Southwest Cleverly Upsells Perks

by jim on September 23rd, 2010

While I was waiting in line to security in the San Diego Airport, I noticed that the usual “pilots, crew, and airport personnel” line was replaced with a Southwest Fly By line (rather it was an aisle, because it was empty) for Business Select passengers. As I slowly walked my way up to the TSA security checkpoint, I realized that Southwest has very cleverly inserted a lot of upsells in an attempt to generate more revenue.

Whereas many airlines have gone the “ding you with fees” route, from fees for checked bags to RyanAir’s fees for talking to a human being, Southwest has gone another direction. They’ve taken their efficient “no assigned seating” boarding policy and given customers a way to spend $10 to get checked in early, and thus assigned a better seating order. They’ve given Business Select customers a perk of passing the security line at some airports, in addition to boarding first, since Business Select customers can’t really get better seats (all seats on Southwest flights are the same, no first or business class).

All in all, while it’s hurt their bottom line, they’ve built up brand support and been able to give people the option of paying more for these perks. It gets people to pay more without having them get angry (how many people would pay more to bypass the security line?).

Walken looks like he’s having a great time.

Word Population by Latitude & Longitude

by jim on August 19th, 2010

Some really interesting population charts from Bill Rankin of Radical Cartography:
World Population

88% of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere.

via Kottke.

Jensen Kimmitt – 2010 World YoYo Champion

by jim on August 17th, 2010

I had no idea there was a World Yo-Yo Contest but there is and the winner this year was Jensen Kimmitt with this doozy:

It’s pretty amazing what these folks can do with a yo-yo.

If you’ve linked your Google Adsense to your Google Analytics account, you’re probably enjoying the wealth of information you can now see in your Analytics account. By linking the two together, you get a lot of actionable information that can help you earn more from your sites. One great way to earn more is to find the pages that earn a higher than average CPC, versus your other pages, and finding ways of driving more traffic to that page either through link building, social media, or some other means. Analytics and Adsense have been boons to small publishers, but what if you made a mistake in the linking process?

If you’re like me, you have several Adsense accounts, with different EINs, for your various sites because should something happen to an account (I’ve heard of people being victims of nefarious click fraud schemes and losing their entire account), you don’t want to lose Adsense on all of your sites. What if you link up the wrong one? Unfortunately, unlinking them is not as simple a process as linking them in the first place. Fortunately, in the last few years, the process for unlinking them has gotten much easier.

First, get your Adsense login email and Publisher ID, you’ll need both. Visit this page, enter in the details, and wait. It’s not clear how long it takes to unlink an account but this is the one way to do it.

Hotlinking is the practice of loading a image on your site that resides on a different server. Back in the days when hosting companies metered your bandwidth, which is much rarer these days (or at least the caps are much higher), people would “steal bandwidth” by hotlinking to images. Rather than download them to your own server, you’d simply load the image from the remote server and thereby having them pay for the bandwidth.

These days, the bandwidth cost is less of an issue and it’s more about processing. While it’s often better to load the image from your own site, you trade bandwidth for a DNS lookup, it still happens. Most often it’ll be a content scraper but every so often you get a naive blogger or site owner who just doesn’t know any better. The easiest way to prevent this is to modify your .htaccess file. The server will know if someone else is trying to load an image from your server, so you can tell it to load another image or return a 403 Forbidden error.

Stop Hotlinking Entirely

These directives tell your server to only load images on your server if your site requests it, replace “mysite” with your domain. This code will return a 403 Forbidden error anytime another domain tries to load an image from your server.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(.+\.)?mysite\.com/ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteRule .*\.(jpe?g|gif|bmp|png)$ - [F]

The directives instruct the server to do this for JPE, JPEG, GIF, BMP, and PNG files. If you want to extend this to other filetyles, simply add a pipe “|” (it’s the shift-letter above the backslash underneath the backspace key) and the extension. If you want to return an image, rather than a 403, replace the dash in the final line with the path to an image.

Stop Hotlinking from Specific Domains

If you want to allow some hotlinking but not others, you can specifically pick them out:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://(.+\.)?blogspot\.com/ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://(.+\.)?myspace\.com/ [NC]
RewriteRule .*\.(jpe?g|gif|bmp|png)$ - [F]

This prevents hotlinking from blogspot and myspace domains. The NC tells .htaccess to ignore case sensitivity (so MySpace is the same as myspace) and the OR tells it to prevent blogspot OR myspace. If you want to add another line, make sure it has an OR in the arguments (unless it’s the last one in the list).

Finally, don’t hotlink to other people’s images. I think it’s OK if it’s a huge site like Flickr or Imgur, which is designed for and expects it, but not if it’s an individual’s own site.

Sometimes I Feel Like Doing This Too

by jim on June 25th, 2010

Hot Dog

Found via reddit.

Conan O’Brien > Jay Leno, NBC = F’d

by jim on June 24th, 2010

Between Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, I liked O’Brien’s style of irreverent humor a lot more. I guess it’s a generational thing but Leno’s jokes just weren’t funny to me. So when NBC handed the reigns of the Tonight Show over to O’Brien, I thought it was great. To be honest, I rarely watch the late night shows because I’m usually asleep by them (or watching Sportscenter before I go to sleep) but I was still a little annoyed when NBC took the show away. They were claiming that O’Brien’s ratings numbers were worse than Leno and that they were giving the show back to Leno. Ultimately, Conan got paid big time but it was still a crappy situation that bordered on ludicrous.

Well, it turns out that Leno’s ratings aren’t that great after all.

The reality is that you can get your share of entertainment whenever you want, such as when you’re trapped at work. You don’t have to watch an hour long show for a few moments of potential humor at 11:30 if you know you can just get the awesome highlights tomorrow.

Remember Ron Wayne, Co-Founder of Apple?

by jim on June 24th, 2010

Yeah, me neither… it turns out that Ron Wayne was one of the co-founders of Apple, along with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, and left with a payout of $800. His name is on the legal documents that created Apple and Wayne became friends with Jobs while both worked at Atari Corporation. Had Wayne stayed on, his 10% share would be worth $22 billion today. Wayne role was to be the documents and mediation guy and that role came with a 10% share of the company.

Eleven days after Apple was formed, Wayne removed himself from the company charter. He eventually was given $800 for his stake in Apple, and he let go of that valuable Apple stock, which has exploded in value since.

That… sucks.

The gambling man who co-founded Apple and left for $800 [CNN]

When you first start a site, you have no history. You’re like a baby who just got slapped by the doctor. No one knows who you are, no one knows what you’re capable of, and no one is willing to pony up a few bucks to see what you can do. That’s OK, that’s why performance marketing has flourished on the web and why so many people are making a living off it.

Performance marketing, or affiliate marketing, works because advertisers don’t have to trust you. They only have to trust what you are able to do, which is how it should be. They’ll pay you a percentage of a successful sale or they’ll pay you $20 if you can get someone to sign up or apply for something. They don’t pay unless you perform.

The Beginning

In the beginning, the struggle will be for you to get approval to run offers. Some advertisers are more relaxed than others about their approval requirements. Once you’ve built up a fairly respectable site, start applying for relevant programs. You’ll get into some of them, you’ll be rejected for others. Don’t take it personally, oftentimes it’s an automated decision process.

Cracking Picky Advertisers

If you are rejected, move on unless it’s an offer you feel is perfect for your site. If it is, try to find the affiliate manager’s email or telephone number and give them a call. Get a reason (or reasons) why you weren’t accepted and fix those issues. If the issue is performance (a manager only has so much bandwidth to cover their affiliates), ask them what they’d need as a minimum before they’ll accept someone.

One way to crack a picky advertiser is to find their competitor and promote them. In every niche there is always going to be a company looking to break out. Find them, promote them, and develop a performance history. If you can bring that history to the pickier advertiser, they may accept you on that alone.

Negotiating Higher Payouts

Once you’ve started to generate leads, even if it’s only a couple a month, contact your affiliate manager to find out about higher payouts. The vast majority of affiliates generate zero sales or leads. Once you’ve generated a few, you’re separating yourself from the pack and showing you can send people their way. Talk to your manager and find out what you need to do to bump up the payouts or the commission rate. You may be surprised to learn that 5 sales is enough to get you to the next level, but you won’t have a goal unless you ask.

Beyond Highest Payouts

Once you’ve developed a history of strong performance, you may have reached the highest level of payouts. Your quantity of the leads or sales is high, the quality of those leads and sales are high, and the advertiser is generally very happy with your performance. However, reaching the highest payouts isn’t the end of the growth in the relationship.

The next step is to look for ways to partner with the brand outside of performance marketing. You may need to bridge the gap between the marketing department and the advertising department, which are increasingly growing closer and closer together. Consider ways for brands to sponsor areas of the site, such as a section or topic category, sponsor email newsletters, or simply purchase display advertising.

When you have a history of strong performance, these sweetener type of deals may not convert more leads or generate more sales, but it solidifies a relationship. If you have a 6 month display ad with a company, how likely are you to swap out their offer for someone else, especially after you factor in the value of that ad from a blended CPA perspective? Less likely, especially if it’s an untested offer.

In the end, remember that the rules aren’t set in stone. If you can think of a creative way to build on a relationship, give it a try. The worst they can say is “no” and then you’ll at least know. I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, please share any of your own below!