What Disney Can (And Can’t) Teach You About Dating Ads
My Experience With Crunch Accounting So Far
Where Next For Facebook’s Refugee Affiliates?

What Disney Can (And Can’t) Teach You About Dating Ads

Watching a Disney movie is like wading through all the stereotypes that have been proven wrong since your childhood. It can be a traumatising experience for the Bridget Jones thirty-something who still hasn’t found a man remotely akin to Prince Charming. If you’re a guy, it’s more of an exercise in ninety minutes of wishful thinking.

I’ve never been a Disney fan. It lacks swagger, and I just hate how the annoying brat always wins.

I guess my personality can be summed up by the sweeping emotion I felt at the end of Wall-E (was that even Disney?). My girlfriend shed a tear of happiness. I felt a pang of resentment that the fucker didn’t get crushed.

Alas, Disney movies can still serve a purpose – even for black hearted affiliate marketers such as myself. They can help us explore the visual stereotypes that have been ingrained in to consumers from an early age.

There’s no finer example than the portrayal of a handsome Prince Charming. Check out the chops on this smug bastard:

Disney Prince Charming

Everything about the dude screams stereotypical attractiveness, but what features create that image? I think the defining attributes are the pumped macho build, the wide smile and the chin.

Knowing what we know, that girls from a young age are conditioned to view these physical features as attractive and desirable, how would Mr Chinny fare as the lead model for our latest round of dating ads?

Very well is the answer, certainly from the majority of my own tests.

Guys with “the Disney Chin” seem to have a natural advantage when it comes to clickability. Ironically, the effect was amplified when I used an amateur model who also happened to be dark and handsome.

Get chin, get laid.

Another interesting finding was the correlation between images that appear professional, and those taken in the amateur MySpace hobag style. If I used a professional model with a big chin, the CTR was much lower than an amateur quality photo of a male who possessed the same chin factor.

I guess this confirms what most of us already knew. Photos that look “home-made” will routinely outperform the rest.

But does it tell us anything else? Maybe females are banner blind and happy to ignore Disney stereotypes when they’re obvious to the naked eye. But shove the same stereotypes in a natural looking environment and you will frequently reap the rewards.

If Prince Charming is a good marker for your female dating ads, what parallels can we draw between Disney and single males?

I ran a similar test using the classic Princess (blonde, hair-down-to-her-arse…) as my requirements for suitable female models. In nearly all cases, this classy respectable image was outperformed by two twin click factors: tits and ass.

It seems guys don’t want to click on ads that follow the Disney stereotype of beauty. Maybe that’s because beauty is an afterthought to the male instinct of click whatever gets the loins a’pumping. Who knows? But I found in nearly every experiment, the skankier the chick… the faster the click.

Guys respond much more readily to a pose that can be interpreted sexually, heavy make-up, secretary glasses poised at lusty angles (Click BOOM!), and a bit of rough around the edges.

Does that mean they’d date the same woman? Probably not, but it’s an effective formula for attracting clicks.

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  • Another useful tool for spying on competitors – and building PPV target lists – can be found on MixRank. MixRank lets you locate the best performing ads on Google’s content network, and also pinpoint where they are being shown for the most profit. It’s good and it’s free.

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. You can also follow me on Twatter if that’s your kinda thing.

My Experience With Crunch Accounting So Far

The single weakest area of my business prior to joining Crunch Accounting was unquestionably my ability to handle taxes.

If I could show you my hairline before and after tax crept in to my life, you’d appreciate just how integral it’s role has become as the chief tormentor of my business.

There are Republicans in the world who dread tax less than I, and that is saying something. That is really really saying something.

Anyway, political bumberclarting aside, what are the factors that convinced me to invest in an online accounting service?

Lost sleep, notepads full of calculations and four muddled bank accounts – these were just some of the symptoms that finally drove me in to the loving arms of Crunch Accounting. I considered us somewhat of a forced marriage, but one worth consummating for the good of my sanity.

I’ve had the best part of a year to weigh up the benefits of using their service, so here are my two cents for anybody else who is interested.

Note: This is only going to be relevant if you run a business in the UK. Crunch has yet to expand in to Europe or across the pond. Understandable, right? Who would want to vacate the lovely sunny landscapes of East Sussex during a fantastic English summer? Besides fucking everybody, of course…

Crunch is an online accounting service that handles all your paperwork and tax filing. It has a very sleek interface, allowing you to add expenses and invoices on the move. You can get a running total of what you’re due to be raped for in corporate tax, what you can afford to pay yourself in dividends, and all the cretins that currently owe you money.

For a monthly subscription of £70, you can avoid hiring an accountant (who would probably run the risk of contracting Herpes if forced to do the books in your cheesy wotsit contaminated basement/office).

Instead of having that personal accountant, Crunch supplies you with a qualified account manager who you can call, email or badger over Skype.

You may have to book in an appointment first, but hey, it’s probably more reliable than calling a part-time accountant. You know you’re not going to end up redirected to voicemail while the bastard enjoys his impromptu two week vacation in the Bahamas. Oh that vacation, the one he didn’t tell you about.

It took me several days to transition my accounts to Crunch’s system. If you’re firing your accountant during the middle of the year (always better to be an arsehole before Christmas), expect to spend a good few days loading invoices and expenses in to the system.

Crunch glosses over the process and makes the system as user-friendly as can be, but let’s face it, this shit is never going to be Friday night entertainment. Adding expenses is a pleasantly brainless experience, and that’s exactly how I like my accounting to be.

You can reconcile accounts automatically by feeding a spreadsheet of your bank statement and letting Crunch go fishing for correct matches. This thought would usually fill me with dread. The last thing I want is for some crazed machine to start reconciling thousands of payments with 85% accuracy, but it seems to be effective.

I personally have to reconcile statements manually because my bank (If you can honestly call yourself a bank, Santander) is a cock.

All in all, Crunch has gone to painstaking measures to ensure the online software is user-friendly, intuitive and easy for a tax-hater like me to get to grips with.

So what would I like to see improved?

The single biggest beef I have with Crunch is their non-support for foreign currency invoicing. It’s possible (and convenient) to invoice companies in Sterling from within the control panel, but the system will have a bitch fit if you dare to bill companies in anything other than GBP.

That’s bloody inconvenient for me, given how a large number of my invoices are actually in USD or Euros. However, you can work around the kinks by entering a quick invoice in GBP after the hard copy has been processed by your bank. It’s not a perfect solution but it will do for now. I hope you’re listening, Crunch!

A year in to our relationship together, and I would have to say, the marriage is still going strong.

Crunch has saved me a lot of time, not to mention the sleepless nights, by simply providing a qualified barrier between myself and the dreaded tax man.

They deal with my paperwork. I deal with the playfully coloured forms and buttons. This is how business should be.

You… smart. Me… colourful buttons.

I think we’re gonna do just fine together.

Click here if you want to try Crunch Accounting for yourself.

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Where Next For Facebook’s Refugee Affiliates?

Have you been noticing a drop in impressions delivered to your Facebook campaigns? It seems many advertisers have, myself included, and these changes are reflected in a brand new report that illustrates just how quickly the cost of a click is rising.

Facebook’s cost-per-click rose by 22% in the second quarter, having already jumped 40% in the first, according to Efficient Frontier’s findings.

To put that in perspective, you’re spending $8.54 for the same number of clicks as you received while paying only $5 seven months ago. For affiliates like yours truly who thrive in the dating vertical, these numbers are now entering dangerous territory.

Either the payout on a lead rises, our marketing efforts improve considerably, or we flock elsewhere for cheaper traffic of a similar quality. In a dream world, all of those scenarios playing out would be very welcome indeed. But let’s be realistic.

The report, biased as it may be, suggests click prices are set to rise by a colossal 80% in 2011 alone. That’s good enough reason to foresee a mass arrival of Facebook affiliate refugees on other traffic sources.

If you’re already twitching at the lower margins, now would be a good time to broaden your horizons.

I’ve stressed this before, and I’ll stress it again. International markets represent the best opportunities for affiliates on Facebook. The reason click prices are spiraling can be attributed to a crowded marketplace. In America, every small business is rushing to get a presence on Facebook Ads. I blame those arsehole ‘social media consultants’, quite frankly.

However, by straying away from America and the UK, you can find markets that are less crowded and still viable for the majority of affiliate campaigns.

Social Bakers has a useful chart listing the average Facebook click prices per country. Norway tops the list with a average CPC of $1.60 (ouch), while the Central African Republic boasts an average of just $0.07 (about 1000% of the maximum I’d be willing to pay!)

Let’s assume that you’ve explored all international options. The click prices are still too expensive and you need to find new inventory fast. What’s your next move?

If you’re feeling brave, you can use the AdBrite Site Directory to target Facebook apps traffic. The platform lets you advertise not just on Facebook, but on a whole bunch of other mainstream websites. I’ve had some profitable campaigns running through AdBrite, but be prepared to work for them if you choose this route.

There’s also Cubics – now known as Adknowledge Super Rewards. I know, right? What a shitty name for an ads platform. Somebody’s branding brainfart clearly got taken too seriously. Cubics lets you advertise to apps users on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Friendster.

Speaking of Friendster, did you know that it used to have it’s own self-serve ads platform?

Did anybody try it?

I can visualise seven raised hands, the happy owners of about 42 combined impressions during the entire fucking lifecycle of that particular ads platform.

RIP Friendster Ads. My balls mourn your demise.

Cubics has a pretty clunky interface and the reporting leaves much to be desired, but it holds potential for the right type of offers. In any case, I appreciate poor aesthetics. They cast an aura of shiteness that helps keep heavy competition at bay.

If you’ve ever tried to monetize apps traffic, you don’t need me telling you that it’s a damn sight harder than the self-serve inventory on Facebook. Expect to be kept busy with plenty of rounds of testing before you find the magic formula where both volume and profitability thrive in tandem.

Of course, you may find it easier to simply abandon Facebook completely.

The ‘Book is just one of many social networking hubs. And while I’m sure a large number of affiliates will be waiting with bated breath for a Google+ ads platform (and to find out if they’re already banned from it), you can keep yourself busy by browsing this list of popular social networks.

If you’re sick and tired of spiraling click costs, do yourself a favour and browse through the alternatives. They’re certainly in no short supply.

Visit the sites that match your target market, scroll to the bottom of the page and nine times out of ten, you will find a link titled “Advertise”. It sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but it never ceases to amaze me how many affiliates have link-blindness to this sitting duck of an opportunity.

You can undercut 95% of affiliates by simply getting off your arse and making the effort to venture beyond self-serve ad platforms. Negotiation, a budget and being proactive can restore your margins in no time at all.

Recommended This Week

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  • Published today on Direct Response was a piece I wrote titled “It’s Time To Cull Some Internet Marketers“. I think I was in a shitty mood when I splurged it, but I stand by the points raised. Direct Response is a fantastic blog, by the way, one of my favourites in the biz and a must-subscribe-to if you’re not already reading it.

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. You can also follow me on Twatter if that’s your kinda thing.

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