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    Tracking Yourself With Fitbit

    October 14th, 2008

    Previously I have covered how a site’s internal campaigns track you and how a website should track you but Fitbit tracks you in a whole new way.

    I originally read about this a few weeks ago and just saw another post about it over at TechCrunch and I still think that it is pretty sweet.  The device claims to be able to:

    help you determine how much exercise you’ve been getting and how many calories you’ve burnt. It can also tell you how many steps you have taken and how well you’ve slept, all based on its internal motion detector.

    I have heard of a device that can track calories you have burned, or at least take a guess at it, but what I found to be really interesting is the claim that it can tell how well you have slept.  I am a pretty light sleeper and I would be really interested to know how often I really wake up during the night.  I also think that it is a great way to remind people the importance of exercise.  Besides, who can not love something that basically seems like Nike + iTunes on speed.

    The other really cool thing is that

    All data gets automatically synchronized to your computer and then the web through a wireless base station, so you don’t even have to plug it in. Once synced, you can view your health reports online. -TechCrunch

    There is something awesome about graphs, charts, and numbers that I generated myself that just seems better than graphs, charts, and numbers that I didn’t.  The only problem is that all this sweetness is $99.  Is that really worth it?  I’m not sure but I signed up on their website to get an e-mail as soon as they get some in stock.

    I wish Fitbit the best of luck on creating a business that makes money.  The road is littered with those who have tried, but I think this one has a chance.  I suggest you go check it out for yourself.

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.



    You Are Being Tracked: Product Page Finding Methods

    October 13th, 2008

    More often than not if you are somewhere you know how you got there.  Hopefully you don’t have too many weeknights (weekends I will exclude) where you just wake up and have no idea how you got to where you are.  You may be smart enough to know how you arrived at a particular location, but your website – at least by default – is not.

    This post covers the principle of having a Product Page Finding Method (PPFM) tag on your site.  If your site was successful in getting a visitor to a product page, you should really know how they got there.  And if you are a visitor you should know that this is one more way you are being tracked.  For more information on being tracked check out my posts on Internal Campaigns and E-Mail tracking.  I will point out now that this post is less about describing to a visitor how they are being tracked and more about how a website should track the visitor.  This is because a PPFM tag is less common and may not apply to many sites a visitor may go to.  Nevertheless, it is still something to keep an eye out for.

    Back to tracking how a visitor got to a product page.  The easy solution is a ‘Next Page’ or ‘Previous Page’ report.  This will tell you what pages a visitor was going to or coming from, respectively.  It may seem like the answer to our question of how the visitor arrived at a product page, and it does at a simplistic level, but is of no use for aggregating data.  Consider an index page that lists all of a companies laptops.  How often does a customer click through to an individual laptop (a product page)?  There is no easy answer to this if you have more than a few laptops displayed.  A PPFM tag will solve this problem.

    If you add a PPFM – that’s Product Page Finding Method – tag to each link on the index page then when the visitor clicks through to a product page you can tell Omniture to look for PPFM=INDEX_Laptops01 and it will store it to an e.var ( a commerce variable).   Then you can run a report in Omniture and look for instances of INDEX_Laptops01.  Compare that to the Page Views for your laptop index page and you have the rate at which a person is clicking form that index page to a product page.

    Another trick is to make sure that all of your index pages are tagged and have INDEX in the PPFM tag.  That way you can actually do a search to pull back all instances of an index page click on any index page.  With any luck you have your pages named in a similar fashion – so you can get total index page views – and you can then get a site-wide rate that people are clicking though to your products from your index pages.

    Now that we understand the concept of a PPFM, lets look at a few other uses for it.

    Basically, you should not have an instance where a customer navigated to a product page and you do not know how they got there.  Other ways they could get to that product page include a ‘direct to product page’ search and a cross-sell placement from another product page.

    The ‘direct to product page’ is useful if you have a search box that will allow a customer to go directly to a product page without going through an index page.  An additional way to tag this would be to have a search results tag – for instances when a search returns many products – and then any click from that index/search page to a product page would give credit to the search tag.

    The cross-sell tag would be used on any product page where you are displaying some other products the customer might also like to buy.  Any click on these links will bring the customer to another product page and then the cross-sell tag would get credit.  You might also have a similar tag for items displayed in the cart.

    The last thing to discuss is credit.  On a $100 order who gets the credit.  The simple way to do it is the last used tag.  The bad part is that with this method if a customer uses and index for the first 3 items and the last item they clicked a cross-sell item, the cross-sell tag will get all of the $100 attributed to it.  That isn’t really accurate.  The better way is to distribute the $100 via linear attribution.  That means that in the example above each of the index pages would get $25 and the cross-sell would get $25.  The tricky part here is that if a customer is browsing they may click to 10 different products from 10 different index pages and each of the index pages would get 1/10 a share of the revenue even though the customer only bought from one of the index pages.  Just something to keep in mind.

      With this tagging in place on your site you should always be able to answer how a customer arrived at your products.  It does not quite answer the question on a page by page basis – i.e. for Product A the PPFM tags used to arrive there were cross-sell 24%, indes 53% etc. – but it will give you a much better idea, on the whole, how your visitor is getting to your product pages.  Just a little tip that can save a ton of work

      This has been some Thoughts From The Cake Scraps.


      Penny Cave: To Each His Own Gimmick

      October 7th, 2008

      I have previously posted on Swoopo (Pure Profit: A Look At Swoop) and on the types of auctions they have. And as you can probably tell from the title, they are making a ton of money. Well apparently one Swoopo wasn’t enough so enter PennyCave.

      PennyCave operates on the exact same concept as Swoopo. You purchase your bids from PennyCave and then you use the bids on various auctions they have going. But, they can’t outright copy Swoopo so they have their own set of what I call gimmicks to sucker you out of your money. If you don’t have any background on either Swoopo or PennyCave read my post on Swoopo which describes in detail how the sites work.

      Gimmick 1: All Penny Auctions This is the most glaring gimmick that PennyCave has. By having each bid raise the price of the auction by only a single cent it makes the total price look very attractive. Consider seeing something worth $100 going for just $11.53. Then remember that that is 1,153 bids each at around $1. Swoopo has this style of auction but not each and every auction.

      Verdict on Gimmick 1: Fails to help the customer or be less of a scam.

      Gimmick 2: Discount On Bids If you buy bids in bulk you can save money. Since you waste the money anyway I don’t see that as a huge bonus, just a ploy to get you to buy more bids. I am guessing the thinking here is that while it is true that you will pay less for an individual bid, ultimately you will bid more than you would have with a standard cost bid ($1). Therefore, overall you will spend more money because you know your bids were cheaper, but who is going to calculate by how much? This also makes it difficult to see how much you really have into the site in bids because each bid may cost something different if you buy bids at different times.

      Verdict on Gimmick 2: Fails to help the customer or be less of a scam.

      Gimmick 3: Shipping Included This one is pretty self explanatory. In reality it is just another ploy to get you to think that you are not really spending that much. The real trick here is that in your mind you will look at an auction for $4.20 and think it is not so bad because shipping is included. That would be good logic if it didn’t take (at minimum) $315 in bids to get to that price.  And that is using a rate of 75 cents a bid, the lowest possible rate when buying bids and you have to buy $1000 worth of bids to get it.

      Verdict on Gimmick 3: Fails to help the customer or be less of a scam.

      Gimmick 4: ‘Auctions Live’ Time Frame This is another great example of ‘helping the customer’ meanwhile ‘robbing them blind’. By limiting the time the auction is live from 10 AM to 12 AM what looks a perk to you, the bidder, is really a scam by PennyCave to not let the auction end during an off peak time. By having bidding during a time that ‘you won’t miss the end’, guess what, neither will anybody else. That means that you will get to bid against everybody else and drive up the price and waste your precious bids. Time to celebrate this great customer service.

      Verdict on Gimmick 4: Fails to help the customer or be less of a scam.

      Gimmick 5: Fewer Live Auctions Clearly this is to minimize risk. Less live auctions means that more people will be bidding/betting on those auctions. On the plus side, you have less things to lose money on.

      Verdict on Gimmick 5: Helps the customer control betting but ultimately fails to be less of a scam.

      As you can probably tell I am not enamored by this site. It is very easy to get in over your head. Currently it looks like there are actually some good deals in the finished auctions section, but that is because the site is so new. Once more and more people start using the site it is only going to get worse and the deals with it. Just look at eBay and how they are moving from auctions to fixed price. It is not that you can’t get good deals, it is just that it is a lot harder to get the deal for the amount of time you invest.

      The bottom line is to stay away from these sites – so called “entertainment shopping” sites – unless you go into it with a set amount of money that you are willing to lose. If you don’t plan ahead like this you are bound to end up over investing in the auction and come out way behind. Just look at this auction where there is over 900 bids (at almost $1 each) and the thing retails for just $280. Not smart.

      This has been some Thoughts From The Cake Scraps.


      Types of Swoopo Auctions

      October 6th, 2008

      From my previous post on Swoopo I generated a small bit of confusion because Swoopo has several types of auctions.  Here they are directly from the Swoopo site (though I rearranged them a bit for my comments):

      Fixed Price Auction
      If you win a Fixed Price Auction, you only pay the price indicated in the heading of the auction (plus delivery costs), regardless of the level the bidding reaches.

      100% off
      Where an auction is marked “100% off”, the winning bidder does not have to pay the final price. That’s right: the price is zero! You just need to pay the delivery charges.

      These are basically the same thing and makes this site seem a bit more sleazy.  Here’s why.  With a fixed price auction or a 100% off auction you don’t pay the value of the auction, just the fixed price or nothing, respectively.  That seems straight forward until you think about it.  If they already know what they are selling it for (or that they are giving it away free) the users are basically just giving them money.  They are literally proclaiming “Here is something free, what will you pay me for it.”  Can you really even call that an auction if the bidders are not actually impacting the price?

      Penny Auction
      In a penny auction, the price rises by just one cent with each bid placed (whereas in a normal auction, it rises by 15 cents).

      Well this is nice of them.  In case you were able to hold off yourself from bidding when the price went up 15 cents with each bid they have auctions where it only goes up a single penny.  Thus, you look at the price and want to jump right in not realizing just how much money Swoopo is going to take you and other fools like you for.

      NailBiter Auction
      During a NailBiter Auction, BidButlers aren’t allowed. Users may only place single bids by manually clicking or calling. Don’t walk away or you miss the next incredible deal!

      This would be interesting except that the time goes up with each bid (see below).  So instead of a “NailBiter” you have a sit around all freaking day bidding and waiting for the thing to end.  Good times I’m sure.  Too bad I’ll miss it.

      Open Auction
      Anyone can bid on an open auction, even if they have already reached their eight auction limit. Open auctions do not count towards your auction limit. See ‘How many auctions can I win a month?’ for more information.

      Wait, I can only win so many auctions in a given time period.  Doesn’t this sound a lot like what a casino can do if they think you have a gambling problem?

      20-Second Auction
      All auctions start as 20-second auctions. The countdown increases by a maximum of 20 seconds each time that a bid is placed.

      15-Second Auction
      You guessed it – with these the countdown increases by a maximum of 15 seconds with each bid placed.

      10-Second Auction
      You guessed it – with these the countdown increases by a maximum of 10 seconds with each bid placed.

      Wow.  What variety.  It is like the Jelly Belly of auction sites.  Really guys, do we need a different line for each you guessed it – X second auction type.

      I hope that clears things up a bit for people.  In my original post I did have my math with the winner having to pay for the final price of the auction.  While this isn’t always the case, it often times is.  I’m not going to waste my time looking around for exact examples, but if you want to Swoopo does feature a list of completed auctions.  Please remember what Thomas Tusser said: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”


      Know What You’re Worth

      October 6th, 2008

      In a recent article by the Wall Street Journal Activision’s CEO, Robert Kotick, hinted that instead of the current structure for the Guitar Hero franchise – where Activision must pay for the use of an artist’s song – the tables should be turned. The idea being that Guitar Hero is such a great channel for distribution of songs that it is actually saving rock ‘n’ roll.

      It is worth noting that Activision – and video games in general – are different from radio in that Activision has a contract with the owners of the song whereas in radio royalties are paid.

      This seems like a classic game of chicken. As you may have guessed, the argument of promotional value is not new to the industry. A band needs to get play time to become famous, though the internet is changing that slightly, and the radio station needs bands to make music otherwise the radio station has nothing to play. They both depend on each other to make money.

      I think that the main difference in Activision’s situation is that they are not worried about bands trying to ‘make it’. They are giving new life to bands that were fizzling out in the next generation. This puts them in the unique position to make this work. The Guitar Hero brand is heavily, though not fully, dependent on good songs. People love the concept of the game and having classic rock songs is just a perk. Therefore, I would argue that while it may be difficult to have the next release of Guitar Hero be a smash hit with no headliners it would not be impossible. They could easily release some sort of “Tomorrow’s Rockers” edition that featured unsigned bands and sell plenty of copies.

      Overall, this is a great move on Activision’s part because they know what their distribution channel is worth. The tricky part is to state your worth and not overstate your worth and be caught with your pants down. I think the music companies are dangerously close to the latter. The resurgence of some of their artists is because of Guitar Hero and more artists want a piece of the action.

      This is why the music companies are in such a tough spot. They want to get paid for the songs, but I’m sure there is pressure from the artists just to get them in the game. They see it as a great avenue to get a new fan base. Now you also have Activision pushing back to the music companies and saying “why should we be paying you for promoting these fizzling bands?”. The music companies are being pressured from both sides and they don’t really have solid ground to stand on.

      This is going to be very interesting to watch. Who’s going to win and who is going to chicken out?  And can you really apply this to your blog writing?

      Thanks for reading the thoughts of The Cake Scraps.


      Please Keep Searching: What Microsoft Is Missing

      October 5th, 2008

      Microsoft is trying yet another approach to get you to use Live Search.  Previously they have tried everything under the sun, including giving miles for flights such as Midwest Airlines.  Sadly the games there are nothing to write home about and it isn’t surprising that Microsoft went back to the drawing board.

      This the aptly named SearchPerks is set up to give away tickets that you can the trade in for stuff (the perks).  Sounds alright in concept, but it is poorly structured.  Right off the get go you notice to win anything worthwhile takes forever (though they say during the promotion they will give away extra).  Here is a simple breakdown from Search Engine Land:

      • 105 tickets (4 days worth of searches) = 1 ringtone
      • 250 tickets (10 days worth of searches) = 100 frequent flyer miles
      • 5,500 tickets (7 months worth of searches) = xBox wireless controller

      The length of time is determined because you can only get 25 tickets a day.  Oh, and the promotion only runs until April sometime.

      I wonder if they are taking the wrong approach to this altogether.  I really liked Yahoo’s “Search For A Cure” program.  The money is going to breast cancer research.  I also noticed that on a survey at Banana Republic the reward for filling out the survey was not a percent off or dollar off perk.  Rather it was some amount would get donated to a charity of your choice -from a list of 5 or so.

      The fundamental question here for me is what are you really trying to do with these programs and who are you targeting?  It seems like with a program that rewards the individual user that when the perks end they will just stop using it.  When I consider the promotions that donate the money I think that the user gets to feel good about doing it.

      Why is this such a big deal?  Easy, because when the promotion ends and the user was getting the perks they now have no reason to continue to use the service.  But if the perk goes to a charity, the user was not getting anything, but rather giving something, when using the service.  When the perk ends they are no longer ‘giving’ anything but also there is nothing that will make the user feel like something is being taken away from them – as is the case in a perk that rewards the user.

      Another important point, in my view, is that the perk for charity is more likely to be picked up on a larger news site because the company is giving to a good cause rather than greedy users (from a public perception standpoint).  I think that promotions that give stuff away on the web generate a big surge of people trying to play the system and then just fall off.  No loyalty.  No long term PR to point to for the company.  Compare this to a news story about how the company is “doing their part” to help the world.  The company can use the promotion as a platform to point out that they helped while also promoting whatever service they were trying to get you to use.

      So is this going to work this time?  I don’t think so because there is no long term perk for the user and I don’t see any reason to switch other than to “watch out for number one” and the stop after the promotion ends.  That is the thought from The Cake Scraps.

      10/4 UPDATE: While I never said that Live Search was a failure – just that Microsoft is trying everything under the sun – there is evidence from Hitwise that shows that the Cashback promotion Microsoft is running may be increasing Live Search’s use.  Extra information can be found here and here but I still stand by my post that these are short term gains and use will fall off if/when these promotions are discontinued.


      Mythbusters And Marketing

      October 1st, 2008

      I just had the opportunity to watch Episode 97: “Airplane on a Conveyor Belt” and it was very interesting.  The question they were out to answer was “Can an airplane take off if it is on a conveyor belt that is moving the opposite direction from where it is trying to take off?”  Without much thought a person would say no.  I sure did.  My thoughts being that with the conveyor belt moving in the opposite direction the plane would just sit still.

      WRONG

      This brings us to 2 questions “why is it wrong?” and “how is that related to marketing?”

      The first question takes some getting used to.  The Straight Dope has a good explanation and I will attempt to summarize it here.  The answer is in short that the speed of the conveyor belt does not matter.  A plane forces itself through the air via the engines.  The wheels spinning on the conveyor belt merely provide a way for the plane to have less friction with the ground.  The plane is not using the wheels to push itself the way a car does.  Essentially, the plane will move forward no matter what.

      The best visualization I can give you is this: Picture a plane flying in the air.  Now imagine that its wheels are down.  Now put a conveyor belt in your picture moving in the opposite direction the plane is flying.  Does the plane slow down?  No, the wheels will just spin like crazy.  It has no effect on the plane flying in the air because the wheels are free spinning and are not a means of propulsion.  Get it?  The dynamics don’t change on the ground.

      Here is another way to think of it.  If you were on roller skates and moved yourself by only pulling on a rope you would not have to exert any more effort to pull yourself forward on standard ground than on a conveyor belt.  The reason is that you are moving because of pulling on the rope and therefore even with a conveyor belt on the ground you will not move backwards, the wheels will just spin and you pull yourself forward as normal.  Replace you with a plane and the rope with an engine and you have this one all wrapped up.

      So now on to the second question, how this has to do with marketing.  It reminded me of a simple fact of marketing: things are not always as they seem.  And beyond that even when you have the information it might be difficult to understand.

      This all revolves around one thing: what is driving this?

      The reason the plane example is hard to understand is because people think a plane moves like a car – which uses the ground to propel itself – when it, as obvious as it may seem, moves like a plane – which is not driven by the ground.  Understanding what is driving the plane is fundamental to understanding the answer as a whole.

      This is the same as with marketing and web analytics.  It is great that people are coming to your site or people love your marketing, but finding out why they love it is the only way you can repeat it.  If you sell clothing and a particular ad drives people to the site you have success.  But what if the reason isn’t the product but who the product was on or what the setting was of the photo shoot.  Trying to turn that into a campaign – which you should be tracking – is going to be impossible if you don’t know what is driving the sales.  If you feature the same product but on a different person does it still sell?  Or perhaps is was the combination of all 3 that did it and you can’t reproduce the same thing no matter how hard you try.  You will be left spinning your wheels.

      Whenever you start to read data coming in from your various campaigns, remember that that is all it is – data.  Data does not become information until you have context.  And context is only actionable if you know what is driving the whole thing.  The answers may not come easily, and it may be a ton of work, and even then you yourself and/or others may question the results, but if you have solid reasoning and understand what is driving it you are in a very powerful position; the position of having not data or even information, but knowledge.


      Branding: The Coke Theory

      September 29th, 2008

      I try and follow Jeremy Schoemaker over at ShoeMoney and was reading the ShoeMoney Biography and loved his “Coke Theory”.  Here is the Coke theory from that biography:

      Maximum and diverse revenue streams are built on fairly narrow marketing concepts that are then diversified. This is what Jeremy Schoemaker calls, “The Coke Theory. If you are already making Coke then you can make Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, etc and turn a profit on those as well. A company can achieve growth through small degrees of separation between sites, maximizing diversity within a small industry.

      That is so true.  Really you can substitute almost any major brand in there.  I don’t even know how many types of M&Ms there are now but it is the same concept.  Skittles even tried it with Chocolate Skittles.  Okay, bad example.  So it may not work everywhere but it is still a great idea.

      Basically the Coke Theory is all about branding.  What can we do with the brand or how can we leverage it?  That is the question(s) the companies are always asking.  But it is also perfect for a brand you may not always think of, yourself.

      This can be a difficult thing to grasp.  I mean think of how most of us go through college.  If you are like me, you just want a job coming out of college and you are not too concerned with where, so long as it is in the general area of where you want to be.  I constantly struggle with balancing technical skills with strategic skills.  How narrow should I focus my development to become a stand-out in my current position?  How do I balance that with not wanting to corner myself because it is the only thing I am good at?

      I have found that the Coke Theory helps strike a balance.  It is alright to focus on one thing as long as you are not afraid to branch out later on.  Take on risk!  These things will not always fall onto your plate.  You have to request them and find them; ultimately you branch out.  That is a great way to grow your skill set because even if you fail at one of these activities you still have your core skill set to fall back on.

      You are a brand and a core competency is critical, but taking risks to find new activities and responsibilities is where you will really learn.  So when you get back to your job take a second and ask yourself: “What flavor of Coke can I create next?”


      Pure Profit: A Look at Swoopo

      September 25th, 2008

      This post digresses a bit from web analytics but the business concept of Swoopo is so brilliant – but not endorsed by myself – that I had to post on it.  Before I get into this post I want to make one thing clear:

      DO NOT USE SWOOPO!  YOU WILL LOSE MONEY USING THIS SITE!

      Now that I have made my position clear I can get into how brilliant this site is for making money at the expense of others.  It is not customer service oriented and it is probably not going to have a ton of repeat customers.  What it will have is a huge pocket book as long as P.T. Barnum’s phrase holds true: There’s a sucker born every minute.

      First I will lay out for you how the site works.  It is a ‘auction’ site…sort of.  Swoopo sells bids for $1.  Each time you use a bid on an item the price is increased by $0.15 for that item.  So here is an example:

      Person A buys 5 bids from Swoopo for $5 total.  Person A sees an auction for $1000 and places the first bid.  The auction is now at $0.15.  Person A now has a sunk cost of $1 (the cost of the bid they used).  There is no way to get that dollar back, win or lose.  If Person A wins they must pay the $0.15.

      Person B also purchased $5 of bids.  Person B sees the same auction and places the second bid.  The auction price is now $0.30 (because each bid increases the cost by exactly 15 cents).  Person B now has a sunk cost of $1.  If Person B wins they must pay the $0.30.  Swoopo now has $2 in the bank and the auction is at 30 cents.

      This can happen with as many users as there are suckers to start accounts.  Why are they suckers?  Because everybody that does not have the top spot just loses the money they spent on bids.  *Poof* Gone.  If you think this sounds a little like gambling or a complete scam you are not alone.  People get swept up into the auction and don’t want to get nothing for the money they spent on bids.  I think you will understand it better if I show you an example of people getting ripped off on the site.

      Please note that while the math in the laptop example assumes that the winner has to pay for the item, Swoopo has different types of auctions which are described in my post on types of Swoopo auctions.

      An auction for a laptop that says on the auction page, and I quote, “Worth up to $1,399.99”  The winning bidder, as stated on the site, placed 2020 bids.  That is $2,020!!  And the auction page proclaims “Savings: 0%”  when it really should read negative!  So Swoopo made like $600.  BUT WAIT!  The auction started at $0.00 and finished at $3,353.85.  Now read that again.  They were already up $600 from the winners bids alone.  The winner sucker still had to pay $3,353.85 because that was the price of the auction.  Okay, so Swoopo walks away with a cool $4,000 pure profit.  (Like a bad TV commercial) BUT WITH THERE’S MORE!  Remember that bids are placed in 15 cent increments.  That means that if the auction finished for $3,353.85 you take that divided by $0.15 which equals $22,359 in bids!!!!  That brings total profit to $22,359 (bids) + $3,353.85 (auction) -$1,399.99 (retail cost of laptop, probably not their cost) = $24,312.86

      This is not to say that there are no good deals on Swoopo.  The auction for $1000 finished at $568.20.  The winner of that auction placed 218 bids ($218 dollars worth) for a savings of 78%.  Why is it 78%?  because it is a 100% off auction  – see my post on types of Swoopo auctions– meaning that you don’t have to pay the final value of the auction (how sketchy is that).  In theory, if no one else would have bid, you or I could have spent $1 on one bid and won the auction.  If we would have won the other guys $218 would have been for nothing.  Now keep in mind that if this were not a 100% off auction that the winner would also pay $568.20 in addition to the $218 for bids.  Total investment: $786.20.  Is that really worth the risk of getting nothing?  I think not.

      There are 2 kickers that I have to throw in yet.

      1. Every time a bid is placed the length of the auction increases.  Therefore if a bunch of people “snipe” it at the end, the auction can go from 5 seconds left to 20 min.  Yeah.
      2. And in case you were worried about the one who got away, Swoopo provides a “BidButler” that auto bids for you up to your set amount when someone out bids you.  If you are going to spend $1 a bid, please don’t let some BidButler do it for you.  After all they don’t call it “entertainment shopping” for nothing.

      All said and done this seems like a little bit of a scam, praying on people that either don’t get it or are stupid.  If one were to use this site the only smart thing to do would be to research what auctions of stuff goes for and then place a single bid when it gets to that price and hope you are not out bid.  Anything else is just a waste of money.  That is, of course, if you ignore the fact that everybody else who has bid gets nothing.  It is a combination of eBay and gambling – more gambling (in that you must pay to bid but if you don’t win you don’t get anything).  Think of betting on red in roulette, you only get something if you win otherwise it is gone.  At least if you win there others can win as well.  If it were Swoopo roulette if you won everybody else would lose.

      It is just amazing – and yet totally understandable once you get the mechanics – that this site made money selling $1000.  $3788(bids) – $1000 (cost of item) = $2788 profit.

      Paraphrased Swoopo business plan in short: find 10 people to give us $10 each and one of them will get this $20 gift card.  Repeat.  Official Song: I Get Money

      What do you think?  Scam?  Brilliance? Awesomeness? Just another web site?

      10/6 UPDATE: Check out my new post on PennyCave, a Swoopo look-a-like!


      You Are Being Tracked: Internal Campaigns

      September 22nd, 2008

      So you know that you are tracked by e-mails.  You are going to beat the system.  You are not even going to use a search term to get to the website because you know Google will track you along with the website.  You are going to direct load – typing the URL into the address bar – and avoid being tracked.  Almost, but no.  Chances are that the site gave you a cookie last time you were there.  Oh well, you tried.  But that is not what this post is about.  Just because you got to the site without tracking, does not mean that you will not be tracked.

      Internal campaigns are exactly what they sound like.  They are campaigns that are internal to the site.  A campaign is anything that the site is doing to try to get you to buy more stuff (or whatever the conversion metric would be, such as filling out a survey or something).  E-mails are campaigns.  Billboards are campaigns.  A site or company runs advertising campaigns. You get the idea.

      The banner that you see across whatever site you are on is sure to include an element that says that you clicked it – a tag.  Note that I am only talking about a banner that is on the site and for the site, not an advertisement for a different site.  The advertisement for a different site would be an external campaign for the company that bought the ad.  We are talking about an ad for another item on your site – perhaps for an LCD monitor when you are looking at computers.  I call this a real estate campaign or an internal campaign.  I call it real estate because the site is tracking based on the tag on the banner and the site knows the location of the banner, the real estate. I call it an internal campaign because it is for another product that will take the visitor somewhere else internal to the site, not push them out the door to an external site.

      So you clicked the banner and were tagged.  It is in this way that the site can track how often the banner is being used (instances) as a rate of how many people saw the page it was on (page views).  This also allows the site to understand where someone is clicking on the site.  Each area of the banner could contain a different tag, thus if you clicked the t-shirt you could get tagged with a value of tshirtclick while if you clicked the jeans on the same banner you would get tagged with a value of jeansclick.

      Internal campaigns are very useful for a site because they allow for a wide variety of reporting.  The site will know how many conversions they got that clicked on the banner and how much revenue is associated with it.  This also is a much easier way to track traffic from a page.  Perhaps a single page has multiple banners and the site wants to know how many people clicked the banners.  With no tagging on the banners, all the site would be able to do is look at what pages visitors went to next and add them up.  For instance if there is no way to get to the jeans page from your home page and yet 20 of the 100 visitors took that path you can assume that they must have clicked on the jeans banner.  But then to add that up with the page that took them to the t-shrits and the page that took them to the pants, and to…etc. is a huge pain. By the time you get to the number of estimated clicks (because in theory they could have the page bookmarked or something like that) you won’t care any more.

      Look for more the post forthcoming about purchase influencer tagging on Thoughts From Thee Cake Scraps.