Dan's Data letters #152
(page 3)Publication date: 11-Oct-2005.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
Real men use tar
I don't think you've ever reviewed a first aid product. Have you had occasion to try the new superglue-based bandages? (Sutures really, I suppose.)
I just sent an email to an acquaintance:
>> Incidentally, one should take out personal injury insurance for making
>> up one's own system: I cut my finger so badly on one of the cut-outs on
>> the case that I bled profusely all over the floor, the bathroom and
>> oodles of Kleenex! It has only just stopped bleeding. My wife wanted me
>> to go to emerg. to get it stitched, but I didn't fancy the n-hour wait!
> I haven't made use of this information yet, but I've heard the new
> superglue-based bandaging system (a small bottle of purple-dyed superglue
> and some swabs - circa $10) may work well. A roboticist I know keeps some
> in his desk drawer. In an emergency, normal superglue will work. I think I'll pick
> up a real first-aid kit before I start playing with my mill. Along with a fire
> extinguisher, a deburring tool, and a lidded trash can. At least I have
> eye protection.
No, I haven't had the pleasure of trying out dedicated medical cyanoacrylate. I've used plain superglue occasionally as a wound closer, though; never for anything very dramatic, but it does indeed do the job quickly and neatly for small cuts. Many model-makers have dealt in this way with X-Acto knife cuts without leaving their workbench.
If you've got a more sizeable injury, hardware store superglue can still work well, but only if you know what you're doing, which you very probably don't if hardware store superglue is what you're using. The idea is to stitch the edges of the wound together with the glue, not just squirt it in there. Glue in the wound will only make things worse, not least because cyanoacrylate sets fast when it's wet (when used for ordinary applications, it sets because of contact with water vapour in the air; this is also why it bonds to skin so well), and gets hot when it sets fast. Which'll add insult to injury even before you get to the later problem of a Rorschach blob of plastic in your wound.
Incidentally, not a lot of people know about the water-sets-superglue thing. If you need superglue to set fast, you can spritz it with a little water from a spray bottle. In a pinch, you can just spit on it, but that won't give you a good quality joint.
The water spritz won't work as nicely as regular "superglue accelerator", available from hobby shops, but it doesn't smell weird either, and it gives you more time to locate the parts - accelerator works so fast that the standard way of using it is to put the glue on one part and the accelerator on the other, then bring them together.
Entertainment can also be gained from an excessive quantity of water-thin superglue (also from hobby shops, who have far more cyanoacrylate products than you'll find at the hardware store) and a similarly excessive quantity of accelerator, in a disposable vessel like a spraycan lid. The reaction is quite enthusiastically exothermic; do it in a well-ventilated place, and not on your nice carpet.
Paradoxically, cyanoacrylate is also slightly water soluble, which is another reason why it's good for wound closing; the moistness of the skin will slowly encourage the glue to flake off (as it will if you get glue on your fingers while working on something; time is the only safe way to remove superglue, though shaving it off with a safety razor can be diverting, and leave you with no fingerprints). The glue will dissolve faster when the water's warmer, which is why model car people who want to get superglued tyres off of wheels do it by boiling the wheels.
I am writing to set up a time to chat with you about an advertising partnership between DansData.com and Kontera. Kontera is the creator of DynamiContext, a contextual advertising solution which generates an incremental recurring revenue stream for publishers. Our new in-content ad unit, AdLink, allows you to instantly monetize the content on DansData.com, effectively doubling the available advertising inventory on your website while providing valuable information to your readers.
Our technology leverages real-time dynamics + past performance + self-learning algorithms to provide publishers - and advertisers - far more relevant content matching results. This means publishers can monetize not only vertically into niche content, but also horizontally across all content types and categories. That's because our technology is content-agnostic, i.e. it uses a proprietary taxonomy that is specifically engineered for advertising across a broad array of content categories. Our technology is proven, and is currently powering the contextual advertising products for some of the largest names on the Internet.
You can see DynamiContext live on the following demo. Our AdLink product appears in the first paragraph of the demo article as green hyperlinks with a unique underline.
I would love to speak with you in more detail about this new revenue opportunity for DansData.com. How does your calendar look tomorrow for a quick call?
* Kontera has been in the contextual space for over 5 years. We understand that in order for contextual advertising to be effective you need to be where the users' eyes are, and provide relevant results to add value to your users' experience.
* DynamiContext brings you hundreds of thousands of new, relevant advertisers through one of the largest multi-source options on the Internet. By partnering with multiple search providers, including Yahoo! Search Marketing, ad networks, agencies and direct advertisers, we are able to deliver the highest paying and most targeted advertisers to your website.
* DynamiContext's proprietary and patent-pending Analysis and Reaction Engine dynamically analyzes your website's content in real time, and serves the most relevant advertising sponsors to your user. Because DynamiContext allows users to get more information about a topic when they are most interested in it, our publisher partners see click through rates ranging from 1.5% to 3.0%.
DynamiContext, of course, does the same thing as the other link-inserting in-line ad services, like Vibrant Media and realTEXTads, which I've previously talked about here.
Since your technology leverages real-time blah blah blah, your own demo pages ought to be really phenomenally good, oughtn't they? RealTEXTads didn't quite manage that, but I was willing to at least look at Kontera's effort.
The three links on this page (now moved here) when I checked actually did seem fairly relevant, which startled me. The idea of having medical words in my text auto-linked to ads from companies whose policies and products I don't actually support in any way still makes this kind of advertising unattractive to me - occasional weird stuff in my banner ads, Google links and obnoxious pop-ups is an evil which I tolerate because I ain't runnin' this site as a charitable organisation, but sticking the links right into the text crosses the line.
Still, those links did actually seem to have something to do with what they linked from, which is more than other ad schemes like yours have ever managed.
"Telephone companies" linked to Vonage... nope. They're a VoIP provider that does some phone-company-ish things, but that's still only a two-out-of-five relevance link, at best.
"AT&T Corp" linked to Cingular... 2/5 again. Maybe only 1/5. People looking for info about AT&T Corporation don't want to sign up for one of their mobile phone plans.
"Nokia Corp" linked to a place that sells cell phone accessories, radar detectors and camcorder accessories. 0/5.
"VoIP" linked to intel.com?! OK, they have some vaguely VoIP-relevant products, but the link doesn't even go to a page about them. Zero.
"Verizon Communications" linked to a cellphone store. Who no doubt offer Verizon plans, but so what? Zero. Maybe one, if I'm feeling extraordinarily generous.
Aaaand... that's it.
Sorry, Eileen, but you've got the same problem as the rest of the in-line ad companies: The people who want to advertise just don't do anything that's relevant enough to the text on normal Web sites that it's even possible for your allegedly very advanced matching technology to provide a significant number of links, without making them way-left-field clutter that'll only annoy almost everyone who clicks on them. And, for that matter, almost everyone whose mouse pointer flicks across them and spawns an unwanted info-box.
Thanks, but no thanks.
I swapped a couple more messages with Eileen, and a while later, another Kontera person sent me a boilerplate come-on e-mail. When I replied to that in typically snarky fashion (they could keep track of who they were talking to, you know), a third one replied:
Having been in media for 15 years and launched two advertising technology start-ups in the past which have both gone public - to varying degrees of financial success - I must add that although it would be great of the web were free of Giant Hairy Armpit advertising, which we both find so off-target and downright hysterical, it's not. So the point is to integrate advertising in a way that is most valuable to all of the stakeholders in the web: the publishers, the consumers, and of course the marketers, who after all, pay most of the bills for our free usage of this wonderful medium.
I won't argue our relevance over someone else's as derivative of having real-time and dynamic technology, or not. All I know is that we have several happy clients who are not only "cashing in" on the hard work and expense of their efforts to publish web content, but are also highly sensitive to "protecting" their user base.
I might not argue that your example of a "relevant link" in the VOIP example [I suggested the Wikipedia page as an example of properly relevant content] isn't relevant to me, the consumer, who's looking into VOIP for my home. In fact, it's techno-babble: relevant to someone, somewhere. But not me. Hey; I guess the answer is in the eye of the beholder.
You might not agree with any of the above. I hope we can do business together. We might not. But I certainly wish you continued success in all endeavors. Keep up the great work - we love your site!
The marketers... pay the bills? On what planet?
I was under the impression that the marketers try to persuade the consumers to buy particular things, in return for which the people who sell those things pay the marketers. And then there are the engineers and manufacturers who actually design and make the things that people buy, and the people like me, who try to do what marketers would do if honesty were their first concern.
The idea that capitalist society would work better if all of the marketers were shot into space has been advanced on more than one occasion. I'm not sure if I'd go that far, but I certainly wouldn't hail the marketers as the lynchpin of... well, of anything.
Let's have a look at the "happy clients" from your press release.
Here's MajorGeeks' listing for a popular program.
As I write this, it links from "graphics cards" to a generic eBay search, from the word "Matrox" to a place where you can buy their rather specialised $700 video editing card, and from "operating system" to a PCAnywhere-type package.
(It's changed, now. It's not better.)
Then there's CDFreaks, who don't actually seem to be running your ads at all.
But then "publishing", in a sentence about Marvel's less successful comics, linked to a vanity publisher.
Well, OK, I suppose there's a throwing-money-down-the-toilet connection there, but you'd have to be pretty inventive to spin that as a positive thing.
And "cars", a super-generic word that you obviously shouldn't sell links for unless you've got some pretty hot-stuff contextual analysis going on, links to an ad for a 2005 Suzuki Forenza.
That's a rebadged Daewoo, which no tuner would touch with a one mile pole, though I must admit I'd like to see what happens if you install a nitrous kit in one.
It followed up with links mainly to buying services, which were somewhat relevant to this piece about car companies' employee-discounts-for-regular-buyers. But it's all rather irrelevant now, since "happy client" The Auto Channel has now... switched over to running Vibrant Media ads instead. Oh dear.
The main page of The PC Guide has your ads. It links from "Internet's" to qwest.com. I think it's fairly safe to say that someone viewing the site is not immediately in the market for a new ISP.
It links from "Linux" to an expensive course on administering it, from "Network" (in the context of exams) to Dell's networking products, and so on. Nothing particularly hilariously irrelevant, but nothing targetted any better than a B-52 carpet bombing, either.
And, of course, the above sites also show the usual scattering of links to get-free-stuff-for-filling-in-surveys-and-signing-up-for-spam scam artists, who invariably offer "free" hardware or software (helpfully linked from terms like "Microsoft") worth hundreds of dollars, and never mention that you'll have to jump through their hoops for a year or more to get it - if anybody ever does, that is.
Kontera has to take these ads. That's the business you're in. But that's incompatible with your stated goal of providing relevant links to consumers. Nothing is relevant to a lousy offer like those survey scammers, but you're not going to refuse an ad just because you reckon the advertiser's product is questionable. And you've got to show it, and everything else, somewhere. Hence, links of varying weirdness from numerous generic terms.
You'll be startled to note that I take issue with some statements in the rest of your press release, too.
I don't know how you define your "contextual technology solution" as "proven", but I see no evidence of any contextual analysis at all. And, since you launched your one-among-several ad-link service only at the beginning of this year, I also don't know how it qualifies as "innovative". Even RealTEXTads is older than you, and Vibrant Media are far older, and I honestly can't see any real difference between the three (this page, second-last letter).
And then, there's your statement that Wikipedia's VoIP page is "techno-babble".
So what you're saying is, you're not sure what Voice over IP actually is, and can't understand a page that explains all about it, but you're pretty sure you want it, and you appreciate being given the chance to pay for it when you click on the word in the middle of a news report.
I think that's a bit an odd impulse buy, and would venture the opinion that people actually don't want the added "convenience" of generic words throughout articles, reviews and news reports being turned into buy-something-here links (since it's not exactly difficult to type "voip", for instance, into Google...).
But since you're being so enthusiastic about this, let's follow the implications of your statement.
The Intel home page, which you are for some reason defending as an example of the excellence of your relevant links, does not contain any information of any sort about VoIP.
If you search for VoIP on the Intel site, and drill down a bit from the first couple of hits, you can find such pages as this and this, which, I think you'll agree, are far less edifying than the Wikipedia page, and far less helpful.
You see, Intel doesn't really have any consumer, or even small business, VoIP products. That's because the consumer and small business VoIP market belongs to the free-to-cheap solutions, plus the occasional bit of Taiwanese hardware if you want to use a proper phone handset of some sort.
I presume that Intel are, however, happy to do scatter-bomb advertising like this, buying up lots of keywords relevant in some distant way to their wide spread of products, for the same reason that spammers are happy to go to any lengths to trick people into opening their e-mails. They believe the disadvantage to their operations created by annoying a lot of people is outweighed by the amount of business that they will, for some reason, gain.
(Intel also, as I write this, have the top search result for "voip" at SearchFeed.com, taking hapless searchers to this page. SearchFeed want me to sign up too, because they apparently have "extremely high bidded content in your vertical". Well, that explains why I've been walking funny.)
Of course, Intel may not have paid for these ads at all. It's common for small ad publishers of various kinds to give freebies to big companies, to make it look as if the publishers have a rapidly growing business.
But let's get back to Norm, the consumer, looking into VoIP for your home. You'd be steered well and true by the Wikipedia VoIP page (or by the first page of a Google search for the term), to the premier VoIP product in the entire world. It's called Skype, it's free, and it's mentioned in passing on exactly one page on Intel's whole site.
I realise, gentle Dan's Data readers, that this dead horse has been well and truly flogged, and that you all know that ad agencies who link the word "flash" on a photography page to someone selling Macromedia products, or who want you to "Buy Shutter Speed at Shopping.com!", are jackasses.
Some of the jackasses themselves, however, don't seem to know. My exchange with Eileen left me in no doubt that she knows the shortcomings of the technology and is just doing this job because the money's OK and there's no heavy lifting. Norm, though, is proudly clueless about his business and... well, various other things... and people like him are the driving force behind this stuff. And they really and truly seem to have convinced themselves that their valueless activities are making the world better. Go figure.
People who actually believe their own press releases aren't hard to spot, of course, and half of them are on the fast track to managerial harmlessness. In the meantime, though, they're the ones you can thank for intrusive links from, say, the word "horsepower" to people who sell fraudulent devices.
All part of the service, folks.
(Hey, another stunningly relevant example: On a page about that crazy lawyer that some people take seriously for reasons I cannot figure out, there's currently a Vibrant link from "developer", as in "computer game developer", to an opportunity to buy apartments in Northern Cyprus. Nice.)
UPDATE: I've just been the proud recipient, ten months later, of an e-mail from yet another Kontera representative. This one's so smart that he sends screenshots in Word documents, and he's also carrying on the company tradition of being blissfully unaware of the activities of every other human working there. Would I like to sign up, oh the money I could make, blah blah blah.
CRM? What's CRM?
I was, thus, encouraged to look anew upon the wonder that is Kontera.
That second page represents, once again, the shining flagship of Kontera's most excellent technology. So, gentle reader, I'm sure you'll be unsurprised to learn that it links from the generic term "video games" to this site, which is for a little-known game system that launched more than a year ago with novel controllers, badly outdated technical specs and three titles.
It now appears to have... four.
So people reading about PS2 pricing are sure to be totally fascinated.
By the way, Major Geeks, Monsters and Critics, Tuning Linx and The Auto Channel have all, as I write this, abandoned Kontera, switching their "contextual" links to Tribal Fusion, Vibrant, Vibrant and nothing, respectively.
So, of the six proud examples of satisfied customers put forward by Kontera ten months ago, one had apparently told them where to go before the press release came out, and now four more have gone.
Way to go, Kontera! You guys rule!