff. Google provide on site doctors to their staff to ensure that all staff are treated when sick, Google also provide their staff with Japanese Toto toilets which ensure that all staff is clean and fresh after they have visited the toilet. Google are also big on water-sports and give their staff the opportunity to swim in the mini pools that are on Google’s site. The mini pools include one of Google’s lab pools where the pools waves are manipulated and act as a water treadmill, where you can swim for hours. Google also offer the conference bike where employees have to work together in order to get the bike to move. This provides an excellent team building exercise as well as providing the staff with a lot of fun. Google also offer their staff free food around the world famous Goolgeplex. Here staff are able to eat at the cafeteria free of charge which is also a massive perk for all employees. The only food that costs money at the Googlplex is the vending machines where Google have incorporated a competitive pricing system where the more unhealthy the food, the higher the price. This is to ensure that employees don’t get fat and eat healthier. Google also offer free haircuts to employees. This is an excellent perk as staff can get their hair cut free of charge by a variety of mobile hairdressers. Google also have a ball pit on site. Here members of the staff are able to jump into the ball pit and have a lot of fun in the process. As you can see Google think highly of their employees that has resulted in higher productivity levels for the business.
Recently Google celebrated their birthday by offering the world an interactive Google Doodle that allowed for users to take part in an interactive pinnate game. However, Google also announced the Hummingbird update as part of their birthday plans. The Google Hummingbird update has chnged the search engines algorithm which has brought changes and allowed Google to handle “Conversational searches” which enables more accurate searches on complex queries. Google Hummingbird also embraces the use of mobile usage which is expected to overtake desktop in two years time. Hummingbird also presents a new change in Googles old method of keyword searches. The Keyword search ignored the use of certain words, however, now Google Hummingbird takes into account a wide variety of different words in order to get the best search possible. Google Hummingbird’s main focus is the context of different words and how they link together, this algorithm makes Google searches a lot more accurate and efficient.
This evolution has also raised the question of SEO’s part and if it really is dead. However, this is not the case as the new algorithm has ensured that those who are willing to put effort in will reap the rewards. Page specification is also included kin the Google update and instead of taking you to a website’s home page, google are committed to taking their users to the exact page. This means less clicks and better efficiency. Google have also put a lot of emphasis on the quality of the sites on their rankings. The top ranked websites will need to have quality written content both on and off the pages so users can not only see a page but provide links. Website owners will have to find out ways of implementing new content but do it in such a way that make them authoritative amongst search engines and readers.
Overall, the Google Hummingbird update is a positive and has made searching a lot easier and more effective than t has been before. It is clear that Google are wanting to promote more detailed content. Website owners will have to incorporate this into their sites in order to achieve higher rankings in Google. Google are one of the biggest companies in the world and have come a long way from starting in a garage. Google believe in treating their staff right and have excellent values. The Hummingbird update has made searching for a website easier as the whole of a users search is taken into consideration, not just the keywords. Google will want to continually grow over the next few years and will definitely look to expand as they have already done with Google Mail and Google Drive.
Facebook has made quite a few updates to its ad units this year. To name just a few of these changes, Facebook has launched mobile app ads, streamlined its ads products and enabled the ability to target based on recency. GM claimed that ads on Facebook didn’t pay off and stopped running ads on the social network. These improvements were designed to help improve performance of ads and GM has since resumed advertising on Facebook.
With a redesigned ad buying experience, Facebook is now enabling brands to ensure their ads perform better. You will now start with objectives that you want to reach with each ad, including clicks to website, website conversions, Page post engagement, Page Likes, app installs, app engagement, in-store Offer claims, and event responses. Based on the objective you choose, Facebook will give you their recommended type of ad that is appropriate to your objectives, such as a Page post link ad if you are looking to drive clicks to a website. During and after your ad runs, Facebook will show how your ad performed against the objective.
With this new ad buying interface, Facebook is changing the way advertisers go about buying ads. By putting the objective of advertising first, Facebook is encouraging marketers to think about the performance of advertising instead of simply in terms of numbers. As advertisers actually see their ads meet objectives, they will be more likely to spend money on Facebook ads again.
Facebook’s new focus on performance will help benefit the social network and also encourage more advertisers to utilize the platform, hopefully it will help shift the entire industry in this direction.
Last night saw the launch of our FREE local training initiative, bringing together local businesses for impartial tips and advice to help drive their digital presence forward. Last night we had a great mix of local businesses pop along for an informal session covering the basics of online by leading industry peer, Pete Dickenson.
You can download the slides here Training Slides and I have included some of the links to the websites we showed below;
Bright Digital Minds Digital Cheat Sheets
Targeted Media – Shane’s PPC agency
FrostBox – Maggie’s free social media backup solution
ImpactTag – Pete’s analytics software
Social Media Revolution YouTube Video
Some great examples of youtube videos that can be made at home…
A Great blog example with a mix of posts and information
The 29th – 30th October 2013 see the return of the London Performance Marketing Insights conference and expo at the Westminster Park Plaza. Along with hundreds of attendees, it’s a chance to meet some of the peers of the industry, attend thought provoking sessions and grab a few beers at the networking events.
This year, I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking there! I’ll be giving a talk on the best free tools to use for hands on affiliate management;
10 Free Tools For Sourcing and Managing Affiliates
Under pressure to grow your affiliates or get them ‘doing more’? Have no budget to spend? Fear not! During this session you’ll learn ten of the top FREE tools of the trade when it comes to affiliate management.
You’ll see real life examples of the hands on tools that affiliate managers use and how you can harness these tools when back at your desk. Expect to hear quick and easy solutions that can help source potential diamonds in the rough and get those affiliate sales growing.
Use the code SPKLON13%10 to save 10% on your pass!