Friday, January 30, 2009

Personalized Valentines Gifts...with free shipping!

Back by demand (and finding a few needed supplies), I now have a limited number of Romantic Artifact necklaces available in my Etsy shop...and just in time for Valentines Day! They really make the perfect special gift as they are totally unique, customizable and quite romantic!

Place an order before Valentines Day and I will ship for FREE!
Getting Started with Project Wonderful

I had been looking for appropriate online advertising venues for my Etsy shop when I discovered Project Wonderful. I’ve been using it for a few months now and thought I’d construct a simply “how-to” tutorial to help others who might be confused by Project Wonderful’ website. Yes, Project Wonderful isn’t the most intuitive and easy to understand website however I do think that once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to use and a pretty cool tool!

Below I provide some basic information on what Project Wonderful is, how to orient yourself in the tool, and how to get started using it. There are many ways to look at data, check your ad’s performance, create and maintain campaigns, ect however I am simply going to take you through a few of the “must know” pieces to Project Wonderful. Once you’ve played around in the tool and gained some familiarity, I would recommend that you then begin to look around at the other tool options.

What is Project Wonderful?
Unlike most advertising channels where you pay a set fee to place your ad for a period of time or where you pay-per-ad-click, Project Wonderful uses a bidding system to place your ad on websites registered with them. We’ll discuss more about what it means to place a bid later.

Checking Out the Options
Many website and blog owners have created ad space on their websites and then registered with Project Wonderful to fill those spaces. The first thing to do once you’ve landed on Project Wonderful’s home page is to sign-up. This is a standard process so we’ll skip discussing it. Once you are a member of their website, it’s time to start checking out your advertising options!

Searching for an Ad Spot
Click on “Place a New Bid” in the top navigation bar. You’ll then see a page filled with filters (options) you can use (or not use) to search for the perfect place for you to place your banner ad. In the first column, you can select to search only websites that allow certain banner sizes. I have only created a 125X125 banner so far, so currently I’m only searching for sites that allow that size.

In the second column, you can choose to filter by different types of websites. If you select none of these then you won’t limit your search returns. Don’t always assume that your ad will do best on art sites because you sell art. People that read comics or buy music also like to buy art!

In the third column there are a variety of additional filters you can place on your search. For simplicities sake, we’re going to just look at the “Popularity” filter.

Just as a trial run, let’s do this together. Let’s select only the 125X125 sized banners from the first filter, select nothing from the second filter and then on the third filter column, let’s click on “Popularity”. This does pretty much what you might expect…it tells you which sites are most “popular” or rather, which receive the most views. You can see which websites get the most views either by historicals (number of views they received say last week) or by views they’ve received specifically for today. Let’s look for a website that usually gets pretty good readership based on their history. So let’s enter between “30,000” and “100,000” and leave it set to “page views” over the past 5 days.

Now that we have set the filters we want, we’ll hit the green “search” button at the page bottom. So to recap, we’re searching for all websites within Project Wonderful’s listings that allow 125X125 banner ads and generally receive between 30,000 and 100,000 page views a day.

Search Return page
So now we’re staring at a long laundry list of sites that fit our criteria and a whole lot of data for each. Don’t be intimidated by this…this is the fun part! Now you get to go shopping! So what is the information you really want to know in order to pick a good site to advertise on? For me it was how many views does the site receive and how much is it going to cost me to put an ad there….so let’s just focus on those two pieces of information. We can see in the 7th column how many page views the site receives a day. In the 9th column we can see how much the current bid is. Basically the first thing I look for is to see which sites have the most views with the lowest current bid. It’s a good place to start anyway. There are other strategies you can try later as you get more comfortable.

You may be wondering what the charts are….
Display Trends – graphs how many times the ad box you’re bidding on has been shown
Bid Trends – graphs the bid average each day over the last 30 days (see more in upcoming sections)

What is a Bid?
The bidding system is simpler than it may seem. You are bidding on the ability to place your ad in a certain spot. The bid price refers to the price you will pay if your ad is in that spot for 24-hours.

For example, there are three people bidding on an ad spot; the first person bids $1, the second bids $2 and the third person bids $3. The third person then wins the bid and her ad gets placed. If nobody else places a higher bid and that ad stays in that spot for a full 24-hours, then $3 is paid for that spot. If the $3 bid remains the winning bid for only 2 hours, then the $3 bid is prorated for the 2 hour period ($3 for 24-hours = approx 12 cents an hour. 2 hours in that spot would then cost 24 cents).

Still confused about bidding? Consider this, unlike an auction site where you’re bidding on an item that once you take, it won’t be available to anyone else, on Project Wonderful, you’re bidding to be able to “stand” in a spot. As soon as you’re outbid, you step down and someone else takes the spot. However, as soon as the bid drops or you bid higher, you can step back up. This all happens automatically as long as you haven’t reached a date or expense cap that you may have set.

Additionally, you can set your bid to expire either on a certain date or when a certain dollar amount is hit. So I can bid $3 a day for a spot and that bid will expire in 2 days or when $4 is spent…whichever comes first. This will be better explained in the next section.

Placing a Bid
Want to place a bid? Awesome! If you haven’t already uploaded a banner and added funds to your account, please do so and see my section below for guidance if you need to.

To place a bid on your desired site, click the “Place a Bid” link and icon on the far right of the search page listings.
· If there are more than one ad spots on this site, it will start by asking you to choose which one you’d like to bid for. You’ll only win one but selecting them all will allow you to get the best one.
· Next, select which of your banners you’d like to use.
· Next, enter your best bid. Remember, a bid is how much you’re willing to pay per day to have your ad on your selected site. It works like auction sites in that if you put a max bid of $5 and the current bid is $3, it will automatically bring you up to the next increment, $3.10.
· When do you want your bid to start? Remember, bids rise and fall for a spot regularly so if you bid under the current bid now, later when the bid price falls, you’ll be the winner.
· When do you want your bid to expire? Do you want to place an expense cap?

Uploading a banner and Adding Funds
To upload a banner ad that you’ve created, click on the “My ads” link in the top navigation bar. From there, click on the “create a new ad” link. Specify the size and type of banner you’re uploading. Next, you’ll provide the link where you’ll want viewers to go when they click on your ad. Then provide the text you’ll want them to see when they hover over your ad (Buy great widgets here!) and finally, give your banner a name. This is a name that only you will see but make sure it’s something you can use to distinguish this banner from other ones you may later upload.

Select your banner file by clicking on “browse” and selecting your file from your computer. The last step then is to give your banner a rating; unless you’re banner has mature content or conversely, is targeted for children; just select “no special rating”.

To add funds to your account, click on the “My funds” link on the top navigational bar. You can add funds and withdrawal funds at any time. Project Wonderful connects to your PayPal account. This is pretty simply and you can add funds by entering the amount on the left side of the screen, or withdrawal funds on the right side of your screen.

Monitoring Bids and Ads
So now that you have some banner ads running through Project Wonderful, how can you tell if they’re being seen and clicked on? To see performance stats on your ads, click on “My bids” in the top navigational bar. This will automatically show you all your unexpired bids. You can see by the smiley face icon whether you have the winning bid or a loosing bid or whether the banner is offline for some other reason. From here, click on the “View Performance” link on the far right side of your bid.

In the 8th and 9th columns you can see how many times the page your ad is on has been viewed (Total Page Views) and then how many times your ad has been clicked on (Total Clicks). If your ad has been running a while and you want to see a day-by-day viewing of clicks, select the “View Historical Performance” link and icon on the far right side of your bid. Alter the date range if you wish or just hit “go”. You’ll then see how many clicks your ad received by day.

There are many strategies that one can employ when deciding the best sites to place a bid on, how much to bid and when to bid. I am just beginning to think through this and formulate some of my own.

One that I think is interesting and plan to test out, is what I call “riding it out”. Consider the possible benefit of placing a long-term bid on a site and setting your bid to be near the low point of where the bid hits (see the site’s Bid Value chart to see what the low points and high points are). Every time there is a bidding lull and the bid price falls on the site, your ad would be the one filling in the gap….for cheap!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First post / Introductions

Well, here we are at my very first posting.  This will be fun, huh?  

I'm here because I think (I hope) I have something unique to offer...I am duplicitous.  That is to say, I have a split personality of sorts.  I hope that both you and I can reap the benefits of this multi-directional and sometimes conflicting thought structure that lives in my head.  

Let me better explain, I am by day, an Information Technology Project Manager.  Methodologies, processes and formalities reign and I really love the structure and tangible metrics that it provides.  However, I am by night, an artist; a crafter.  This side is ruled by nebulous and unformed ideas, chaos that serendipitously falls into order and succumbing to the creative forces and voices that direct me.

I believe that this duplicitous thinking gives me the benefit of being able to create an artistic product and know how to run the business side; market, track, sell and grow.  

At any rate...I have fun trying.

Within this blog I plan to share ideas and test strategies for creating and marketing new products, tracking what works, maintaining my Etsy site and so on.