Category Archives: Affiliate Marketing

Bizarre search terms driving traffic

Just a short post: I’ve had a cursory look through  my blog stats (wordpress’s very own) and am rather alarmed at where my traffic is coming from. It seems the most popular terms which my blog appears has to do with young, red haired girls. Yes, this is due to the blog post of months ago where I discussed the internet-based show Quarterlife by the guys who made My So Called Life. MSCL if you don’t know, starred a very young Claire Danes as a young teen who is distraught and confused and other teenage emotions as well. She dyes her hair bright red in one episode, I mentioned it once or twice in the post. 

I can’t imagine what most people are looking for (/snark), but they must be so disappointed to come across the blog of yours truly. I am especially concerned over a particular person who was looking for ‘red hair cleavage’. The disappointment is practically palpable. I have no idea what ‘red hair cleavage’ refers to but I can only imagine that the resulting blog post was less than satisfactory. The ramblings of a young woman about digital marketing, general geekery, and shoes can only serve as the biggest let down since the Phantom Menace. 

Le sigh, I just realised that repeating my bizarre search terms will probably make matters worse – or maybe it’ll just drive even more BSTs and it can turn into a weekly feature?  What bizarre search terms drive traffic to your site?

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The end of the halcyon days of web 2.0?

Much to do has been made in recent months over the impending (although some may say it’s already begun) burst of our second .com bubble in 10 years. In recent months, we’ve all enjoyed the schadenfreude fest on the news, watching the bankers and top douchebags who wrecked the world’s economies get their comeuppance. We thrilled at their saddened faces as they carried their belongings out of their offices in those little boxes – distraught that bottle service at ‘trendy’ hotspots will no longer be amongst their bags of goodies they’d enjoyed for far too long, whilst the people they screwed over try to figure out how to stay in their homes. Of course, this comeuppance was topped with the whole DABA phenomenon – the dominion of douchebaggery crumbles before our very eyes and we laugh.

However, those of us in the digital sector should not be so cocky as we’re in for a rude awakening of our own. It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.

Ok maybe I’m  being rather dramatic but all the signs are pointing to another major shift of the proverbial plates. We’ve had about 10 years of unprecedented growth: anyone with a cool idea that taps into all the crazy shenanigans of the youngin’s could have their company valued for bajillions of monies and live it up! Huzzah! Forget the business plans and ideas to make cold hard cash – make it popular and the VCs and/or other monied types can figure out how to make it spit out cash. 

Those days are pretty much over, and an industry is forced to grow up. It’s highly doubtful that 2.0 will come to a complete end, that the bubble will burst and other cliches as well. I mean, the last big internet-based boom and bust didn’t really break anything, just our complacency and the way things were done. And now it looks like we’re due for another massive spring clean: the ride we’ve been on for the last 4-5 years is coming to an end and we are going to have to do some serious re-thinking.

It’s like the approach of adulthood after a few wild years of teenage insanity – you got away with it then  because you could. Now, we can’t get away with it and we need to grow up and act like adults (*shudder*).  Now we have to have proper business plans, worry about how to make money (and real money, not speculative-someone-will-buy-us-for-insane-cash money) and other things we well. 

So, not only are we all going to suffer the next couple years of recession (thanks bankers!) and job insecurity, but those of us in a relatively young industry (one we chose precisely because it was so young and away from the stuffiness of older industries) are going to have to do some growing up. We don’t have to be happy about it, but we’ve got to do it.

Where in the world is Kerry?

Ok so I’ve been pretty MIA these past several weeks – so what’s up with that? you may ask. Well, a lot of stuff’s been going on. Firstly, I flew back home to Jordan for my bestest friend’s wedding – quick and shocking as the whole getting together was, she seems happy and in spite of the bridezilla-ness and the need to ply her with Zanax and some champagne it all went super well. I did however, discover that I hate weddings – despite 2 of my closest friends getting married this year, and a number of weddings I’ve been to as George’s plus one. Maybe I’m just wedding-ed out, considering I’m not used to going to too many.

And after all the business around the wedding, a few of the friends from abroad got together and did the whole tour of Jordan and I went along more as translator and token Arabic speaker. It was great – I do love doing the tourist round that you somehow never really end up doing unless someone’s visiting. We all went to Petra overnight, then camping in Wadi Rum, then drove up to the Dead Sea (which is the escape from Amman and all the bullshit during swim season). And best of all, I got a tan – again! Some pics are available here if you care to see. George has more and as soon as he gets his on flickr then I’ll put in a link.

But it was rapidly back to reality and what had become freezy Glasgow on my return and continuing the major job hunt. Yep boys and girls, am still in the process of job getting. I’ve had some really good leads and it’s come down to some final couple but between a rabid indecisiveness and god knows what, things haven’t moved on. More irons in the fire as they say and I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve also found it hard to find inspiration for my writing considering I’ve been out of the game for while. I mean it’s pretty hard to rant about stuff when it’s suddenly not your whole life anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still think I did the right thing leaving Equator. I believe I was pigeonholed into what I was doing, and there was little room for progress and moving up. Plus the challenges moved from learning something new and figuring things out to trying not to allow myself to be run over by the bus on the way to work in the morning (scary when you start contemplating a stay in hospital as preferable but there you go!). I’m not really insane honest, just was very unhappy. But there you go, shit happens and for the most part you learn to deal but sometimes you realize that you’re going nowhere fast. I have always believed that you don’t have the right to sit and bitch and moan and not try to do anything about your situation – so I did.

I still do have a lot of rants, but I guess that’s for another time (still trying to find the diplomatic language here). I do still keep up with some of the blogs that I live by (professionally) and believe it or not with the forum. I am really bummed out that I couldn’t go to the expo and was considering going on my own – but sunshine, best friend, and a tan called! Tough choice that was, I tell ya. And now a days, I spend my time applying for jobs, interviews, occassional gym visit (need to go more!), and catching up with some old friends in the form of John Hughes movies (seriously, they have some great soundtracks). I am a mega stress puppy at the moment though, I hate not working and it’s sorta driving me up the wall. But hopefully this will all be remedied soon.

Anyway, more to come but thought I’d drop a line and share some pics so enjoy!

When crap email campaigns turn me into angry hulk type person

Ok, so I’ve been fairly rubbish lately at updating my blog. It’s really weird considering that it’s been a bit harder to think of things to write about ever since leaving equator – as a lot of the rantage was inspired by things I came across in my day to day affiliate management job. I do have a couple questions for the affiliate universe burning in my blog’s saved posts but I am currently trying to figure out how to write it diplomatically. Anyhoo, that’s neither here nor there, the point is although I’ve been keeping up with all the blogs I usually read and finding new ones I do feel a bit rant-less and hard up for inspiration – well at least one that’s related to affiliate marketing (I have plenty of rants about why was Rachel Zoe featured in Vogue? Why is she even taken seriously as a stylist? WHY? And some vapid columnist for Grazia – I only bought it because I was on the train to Dundee – and her lame, insipid, and vacuous coverage of New York fashion week).

Granted there have been a lot of things going on this week in the universe of internet and affiliate marketing. There’s the whole blogrush phenomenon, as well as a myriad of industry events that I would love to go to – Adtech London especially, as well as the Affiliate Summit and A4U expo (sadly I resigned before I got a chance to convince equator to send me there – oops!). Oh well, am sure there will be others in the near future. However, I’d have loved to go as it looks like it’ll be pretty interesting. I’d have paid my own way to go of course, but with footing the bill for another plane ticket home in a couple weeks (best friend’s wedding) I just couldn’t justify it.

I am looking forward to the reports back from these events though – and I know there will be plenty! Especially from Keith Bond who will be attending Ad tech London. It is a bummer though, and while the job search continues I have to live vicariously through our very active blogging community. Again, I digress. The reason for this blog post is due to the fact that I’ve taken umbrage with a marketing attack on my email inbox over the weekend.

So I check my email this weekend and I have an email from Specialoffers@asos.com – which is a bit weird as I’ve already received their weekly update, but figure hey why not? I open the email and find this –

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Out of curiosity I click on the Play Message button and am re-directed here. It was a freaking ad for Scottish Hydro Electric! WTF? What does Scottish Hydro Electric have to do with ASOS? Why are ASOS promoting an electric company? And why are ASOS allowing Scottish Hydro Electric to advertise through their system using their database – especially when I specifically ticked the box saying: no thanks to receiving messages from third parties! This really pissed me off – and worse, it was a horrendous campaign anyway! What is WITH the donkey? And it’s not a clever leap ad – I’m not one to needs things to be obvious but come on! And worst of all, when I clicked on it again to show someone it said ‘My aren’t you keen? You’re already signed up!’ Signed up to what? TO WHAT?!

Judge for yourselves and have a look but this seriously pissed me off. I’m all for guerrilla marketing and blah blah yadda yadda but this was unrelated and really just a crap campaign! I will be writing a rather angry letter to ASOS about this and will post it up here when I’m done (along with my angry letter to Grazia about that insipid columnist – it’s a week of angry letters methinks). I know it could be a by-product to my alone time lately but it’s seriously pissed me off so much I want to punch the hell out of that smug freaking donkey! Or maybe I should get out to the gym more. Anyway have a look and feel free to comment on my downward spiral of insanity.

Can merchants restrict SEO affiliates from ranking for their brand terms?

I made a rather flippant remark earlier on in the year regarding increasingly difficult (at times outrageous) demands from merchants when it comes to affiliate prorams and their brands. Said flippant remark along the lines of: ‘Before you know it, they’ll be forbidding affiliates from outranking them on their brand terms in Google! Scoff scoff!’. Hmmm, and yep, the rumblings are starting all over the place. It doesn’t seem to be a big issue just now but I can see the dust of the forthcoming raging hordes gathering over the hilltops.

First of all, let me say that I am 100% behind a merchant protecting their brand name – they’ve spent a lot of time and money on this brand and I totally get it, and to be honest I don’t see why many exceptions should be made. Now I love affiliate marketing, and I get that a lot of affiliates get jerked around by merchants but on somethings I really disagree – it’s just like: ok so the rules have changed now, how can we make this work? Let’s all move on here. But if the merchants are in the wrong, then I will try my upmost to make sure affiliates get a fair shake – although I may not always be successful (sometimes, as with everything in life, you get more of an outcome if you just repeatedly bang your head against a brick wall).

Anyway, I digress – the point is, despite all the mixed feelings outlined above I’ve always thought it was a bit of a stretch to ask affiliates NOT to outrank the merchants in search engines (usually Google). I’m sorry, but come on! The merchant will likely have the brand in their url as well as all the usual bits and pieces that make websites all SE friendly. If an affiliate site actually manages to outrank you for your OWN brand term than maybe you should be giving your SEO guys a good kicking rather than your affiliates. It should be fairly easy for a merchant to rank on brand terms, and in the case that an affiliate outranks you then maybe you should look into exactly what your friendly, neighborhood hired SEO guys have been charging you for.

As anyone who’s tried to get a site up a search engine’s rankings will tell you, it’s difficult to predict where your site will turn up and control what it does while it’s up there. Sites, especially affiliate sites, are totally subject to the SE gods and their will. It’s not like a PPC ad where you can lower your bid etc, and semi-control what and where your ad shows up. I think the fact that more and more SEO affiliates are showing up, merchants and networks (and us lowly agency folk) will have to think up terms and conditions to incorporate the whole SEO camp to help protect their brand but totally forbidding affiliates to outrank them in search engine’s natural listings is bordering on the hysterical. I get a bit frustrated sometimes and want to just say: ‘Ok, let’s all take a really deep breath, relax. Ok now let’s use some logic here this time’. Merchants need to really start viewing affiliates as marketing partners, and affiliates need to hold up their end of the bargain by accepting what it means to be a partner and act like one.

And on that note, I’m off to listen to some Pony Up and my new favorite song The truth about cats and dogs (is that they die). Meh, I like it!

Don’t tar all us agency folk with the same brush

I was just having a looksee at some of the blogs and as a usual reader of John Lamerton’s blog i was particularly struck by a post of his. I have to say, it was an insightful post about why he hates affiliate marketing (after a why I love affiliate marketing post). The bit that really made me chuckle aloud was his section entitled ‘Too many suits, not enough substance’. I totally know where he’s coming from and to a VERY large extent agree – I’ve seen it, and to be perfectly honest I don’t blame him at all. I do love affiliate events – I like meeting the affiliates, and I’ve met some great guys (James Avery and Keith Bond always will get positive mention from me). And I have had some great laughs, but the description of ‘ the plethora of arrogant tossers in their flash suits, coked up, trying to stuff business cards into my hand whilst trying to get into the toilets’ made me acutally laugh out loud and nod in agreement. At times, the aforementioned types do smack of ’80s yuppie of the worst kind a la American Psycho (or the worst episodes of Miami Vice – whatever floats your boat and turns you on).

In response I say: ‘you’re right’ but not all us agency folk are bad, coked up tossers. It’s really hard at these things (I know when I went to my first event not too long ago) to get talking to affiliates and just saying hello. They see that yellow agency name tag and run a mile. I’ve always tried to just talk to people like they were intelligent creatures – as I would like to be spoken to. It does get hard trying to get people’s attention, and with the enormous number of people all vying for the attention of affiliates it could be a bit of an obstacle to ‘affiliate managing/relationship building’.

In the end, I stopped overthinking it did my own thing and well, we’ll see where that got me. In the end, I know what John’s referring to but we ain’t all that bad – honest! Some of us are passionate about the industry, and want to see the right thing being done (whether by the affiliate or by merchant). I know John’s referring to a specific breed of event goer but it has its ramifications on us regular folk. So I’ll make a deal to any affiliate out there – give agency types a couple minutes of your time and if you find you’re dealing with someone you think is ..ahem… of the aforementioned, then feel free to walk away. But at least give some of us a chance – we might actually be, well, human.

The end draws near.. some thoughts

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My time at Equator as an affiliate manager is rapidly drawing to an end. For those of you who don’t know, I handed in my notice in the beginning of August as I decided it was time for a change and didn’t want to be here anymore. I know that I definitely want to stay in online marketing, even affiliate management to an extent but I really want to try other things as well – get the chance to flex the old grey matter and take advantage of all the crazy shiznit that goes on the interweb. So I’m off, exploring other opportunities in the online marketing game.

I’ve been at Equator nearly 2 years – and in that time I’ve learned a helluva lot, thanks mostly to Tara Moar who had to teach me everything I know now about affiliates, lessons lasting for about 4 hours straight a day transatlantic, for many months which isn’t easy on both sides – especially when you’re teaching someone who is very, very new to the scene. I also had a scary trial by fire when Tara managed to get knocked up and went off to have a baby with her lovely husband Matt. Left on my own to deal with all the programs, which I managed to do quite swimmingly. I still believe that there’s no better way to learn than by jumping in the deep end and hope you know how to swim! Tara is definitely one of the best people out there in the field, and a tremendously patient teacher with a big heart and I will definitely miss her above everyone else.

Mike and Colin – the two SEO gurus and ridiculous human beings, who’ve made some very difficult months recently more bearable. Always a good laugh and many a piss-taking (usually of me, but every once in a while Mikey will do something ridiculous that will just feed the flames for many a happy week). They’re always looking for something new to try and do, and I am awestruck by their passion and their desire to do more – I have to admit, I’m waiting for the day they do something great (it’s just a matter of time really). I think I will definitely miss sitting across from them and just the general chat – online marketing related or not, they really brightened my day (Colin with his perpetual grin and Mike with his perptual grouchiness). Plus, more importantly they’ve been good friends and have taught me a ridiculous amount and taught me to open my mind – space is the limit with the internet.

And so there it is, after all this time I’m off somewhere else (who knows where yet!) but I’m sure I’ll be popping back up on the scene soon. And then who knows? Maybe it’s time to upsticks and move away again. All I know is that life’s too freakin’ short and I want to see and do stuff. Work should be fun or at least a bearable means to an end – the end being seeing stuff and going places you’ve never been before. One person I’ve developed a ridiculous amount of admiration for is Kirsty McCubbin. She moved from affiliate manager to affiliate and has used that to fund her round the world trip. The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you can do it from everywhere – provided you have a laptop and access to the internet. Her posts on places she’s been are brilliant and I’m tremendously jealous and wish her the very best!

I guess what happens happens, I’ll just go with the flow and see where life takes me. Too much crap has happened that I’ve stopped my plan-making, life finds a way to wreck them horribly if you even try. So I don’t, instead I spend a stupid amount of time laughing hysterically at the dramatic prairie dog. I’m a girl of simple pleasures.