Tag Archives: Advertising

Skimlinks Scam or Great Program?

A long time ago, like a year ago, I ran across some folks in a forum who warned me that Skimlinks is a scam and that I should stay away. Over time, I’ve come to depend on that forum less and, in fact, have come to trust others who are have success in a similar manner to mine, that is, that they make money writing online by producing quality content on an ongoing basis rather than using all manner of techniques to earn money without having to write so much.

Recently, a comment reference Skimlinks and using the company to get around being kicked out of Amazon’s affiliate program by California. As it turns out, California and Amazon cut a deal and California affiliates are back in. Sadly, those of us Colorado Amazon associates are still out.

What Is Skimlinks?

Skimlinks is a company that allows web publishers and writers to generate affiliate links automatically without signing up for a bunch of different programs. Basically, the company itself goes out and signs up affiliate relationships with merchants and online shopping websites. Us publishers use the company’s relationships to send affiliate links to those retailers instead of setting up our own.

Of course, the company keeps a cut of the revenue generated. Skim links keeps 25 percent of each commission generated. The publisher earns 75 percent of the commission. According to the company, a lot of website owners will come out ahead anyway by using the company. The higher volume of traffic Skimlinks offers allows the company to negotiate a higher commission percentage from the merchant. The idea is that if they get an eight percent commission where you would get a five percent commission, then you will make more money off each sale even if they keep 25 percent.

This is all according to the company’s materials. I have no first hand knowledge yet.

How Does Skimlinks Work?

Skimlinks works like Google AdSense by inserting a piece of JavaScript code on your website. Unlike AdSense the Skimlinks code doesn’t generate an ad, rather it monitors clicks on links to stores and other online retailers. If the click can be monetized, that is if Skimlinks has an affiliate relationship with where the link goes, then they redirect that click (silently) through Skimlinks to add the necessary code and make it an affiliate click. If a commission is generated, they split it 25 / 75 with the website owner.

An example, makes it easier to understand.

Suppose you really like makeup from Sephora and recommend it on your website. Without Skimlinks, you would sign up for Sephora’s affiliate program, and then manually link to Sephora products from your website. Sephora would pay you directly and you get 100 percent of your commissions. With Skimlinks, you don’t need to sign up for Sephora’s affiliate program. You link directly to the product on Sephora’s website without any sort of affiliate code, just a regular link. When someone clicks that link, the Skimlinks JavaScript intercepts the outgoing link, adds the Skimlink company affiliate code (and presumably some sort of tracking that identifies where the link came from) before sending the user on. If a commission is generated, Skimlinks keeps 25 percent and you get the rest.

This make Skimlinks a good way to get around Amazon Associate bans in your state. For example, I live in Colorado and my legislature decided to tax Amazon, so Amazon said, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” (They probably even used a Cartman voice.) So, all of my Amazon affiliate links are worthless and generate no money for me. However, if I use Skimlinks, it is their affiliate code and not mine that shows up on Amazon’s system and since they are not kicked out of the Amazon associates program, a commission is generated and I get 75 percent of it.

Is Skimlinks Worth It?

The webmaster who recommended Skimlinks did so with some reservations. Like me, he had heard negative things before but has had no trouble with them personally.

Apparently one of the common complaints was that Skimlinks had a high payout threshold. I don’t know what it used to be, but it’s $10 now. If you can’t generate $10 worth of commissions, the money sits in an account until it adds up to $10. If it takes you a long time to generate that much, your websites probably need to focus on building instead of monetizing. In the meantime, I wouldn’t complain too much that someone owes me $4.35, but if that sort of thing bothers you, look elsewhere.

Also, if you are willing and able to manage your own affiliate relationships directly, you’ll get more control, better reporting, and maybe higher payouts. If, like me, you spend enough time just writing websites and don’t have more time to do anything beyond using Google AdSense to make money, then Skimlinks might be a good alternative to signing up for a bunch of affiliate programs.

I went ahead and signed up for Skimlinks. It took one day for my site to be approved. I am added some others today, we’ll see how long that takes.

If you want to try Skimlinks too, use this referal link: Skimlinks

Keep an eye out, or grab the RSS Feed for further updates and reviews.

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How To Know If Google Certified Ad Networks Ads Are Appearing On Your Website

blocked-ad-google-certified-ad-network-3rd-party-graphic Not long ago, Google introduced the concept of certified third-party ad networks to the AdSense program. These advertisers are approved by Google and then permitted to display their ads on websites within the Google advertising network. AdSense publishers were understandably concerned that these certified networks might not generate as good of ads or as high of click through rate as the Google Ad Network.

On one forum, many webmasters were discussing blocking all Google Certified Ad Networks from running ads on their websites. Some publishers went so far as to say that they had seen their AdSense revenue drop after the third-party ads were first allowed. Some of these same website owners and blog publishers claimed that after blocking the certified ad networks that their AdSense revenue increased back to previous levels.

At this point, one of Google’s unofficial spokesman appeared on the forum and said that whatever they were seeing, it wasn’t likely related to the third-party ads because Google was rolling them out "very slowly" and that it was likely that no certified ad network advertisers were displaying any ad results on their websites yet.

Since Google AdSense is one of the easiest ways to earn money writing online, this is a very important issue for those of use who write our own websites to generate ongoing passive income for the long-term.

Is It Google or Is It Google Certified Ad Network Advertising?

Finding out who the owner of an AdSense ad is, is never easy. It takes a bunch of finesse and a little determination to figure it out. This is because clicking on your own ads to see where they go is a violation of Google AdSense Terms and Conditions, and it is one they take very seriously. Getting banned from AdSense for life is a common penalty for clicking your own ads.

However, there is a way to tell if some ads are third-party ads instead of official Google ads using Firefox and the NoScript Plug-in.

Set the No-Script Plug-in to allow all Google and Doubleclick domains to run Javascript on your website. If you use an ad blocking plug-in like AdBlock Plus you’ll have to allow them in its settings too. Do not allow any of the third-party domains.

Now, whenever you load your own site, whether to check on things or update content, if you see an ad, then it is a Google AdWords advertising network ad. If you see a blocked symbol instead, then you know it is a third party ad. It is a crude but effective way to determine whose AdSense ad it is.

google-certified-ad-network-displayed-graphicLooks like I got an ad from 2mdn.net… 

Hover your mouse of the stylized-f with a circle and the tool tip that appears will say where that blocked Javascript or blocked ad is from. Then, you have concrete proof that Google Certified Ad Networks are displaying ads on your websites. If your AdSense earnings have fallen at that point, you can reasonably suspect that your website is not benefitting from the additional advertiser competition that Google has been touting as the primary benefit for allowing third-party ads on your website.

Get thee to your Google AdSense manager and block those ads. Whether you block all of the third-party ad networks or just the ones that seem to be appearing and lowering your AdSense earnings is a judgment call.

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Technorati Tags: ,Google Certified Ad Networks,

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Google AdSense Privacy Policy Interest Based Advertising and the DoubleClick DART Cookie

One of the most common ways to make money online by writing or any other type of website is with Google’s AdSense program.  We’ll be covering it in some detail very soon, but for now, there is an important update that you should be aware of.

Google is rolling out something it is calling Interest Based Advertising (IBA).  Theoretically, the concept is that instead of only serving up ads based on the words that are on your site, IBA would also serve up ads based on the user’s interests regardless of, or in conjunction with, what keywords or key phrases were on your webpage.

Of course, to know what someone is interested in, you either A) Have to ask them, or B) Have to keep an eye on what they are doing.

With a bazillion users a day, which one do you think Google is doing?

DoubleClick DART Cookie

This is where the DoubleClick DART Cookie comes in.  In case you weren’t aware, Google bought out DoubleClick and now owns them.  DoubleClick will be handling the IBA apparently, so the cookie that tries to figure out your interests gets served from DoubleClick. 

This is dumb on so many levels, but they don’t ask me.

What it does mean, is that the required privacy policy that your website must have for Google AdSense must now include some new language to also inform visitors to your sites that in addition to having third-party ads served by Google, that there might also be a tracking cookie from DoubleClick dropped on the user’s computer as they roam around your site.  So, you have to ad language that specifically mentions ANOTHER company that is getting their potentially private information beyond Google.  (Reason Number 1 Why This Is a Dumb Idea).

The Google AdSense website offers this guidance:

Your posted privacy policy should include the following information about Google and the DoubleClick DART cookie:

  • Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on your site.
  • Google’s use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and other sites on the Internet.
  • Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy.

So, if you are using Google AdSense, be sure your privacy policy is updated soon.  The official deadline was April 8, 2009.

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