Million Dollar Homepage Becomes Multi-Million Dollar Homepage

December 2, 2006

Alex Tew, the mastermind behind The Million Dollar Homepage is most certainly pressing his luck. Tew sold one million pixels worth of advertisement for $1 per pixel and made $1 million. It worked so well that he thinks he can do it again, this time for twice the price.Tew is reportedly on the verge of launching a second site called Pixelotto. Instead of selling each pixel for $1, he plans to sell each pixel for $2, plus hold some kind of lottery where the winner who clicks the right advertisement will win $1 million.

I will gladly eat my words if Tew can pull this off but I just don’t think that lightning strikes twice. It was a good idea…once! Second time around, it’s not, as Michael Arrington calls it, “another stupid, brilliant idea.” It’s just a stupid idea.


Gizmo Project Will Make Web Calling Easy

December 2, 2006

One of the biggest challenges of being a mobile worker is that it is almost impossible to make VoIP calls, either over EV-DO networks, or commercial wifi services, like the T-Mobile network, often found in Starbucks. Port blocking, and lack of bandwidth makes it difficult to make phone calls when you most need them, forcing you to spend the expensive premium mobile wireless minutes.Well, there is some good news coming. Earlier this morning I had a chance to chat with Jason Droege, CEO of San Diego-based VoIP services provider, SIPphone, and he showed off a new version of his service that is ideally suited for Web Workers.

SIPphone makes a soft client which runs on Windows, Linux and Mac computers, and allows you to either IM your friends, or chat with those on your buddy list. What makes it as useful as Skype is its ability to make and receive regular phone calls, from either landlines or mobile phones. Outgoing calls cost a penny a minute anywhere in the US, so it is fairly inexpensive.

The company has now developed a new flash-based browser plugin based version of their service that is very simple to use. The new offering will be launched sometime in the near future. later this month. Go to the website, plug in the number, and hit call. The call is initiated and that’s it. If you have a pair of headphones (all iPod owners do), just plug them in and have a conversation. You don’t even need to have any Gizmo software installed on your computer. You could make phone calls from Internet Cafe’s if you are traveling around the globe.

I suggested to Jason, that they should also add a feature where you can plug in your mobile phone number and the system connects both phones. This would reduce the reliance on choppy wifi networks, or bandwidth constrained EVDO networks.

It is not impossible, and Jajah, another low cost VoIP service provider, offers similar connection service, and is becoming very popular. These kind of simple browser based VoIP applications are going to become more valuable as more of us cut the cord, and work outside the “box.” What do you think folks? Are you likely users of this web-based calling service.


Howto: Maximize AdSense Earnings

December 2, 2006

Recently I wrote about how you can monetize your blog, and one of those ways was through Google AdSense. So to continue on with that train of thought I decided to give out a few tips to help you maximize your AdSense earnings.

Just one point though to start with. This is not intended for a webmaster about to setup a new site. I am writing this for those of you who already own a blog or website but have yet to see AdSense perform for you.

  1. On Topic Content
    If you have a blog about the iPod, then stick to writing about iPod news, iPod accessories, iTunes etc. There is no point writing about iPod and then starting to talk about your day at work within the same page. AdSense works through a contextual assessment of your page, so try and make it as easy as possible for the Mediabot to ascertain exactly what you are writing about.
  2. Optimize Tags
    Making Mediabot’s job as easy as possible also means optimizing your HTML tags, from your meta tags to your header tags. Place your target keywords in the page title, meta description and keywords tag, as well as in your header tags. Don’t forget to bold or italicize your target keywords throughout the content.
  3. Ad Placement
    Consult the AdSense heatmap and apply it to your layout. You’ll find that CTR will increase when you place your ads above the fold. Placing ads down the left (where users are used to seeing navigation) and in central locations will also increase CTR. Don’t forget to place ads at the bottom of a page for readers who have scrolled down to the bottom of a long article. I would not advise placing your ads down the left hand of a page as CTR in this location is normally quite low. So keep them above the fold and smack bang in front of their eyes.
  4. Colours
    The basic premise with regards colours is to match your ad colouring as closely to the colour scheme employed through out your site. I recommend using the same colours for text and links for optimum CTR.
  5. Borders or No Borders?
    Answer, no borders! Keep reminding yourself that your ads need to slot in with your existing layout and appear to be part of the page. A border immediately separates the ads and decreases CTR.
  6. Images
    There has been a lot of talk on the boards for quite some time about using images alongside ads to improve CTR. Overall, images placed beside your ads will increase CTR. Here’s a handy tool to generate the code you’ll need, courtesy of Shoemoney.
  7. Section Targeting
    Use the section targeting tags, they make it easy to specify what content Mediabot should spider and what to ignore.
  8. Use Alternate Ads
    On occasion AdSense will not be able to display any ads in an ad block on a particular page. Unless specified AdSense will display Public Service Ads (PSAs) that do not earn you anything. So when you are creating your code, specify an affiliate link or image linked to an affiliate product. Therefore you can rest assured that no matter what happens, you’re earning!
  9. Use Channels
    Track your performance by channel, a technique that is especially important when you have place multiple ad blocks per page. Assign each ad block a unique channel so that you can see what performs best over time, allowing you to further refine ad placement and increase revenue.
  10. Noscript
    Statistics remarkably show that approximately 10% of browsers do not have JavaScript enabled. Unfortunately for AdSense publishers, a browser with JavaScript disabled will not even show an ad block. The solution? Ad the <noscript> tag immediately after your AdSense code.So your code would look something like this:

    <noscript>
    <a xhref="http://www.affiliate.com/"><img xsrc="affiliate-image.jpg"></a>
    </noscript>

Yahoo! TV Gets A New Do

December 1, 2006

Yahoo! redesigned their TV listing
site
this week. Certain bloggers have expressed their displeasure with the makeover. I think it looks good but certainly could be more functional.Most Yahoo! pages are getting Flash-ier so it was time for the TV listing page to go under the knife. Some complaints have been that the Ajax interface slows it down but that wasn’t my experience.

The problem is not the “cool” new color scheme. The problem is the design placement. The most pertinent information is not close enough to the top. I have to scroll down too far from the Scrubs, Ugly Betty, and Grey’s Anatomy promos before I get to the “My TV” grid, which is the reason I would go to this site in the first place. They’ve also placed “TV News,” “Juicy Gossip,” and “Latest Recaps” before the actual listings. I’ll go to the PerezHilton blog if I want that crap.

I don’t think this is another example of Yahoo! spreading its peanut butter. I think this is Yahoo! giving itself the makeover it needs but maybe trying to hard to be cool. Function before fashion, Yahoo! Learn from Meevee.


Forbes Video Interview With Digg CEO

December 1, 2006

Michele Steele at Forbes Video Network interviewed Digg CEO Jay Adelson to discuss site usage and acquisition rumors. The video was posted on November 22, 2006.

Steele asked Adelson about the size of the Digg audience (Digg has claimed 20 million uniques a month, v. 1.3 million that Comscore reports). He responded by saying that Digg sees about 1.5 million uniques per day when RSS readers are combined with website traffic, and he claims that third party website monitoring tool are flawed (I agree).

Steele also asked Adelson about the recent rumors that Digg was close to selling for $150 million. He denied the rumors and stated flat out that Digg is not currently in acquisition discussions with anyone.

My favorite exchange is when Steele asks Adelson “What will keep Digg from being a one trick pony?” His answer – “community.”


Is Google Adding Blog Search to Google.com?

December 1, 2006

Once-a-month blogger, occasional web designer and UK based family guy Andy Boyd has posted a screen capture of blog search results appearing on the front page of a regular Google web search. A number of other bloggers have picked this up but no one else has been able to reproduce Boyd’s experience. It’s a believable scenario because Google recently added blog search to Google News last month and to Google Alerts four days later. The UK, where Boyd lives, is frequently a testing ground for new Google features right around the corner.

Obviously real estate even on the very bottom of the first page of Google results would be great for the blogosphere. If Google Blogsearch can’t get rid of all the splogs in its search results though, it could lead to some level of backlash against blogs in general. I don’t know anyone who’s as good at excluding splogs as Ask/Bloglines – they only display blog search results from blogs that at least one Bloglines user has subscribed to and they have algorithms to prevent gaming of that safeguard as well.

If Google really does take the bold step of including blog search on the front page of its web search results, it will be the first major search engine to do so. Blogs are included in general search results (see the search results for gay men social networking for example) and may have such good search engine optimization natively that they don’t need a special place on the page – but it could only help broaden exposure to the medium.


The ‘iPhone’ Coming Out January 2007

December 1, 2006

CNN and Reuters is reporting that the rumors of Apple introducing an iPhone are no longer an “IF” but a “WHEN”. Speculation is as early as January 2007 at the MacWorld Conference.

Since Apple’s introduction of the iPod five years ago, the company has sold more than 67 million of the devices and more than 1.5 billion songs from its iTunes online music store. Now, Chief Executive Steve Jobs and Apple are poised to roll out what has been dubbed the “iPhone,” perhaps as soon as January next year at the Macworld conference that kicks off every new year, analysts say. “From a technical standpoint, the phone is pretty much done,” said American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu. “It’s a big endeavor and we believe it’s beyond speculation.”

Speculation has simmered since even before the introduction of the ROKR phone from Motorola Inc. that uses a slimmed-down version of the iTunes digital music jukebox to play 100 songs. But sales were lackluster as users complained the phone did not hold more songs.

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