Battle of the clickTAGs for Flash ad click throughs.

First, a bit of background.  Flash banner ads are usually click-able.  Because the publishing site (ie network TV sites, online newspapers, etc) usually uses a third party ad system to serve and track banner ads, the destination URL for any click through is not hard coded into the SWF (Flash ad).  It is dynamically injected into the ad at runtime with the use of a “clickTAG” parameter in the object HTML.  The ad system handles the pairing of the ad and its accompanying clickTAG URL.

I make a fair amount of Flash banner ads for Grady Britton clients.  I’ve noticed a an annoyance that should be easily solved.  At some point since the invention of the clickTAG, there was a division on the correct case of “tag” in “clickTAG”.  Some publishers require that the variable name be “clickTag”, and others insist that it be named “clickTAG”.

Why does this matter?  It turns out that some of the third party ad systems are case sensitive when it comes to the use of clickTAG.  For me, that translates into creating 2 versions of every ad, one who’s code respects “clickTag”, and the other for “clickTAG”.

image of Adobe recommended clickTAG ActionScriptSure, I could write a simple switch to test which version exists and set accordingly, but the publishers employ QA folks armed with Flash decompilers. If the ActionScript that the decompiler reveals (which by the way, is rarely the actual ActionScript as written by the designer) does not exactly match the structure as required by QA, they won’t run the ad, regardless of whether or not it will work.

So, if the ad serving companies aren’t going to stick to “clickTAG” as recommended by Adobe, then let us designer/developers switch and validate the parameter without QA throwing up red flags because the ActionScript doesn’t look the same as the reference manual.  Creating one off versions of the ads to deal a basic case sensitivity issue is just silly, especially if it can be solved for all future projects with a few lines of ActionScript.

Popular blog search engines and RSS tools

I’ve compiled these helpful links for a Grady Britton PR introduction to RSS.  The following are some of the more popular resources for finding, subscribing, and processing blogs and RSS feeds.  Please feel free to add to this list by commenting.  Thanks to Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb for many of these links from his presentation at the WebVisions conference.

Free RSS readers (your new custom personal newspaper!)
——-
NetNewsWire – Desktop based, feature rich, popular RSS reader.
reader.google.com – Web based RSS reader.  Simple and nothing fancy.  Requires a Google account.  Accessible from any computer.

Blog Search Engines
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blogsearch.google.com – Google’s blog search engine.  Search results can be subscribed to via RSS.
ask.com – Very good, non-spammy blog search.  Search results can be subscribed to via RSS.
technorati.com – Alternative blog search engine.  Search results can be subscribed to via RSS.
live.com – Microsoft’s blog search.

Social Bookmark Sites
———
del.icio.us, ma.gnolia.com, digg.com – Allows you to search tags (keyword phrases) that people have assigned to stories to find the most popular stories on that topic.  Also create an account so that you can tag stories yourself. Search results can be subscribed to via RSS.

Cool RSS Tools
———
zaptxt.com – Sends you an email, IM or SMS text message the moment a story is released about your keyword phrase.
summize.com
– Search Twitter tweets (posts)!
snackr.net – RSS scroller for your desktop.  Like a stock ticker of your favorite feeds.
dapper.net – Scrape any dynamic site content and convert it into an RSS feed.  So nice!
aideRSS.com, Yahoo! Pipes, simplepie.org – Filter, rank, combine, and customize RSS feeds via web GUI or PHP.

Email list management systems

A selection of companies providing broadcast or bulk email list management solutions and their pricing at 1000 emails per month:

iContact – $11.90 per month*

Emma – $30 per month

ConstantContact – $30 per month

CoolerEmail – $39.95 per month

eROI – (contact them for a quote)*

PHPlist – (free, but only for experienced techy types)*

Note that these are just the ones I’ve come across, and this doesn’t include setup fees. The starred products are systems I am currently managing for my clients.

Google Pay-Per-Action may change your AdWords ranking.

Google Pay-Per-Action (further referred here to as PPA) is currently being given trial runs for some AdWords users.  PPA allows the advertiser to select to pay Google only for traffic that converts to some predetermined action like an order, email signup, or sales lead.  Rather than paying for every click in AdWords’ CPC model,  some advertisers will find it attractive to pay only when one of those clicks turns into an action.

This may change the way your ad group appears in the featured Google results.  If you were Google, it would make sense to place PPA advertisers with a high conversion rate above and more frequently than a standard CPC AdWords advertisers.  It would follow that if the traffic sent to a specific advertiser was converting well, Google credibility rankings for that advertiser would also be high.

So, as always, traffic is no good without conversion.  In a move that serves the consumer,  Google will be keeping tabs on what advertisers do with the referral.

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