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Microblogging-Ad-Time: Magpie sells tweet attention

mplogoAs social media services grow, they become more and more interesting for advertisers. Magpie, a brand-new “twitter advertising network” (and in no way affiliated with the RSS-parser library bearing the same name) is offering tweepers money to embed spam ads in their timeline. This sure was unavoidable, but at first glance, the European-based network is doing a pretty nice job.

Since I’m an online entrepreneur, I’m naturally very interested in new ways of monetizing my social media activities – but I would never recommend any service which I’m not a fan of, which ultimately leads to the one requirement that any ad network *must* take serious: I want control over the messages I’m sending out – whether to my followers on twitter or as banners on my blog. And Magpie takes this factor into consideration: every paid tweet can be pre-approved before it is sent out.

Psychologically, Magpie is doing quite a great job: new twitterers are encouraged to enter their username, based on which Magpie displays the amount which “could be earned” – I guess that this is a pretty rough and very optimistic approximation, since the systems tells me that I could make nearly 2.000 Euros a month. The tutorial video explains how the exchange of attentions actually works:

And how does it *really* work?

The sign-up process is really simple – advertisers need to apply for a dedicated log-in, twitterers have to deal with the ol’ trust problem: Magpie requires them to enter their passwords; I hope that an authentication-token is on twitter’s top priority list.

  1. You define a tweet frequency at which you will accept magpie-tweets for your Twitter account. Given your current tweet rate permits it, our service will try to find a matching magpie-tweet and twitter it. For maximum control, you’ll be asked to pre-approve magpie-tweets.
  2. To help your followers recognize magpie-tweets, you can define a custom disclaimer which we’ll happily append or prepend to all your magpie-tweets.
  3. Depending on the compensation model of each successfully delivered magpie-tweet you will be rewarded in cash.

That’s pretty much all there is – and since the publisher’s terms and conditions do not require you sell your soul to any kind of devil, I became curious and signed up, as it is possible to pause one’s account at any time. I’m really curious if Magpie will be able to turn tweets into bling-bling or if users will rejects ads at all. This is what the dashboard looks like:

mpdash

You have to be aware though that Magpie is discussed quite controversially: While Marshall Kirkpatrick senses dark-side qualities and Dave Fleet feels abused, Studio Rizzn explains the truth about “evil Apple”.

What about the earnings?

Magpie is using PayPal, you have to earn at least 50 bucks to qualify for your first virtual paycheck. Besides from intercultural gaps (European users tend to be a lot pickier about commercial tweets and US citizens), I guess that Magpie’s success will largely depend on the advertiser pool: if they offer enough interesting contents and manage to successfully pitch their system to the right advertisers, this could be huge. I’ll try Magpie for the next two weeks and keep you updated, or you might want to start your own experiment: Sign up for Magpie

Interview with Scott Button: UnrulyMedia for ruling bloggers

unrulylogoUK-based ad network UnrulyMedia specializes in viral video seeding: bloggers get per-view payouts for including the videos on their site – and that’s revenue stream which easily triples Google AdSense, so it’s not a big surprise that dhe network is a huge success. Payout rates are very fair, the whole system is transparent. Instead of running after a quick buck, UM puts the focus on quality; most video campaigns are highly entertaining, in the past I posted some of them here on datadirt. I did and interview with Scott Button, CEO of UnrulyMedia: he answered all my questions about the future of viral marketing – this one is a must-read for anyone interested in viral seeding!

The interview is avaible on datenschmutz in German as well – thanks a lot to Vivian Wagner, campaign manager Germany, for translating this piece!

datadirt: When and with what intention did you found Unruly Media?

Scott: We founded Unruly Media in January 2006. We started out collating cool viral content from around the web and launched www.viralvideochart.com in September 2006, which uses a blog scanning engine to determine the videos that are being shared most rapidly in the blogosphere and who’s doing the sharing.

!: We branched out into video seeding in 2007 as it was an ideal way to monetize the Viral Video Chart site and the sheer scale of the demand soon encouraged us to open up this sort of viral advertising opportunity to other sites and blogs. We now have a network of over 3,000 publishers across Europe and North American who earn money showing the latest viral videos, movie and game trailers to their readers.

?: In your opinion, what will the future of Video-Seeding(Viral Marketing) look like?

Unruly AutoUnit-player

I think we’re going to stop thinking about this in niche and jargonized terms such as ‘video seeding’ and ‘viral’. As brands and agencies shoot more video for the web, we’re going to see a natural move away from the 30 second spots to longer form content (60-120 seconds) that’s got time to be more entertaining, more useful, and more engaging.

Blasting viewers with short, commercial, interruptive video messages is getting more expensive and less effective every year. It’s a no-brainer for brands to start making and commissioning content that their fans, customers and prospective customers will want to watch.

As we see things, we simply provide a marketplace that matches up high quality content with audiences who want to watch it. Sure, that includes ‘classic virals’ trading on humor or sex, but it also includes movie trailers, game trailers, infommercials, and lots of niche content for niche audiences.

?: What are common reactions from bloggers/webmasters who are part of your Unruly Network?

!: We get a lot of positive feedback. Sure, we would say that! But bloggers and webmasters genuinely love our model. They love getting paid to show good content to their readers rather than annoying ads. They love the fact that the viewers stay on their site. And they love the fact it earns them more money than AdSense and most other advertising programs they’d be eligible for.

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?: In what way does the German market differ from the English or American market (in reference to blogger feedback, willingness to put paid videos on their website)

We’ve found the German market a little harder to enter than the English and American markets. This is our fault. Although we employ German nationals to scout for good German sites, our publisher network is entirely English-language and is denominated in US$. We understand that this is going to be bit off-putting to German bloggers and we do hope to localize our product in the future. That said, we’ve got some fantastic sites we work with in Germany and we’ve run several high profile campaigns there already.

?: In your opinion, what are the basics for a successful video campaign?

!: The content needs to score very highly on one of the key triggers of sex, humor, shock, originality, spectacle, inspiration or illumination. These are the reasons people pass content on. It then needs to be seeded in a high impact way to several hundred thousand people in the right target demographic. And finally, the content has to be made really easy to share, especially within social network environments, because this is where a lot of the dissemination takes place.

?: In what way and how will viral marketing change in the next 12 months and how will that influence the CPC?

!: Lots more content, Lots more noise. It’s going to get harder and harder to get cut through. I mean it’s pretty hard already, with over 300,000 videos a day being uploaded to video sharing sites, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

vivianwagnerVivian Wagner, Campaign
Manager Deutschland

On the one hand, the increased demand from advertisers is going to put an upwards pressure on prices. I think there’s going to be more focus on targeting and site quality, too, which is also going to put upwards pressure on prices, at least for high quality sites reaching desirable audiences.

On the other hand, inventory around video content will keep increasing, and the video sharing sites are going to get better at opening this inventory up. So this may balance out the increase in demand. CPMs for pre-roll, for instance, are already eye-wateringly high and seem unsustainable when compared to the gross costs per thousand when buying TV. That said, one of the more interesting areas that I think none of us has figured out yet is the value of an engaged viewer. When we get someone to voluntarily watch a 2 minute film, that’s delivering significantly more value than a 30 second TV ad playing to a distracted, multi-tasking viewer or an empty room.

In addition, the market is going to become a lot more ethical, professional and transparent. We’re extremely pleased that the EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices has now been implemented in most member states. What this does is criminalize a bunch of marketing techniques that were already ineffective and unethical – fake comments, fake voting, non-disclosure, surreptitious product placement – thereby outlawing a wide range of clandestine and underhand guerrilla techniques that formerly passed as ‘viral marketing’. Instead, this places the emphasis back where it should be – on great content, on high volume, legitimate distribution routes, and on frictionless sharing tools that enable content to spread more rapidly among online communities.