August 13th, 2006

classic cylon

passion, take 3

While reading incredibillfeed, I noticed that he was one of the panelists on the Search Engine Strategies forum on bot obedience. Turns out he is the creator of CrawlWall, which is a firewall for crawlers (aka bots, the programs that pull web content so it can be indexed by search engines). He and I have debated the merits of certain types of blocking policies on WebmasterWorld. For example, he favors blocking server farms, claiming they are homes for malicious bots that scrape site content (putting it on other sites that claim it is their own), not to mention click fraudsters. My response was that while this is certainly possible, it's best to ban access to one's site based on observed bad behavior, rather than presumed identity. After all, the entity accessing the site may be perfectly legit, just using a user agent no one has ever heard of before (because it's new). Also, IP addresses change hands, so what could have been a server farm last week could be a subscriber pool this week.

Anyway, based on what he writes I can tell he is very passionate about what he does. However, I couldn't see myself trying to create a company to do something like that. The reason is because the problem he is trying to solve is not intrinsically interesting to me. This is not to say it isn't important or doesn't have value, but it's not something I'd care to spend most of my time on. And when one is trying to get one's business off the ground, especially when it entails a good deal of software development, one must be willing to spend most of one's time on it. There is just too much competition, especially from companies with very deep pockets. If they sense there is a market to be served, they'll easily jump in and steal your market share. (You may get lucky and they'll buy you, but you still have to put in enough effort to create a business that someone would be willing to buy.) Also, in this type of business, there is a lot that could go wrong, despite the best of intentions. There are a whole lot of potential pitfalls due to unexpected corner cases, unreliable ISP service, etc.

In case you're wondering why I wouldn't want to do something like create a crawler firewall, but spend a fair amount of time repeatedly playing the same measures from a piano piece, or repeatedly practicing a dance pattern, it's because even though those activities may seem boring I derive value from the end results. However, as I wrote some time ago, I'm not passionate about either of those – not to the extent that I would spend most of my time on any one of them. I try to spend equal time on several activities, or if that's not possible, enough time to meet the goals I've set for each. But with regards to dancing, I don't dance much; perhaps once a week outside of my lesson, and I'm starting to think that after the showcase I won't sign up for any more lessons for a few months. It seems as if dancing is a luxury I can't really afford right now, financially or timewise. When I'm more actively involved in dancing it feeds on itself and I want to be even more involved, but it just seems like it will go on the back burner in the immediate future.
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classic cylon

you gets no love

I followed some Technorati tags on click fraud yesterday and found a post in Adotas on a fixed fee advertising platform created by a college student. The ads are priced based on bids, as it is done by Google, Yahoo, and the other pay-per-net-activity engines, but the bids are on a time basis, rather than a click or impression basis.

One of the commenters complained that despite offering a variety of payment options, including fixed fees, that his business rarely got any coverage. So I figure I'll send them a little love. :) As it turns out there are several companies that offer fixed fees, such as AdBrite (which also offers CPC) and TextLinkAds. I found the latter interesting as it uses Alexa toolbar rankings to determine prices. Alexa has actually come under a lot of scrutiny because some people feel their measurements are inaccurate. Arguably, Alexa notes that this is probably true, because of the (relatively) small sample space of people who use its toolbar. However, for some reason, enough people believe in the numbers that Alexa is putting out to buy ads based on it.

As you probably know, I think fixed fees are better than all the other methods for a variety of reasons. It's good to see some companies offering fixed fees (especially if it is one of many possible choices). Advertisers should have more control over their ads, IMO. But these companies struggle to get visibility, let alone business. Is it because fixed fee advertising is inferior, or because hardly anyone knows it is an option? More on that in a future post ...