A few weeks ago I wrote about convertingSoccerClub.com to a social network from its original Web 1.0 format and the subsequent revenue drop. The story at the time was that the Google Adsense links took a serious click-thru hit in the new format, even though page views were way up. This confirms the issues that face big-league social networks like Facebook and Myspace, but now it was affecting my “Tortured-NY-Sports-Fan” ticket account. I mean I have a late season collapse by the Rangers coming up in April to attend.
A man has to eat, so I decided to jump into the world of affiliate marketing. The steps were easy to outline:
1) Sign up for affiliate networks — The key was to find networks that offer soccer-related ads. I signed up for a couple of the leading services, Linkshare and Commission Junction, because they represent many of the big box sports stores and some specialty shops, like Soccer.com and SoccerGarage.com. I also signed up for a smaller service called Shareasale.com who represents SoccerPost.com.
2) Upgrade Ad Server — Sounds like a scary high-tech nightmare. It was. I installed the Open Ads software 3 years ago to serve banners on the original site, but I had NO IDEA how it was working. It just did. I had a message in my inbox that suggested I upgrade to the new Open X version, so I figured — why not give it a try and ruin everything. I couldn’t even remember how to do a back-up, so I was working without a net. Well I did it, and it works!! Cue the engineer dance music.
3) Find the banners — This was like crawling through a dark room to find a flashlight, only to learn that you then had to find new batteries. After pulling the HTML code for the banners, I had to figure out how to set up a test page so I could see how to set the display banners. Once again, it worked*. Amazing. So I loaded up the new banners and they are appearing now.
* The asterisk — Technically the banners are displaying, so it “works.” Unfortunately, no one is buying, so it’s not working too well. So there have been extra late-night meetings over pizza between the engineering director and the business manager. However, it’s only been two weeks, so I have continued to expand the banner coverage and monitor the reports to see what works. I have stayed true to the sports / soccer relevancy for the most part. I’ll admit that I slipped in a Match.com link to see how it performs. Ya gotta do, what ya gotta do to pay for those pizzas.
More updates after I let this run for a full month.