The past year saw advertising as a big new thing. Nuffnang and Advertlets, both companies from Malaysia, came into the market offering bloggers an alternative source of income (or for some of us, the first source of income), from our blogs. Both Nuffnang and Advertlets offer advertisements that can be displayed on our blogs, just that they differ on the method. Nuffnang, for one, allocates you an advertisement, and you display it for a week or so and you get paid for that. Advertlets works on a impressions model and anyone can earn money. You need not wait for them to allocate it to you.
There are many interesting things Start Ups can learn from these two companies, as in the past year both companies have had their fair share of hiccups that upset bloggers and undermined their position. I shall go on to give the background on a specific problem and talk about lessons that we can all learn for our own start ups.
Bloggers started being upset with Nuffnang when the bloggers waited for a very long time without serving advertisements, and hence not getting paid. Instead, bloggers served advertisements on Nuffnang for free. The problem with this is that all bloggers with a daily average of 20 readers will be able to register with Nuffnang and place the advertisement code in their blogs. Nuffnang should have known that they cannot deliver, and perhaps should have chosen a more realistic target. Perhaps Nuffnang should have only allowed bloggers with a daily average of 50 to go in? It will reduce the pool of bloggers, making it easier to maintain and arrange for ads.
Nuffnang also used the slogan of “It’s not what one blogger can do, but what many can”. Sadly to say, bloggers failed to see how many of them can help matters, and Nuffnang has clarified that ads are allocated to the bloggers whom the advertisers chose. Hence, it is not so much of what many bloggers with limited visits can do, but in actual fact, about how your own blog does in terms of traffic. The more traffic you get, the more appealing you are to potential advertisers. The lesson here is that start ups should be able to deliver what they say, and not use the wrong tagline and give the wrong impression. In such a case, people feel cheated because they did not get what was seemed to be “promised” to them.
Advertlets too, got their fair share of criticisms when they failed to renew their domain name. For a web-based start up company, this was a great mistake. It is akin to not renewing the lease for your factory! Bloggers with Advertlets’ ad codes found themselves in a fix when readers got forwarded to a parking site instead of the correct blogs. Readership was aversely affected and bloggers have to take the additional step to take out the ad code. For blogs with many different ad codes on them, it is a tedious task. The lesson here is not to forget to do basic things like renewing a domain name.
Both companies got the same bad reputation when bloggers discovered that cheques either got lost in the mail, or took months to process. As an advertising company where their main source of clients are bloggers, bloggers should be placed as a higher priority. It makes no sense to deny bloggers their fair share of income when they rented out their space to the advertising companies. Hence, if a group of customers form the basis of your company, do try to make their life easier and smoother. Administration can be simplified so that they can get their money fast.
Nuffnang further took a hit when people started complaining of slow customer service. Consumers are becoming more picky nowadays and they are now focusing on better customer service. They do not like to wait for an email to be replied and they even if they are patient, they can only wait a maximum of 3 days. Anything more than that shows inefficiency and a total disregard for the customer. It becomes worst when emails ended up not being replied at all. When the customer forms such a big part of your revenue base, I think its time to think about how to please the customer. So start ups, the main mantra of the day is the customer should be served fast!
Both companies started their exclusive clubs. Nuffnang has Glitterati and Advertlets has Titan. However, bloggers question their validity. How exclusive is exclusive when everyone can enter? Glitterati promises extra chance of ads, but when there are so many bloggers going exclusive, how much ads can everyone get? It turned out that any increased chance multiplied by zero is still zero, and most bloggers still do not get ads, despite being promised that there were more chances. This is another case of failing to live up to promises. The golden rule is that if you promise something, you deliver. If not, don’t promise.
Actually, sometimes all it takes is to figure out what you are trying to offer and think about whether you can offer it to everyone. If you can only offer it to a select few, then do not try to offer it to every man or woman in the streets of the blogosphere. It is important to know your limits and be humble about it.
Another point to note is, don’t lie. When you grossly inflate figures, it’s obvious and your company will gain a shady reputation.
On a more personal note, I have removed the Nuffnang ads because I didn’t go exclusive and thus have not been getting ads. I don’t see a point in putting the ads already. I have also removed my blog from the account, but Nuffnang still keeps sending me news. Hmm… Perhaps the lesson here is that you should stop the emails. Or allow us to disable announcements.