ReveNews Blog Posts Archive – 2009

Gary Vaynerchuck Keynote Live Blog

January 12th, 2009 by Brad Waller

Really excited about keynote. Room has the DNA of what excites me. Know how to make money.

Too many people looking for a single when they have the talent for home runs. Swing for the fences.

Wants to open for Q&A. Of course you have to kill it. Social media doesn’t mean jack s$#%. Social media is business. These thing are tools.

We do care when you take a dump.

Content. If you blog or vlog, content is important. But don’t spend too much time on content. Content is King, but Community is Queen – and the queen runs the household.

Be authentic. He spends 45 minutes to an hour a day on content. The rest of the time is monetizing, biz dev, phone calls. 8 to 9 hours a day of pure interaction on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Gotta really ask yourself “Where am I going”

Global divide in Socmed world. You have the artists and the entrepreneurs. Why can’t you be both?

Transparency: If you have cockroaches in the back of your pizza shop, clean it up. If you have something to hide, it will come out. When he launched PleaseDressMe he told everyone everywhere that all links were affiliate links.

PleaseDressMe revenue is 50/50 affiliate/other. Selling sponsorships pn the side. Create more angles to make money. Want to make money? Pick up the phone and ask for sponsorship.

People don’t want to see ROI now. Newspaper industry will get their face kicked in. Media buyers just buying banners on sites that don’t matter and TV shows where you won’t get customers.

One favor: everyone trying to convince the mainstream. Don’t tell them. The longer they don’t know, the more benjamins in our pockets.

This is not the great depression people! They did not do this in the 30′s? Did you see the food left in the halls in the hotel? That s#@% would be snapped up in the 30′s!

Build brand equity. When you build brand equity,  you always have the opportunity to make money. Don’t build for a platform. Google might not be around any more. Same for Twitter.

Powerful shift. Game changer is direct to consumer. Twitter is Barry Bonds – word of mouth on steroids.

Now you have to build brand equity in something you are passionate about so that when you wake up in the morning you feel like rocky and drink eggs, want to eat snow, and pick up people in wheelbarrows.

Have a goal. I want to buy the NY Jets, so I have to make billions of dollars and get on Oprah. If you want to smoke weed and fish in Jamaica, fine. If you know where you are going, you are 90 percent of the way there.

Q&A:

What’s the strategy behind what you do? The strategy is that there is no strategy.

How do you create boundaries and separate work from family?  Wife is very independent. You need a partner who understands you and you understand them. Feeling and knowing your family.

How to make charity project raise $10 million not $1 million? 4 to 7 hours a day on getting on Oprah or the today show. Pound people into submission.

Newbie merchant getting into this digital viral marketing thing.  What is the next step? First and foremost, building brand equity. Once you establish brand equity you can get higher profit margins. Reach out to people in digital space who like your products. You have to spend 7 to 10 hours a day learning what these crazy kids are talking about. Do it yourself. Don’t hire someone else to learn it – they might leave.

Recommendations for this crowd? How do you cross pollinate? Fishing in other ponds. Saw opportunity in social media. Everyone gets together. Go to the conferences where nobody knows what you know. Chamber of commerce event where you are f%$#*&% Yoda. Go somewhere else!

How do you handle getting thousands of messages a day? Took a major step back in the wine business to build personal brand equity. Nobody has enough patience. He spent 18 months spending 8 to 10 hours a day joining communities while he let his $50 million business stop growing before anyone cared about Wine Library.

When PleaseDressMe launched you had the big flash. How has it carried through long term? The Conan effect. People take it more seriously. Creating the hype to leverage the hype. Used that blast of promotion to build a real business. It got him in the door in the places he needed to get into. Leverage the hype to create business.

Final thoughts: Really honored to talk at this conference. Has a real affinity for this space. Leave here with a thought of where you want to position yourself.


Google and The Doublespeak of “Network Neutrality”

January 27th, 2009 by Brad Waller

Here at ReveNews we strive to provide content not previously published elsewhere. The following article by longtime ReveNews author Brad Waller focuses on Net Neutrality. A timely and important subject worth revisiting.

This column is an outgrowth of a post made on our internal email list. A debate was started by a discussion of the Wall Street Journal article on Google looking to embed their servers with the various cable and network providers, and the intimation that this was a violation of “Network Neutrality.” As the discussion evolved, one participant wrote “This issue is so convoluted, it will require Stephen Hawking to sort it out.”

I’m not Stephen Hawking, but I am a Physicist…

What I get out of this is that Google wants to co-locate their servers inside the facilities of the Telcos so that the pages are served faster. They are asking to pay for this, and not to exclude anyone. This is a way to reduce latency and get better performance; this is not a fast track with preferential treatment. If Google were to ask for exclusive co-location, then there might be an issue. If the service providers were to downgrade everyone else who did not pay, that would be an issue.

Has anyone ever made claims that Akamai was violating Net Neutrality? They have servers located around the globe to optimize the delivery of their customers’ content and no non-customer has complained of unfair treatment when their content was not included for free.

The Net Neutrality issue is that the Telcos want to treat traffic differently by source. One video stream might be slowed down, while another might get the fast pipe. So I may be paying for 15/5 megabit service, but my ISP might decide to throttle some new company down to 1 megabit because they are not paying the extra fee for the best service. Maybe the ISP has their own video streaming service, and they want to charge the competition a dollar a bit to transmit the data, thus cutting everyone out. Maybe they want to charge a million dollars for the service, in which case the biggest services will be able to pay, and the up and coming services will not be able to afford it and fail because customers will see really slow file uploads.

This can be particularly stifling to new services that cannot compete with the established deep pockets and cable companies. What would Twitter do if they were asked to pay a fee for every tweet that gets passed through the network providers service, or risk being “managed” to the point where the real-time benefits are eliminated. Without a revenue stream they would just go away. How about Facebook? They are just starting to monetize their service and something like this might be enough to kill them off. I’m sure that is fine for the providers. But what about consumers?

This whole issue is one of doublespeak. Net Neutrality is really free and open access for all, yet the opposition calls it excessive regulation of the Internet. Senator Ted Stevens kicked this off back in 2006 when he said, “Until somebody tells me what net neutrality means, until they can give me a definition, I don’t want it in there. Right now, nobody knows what it means, so why put it in the bill?”

If nobody knew what it meant, then how did the FCC define it in an agreement with Verizon over their acquisition of MCI in 2005 where they agreed to “adhere to ‘network neutrality’” principles adopted by the FCC earlier this year? So Verizon had to agree to abide by Net Neutrality to get their merger approved, and now that agreement periods are over these companies are arguing that these same principles that they agreed to are confusing and impossible to define, as well as being unneeded government interference with free trade.

I think this issue is too simple for the government. Neutrality at is most basic means that ISPs pass through everything that comes in exactly the same, no matter the protocol (like Comcast) or source. Just treat all Web sites and services as equals with the same access to bandwidth. That way email, Web pages, music, streaming video, P2P traffic, and yes, Google, get the same access to bandwidth without any interference or additional charge.

An ISP or bandwidth provider must route all traffic and treat it equally. Act like a switch: data in, data out.

This article originally appeared in the newsletter for the Internet Oldtimers Foundation.


Affiliate Taxation – Time to Fight Back

March 20th, 2009 by Brad Waller

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware of California (and other) states efforts to copy New York and collect sales tax on affiliate initiated transactions. Collection of sales tax is important, and states are right to be concerned about taxes that are owed to them and not being collected.  But this is the wrong way to go about collecting this money and can easily cause more harm than good.

The California bill is Assembly Bill 178 sponsored by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner. The hearing date on AB 178 has been scheduled for April 13, 2009.

We all learned a hard lesson in New York.  Luckily that lesson is being applied right now in California.  Action needs to be taken now while the bill is still in committee.

The PMA’s Stance

The Performance Marketing Alliance has formed a committee led by the experienced Beth Kirsch who has done lobbying at the federal level.  She has been working with a coalition led by the Chamber of Commence and the California Taxpayer’s Association that includes the big players in the Tech space. This coalition has had success with similar bills in the past. With companies like Google, Yahoo, eBay, and CJ all based in California, there are a lot of big companies with vested interests that are taking actions either as part of this coalition or on their own.

The PMA is a valuable addition to this coalition because we can put a face on the issue.  We can get real people with real stories to talk about what this bill can do to them.  As such, the PMA is leading a grass-roots effort to spread the word about this to as many people in this industry as possible.  They have more in the works as well, with details coming out as they develop.  There are some more meetings today, and strategizing over the weekend.  After that, I expect to see plan laid out.

Likely there will be a need for people who can go to Sacramento, people to make appointments for in-person visits with their own representative, letter writers, and press outreach. If you can help with any of that, please contact the PMA to see how you can help.

Other Resources to Help Combat the Bill

There are other resources to check out as well. CAaffiliates.com is an ABestWeb forum for the discussion of the bill. Both Mark Welch and Scott Jangro have written excellent letter’s on the matter (Mark’s letter (pdf) and Scott’s letter) which I encourage you to read.

How Can You Help?

Discuss the bill with people. Let them know why it’s a bad idea, inform them. If you have a blog, make a post.  If you are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. use them to spread the word and link to places where this is being talked about. Create discussion and make your voice be heard.


ad:tech Day One: Recesssion? What Recession?

April 22nd, 2009 by Brad Waller

ad:tech moved to Moscone West this year which I didn’t notice until I walked into RSA and worried that I had the wrong week for ad:tech. A short walk and I was Moscone West a new three story convention hall.  The first floor was jam packed with people.

If you thought the line at Affiliate Summit was bad in Vegas, you would be amazed.  There were 12,000 people registered and it looked like most of them were in line waiting for their registration material. Luckily I had a press pass and headed inside past the waiting throngs. As with Affiliate Summit, they were forced to tell everyone to just head upstairs and go to sessions without passes.

Talking with ad:tech staff I found that registrations were slightly lower than last year, but you really can’t tell with the show split over three floors.  The exhibit hall is two floors, and all the sessions are on the top floor. The ones I went to were pretty full and the enthusiasm was still abundant.

The ad market is still alive.  Numbers are interesting.  Talking with Frank Addante of Rubicon about the market he sees that while CPMs might be dropping, inventory is growing at a pace that publishers are making about the same money from their growing inventory.  He sees this continuing a bit more, but he also sees more money coming into online with a net gain as time goes on.

Of course, the highlight of the show was the Affiliate Summit Beer Garden.


ad:tech Day Two: Oh, There’s the Recession

April 22nd, 2009 by Brad Waller

After the first day of ad:tech I thought things were going pretty well for the industry.  Day two gave me time to make some more sessions (I live twittered them) and spend some time on the two levels of the exhibit hall.  Many booths were noticeably smaller (Google) or missing (Yahoo!), the tchotchkes were noticeably minimal if they even had them, and the parties were quite often cash bar.

Years past the trip through the show floor for goodies yielded a plethora of cool, weird, and boring items (SF2007SF 2007NY 2008) to tempt you to stop by the booth.  This year there were a few worthwhile things like the purple octopus, but it was mostly pens and handouts.

It looked like there were a ton of parties (eight Tuesday night that I knew of), but very few were open bar.  In the past, every party I was invited to (and as press I get invited to most) was open bar. Companies are still spending the money to get their name out there and make a splash, but they seemingly can’t afford the extra outlay for the alcohol. Not all parties were cash.  The beer was flowing freely in the Beer Garden at the Affiliate Summit Networking party Tuesday evening.

There were some positives. ad:tech added a new part of the show called ADSPACE, dedicated to “contextual advertising.” I have to put it in quotes because there were a number of sessions that lightly touched on contextual ads and got into ad serving, performance marketing, metrics, affiliate programs, etc.

One session was titled “Beyond Text Ads: In Text, Affiliate, Led-Gen, eBay and More!”  This alone shows that ad:tech is expanding and growing into a show that covers all the ways people monetize their sites.  The performance based industry was well represented and every mention I heard talked about how the ROI was superior to other channels.  There was some great discussion on tracking multiple channels and that dollars are being shifted to the channel because it is measurable and performs so well. Real issues such as fraud were brought up, but it was discussed rationally and affiliates were not painted negatively with a broad brush.

I think the addition of the new ADSPACE track and exhibit area was a great idea and will help improve ad:tech as well as the performance marketing industry as a whole.


ad:tech Exhibit Hall – Booth Fails and Observations

April 27th, 2009 by Brad Waller

The ad:tech exhibit hall was an interesting place. There was a booth filled with 2,000 plush purple octopi (that were all given away), a booth with (possibly – and intentionally) offensive t-shirts, and of course a ton of the usual booths. I wrote about the exhibit hall back in 2007 and noted the preponderance of names including”ad”, “click”, and “web” as well as the odd names. This year was much the same.

Of 240 total booths, 23 had a variant of “ad” including 18 that started with it. But the new word that took top honors was “media” with 27 booths where the company had media in the name somewhere. Click and web were not as popular as they once were, although companies starting with e- or i- numbered 13. It did feel like the late 90′s with companies with names that meant nothing or were put together from a few buzzwords. What does media really mean?

Weird names? Yep, they were there too. Can you tell me what Acquisio, bloosky interactive, eXelate, Flypaper, mBlox, Plasmid Media, or Tatto (not Tattoo) Media do? I do have to thank bloosky for use of their booth. They took an extended break the second day and the booth consisted of very cool liquid color floor tiles and comfortable seating surrounded by velvet ropes. Jeremy Schoemaker set up inside and I acted as bouncer for the lounge. Winner for weird names has got to be 2ergo. Not only don’t I know how to pronounce their name, but I have no idea what they do or what industry they might be in based on the name.

But then there were the booth fails. Most of the ones I noticed first were booths where the booth was completely missing a tag line or other description of what they did. When you design a booth for a trade show, you better make sure that a casual attendee can tell exactly what you do and what your value proposition is in ten seconds of looking at the booth when it is empty.

Look at the booths pictured. You have facebookster.com, a company that will rise and fall with Facebook, until they get sued for trademark infringement. After that, Flypaper. I guess the site is so sticky that your customers get stuck and stay there until they die of thirst and starvation. Next comes Netezza. What else can I say about them? Really. I mean what else can I say? Since I didn’t go and talk to them, I had no way to know a thing about them until the second day when they added the card that actually said something about them.

Brandojo (or whatever their name is) has a very colorful and eye catching booth, but they have no explanation of what they do or why we should talk to them Maybe they are a brand builder, or maybe they sell brand name products, or maybe they are a Karate studio. Worse yet for them, there is no description of them in the ad:tech program or handouts, so I can’t even look them up in the literature!

Then there is the logo/name designed by artists but not vetted by a human being. It took a long time to figure out the name of adap.tv because they created such a fanciful font. I think the small version actually is easier to read than when you see it in person. I could tell that the characters were supposed to be letters, but I had to look them up to be sure what their name really was.

It was day two of the show when I took the picture of the empty booth, but if you are going to have one be sure you can staff it full time. Clicks2Customers paid the same for their booth as everyone else, but how much value can you get when there is nobody there at the booth. I can give a workshop on how to man a trade show booth effectively, but step one is to at least be there. An empty booth with a stack of literature is pretty much worthless. You need to be at the booth and actively reaching out to everyone that walks by, but that is fodder for another post…

What is worse than a booth with no tag line and just a weird name? A booth with only a tag line and no name. Great. I know you do E-mail Marketing Software, but who are you? The booth will not cost any more to produce if you add in your Web site and a value proposition. How am I supposed to find you or tell someone to go check your booth out?


The last example is a booth that shows that when you have a weird name that means nothing, you just obfuscate the message with tone of graphics and text that will take 15 minutes to figure out.

Come on people, stop letting artists and engineers design your booths! It does not have to look amazing. It does not have to tell every detail of what you do and how you do it. All you have to do is make an eye catching booth that attracts some attention, has your name/site, your tag line, and your value proposition. If you have an elevator pitch, adapt that. If not, use Dan Janal’s Fool-Proof Positioning Statement and adapt that for your booth.


Affiliate Marketing Helps Companies Grow Even in a Tough Economy

June 15th, 2009 by Brad Waller

Commission Junction released some data today that goes a long way to show that having an affiliate program helps you grow your business compared to competitors without programs. In the most recent Internet Retailer Top 500 guide, they look at the Office Supply category which is listed as one of the top three growth areas last year.

The Office Supply category is listed with a 14% year over year growth in online sales, but that is only half the story. Splitting the Top 500 merchants into those with affiliate programs and those without has surprising results. Just over half the group have a program and they saw a 36% year over year growth. Those of you with a better than average grasp of math should realize that to balance that figure out requires that the other half experience a decline in online sales.

And for those of you who may be ValueClick stockholders or just want to know what else they are proud of, CJ also announced today that for the fourth consecutive year it is the leading choice of performance marketing solutions for more of America’s largest retail Web sites. 62% of the retailers listed in The 2009 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide who work with third-party affiliate marketing partners choose CJ.  CJ’s 62% market share shows growth over last year, when it claimed 53 % of the Internet Retailer Top 500 market share.


Net Neutrality Mandated in $7.2 Billion Broadband Stimulus Funding

July 2nd, 2009 by Brad Waller

Good news for Net Neutrality. This administration has shown that they are committed to the principals of Net Neutrality based on language in the rules recently released for the broadband stimulus funding. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) is offering grants for; deploying broadband infrastructure in under-served areas, enhancing broadband capacity in public computer centers, and promoting sustainable broadband adoption projects. The rules require all grant winners to follow the FCC’s 2005 Internet Policy Statementas well as specifically calling out neutral traffic routing.

This shows that Net Neutrality is not some impossible to understand arcane rules that are anti-consumer like the opponents try to make you think. Opponents talk about extra government regulation, bureaucracy, and confusion because nobody really knows what it means. If the government can explain it in a few sentences in a 121 page document, then how hard can this concept really be to understand?

These rules are specifically called out and described in the Interconnection and Non-Discrimination Requirements section (Page 113) where they require applicants to commit to five obligations (page 114):

  1. Adhere to the principles contained in the FCC’s Broadband Policy Statement (FCC 05-151 adopted Aug. 5, 2005).
  2. Not favor any lawful Internet applications or content over others.
  3. Display network management policies in a prominent location on the service provider’s web page and provide notice to customers of changes to these policies (awardees must describe any business practices or technical mechanisms they employ, other than standard best efforts Internet delivery, to allocate capacity. They must differentiate among applications, providers, or sources,  limit usage; and manage or block access to illegal or harmful content).
  4. Connect to the public Internet directly or indirectly, such that the project is not an entirely private closed network.
  5. Offer interconnection, where technically-feasible, on reasonable rates and terms to be negotiated with requesting parties. This includes both the ability to connect to the public Internet and physical interconnection for the exchange of traffic.

The second one is very specific here in the description where they say that:

This requirement ensures neutral traffic routing. Without a non-discrimination condition, network operators could give preferential treatment to affiliated services, or charge some application and content providers for “fast lanes” that would put others at a competitive disadvantage.

The document continues with text about the AT&T/Bell South merger requirements and notes that this is a more general version, allowing the carriers more room to cache, manage spam, deal with DNS attacks, etc.

Go a few more pages and on page 118 they continue with the justification:

Overall, these five requirements ensure that public funds will support the public goal of open networks. The standards chosen echo established FCC rules, but avoid detailed regulation and allow for flexibility when network management requires differential treatment or exclusivity.

The section concludes by noting that the rules apply for the life of the facilities and that failure to comply would likely be considered breach of their loan or grant agreements at which point one would assume the money would have to be repaid.

This really is great news. If the government is going to be spending our own tax dollars (stimulus funds) to improve broadband coverage across the country, then access should be equal to all for all content.